World Doula Week

by Andrea Stainbrook

Spring is here and that means it’s also time to celebrate Doulas! World Doula Week is a time to recognize and celebrate the doulas you know and love. This year for World Doula Week let’s start with doula definitions.

First, let’s answer a question we are asked often: what is a doula?

A doula is someone who brings confidence and comfort to families.

We are non-medical in scope, and are experts in birth and early parenthood. Doulas are there for families in pregnancy, during birth, and after baby arrives. Through education, emotional support, or physical support we help bring calm to the chaos of this transitional time.

Let’s talk the difference in Labor Doulas and Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas. Although our role is always to attuning to the needs of the family we are serving, that can look different before and after your babies arrive.

Labor Doulas

Labor Doulas are available to you once you hire them. Answering questions, listening to your feelings, and being a walking B.R.A.I.N. acronym as you navigate decisions. (What is B.R.A.I.N.?) In birth they are by your side offering comfort measures and always cheering you on. They join the birth team and add a layer of continuous support. Metro Detroit Doula Services’ Doulas support all types of births.

Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas

Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas join you once your baby or babies are here. Imagine arriving home from the hospital with your new bundle and having another set of hands to help you get things settled in. Following the philosophies that you have for parenting, Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas help you develop a rhythm as you navigate life as a parent. They help during the day or the night. That’s right….the night! They stay overnight and tend to the baby to bring you rest.

Ultimately as doulas our mission is for families to feel stronger and feel comfort. Need a doula in your life? Contact Metro Detroit Doula Services today.

The benefits of a pacifier

by Andrea Stainbrook

There are so many decisions to make regarding caring for your baby. You as the parent truly know what makes the most sense to you and what you are comfortable with. One tool getting a bad rap lately are pacifiers. When parents find themselves using them some don’t want to admit it even! While yes everything has benefits and risks, it seems the benefits of pacifiers aren’t really be talked about anymore. So let’s dive in!

Let’s start out by talking the real negatives of pacifier use. It seems a common belief with those trying to nurse is that you should not introduce a pacifier. Have you heard of “nipple confusion?” Did you know this doesn’t exist?! Babies can develop flow preferences (milk that comes out easily of a bottle nipple but the baby has to work hard at the mother’s breast), but they aren’t confused. In regards to breastfeeding, pacifiers may damage a nursing relationship in instances where the pacifier is being used to replace a feeding or to delay feedings. In these cases you may cause a reduction in the amount of milk being produced because the baby isn’t stimulating the breasts.

Other negatives of pacifier use can include an increased risk of ear infections in babies older than 6 months, and/or orthodontic problems with babies 18 months and older who suck for more than 4-6 hours daily.

So those are the risks. Why would you use a pacifier? Some babies simply have an insatiable need to suck. Many babies want to suck for non-nutritive reasons. It can be soothing to them. But did you ever think about the benefits? That’s right, pacifiers can be good!

The benefits of pacifier use:

Reduced risk of SIDS up to one year of age.

Calms the baby

In premature babies comfort sucking has been linked to shorter NICU stays

Baby’s pulse slows

Strengthens the baby’s sucking ability

Reduces crying

Many parents want all the tools to help them soothe their babies. Pacifiers are simply one tool.

Pro-tip:

Introduce the pacifier during a time when the baby is content. Most of us try to offer the pacifier to our babies when they are upset and inconsolable. If you were upset and someone kept shoving this rubber thing in your mouth you would be like, “what are you doing? Get that away!!!” What if every time you were were upset someone shoved that rubber thing in your mouth? You would associate that rubber object with your frustration.

Instead when your baby seems happy gently introduce the pacifier. First stroke your baby’s cheek with it. Then try rubbing it along its lips. You can even talk upbeat to your baby while you do this. While your baby is still happy barely insert the pacifier into your baby’s mouth. If your baby is in the mood to suck she will likely suck it right into her mouth and give it a go! Keep introducing the pacifier during these content times to get your baby used to it as a tool. The next time she is upset and you offer the pacifier after these introductions, she will likely be happy to use this tool to settle her need to suck!

All tools and items we use to care for our little ones come with pros and cons. Pacifiers can be good and have their own set of benefits.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

Contact us to learn more!

(Resource 1, Resource 2)

It’s their birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

by Andrea Stainbrook

1 year. When your baby turns one there is a roller coaster of emotions. Often we feel happy. What a thing to celebrate! One orbit around the sun completed! But sometimes it feels bittersweet and brings you to tears.

Babies do so many milestones in that first year. Sitting up. Crawling. Eating. Some may walk. First smile. First laugh. First poopy blow out. So many moments to cherish!

The first year is also has its hard moments. Take time to congratulate yourself on getting through the more difficult parts. Some nights your were surely more awake than blissfully asleep dreaming. Sometimes your baby cried. Just cried. And all you could do was hold her close and let your warmth hopefully calm her. You put baby first and yourself second often. Normal, and totally ok. But that means you likely spent some days in pajamas…the same pajamas you wore yesterday.

The first year means you became a parent.

You know what it is like to be able to burst into tears just thinking about the love for your baby. You know what it is like to be selfless and altruistic. You know what is it like to see hope and joy for new life. You know so many more children songs than ever before. Those suckers get stuck in repeat in your brain, don’t they? “Baby shark do do do do do do!” You understand your kiddo so much more than anyone else. You hear their language and understand their needs. You are a superhero. And your baby loves you more than anything. You are your baby’s world.

The days are long but the years are short. This sentence likely speaks volumes to you. So as you celebrate one marvelous year of life with your favorite little human, let yourself feel. Feel the happiness, or cry if you want to. No matter what you’re feeling it can be fun to dream up a fantastic celebration or maybe simply snuggle close as a family. Happy birthday to your baby! Now go embrace that sweetie pie and dream of the next year ahead!

Trimming baby’s nails. Hard pass.

By Andrea Stainbrook

You stare down lovingly at your sweet bundle. Squishy and angelic. An angel with claws! It is always amazing to see how fast babies can grow their nails. Some come out of the womb with long nails. New babies may need a trim as often as every few days!

While looking at your sweet unsuspecting baby you are thinking, “Nope, not gonna do that. I don’t want to hurt him!” That’s totally ok… for a little bit. There are those little newborn mittens, or even baby socks you can put over your baby’s hands so that they don’t scratch themselves. Eventually though it needs to happen.

Step one: Deep breaths. You CAN DO THIS!

Step 2: Gather your tool of choice.

Clippers, scissors (nail scissors not your kitchen’s junk drawer scissors), or files. Clippers are the most commonly used. They sell mini ones perfect for tiny hands. Some even have magnifying glasses on them. Scissors are typically more expensive but those who prefer them like the control they have. The fear with either of those is accidentally cutting the baby. Files are known not to draw blood and people like that there is no cutting of any kind. Sometimes baby’s nails are soft though so files can be hard to use until their nails are hardened.

It is not a good idea to bite them off or tear them off. Taking off too much nail is easy to do and can lead to ingrown nails or discomfort.

Step 3: Take your time and pick a good moment of the day to trim your baby’s nails.

Some parents like to make this something they do together with their partner or helpful friend, as some babies like to squirm. It is not a bad idea to add it to a routine or schedule if you are following one. Perhaps add it onto bathtime, the bedtime routine, or even tack it on to playtime. “See baby? This is fun!”

You will learn that it is doable! It can be daunting at first because we never want to harm our little ones accidentally. With patience and practice it will become a breeze of a parenting task.

New Mom in Metro Detroit Seeking Friend

by Andrea Stainbrook

Hello! I am a new mom looking for a friend, likely another new mom, to share this journey with. While taking a break from my busy work life, I am now busy being a parent to young children. Instead of waking up early to squeeze in some gym time, I am up early squeezing diaper cream on a fresh angry rash.

I am looking for someone who is good at patching together stories over the phone that are broken up between calming hungry cries and hollerin’ “gentle hands on the doggie’s tail!” I like to do outings and am open to playdates, or perusing Target while pushing our strollers.

I am over all the judgement and guilt online and looking for real life connection. Can we just be real with each other as we are doing our best to be the best we can? I will pour us each some tea and we can just share what our days are.

I love getting brunch but with the baby it is sometimes easier to get it delivered. Let’s get together and order meals in!

Let’s face it, motherhood can be lonely sometimes. Let’s be friends!

Becoming a mom is a wonderful but tough job! What would your “friend ad” say? Go on try it….New Mom Seeking……

Morning sickness…HELP!

by Andrea Stainbrook

Congrats! You peed on a stick and discovered you are pregnant! One of the most common and most talked about symptoms of pregnancy is morning sickness.

Hello toilet my old friend.

WHAT IS MORNING SICKNESS?

Morning sickness is nausea in pregnancy. It is believed to be caused by pregnancy hormones and estrogen. Some lovingly refer to it as “all-day sickness.” Although there may be some whom experience nausea upon waking and it dissipates as the day goes on, others will have it happen at varying times in the day. Or all day. Approximately 70% of expecting mothers will experience some amount of nausea.

WHEN WILL MORNING SICKNESS BEGIN?

You may experience morning sickness as early as 4 – 8 weeks along. Some people will no longer feel the effects of morning sickness at around the 14 week mark. This can vary for everyone though.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY MORNING SICKNESS?

There are many remedies for trying to help ease the unpleasantness of morning sickness.

FOOD:

-Eat what sounds good and avoid foods that trigger the nausea.

-Foods high in protein like eggs are believed to be helpful at keeping nausea at bay longer.

-Other options that are good to eat: crackers, bread, fries and soda ( I call these “hangover foods”), sour candies, sucking on hard candies, ginger items like ginger ale or ginger candies, and all the plain foods (potatoes, rice, toast).

-Nibble on crackers first thing upon waking.

-Eat many small things throughout the day instead of big meals spread far apart.

-Avoid waiting too long to eat and getting dehydrated as those seem to make it worse.

OTHER REMEDIES:

-Can you keep yourself busy and your mind off of it? Some find distraction a helpful tool.

-A holistic approach is using an item like Sea Bands. These use acupressure to help curb the nausea.

TALK TO YOUR CARE PROVIDER:

-If the nausea isn’t subsiding or it is interfering with your daily life please reach out to your doctor or midwife. There are some medicines available to help. If you have extreme vomiting and/or nausea you could be diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarium and they will help devise a treatment plan right for you.

Hopefully the items mentioned above helps you tolerate morning sickness. It isn’t an easy thing to go through so be gentle on yourself, and hang in there!

5 anxiety reducing tips in pregnancy

by Andrea Stainbrook

It is normal to worry, or feel anxious in pregnancy. There is a lot happening. Your body is changing, as well as your life is changing! So many things to consider and think about. It can easily be overwhelming. For some you may already have a history with anxiety or have other stress factors compounding your feelings during pregnancy. Always be gentle with yourself.

Give a call to that person who will just listen.

Here are our 5 tips to help lessen the anxiety you feel:

  1. Get your feelings out! Talk about it. And talk about it ideally with someone who won’t judge you and will just listen. Our doulas are trained in this and available to their clients. A good friend or family member can be a great listening ear as well. If you have a partner let them hear you. By speaking about your emotions you will begin to process them.
  2. Get moving! Find an exercise or activity that will let your mind wander away from the pressing worries. Exercise is known to be a mood booster overall and hopefully it can help you think more clearly. Finding a local pre-natal yoga class (or other pre-natal centered exercise class) can be a good option as you can meet others that may have similar feelings and have an understanding of what you are going through. Walking and running are good options as well! Get out and smell that fresh air.
  3. Take a birth class! Many times the fear of the unknown is scary. Often it can be the fear of childbirth itself. By learning more about it and what to expect you can reduce some of the anxiety you have surrounding it. We, at Metro Detroit Doula Services, offer birth classes monthly or will even teach you privately in the comfort of your own home. Knowledge is power, and in this case knowing more about it may bring some calm.
  4. Practice your breathing! Focusing on your breathing is a great tool for coping with anxiety as well as great practice for birth. Long slow deep breaths are ideal. Take a long breath in through your nose filling your lungs, then release it long, low, and slow. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  5. Discuss it with your doctor! It is always a great idea to keep your care provider in the loop with how you are mentally feeling. They will be the best tool to help you come up with tailored ways to address your anxiety, referrals to therapists, as well as know what is available to you if medication is the best path. If you cannot function through your normal daily life or you are having anxiety attacks please reach out to your doctor right away. They will be able to help you navigate your next steps.
A daily yoga practice can incorporate your breathing practice and exercise.

Hopefully you will see some improvement by implementing some of the tips above. It is OK to have worries and stresses. It is normal to need to process your fears. We don’t want those feelings to consume you though. Take care of yourself and give us a call if you need a listening ear!

What is your ultimate birth mix-tape?

by Andrea Stainbrook

One thing that can help you cope in labor is an environment around you that brings you comfort. Music is one factor that can really help our minds be calm, distracted, or energized even!

Ever go for a drive and a song comes on that takes you to a memory? You could almost smell the smells from that time! Our connection to music is powerful. Imagine getting into the zone and focusing on some tunes. That will certainly help distract you from some intense feelings of labor. Music is a wonderful sensory input.

No matter where you birth, hospital, birthing center, or at home you can play the music of your choice. Bring a portable Bluetooth speaker that connects to your phone.

Portable Bluetooth speakers are perfect for bringing with you. Don’t forget batteries or the charger cord for it as well!

Pro-tip: Create several playlists.

Labor has times that you need relaxing tunes, but it also may need some jams that are upbeat and uplifting. The rhythm of labor is similar to baby’s heart rate which averages between 110 and 160 beats per minute. Think Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around,” which is about 150 bpm. So it is a good idea to make a few playlists.

Ideas for playlists:

  • One that can perk you up! Maybe even laugh!
  • One that is super relaxing and you could almost drift off to sleep listening to it.
  • Visualizations being repeated.
  • A mash up of all your favorites from a variety of artists and genres.

There is no right or wrong to what you should listen to. If it speaks to you and brings you comfort it is perfect! Also now is the time to pay full price for any streaming service. No one wants commercials when giving birth!

So when creating your mixes think about songs that give you the feels. If they trigger you to feel good that also helps with the hormone oxytocin being released, which is the hormone that causes your uterus to contract! This is all good news in keeping a labor moving! If you are having a planned Cesarean birth you can request for you music to be played or to wear ear buds during the birth if possible.

In my career I have heard a variety of styles that people enjoy in birth. From reggae, to 90s hits, to heavy metal, to rap, and everything in between. What will your mix be?

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!