Pregnancy

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

Holy motherforking shirtballs, I’m nearing the end of pregnancy!

The end of pregnancy is quite literally all the feels.  It can be a roller-coaster! You seem to be in this new weird place.  One foot into pregnancy and wondering what this new life will look like with this baby.  But also one foot already in the future as a new parent. Our minds are preparing as best they can, our homes are ready (or almost). We may have already been through that nesting spell.  Car seats, bassinets, diapers, baby’s first outfit, and a birth bag are all getting checked off the list. It could be…..any…..moment. 

For months and months we watched our bellies expand.   It was gradual yet it also felt like all of a sudden. Just when we thought, “Ok, this is big I don’t think it can get any bigger,”  our bellies grew just a little more. The fluttering movements changed into jabs, and rolls, and stretches, and “oh my gosh get out of my ribs!”  We put up with nausea, aches, pains, bolts of lightning through the crotch, and learning how to navigate normal, daily routines in our rotund beautiful bodies.  After awhile socks are just too much effort.  Am I right?

Our physical bodies aren’t just the only thing riding the roller-coaster of growing a human at the end of pregnancy.

Our minds are taken through the washer like it’s on a heavily soiled extra rinse cycle. They would dry out but sometimes it is like when the load gets put in the dryer but no one hits the start button.  We are excited, then miserable, maybe worried, maybe anxious. Some days we feel like crying. The best thing to do when that strikes us is to just let it out. A good sob is healing for the soul. We may even be so happy to still be pregnant and not taking care of the newborn we long to hold. That is OK too!

Other moments our minds may be in that happy, excited state. The thought of cradling our newborn in our arms may be elating. Whether happy or not many times we think, “I just need to make it to the end of this pregnancy.”

Then the end comes.  

What will this birth be like?  How will life be with a newborn?  Am I ready for this next chapter?

The end of pregnancy a mindfork.

We want to make sure we are doing all the things that can help us prepare for a smooth labor and birth.  But we also want to not overdo it and not stress ourselves out. And then there’s the new things your body starts doing too!  Every new sensation sends us to thinking, “Is this it?!” There’s discharge, and contractions, and mucus plug, and loose bowels.  All of it means labor is coming, and all of it means it could still be days or weeks away. The inability to be in control of when this baby will come can be so frustrating.  The baby is the only one who has any control and our communication with them in the womb is well…hard.  

If you are feeling a little out of your gourd or emotional as you await baby’s arrival know you are not alone.  Most of us as we near the “any minute” stage of pregnancy are right there with you. One minute elated we reached the end! Hooray! Then the next minute we are scared for what’s ahead. “What will this parenting gig really be like?” Then one minute back to “Yay I can’t wait to meet my child!” and then maybe back to “When will this baby come?!”

So it is always a good idea to talk about your feelings and thoughts to a trusted partner or friend.  Call your doula! Take some slow relaxing deep breaths (which is also great practice for birth!). Try to enjoy the last moments of feeling your little being move inside you or whatever may be your favorite part of being pregnant. 

Please know you will be a wonderful parent. You already are!

Having a baby is a huge life transition. Nearing the end of pregnancy can make it all the more real, which is why these feelings can come upon us. Rest assured you are not the first to go through the emotions you are as you sit in these final weeks, days, or moments of pregnancy.  Every parent who has been in your shoes feels you and hears you.

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

I don’t want to have sex. Is this normal?

One pregnancy symptom that can surprise some pregnant women is a lack of desire to have sex.

Pregnancy changes our bodies in so many ways. With the hormone changes, and other pregnancy symptoms you may find yourself not wanting to get it on. This can be a bummer for you, or surprising to your partner too. But know it is OK and should eventually pass.

What causes a sex drive to disappear in pregnancy?

Hormones can be a tricky thing in pregnancy. Those pesky pregnancy hormones, like estrogen and progesterone for example, can play a role in ebbing and flowing your sexual desire. Emotions always come into play as well. Depending on what you are encountering and processing during this time it may impede any naturally occurring uptick in libido. Let’s not forget all the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. It is tough being pregnant. You may feel nauseous just thinking about certain foods. The smells. Oh goodness just the right, or should I say wrong smell can have you running for the toilet. Then there is back pain. Aches and pains in different places. Sleeping is tough so now you’re tired all the time. All of those things are enough to squash any desires of romping between the sheets.

When will I notice a decrease in my sex drive?

This varies. The first trimester can be hard on those who experience many pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue. If those symptoms are more severe it may dampen your interests even further. For some they may not lose any desire in the first trimester. They may even have an increased libido. As the second trimester comes things seem to level off for a little bit and those who felt that increase and they may notice things shift the other direction. That being said, those who felt awful during the first trimester may be finding relief from their pregnancy symptoms in the second trimester and may now be ready to get it on! The 3rd trimester can bring an upswing again for some. But with new aches and pains, swelling, and having a heavy large belly some just don’t wanna.

Tips for those with a decrease in their sex drive.

Know you are not alone. It is super normal to have these dips during pregnancy. Things will change and you won’t be stuck having no desire forever. Talk to your partner about your feelings too. They want you to feel your best and should be understanding that pregnancy can change normal routines. If you don’t want to have sex come up with ideas to connect and be intimate in other ways. Maybe massage! Or take turns drawing things on each other’s backs with your fingers having your partner guess what you are drawing. Get creative or just snuggle and chit chat about what lies ahead.

Like all things in pregnancy and parenthood there are many phases and changes. Having your sex drive wax and wane is normal and common.

Authored by Andrea Stainbrook

For information on doula services and education contact us today!

Is it normal? | I want my life back!

It felt like all of a sudden. One moment. It felt like I looked around and realized I had changed. I mean I knew I was changing. I watched my belly grow and I labored for hours. I had been through this once before. I knew my life would never be the same. But I was in it. I was all the feelings. Happy, excited, nervous, and anxious.

Then she was here. She completed our family. So sweet, so squishy and my brain instantly just wanted to care for this new sweet soul. Soon she wasn’t so new. Visitors stopped coming, my husband returned to work. It was just me, this new baby, and my older child. I spent my days trying to meet everyone’s needs. For the most part I loved it! I love being a mom. In the early childhood years it defined me. I was more than happy to let it. They are my world and I was proud to dedicate my time to them.

These little beings who are amazing yet needy also meant going out of the house was work. Trying to get alone time as a couple was hard. I felt like I could never give my first born the attention she needed. Then in one moment seemingly out of the blue….

I wanted my life back.

I thought about what I could be doing if I didn’t have the responsibilities of these kiddos. What could I do on a whim? What new career path could I be down? Where could I be traveling? Who even am I?

It is common and NORMAL to have feelings of returning to a life you once knew. Having a baby is a glorious time, but it is also a huge seismic shift of our daily lives and identities. People feel this shift at different times. It can happen in pregnancy. As your body is changing shape and your daily routines are interfered with. For others, like me, it comes after baby one or two. You feel like you open your eyes and realize motherhood consumed you and you want to feel like yourself again. Your old self.

If you have this moment of “I want my life back” first off know it is OK. Let yourself sit with the feelings. Life is a journey, and on this journey we grow and process feelings. Processing feelings never seems to go away.

Just because you yearn for an older version of yourself doesn’t mean you hate the life you are in. It didn’t for me. I think it can be a way we check in with ourselves. I think it is a normal moment for all of us at different parts of our lives. We are constantly growing and ever changing, in our minds and our bodies.

Here are some ideas to help you through these moments. Don’t shrug them away! They will return. It is good to face your feelings as soon as you are ready to.

-Talk about what you are feeling.

Your partner or a therapist are great people to turn to. Maybe you can talk to your mom or a best friend too.

-Cherish your old moments and old identities and come up with ways to figure out your new version of yourself.

It is good to embrace where you are at and how you can add things in. For example you won’t be a 20 year old staying out late rocking out in mosh pits or dancing til dawn with no care for responsibilities again. Reminisce on that, but then look at where you are at now. Embrace, “I am a mom! I get to snuggle, and get kisses from little ones who think I am the universe. I get to see these little angels grow and discover life.” Man writing that out makes me pumped to be a mom. Anywho you don’t have to shove parenthood away to find new things to add to your sense of self. Bring them together.

-Seek out new activities and goals.

Find something to do just for you. It may mean finding a not so cheap but reliable babysitter. It may mean commitment. Explore new things to add into your life. For me it was yoga and then running. Not only do these things help my brain matter stay sane they are times just for me. Exercise is just one avenue to explore.

-How are you and your partner (if you have one)? Make sure you are checking in with your partner regularly.

Carve out time everyday to have grown-up conversations. After you trade stories about the kids have some real talk. “What was something funny that happened at work?” “What do you want to do this weekend?” “What show should we binge watch on Netflix?” Like all relationships they only grow if we nurture them. We can’t ignore them and just bank on them always being there. Set aside time for one another. Date again! There are great books out there to help get the conversations flowing and the relationships growing. This is one I picked up and love, “8 dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Julie Schwartz Gottman & John Gottman.

-Meditate.

Find that quiet, happy place, and let your mind rest. Stink at meditating? Never tried it? No worries! You can pick up a book or follow some guidance from a video on the internet. Like all things, the more you practice the easier it becomes. It is good if you can incorporate time to clear your head daily, even if just for a few minutes.

-Practice self love.

You gotta love you. You are pretty awesome. I know we may have never met but trust me, I have good instincts and you are super cool. Doing the things above can help you love yourself more. When you can get to a place of loving and accepting yourself fully, you can then tackle most everything big or small.

Want to know the coolest part of finding your next identity and really loving yourself? Your kids will learn from you. They are watching you as you are their ultimate teacher. Seeing someone explore themselves and doing things that make them better humans is inspiring. What a fabulous thing to do as a parent!

So if you are currently in the “I want my life back” head-space, take some deep breaths. This is normal. You are not alone in ever feeling this way. Hopefully the tips above can help you too.

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

What is a fetal non-stress test?

Due to certain pregnancy concerns, routine measures past 28 weeks, going past your due date, or any reason your doctor/midwife deems necessary you may find yourself being told you need a fetal non-stress test or NST.

So what is an NST?

This test is simply looking to see how baby is doing. It is called non-stress because there is no added stress put on the baby during the non-invasive procedure.

Typically what it can look like is going into your provider’s office or sometimes to the hospital and getting connected to the monitors. (This blog talks about the monitoring process too) One external monitor is measuring any contractions if they are happening and the other measures baby’s heart rate. You will be connected for about 20-30 minutes while your care provider checks your baby’s heart rate, movement, and how it is reacting to the contractions. The provider is just looking to see if there are any signs of distress in your baby with that information.

Sometimes babies are more in the mood to sleep than move during an NST. Drinking something ice cold may help wake her up! If your baby still doesn’t want to move sometimes a “buzzer” can be used by the nurse to stimulate baby to move.

Based off what your doctor or midwife learns from the NST you will be given instructions if anything different needs to happen. This test is one way your provider can get a peek into how your baby is doing.

Written by: Andrea Stainbrook

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

When do I head to the hospital?

The day has arrived! You think you are in labor!

First how do you tell if it is really labor?

So you notice you are having contractions and they seem to come and go. You can try timing them. To time a contraction you time the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction. This is how far apart they are. Note the duration of the sensation as well. What you should start to see is a pattern. There are many apps for timing this or you can use an old fashioned watch or clock.

Check out the apps available to you on your phone before labor begins. There are many to choose from!

Longer, stronger, closer together is the key to a labor pattern.

Your contractions should fall into a rhythm of sorts. Maybe they begin at 8 minutes apart lasting about 30 seconds. Then you feel a shift of intensity and you time them again. Now you notice they are 6 mins apart lasting 40 seconds. This appears to be a labor pattern. The sensations are getting longer, feeling stronger, and are closer together than they were before.

When is it time to head to the hospital?

The 5-1-1 or 4-1-1.

When your contractions are 5 minutes or 4 minutes apart, lasting one minute long, for the course of an hour, it is time to head to the hospital. Ideally you will get to the hospital in an active labor pattern.

Notify your provider that your are heading in or you can always ask them if they feel its a good time to come to the hospital as well. Of course talk to your doula as soon as you think anything is going on. She can offer suggestions, listen, and remind you of ways to cope!

Not sure if it is in fact labor? Looking for guidance on how to distract and cope through early labor? Call your doctor/midwife and your doula!

There are some variables that can change when to head in. If you are high risk, GBS positive, or your water is broken, are some instances that can change the timing. It is a good idea to discuss with your doctor or midwife what it looks like when you think you are in labor. Let them tell you what they prefer in your specific instance.

So remember, longer, stronger, closer together and the 4-1-1 will help you decide when it is time to go! Safe travels ahead!

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

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

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

GAS

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

HOW CAN I HELP REDUCE THE GAS?

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

-Eat smaller meals throughout the day.

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

CONSTIPATION

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

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

HOW CAN I HELP ALLEVIATE CONSTIPATION?

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

-Increase your fiber consumption and drink lots of water.

Squatty potties help get you in a good pooping position.

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

HEMORRHOIDS

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

HOW CAN I MAKE HEMORRHOIDS GO AWAY?

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

Metro Detroit Doula Services