birth

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!

Your birth space matters – why you should surround yourself with people who support you

Think about the people in your life who love and support you unconditionally. Who would be there for you, with your best interests at heart, in a crisis. In a time of joy. In a time of sorrow.

Hopefully, you have a handful of people in your life who fill that role. Human beings need each other for love, support and friendship and that is always very apparent during life’s transitions – like giving birth.

Birth is a transformative experience that can have a lasting impact on your life. And your birth space matters greatly. Who you have with you in your birth space is an important decision and sometimes, it isn’t easy.

Some people in your life may want to be in your birth space, but they may not always be a good fit. Maybe your mom makes you nervous, or your mother-in-law rubs you the wrong way. Families are excited to be present with a new life enters the world, but that presence may not be the best thing for the parents-to-be.

A birth space that feels off, is stressful or has other issues can impact a woman’s ability to labor. Feeling relaxed, safe and supported is the best way to give birth and who you surround yourself during the process is crucial to a good experience.

Here are some tips for creating a relaxing and supportive birth space:

Hire a doula

Of course, we ARE doulas so we fully believe that hiring a doula for your birth is one of the best ways to achieve the kind of birth you want and deserve. We are there to solely support and advocate for you and your partner. We can make sure your wishes are carried out and that you are fully able to concentrate on delivering your baby. We are trained, experienced and knowledgeable and we don’t have any issue telling pushy family members to back off (in a nice way, of course!).

Talk to your partner

Have a frank and open discussion about your needs in a birth space is a healthy way to set expectations and boundaries. Also, after you have a baby, those expectations and boundaries become even more important as you bond and grow with your new baby. Becoming a family of three (or more!) is a big transition and it should be all about you in the first few weeks. Having these talks now – before baby arrives – is a great decision.

Talk to your health care provider

If you are having a hospital birth, it’s a good idea to talk to your provider about who can and will be in your room as you labor. It’s different at every hospital and sometimes, there can be multiple nurses, medical students and other staff present. It’s OK to say no to these things and set the tone for a peaceful birth with as few interruptions as possible.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

At Metro Detroit Doula Services, we are honored to help create relaxing, safe and supportive birth spaces for our clients. Contact us today if you have questions or concerns.

 

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Do you know the signs?

If you are pregnant, or if you have been pregnant before, you have probably heard of preeclampsia. It’s a condition that can occur during pregnancy and maybe you or someone you love had it.

Preeclampsia can be an extremely serious pregnancy condition that can happen at any time. There are usually warning signs, however, and moms-to-be who get regular prenatal care are generally screened for them at doctor visits.

So, what is it? It’s a hypertensive condition that affects mom AND baby and occurs in 5-8% of all pregnancies, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. It usually occurs after the 20-week mark of pregnancy and it can occur up to six weeks AFTER delivery. The foundation estimates that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy like preeclampsia cause 76,000 maternal and 500,000 fetal deaths annually.

It’s important to know the warning signs, even though some women with preeclampsia have no symptoms. To learn more, read on:

High blood pressure

One of the main signs of preeclampsia is high blood pressure. You can’t tell if you have high blood pressure; it has to be measured by a medical professional. That’s why it is so very important to have proper prenatal care.

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Proteinuria

This is a fancy word for “protein in your pee.” And it’s also why your doctor has you pee in a cup during prenatal visits. Your doctor should be checking the protein levels in your urine during visits, to see if the level is changing.

Headaches and nausea

These can be common pregnancy symptoms OR they can be signs of preeclampsia. It’s hard to tell, right? If you have a migraine-like headache that lasts a long time or is exceptionally painful or changes in your vision, call your doctor.

Also, if you have vomiting that happens after the 20-week mark and comes on suddenly, call your OBGYN or midwife. It could be something as simple as food poisoning or a virus but it’s best to be checked out.

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Swelling

Many women swell during pregnancy, especially in their feet and for the most part, this is an annoying and normal part of the experience. However, if you have swelling in other areas like your face or hands or excessive swelling in your feet, call your doctor.

Pain

Aches and pains are common during pregnancy, especially as baby grows and moves. However, if you have stomach or shoulder pain that comes on suddenly, it could be a warning sign of preeclampsia.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

We want you to have a safe and healthy pregnancy!

 

Why Doulas Are Just Like “Sadness”

Did you watch the Disney movie “Inside Out”?  There is one scene that as a doula resonates with me.   The character Sadness sits down next to Bing Bong after his magical rocket is lost forever.  Bing Bong is clearly upset.  Joy tries to cheer him up.  But Sadness… Sadness listens to him.  Just listens.   She sees him upset and starts with, “I’m sorry that they took your rocket.  They took something that you loved. It’s gone…..forever. ”  Then as Bing Bong opens up she asks questions about the fun he and Riley had on that rocket.   Sadness lets Bing Bong feel his feelings.  By letting him feel his sadness and talk about it she validated his feelings.  A warm embrace and then Bing Bong felt a little better and was able to continue the journey.  film (1)

This is important to doulas.  This is a role we strive to provide.  Not to be “Sadness” per se but to be support that hears you .  We don’t believe you should be a certain way, we just want you to be.  We do not tell you how to feel, we let you feel.

This transcends our doula life and is useful in all relationships.  Parenting, friendships, relatives.  Sadness has it right:

Listen.

Validate.

Support.

That movie has such great lessons to all ages on communication and emotions.  We thank Sadness for being her.  Let us support you and be your listening ear!

 

 

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!

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 😉

 

 

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!