baby

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

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

Gas, Constipation, & Hemorrhoids. All things poop in pregnancy.

Often people don’t share about their poop issues they experience in pregnancy. They can be all too real. Let’s dive in and learn about these common issues.

GAS

Blame the dog if you want but odds are you will be gassier in pregnancy. This can start early on and at any time. We can thank all this extra farting to the increased levels of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone actually causes the muscles of the digestive tract to relax. Because of this more gas can escape. On top of that, as your baby grows, the pressure in your abdomen also increases which adds to more gas being pushed out.

HOW CAN I HELP REDUCE THE GAS?

-Add more exercise to your daily activity. By doing this you can stimulate digestion and keep the gas moving.

-Eat smaller meals throughout the day.

-Avoid trigger foods. Some foods that can be triggering are: fatty & fried foods, beans, sprouts, broccoli and whole grains.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation can happen very early into pregnancy, and it is known to occur at any point and in any trimester. That pesky hormone progesterone relaxing our digestive tract muscles means that things move more slowly. For some their prenatal vitamins or iron supplements could be the culprit as well.

Pro-tip: Address constipation right away, don’t wait! This can help you avoid hemorrhoids from developing.

HOW CAN I HELP ALLEVIATE CONSTIPATION?

-By increasing your amount of daily exercise, you help keep your body functions moving.

-Increase your fiber consumption and drink lots of water.

Squatty potties help get you in a good pooping position.

-Talk to your care provider about your vitamins and if it is related.

HEMORRHOIDS

The dreaded hemorrhoids. These friends usually pop up in the last trimester. Hemorrhoids are simply swollen veins in your lower rectum. Good news is they usually resolve on their own some time after delivery. Between experiencing constipation and so much pressure on the rectum from your growing baby in your uterus, it can be common to experience hemorrhoids. Sometimes they can cause pain and/or itchiness. They can be internal or external around your anus.

HOW CAN I MAKE HEMORRHOIDS GO AWAY?

-Warm baths, or witch hazel soaks & witch hazel pads, can help.

-Being mindful not to stand or sit for too long of stretches.

-Medicated Tucks pads, Preparation H, or other over the counter remedies ease the pain and calms the itchiness.

-If they hang around after your baby is born and are causing a lot of discomfort it is good to talk to your doctor.

In a perfect world none of us would experience any of these, but odds are we will all likely cross paths with one or all of these in pregnancy. Doulas are never too shy to talk about these so never be afraid to give your doula a call!

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

Metro Detroit Doula Services

Let’s let go of mom guilt

by Andrea Stainbrook

Mom guilt. It is real. It exists. And it starts early! From the moment you discover you will be bringing a baby into this world it seems ways to feel guilty start creeping in. As a doula and a mother I hear about it at all different points of parenthood.

Are you eating the right foods? Are you exercising enough? Don’t do this. You should do this. “When I was pregnant I did this.” “You plan on using that?” “I would follow this parenting philosophy!” AAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Social media, and well intentioned, friends and family can infiltrate your mind and you can begin doubting yourself and your decisions. When you once felt confident about a particular thing, you now wonder if you are messing this whole parenting gig up!

I don’t have a why. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we doubt our abilities to be wonderful loving parents? I do it too!

How can we stop it?

I wish I could shout from the rooftops to make us all believe in the fabulous parents we all really are. Even when we slip up, even when we aren’t the most patient, even when we choose the drive through over home cooked meals, we are excellent parents.

Let’s navigate this together. What are some things we can do to help reduce the guilt when we feel it come on. Here are some things I do.

Stop comparing ourselves to others. You truly need to do you. Most often we feel worse after a round of comparing ourselves to others.
I know I do. We tend to compare ourselves to someone we think has it all together, the images of perfection we see, or the mother we made up as the perfect mother. I will tell you a secret. NO ONE is absolutely perfect.

Focus on the good moments. Look at your day. Think of a moment that you are proud of. It doesn’t have to be an Earth shattering parenting moment. Sure maybe you wish you had a redo of the morning. But let that morning go and work on the moment you are in.

A bad moment doesn’t mean a bad day.

Try to remember ALL that you do day in and day out. Know that it is hard work and you are doing it! It may not be always glamorous but your child loves you for it.

Find your friends or talk to your partner. Reach out to your partner. Tell them how you are feeling. Ideally they will listen and stop the guilt spiral! They should raise you up and remind you of your awesomeness. If you don’t have a close inner circle of friends that lifts you up it’s time to seek them out. Friends that listen and don’t shame. Some have luck finding new friends at local parenting groups. You need someone in your life that you can get vulnerable with and they will simply support you and listen.

Real mom friends don’t let other mom friends stay stuck in a cycle of guilt.

When we catch our friends or family feeling guilt lets pull them up! Listen to them. Let them get it out. Then point out the positives. Remind them of their great qualities and remind them that we all go there sometimes.

Together, I believe we can all work hard on letting go of the mom guilt! Believe in yourself and your abilities, accept that you will make mistakes, and know you have support to remind you of how magical you really are!

How to Induce Labor Naturally

by Andrea Stainbrook

For many pregnant women there comes a point where you are ready to be done being pregnant. You want to meet your baby! Sometimes it is out of eagerness, or sometimes it’s because you have been past your due date…for a while. Sometimes your doctor lets you know a medical induction will be happening soon so you want to do everything in your power to coerce this baby to come on its own if you can. Whatever the reason we are all in search of safe things we can do try to and convince our babies to emerge.

First off before doing anything that may be known to cause labor you should check in with your care provider. They will advise you if the option you want to do is a good fit for you.

The number one thing to do is to get oxytocin flowing.

Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone.” This hormone is important as it plays a huge role in labor. It causes your uterus to contract! So releasing this hormone is a good way for a body to potentially go into labor.

5 Ways to Stimulate Oxytocin

  1. RELAX- Being chill creates a perfect, comfortable environment for oxytocin to be released. If you are tense, anxious, or fearful you may release adrenaline which will actually counter the oxytocin.
  2. SEXY TIME- Orgasms release a burst of oxytocin. So getting in the mood will help your body get in the mood to give birth. If your partner is a male, the sperm acts as a cervical ripener which is a bonus. Even just simply being romantic helps. Watch your wedding video, or reminisce about the day you first met.
  3. NIPPLE STIMULATION- Our bodies release oxytocin when a baby latches to nurse. By stimulating our nipples we can get our body to react in a way that is similar to when a baby is trying to feed. The trick here is having someone else stimulate your nipples. Breast pumps can be used, or a partner can hand express your breasts to simulate that body sensation of nursing your baby.
  4. MASSAGE- Relaxing into a massage is a good way to get that love hormone flowing. Whether a partner or a friend is willing to help or you go to a massage therapist, the results should be a more relaxed mood and oxytocin release.
  5. FEEL GOOD ACTIVITY- Watch a silly rom-com that makes you smile! Cuddle with your partner! Cuddle your older kiddo! Take a stroll in nature. LAUGH.

If you are feeling good, relaxing the best you can, and releasing oxytocin, you are setting yourself up for labor to begin. Stressing out raises cortisol levels and adrenaline. These fight the hormones that make it easier for labor to start. A relaxed body is one that wants to go into labor.

Other labor inducing ideas:

Getting up and moving is believed to be helpful. It causes your pelvis to move and open. This helps the baby navigate its way down and perhaps baby gets the message to begin labor. Walking, bouncing on an exercise ball, and doing some squats are ok things to try. Swimming is great to alleviate the gravitational pull on your belly. Dancing is a fabulous way to incorporate movement and release the love hormone at the same time! Turn on some music, sing along, and go to town!

Some may use food as a means to start labor. Some of these have scientific backing and some have anecdotal backing. These are good to again mention to your care provider as each provider has their own lines of thinking about these.

  • Dates (These have some science that shows it helps ripen the cervix when consuming 6 a day for 4 weeks.)
  • Pineapple (No official studies exist on eating fresh pineapple per se but it contains an enzyme believed to soften the cervix.)
  • Eggplant or Spicy Foods (The idea is these upset your digestive system, which then can upset your uterus and cause it to contract.)
  • Bananas (The thought process behind these are to help you maintain proper potassium levels so that your muscles contract normally.)
  • Thyme tea (Is thought to bring on uterine contractions.)
  • Red raspberry leaf tea (Although there is currently no scientific evidence supporting it as an induction method is believed to help tone the uterus.)
  • Licorice root (Real licorice, not the candy 😉 , contains the chemical
    glycyrrhizin. This chemical may increase the production of prostaglandins.)

Another option is trying holistic care. Acupressure points can be used. Some massage therapists may be trained in this knowledge. Regular chiropractic visits with a Webster Technique trained chiropractor can help keep your pelvis aligned and your baby in a good position.

As you are waiting for the big day of the birth of your baby you may want to try some of these. Bottom line do what feels good to you and only do as much as you want to do. Doing all the things doesn’t necessarily increase your chances. Only your baby will truly decide when the perfect time is.

Metro Detroit Doula Services