Education

3 Tips For Selecting a Stroller

Selecting a stroller is just one of the many baby item purchases we make as we prepare for a new baby. When thinking about what is the best stroller for your family you need to think about a few things.

What will you use it for?

If you are living in the city and plan to use it all over town you may want certain features like wheels that are made to go over a variety of terrain. If you know you will be driving places and taking the stroller in and out of your vehicle you will likely place some importance on if the stroller can fold and how much space it will take up in your car. So think about when and how you will likely use your stroller to know if the features offered make sense for your lifestyle.

Recently Amy (MDDS co-owner) and I attended a presentation with Jamie Grayson the Baby Guy Gear Guide. Aside from being hilarious and knowledgable he gave great pointers on picking out strollers and we couldn’t have agreed more. Here are the top 3 things to look for when stroller shopping.

THE TOP 3 STROLLER SELECTION TIPS

  1. HANDLE BAR– Look, parents hold a lot of things in their hands. Diaper bags, babies, toys, shopping bags, lattes…….. so picking a stroller that is easy to use with ONE HAND is a great idea. Being able to maneuver easily while carrying all the things is simply lovely.
  2. BRAKES- All strollers will have brakes for locking it into position when you are not looking to roll. In summer season we may use our strollers more often as well as we tend to wear lots of flip flops and sandals. So practice using the brakes on the potential stroller you love. You will want a stroller with brakes that are easy to use even while wearing a flimsy flip flop. This may sound silly but your toes and patience will thank you!
  3. BACK WHEELS- The main thing here is when you may want a bigger back wheel. If you are a regular walker or have lots of steps to go up down you will want wheels that are bigger in the back. They can handle a bit more rough and tumble.

There are so many great brands out there to choose from. Go check some out in a local baby store like Modern Natural Baby. Take a moment to really consider what uses your stroller will primarily serve. Cross reference that with the features available, your price-point, and of course the top 3 tips listed here. Happy shopping!

Authored by Andrea Stainbrook

What is Gearapalooza?

This week an event rolled through the Metro Detroit area. It was the Gearapalooza! This event is held by Bump Club & Beyond. I had never been before. Amy Hammer and I were invited to check it out and we seriously loved it!

So what exactly is this event? Is it an expo? What type of gear is there?

The way this event breaks down is simple.

  1. Mingle and eat some food.
  2. Check out the vendors and their super sweet stuff. Types of gear to check out included strollers, breast pumps, carriers, unique high chairs, swaddles, food mats, car seats, and more!
  3. Be a part of an engaging presentation by the The Baby Guy.
Amy with the Skip Hop Backpack Diaper bag. One of their most popular products.

3 things we loved about the event:

  1. It wasn’t overwhelming to navigate.
  2. The vendors and what they offered were legit awesome. The brands represented, the local businesses, and the gear was cool stuff. From Ergo, Love to Dream, to Honey Space for Moms, and Modern Natural Baby.
  3. JAMIE THE BABY GUY. He broke down what to look for in car seats, strollers, mattresses, and breast pumps. All with commonsense no non-sense talk. He is charming and easy to learn from!
  4. OK I guess there’s 4 things…. THE RAFFLES AND SWAG were phenomenal. They gave away high quality higher end car seats, strollers, and more. There were quite a few winners. And what you received as you walked out the door did not disappoint.

I know, I know, I am telling you about an event that already past. But it was so darn enjoyable I wanted to make sure you marked your calendars for when it swings through again! It won’t be happening in Detroit again this year but there is a Chicago date ahead!

If you were ever curious about what in the world this event is and “Should I go?” well now you know that it just may be right up your alley and a totally fun way to spend an evening! Perhaps you will even win something cool!

By Andrea Stainbrook

True stories from the NICU

September is a time to think about and bring awareness to NICU parents, babies in the NICU, and the medical teams that work so hard to care for these babies. The National Perinatal Association even breaks down this week of September to recognize and honor all of those involved in NICU care. You can check out their website to learn more. (For this week September 26 is NICU Remembrance Day, September 27 is NICU Giving Day, September 28 is NICU Staff Recognition Day, September 29 is Sibling Support Day, and September 30 Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Day.)

Some of us may know someone with an experience in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Our hearts are there for our friends, neighbors, or families, but we don’t always know what they are going through exactly or how to support them. In honor of September’s NICU Awareness, I reached out and asked a few parents some questions about their experiences in the NICU. Their answers are real and raw, and sometimes gut-wrenching. You can feel the emotions in their words. Their answers are their truths and hopefully we all better understand what these experiences are like and maybe even how to better support those we love if or when they are experiencing a NICU stay.

What surprised you as the most challenging part of having a child in the NICU?

“Recovering from birth and not having a comfortable place to be near my baby.”

“Being separated from your newborn. I felt it whether I was physically not in the room with her or even physically in the room with her. I just felt separated from her and as my first, it was the hardest thing feeling like I couldn’t just be with her after her birth which was all I wanted.”

“My baby being in the NICU was a shock to me. Both my husband and I are very healthy. I had a normal healthy pregnancy and my baby was full term. I just never thought that I would have a baby with complications. “

One of the most challenging things, to this day, is that I don’t feel like my baby and I ever got that snuggling, in our own world, feeling. I only got to hold him a few seconds after birth.  I definitely had to grieve the loss of the birth/postpartum I thought I’d have.

What positives did you feel about the NICU and its staff?

“Their willingness to help me with breastfeeding/pumping. They went as far as to get all the supplies and try to make a private spot for me to pump near my baby to help stimulate milk production despite sharing a room with 5 other babies.”

“The nurses were amazing! They taught my husband and I so much about caring for a newborn (taking her temperature, giving her a bath, swaddling, etc.). Although our mom/baby nurses were great, the NICU nurses were so supportive and went about teaching us so many things about newborn care that I felt so much more prepared.”

“That they saved my child’s life. He’s a thriving toddler now and without a doubt it’s thanks to the doctors and nurses who took care of him.  Also, the NICU staff was very supportive of our breastfeeding relationship. They also taught us how to care for a newborn. Sometimes my husband and I refer to our time there as “baby boot camp”. They taught us how to change diapers, breastfeed, bottle feed, and bathe the baby. Babies in the NICU are also on a very strict schedule and we just kept that schedule even when we got home. It helped us feel like we knew what we were doing.”

What did you feel was negative during your baby’s NICU experience?

“In retrospect the doctors and nurses were trying to help my baby. But due to all those post birth hormones and the fact that I was also very sick, I literally thought the doctors took my baby from me. It was very traumatic.”

” I wished there had been more private spaces at our hospital where I could have been more comfortable while holding our baby and recovering. Also, although I loved the nursing staff for the care they were providing and newborn care aspects, I felt it was lacking in support of breastfeeding.”

Driving away from the hospital without your baby was almost a physical pain for me, like I was leaving half of me there, and just a shell was heading home.

If you knew someone whose baby was getting admitted to the NICU what would be your best advice?  Tips?

“To check in with them!!! To offer to bring them a meal if they are still at the hospital. And if they are home and their baby is in the hospital give them support. Even if they don’t come right out and ask, just a text is great. Even just popping over for some company to help keep their mind off things.”

“Tips- take lots of pictures because you don’t always know what the outcome could be.”

“Speak up for your needs and for your baby’s! Do not hesitate to advocate for your needs. I wish I would have asked for more comfortable areas to sit, I’m sure they would have been able to figure something out but I didn’t want to be a burden. I felt like I would have been able to be there more had I done that.”

I think it’s really cute how they call the babies “NICU graduates” when they leave the NICU. 

What do you think the general public doesn’t understand about parents with babies in the NICU?

“That PTSD can occur after their stay.  The beeping of the monitors, the urgency of the doctors, the critical decisions that can be life altering for your child/family.  Even if parents end up leaving with a baby in their arms, their stay in the NICU changes them.”

“It’s not all premature babies who are in there – Evelyn was full-term and a large baby! I never even thought we’d have a baby in the NICU because she was full-term. But with jaundice that wasn’t going away as fast as it should have, it was definitely the place she needed to be.”

“That even if the baby is the NICU for something seemingly minor, to a new mom and her partner it’s life altering and the scariest! Unless you have been there it’s hard to understand, I think. But check in and don’t just assume everything is fine.”

What would have or did help you feel supported during your baby’s stay?

“Since we didn’t plan for the NICU we didn’t really pack or have anything for a long hospital stay. I ran out of clean clothes and toiletries. My mom had to bring us more clothes. Bringing us food, clothes, and coffee meant the world. Also just visiting so I could have someone to sit with meant the world.”

“The nurses helping me to order meals since I was a breastfeeding mother. Even though my baby was in no position to eat (sedated/ventilation) they helped get me breastfeeding supplies, helped me store my milk with my child’s name on it in the fridge and made sure I was getting enough to eat and drink.”

” A more private space to recover. The hospital did let us stay in our room one night longer (allowing us to have to leave her for just one night), but the hospital was full. I was so thankful that we could stay that first extra night, but it would have been so much better to have some space to be comfortable after I had been released. Also – (sorry for the TMI) – it was the worst to change pads in a hospital public bathroom. It was a little thing but on top of everything else it was just so hard!”

The care and love the nurses had for those babies. You could feel the support and care that the nurses had.

A big thank you to the parents who shared their stories here. Overwhelmingly we can feel how the medical staff is caring and how grateful these parents are to the team that supported their babies. You can also hear in their words how difficult it is as a parent to navigate it all.

Reach out to these people. So bring a new parent a coffee and offer a hug! High five a nurse and thank her for her work! Write that neonatal physician a note reminding them of how many families are grateful for all they do!

by Andrea Stainbrook

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?