Education

Is it normal? | Wow! My boobs are huge!

And just like that you have a couple of large hard melons for breasts.

For some after giving birth their body changes from producing colostrum (the thick usually deeper in color, yellow or orange-ish first food your breasts produce) to breastmilk unbeknownst to you and your boobs. The first sign is “look honey there’s actual milk dripping from my nipples!” For others as their supply builds somewhere on or between day 2 and day 7 after birth you look down and cannot believe your eyes! Just when you thought they couldn’t get any bigger……

“WOW! My boobs are huge!”

They may get ginormous. They may feel hard. They may be really uncomfortable. This is known as breast engorgement. It is common and it is normal!

It can sometimes feel alarming to feel such heavy breasts. You feel like you are carrying around a couple of bowling balls!

Signs of breast engorgement:

Boobs that feel: Hard, warm, or overall uncomfortable.

The skin may feel tight and even be shiny.

-Some have felt like their breasts looked like very inflated balloons, melons, or balls.

So you determined yes, these breasts are engorged. Know its OK and there are things you can do to help it. For most this will pass in 24 hours. Sometimes it can last up to 10 days especially if not doing anything to prevent or help it.

What you can do to help:

Frequent feeding if you are nursing. One goal given by Le Leche League International is to breastfeed at least 10 times a day.

Ensure that when your baby is breastfeeding it has a proper latch. If your baby is not latched correctly it may not remove much milk from your breasts. This in turn tells your body to decrease the amount of milk it is making, which isn’t great for your supply.

Massage your breasts before a feed. Massage starting from up high near your collarbone and move downward to your nipples. Do this in a circular motion.

-Warm compresses. Applying heat 5-10 minutes before nursing can help ease some of the milk out and make for a less forceful letdown so your baby can latch on easier. It also often feels good. These are good to use if you are bottle feeding as well as it helps release some milk and reduce some of the fullness. Be mindful of these though as too much heat can cause more inflammation.

Using washcloths you can make a warm or cold compress. For a warm compress simply run it under hot water and wring it out before use. For a cold compress you can make an ice bath in a bowl and dip the towels in, then wring them out.

-Cold compresses. Doing cycles of 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off can bring relief. It is not recommended to leave cold compresses on for an extended period of time. It is also a good idea to have a layer of cloth between the cold pack and your skin. One well loved product is Booby Tubes. They heat up or cool down!

Cold cabbage leaf compresses. These are recommended to be used with initial swelling but then to switch to other cold compresses once the swelling has reduced if you are continuing to nurse. It is believed that cabbage can reduce milk supply when overused. Simply place the cabbage in the fridge to chill it. Green cabbage typically doesn’t stain versus the red cabbage. Cut out the stem from the center of the leaves. This will help the leaves to fit nicely on your breasts. Place them on your breasts or secure them in place with a bra. Once they are wilted remove them. If not nursing you can use these more continuously to help dry up a supply. I know this one sounds weird but many swear by it to reduce swelling.

-Speak with your health care professional. If you are trying to dry up your supply and need relief from the engorgement there may be supplements or specific recommendations from your doctor or lactation consultant. Also if the pain is intolerable or you are concerned it is always a good idea to reach out to your care provider.

If you do have engorgement don’t panic! Follow some of the tips above to help you. Boobs are rather magical and do all sort of shifting and changing before and after birth!

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

What are birth affirmations?

In the process of birth the birthing person typically will need some encouragement and emotional support. Birth affirmations are simply that! They can even be your birth slogan or mantra! The best part of birth affirmations is you can select those that resonate with you and create ones that truly speak to you.

Why use them? Labor can be long. Labor can be hard. And at some point in labor self-doubt can creep in. Having some reminders that lift you up can help you through intense parts of birth. The goal is to make you feel good about the process and keep things positive. These little sentences can act as your own personal cheerleader!

One example of an affirmation for labor.

Tips for finding and creating affirmations:

Check out our Pinterest page of affirmation ideas

-Use lyrics from your favorite songs

-Scan your birth books for parts that truly speak to you

-Buy affirmations already printed out in card form, like these

-Seek inspiration from your favorite movies or books. It doesn’t have to be directly related to birth to be useful and encouraging!

-Take inspirational quotes from uplifting calendars

-Seek out your favorite poet, philosopher, or public speaker for words of wisdom and inspiration

-Ask your provider what their favorite things to tell patients are

Birth affirmations are for every birth desire.

Whether you want a natural birth or an epidural or a planned cesarean birth, encouragement and positivity are always useful.

So you got your inspiring words…now what?

-Your partner, doula, or support person can read these aloud during the birth.

-You can create a booklet of them to flip through.

-Type or write them on cards and hang them around your birthing room.

-Create wish flags or a bunting out of fabric or paper. Then write the affirmations on the flags. String these up in your birth room.

Birth affirmations are simply another tool to help you cope throughout the labor process. You may find them useful and use them the throughout your whole labor. It never hurts to arm yourself with as many tools as you can. Birth affirmations can be an easy and great tool to use and have with you as you bring your baby into this world.

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

Car seat safety in a crash

by Andrea Stainbrook

In a snap things change forever.

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

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

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

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

When can my child switch to a  booster seat?

Is my child ready for just a seat belt?

What is the best brand?

Check out these graphics Dana created to answer your questions.

Booster SeatSeat Belt Ready

 

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

Dana’s tips for when to use a booster:

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

 

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

Be safe!

 

 

What’s love got to do with it?

by Andrea Stainbrook

Love and labor go to together.

Common questions doulas are asked are:

“How do I get labor started?”

“What keeps a labor going?”

“What can help me in labor?”

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

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

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

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

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

  • Hang up photos of a vacation you truly enjoyed

Thinking about our favorite spots can make us smile.

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

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

 

Baby outings? Can I really shop with my baby?

By Andrea Stainbrook

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

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

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

Oh hey Mom great choice!

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

Here are tips for successful shopping days out!

Think ahead!  

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

This cute face may make the outing even better!

Baby gear for outings!  

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

Where do we go?

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

Make it a fun day to remember!

Local Baby /Children Stores

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

Where do you think you will head first?

 

Five ways to practice gratitude in your family this month

In November, it’s easy to be grateful: For family, friends and food.

It comes naturally to practice gratitude during this month of Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean the gratefulness has to stop once November ends. A family gratitude practice is something that is easy to start in November and it’s a great idea to carry it over into the rest of the year.

We think once you start practicing daily gratitude, you and your family will find so many ways to celebrate life’s little blessings day in and day out.

Here are five ways to practice gratitude in your family this month (and every month, really!). Read on:

Be a role model

If you want grateful kids, you need to be a grateful parent. Little eyes and ears are watching you, so make a point to find something to be grateful for every day. The saying goes, “Not every day is a good day, but there is something good in every day.” When you find yourself getting overwhelmed or upset, try to find something good. A hot cup of coffee, a new pair of socks, a smooch from your partner.

Quality time

Everyone likes quality time and one on one attention, right? And that’s especially true for little kids. Take a few minutes each day to simply focus on your child and his or her unique skills, interests and needs. We know; you are busy. Maybe bedtime is a good time to reconnect. Ask your child to tell you one good thing about the day and then tell your child one good thing about your day!

Good deeds

Sometimes, we can get stuck in a cycle of stress and busyness, but marking aside time (especially during the holiday season) to do a good deed or a random act of kindness with your kids can make a big impact. It can be as simple as buying someone’s coffee in line behind you or feeding a parking meter. But when you show your children how to be kind and think of others – even strangers – it fosters a sense of gratitude and blessings in your family, too.

Write it down

If your children can’t write yet, that’s OK! Sometimes, keeping track of the blessings in our lives is a very visual way to see how good we have it – and that can spur gratefulness. You don’t have to do it every day, but try keeping a gratitude jar or journal this year with your kids and then look at it next November. We bet you’ll love going over all the fun memories!

Volunteer

If your children are old enough, consider volunteering your time this holiday season. This can be a great way to show older children a different side of life and let them share their gifts with others.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

We wish you and your family a wonderful season of gratitude and blessings!

Four reasons it’s a good idea to consume your placenta!

If you are pregnant, you might be planning lots of things: The nursery, whether to breastfeed, bottle feed or both, or what type of stroller to buy.

You should add one more thing to your list: Whether or not to have your placenta processed into capsules for consumption and have tincture made.

Record scratch.

Come again?

Yes, we said process your placenta! As doulas, we know it might seem strange to recommend doing anything with your placenta – heck, if you’ve had a baby before, you might have not even SEEN your placenta after giving birth. But we firmly believe in the potential benefits of placenta consumption (aka placentophagia) and guess what? We are trained in safely encapsulating YOUR placenta using our No-Doubt Policy, so we can assist and handle all of the details after your amazing birth.

So why should you consider utilizing your placenta in this way? We have four good reasons. Read on:

#1: It can help with postpartum recovery

Studies have shown that placentophagia can help balance hormones and curb postpartum depression. It can also help tone and contract your uterus AND be used like a supplement to get back the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients lost during pregnancy and birth.

#2: We are the only mammals that don’t routinely do it

Every other mammal – dogs, cats, donkeys, whales – eat their placenta after birth. There’s got to be a natural and healthy reason for that, right? The animal kingdom is seldom wrong.

#3: It’s not gross!

A properly encapsulated placenta isn’t gross. It’s just like swallowing a pill or vitamin. You don’t have to do it yourself: We can help! We have extensive training in the proper handling and care of your placenta, so you can rest assured it’ll be done correctly and safely.

Some people believe that placenta consumption can help moms who plan to nurse with healthy milk production. There are a variety of anecdotal stories in support of this, it really can’t hurt to try!

#4: It can boost milk production

Some people believe that placenta consumption can help moms who plan to nurse with healthy milk production. There are a variety of anecdotal stories in support of this, it really can’t hurt to try!

Metro Detroit Doula Services

At Metro Detroit Doula Services, we pride ourselves on taking care of women before birth, after birth and every step of the way on this path called motherhood. If you have questions about placenta encapsulation, we’ve got answers.

 

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.