Collective Wisdom

The Struggles of Being a Mom

It has been said that motherhood is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do. An anonymous quote says, “Motherhood: The only place you can experience heaven and hell at the same time.” There are days you want to pull your hair out and counting the minutes to bedtime; then once your child is peacefully sleeping you look at them and feel an overwhelming sense of love and actually miss them! Those days when you think you could not possibly do another day; you do indeed!

j4e6cdhnwyeaztjkbxrg.jpeg

There are some common things that are more frustrating than others. Have no fear! You are not alone!

Mornings are the WORST! Mornings especially are stressful once kids are school age or if you are a working mom. Getting everyone out the door on-time and making sure everyone has all that they need can be the definition of insanity. Kids are running around screaming, you are yelling, no one is listening then you may start crying too. Sound familiar? Take a deep breath mama. Or at least try. One way to try and help ease the pain of morning stress is prepping the night before or getting up before the kids do so you can can some things done in peace.

Tantrums can be mind blowing! Mini tantrums can start early, even before the age of one. For some children they continue to get worse and around the age of three or four it can peak. For families with more than one child this can be extra overwhelming. Especially if it happens in public. I know there have been plenty of moms who have left a full cart in the middle of a store, barely holding onto a toddler or two, sweating, red faced and on the verge of tears. All the while you feel that the entire store is staring at you and whispering. Some of them probably are but trust me, there are more that are thinking, “that poor mama”. Again, you are not alone.

Lack of sleep can leave you feeling un-human! Once you become a mother your sleep will never be the same. Unfortunately sleep deprivation enhances every emotion and makes life feel even more intense. In those moments when you haven’t slept a wink and your child won’t cooperate by sleeping, it can feel so frustrating. To top it off your partner can probably sleep right through it. For many mamas naps are not an option because of other children or work. You are not alone. Reach out. It is ok to feel sad and angry.

You may feel like you have lost YOU! Showering feels like a mountain to climb some days. Doing your hair and putting on make-up? Forget about it. Getting up early and exercising? Too tired. Eating healthy and shedding extra baby weight? No energy. Going to see your favorite musician with friends? The kids freak when you leave. Sound about right? Pick one thing at a time and do it anyway. You will feel better after you do. And guess what? Everyone in your family will survive!

For some mothers this is just the tipping point. Talk about it. Find other mamas that are supportive. Laugh about it; sometimes that is all you can do. Have a good cry; it’ll do the body good. Allow yourself to enjoy self care. Whether it is 20-30 minutes after the kids are in bed or a night out with friends. If you have a partner, share with them what you are feeling. They may be feeling the same way. Find a good routine for your family. Kids thrive with routine; even though it can be tough to stick to!

Dr. Amy's Favorite Things for Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

Over the years after working with so many mamas and of course my own children I have come across many products and ideas; some have worked wonders and some not. I would love to share my thoughts about my favorite things that I used and recommend!

PREGNANCY

Pregnancy Support Band: As your baby bump grows you will start to feel pressure on your pelvis. One great way to help ease the discomfort is a support band. This provides support under your belly. My favorite brand is www.babybellyband.com

Chiropractic Care: I highly recommend chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. It helps so much with alignment which can easily be thrown off in pregnancy. Good positioning of your baby is helpful for labor and birth. Regular chiropractic care is proven to help shorten labor and pushing. Dr. Amber Moravec with Naturally Aligned works right out of Health Foundations Birth Center. Of course I love her! She specializes in pregnancy and newborns.

BIRTH

Birth Plan Flexibility: I am a big fan of birth plans. I do like to think more of it a birth preferences. The thing about labor and birth is that it is different for everyone. There are guidelines of what a "text book birth" looks like which is great but everyone IS different. Things come up; things change. Try and keep an open mind and remain flexible for change.

POSTPARTUM

Double Electric Pump: Whether you are a working mama or not, having a pump is essential. Even if you are not working you will want to pump and introduce a bottle for times you are away. If you are going back to work you will want a good pump that is easy to transport. Check out our class PumpTalk 101; it is very helpful for coming up with a plan on introducing pumping. There are many good brands out there but I prefer Medela or Spectra

Hands-Free Pumping Bra: Along with a good pump, get a hands-free pumping bra! That way you can do other things like work on a computer or read a book. Try the Easy Expression Bustier.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Even with a great latch your nipples will be tender the first few days. The Medela Tender Care Hydrogel Pads are heavenly. They are re-usable and help soothe your nipples. If you have cracked or bleeding nipples please reach out to lactation consultant right away. 

Bottle-warmer: Bottle warmers are a huge time saver. You never want to use a microwave to heat breastmilk or formula; it kills the nutrients and heats it unevenly. You can heat by placing in warm water but that takes a long time. The bottle warm is quick and heats the milk evenly. 

Nursing Tank: Nursing bras are great but nursing tanks are all you need in the first couple of weeks. They are easy and low-maintenance. Bravado has a great one; it is loose and comfortable during postpartum. You will find yourself living in it.

Woombie: I am a big fan of swaddling. When your baby was in-utero they were cozy and warm and didn't have a lot of space to move around. Think of swaddling as mimicking that space outside of the womb. It can be very calming for them and help promote good, restful sleep. I like the woombie because it is very easy to use and the shape of it is comfy for your babe. Swaddling should end by 2.5 months because of the possibility of rolling over.

Pacifier vs Fingers: Pacifiers in my opinion are awesome. Babies love to suck for comfort, it is very soothing. If you are breastfeeding you may find yourself constantly comfort nursing and it can be overwhelming. Pacifiers can help soothe your baby when cranky or tired. It can also help extend sleep. Sometimes parents are afraid of using one and will use their pinky finger to soothe. The problem is, your finger is attached to you! I remember hearing a mom say, "why don't they make fake fingers for babies?!" One popular brand is Avent Soothees.

Stroller with Click-In Carseat: Even if you love wearing your baby, a stroller is essential! Find one that works with your infant carseat. That way if your baby is sleeping you do not have to disturb them. Until your baby is sitting up strollers can be awkward and not very supportive to your baby's head and neck.

Top 5 Things to Have a Successful Start to School

It won't be long before it is time for kids to head back to school! Along with school supplies and new clothes and shoes there are great ways to help prepare your children for a successful start to the school year.

1. Start the day with a good breakfast that includes protein. We have all heard the importance of a good breakfast. For kids, it is very important to eat a good meal before a full day of learning. Including protein in the meal will help tide them over until snack or lunch. Here are some simple ideas even for the pickiest eaters!

  • Eggs, bacon/sausage and wholegrain toast
  • Pancakes or waffles cooked with protein powder, these can be made ahead of time and frozen
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder

2. A good night's rest is essential. Children between ages 6-11 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night. In this day and age of electronics and constant stimulation this can be hard for some families. Here are some tips:

  • Start a bedtime routine and follow it diligently each night, even on weekends if possible
  • Turn off the TV and electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime as this is very stimulating to the brain
  • Read a book or have your child read a book before bed
  • A sound machine can be soothing as well as diffusing essential oils

3. Add a supplement or two to their diet. Adding supplements into your child's diet can help with their immunity, nutrition and brain development. It is important to buy quality supplements; a good place to look is your local co-op. Here are some supplement options:

  • Multi-vitamin: a food based option is a great choice
  • Vitamin D-3: This will help keep your child's immunity strong
  • Fish Oil: We love Nordic Naturals, they are small, chew-able and kids love the taste

4. Make space for family check ins. Does your family have a regular time to check in with each other? This could be during after school snack, family dinner or bedtime.

  • Learn to talk about emotions and how to manage emotions
  • Set aside a specific time each day
  • Create a safe space in your family for everyone to be heard

5. Be prepared the night before. Getting ready for the morning the night before will help the morning go smoother for you and your child.

  • Pack lunches and snacks
  • Make sure homework is complete, checked and put in the backpack
  • Have clothes ready and laid out

As the new school year approaches try and set aside a special day for your family to celebrate the new year. Best wishes to you and your family for the year ahead!

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!

When Your Birth Doesn’t Go As Planned

Woman Contemplating Feelings

Whether you had hoped for a home or birth center delivery and needed to transfer to the hospital, or had prepared for a natural birth and ended up having a C-section, births that do not go according to plan can be disappointing. Many mothers spend their pregnancies preparing for and creating a detailed birth plan in the hopes of having the experience they’ve always envisioned for themselves and their baby. Despite the best laid plans, birthing classes, and providers, sometimes our bodies and our babies have other plans in mind. When your birth doesn’t go as planned, it’s not uncommon to experience some negative emotions along with the excitement you’re feeling about the new baby. Many women who have experienced some form  of birth trauma  or unexpected intervention report feeling disappointed, angry, guilty, frustrated, indifferent and sometimes even resentful towards their baby or their body. These feelings usually follow birth experiences that felt out of their control, traumatic or unexpected such as having an episiotomy or emergency C-section. If your birth experience has left you feeling as though your body failed to do what you had hoped it would do, here are some ways to cope with those negative emotions and acknowledge the strength and courage in your journey.

Writing Birth Story
  1. Acknowledge your feelings: This can be difficult to do when everyone is expecting you to be overjoyed by the arrival of your new baby. However, if you are experiencing disappointment, sadness, guilt or anger about the way your delivery unfolded, it’s important to take the time to allow yourself to experience those feelings without judgment. Giving birth may be the single most important event in your life thus far and it is okay to feel sadness about any part of the labor or delivery that was traumatic or upsetting to you. If you try to push away your negative feelings about the experience, they will likely resurface at a later date as unresolved issues. 
  2. Take steps to process your grief: It is perfectly normal to experience grief following a traumatic or upsetting birth experience. It is important to allow yourself to experience the grief so that you can move forward feeling as though you have processed your feelings. Talking to your midwife or doctor and asking questions so that you can better understand and process your experience is one way to work through what you may be feeling. Two cathartic ways to process grief following birth are: telling your birth story to a trusted friend or family member or writing down your birth story. Writing or telling a detailed account of your experience can help you process your feelings of disappointment or guilt and also help you identify  all of the moments (there are so many!) of great courage and strength.
  3. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people: Limit visitors in the early weeks following your delivery to people who can be sensitive to your feelings and your experience. While not intending to be unsupportive, people may make comments suggesting that the only thing that is important is that you have a healthy baby. You can gently remind them that the experience was important to you and you are not ready to discuss it further at this time. You can also ask your partner to help play gatekeeper in the early days staving off unnecessary visitors and unsavory comments.
  4. Acknowledge the strength and courage in your story: Even if your birth didn’t end the way you had hoped, do your best to remember the amazing work that your body did. Whether you labored for 18 hours before ultimately having a C-section, endured hours of natural labor before electing to have an epidural, or had to undergo any number of interventions that were frightening or upsetting to you, your body has done an amazing thing. There is also an incredible amount of strength and courage in having to let go of your birth plan and have a birth experience that feels completely out of your control. Whatever your story is, whatever the intervention or unplanned turn your birth took, your body has done a miraculous thing.
  5. Ask for help: Whether you would like extra support from your partner, your provider, a friend to listen or to seek out a new moms’ group in your area, make the effort to reach out for help and comfort. The postpartum period, despite the awe and excitement of a newborn, can be an isolating and overwhelming experience. Adding grief from your birth experience to this mix may be too much to handle on your own. If at any point your grief begins to impact your ability to function throughout the day or seems to overwhelm the joy you have for your new baby, see your doctor or a therapist for an assessment for Postpartum Depression. Although the baby blues are a normal experience in the weeks following delivery, moms who have experienced a traumatic birth experience are more likely to develop Postpartum Depression. Ask for help right away if you feel like you might be experiencing Postpartum Depression. Click here to learn more about Postpartum Depression

If you’ve experienced a traumatic or disappointing birth experience, don’t suffer in silence. There are many women out there whose birth plans have not gone according to plan and who are left feeling guilty, angry and even depressed. There is no shame in a birth that does not go as planned and no shame in grieving the experience you did not have. Remember that you gave it your all and that is enough; that you are just as strong, powerful and amazing as all of the other mamas before you. At Health Foundations, we are here to support you throughout your pregnancy, delivery and postpartum period, regardless of whether or not your delivery took place with us, in the hospital or in the operating room. We are here for you. Contact Health Foundations to schedule a free consultation with a midwife or to find support.

 

Five Essentials to Carry in Your Purse if You Ditch the Diaper Bag

Mom With Child Out & About

Many moms are choosing to forgo the traditional bulky diaper bag in favor of a more fashionable, multipurpose purse. A large purse can work great in lieu of a diaper bag as long as you pack for baby as well as yourself. If you’ve decided that you’re not the diaper bag toting type, here are 5 essential items to be sure you have in your purse at all times.

  1. Diapers: Needless to say, don’t leave home without at least 3 or 4 diapers on hand in case of accidents or just a necessary change. If you use cloth diapers, you’ll want to be sure you also have a wet bag to carry any soiled diapers home without a mess. 
  2. Wipes: Wipes are not only a necessity for diaper changes but can serve a multitude of other purposes from wiping hands, and faces to cleaning the surface of a high chair at a restaurant. Make sure you always have at least one pack of wipes in your bag at all times.
  3. A change of clothes: When a new diaper and wipes don’t cut it, a change of clothes may be necessary. You don’t want to be caught out and about with a baby who’s had a blowout and no clean change of clothes. Your spare change should include a onesie and pants and socks and a sweater if seasonally appropriate.
  4. Hand sanitizer: Especially when you have a new baby, hand sanitizer is your best friend. Whether you’ve touched the grocery cart or the gas pump or have just been around a sick friend, disinfect your hands before passing those germs to baby. Your baby’s immune system is still developing and he is more susceptible to harmful viruses, colds and bacteria now than ever.
  5. A soother: Whether your baby finds comfort in a pacifier or prefers to snuggle with a lovey, be sure to have a comfort object on hand in your bag. This can be an especially important item for car rides when mom can’t be close enough to comfort.

Obviously, there are many more items that may be useful and even necessary to carry in your bag for baby. These include but are not limited to, a hat, a bottle, a sippy cup (for older babies), diaper cream, a nursing cover and a baby sling. But if you are going for the just the essentials to throw in your purse, the above list should suffice for a brief outing. To learn more about what you’ll need for your baby or for any and all questions related to natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Collective Wisdom: Preparing for Baby

BlogIcons_CollectiveToday's Collective Wisdom post asks our mamas-to-be:

In what ways have you prepared for your baby’s arrival so far?

I’ve read books on childbirth and newborns.  I’ve taken childbirth classes. (Michaela)

Driving around with an empty carseat.  Getting the nursery ready.  Splurging on a cute diaper bag. (Lindsay D.)

Washed clothes, bought diapers, picked out some cute things for her.  Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  (Hanni Go)

Hypnobirthing classes, prenatal yoga, found the perfect doula, change from hospital to Health Foundations. (Angie Murphy)

Decorated the nursery, hired a doula, found day care, taken childbirth education class, and infant CPR class. (Cassie)

Reading lots of books, forums on babycenter.com, reading birthwithoutfearblog.com, attending Parent Topic Nights at the Childbirth Collective, hiring a doula.  (Leah)

I have been practicing yoga, reading lots of books—not just about pregnancy and labor but lots about the postpartum and babies, getting his room ready, and meditating.  Oh and we hired a birth doula and are considering a postpartum doula.  (anonymous)

How have you (or how did you) prepare for baby’s arrival during your pregnancy?

Collective Wisdom: Describing our Ideal Birth

BlogIcons_Collective While it is impossible to know all the elements that influence our perception of birth, our thoughts and intentions can be powerful shapers of our birth experience.  Imagining the conditions under which we wish to birth is an empowering experience in pregnancy.  While many aspects of our birth and delivery are beyond our control, we can manage our own minds and expectations: herein lies tremendous power.  How we envision our birth matters even if it doesn’t go exactly as we imagine it.

This week, we asked our mamas-to-be…

“What words would you use to describe your ideal birth?”

These were the answers we received:

 

Calm

Peaceful

Encouraging

Empowering

Uneventful

Fully Present

Easy

Beautiful

Strength

Safe

Normal

Uncomplicated

Quiet

Confident

Supported

Serene

Sacred

Trust

 

 

 

What words would you use to describe your ideal birth experience?

Collective Wisdom: Birth Affirmations

   

BlogIcons_Collective

 

Birth MantrasA birth mantra or affirmation is a positive statement and intention for the pregnancy or birth experience. A mama may select her own affirmation or affirmations and repeat it/them to herself or out loud during times of relaxation, upon waking and going to sleep, during the birth experience, or any time she needs encouragement during pregnancy or labor.

Positive birth affirmations can profoundly affect our outlook and our experiences—the thoughts we choose about our birth can seep into the unconscious and powerfully influence our actual experiences.  They can calm, relax, encourage and support us as we move through our journeys of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.

Birth affirmations tend to be the most powerful when they are set in the present tense (as if they are happening to us right now).  Writing them down in a journal or something you hang in your space and repeating them often also make affirmations more potent.  During labor, you may even want your support team to repeat your chosen mantras to you.

We asked a few of our mamas-to-be to share their current or favorite birth affirmation.  Here’s what they shared:

I was made to do this – Leah

I get to make all the decisions about my birth – Cassie

I am strong.  I can do this! – Hanni

I trust my body – Angie

I am strong enough – Michaela

Here is a list of other birth affirmations expectant mamas can browse to find something that perfectly resonates with them.

What is your favorite birth mantra?  How have birth affirmations helped you through pregnancy and birth?

Collective Wisdom: Sharing Pregnancy News

BlogIcons_Collective

This week’s question:  How did you share the news of your pregnancy with your partner?

The video above is from one of our lovely Health Foundations families, the Ingmans.  What a fun way to share the news of your pregnancy!

Other Health Foundations families shared how they spread the news:

“With a hug, a kiss, and a pregnancy test!” – MAQuiroz

“I gave him a card that said “you are going to be a daddy” with a positive pregnancy test taped to it.”—Katie

“I showed him the pregnancy test shaking my head in disbelief-- we were moving across the country in a week!"--Danielle

“I said ‘we’re going to need a second car seat’.”—Toni R.

“We took a pregnancy test together.” – Vanasse

IMG_2298

This is a great announcement from one of our fabulous families.

How did you share the news of your pregnancy with your partner, friends, and family?  We'd love to hear your story!

Collective Wisdom: Why Did you Choose a Birth Center?

BlogIcons_CollectiveIn addition to our “Meet the Health Foundations Family” feature interview series, we are also excited to introduce another new blog feature this year.  We’re calling this one “Health Foundations Collective Wisdom.”  In this series, we are gathering wisdom, insight, and knowledge from our Health Foundations patients—mamas, mamas-to-be, and their families.  We hope you enjoy the collective gathering of YOUR wisdom, sweet families!

Question:

Why did you choose to have a birth center birth?

“We wanted the best personal care possible and to feel like we were more in control of our choices and care throughout pregnancy.”—Amanda Stitt

Hearing the statistic that 33% of hospital births ended in C-sections scared me.  As I read more about medical interventions being overly used by doctors, I knew I wanted to avoid those things and being at a birth center with a midwife would help that.  I liked the idea of being able to make my own choices in a comfortable non-hospital setting.”—Cassie

“Attention to mom and baby is much better.  Birth is considered normal and not a medical emergency”—Vanasse

“We always intended to have a natural birth and had our first child at a birth center.  It was an awesome experience so the second time around there was no question!”—Liv

“We wanted a normal birth process.  Our first was at the hospital and it felt out of control.  I felt like a lab rat.”—Toni R.

“I liked the home-like environment, ability to have a water birth, and the midwives.”—Katie

If you would like to contribute to our Collective Wisdom posts, Aubrey has questionnaires at the center you are welcome to complete them and return them to her or your midwife any time!  You can also post in our comments section.

Next post's question: How did you share the news of your birth with your partner?

Stay tuned!