After Baby

Sex After Baby

Written by Jillian Wood, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

When your provider gives you the go ahead for sex after baby (usually around six weeks and when postpartum bleeding has stopped), does that mean that you should feel ready? Nope. We want you to decide on your own watch. Your birth story, amount of healing, fatigue level, emotional readiness, or even just finding the time, all play a part. 

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Maybe you’ve been counting down the days until you can jump in the sack with your person again. But, that day is here and… I’m not ready!

Maybe your indefinite plan is to never have sex again… I just pushed out a human, thank you very much!

Getting back in the groove can take time and it is normal normal normal to have fears and reservations. 

What’s the hold up?

Here’s what other moms are saying:

“I’m scared that it will hurt.”

At first, I can’t promise you that it won’t be different. If you feel uncomfortable, listen to your body. You may have to stop before you’ve even begun and that is OK! Give yourself permission to just try again another day. Or, slow it down and spend some time with foreplay. Remember the lubrication. Hormonal changes in your body can lead to vaginal dryness, especially when breastfeeding. Take a minute to breathe and consciously relax your body from head-to-toe feeling that last bit of tension release. It may take patience and encouragement to convince your muscles and tissue to stretch. 

“I’m not feeling sexy.”

You’ve started viewing yourself as a milk-making-mom-machine. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. Your body feels soft and your breasts are leaking. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. To boost the mood, give each other a little massage with some awesome body oil. Sneak away while baby has a full belly and a fresh diaper. Or, try sex first thing in the morning after you’ve both had a few hours of consecutive sleep. If you’re worried about breastmilk mishaps, put on a supportive bra (maybe two) and tuck in a couple breast pads. Or just throw it out there, Hey honey, if my milk lets down, I may want to take a commercial break. 

“Reaching orgasm is impossible.”

Postpartum orgasm can be difficult to achieve. Inability to orgasm can be due to low pelvic tone, hormone changes, fatigue, stress, or all of the above. Psst (I’ll just set this right here)… researchers conclude that anywhere between 40-80% of women need direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. So, there’s that. To improve your pelvic tone, basic kegel exercise is a good place to start. For the sake of simplicity, be like Nike and Just Do It. When you find a few minutes of down time (in the shower, staring at the coffee pot, waiting in the car for 30 minutes in the parent-pickup line at preschool) alternate quick and slow pumps (try to hold for 10 seconds) ideally three times a day. You can’t screw this up. Don’t forget to contract the rectum as well. It can only help. 

Some women have to work quite hard to restore pelvic tone. If you are concerned about your difficulty with kegel exercise, incontinence, or inability to orgasm, call the birth center. Your body may need more than simple home exercises and some women benefit from the help of a physical therapist. 

7 Quick Tips:

  1. Share your fears and what you’re excited about. Maybe your partner is even worried about hurting you. Talk more about it. When that time comes, it will be more fun and less scary.
  2. What’s your birth control/family planning story? There will be time to talk options at the 6-week postpartum checkup.
  3. Put the lubrication at the bedside. Coconut oil is a perfect semi-solid natural option. If you’re using a condom, choose a water-soluble option instead. 
  4. Communicate your needs. Is one position more comfortable than another? Do you need to stop or slow it down? Tell your partner; It will build trust and be better for everyone. 
  5. Penetration isn’t recommended until after 6 weeks. This is due to increased risk of infection and the need for healing. But, if you are feeling sexual and it feels good, find your orgasm in other ways. 
  6. Remember that it will get easier. It will get better.
  7. Nothing embarrasses your midwife. If you are having problems in the bedroom, we hope that you won’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

Top Five Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Two Weeks

 photo credit: Meredith Westin

photo credit: Meredith Westin

Breastfeeding is a journey, both beautiful and challenging at times. To help ease the first two weeks of your postpartum we have put together a list of items that will hopefully make things easier!

Motherlove Nipple Cream: Nipple cream is essential, especially in the early days. Your baby will want to nurse very frequently. Even with a great latch, it takes some time for your nipples to get used to this. Put nipple cream on your nipples after each feeding. No need to wipe it off before feeding your baby.

Nursing Bra / Tank: You will want to have these before your baby is born. It can be helpful to get sized; after 36 weeks is a good time for this. During the first two weeks of postpartum you will find yourself living in your nursing tank!  It is easy and you don't have to put anything else on. Nursing tanks are supportive to your breasts and you can find ones that also support your postpartum tummy. I recommend having 2-3 of both nursing tanks and nursing bras.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Hydrogel pads are a serious life saver for sore, cracked nipples. After about 24 hours your nipples will feel much better if they are cracked or very sore. In saying this, if you find yourself with very sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, be sure to contact a lactation specialist. It is normal for a little bit of soreness. If you are wincing in pain when it is time for a feeding, this is not normal.

Nursing Pads: Once your milk is in, you may find that your breasts are leaking milk. Whether you are nursing on one side and the other side begins to leak or if you have a let down when your baby is not feeding, you will want nursing pads in your bra at all times. There are washable and disposable options; get both.

Resources: I cannot stress how important good resources are during the early days of breastfeeding. Maybe it is your mom, sister or a good friend, someone to talk to on rough days, and someone with breastfeeding experience. Choose one or two people to reach out to for advice otherwise too much advice can be overwhelming. Never hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant if you need help with latch or have production issues. A great website to turn to is www.kellymom.com

A nursing station can be very helpful as well. You can prepare this before your baby arrives so it will be ready to go when you get home. Get a basket to set next to your bed and fill with snacks, water, a couple of diapers, wipes and a good book!

 

Top Five Breastmilk Boosting Nutrients

 photo credit: Laura Robinson

photo credit: Laura Robinson

Breastfeeding your baby is rewarding in many ways, from bonding, health benefits for you and baby, cost effectiveness, and much more! But what happens when your milk supply starts off low or lessens after a few months or when you return to work? Our top five recommended breastmilk boosting nutrients are goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel and malunggay. Here are a couple of ways to get these nutrients into your diet.

Motherlove More Milk Special Blend: This supplement is an all-time favorite. It contains goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle and fennel seed. Goats rue is one of the most potent herbs to support lactation in women who have difficulty breastfeeding. The leaves stimulate development of mammary tissue to increase breast size. Fenugreek seeds are the most recommended herb in the United States for increasing breast milk. Blessed thistle supports lactation and is considered an emotional ally to uplift spirits and reduce anxiety. Fennel seed is the most commonly used herb to support lactation in the world.

Go-Lacta: Go-Lacta is an all natural plant-based galactagogue, made from premium Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam) leaves, which assists in increasing mom's breast milk supply. It is traditionally used in Asia. A unique quality of Go-Lacta is that is focuses on mom and baby. This supplement can be taken antepartum and postpartum. Studies have found that malunggay leaf powder prevents malnutrition in pregnancy or breastfeeding women and their children. Pregnant women recovered quickly from anemia and had babies with higher birth weights.

Aside from supplements, a fun and yummy way to boost your milk supply is with lactation cookies! 

Lactation Cookies: There are many lactation cookie recipes out there. The main ingredients to focus on when making lactation cookies are oats, flax seed, fennel and brewers yeast

If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, Health Foundations Birth Center has a full-time lactation consultant that you can meet with. You can request an appointment or give us a call. The two supplements mentioned above can be found on our on-line store for purchase.

 

 

What to Pack in Your Birth Bag

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As your guess date approaches, packing a birth bag is essential. Around 36 weeks is a good time to start collecting things to have ready. We have put together a list of favorites for you.

Labor

  • Snacks: Bring your favorite snacks for you and your partner. Think of things that are mild and easy to eat. Some good ideas are trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, honey sticks, nut butter, instant oatmeal, and yogurt.
  • Fluids: Bring a water bottle to keep near you at all times. Your partner can help remind you to hydrate through labor. It is also ideal to bring a few alternatives to water for both of you such as, coconut water, emergency-c, juices and natural popsicles.
  • Clothing: For laboring, bring comfortable nightgowns, a robe, t-shirts or pajama tops. If you plan to labor in the tub and/or shower, you may wish to bring a sports bra or swimsuit top. If your partner would like to support you in the tub or shower, bring a swimsuit. Bring a pair of slippers and cozy socks.
  • Lip Balm: In labor your lips tend to get very dry, especially during pushing. Have it ready to use and easily accessible. 
  • Hot Pack: Heat can be a wonderful comfort measure. You can use an electric heating pad, microwavable rice pack or hot water bottle.
  • Music: Think about making a labor and birth playlist. This may be soft, slow songs, spiritual songs or even fun upbeat music. If your place of birth does not have speakers, pack your own.
  • Essential Oils / Lotion: Bring your favorite oils and a plain lotion with you. Some recommended oils are peppermint (for nausea), clary sage (to help strengthen contractions), lavender (for relaxation). The lotion can help with massage. 
  • Hair Accessories: If you have long hair, you may want to put it up at some point during labor to get it out of your face. It can be nice to bring a headband too. 
  • Chargers: Be sure to pack phone chargers. If you are bringing a camera, bring a charger and extra batteries just in case.

Postpartum

  • Clothing: Bring comfortable clothes to wear home. Something loose and easy to get on and off. Be sure to pack a change of clothes for your partner as well. If you are breastfeeding, bring a nursing bra.
  • Baby Clothing / Blankets: For the ride home you will want an outfit for baby (onesie, footie pajamas, socks and a hat). Also bring at least 2 blankets.
  • Toiletries: Pack a small toiletry bag for you and your partner. Just the basics is fine, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes and a hair brush.
  • Car Seat: You will want to have your baby's carseat installed in your car at around 37 weeks so you are prepared to bring him/her home. You want to make sure that it is installed properly so give yourself plenty of time.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Uncensored

Let's be honest ladies, there are many things that happen during pregnancy and postpartum that no one ever told you about. In the moment they are far from funny but looking back all you can do is laugh!

Pregnancy Uncensored

No Control Over Gas: Starting in early pregnancy our digestive system does all kinds of strange things we are not used to. Gas being one of them. And it only gets worse as pregnancy progresses! This can happen in the most inopportune times...

Hiccups and Belching: Ladies with manners goes out the window. There is no stopping it. It doesn't matter what you eat or drink, it is happening! Thank your lovely digestive system once again.

Unpredictable Emotions: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably yell. Emotions are up and down throughout pregnancy. They can change on a dime any time of day. Commercials alone can get the tears flowing. Hunger can cause an angry outburst. The next minute you may find yourself dying of laughter. 

Wetting Your Pants: It could be a sneeze, a cough or a good belly laugh that causes it. It could be a trickle or a gush. The pressure on your bladder is no joke mamas! You may want to keep a pair of clean undies in your purse.

Nipple Changes and Pain: It is amazing how your body changes during pregnancy. Women's nipples and areoles become quite dark and large. The reason for this is for breastfeeding. It makes it easier for the baby to see them. But it can be quite alarming! Side note: if you are pregnant in winter, watch out! Cold temps can cause a stabbing pain in your already sensitive nipples!

Postpartum Uncensored

Bleeding and Mesh Underwear: Most of us are not prepared for the month long bleeding that comes after birth. Fun times. No period for 9 months and then BAM! 3-6 weeks of bleeding. To accommodate this you will be given mesh underwear with a pad that is more like a diaper. Victoria's Unkept Secret.

Hair Falling Out: A few months after your bundle of joy has arrived, your glorious pregnancy hair may fall out at an alarming rate. Don't worry- Although it may seem like you'll lose it all, you won't. Your body is just readjusting. During pregnancy you don't lose much hair at all so it is just making up for lost time!

First Postpartum Poop: This is definitely not discussed ahead of time and there should be a forewarning! After giving birth, which might feel like a huge bowel movement, the last thing you want to do is actually have a bowel movement! The pressure can feel kind of scary, but I promise your insides will not fall out even though it feels like they might!

Labial Swelling: Whether you push for 15 min or 2 hours, there will be swelling- probably lots of it. You may not recognize yourself down there. Stick with ice packs and 3-4 sitz baths per day. The swelling goes down! 

Hemorrhoids: This little cluster of grapes on your backside can happen in pregnancy, labor, birth AND postpartum. It is part of why the first postpartum poop is so uncomfortable. Have no fear, they do get better. Those lovely sitz baths will help immensely!

Pregnancy and postpartum is a very special time in a woman's life. It is beautiful and messy all at the same time. All laughs aside, if you are struggling during your postpartum time or something just doesn't seem right, please reach out. There are many resources in the Twin Cities such as, Postpartum Support Minnesota http://www.ppsupportmn.org, WildTree Psychotherapy http://wildtreewellness.com and Iris Reproductive Psychiatric Clinic http://www.irisreproductivepsychiatry.com

 

 

10 Surprising Facts About Your Newborn

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Newborn babies may be small and need a lot of caring for but they are such a wonder! It is amazing what they can do. Here are some surprising and interesting facts about your newborn.

Vernix: Many babies are born with vernix on their bodies. If your baby comes past his due date, there will probably very little. Every baby has a thick coat of vernix in utero. Its main benefit is its anti-microbial properties which protects your baby’s delicate skin from the acidic levels of your amniotic fluid. Rather than wiping or washing it away, rub it into your baby's skin. The World Health Organization recommends leaving it for at least 24 hours.

Skin to Skin: It is no secret how important skin to skin contact is with your baby; not just right after birth either! Skin to skin is beneficial for weeks. Laying with your baby this way, supports breastfeeding, regulates her body temperature, and greatly reduces stress. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk of postpartum depression in mother's as well.

Baby Poop: Get used to talking about your baby's poop! Your baby's first poop is called meconium. It is dark, tarry and consists of amniotic fluid, secretions of the intestinal glands, bile pigments, fatty acids, and intrauterine debris. It can be hard to wipe off! It is helpful to put some olive oil on your baby's bum, this will help get the meconium off easily. If breastfeeding, your baby's poop will transition to a mustard yellow and will look seedy. This is normal! Your baby's poop won't change to brown until solid foods are introduced.

Taste buds: By the early age of 13 weeks gestation, your baby's taste buds are fully formed. Your baby can taste everything you eat through the amniotic fluid. Research shows that baby's have a predisposition to like sweet flavors more; your breast milk has a sweet flavor.

Vision: Newborns are very nearsighted; they can focus no further than 6-10 inches away. Baby's enjoy looking at your face but don't see the details. Newborns don't see color well and focus better on black and white images however, they develop color vision very quickly.

Crying: Newborns are born with working tear ducts and glands, but only enough to lubricate the eyes. You won't see any tears when your baby cries until about 1 to 3 months of age. As far as crying goes, your baby cries for many different reasons. The most common are hunger, thirst, dirty diaper, wanting to be held and being tired.

Eating: Babies are born with a very tiny stomach which makes sense because before your breast milk is in, your baby will only eat small amounts of colostrum, albeit very frequently! To give you an idea of just how small their tummy is, on day one it is the size of a cherry and should only take in 1-1.4 teaspoons at each feeding. By one month it is the size of a large egg.

Sleep: During the first 24 hours of life outside the womb, your baby will take a decent nap for a few hours at around 6 hours of age. From 0-3 your baby's sleep pattern will very likely look nothing like yours! Their sleep schedule can range from every 45 minutes to 3-4 hours any given day. This is normal. Their circadian rhythm takes time adjust.

Reflexes: Newborns are born with several different reflexes that disappear over the next few months. The rooting reflex happens when you touch your baby's cheek and signifies hunger; this disappears at 3-4 months. The stepping reflex is present at birth. If you put your baby's feet on a flat surface, he will march his legs up and down like walking; this disappears at 2-4 months. These are just a couple!

Hearing: Within 10 minutes of birth, your baby's hearing is sophisticated enough to determine where a sound is coming from.

Newborns aren't newborns for very long! This time is wonderfully challenging and beautiful. Take it one day at a time.

Health Foundations Birth Center has a Moms Group that meets weekly on Thursdays at 2:30. This group is free and open to the public. This is a great way to connect with other mamas! We hope to see you there.

 

Top 10 Things Every Dad Should Know

Congrats! Your baby has arrived! This is a very exciting time for both moms and dads. As life shifts into parenthood, there are many adjustments to be made! We have talked with dads and compiled a list of the Top 10 Things Every Dad Should Know.

Sleep: Some of the best advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps. You will find after a few days that two-hour naps all night is simply not enough. Take turns. Four or five hours of sleep will become an amazing amount of time and you will feel like Superman. This goes for your partner too. Remember to give her breaks and time to sleep in between nursing. You will lie around and cuddle with the baby and for the first couple of weeks will have energy for nothing else. This is normal!

Hormones: Just when you thought your partner was done with hormone changes because pregnancy is over, you will realize that there is a big hormonal shift that takes place postpartum. Her body is going through major changes. Be gentle with her. She may cry more. She may have a shorter fuse due to hormones and exhaustion. Make sure she is well fed during the day and give her a little extra love and patience.

Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is hard work! Especially the first two weeks. Expect your wife to need to talk about it. You may feel a little left out because this is something only your wife can do. You can support her by listening, making sure she has snacks and water, and getting her a good book to read during those long nursing sessions. If she has trouble with breastfeeding, offer support by setting up an appointment with a lactation consultant.

Poop: There is never too much you can say about poop.  You will talk about the color, the consistency, and how much poop there was during a diaper change. You will be proud of your baby pooping. You will Facebook about it. You will tweet about it. You will be covered in it.

Visitors: People are going to want to visit your new bundle of joy. During the first week, try to keep visitors to a minimum. If people do visit, make it your job to keep the visits about 15 minutes long. They may offer to help with meals, cleaning, dog-walking, babysitting older children, etc. Do not hesitate to say YES! And if they don’t offer, ask. These are some of the best gifts you will receive.

Your Baby: You’re baby won’t break. You will want to be gentle of course but babies are strong and made to be handled. It is completely normal for you to feel uncomfortable.  Go easy on yourself.  Sometimes it can take dads a little longer to bond with their new baby.

Friends: Once your partner has gotten settled in and you both have gotten rest and feel human again, remember to take some time for yourself. Go out with the guys for a couple of hours. Especially the ones that have been through this before! If your wife feels apprehensive about being alone organize a friend or family member to keep her company or just be there if she needs something.

Leaving the house as a family: This can be a little daunting and you will be surprised how long it takes to get out the door and you may feel like you are bring the whole house with you! Give yourself some extra time on those first few outings.

Your Partner: There are many ways to help and make the ride smoother. Compliment and encourage her. She has just given birth and she wants to hear that you are proud of her. Give her breaks, even to do something as simple as taking a shower. Reassure her that she is doing a fantastic job. Bring her meals in bed, all of them. During postpartum rest is vital for her. During recovery and healing, her main job is making milk, breastfeeding and resting.

Housework & Chores: Keeping the house clean and laundry done will be a huge relief to your partner and even further allow her to rest. She will surely thank you for it!

Health Foundations Birth Center offers a comforting, supportive environment for both moms and dads during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Schedule a Tour and Information Session today!

A Mothers Gift: Donor Breast Milk

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There are two beautiful sides to donor breast milk, the mother that donates the milk and the babies that receive it.  There are many reasons that mothers choose to donate their milk and there are many reasons that babies need this liquid gold. Donated breast milk can be vital to babies are that in the NICU, underweight due to low milk supply, babies with low blood sugar before the mother’s milk supply is established and more.

The mamas that are able to provide this gift are able to for different reasons but they all have the same selfless quality and that is extending their milk to another. For some mothers, they have an over supply and rather than trying to lessen it, they pump after feedings and are able to produce freezer-fulls to donate.  Some will continue to pump and donate after their child is finished breastfeeding. Then there are the stories of loss, mothers that pump their milk during their grieving process. Some find this as a connection to their child that passed. In all of these unique scenarios, the end result is a priceless gift.

Health Foundations Birth Center is a full lactation center, which means we accept donor milk at our location for the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. We also have breast milk available for purchase.

If you would like to give the gift of breast milk, here are the steps to take:

  • Call the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio at 614-566-0630. They will do an over-the-phone screening first. After the screening they will ship you a kit that includes the basic lab supplies, your donor ID and some containers for your milk. You can use your own containers as well.
  • Once you receive your kit, call Health Foundations and make a quick lab appointment. When your labs have been drawn, we will ship them to Ohio for you. The reason for this is to confirm that it would be safe for you donate milk. They check for certain diseases such as HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis.
  • After the full screening process, you can bring in your containers of milk to Health Foundations. The containers must be labeled with your Donor ID. We will ship them for you to the Ohio Milk Bank.

The following are some resources for families looking for donor milk:

  • You can purchase donor milk from Health Foundations Birth Center. We ask that you call ahead to ensure that we have the milk in stock. You do not need a prescription or doctor's order. The cost is $13.53 for three ounces. The milk is frozen. Our staff ensures that you understand how to thaw and handle the donor milk.
  • You can also purchase donor milk directly from the Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio 614-566-0630. If you are purchasing direct you will need a prescription from your pediatrician.
  • There are local organizations that help coordinate mom-to-mom milk sharing which can be useful for long-term donor milk supplementation.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions or lactation concerns you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

Breastfeeding: How Do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough?

Breastfeeding a newborn is an incredible boding experience between a mother and her baby. One of the common worries for a mom is whether or not her baby is getting enough to eat. Unlike bottle feeding, the actual amount is unknown. This can feel concerning. Especially is the baby is fussy or not sleeping. Occasionally, due to milk supply or a poor latch, the baby may not be getting as much as they need. Thankfully there are things you can do to help if that is the case!

 Comforting Signs That Your Baby is Getting Plenty to Eat:

Wet / Dirty Diapers: Your baby should have on average 6 wet diapers and 4 stools per day. The urine should be light in color and mild smelling. By about day 5, your baby’s stool should have transitioned from meconium to yellow and loose.

Alert / Satisfied Baby: When your baby is hungry he will be active and alert, giving you cues to demand feeding. Afterwards, your baby should appear satisfied and probably sleepy.

Breasts Feeling Empty: Once your milk is in and your baby nurses, your breasts should feel empty at the end of the feeding. They may feel harder and full at the beginning and soft at the end.

Your Baby is Gaining Weight: Although there typically is slight weight loss in your baby before your milk fully comes in, around day 5-6 your baby’s weight should slowly start creeping up on the scales. Every baby is different but the goal is to have your baby at least back to birth weight by two weeks of age.

If your baby shows any of the above signs that he is not getting enough to eat, it is important to see a pediatrician and a lactation consultant.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

 

Preparing Your Child For a New Baby

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Welcoming a new baby to your home is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming event for a family. Your family is growing and will be forever changed to a new “normal” the moment your baby arrives. Sometimes welcoming your second, third or even fourth child may be even more intimidating than your first as you have the added task of preparing older siblings for the big change. Here are 5 tips to lovingly helping your child adjust to the idea of a new baby before he arrives.

  1. Consider your child’s age and understanding level when deciding when to share the news: While older children will be able to conceptualize waiting 9 months for baby’s arrival, a toddler has a hard time understanding tomorrow versus one week from now. If your child is on the younger side, try telling him what season the baby will arrive in rather than how many months from now. For instance, “Next summer, when we can go to the pool again, the baby will arrive!”
  2. Find age appropriate books to share with your tot about welcoming a new sibling: There are a wide variety of children’s books (and programs) that are available and cover the topic of becoming a big brother or sister. Reading books about having a new baby can help your older child get excited about his or her new role as a sibling and aid in answering any questions they have about what it will be like. Reading books about being a sibling and new babies can also help your child learn ways that they can participate once the baby arrives which will help them realize that they play an important role in the family and as an older sibling. Depending on their age, your child may also want to know where the baby will come from and how he/she will get here. You should be able to find a variety of age appropriate books on this topic as well. 
  3. Involve your little one in the preparations: Whether it’s helping you to choose decorations for the nursery, brainstorming favorite names or picking out some special toys for the new baby, letting your child participate in the preparation will help them to feel involved in this very important family event. If your child is old enough to understand, they may even enjoy coming to one of your check-ups and hearing the baby’s heartbeat on the fetal Doppler or feeling your tummy when the baby kicks.
  4. Encourage your child to share their feelings: You may think that your little one is too young to understand that the family dynamic will be changing with the arrival of a new baby but they are probably a lot more aware than you realize. Even toddlers can sense when something is different and their parents are anxiously preparing for something big to happen. Allow your child to have any and all feelings he or she might have about the impending changes and validate their feelings as best you can. For younger children who are not yet verbal, this may mean spending some extra uninterrupted time with them if they are acting out or simply allowing them to “be the baby” when they need to be.
  5. Make preparations for your child for when you go into labor well in advance: If you do not plan to have your child present for the birth of your baby, it is important that you make plans in advance for who will care for him while you and your partner are away. For many moms, this may even be the first time you’ve been away from your kiddo for an extended period of time which can be anxiety provoking for both of you. Talk to your child about the plans for when it’s time for you to have the baby and consider even doing a dry run. If they will be spending the night with a friend or relative, have them do a practice night where you can go and help them get acquainted with what the visit will be like. Similarly, if you plan to have a friend or relative stay in your home, make sure your child is well acquainted with them and that they understand how the night or nights with them will go. Your child may express feeling scared or upset about you being away either in advance or at the time that you are leaving. Lovingly acknowledge their feelings and remind them that you will be back in no time and that they will be able to visit you as soon as their new brother or sister arrives.

Welcoming a new baby to your family can be a scary prospect for everyone, especially when you’re going from one to two. However, with some thoughtful preparation for you and your child or children, everyone will have a better idea of what to expect and feel like they are an important part of the change. For questions about prenatal care, natural birth, postpartum care and all other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Managing Visitors After Baby

Newborn Visitors

Nothing attracts well-meaning visitors like a brand new, adorable baby. Once the little one arrives, friends and family will be eager to meet your little one. Being prepared ahead of time for how you and your partner want to handle visitors once baby arrives will save you a great deal of stress and spare you some potentially uncomfortable conversations.  Here are 5 tips for managing doting friends and family once you bring your baby home.  

  1. Come up with a plan with your partner: These days/weeks following the birth of your baby are all about you, your baby, and your new family. You will not only be adjusting to caring for a newborn but also dealing with your own recovery and rapidly fluctuating postpartum hormones. It is important to be mindful of rest and nourishment. This is also a special time of bonding for you and your baby. Set those boundaries ahead of time and stick to them. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet baby when the time is right!
  2. Accept help: When baby arrives, it is perfectly fine to ask for/accept help. Most people will offer- say yes! People often like to bring a meal, but don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like walking the dog, looking after your other children, or even holding the baby while you shower. Knowing that some of your daily chores are being taken care of allows you to focus on important things like resting and bonding with your new babe.
  3. Have your partner protect your space: Agree ahead of time that your partner will be the person to greet visitors and also gently nudge them once they have been there for a little while. A good amount of visiting time is about 15 minutes. Your partner can tactfully send people along their way when you need your rest, gently step in if your parents or in-laws are overstepping their bounds, and/or make suggestions as to how people can make themselves useful during their visit.
  4. Shamelessly ban sick visitors: There are few things as susceptible to germs and illness as a vulnerable newborn. There is no excuse for visitors showing up with a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat or even recovering from “food poisoning.” Let those mama bear instincts take hold and politely suggest that anyone who is not feeling 100 percent save their visit for a later date. It’s also okay to require that visitors wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before holding your baby. 
  5. Allow for plenty of alone time: A steady stream of visitors can be exhausting. You will likely already be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, working to establish your breastfeeding relationship and will be navigating life with your newest family member. Try to space your visitors out and limit the time they spend in order to allow plenty of time for you and your little family to bond. True friends and family will understand how sacred this special time is for you and your new family.

You should never feel the need to apologize for prioritizing and taking care of yourself and your new baby in the days and weeks following your delivery. Your baby. Your family. Your way.

For questions regarding prenatal or postpartum care, natural delivery or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

Five Things to Expect During Your Postpartum Recovery

As mothers and mothers to be, we typically spend a great deal of time planning and preparing for our child’s birth. We read books, take prenatal classes, write birth plans, pack bags, wash, fold and organize baby laundry and so much more in preparation for the big day. Very few of us however, give much thought to what the postpartum period will be like for OUR bodies. Consumed with the excitement of our baby to be, we may forget that once we bring home our bundle of joy we too will need care, rest and healing as we recover from the amazing feat of giving birth. Here are 5 things to expect from your postpartum recovery.

  1. Heavy bleeding: As your body sheds the uterine lining and also bleeds from where the placenta was attached, you will experience heavy bleeding known as lochia. You may see blood clots in this bleeding and it will likely appear bright red at first. The intensity of the bleeding should subside with time and gradually turn to spotting before it stops. Typically, this should last approximately 2-6 weeks after you give birth. To prepare, stock up on heavy duty overnight strength sanitary pads, mesh panties and even adult diapers can be a great option. This applies whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section.
  2. Some pain and discomfort: Take a moment to consider what an incredible thing it is that your body is going to birth a 6-10 pound baby. With this incredible miracle comes hard work and its fair share of aches and pains. Whether you have a natural birth or a C-section, you can expect to experience some cramping, soreness, muscle aches and joint pains. With a vaginal delivery you may also experience some burning and soreness of the perineum and with a C-section, pain at the incision site and abdominal pain as you recover from major surgery.
  3. Hormonal side effects: As your body seeks to adjust hormonally after giving birth, you will likely experience a few unpleasant side effects. These may include fluctuating emotions and weepiness, hot flashes, night sweats and chills, and continued feelings of clumsiness from the production of the hormone relaxin. Give yourself some grace during this period as you may not feel like yourself despite your excitement over your new baby. If you are concerned that the baby blues may be developing into something more serious like postpartum depression, contact your midwife, doctor or a counselor for support. There are many wonderful resources available for women suffering from postpartum depression. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  4. Breast changes: As your milk comes in after baby is born, you may experience some engorgement and sore nipples and breasts as your supply adjusts to meet baby’s needs. You may also notice that your nipples appear darker. If you are recovering from a C-section, breastfeeding can initially be more challenging due to pain from your surgery and having to find a position that is comfortable for you and your newborn while you heal. Fear not though, it will get easier with time and your milk supply will adjust as you and your baby find your rhythm. Consider having nipple pads on hand for leaking breasts, cooling pads or ice packs for sore breasts and a nipple cream for aching and cracking nipples. Be sure to signup for our next Pumptalk 101 class if you have extra questions or would like some more suggestions.
  5. Constipation, incontinence, and frequent trips to the bathroom: Depending on how you delivered and your own personal recovery, you may experience a period of constipation following giving birth and/or urinary or fecal incontinence. A vaginal delivery can cause temporary nerve damage around the bladder making it more difficult to sense when you need to go to the bathroom. You may also have weakened bladder muscles, hemorrhoids and though less common, tears to the anal sphincter causing fecal leakage. Conversely, you may also experience constipation due to the slowing of your metabolism and digestive tract. Talk to your doctor or midwife for effective ways to manage these various side effects.

It’s not uncommon for the postpartum period to be filled with excitement, exhaustion, trepidation and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Make sure that amidst all the emotions and adjustments, you allow time for your own care and recovery. Your body has just undergone the incredible journey of childbirth and needs time to rest and heal so that you can focus on caring for your new, beautiful baby. 

Vacationing with Baby: It Doesn’t Have To Be An Oxymoron

Vacationing With Baby

It’s summertime--the wonderful season of sun, sand, water, barbecues, fireworks and family vacations! If this is your first summer as a parent, you may be used to jetting off to fun destinations with your honey without too much forethought. Pick a week, book tickets and hotel, pack flip flops and go, right? Enter baby. Vacationing takes on a whole new dimension when you are toting your tot along for the trip. Here’s all you need to know about planning, preparation and executing a successful vacation with your new baby. 

Packing and Preparation:

Lots of preparation goes into planning a great vacation with your baby. Most importantly, don’t save planning for the last minute or you will end up frazzled and unprepared. Once you’ve decided where you are going and have booked your tickets and accommodations, determine what you will need to pack for yourself and for baby. Make a list that covers all the essential baby items such as:

  • baby sunscreen (if needed)
  • swim diapers
  • hats
  • clothes
  • pajamas
  • dishes
  • bottles
  • formula (if needed)
  • breast pump (if needed)
  • bibs
  • pacifiers
  • swaddles
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • toiletries and bathing essentials
  • stroller
  • baby carrier
  • portable crib
  • toys and loveys
  • car seat
  • baby food (if over six months)
  • hand sanitizer
  • outlet covers
  • baby dish soap

Before you leave, make sure baby is healthy and has had any vaccinations that are recommended before travel. It’s always a good idea to discuss any upcoming travel plans with your pediatrician in case there are any extra precautions that need to be taken for baby due to the season or destination. If you are traveling internationally, baby will need a passport just like you. Allow plenty of time for the processing of the passport before your trip.

If you will be bringing a travel crib for baby to sleep in, consider doing a trial run at home to help him adjust to the new sleep arrangements in a familiar environment. And finally, once you’ve got everything prepared for your tiny traveler, don’t forget to pack for yourself! Put some of baby’s belongings in your luggage as well so in the event that a bag is lost, you will have the important items you need.

Flying with Baby:

If you’ll be flying to your vacation destination, there are several factors to consider when planning for baby. First, will he ride on your lap or will he have his own seat on the plane? Though having a child under the age of two, ride on your lap is free for domestic flights, the FAA strongly recommends that all children from birth to 40 pounds are secured in an airplane compatible car seat in their own seat. Car Seats For The Littles is a great resource that offers tons of valuable information regarding airplane safety for babies and car seat safety in general.

“Remember, on the flight the only things not restrained during taxi, takeoff, and landing, are children under two. Children and adults over two, the flight attendants, all carry-on baggage, books, computers, soap in the lavatory, coffee pots, and snacks are secured. But a lap baby is not. For some reason they’re not given the same priority as the peanuts.” – Car Seats for the Littles 

In addition to ensuring baby’s safety on the plane, here are a few other tips to make air travel a success:

  • Wait to check your stroller until you’ve reached the gate so that you have it for navigating the airport on both ends of your trip and in the event that you have connections.
  • If you do decide to check your car seat, make sure to package it in the original box with sufficient padding to prevent any damage from occurring in cargo. Check the seat over thoroughly upon your arrival and do not use it if there are any visible signs of damage.
  • The 3-ounce-rule does not apply to formula or breastmilk when passing through airport security. 
  • Bring whatever you need to feed your baby on the plane with you.
  • Be sure to pack an accessible change of clothes for both you and baby in case there are any accidents during the flight.
  • Pack your party tricks to entertain baby in the event of fussiness. Include a few new toys, books, and anything else that will help pass the time for your little one.
  • Board early and deplane last. This will allow you time before takeoff to get situated and time after landing to pack up your belongings. 
  • Although most airlines do not have restrictions on the age at which an infant can fly, it’s safest to wait at least until your baby has had their first round of immunizations at 2 months of age. Remember that your new baby’s immune system is still developing and he is going to be more susceptible to germs and illness on a flight than you are. 
  • Offer your baby a bottle or pacifier at takeoff to lessen the effects of the pressure change on his ears.
  • Double check that the car seat you are bringing is air travel compatible. If your car seat at home is too bulky or cumbersome, consider buying an additional inexpensive, travel friendly car seat. 

Accommodations:

Another major factor to consider when preparing for a family vacation is where you will stay. If you are going to visit family and will be staying in a home, you will probably face fewer challenges in regards to setting up a baby friendly space than if you stay in a hotel room with just mini fridge. If you plan to stay in a hotel room, be sure to confirm that the room has a refrigerator if you will need to store breastmilk, formula or baby food and find out if it’s possible to get a suite with a kitchenette to make your stay more comfortable. Another great option for traveling with a baby is to consider renting a vacation condo instead of a hotel room where you will likely have more space, more than one bedroom, a kitchen and possibly EVEN a washer/dryer to accommodate your family of three. 

Airbnb Screenshot Family Home

Upon arriving to your destination, get things set up right away so that you can handle baby’s needs as they arise. This may involve putting up a portable crib, setting up your sound machine, creating a changing station, laying down the play mat with toys, setting up the bottles and other dishes by the sink and taking measures to baby proof any areas where baby will have access. Consider packing some outlet covers in your luggage to take care of exposed outlets and some tape to conceal exposed wires in the room. Obviously these last suggestions are only relevant if you have a baby that is on the move. Making your vacation living space as baby friendly and convenient as possible from the get-go will save everyone time and hassles so that you can focus on having fun.

Schedule and Activities:

While you may not be able to hit the latest night clubs in town on your trip, there are plenty of fun activities to be had with your baby. Take some time to do research about your destination before your trip to determine family friendly activities and restaurants that you might want to try. As much as possible, you want to try to adjust your vacation schedule to your baby’s existing schedule rather than the reverse. If you have a happy well-rested baby, the activities will be more enjoyable for all. 

Speaking of rest, you’re probably wondering how naps will work on your trip. That really depends on the age of the baby but there are many options for making naps work while traveling. Consider wearing your baby in a sling or carrier for naps on the go or pack a comfortable stroller that reclines instead of a basic umbrella stroller. A carrier or a stroller is truly a must have for vacations regardless if you will use them for naps. If your baby needs to nap in a quiet, dark room (which many babies do), you and your partner can take turns staying back with baby while the other partakes in some R&R or vacation activities. 

In addition to family friendly activities like the beach, pool, or sightseeing, you will likely want to have at least a few meals out while vacationing. If your baby is still tiny, you may get lucky and have them sleep through most of your restaurant experiences but if you have an older baby, bringing entertainment is a must. Bring a couple books, a few toys, snacks (if old enough) to ward off any meltdowns due to boredom. Try to eat dinner early if your baby is used to going to bed early  as it’s important to stick to their schedule as much as possible. 

Once you return to your room for the evening, follow bed time protocol just as you would at home. If baby takes a nightly bath to unwind, do a bath. If you usually read three books and sing two songs, read three books and sing two songs. Follow everything exactly as you would if you were home to make baby feel comfortable and secure in his new setting. Once baby is asleep, if you and your partner are itching to get out for some adult time, some hotels do offer sitter services if a friend or family member is not an option. As you can see, traveling with your baby requires lots of planning and forethought to have a successful family vacation. The more prepared you are, the more smoothly things should go for you and your baby. So, pick a destination, drag those suitcases out of storage and start planning your first family vacation. 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, postpartum health and women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Bon voyage!

And Then There Were Three: Nurturing Your Relationship after Baby

Nurturing Relationship After Baby

Having a baby is a life changing transition for couples that can be filled with excitement, newness, awe, learning and exhaustion. Gone will be the days of leisurely Saturday mornings, spontaneous date nights, uninterrupted romantic evenings and sleep….yes, that will be gone for a while too. All these adjustments in combination with caring for a new baby can cause a strain on even the best of relationships. Here are some helpful tips on how to nurture your relationship while nurturing your newborn.

Family With Newborn
  1. Connect with each other every day: Even if it’s a 10 minute debrief about your day while reheating a freezer meal at 9:00 PM because that’s the first chance you’ve had for dinner, take the time to connect. Consider these ten minutes a team meeting in which you touch base with your favorite teammate in this crazy game of becoming a family. Taking time to listen to one another, show support, and offer a hug or encouraging words can revitalize you both for the next 24 hours.
  2. Make simple loving gestures: Whether it’s popping an extra bagel in the toaster oven when you make your breakfast for your partner, sending an unexpected loving text, or bringing home a favorite treat, little gestures in the trenches of new parenthood make a big difference. In all the excitement and exhaustion of the new baby, it’s nice to know your partner is still thinking of you too.
  3. Plan date nights: Date nights, like you once knew, may be hard to come by these days. However, a date does not have to involve a fancy restaurant or movie and can even be had in the comfort of your own home. Try trading off who will plan the date night and surprising each other with the plan for the evening. Get creative with staying home by doing things like pizza making, games, movie marathons, or maybe a fun project for your home together. And once you’re comfortable leaving baby for a couple hours with a family member or trusted sitter, go on a real date!
  4. Get intimate: And no, this does not have to mean sex. The postpartum period, particularly for women, can be a time of decreased libido. Between recovering from birth, fluctuating hormones and breastfeeding, many moms just want to sleep when their head finally hits the pillow at night. Intimacy can include cuddling on the couch, taking the time to kiss or hug throughout the day, holding hands while watching a TV show or more adult rated fun if you’re feeling up for it! It’s easy to let this aspect of your relationship slip when you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and unsexy. Do your best to keep the flame lit in little ways regularly. 
  5. Show appreciation for one another: Being new parents is often coupled with feeling like you are both constantly treading water. Between taking care of baby, keeping up with the housework, providing for the family, paying the bills, feeding the dog, keeping the refrigerator stocked and a dozen other necessary chores, it can often feel like a thankless job on both sides. Take the time to acknowledge everything your partner does on a daily basis to keep the family alive and well. A thank you and an acknowledgement of all the hard work from both parents can be just what we need to feel better at the end of a hard day. 
  6. Continue to support your partner’s interests and hobbies: Whether it’s a weekly yoga class, the fantasy football draft or simply a hot bubble bath with some yummy aroma therapy, allowing your partner time to take time for themselves will help them be a better parent and partner. We all need time to recharge, enjoy our hobbies and indulge a little bit and this is particularly important when you are adjusting to the major life transition of being a new parent.
  7. Communicate: Your partner should be your safe place where you can be vulnerable and share what you need and how you are feeling. Being a new parent, while one of the most amazing adjustments of your life, can also be quite overwhelming. Share your feelings, fears, victories and road bumps with your partner. Ask for help if you need it, or a hug, or advice. Being parents is like being teammates for the most special sport of your life. 

Don’t be distressed if your relationship seems to have taken a backseat since your baby has arrived. This is completely normal for couples as they navigate the overwhelming journey of parenthood. Just remember that this period of sleeplessness, newness and stress will pass and you will come out alive! The more that you and your partner can use this life changing transition to draw closer to one another and grow as parents and partners, the stronger you will come out in the end. 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, postpartum health and women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.