Pregnancy

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?

 

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.

pre e 1

Proteinuria

This is a fancy word for ‚Äúprotein in your pee.‚ÄĚ And it‚Äôs 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!

 

 

Families Experiencing Loss and Infertility | Resources

From the moment you get a positive test, your dreams and hopes for this new baby comes to life in thoughts of the future, planning, and expectation.¬† On the other side, you may never get a positive test, or you have had children and now it isn’t working; that all comes with it’s own weight of disappointment and discouragement.

Miscarriage, loss, and infertility are trying times for all families.¬† When we come face to face with our deepest feelings, it can actually be a lonely place and feel like no one can truly relate.¬† Many will try to cheer you up, give positive spins on the situation and say well intentioned statements to you because they want to try to help you feel happy again.¬† However, dismissing or shoving away our feelings doesn’t help us deal with our pain.

Your feelings are real.

…they are valid, and it’s completely ok to have them, talk about them, & express them.¬† It’s all part of the process in coming through to the other side of the darkness.¬† Below you will find lists of helpful resources when going through such an event in the Metro Detroit area.

Bereavement/Loss/Miscarriage In-Person Groups/Websites –

Counselors –

  • Embracing Life Counseling – Laurette Lipman
  • Laurel Hicks
  • James Blundo, PLLC

Books –

  • A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life is Expected to Be Brief by Amy Kuebelbeck
  • Celebrating Pregnancy Again: Restoring the lost joys of pregnancy after the loss of a child by Franchesca Cox
  • Not Pregnant by Cathie Quillet¬†(Infertility)
  • Sufficient Grace by Kelley Gerken
  • Empty Arms: Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Infant Loss by Sherokee Ilse
  • I’ll Hold You In Heaven by Jack Hayford

Online support recommendations from fellow moms we know:

  • Resolve – The National Infertility Association
  • The Bump miscarriage/pregnancy loss board
  • Facebook group: Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Infant Loss – 3.4K members
  • Metro Detroit Share

Grieving family members usually find it helpful to continue talking about the situation as much as needed, as often as needed and allowing themselves to feel the full range of their emotions.¬† It’s ok to be both happy and sad at the same time, there is nothing wrong in that.

It can also be healing to do something special to honor your baby like a dedicated memorial stone at the zoo, planting a tree, create a blog or a website, celebrating birthdays, holding on to mementos, also wearing pins, getting tattoos, or applying car stickers of remembrance can help to heal as well.

Sending out virtual hugs those of you in this spot, dealing with life’s unfairness and processing that our worlds will forever be changed or missing something.

If you have something you feel would be beneficial to add to the list above, please let us know by commenting below.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

If you have any questions or needs, we are here for you & will do our best to help.  Give us a call or connect with us via email at info@metrodetroitdoulaservices.com, also on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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.

push birth labor

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.  

nesting image.png

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.”

giraffelegs

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 ūüėČ

 

 

My Postpartum Body

Guest Blog by: Marie Lang, Postpartum and Infant Care Doula & Postpartum Placenta Specialist

Even before I had kids, I’ve never really been happy about the way my body looked. ¬†Every time I see pictures of myself from the past, I‚Äôm always surprised at how I wish my body still looked like that NOW, but at the time the photo was taken I was unhappy with the way I looked, because I always have been.

I wish I could talk to that girl and tell her how beautiful she is, and to enjoy the body she has in that moment.

I‚Äôm really not entirely sure why I‚Äôve always had this negative self image. ¬†My family and friends have always been supportive and loving of me, no matter what my body looked like. ¬†I suppose it‚Äôs likely the portrayal of ‚Äúhealthy‚ÄĚ female bodies in the media.

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-Pregnant with my first child <3

I became pregnant with my first child when I was 23 years old. This was the very first time in my life that I was happy with the way my body looked, oddly enough. Even though my belly was expanding exponentially to grow a baby, I was in absolute love with it.  All of the sudden I could celebrate my big belly and I felt absolutely radiant.  I gave birth to my son and the next 7 years were a very hard time.  I dove head first into motherhood and completely lost any sense of self in the process.  I became pregnant again with my daughter when I was 30, and again was able to love and embrace my pregnant curves.

Then Postpartum Depression happened.

The first two years of my daughter’s life were absolute hell.

How could I have so much love for my new little family when I hated myself so much?

Would I ever be comfortable in my own skin? Not only did I gain weight, but I didn’t recognize my postpartum body at all.

Pregnancy definitely changed my body in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

It was around this time that I was seeing a lot of the ‚ÄúBody Positive‚ÄĚ movement on Facebook. ¬†This is obviously a great message to send! ¬†I saw all sorts of women of all shapes and sizes totally embracing their curves, or lack thereof, with no apologies! ¬†While I understand the intent of this movement, it was actually very hurtful for me to see at the time. ¬†When I saw women coming out and saying ‚ÄúI love my curves!‚ÄĚ, all I could think to myself was, ‚ÄúBut I don‚Äôt love my curves. I am not positive about anything right now.‚ÄĚ ¬†And then there were the people that were telling me ‚ÄúLook at what your body did! It grew and birthed two babies! You should marvel at what your body did and not be so hard on yourself!‚ÄĚ

I know that those people were trying to be supportive and helpful, but now not only was I depressed about my body, I felt guilty that I couldn’t just get over it and love my body the way I was apparently supposed to.

Today, I have emerged out of the Postpartum Depression fog. I have lost a ton of weight and gained some back too. I have body positive days and I have body negative days. The negative days are still typically more frequent than the positive days, but I recognize that I am a work in progress. I don’t particularly love my body right now-and that’s OK. The important thing is that I love the person that I am, and not what I look like. I realize now that it’s OK for those to be separate things.

GWL 2017 fam

-Vacation this winter.

I can love myself while not necessarily loving the way I look. My self worth is not measured by my outward appearance. 

I am sharing my story so that people can see that this is normal. It is ok to be disappointed in your postpartum body. What’s important to understand is that no matter how you feel about your body, it does not define who you are.

**Metro Detroit Doula Services has Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas who can help with life after baby is here.  This helps ease the daily stresses and allows the family extra rest.  We now offer workshops and private classes focusing on restoring your core muscles and pelvic floor after pregnancy and childbirth. Contact us today for more information**

Does Fear Make Birth Hurt?

Birth is often surrounded by fear.  In the U.S. our media does a good job perpetuating that as scary births certainly make for better drama on television.  Unfortunately a lot of women’s preconceived notions surrounding birth come from the media.   We as a society tend to share the horror stories we hear and less about our positive experiences.  This again drives home the fear women feel about birth.

What specific fears about birth are common?  

Often women report being afraid of the pain of childbirth.  Will they be able to handle it?  What will it feel like?  How intense will this birth experience be?  Working with a childbirth educator, doula, and your care provider can help you understand the process more and help you with the fear of pain.  For many knowledge is power.  Understanding what labor may look like and an idea of what to expect may help you tackle this.

Will my baby be unhealthy?  We all want a healthy perfect baby.  The thought of our baby being sick is frightening.  There are fears of complications during labor.  These complications may lead to a sick baby or sick mother.  One complication may be the fear of not being able to birth at all.  

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Attending Childbirth Education classes is one way to feel more secure about what birth will be like and help remove some of the fear of labor.

One of the most common are fears surrounding the actual pushing part of labor.  What will it feel like?  Tearing goes along with this as another huge fear.  What if I tear to my rectum?  What about episiotomies?  In recent years episiotomies are not routine.  They are done in instances where medically necessary.   Doctors and midwives are working to reduce tearing as much as they can, maybe with perineal massage, or promoting a good position for birth.  

The fear of the unknown of it all may be the scariest.  Or hardest to deal with.  The loss of control and not knowing what it will all be like can be hard on one’s mind.

What happens to us in birth when we are so fearful?  Does it matter if we are afraid in labor?  The answer is there are effects of fear seen in birth.   Believe it or not your pain will actually increase with the more fear you have.   When you are fearful you will increase your muscle tension.  The more tense you are the more pain you may experience.  Especially in birth as you need to loosen and let go.  Your heart rate and breathing may increase.   Neither you nor baby want to be in distress during labor.  

There are hormones at play here. ¬†In labor oxytocin is released and it is the hormone that encourages the uterus to contract and keep working. ¬†This hormone also helps you to be calmer during labor and is responsible for the ‚Äúbirth high‚ÄĚ felt right after delivery. ¬†Some people call it the ‚Äúlove hormone.‚ÄĚ ¬†Adrenaline is a stress hormone. ¬†When we are fearful or stressed adrenaline is released. ¬†Adrenaline may increase your heart rate and increase your breathing. ¬†In labor adrenaline neutralizes the effects of oxytocin on your body. ¬† So adrenaline will actually affect your uterine contractions and reduce your ability to be calm.

The more you can reduce your fear the better oxytocin can serve your body.

 Adrenaline will reduce and in turn won’t be interfering with your oxytocin.   Try to take comfort in knowing your fears are common.  Every woman will process some anxiety about labor and birth.  So equip yourself with what you need to help keep that fear in check.

Support in birth can go a long way.  Surround yourself with a team you trust.