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Filtering by Tag: mother

Postpartum Anxiety 101

Chelsea Gonzales

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Anyone who has ever suffered from uncontrollable anxiety knows what a terrible feeling it is. Unfortunately, this same anxiety is something many pregnant women suffer from, and what’s even more unfortunate is that many of these women never recieve help.

The name for this condition? Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Never heard of it? That’s okay, many people haven’t. However, it’s important that we get the word out, as this is a very serious condition that can actually lead to lifelong complications.

Therefore, we are going to use today’s article to introduce PPA and help raise awareness.

What is Postpartum Anxiety?

Like postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety is a disorder that occurs in women after they have given birth. In many women, the symptoms will appear immediately. In others, it could take several months after giving birth. Still others begin to feel the symptoms of anxiety a few weeks before they even welcome their little one into the world.

While PPA is similar to PPD in that it appears after giving birth, it is actually quite different in terms of symptoms. Women suffering from postpartum anxiety will experience nigh-unrelenting feelings of worry. Usually these worries are for her newborn and they refuse to be dismissed. This constant worry can result in trouble sleeping, changed eating habits, rapid heartbeat, hot flashes, nausea, an inability to focus, and shortness of breath.

Obviously, these symptoms are quite disruptive to everyday life, and can even make it difficult for a new mom to care for her baby.

What Causes Postpartum Anxiety?

After giving birth, women go through an enormous hormonal shift. This works along with changes in schedule, lack of sleep, and relationship changes with those nearest and dearest to them to set the stage for postpartum anxiety. At first, the symptoms may be subtle, or they may come on full-force right away.

Who Might Suffer from PPA?

Absolutely any mother who has just given birth can develop postpartum anxiety. In fact, as many at 11% of women suffer from this disorder. That said, there are some mothers who may be more susceptible to it, including:

  • Women with a personal or family history of anxiety

  • Women with a history of depression

  • Women who experience weepiness or irritability as symptoms of PMS

  • Women with eating disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Women who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth in the past

What are the Treatment Options?

Luckily, there are very effective treatment options for PPA, meaning that those who seek out treatment will almost certainly overcome the anxious feelings that are disrupting their lives.

The first course of action will likely be ensuring the new mother has help with the little one, along with giving her a professional therapist to help her regulate her worried thoughts and give her coping techniques. Even these small steps can make an enormous difference, and by also adding regular exercise into the mother’s routine, the anxiety may be eliminated completely.

If the lifestyle changes mentioned above don’t do the trick, the next step is medication. Typically, medication is only used in the most severe cases and is paired with continued therapy and positive lifestyle changes in order to make the biggest possible impact.

Conclusion

Making people aware of the reality of postpartum anxiety is the first step in helping all mamas receive the care and attention they need.

If you feel you or someone you love is likely to develop PPA based on medical history or personality, hiring a postpartum doula is an excellent preventative measure. A postpartum doula can help the new mother by providing support during the weeks after baby’s birth.

Are you or someone you know currently suffering from PPA? please let a professional care provider know. Getting the proper help is the first step to happier days with your little one.

Tips for a Successful VBAC

Chelsea Gonzales

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There once was a time when mothers were told they would never have a successful vaginal birth after having a cesarean. Fortunately, times have changed, and more and more mothers are making the choice to give it a try. After all, if it can be carried out safely, a vaginal birth is almost always the best option in terms of a mother’s comfort, recovery times, mother/child bonding, and so much more.

If you are considering having a VBAC, you may be wondering what you can do to increase the chances of a successful birth experience. Here are my top tips.

Build a Strong Birth Team

First and foremost, you will need to have a good, strong birth team. This is one of the most important steps you can take, as an unsupportive birth team will be discouraging at best.

Be sure to pick a primary care provider who is willing to attend a VBAC birth. If you are birthing away from home, the hospital or birth center your care provider is associated with must also be okay with your choice. Ensure you trust your midwife or OB completely. If you feel at all uncomfortable or concerned with your care provider, make a switch. Even if your feelings are apparently unwarranted, feeling comfortable during labor and delivery is imperative to a successful VBAC.

In addition to a good doctor or midwife, you will also want to hire a doula. A doula will help ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout labor, and may even make the process move more quickly. Additionally, a doula can help you work through any fears that may arise.

Go Natural

Inductions, epidurals, and other interventions increase the likelihood of a c-section. Considering this is the very thing you are wanting to avoid, you will also want to avoid intervention as much as possible, letting nature take its course throughout the birthing process.

While this make take more time and patience, and while it might require seeking out natural pain management options, it's so worth the end result.

Educate Yourself

Confidence plays an enormous role in the success of any birth. The more confident you are, the more likely you are to be successful.

This is probably due in part to the fact that the more confident women tend to be the more educated women. Therefore, these individuals have a good understanding of their bodies, leading to less fear. They are also better able to make educated decisions throughout labor, meaning they're less likely to be pushed into doing things they don't want to do.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that all pregnant women—and especially those wishing to experience a VBAC—do everything they can to boost their confidence and educate themselves. The best ways to go about this include attending quality childbirth classes and reading as much as possible. Finding books about VBAC specifically can be especially helpful.

Banish Fears

Another step toward confidence that every potential VBAC mother must take is banishing fears. Traumatizing birth experiences stick with us and tend to fester, growing into paralyzing fears. These fears are strong—so strong in fact that they can stall labor, something that can lead to interventions.

Fortunately, you have the power to banish these fears. Find a therapist to help you work through your unwanted thoughts, hire a doula to help in case these fears surface during labor, and repeat uplifting and inspirational mantras to yourself throughout your pregnancy and your labor.

Many women also find it helpful to hang posters or flags with inspirational messages throughout their home and birth space.

Expect a VBAC, Prepare for a Cesarean

In some cases, it just isn't possible for a mother to have a VBAC safely. Because of this, it is always best to go in expecting the best but prepared for the worst.

What does this mean for you? Here is what I suggest:

  •  Know where to go — If you're delivering at home or in a birth center, know in advance where you'll be transferred should the need arise.Prepare for postpartum — Obviously, you'll want meals planned and help in place no matter how your birth goes. However, having extra assistance lined up in case of a c-section is a smart move.
  • Speak with your care provider — Ask your doctor any questions you have about what will happen should you need a cesarean. Have a midwife? Find out what her typical procedure is in these cases.
  • Create a birth plan — You've probably already thought about your birth plan should you have a vaginal delivery, but have you considered what you'd like in the case of surgery? Think about it, write it down, and make sure your birth team knows your plan.

Following these tips is not a guarantee of anything. They will, however, help you achieve your dream. Why not get started today?

 

How Affirmations Help Laboring Women

Chelsea Gonzales

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In recent years, birth affirmations have become more and more popular. Many people wonder how on earth a woman could expect a simple phrase to help them through the enormously difficult task of giving birth. While this doubt is understandable, those who think this way fail to see just how powerful words can be.

You see, birth affirmations give a woman power. They do this by changing her mindset and giving her a new, positive outlook. With that positive outlook, she can do amazing things. This is because her new mindset allows her to do three things.

 #1: Find Confidence

All too often women are told that they cannot accomplish things on their own. This message is beaten into us again and again, sometimes leaving women feeling incapable of doing anything on their own.

This lack of confidence makes it difficult for a new mama to trust her body to do what it was built to do. Because of this, she will make decisions based on the idea that she can’t birth her baby on her own, and may even subconsciously prevent her body from laboring freely due to her lack of confidence that it will do what it is meant to do.

Birth affirmations that are read and internalized before and during labor help restore a woman’s confidence in her body and in herself. This makes it much easier for the mother to let go and allow her body to do the work it was made to do.

 #2: Push Negativity Aside

Those women who have made the decision to trust their bodies to birth their babies will often run into negativity from others. These people will say things to make the mama second guess her decision and will often associate negative feelings with birth.

Mothers must be prepared for these comments and able to push them aside knowing they are only a result of what society and negative experiences with the mainstream birthing experience have taught these individuals. A confident woman is usually able to do this without issue. However, positive affirmations that have been instilled in her throughout pregnancy will also help her keep her mind on positive thoughts and push the negativity away.

 #3: Gain Focus

Finally, positive affirmations can help a laboring mother gain focus during particularly difficult parts of her labor experience. If a mama finds that her mind is wandering or that negative thoughts are distracting her, she can use the affirmations that are deeply ingrained in her mind to gain focus once again.

Some women even find it helpful to chant their affirmations in order to remain focused on positive thoughts as they bring their babies into the world.

Find Your Affirmations

If you are pregnant currently, I highly recommend you find a few positive affirmations that speak to you personally and begin incorporating them into your daily life.

Hang copies of your affirmations on the bathroom mirror, make a bookmark that displays a favorite affirmation, and/or say your affirmations to yourself each and every day. By finding the words that inspire and encourage you, you will be more likely to successfully reach your child birth goals.

Below are a few of my favorite affirmations:

 “I trust in my ability to birth my baby”

“I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly.”

“I am relaxed and calm.”

“She believed she could, so she did.”

If you are looking for someone to help you have your ideal birth experience, I would love to chat with you. As a birth doula, giving new mamas a positive birth is what I do best, and I would be honored to help you bring your little one into this world.

Self Care for Mothers

Chelsea Gonzales

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Motherhood is hard. Ask any mama you know and she is bound to agree that juggling housework, kids, personal relationships, and sometimes even a job is no walk in the park. In fact, it can drain your tank really, really quickly, leaving you running on empty.

Unfortunately, because motherhood is a never-ending job, finding the time and energy for self-care and a tank refill can seem impossible. It’s likely that you go to bed nightly with an unfinished to-do list, and getting your hair done, curling up with a book, or even just showering in peace are far-off fantasies that you can’t imagine actually coming true.

That said, in order to maintain sanity, you simply must find some time for self-care. Luckily, this doesn’t have to mean hiring a babysitter for hours and hours of alone time. A few simple changes in the way you live can make an enormous difference, and will leave you feeling refueled and ready to take on the world.

Eat Well

Yeah, yeah, this is one we all hear (but never get around to implementing). However, it is also one of the most effective ways to care for yourself and make sure you are able to function as the wonderful mother and woman you actually are. So stock up on fruits and veggies and ditch the chocolate bars—you’re worth it!

Drink Water

Coffee is great on those really rough days, but it simply cannot replace water. Carry a water bottle constantly, and keep it filled up throughout the day. You may be surprised how much better you feel when you’re well hydrated.

Exercise Daily

You may read this tip and laugh. Who has time to exercise, right? Well, I’m not necessarily talking about going to the gym. If you can’t find time to pack up the kiddos and get to a gym, seek out exercises you can do at home. A YouTube channel that teaches yoga is a wonderful option. Walking with the babies in a stroller is also ideal. Figure out what you can manage and do it. You won't regret it!

Get Outside

There’s nothing like some good old vitamin D to leave you feeling great. Therefore, spending some time outside, soaking up the rays of the sun each day is a wonderful way to improve your overall mood and health. The best thing about this trick is that it can be done while working on the computer, nursing a baby, making a grocery list, or even folding laundry.

Schedule in Some “Me Time”

Remember how I mentioned that getting in self-care time can seem impossible? Well, it’s totally possible, but you need to make it happen. Add a bit of “me time” to your schedule each week, and hold onto it for dear life. This means that even if the house is a mess and the kids all need baths, you go. Leave the house and head to the spa, gym, coffee shop, or movie theater for a few hours of peace.

Find Mama Friends

Stress is magnified when we must keep it to ourselves. Finding mama friends who can relate to your situation may be just the thing to help you fill your self-care tank. Set up “playdates” and chat with these other mothers while the babies babble together, or talk on the phone after bedtime, or sign older kids up for a class together and chat in the lobby. Talking about your day, joking about ridiculous situations, and sharing ideas can be hugely helpful for stressed-out moms.

Express Your Feelings

Being a mom comes with tons of emotions. Keeping these pent up inside is never a good idea. Be sure you are talking to your partner and friends about your feelings. Additionally, you may want to express yourself through written word in a journal or through art. If negative emotions become too much to handle even while using these methods, seek out professional help as soon as possible.

Let Go of the Little Things

Nobody’s perfect, not even mom. Let the little things go, forgive yourself when you make a mistake, and move on. Skipping the dishes one night, ordering takeout on occasion, and leaving the floors unswept will not hurt anyone, and letting these things go might just save your sanity.

Seek Out Help

Last, but certainly not least, there is always to option of seeking out assistance. For older kids, babysitters and nannies are a great idea.

However, babies under one year of age—along with their parents—may benefit more from a postpartum doula. A doula can be available to give you that “me time” you need so badly and will gladly hold your little one while you shower. This is perfect for moms who need help while their partner works, for single mamas with no helper, and for couples who are just feeling overwhelmed.

Would you like help as you adjust to being a mom and figure out your self-care routine? I would love to help! Please contact me for information on my postpartum doula services and what they can do for you.

Finding Yourself Again After Giving Birth

Chelsea Gonzales

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For many, the weeks after giving birth are a time of bliss. However, for many more mamas they are a time of identity crisis. This is especially true after the newness of a tiny family member wears off and the new mom is left to find her new place in the family and in society.

After all, for nine months the mother’s identity has likely been wrapped up in her pregnancy and the upcoming arrival. With the baby’s arrival, this all goes away, and many times, so do former hobbies and even friendships. This means that in addition to caring for her new little one, the mom must also find herself.

If you find that you are in this difficult place after having your little one, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. Here are my tips.

Make Time For You

First and foremost, you simply must make time for yourself. Read, write, take walks, and give yourself the time and space to reflect on life. This is perhaps the very best thing you can do for yourself during this transitional period.

Explore Your Interests

Did you have a cool hobby when you were younger? Is there something you've always wanted to do? Perhaps you aren’t interested in anything in particular, but your friends all go to a class together. Make time to explore things and find hobbies and interests that you are passionate about.

Prioritize Friendships

Keeping friends after giving birth can be difficult. This is especially true if your pre-pregnancy friends didn't follow you into parenthood. Therefore, it is important that you carve out time specifically for cultivating friendships. This might mean making new friends who are also parents, finding people with similar interests at a class or event, or just keeping up with old friends.

Whichever direction you go, make sure your friends still make you happy and allow you to be you.

Create Plans to Better Yourself

Now that baby is here, it’s time to start looking to the future. If you’ve been planning on going back to school, starting a new business, or working toward a career advancement, this time of change and redefining yourself might be the ideal point in your life to begin to work toward these things.

This doesn't mean you should jump in feet first while still adjusting to the new baby, but making plans and taking baby steps in the right direction is a great way to get the ball rolling and give yourself a new sense of who you are.

Reconnect with Your Significant Other

Your partner is your partner for a reason. They know you inside and out, and they love you for who you are.

For this reason, your significant other is the perfect person to turn to when you are no longer sure who you are. Make sure to reconnect with your partner as often as possible with long, deep conversations and good snuggle sessions.

Keep a Journal

Sometimes sorting things out in our minds can feel overwhelming. Everything seems to get jumbled up, and finding any sort of path through it might seem impossible. For this reason, it is always a good idea to keep a journal. This will allow you to get your thoughts and plans out on paper and out of your over crowded brain.

With these ideas on paper, defining who you are will be made a lot easier.

Hire a Doula

Many of these suggestions require that you have a bit of extra time here and there. However, motherhood is a 24/7 gig, and that means finding time to seek out hobbies or friendships—or even just be alone—isn’t always possible without help.

Hiring a postpartum doula might just be the perfect solution to this problem. A doula will gladly care for your little one while you spend some time journaling or chatting with girlfriends. On top of that, postpartum doulas have experience working with new mothers and may have bits of advice to help you find your place in the world once again.

Are you considering bringing a postpartum doula into your home? I’d love to chat about how I might be able to help you and your family adjust during this beautiful yet challenging time.

Try this for easy nutrition in your pregnancy.

Megan Jennings

Carefully considering what we put into our bodies during pregnancy is the very best way to ensure we remain healthy and happy until—and even after—baby arrives. That said, in today’s fast-paced world, many mamas have trouble ensuring they are getting enough of the right kinds of foods every day. 

Read More

The differences between a Birth Doula and a Midwife Assistant

Megan Jennings

Every expectant mother must assemble a birth team. Building a strong birth team with professionals who respect your birthing wishes is a very important part of ensuring you have a satisfactory birth experience. Unfortunately, many mamas-to-be don’t fully understand the role of each member on a birth team, and this makes choosing the right team members difficult, to say the least. 

One of the biggest sources of confusion is the difference between a doula and a midwife’s assistant. Lacking the definition of each can lead to a confusing situation for new mothers as they try to navigate the world of care providers and birth plans. 

In this article we are going to explore the role of each respective care provider in order to give you a strong foundation of knowledge when choosing your team. 

Doula

In short, a doula attends a birth in order to support the laboring mama. She is excellent at anticipating the personal needs of a birthing woman, and does her best to tend to those needs. This might involve making sure the new mother is eating or drinking throughout labor, or offering her support in whatever position makes her comfortable. It could also entail using oils or massages in order to help her client relax. 

While a doula will have a large amount of knowledge about the female anatomy and the birthing process, she will never administer medical care of any kind. Instead, she remains by the laboring mother’s side as much as possible and makes her as content as possible. 

Another part of a doula’s job includes helping the new mother and father to advocate for themselves throughout the labor and delivery of their child. This is especially important if the labor is to take place in a hospital setting or if complications should arise. 

Most doulas are on call 24/7, and will arrive to offer labor support as soon as a woman feels she needs it. A doula generally brings a collection of supplies with her, which may include a birth ball, a rebozo (a scarf used for a variety of purposes during labor), essential oils, massage oil, and a variety of other tools for keeping mama comfortable and happy. 

Midwife’s Assistant

On the other hand, a midwife’s assistant attends a birth in order to help the midwife do her job. While she may offer the new mother some support and words of encouragement, this is not her number one priority. Instead, she is present to help the midwife with anything and everything she might need an extra set of hands for. 

Unlike a doula, a midwife’s assistant does administer some basic medical care. Therefore, she must have a very good understanding of the female anatomy and the labor and delivery process. 

A midwife’s assistant might perform such tasks as watching the mother’s vital signs and monitoring fetal heart tones. She is also given the tasks of assisting with any medical management (if needed), assisting with charting, providing immediate postpartum care to mom and baby, and performing a variety of other jobs that arise throughout the labor and delivery process. 

Because her job is so varied, a midwife’s assistant must be very in-tune with her surroundings and anticipate the midwife’s needs as often as possible. This will help the midwife stay on task throughout the delivery, as everything she needs will be prepared for her. 

The majority of midwife’s assistants are on call 24/7, but many will not arrive until later in the laboring process. The supplies found in a midwife’s assistant’s bag might include a fetal Doppler, a stethoscope, an infant scale, and record-taking supplies. 

Overlap

While doulas and midwife’s assistants do offer two different kinds of services, there is occasionally some overlap in their job descriptions. For instance, many doulas offer breastfeeding support after baby is born. Likewise, many midwife’s assistants offer support in this area as well.

Other areas of overlap could include:

Offering the laboring mother support.

Helping with post-birth cleanup.

Assisting with skin-to-skin.

Conclusion

Although there is a bit of overlap between the roles of these two types of caregivers, they do both offer their own unique services.

Therefore, if your birth will be attended by a midwife, it is generally a good idea to consider having both a doula and a midwife’s assistant attend your birth as well. However, if you are planning a hospital birth with an OB, a midwife’s assistant is not necessary, but a doula is a definite must.