Simple tips for a successful beach outing

Summer is upon us in Michigan! That means it is time to hit the beach! Beach outings with little ones in tow can sometimes be stressful. So follow these tips to help keep you from being a sweaty, hot, overwhelmed mess.

Tip #1- Gather all your items first

Know you are planning to hit the beach that day? Start collecting your items that you want to bring and place them in one specific spot. This way when it is time to leave you will have everything in one place. If you dig lists make your list and start gathering as soon as the night before. Possible items you may want to remember:

Kid practical items: swim diapers, sunblock, sun-hats, change of clothes, water shoes, sandals, snacks, water bottles

Beach practical items: beach blanket, towels, umbrella, beach chair, sand toys, flotation devices if allowed (check with each beach’s rules)

Tip #2- Plan where to go and for how long

Once you decide which beach you want to visit, maybe Spencer Beach, Kensington Park, or Stony Creek, get an idea of how long is the right amount of time for you. There is no wrong answer here. A short stay is just as fun as a long stay. If your stay is longer make sure you upgrade your snacks and include a meal like sandwiches. The worst is being hungry after a lot of playing and sun! It is also always a good parenting tool to give reminders to your little ones that your leaving in 30 mins, 20 mins, 10 mins etc. in case leaving fun places is hard to do.

Tip #3- Enjoy making memories

Hang out with your kiddos! Make a sand castle with the biggest moat ever! Dip your toes in too! Take pictures! Expect moments of sand in your food, maybe your eye, and a kiddo melting down for a second or two. But also expect your baby or kid to have a great time and make their own memories.

There is something magical about a Michigan summer. We truly know how to soak up the sun after months of cold and snow. Let the sun hit your skin, the smell of the lake air hit your nose, and enjoy playing with your family!

What is a fetal non-stress test?

Due to certain pregnancy concerns, routine measures past 28 weeks, going past your due date, or any reason your doctor/midwife deems necessary you may find yourself being told you need a fetal non-stress test or NST.

So what is an NST?

This test is simply looking to see how baby is doing. It is called non-stress because there is no added stress put on the baby during the non-invasive procedure.

Typically what it can look like is going into your provider’s office or sometimes to the hospital and getting connected to the monitors. (This blog talks about the monitoring process too) One external monitor is measuring any contractions if they are happening and the other measures baby’s heart rate. You will be connected for about 20-30 minutes while your care provider checks your baby’s heart rate, movement, and how it is reacting to the contractions. The provider is just looking to see if there are any signs of distress in your baby with that information.

Sometimes babies are more in the mood to sleep than move during an NST. Drinking something ice cold may help wake her up! If your baby still doesn’t want to move sometimes a “buzzer” can be used by the nurse to stimulate baby to move.

Based off what your doctor or midwife learns from the NST you will be given instructions if anything different needs to happen. This test is one way your provider can get a peek into how your baby is doing.

Written by: Andrea Stainbrook

End of the school year feelings

It is that time. The time when months of routine, schedule, and learning come to an end. It is the end of the school year. Whether you are cheering as a parent or anxious at the idea of adjusting to summer, no matter the feelings all of them are valid and its OK. For some the shift brings some stress as it is a new adjustment. For some it is seamless and easy.

For me I am mostly feeling excited.

There will be some challenges to adjust to I am sure. I work from home a lot. Figuring out those hours again that I can focus on work while we are all home together will be an adjustment.

But my kids are still little. They grow so fast and I swear by each day their independence increases with leaps and bounds. I want to enjoy the moments. And for the record I will focus on moments. I know I will hear, “Mom, I am bored.” “Mom can we do this? That? What about this?” I know my patience will shorten and some days I will be irritated. That is life as a parent.

But there will be days of snuggles, and sun, and play.

I will rub sunblock onto their creamy soft skin. I will get to judge them on their underwater handstands. 10’s seem to be the best answer every time! I will cut up fresh fruit to enjoy in the blistering sun. I will ride my bike alongside them setting goals to go on farther, longer, rides this summer. I will wipe dripping melted popsicle off their cheeks. I will veg out with them and watch their favorite shows. I will pop popcorn over the stove for family movie nights. I will sit out back and watch them play with the neighborhood kids. I will roast marshmallows and make smores over the bonfire. Limit 2 kids! OK maybe 3! We will read together, we will draw. We will run through the sprinkler and slide down the slip-n-slide. I will let them stay up late and sleep-in in the morning. I will have mornings of homemade pancake breakfasts, and others of quick cereal.

I want to embrace this summer. We may never get around to making those cute summer bucket lists. We may not spend enough time outside. We may have lazy days. We may have boring days. We may have busy days. But we will do them together.

As the school bus makes its final stop for the year I may cry. Tears of joy that we get a little time more together. Tears of “I can’t believe how much and how fast they are growing.” Then I will offer my hand to my girls, see if I get to hold one of theirs one last time home. Then we will embark on our remarkable summer.

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

What are birth affirmations?

In the process of birth the birthing person typically will need some encouragement and emotional support. Birth affirmations are simply that! They can even be your birth slogan or mantra! The best part of birth affirmations is you can select those that resonate with you and create ones that truly speak to you.

Why use them? Labor can be long. Labor can be hard. And at some point in labor self-doubt can creep in. Having some reminders that lift you up can help you through intense parts of birth. The goal is to make you feel good about the process and keep things positive. These little sentences can act as your own personal cheerleader!

One example of an affirmation for labor.

Tips for finding and creating affirmations:

Check out our Pinterest page of affirmation ideas

-Use lyrics from your favorite songs

-Scan your birth books for parts that truly speak to you

-Buy affirmations already printed out in card form, like these

-Seek inspiration from your favorite movies or books. It doesn’t have to be directly related to birth to be useful and encouraging!

-Take inspirational quotes from uplifting calendars

-Seek out your favorite poet, philosopher, or public speaker for words of wisdom and inspiration

-Ask your provider what their favorite things to tell patients are

Birth affirmations are for every birth desire.

Whether you want a natural birth or an epidural or a planned cesarean birth, encouragement and positivity are always useful.

So you got your inspiring words…now what?

-Your partner, doula, or support person can read these aloud during the birth.

-You can create a booklet of them to flip through.

-Type or write them on cards and hang them around your birthing room.

-Create wish flags or a bunting out of fabric or paper. Then write the affirmations on the flags. String these up in your birth room.

Birth affirmations are simply another tool to help you cope throughout the labor process. You may find them useful and use them the throughout your whole labor. It never hurts to arm yourself with as many tools as you can. Birth affirmations can be an easy and great tool to use and have with you as you bring your baby into this world.

Written by: Andrea Stainbrook

For a Moment Like This

“For a moment like this…. some people wait a lifetime.”  Ain’t that the truth Kelly Clarkson?

When I envisioned my births I envisioned myself like a lot of the videos and pictures I saw and loved.  I pictured dim light and quiet whispers.  I envisioned myself humming and swaying through contractions as they intensified.  I was planning a waterbirth and just thought I would rest there as long as possible. Then at that climatic moment, where I would be so relaxed and quiet, I would pull my baby  up and he or she would crest the water and greet me with a gentle cry and cuddles on my chest.   I could see it perfectly.  It would be beautiful.  

To be clear those births exist.  They are beautiful.  They are a great ideal to envision and strive for.   But know… it is still BEAUTIFUL if it’s not what you envisioned.   My births were not far off from this in many ways.  But in many ways my ideal I envisioned and what it looked like were way different.

You are a version of yourself on the day you give birth.  Who knows what mood and tone you may really take on.  I was not as quiet and peaceful as I imagined.  And although I got my hair done the night before and I painted my nails a few days prior… real life may not be perfectly coiffed hair and runway ready faces.

For my second amazing birth I hired a professional birth photographer.  Worth every penny and it is so great to have these photos forever.   One photo I was so excited to see was what that moment when I see my baby for the first time looked like.  Seeing other pictures of this moment captured I couldn’t wait to see that look of love and that special glow.

My first photo is beautiful.

It shows everything I felt at that moment.  Estelle came in a hurry and the last 15 minutes were intense.  After having a long labor with my first I couldn’t believe this went so fast.  I was processing a lot.  Anyhow I have full on ugly cry, “what in the world,” look.   I’m obviously happy and overjoyed.  You CAN see that too.  I’ll admit it wasn’t at first what I hoped.  I didn’t want to frame it.   Although I did want to cherish it.

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Birth is so many feelings and emotions wrapped into one.  If you look close enough at this one you may see all of them.  <3

No matter what we strive for, what unfolds, birth and the many faces we wear during it is simply beautiful.

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

Newborn Sleep Guidelines

It is always a good idea to stay up to date on current recommendations. The AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, has specific guidelines for safe sleep practices.

Placing babies (through one year old) on their back to sleep is the most current recommendation for safe sleep. Room sharing is considered ideal for the first six months. This means having your baby on a firm sleep surface, i.e. crib or bassinet, laying on its back somewhere in the room with you the parent. Swaddling your baby is just fine! Keep loose items and bedding away from your baby.

Many babies like to be swaddled.

Sleeping in a Rock n’ Play Sleeper is not safe and the item has been recalled.

Here are some recommended links and articles from the AAP:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx

https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/child_death_review/Pages/Safe-Sleep.aspx

https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/

Our Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas stay current with the recommendations set forth by the AAP and follow their guidelines when caring for your baby. If you have more questions or concerns reach out to your pediatrician.

When do I head to the hospital?

The day has arrived! You think you are in labor!

First how do you tell if it is really labor?

So you notice you are having contractions and they seem to come and go. You can try timing them. To time a contraction you time the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction. This is how far apart they are. Note the duration of the sensation as well. What you should start to see is a pattern. There are many apps for timing this or you can use an old fashioned watch or clock.

Check out the apps available to you on your phone before labor begins. There are many to choose from!

Longer, stronger, closer together is the key to a labor pattern.

Your contractions should fall into a rhythm of sorts. Maybe they begin at 8 minutes apart lasting about 30 seconds. Then you feel a shift of intensity and you time them again. Now you notice they are 6 mins apart lasting 40 seconds. This appears to be a labor pattern. The sensations are getting longer, feeling stronger, and are closer together than they were before.

When is it time to head to the hospital?

The 5-1-1 or 4-1-1.

When your contractions are 5 minutes or 4 minutes apart, lasting one minute long, for the course of an hour, it is time to head to the hospital. Ideally you will get to the hospital in an active labor pattern.

Notify your provider that your are heading in or you can always ask them if they feel its a good time to come to the hospital as well. Of course talk to your doula as soon as you think anything is going on. She can offer suggestions, listen, and remind you of ways to cope!

Not sure if it is in fact labor? Looking for guidance on how to distract and cope through early labor? Call your doctor/midwife and your doula!

There are some variables that can change when to head in. If you are high risk, GBS positive, or your water is broken, are some instances that can change the timing. It is a good idea to discuss with your doctor or midwife what it looks like when you think you are in labor. Let them tell you what they prefer in your specific instance.

So remember, longer, stronger, closer together and the 4-1-1 will help you decide when it is time to go! Safe travels ahead!

Dogs and bringing home baby

I remember when we got our oldest dog, George. My husband and I were young and had just moved across the country from Michigan to Arizona. Together we walked through the aisles of the shelter looking in every kennel. From barking faces, jumping paws, and puppy dog eyes we noticed him. Curled up and looking at us like, “I know right? These other dogs are loud!” There was George.

We took him for a walk outside and he was perfect. Chill, medium-sized with a funky tail that looked like it never fully grew. We were smitten and that was it. We took him home.

We quickly added a basset hound, Jerry, to our family as well. He was the sweetest and had the deepest howl.

Years passed and we discovered our first baby was on its way! With these two pups and the new pregnancy also came feelings of, “what will it look like to have a baby and the dogs?” “Will my dogs get along with the baby?” “How will I take care of everyone?”

Having a baby shifts your whole world period. Every aspect of your what you consider part of your daily life before your child arrives is affected. So it is normal to be concerned about your fur-babies as well. It is OK to process your feelings on the changes about to happen. And it is realistic to worry about your pet’s transition and adjustment as well.

So set your dog up for success!

While you are still pregnant you can have some of the baby items out and around. This way they visually start seeing their surroundings change. If you have a dog that doesn’t roll with change much (some dogs will bark at the furniture after you moved it) this may be an important step. Baby gear tends to appear in every room!

You can try to have your dog get familiar with your baby’s smell even before you arrive home. Have a visitor take the newborn hat or receiving blanket that your newborn has been in home to your dogs. Let them smell and inspect it.

Set up positive associations with your baby!

Have treat bowls throughout the house, especially near places where you will be lounging with your baby often. When your dog comes near your baby give them a treat!

BABY = GOOD

Did your baby kick your dog on accident when it stretched out its leg? Doggy gets some cheese! A nice high reward!

Have care in place for your pet.

Once you are home you may want to hire a dog walker, schedule extra doggy day care visits, or take advantage of helpful friends and family to give your dog extra love and exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. On top of that your attention is now split so they get some extra cuddles in.

Life after baby is an adjustment. This means for the WHOLE family including your dogs. Most dogs are loving, understanding, and adjust just fine. Some even seem to take on a protective role over your baby. It’s beautiful to watch your children grow and become dog lovers themselves. There is something so magical about the relationship we have with our pets, and its awesome to share that with our babies.

Written by Andrea Stainbrook

Are you watching “9 Months That Made You”?

I will admit I watch a lot of TV. I watch it to unwind and relax, but I also use it to learn and discover new things. Recently I stumbled upon a PBS series called “9 Months That Made You.” I am one episode in and hooked!

Now I know by being a doula and childbirth educator that this show is right up my alley. I mean it is kind of like continuing education for my work! But if you are growing a human in your body currently, or did grow one, or know someone who grew one, or if you grew in someone’s body, then this show is a perfect fit!

So in the first episode they break down what it is like for a baby to grow beginning with the moment of conception. It then goes on to describe what happens in hours! And then days and weeks. The detailed things they discuss is amazing. How much of our lives that is determined by the processes in the first few weeks is astonishing!

Within the program different families from around the globe are highlighted to show their genetic differences. These differences are due to developmental things that can happen during the time period of growth that they are focused in on in the episode. The first episode even features a scientist studying living a long life and how it may be determined while you are still in the womb!

So yes I am a geek when it comes to science and babies. I can’t wait to finish the series. It really celebrates the variances in humanity. So if you are looking to add something to your queue and you are into learning check out this PBS series on Netflix. You can find out more about it here:
https://www.pbs.org/show/9-months-made-you/

I can’t wait to see what new information I learn next!

by Andrea Stainbrook

How to write a birth plan

Birth plans, birth wishes, birth preferences, or whatever you prefer to call it can be a useful tool. The work of going through what is important to you and your partner in your birth is likely the best part of creating a birth plan, no matter if you actually print it out.

Birth wishlists can be a great way to give the care team you are working with an idea of the ideal birth you hoped for. This way if paths stray from what you envisioned the staff can help keep it as close to your ideal as possible.

What you can include in your plan:

  • Basic information: your name, partner’s name or support person’s name, doula’s name, important phone numbers, your care provider’s name
  • Important items to know about the birthing person: allergies, or medical conditions the staff should be reminded of
  • Ideals for coping and what is important to you in early and active labor: After going through options in birth include those that really stand out to you as what you hope for in this birth.
  • Pushing preferences
  • Placenta plans: If choosing placenta encapsulation services it is a good idea to have this on your birth preferences sheet as a reminder. Also mentioning if you intend to use a cord blood banking service.
  • Cesarean birth preferences: items like clear drapes used, support people you want present, skin to skin if possible after birth.
  • Newborn care: erythromycin eye ointment, vitamin K, hepatitis B, circumcision/intact
  • Feeding preferences: it is nice to note if you are planning on breastfeeding, or formula feeding, or some combination

A smart idea is to write a long detailed plan for yourself that goes through all the options and ideals you have. Then that plan is for you. Trim and omit the unnecessary items to create a simpler plan to hand in to your birth staff. Creature comforts like dim lighting, do not need to be on your staff’s plan.

Pro-tips for birth plans

  • Keep it simple! Bullet points and simple statements to convey your wants is ideal. Also birth plans should not be so detailed you are telling your provider and staff how to do their job. Some plans simply state one item, for example “We would prefer open communication throughout the entire process.”
  • Be positive! Use phrases like “we prefer x,y,z” instead of “NO X,Y,Z!”
  • Thank the staff! Your care providers and nurses want you to have a lovely experience. They work hard and long shifts. Tell them how excited you are to be at that facility with the wonderful staff you have selected.
  • Make it fun! Say what?! If you can find a way to make it funny, or light, or cute in some way, the staff will enjoy reading it. Some clients in the past have made it sports themed, or added a funny comic. One couple made it look like a movie poster!

When making your birth wishes list explore all the things you envision or hope for. It is a great activity to get you thinking about the experience you’d like. A place you can learn about your birthing options is through a childbirth education course. Check out Metro Detroit Doula Service’s offerings today!

by Andrea Stainbrook