The importance of writing down your birth story

Every mother has a unique birth story.

Whether your birth was perfect, less-than-ideal, calm, hectic, emotional or anticlimactic (hey, it happens!), the story of the day you became a mother is a tale you will tell over and over for the rest of your life.

It’s the story of the day you became a mom; a family. A day when you met that precious little baby who had been kicking you from within for nine months. When you found out what it’s like to hold love in your arms and how strong and brave you truly are. When you conquered fear, pain, stress and endured – to create and bring forth life.

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We love birth stories; it’s why we do what we do. We know how much of an honor it is to be a part of YOUR birth story and we love watching families being born.

At Metro Detroit Doula Services, we believe writing down your birth story (even if you never show a soul) is something every mother (and perhaps partner – it’s so interesting to see each perspective) should do. It’s a part of your amazing journey.

Even if you aren’t a writer, putting words to paper about the day you met the love of your life is something we should all do. Not sure where to start or what to say? Luckily, you are the storyteller. This is your tale.

Whether it’s sad, funny, embarrassing, disappointing or joyful, it belongs to you. Your story MATTERS.

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Writing your story might be difficult but it can also be healing, cathartic and moving. It’s also a way for you to remember and capture this special time, creating something you will cherish for years to come. The details you think you’ll remember forever will fade over time.  It’s a part of your family history. One day, when your baby is having a baby, you might feel compelled to share it. Think of what a gift that will be.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

We are honored to be a part of your wonderful birth story!

Three things you need to know about hiring overnight care

As a new parent, you might think you want to hire a night nurse, or perhaps someone told you to get a night nanny.

But did you know, a postpartum and infant care doula is that – and so much more! As postpartum and infant care doulas, we are trained and certified to care for your whole family.

It isn’t always easy to get the sleep you need with a new baby (or even an older child), but luckily, we can help. If you have ever wished for an extra set of hands at night – to comfort your newborn or soothe your toddler – that is what postpartum and infant care doulas do on an overnight shift.

At Metro Detroit Doula Services, we are trained to help with your family’s nighttime needs. Want to chat while you are nursing? Need help with a restless baby? Want someone there to support you or your partner? Want to get as much sleep as possible? We can do it all. We are chameleons, really: We can adapt and serve whatever your family’s nighttime needs are, tonight and tomorrow.

It’s a sacred trust to be supporting parents during their nighttime parenting journey, and we don’t take it lightly. We’re sharing three things you need to know about hiring a postpartum and infant care doula. Read on:

Who needs overnight care?

Really, any parent could likely use an extra set of hands from time to time, but most of our work is for new parents. We can work with newborns, multiples (twins and more!) and older siblings. We can tend to the baby while you soothe your older child. We can soothe the older child while you tend to baby. We can give baby a bottle so you can sleep all night, or we can bring baby to you if you are nursing. We can bring you what you need so your nighttime process is easy and swift – meaning you can get back to sleep as soon as possible.

Our goal is to support your family in whatever way you need. If you hit a wall with sleep, call us. We can help.

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Where do we sleep?

A place for sleep must be provided, but really, we can rest just about anywhere (we don’t usually do too much sleeping!). A comfy couch and a cozy blanket work fine, as does an air mattress or – if you have it – a guest room. We rest when the baby rests. We also work to protect everyone’s boundaries and privacy needs by establishing trust. Working with you at night is a privilege. We know that. We do our best to make it supportive, easy and respectful.

What are your hours?

Generally, we can be at your home anytime, but most clients utilize our services from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. Upon arrival, we take time to talk about how things are going and how your baby (or older child) is doing. We make a plan on how we will handle the night and address any issues or concerns. It isn’t cookie-cutter. We adapt to what you need on that night.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

If you have been considering hiring overnight care, we’d love to chat. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

Tips To Get Through The Holiday Parties With A New Baby

As the holidays are upon us there are many opportunities for gatherings and parties.  These can be overwhelming to a new baby and it’s new parent.  Here are some tips to get through it:

 1) First determine if the outing is appropriate to you and your baby.

  • How old is baby?  Brand spanking new?  Has the cord fallen off and healed?  Did your doctor or midwife offer any suggestions when baby is ready to be out and about?
  • What about you?  Are you still healing and recovering?  Be gentle on yourself.  Even just sitting and chatting can be draining.  Decide if the activity will create too much stress.  Resting and healing can go a long way and you’ll feel better faster than if you do too much too fast.
  • Will your family or friends be helpful to you?  Sometimes these gatherings can be a time to get help with baby tasks and it is refreshing to get out of the house and talk to other adults you haven’t seen in a while.

 
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2) Prepare and pack all the things.

Assess how long you will likely be at the party and add some more time on to get there.  Then make a list of the the things you may need during that time.  Some are listed below:

  • Diaper change necessities
  • Feeding items: nursing cover, formula, bottles, etc.
  • Pacifier if being used
  • At least one extra outfit
  • Burp cloths
  • Swaddling blankets
  • Wrap/carrier- *Babywearing is great to keep baby close if you don’t want too many people touching your baby*

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3)  It is not selfish to focus on YOUR family and what you need.

If the holiday party feels like too much it is OK to pass or leave earlier than planned.  Don’t worry about upsetting Aunt Sally.  Your baby will be just as adorable the next time you see everyone!

  • Do what makes you feel the best
    • If visiting sounds fun, you feel healthy, baby is ready to go out, then go and enjoy!
    • If visiting sounds draining, you feel too tired or weak, allow yourself to stay home.  Your health matters most.

Metro Detroit Doula Services hopes your holiday season is filled with love.  Our Doula services make for lovely gift ideas!  Call us today 586-960-5993!  For more tips about life with babies check us out on Instagram and Facebook!

The Fear of Giving Birth Again

“You have done this before.  You know what you are doing!”  Anyone who has given birth once and is now preparing to birth baby number 2, or 3, or 10 has probably heard someone say this.  Maybe you feel like, “Heck yeah I got this!”, or you maybe you want to reply, “Do I know what I’m doing?  Is it too late to back out?”

Just because you have given birth before does not mean you:

A) Know what to expect this time

B) Feel good about giving birth

C) You don’t need any help, or guidance

D) Are not nervous

Let me be the first to say it is perfectly OK to feel HOWEVER you are feeling about giving birth AGAIN.  Whether it is indeed excitement, or happiness, it is also OK if its not.  Perhaps you have fear of giving birth again.

No matter what you are feeling there are things to do to help you cope with birthing again.

  1. Make a birth plan.  This isn’t just for first time births.  You can perhaps even use what your previous birth was like to help you choose things you for sure know you want to happen again, and things you know you absolute do NOT want to repeat.
  2. Process your feelings.  As you are growing your baby and awaiting your due date it is a good idea to explore your feelings when you are ready. Talk to your partner or doula.  Sometimes you just need someone to listen.
  3. Take a Childbirth Education course.  Maybe you skipped this the first time.  Maybe you need a refresher.  It is always good to learn about as much of the unknown as you can so you can feel more confident.  If you take a group class you may even make friends with someone feeling just like you are!
  4. Surround yourself with positive support.  Your family, your partner, your care provider, your doula and your friends.  Try to keep positive people near you.  People who don’t dismiss your feelings but validate them.

It’s also normal to have your feelings change.  Every pregnant woman at some point or another takes a moment to think about what the upcoming birth may be like.  And with that comes some emotion.   Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your processing and feelings.

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What can be cool about giving birth again is maybe you do have an idea of what it is like.  Some of the unknown may be known!  This may allow you to focus on other details.  You may have an idea of what helped you.  Use these to prepare for this next birth.  Use your previous experience as another tool in your tool-belt.

For example, “I thought having family in the waiting room would not bother me.  But I remember feeling bad that they were waiting so long out there.”  Use this as a tool to know you would prefer all excited family to wait for baby’s arrival at home until they are notified to come be with you.

No matter how you are feeling about birthing again, remember you are not alone and there is support to help you!

How Will I Know? | Early Signs of Labor

The weeks of pregnancy are coming and going.  Soon you find yourself nearing the end of gestation.  You are close to your estimated due date. Every pregnant person wonders how will I know if I am in labor?  Ask around and you are sure to hear the advice of, “you’ll just know.”   How helpful is that?

The main thing about early labor signs is that they are not always an absolute guarantee that labor is beginning.  Some things like water breaking means baby needs to come, but others could happen and you have days or dare I say weeks before baby actually arrives.

This list below will give you an idea of what to look for and notice.  Take note that some of these will happen before labor begins, and some will happen during labor.

 

1) Lightening- No, not talking about the weather but when baby moves down into the pelvis.  You may feel able to breathe easier.  This is because as baby drops down it is no longer pressing up on your diaphragm and lungs.  You may notice more pelvic pressure as well since baby is lower and now pressing in that area.  

 

2) Bloody Show and/or Loss of the Mucus Plug The opening to the cervix is actually protected by the mucus plug.  This keeps the bacteria out while you are pregnant.  It isn’t so much of a cork but a long and stringy plug.  You may notice more discharge that can be gooey or not.  Sometimes it will be blood tinged.  That is known as bloody show.  These are both signs of cervical change!

 

3) Nesting- Did you wake up with an urge to get things in order?  Can’t get settled until X,Y, or Z is done?  Do you feel energized to get these all accomplished NOW?!  Then you may be nesting.  A sense of urgency to complete things coupled with the actual energy to do them are classic nesting signs.  

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Packing your hospital bag?  Checking things off a list?  These are common nesting items!

 

4) Contractions- A low aching sensation, or period like cramps coming and going, may be the beginning of contractions.  In early labor they can be pretty spread out (even as far at 20 to 30 mins apart).   If you notice a pattern setting in try timing them.  They will gradually get longer, stronger, and closer together as your uterus is working to bring baby down.   Longer, stronger, and closer together contractions are one difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labor.  

 

5) Water Breaking- At some point your body will cause your membranes to rupture.   For some women this will be the start of labor.  Very few women will feel a dramatic gush like the movies.  Much more likely, you won’t know if you peed yourself or your water broke.  It can feel like a gush or a constant trickle.  If the fluid leaking is odorless it may be amniotic fluid.  Take note of the color of the fluid, odor, how much fluid leaked or is leaking, and the time of the water breaking.  Update your care provider on this information.  

If you are experiencing some of these baby may be coming very soon.  While you are waiting for one of these signs rest, hydrate, and enjoy the last days of pregnancy!

April the Giraffe | The Watched Pot… Stays in Labor?

It is amazing to witness a birth.  Seeing a human enter the world is a beautiful and spiritual thing.  Watching animals birth is equally awe-inspiring.  How they seem to just know exactly how to move and where to go.

Miss April the Giraffe is about to give birth.  She’s a Giraffe in New York anxiously awaiting her baby.  For the last month she is believed to give birth any day.

 

And the world is watching……….And still watching.

Good news is she likely doesn’t know it.

In labor it is common for people to be so excited and supportive to their loved ones they think they will get to watch the birth.  They may wait in a waiting room or hope to enter the labor room.  They could be at their own home waiting on updates and continue to text or call worried.

So when you birth who do you want watching?  It’s OK to do what you feel.  For some the idea of lots of close loved ones near by is reassuring.  For others it can create the feeling of “the watched pot never boils.”

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Typically in labor a woman will experience pain or intensity.  Which can be hard for others to see.  The woman may be coping well but all the loved one sees is suffering and wants it to end.  A laboring woman will have different levels of intensity at different points of the labor.  The mood of the room will change.  If the people in the room do not acknowledge that change it may become annoying or frustrating to the laboring woman. As well as anxious energy in the room can radiate to the laboring woman.  Ideally the room will radiate relaxation and calm.

Some find themselves feeling bad if the baby doesn’t come fast enough because all their family is waiting.  This can all lead to mind games.  The mind and body are very connected.

I personally thought I was OK with the number of people who attended my first birth in the beginning.  Which included some unplanned but caring loved ones.  Then my labor was long.  Long enough for the visitors there to dwindle down to who I originally thought would be at my birth.  And then… things picked back up and baby girl arrived.  I truly believe the added people watching and waiting played  a role.

You need to take a look at yourself and what serves you.  What will you feel if your labor is long?  Are you comfortable asking people to leave?  Some say birth is as intimate as the act to create the baby.  Who do you want watching then?

So April, Good Luck sister!  You’ll do great!  I won’t be watching 😉

 

 

Who is Metro Detroit Doula Services? A Blog Series | Meet Dana Lange

Dana Lange is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and wonderful human being!  We are thrilled she joined our team to bring safety and security to all of the families we serve.   She brings her knowledge and compassion with everyone she works with.  Read below to learn more about one of our favorite people!

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Dana Lange, CPST, with her family.

 

Tell us about your family. “My husband, Nate, is an introvert with a wicked sense of humor, and he makes us laugh every day. I always say that “he speaks Dana” because when I forget my words (which is fairly often) he will literally finish my sentences for me. Our kids, Hannah and Nathan, are both exhausting and incredible. Hannah loves science, reading, her teacher, and the Sims. Nathan loves to pretend to be bad guys from Star Wars, but I try not to worry about this too much since he also loves to cuddle with his mama every night.”

What are you reading now? “The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon.”

Trust your instincts and don’t get overwhelmed by the small stuff. Babies don’t need much to thrive and we all have it inside of us to do what’s best for our children. – Dana Lange

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why? “Super strength because car seats are heavy!”

When Dana isn’t busy checking car seats for proper installation and helping parents, you can find her working out at the gym with her new gym membership.  You may catch her listening to Hamilton: An American Musical Soundtrack or a RadioLab Podcast.  She also enjoys reading and blogging!

What is your “path” that lead you to your career? “My kids are the reason I do what I do. After my daughter was born I immersed myself in this whole new world of being a mom. One of the things that I found to be most interesting was car seats; I loved reading about them and considered myself to be fairly competent, so you can imagine my surprise when I went to a CPST and found out my own daughter’s car seat was installed incorrectly. The more research I did and the more eager to learn I became, so after 6 years of being an advocate I finally decided to become certified as a child passenger safety technician. I’m still learning every day and it’s an honor to be able to help families while fulfilling a passion.”

What is your favorite song to karaoke?   “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mixalot.

 

Meet Dana today!  Contact us to get a Car Seat Safety Check or sign up for her Car Seat Safety 101 class coming May 6th!
586-960-5993
info@metrodetroitdoulaservices.com

 

 

My Postpartum Body

Guest Blog by: Marie Lang, Postpartum and Infant Care Doula & Postpartum Placenta Specialist

Even before I had kids, I’ve never really been happy about the way my body looked.  Every time I see pictures of myself from the past, I’m always surprised at how I wish my body still looked like that NOW, but at the time the photo was taken I was unhappy with the way I looked, because I always have been.

I wish I could talk to that girl and tell her how beautiful she is, and to enjoy the body she has in that moment.

I’m really not entirely sure why I’ve always had this negative self image.  My family and friends have always been supportive and loving of me, no matter what my body looked like.  I suppose it’s likely the portrayal of “healthy” female bodies in the media.

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-Pregnant with my first child ❤

I became pregnant with my first child when I was 23 years old. This was the very first time in my life that I was happy with the way my body looked, oddly enough. Even though my belly was expanding exponentially to grow a baby, I was in absolute love with it.  All of the sudden I could celebrate my big belly and I felt absolutely radiant.  I gave birth to my son and the next 7 years were a very hard time.  I dove head first into motherhood and completely lost any sense of self in the process.  I became pregnant again with my daughter when I was 30, and again was able to love and embrace my pregnant curves.

Then Postpartum Depression happened.

The first two years of my daughter’s life were absolute hell.

How could I have so much love for my new little family when I hated myself so much?

Would I ever be comfortable in my own skin? Not only did I gain weight, but I didn’t recognize my postpartum body at all.

Pregnancy definitely changed my body in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

It was around this time that I was seeing a lot of the “Body Positive” movement on Facebook.  This is obviously a great message to send!  I saw all sorts of women of all shapes and sizes totally embracing their curves, or lack thereof, with no apologies!  While I understand the intent of this movement, it was actually very hurtful for me to see at the time.  When I saw women coming out and saying “I love my curves!”, all I could think to myself was, “But I don’t love my curves. I am not positive about anything right now.”  And then there were the people that were telling me “Look at what your body did! It grew and birthed two babies! You should marvel at what your body did and not be so hard on yourself!”

I know that those people were trying to be supportive and helpful, but now not only was I depressed about my body, I felt guilty that I couldn’t just get over it and love my body the way I was apparently supposed to.

Today, I have emerged out of the Postpartum Depression fog. I have lost a ton of weight and gained some back too. I have body positive days and I have body negative days. The negative days are still typically more frequent than the positive days, but I recognize that I am a work in progress. I don’t particularly love my body right now-and that’s OK. The important thing is that I love the person that I am, and not what I look like. I realize now that it’s OK for those to be separate things.

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-Vacation this winter.

I can love myself while not necessarily loving the way I look. My self worth is not measured by my outward appearance. 

I am sharing my story so that people can see that this is normal. It is ok to be disappointed in your postpartum body. What’s important to understand is that no matter how you feel about your body, it does not define who you are.

**Metro Detroit Doula Services has Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas who can help with life after baby is here.  This helps ease the daily stresses and allows the family extra rest.  We now offer workshops and private classes focusing on restoring your core muscles and pelvic floor after pregnancy and childbirth. Contact us today for more information**

Viral Birth Sensation | April the Giraffe

Guest Blog by: Marie Lang, Postpartum & Infant Care Doula and Placenta Specialist

Picture this.

You are pregnant with your fourth child.  Your body has been preparing for this for some time.  You are under the watchful eye of trusted and trained medical professionals. You are comfortably and safely in your own private space – or so you thought.

Next thing you know, you are live streamed and your birth becomes a viral sensation.

While this isn’t a typical reality for most birthing individuals today, it is happening right now to April the Giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in New York.

surveillanceOf course, watching a giraffe give birth online can be an educational event for humans, and it can be argued that since she isn’t aware of anyone watching her or the magnitude of the live stream, that it doesn’t really affect her.  But what if it did?

In our current times, we have so many modes of social media and so many ways to get information out to the public.  Today, everyone is a celebrity.  We have Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and more!  It is easier now more than ever to announce your news (or someone else’s news) to the world.  Typically the intentions are good.

Of course your family and friends are so excited about the new arrival that they want to be a part of the celebration!  So they post a pic, or tweet some birth stats, before you even have a chance to give your baby a name!  This can feel very violating and it takes away from something that is meant to be a very special and intimate time.

New parents today should feel empowered to say no.

It is ok to keep your birth space private. It is ok to ask for no details on social media. It is ok to want to be the one to make whatever kind of special announcement on social media that you want to – first.

Here are a few tips for family and friends to gently remind them that this is a special and private moment for you.

  1. Do not pester an overdue mother – she is definitely more anxious than you!  She has heard the, “Did you have that baby yet??”…5,000 times already today.
  2. Do not mention the baby’s name before she publicly announces it – if you are lucky enough to be privy to this information, keep it to yourself!
  3. The pregnancy and birth announcements should come directly from the parents – this should be self explanatory, but it bears repeating!
  4. Ask the parents how they feel about you posting their photos – every parent has a different philosophy when it comes to their children on social media.  Some parents love the attention!  Some are more private.  Even if you think you know – ASK anyways!
  5. Don’t ask when they plan to have another – there are a lot of factors that come into play when a family is planning to add to their family.  These are all private decisions that they may not necessarily want to discuss in public.
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Parents, feel free to use this picture on your social media to help!

Whether its a baby giraffe, or a baby human, that is welcomed into the world, we can be sure that there will be lots of excitement surrounding it all.  With some support and respect, we can do our best to make sure they enter the world in a respectful way for everyone.

Congrats to April the Giraffe and all other birthing individuals out there!

Does Fear Make Birth Hurt?

Birth is often surrounded by fear.  In the U.S. our media does a good job perpetuating that as scary births certainly make for better drama on television.  Unfortunately a lot of women’s preconceived notions surrounding birth come from the media.   We as a society tend to share the horror stories we hear and less about our positive experiences.  This again drives home the fear women feel about birth.

What specific fears about birth are common?  

Often women report being afraid of the pain of childbirth.  Will they be able to handle it?  What will it feel like?  How intense will this birth experience be?  Working with a childbirth educator, doula, and your care provider can help you understand the process more and help you with the fear of pain.  For many knowledge is power.  Understanding what labor may look like and an idea of what to expect may help you tackle this.

Will my baby be unhealthy?  We all want a healthy perfect baby.  The thought of our baby being sick is frightening.  There are fears of complications during labor.  These complications may lead to a sick baby or sick mother.  One complication may be the fear of not being able to birth at all.  

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Attending Childbirth Education classes is one way to feel more secure about what birth will be like and help remove some of the fear of labor.

One of the most common are fears surrounding the actual pushing part of labor.  What will it feel like?  Tearing goes along with this as another huge fear.  What if I tear to my rectum?  What about episiotomies?  In recent years episiotomies are not routine.  They are done in instances where medically necessary.   Doctors and midwives are working to reduce tearing as much as they can, maybe with perineal massage, or promoting a good position for birth.  

The fear of the unknown of it all may be the scariest.  Or hardest to deal with.  The loss of control and not knowing what it will all be like can be hard on one’s mind.

What happens to us in birth when we are so fearful?  Does it matter if we are afraid in labor?  The answer is there are effects of fear seen in birth.   Believe it or not your pain will actually increase with the more fear you have.   When you are fearful you will increase your muscle tension.  The more tense you are the more pain you may experience.  Especially in birth as you need to loosen and let go.  Your heart rate and breathing may increase.   Neither you nor baby want to be in distress during labor.  

There are hormones at play here.  In labor oxytocin is released and it is the hormone that encourages the uterus to contract and keep working.  This hormone also helps you to be calmer during labor and is responsible for the “birth high” felt right after delivery.  Some people call it the “love hormone.”  Adrenaline is a stress hormone.  When we are fearful or stressed adrenaline is released.  Adrenaline may increase your heart rate and increase your breathing.  In labor adrenaline neutralizes the effects of oxytocin on your body.   So adrenaline will actually affect your uterine contractions and reduce your ability to be calm.

The more you can reduce your fear the better oxytocin can serve your body.

 Adrenaline will reduce and in turn won’t be interfering with your oxytocin.   Try to take comfort in knowing your fears are common.  Every woman will process some anxiety about labor and birth.  So equip yourself with what you need to help keep that fear in check.

Support in birth can go a long way.  Surround yourself with a team you trust.