You matter too! Self-care with a newborn

by Andrea Stainbrook

Self-Care. Self-care seems to be a buzzword now of days. And for good reason! Life is busy, hectic, hard, and we often forget to check in with ourselves. Just like our cars, we all can eventually run out of gas and when we do it can be dark, sad, and lonely.

So life after giving birth is no different.

You have this sweet little newborn. Sweet as a ripe juicy orange, yet demanding, and time consuming. So time consuming we put ourselves last. We are lucky to brush our teeth before 5 p.m. sometimes.

So try not to let things slide too far. Make sure everyday you find moments. MOMENTS. One small moment to yourself can mean a huge deal to your mental load. These moments can look like sneaking in a few pages of a good book while baby naps. Maybe even resting your own eyes.

When feasible set up support. DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP. Have a visitor or a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula? Let them tend to the baby for 30 minutes (or more) while you shower undisturbed! Or read a trashy magazine! Or fill in the blank here! Try to do something that doesn’t require any thought about anything else. Clear your head.

Have a goal each day to do at least one thing that is just FOR YOU.

Something that fills your bucket and makes you breathe a little easier.

Maybe you can squeeze in a relaxing bath when a helper is visiting!

Caring for others can cost us a lot sometimes. So check your receipt! Make sure there are some deposits going in! Take care of yourself and in turn you will be able to better care for your newborn.

Snack time tips for new parents

by Andrea Stainbrook

Snacking comes easy to many. For some it may even be hard to imagine that there may be day you need to be reminded to eat! Those days are called “after baby life.” That’s right! You have this beautiful new swaddled bundle that surprisingly takes up an enormous amount of energy and it may hit lunch time when you realize you haven’t even had a bite to eat yet! You need fuel.

Tricks for successful snacking when taking care of itty bitty humans:

  • Select food options that are easy to eat with ONE hand!
  • Overstock yourself with non-perishable snacks
  • Have your support people, like your Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, prepare and bring you tasty delights!
  • Buy the pre-cut fruit and veggies for less prep time
  • Leave snacks out and available so they are easy to grab

What are some easy snack time favorites for new moms and dads?

  • Fruits like grapes and apples are easy as they require no cutting
  • Cut-up veggies
  • yogurt
  • cheese sticks
  • crackers
  • popcorn
  • protein bars
  • avocado
  • nuts
  • lunch meat

If you want to jazz it up simply have some nut butters easily available and dip your fruit and veggies into some peanut or almond butter! If you really want to dress it up add a few chocolate chips on top! Check out a family favorite of “Celery Explosion!”

Bottom line keep it simple, keep them available. Being new parents is hard work and you need the energy from regular snacks to get you through the day!

What is continuous monitoring?

by Andrea Stainbrook

We all have visions of what being in labor and what being in the labor room will look like. We try to envision ourselves coping, and breathing. But what about the extra things that we may need. What does that even look like? One thing all people will need at the very least intermittently is monitoring. Some will need to be monitored continuously throughout the entire labor process.

Let’s dive into what continuous monitoring looks like in an average hospital setting!

Firstly why would you need continuous monitoring? Every care provider will proceed to their comfort level on how they feel they can best determine if you and baby are doing well. EFM or Electronic Fetal Monitoring, will help your doctor/midwife determine if baby is tolerating a contraction well. Here are some instances that are common to be monitored throughout the entire birth process:

  • The pregnancy is deemed high risk for any reason
  • When you arrive to the hospital and they do an initial assessment where something seen requires it (it could be a heartbeat tracing the care provider isn’t fond of, high blood pressure, to name a couple)
  • A medical intervention is being used or medical pain relief being administered

So you are told you need to be continuously monitored. What is the monitor and how does it work?

In the hospital room next to the bed there is always a little table or shelf. On that shelf sits the unit for the monitor.

There are wires that connect two separate pieces with belts to the monitor. One belt uses Doppler or ultrasound to measure the baby’s heart rate. The other is measuring the length and strength of the uterine contractions. The monitor unit will have a small screen and a printer that displays these tracings.

Monitoring was developed and is used to ensure that baby is doing well throughout the labor. Doctors and midwives use it as a tool to assess what is going on. With constant monitoring there are chances that care providers could change a course of care due to something they deem “non-reassuring.” It is always a good idea to discuss with your doctor or midwife how they like to proceed with monitoring and never feel you cannot ask questions.

Are there alternatives? Yes! Intermittent monitoring is most common for low risk pregnancies. That means the laboring person would be connected to the EFM as described above for a short period every hour or so just to see how baby is handling the contractions. Once everything is deemed OK you are disconnected. You can always ask if this is an option, or at what point it could become an option if you were told continuous monitoring is preferred. There are also wireless monitors or telemetry monitors that allow the sensors to be secured to the belly without any wires connecting you to a machine! Some can even get wet and allow continuous monitoring even in the water! Every hospital will be equipped with different kinds and amounts of these so ask at your hospital tour, your next appointment, or even when you arrive on the big day if these are available.

So physically is it a bummer to be monitored? Some would say for mobility reasons it is a downside. If you have to be connected to the beside monitor the wires still let you move around but you are limited. You will have space near the bed and on the bed. Don’t fret though! You can still get into lots of positions and allow yourself movement. Also they are not a perfect fit. As baby/babies move and as you move the best spots to pick up the readings may move too. So one common talked about downside is sometimes there is a need to readjust where they are placed often. So your nurse will keep readjusting the monitor throughout the labor. For some the bands themselves may be uncomfortable. Don’t hesitate to ask for help adjusting the bands to a more comfy position.

Monitoring throughout labor is a reality for some. Now you have an idea of what that may actually look like!

Five reasons to join a parenting group after you have a baby

The first few weeks (or months) of adjusting to parenthood can be overwhelming. It can also be isolating.

But, the good news is, it doesn’t have to be! In this day and age, there are so many options for new parents to socialize – both in person and online.

A parenting group can be a real life-saver when it comes to the critical adjustment period after a baby arrives. There are many benefits to seeking out and joining a parenting group, even if you are an introvert.

Here are five reasons to join a parenting group after you have a baby. Read on:


There are few friendships like new mom (or dad!) friendships. Transitioning to parenthood isn’t always easy, and we’ve found that a listening ear or two can really help you feel less isolated and alone.


While not everyone parents the same, sometimes, it’s refreshing and good to hear from others about their parenting journey. Of course, you can also seek out a like-minded parenting group: There are groups for parents who spend time in the NICU, who plan to practice attachment parenting, single parents. The list is endless.

Social time

Babies don’t keep, as the saying goes and at some point, you will likely want your child to get some social time and make a few friends of his or her own. Parenting groups are great for that, because chances are, you will find parents with children the same age and developmental stage as your own.


Let’s face it: You need people who understand what you are going through and who will be there for you on those days when you are tired and frustrated. In addition to emotional support many groups will bring you meals if you are ill, help with childcare and more.


A group of parents and babies: What could be more fun! Most parenting groups can help you not only with the daily grind of being a mom or dad but they can also make it LESS of a grind. Even if you are chatting online or texting, knowing you can turn to your friends for a laugh, a play date or just a quick chat makes this whole gig a lot more enjoyable.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

We have a great online community of parents. We are adding community meetings to our calendar in 2019. Check us out on Facebook!

Easy slime for a super fun time!

by Andrea Stainbrook

Easy and safe slime recipes can turn a boring afternoon into a fun one full of memories!

Kids love slime. There seems to be a slime wave sweeping the nation! It is actually a fabulous toy for so many ages. From younger toddlers to middle schoolers!

Making this concoction can be a learning opportunity too! It’s a great way to talk about science. You could formulate experiments! What will it stick to? How far does it stretch? Making and playing with slime is a wonderful tactile experience. Kids love to use their hands to explore and the feeling of slime is an interesting one to say the least.

The slime recipe I like to follow is one without anything harsh. Borax is a common ingredient in many and can be irritating to skin. When looking for directions on how to make easy and safe slime you can find our favorite here on Elmer’s website.

My kids like to experiment and seem to be experts at eyeballing the perfect amounts to make their slime. So don’t worry if your measurements aren’t perfect!

Click here to watch Lydia & Estelle make slime!

Simple Slime Ingredients:

-Washable glue

-Baking soda

-Contact solution

Other items that can add to the fun:

-Food dye

-Glow in the dark glue

-Glitter or glitter glue

-Foam beads

Pro-tip: If slime gets on your clothes or furniture try using vinegar to remove it!

So the next time you need an activity to spice up your day think about making an easy slime recipe with your little ones!

Family resolutions for new parents

As new parents, you are probably busy busy busy with your new little love.

 And you might not want to add another item to your overflowing to-do list, especially around the holiday season.

However, it’s always a good idea to set goals and intentions before the start of a new year – and it’s even more important for new parents.

 This is an exciting, memorable and wonderful time and we, as doulas, want you to enjoy it.

 By setting some simple – and doable – family resolutions,we think your first months as new parents will be even more full of love and happiness. Here are our top family resolutions for new parents. Read on:

Set boundaries

You have probably already had a relative or two say something slightly-less-than-supportive about your parenting. This is the time to set some clear boundaries about your new family. Trust us: It doesn’t get any easier. By being clear and non-confrontational now about your new family and its needs, you’ll avoid headaches down the road.

Set traditions

Every family needs a few fun and meaningful traditions, right? Yes! And now is the time to start thinking about what your family’s will be. Game nights, vacations, dinners by candlelight: You will make so many wonderful memories.


Little eyes and ears are watching you, so now is the time to start showing your child (or children) the joys of unplugging from technology and savoring the moment. After all, your child will be growing up in a tech-infused environment, but it’s important to show her the joys of an unplugged life.

Health and wellness

This probably will look like something different for every family, but by setting health and wellness goals (this could be exercise, healthy eating, self-care – whatever works!) you will be modeling life-long habits for your children.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

We hope you and your family have a happy and healthy 2019.

Check Out These Birth Books

By Amy Hammer

It doesn’t matter how far along you are or how many kids you have.  There is always new information coming out regarding pregnancy, labor help, birth prep – however you want to address it.  If you have found yourself wondering, what do I need to know about labor and delivery?… or what is happening to my body in labor?  There is a resource for you.

Tell your friends about these great birth book finds!

Pregnancy help can be found in all types of media.  You have choices with so many outlets in our digital world like podcasts, websites, etc… but some of you may want to simply hold a book in your hands while you soak in the experiences and knowledge to help you along this far-out journey!

Keep reading for our list of helpful books for birth:

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

  • This is a great book for support partners giving guidance on the ins and outs of labor. 
  • With it’s objective, factual approach it sheds light on all sides of birth, examining the risks, benefits, and alternatives – our B.R.A.I.N blog explains this more in depth – and presenting both sides of options including natural and medicinal alike. 
  • It finishes off with sections regarding the postpartum period.

Birthing From Within by Pam England

  • If you like art and lean a bit more toward the holistic or “crunchy” side of life, this book may be just the one for you. 
  • You will find positive birth stories galore! 
  • This book’s approach is about finding strength in birth, viewing birth as a self-discovery, and acceptance of your birth outcome however it needs to unfold. 
  • There is also highlight help for new parent and marriage adjustments after baby arrives.

Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland

  • It’s great to see what is happening inward as you grow outward!  As it says in it’s title this is a weekly reference guide with ideas for To-Do Lists as you move along in pregnancy. 
  • Genevieve also touches on how to form your birth-team, giving a shout-out to our certifying and training organization ProDoula
  • She also dives into nourishment, your environment, and a number of newborn topics. 
  • If you haven’t visited her resourceful website, check it out.

Birth Wisdom Yoga Remedies & Journal by Julia Piazza

  • Who doesn’t want to feel as comfortable they can in pregnancy?!  Prenatal yoga is a wonderful way to create some peaceful space for you and baby. 
  • This book is introduced by both a midwife and an obstetrician, is broken into trimesters (including ailments & solutions), and provides you with 30- & 60-minute flows that you can do at home, when you can’t make it out to a class at Earthside Prenatal Yoga with our friend & fellow boss babe, Lori. 
  • We were also delighted to find pelvic health floor information highlighted, a great bonus one of our very own team members, Ashley Gammon would much appreciate.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

  • With 30+ years of experience, Ina May is extremely well known throughout the natural birth community and is a treasure chest of information with her focus on unmedicated birth. 
  • You will find absolute confidence in the physiological process of birth, a variety of topics including the best ways to work with your doctor, and a collection of positive birth stories throughout.

Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel

  • Many families prefer to be as natural as possible in delivery with an open mind to medical options when necessary. 
  • That means being in a hospital for delivery with all options available while having the support of a provider who views birth the same as you.  We can not stress the importance of this enough – it is more important than the distance to the hospital and the types of tiles on the walls. 
  • This book helps you to be proactive in pregnancy so that you don’t have to be reactive in labor, giving you the best of both worlds.

Dive into some of the best books on birth around!

It’s easy to pick one of these titles up, just throw it in your cart – a little holiday gift for yourself – while you are cruising on Amazon.  Go on!  You deserve it.  There may even be an audio version you can download to listen to while you are driving or getting things done around the house.  However, you do it – enjoy this adventure of growing your family.

Of course, there is a collection of other childbirth books out there.  If you have a favorite that wasn’t listed, we’d love hearing about it – please share it with us in the comments below or reach out to us for more information.

Car seat safety in a crash

by Andrea Stainbrook

In a snap things change forever.

Let’s get some candy on the way to the movies.  It’s a relaxing family day so seeing a new movie with a bucket of popcorn overflowing, ice slushies, and candy sounds just right.  We snag our favorites hop in the car and head towards the movie theater.  One left turn.  The car turns left, headlights glare, a horn honks, then BANG!

First thought: What happened? Is everyone alright?  I look back at the kids.  They are OK.  Second thought: Thank heavens I know my kids were in the best car seats for them and appropriately.   We are safe.  Just minor bumps and bruises.  Mainly scared and anxious about what just happened.  To be clear our accident wasn’t as severe as many are.  But it was severe enough to see the importance of all the safety features.

We continue to relive the accident.  Every day the anxiety lessens a bit.  The accident is good for my children.  How so?  Lydia, my oldest, so badly wanted to just sit on the seat with no booster.  She recently switched to a small seat adjuster.  Now she wishes she could be the right size for a five point harness high back booster again.  We all see how vulnerable we all were in that moment.

I am fortunate.  I work with and am friends with a CPST, Child Passenger Safety Technician.   Dana Lange, who is on our Metro Detroit Doula Services team,  has helped me through every car seat purchase and placement.   Dana has said, “I hope your car seat is a waste of money.”  Meaning she hopes you are never in an instance to need one but she wants you to use them correctly for those moments that they are needed.   Thank goodness for car seats! Our youngest in the high back 5 point harness booster was the least injured.  Those car seats do their job.  My kids are 8.5 and 5.5.  These ages are less educated on appropriate seating than infants believe it or not.   I feel like many parents I know are always wondering:

When can my child switch to a  booster seat?

Is my child ready for just a seat belt?

What is the best brand?

Check out these graphics Dana created to answer your questions.

Booster SeatSeat Belt Ready


Safety does not have to mean the most expensive brand on the market.  Choose your budget, then choose the car seat that is needed for your child at the stage they are in that fits within that budget.  Remember that your child’s height and weight matter more than their age.   Also keep in mind that your child will likely be in a booster until ages 10-12.

Dana’s tips for when to use a booster:

There are 3 criteria –
1: Child fits weight and height requirement for specific booster
2: Child fits in the booster well, and
3: Child is mature enough to stay seated the entire trip (no bugging siblings, reaching for fallen toys, slumping over when sleeping, etc)
Dana’s tips for selecting a booster:
Features to look for:
1: Specific weight/height requirements that may be tailored to your child’s needs.
  • If your child has a long torso, a higher height limit seat is good based on shoulder slots.
  • If you’re moving it between vehicles often, choose one that you can quickly and easily install properly. Maybe take the weight of the seat into consideration as well.


Car accidents are scary.  Taking comfort in having us all secured the best we knew how brings me some peace.   If you are not sure what your children need,  where to begin, or would like a car seat/booster check give us a call.  Dana will come to your home and guide you.

Be safe!



What’s love got to do with it?

by Andrea Stainbrook

Love and labor go to together.

Common questions doulas are asked are:

“How do I get labor started?”

“What keeps a labor going?”

“What can help me in labor?”

These are all fabulous questions.  Some are surprised to hear our answer for all of these questions is love.  What’s that?  Love?!  Yes.  Let’s break down love and labor.

Oxytocin is the “love hormone.”  It is the feel good hormone that your body releases during labor to keep your uterus contracting.  Do you know when else oxytocin is released?  Whenever you have that warm and fuzzy feeling.  You know when you watch a romantic comedy and we all see the plot, we all know how this ends, but you find yourself smiling and feeling nice anyway?  That is good ole’ oxytocin working.  Hugs feel nice,  sharing a meal with another, memories of favorite vacations, these all stir up that hormone.

So anything to release oxytocin in labor can help get a labor moving or started, and also help you through labor by making you feel good while it continues to progress.

You can use to this knowledge in the birth room.  The uterus needs to keep contracting to bring baby down.  If you have a partner you care deeply for they can be useful in labor to keep that oxytocin flowing.  Getting into positions where you are facing one another can help facilitate that exchange.   My favorite position is “8th Grade Slow Dancing.”   The birthing person can place their hands on the shoulders of their partner while the partner places their hands on the birthing person’s hips.  You both can sway and dance together during or through contractions.  You may giggle at first and that is OK because giggling is good too! Laughter releases the love-hormone.

Romantic love of a partner is just one form of love.  Other oxytocin inducing ideas:

  • Hang up photos of a vacation you truly enjoyed

Thinking about our favorite spots can make us smile.

  • Set out framed photos of your other children, or loved ones
  • Place favorite movie quotes around the room
  • Positive birth affirmations
  • Music that gives you the feels
  • Being told funny or heart warming stories

Love is such a wonderful thing!  As you can see it can play an integral part of your labor.  What other things do you think you can do during labor to keep the love hormone flowing?


Baby outings? Can I really shop with my baby?

By Andrea Stainbrook

An outing with your baby doesn’t have to be hard!

Babies are squishy and adorable and well frankly a lot of work!  Normal outings like heading to the grocery store, or to shop for some new clothes can feel like daunting tasks.  I know I sometimes rather wait for my hubby to come home or ask grandma for help so I can do these tasks alone.

And while alone shopping is super fun at times it may not be practical to try to plan for every outing without our cute little tag-a-long.

Oh hey Mom great choice!

Babies can become a part of the mundane outings or the fun shopping days!

Here are tips for successful shopping days out!

Think ahead!  

  • Make a plan.
  • Limit where you will go for the day just in case baby isn’t up for it.  If you are prepared to only hit up  a store or two and not conquer a marathon of shopping you will be setting yourself up for success!
  • Prepare the best you can and remember keep your expectations low!

This cute face may make the outing even better!

Baby gear for outings!  

  • Bring with you whatever feeding items you need.  Whether it be bottles, or your breasts, or baby is old enough for snacks, kiddos get hungry.
  • Favorite toys are a must!  Anything to help with distraction.
  • Some people like those cute little shopping cart covers.  Sometimes you are able to attach toys to those.
  • Remember if baby is in it’s bucket car seat still always place it in the bottom of the shopping cart.

Where do we go?

  • Grocery store.  Bring a list!  Many grocers try to get the kids excited now with either finding the store’s mascot while you are there or offering free fruit.
  • Superstores.  (Or Book and Toy stores.)  Just want to get out and go somewhere?  Let your kiddo explore the toy or book aisles for fun.
  • To your local baby store!

Make it a fun day to remember!

Local Baby /Children Stores

These tips should help you as you venture out.  As a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula I have even become a part of these outings too and help parents feel more confident doing so.    Fill out our inquiry form if you rather shop with us!

Where do you think you will head first?