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Filtering by Tag: oklahoma

Postpartum Must-Haves

Chelsea Gonzales

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Baby will be here soon, and you’re probably all stocked up on diapers, wipes, and adorable little onesies. These are all important things to have, but they aren’t the only things you’ll need.

Have you thought at all about what you will need right after having a baby? These items are just as important—though admittedly not as cute—as the items you buy for baby.

Wondering what you should put on your baby-prep list after shopping for yourself? Make sure you stock up on the following.

Tucks Pads

Birth is beautiful, but it isn’t always pretty. Having a baby can cause some serious soreness in your lower half, and the constipation that often comes along with the postpartum days doesn’t help matters. Tucks Pads are medicated and provide cooling relief down there.

Mother Love Nipple Cream

The first weeks of breastfeeding will almost certainly cause your nipples to become raw and sore. Fortunately, there are plenty of products on the market that soothe your sore breasts while also remaining safe for baby. Our favorite is Mother Love Nipple Cream. Be sure to pick some up before baby arrives!

Reusable Nursing Pads

Another thing that happens in the first weeks and months of breastfeeding is leaking. As your milk comes in and your body figures out how much milk it actually needs to produce, you’re going to experience some leakage. Nursing pads catch those leaks before they make an appearance on your shirt. Reusable pads are particularly helpful when you have a newborn to care for and no extra time for laundry.

Ibuprofen

After giving birth you’re sure to be sore in more places than you can count. Ibuprofen is an absolute lifesaver, and something you’ll want to keep on hand. Even if you don’t usually use medicine for aches and pains, keep some around just in case. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

AfterEase by Wish Garden

AfterEase drops are perfect for relieving mothers of those dreaded after-birth contractions. It contains a number of herbs that have been used for postpartum care for generations, and the soothing effect the product has is absolutely wonderful.

Never had painful after-birth contractions before? Grab some anyway, as these pains tend to increase with each baby.

L Pads

Tampons and menstrual cups are a no-no after giving birth, and the blood flow after having a baby needs to be caught by something. The obvious answer is pads, and we recommend investing in the super pads because your flow will likely be very heavy at first. Of course, organic pads are always best, but purchasing a large number of organic pads can be pricey.

That’s why we love L Pads from Target. They are cheap, organic, and get the job done.

Postpartum Herbal Sitz Bath

A relaxing bath is the perfect way to recover after giving birth, and a bath with baby can provide fabulous bonding time. Add in an herbal sitz bath, and you and your little one will be treated to the amazing benefits offered by the herbs included. Whether you make your own herbal sitz bath mixture or purchase it premade, you’re sure to love soaking in a wonderful and aromatic bath.

Freezer Meals

Not very many mothers have time or energy to cook healthy delicious meals right after giving birth. Even those who do, don’t want to. After all, they should be bonding with baby.

For this reason, making and freezing plenty of meals beforehand is an excellent idea. Doing this will help ensure you continue to eat well while removing the work of cooking from the already hectic postpartum weeks.

Belly Support Band

After baby is born, your belly is likely to need a bit of additional support for a while. A belly support band is perfect for offering support while reducing pain, swelling, and pressure. It can be worn under any clothing, making it a discreet way to remain comfortable after giving birth.

Do you have everything you need to keep yourself comfortable after baby gets here? If not, it’s time to make a trip to the store and pick up those last-minute things. Happy shopping!

Why Every Mom Needs a Breastfeeding Class

Chelsea Gonzales

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Most moms know that heading to at least one childbirth class before having their little one is a good idea. Unfortunately, the idea of breastfeeding classes hasn’t become quite as popular. In fact, this is an option that many new mamas don’t even know exists.

That said, breastfeeding classes are actually hugely helpful to new mothers. The things taught in such a class can help increase a mother’s chances of breastfeeding success, meaning a happier mama and healthier baby.

Learning to Latch

While breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, that doesn’t mean moms automatically know how to do it. Therefore, if you plan to breastfeed at all, you will likely need somebody to show you the ropes.

Of course, the first thing you’ll need to know is how to help your newborn establish the perfect latch. This isn’t as easy as it might seem, and does take some practice. However, it is incredibly important, as a poor latch can lead to inefficient nursing and painful breasts.

Breastfeeding classes cover proper latch technique, helping moms understand what to look for and how to fix common problems.

Self Care

Of course, in order to breastfeed a little one, a mother must take good care of herself. Proper nutrition and good hydration are both essential to breastfeeding. Additionally, some mothers may need to eat certain things to encourage milk production. On top of all this, moms also need to take care of their breasts, using the correct ointments to soothe sore nipples and knowing what to look for should they suspect a problem.

Luckily, all of these things will be covered in a breastfeeding education class, meaning all mothers who attend such a class will know how to care for themselves while caring for their babies.

Pumping Education

Being with baby all the time isn’t an option for some moms. For other moms, the chance to get away sometimes is not something she’ll want to pass up. For this reason, learning about the different types of pumps and how to use them is also a part of most breastfeeding classes. This is great information to have!

Tricks of the Trade

Aside from the things mentioned above, a breastfeeding class will also cover some “tricks of the trade”. Some of these will help moms and their newborns fine tune their breastfeeding technique, while others can be employed once they have established a strong nursing foundation. All of them will help make nursing easier and more enjoyable for all involved.

Building your toolbox with plenty of professionally chosen tips is sure to help you on your breastfeeding journey.

Confidence

Quite possibly the most important thing a breastfeeding class provides a new mama is confidence. As mentioned earlier, nobody is born knowing how to breastfeed. Because of this, the idea of jumping into the world of nursing a little one is intimidating to some. A breastfeeding class can instill confidence in these worried mothers, helping them enjoy the end of their pregnancy.

As you’ve probably figured out, a breastfeeding class is—in our opinion—a no-brainer, and something every pregnant mama should make time for. Have you signed up for your breastfeeding class yet? Do it now, before baby arrives!

4 Ways a Daytime Postpartum Doula Differs from a Nanny

Chelsea Gonzales

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Many new mamas find they need a bit of help in the first few weeks after having a baby. Sometimes a mother is recovering from a cesarean and isn't as mobile as she would like. Other times, she's suffering from postpartum depression. However, the vast majority of the time, these ladies just need some assistance adjusting to their new normal.

This is perfectly understandable and completely normal. After all, in the past we women have had an entire village of other ladies to help us out after birth. However, many modern women are unsure who to turn to in this time of need.

Of course, there is the option of hiring a nanny. However, a nanny doesn't really offer all that a brand new mother needs. This is where a postpartum doula steps in.

Wondering how the care offered by a postpartum doula differs from that of a nanny? Read on!

Mama Care

A newborn nanny comes in to take care of the newborn and only the newborn. While you can hire nannies who are willing to take on older siblings as well, you aren't likely to find a nanny who'll take care of mama.

Considering that the mother just gave birth, she needs someone to care for her too. Fortunately postpartum doulas are happy to take care of baby while also checking in on mama, making sure she has water, bringing her snacks, and even checking in on her emotional health.

Bonding Help

Good nannies are wonderful in that they take great care of their charges. In fact, most nannies even form strong bonds with the children they care for. This is sweet and can help put a mother's mind at ease, but it isn't enough for the brand new mom who is still bonding with the baby herself.

Women who recently gave birth need plenty of time to connect with their newborns. That said, they also need energy to do this. A postpartum doula cares for baby while mama showers and naps, but is quick to offer the baby up and encourage active bonding when the mother is available.

Breastfeeding Assistance

Postpartum doulas are also great for breastfeeding support. Instead of bottle feeding whenever baby is in their charge, they will bring the little one to his or her mother. This helps the new nursing relationship blossom and grow stronger, something that can't happen when bottle feedings are offered as an option.

In addition to ensuring baby is nursed whenever hungry, postpartum doulas are often able to offer tips and advice to mothers who are having trouble breastfeeding. This can be enormously helpful to a new and frustrated mother.

On the other hand, a nanny might be quick to quiet baby with a bottle, and may have no experience at all with breastfeeding. In any case, a nanny is unlikely to be willing to offer breastfeeding support.

Family Support

A good postpartum doula knows that it's her job to help the family adjust to their new addition and ensure this transition goes as smoothly as possible. She will offer help wherever she sees she is truly needed, but she's also acutely aware that the family needs to find their own rhythm. Therefore, a postpartum doula doesn't inject herself unnecessarily and will often offer tips to help the family get things on the right track.

This is in contrast to a nanny, who is only in the home to care for baby. This care may be helpful in the short run, but will be difficult for the family to wean themselves from later. It may also make it hard for the family to find their own way of doing things.

As you can see, while there is nothing wrong with hiring a nanny in many scenarios, postpartum doulas are a superior option for families with a brand new addition.

Are you looking for post-birth help in Oklahoma City? We'd love to assist! Contact us today for more information on our postpartum doula services.

Finding the Breastfeeding Support You Need

Chelsea Gonzales

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The first few weeks postpartum are filled with huge changes. Perhaps the biggest change of all is learning to effectively breastfeed your little one. While babies are born with the instinct to nurse, they won't necessarily be great at it right off the bat. At the same time, mothers sometimes need a little help getting started themselves, and this can lead to some serious frustrations.

Fortunately, there is help available out there, and finding the right help could turn your nursing relationship around in no time.

Knowing When You Need Help

So how do you know when to find this help? How do you know your situation is dire enough to warrant it? Honestly, you'll likely know if things aren't going right. However, just in case you don't recognize it right off the bat, it is good to go in knowing what red flags to look for.

Any of the following could be cause for concern:

  • Prolonged separation of mother and baby
  • Nipple pain that cannot be easily remedied at home
  • Flat or inverted nipples
  • Trouble finding a comfortable position
  • Shallow, painful, or incorrect latch
  • Baby losing a significant amount of weight

Of course, this is not an exclusive list of reasons to find a breastfeeding professional. Therefore, if your gut tells you something isn't right, it's best to find the help you need, if only to put your mind at ease.

Who to Call On

The next step is finding a person who can offer sufficient help. Finding the right individual may seem like a daunting task, but once you dive into the world of breastfeeding you'll discover that it's not as complicated as it seems.

If you had a doula attend your birth, or if a postpartum doula is helping you around the house, she may be able to offer the support you need. These individuals are not always trained lactation consultants, but even those who aren't have plenty of experience with nursing mothers and may be able to offer some pointers.

When a doula isn't available or when her help isn't enough to solve the problem, it's time to turn to a lactation consultant. Many hospitals keep lactation consultants on staff, and these individuals can be a great option if you're still in the hospital when problems arise or if your insurance company will only cover the services of an in-hospital consultant. However, out-of-hospital lactation consultants often offer more personalized attention and assistance. These lovely helpers can be found through such organizations as Thrive Mama Collective.

Of course, there is nothing like peer-to-peer support. While breastfeeding support meetings aren't the solution to serious problems, they can be helpful if you're just needing emotional support, tips and tricks, or help finding better positions. If these are the kinds of things you need, I recommend checking out the breastfeeding support group at Thrive Mama Collective, or one of the other local support groups.

The Importance of Finding Support

Why is finding breastfeeding support so important? Well, there are a couple of things to consider.

Finding help could make or break your nursing relationship with your baby. Breastfeeding is a super important part of human development. It is an excellent source of nutrition for your little one and can even help boost their immune system. Additionally, the bond you will create with your little one through nursing is absolutely priceless and will set the stage for many healthy, strong relationships in the years to come.

Not only that, but finding help could also pinpoint any medical issues with you or baby that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. Therefore, seeking out help as soon as you feel it is necessary is always ideal.

As you can see, finding breastfeeding support is easy enough and also incredibly important. After all, two sets of eyes and hands are always better than one when you're trying to carry out a difficult task, and learning to breastfeed is a difficult yet wonderfully rewarding task, to say the least.

If you've been thinking about finding some help as you establish your nursing relationship, don't hesitate. Hire a postpartum doula for general help and support, or seek out a lactation consultant if you believe there may be an issue. You'll be glad you did when you see baby nursing like a champ and growing leaps and bounds.

 

7 Amazing C-Section Recovery Tips

Chelsea Gonzales

Whether your cesarean was planned from the beginning or a complete surprise, the recovery is something you'll need to go through. Luckily, you'll have your new bundle of joy by your side, softening the pain and more difficult days a little. However, a C-section is still major surgery, and as with all major surgeries, recovery isn't exactly fun.

That said, there are ways to speed up the recovery process and make it go a lot more smoothly. By knowing the right steps to take, you can help ensure all goes well in the weeks postpartum.

Walk, then Rest

Surgery leaves even the best of us feeling groggy and in pain. For this reason, walking is likely the very last thing you want to do. Still, walking is one of the necessary steps you must take before leaving the hospital. It's also beneficial during recovery because it helps get blood moving, reducing the likelihood of clots. For this reason, you will want to do a bit of walking around the house each day.

With that said, I must point out that this walking should be kept to a minimum in the first few weeks. No strenuous exercise should occur until at east 6–8 weeks postpartum, and even then, a new mama should get permission from her doctor.

Eat Well, Drink Plenty

Nutrition is hugely important when your body is working hard to recover. Besides, if you're breastfeeding, you're providing your baby with all of his or her nutrients. Therefore, you simply must eat well after having a C-section.

Besides eating a well balanced diet that is full of fruits, veggies, and lean meats, you will also want to make sure that the foods you choose contain plenty of fiber. This will help prevent the post-cesarean gas and constipation that so often plagues new mamas.

Additionally, plenty of protein, iron, and vitamin C are all musts in an after-surgery diet. These nutrients help your body rebuild muscle, recover from blood loss, and fight off infection.

Finally, you will need to consume A LOT of water. In fact, I recommend drinking around a gallon a day. Your body needs water in order to function properly, and with a post-operative recovery on its plate—as well as the usual postpartum work—it's going to need as much water as it can get.

Add in Supplements

During the months postpartum, be sure to continue taking your prenatal vitamin. Not only will this help baby get plenty of nutrients through your breastmilk, it will also help your body recover more quickly. Other supplements you may consider should include 1) a quality probiotic in order to restore order in your gut, as well as 2) zinc and magnesium, also for gut health.

Baby Your Scar

One key part of recovery is making sure your scar heals correctly and without infection. The best way to do this is by babying the area.

Stick to showers in order to avoid submerging your scar, never scrub that area, and gently pat it dry after showering. Put aloe vera gel and vitamin E on the scar to reduce swelling and visibility, and keep it covered with a organic or free and clear maxi pad or some other sterile, soft covering for the first two weeks.

Banish Pain

Of course, you're going to feel some level of pain after a C-section. In order to reduce this pain, be sure to use the painkillers prescribed by the doctor. As you wean off the prescription drugs, slowly make the switch to over-the-counter options such as ibuprofen.

Other options that can be used along with these painkillers include essential oil aromatherapy, arnica gel, cinnamon supplements, garlic supplements, coconut water, omega-3 fatty acids, hawthorn berry tea, and hibiscus tea. Using a combination of a few of these should have you feeling a bit better.

Address Your Emotions

Not every mama is happy to have had a cesarean. If you are upset by the way your birth went, be sure to address this right away rather than allowing it to fester. Having your placenta encapsulated and adding the capsules to your daily regimen can help keep your emotions under control, but this shouldn't be your only course of action.

You will also want to find a way to express your disappointment, air your grievances, and allow yourself to wade through, make sense of, and understand the strong emotions you may be feeling. For many women, simply talking with their partner or a close family member or friend is enough. Others need a professional to help them sort through their emotions. Still others prefer to write, draw, or use some other form of creativity to express themselves and get through this difficult time.

Find what works for you and go with it.

Get Help

As you're recovering, you're going to need plenty of help. While your family is sure to help out as much as they can, it isn't always enough. For this reason, it's a great idea to hire a postpartum doula. Doulas are knowledgeable when it comes to postpartum recovery and newborn care, and are immensely helpful in nearly all aspects of life after birth.

Are you ready to hire a postpartum doula? I'd love to talk to you about your options. Please contact me today!

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?

 

Staying Healthy Naturally During Flu Season

Chelsea Gonzales

Photo by PeopleImages/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by PeopleImages/iStock / Getty Images

Flu season is definitely here, and many families are feeling its effects. Even if you’re lucky enough to skip the flu itself this season, you and your kids will likely experience at least one or two little bugs. This is never fun.

Fortunately, you can dampen the blow and even avoid some illnesses entirely by taking a few precautionary steps. Here are my favorite tips and tricks for keeping healthy naturally, even when it seems every virus on the planet is making the rounds.

Elderberry Syrup

Let’s begin with a much deserved shoutout to elderberry syrup. This concoction is absolutely magical, and best of all, it’s completely natural. Elderberry syrup can be taken daily throughout the winter, or you can hold onto it for taking only when sick.

To make your own batch of this illness-fighting syrup, follow the instructions on Wellness Mama.

Detox Baths

As the name suggestions, detox baths are perfect for ridding the body of toxins. Besides, who doesn’t love a relaxing bath when they’re sick? I know I do, especially if I can’t seem to get warm.

To create your own detox bath, add the following to your bathwater:

  • 2 cups epsom salt
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 2 cups hydrogen peroxide

Adults can also mix in a few drops of certain essential oils to add an element of aromatherapy. This option should not be used for kids though, as the oils may cause skin irritation and other poor reactions.

Bone Broth

Homemade bone broth is an incredibly nutrient-dense food that can help boost the immune system and aid in healing those who are already ill. It’s cheap to make, tasty to eat, and can be used in a variety of dishes. On top of all that, bone broth is also incredibly soothing to sick individuals who don’t feel like eating, are suffering from a sore throat, or can’t get rid of congestion.

If you’re looking for a great bone broth recipe, try this one from Wellness Mama.

Vitamin D

One of the reasons many people tend to be sick during the winter is a lack of vitamin D. We get the majority of our vitamin D from the sun, and when the sun isn’t shining or the weather is too cold to head outside, we end up deficient in this important nutrient. Luckily, you can improve this issue by taking a vitamin D capsule. If you have young children, liquid drops are another option.

Vitamin K2  

Vitamin K2 is another supplement you may want to consider adding to your family’s regimen. This vitamin isn’t spoken of often, and is unfortunately rarely found in the typical western diet. However, it plays a very important role in our overall health and is especially helpful when taken in conjunction with vitamin D, because the two have synergistic effects.

Rest Up

Everyone knows that the body needs rest. Without it, the body can’t function properly, and the immune system is compromised. Clearly, this is a very bad thing when so many germs are going around, so make sure your family stays well rested throughout the season.

Wash Up

Sure, you’ve heard it over and over again, but it’s worth mentioning the fact that hand washing can have an enormous effect on the health of your family. Encourage hand washing after every trip to the bathroom, after outings, and before meals. Additionally, you may want to carry hand sanitizer for those times when a sink isn’t available.

Using these simple tips, you can keep yourself and your family healthy throughout the flu season and emerge with a strengthened immune system to boot.

Of course, if you’re a new parent, adding all of these new supplements and habits to your life can be a bit overwhelming. That’s where a postpartum doula can step in. A doula offers assistance in various areas of your life in order to ensure you have time to do everything you need to do for the most important people in your life.

For more information on my postpartum doula services, please contact me today!

What to Pack for Your Hospital Birth

Chelsea Gonzales

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If you are nearing the end of your pregnancy and are planning a hospital birth, it is time to begin packing your birth bag. After all, you never know when labor may ensue, and it is always comforting to know you’re prepared.

That said, many new mamas are at a loss when it comes to putting together a hospital bag. Deciding what to pack and what to leave home can be a stressful task that many women prefer to avoid entirely.

If you are currently going through the process of deciding what to put in your bag, you may find the list below helpful. It includes the most commonly used items in hospital delivery rooms across the country.

During Labor

Photo ID, Insurance Information and Hospital Forms — These items are all highly important, but also pretty obvious things to bring along. Still, in the stress of the moment you could easily forget to grab them, so putting them in or near your bag is probably a good idea.

Birth Plan — Building a customized birth plan takes a lot of effort. Therefore, it would be a shame to show up to your birth without it. Make multiple copies of your plan and keep them in your hospital bag to share with everyone.

Camera — While you may not feel very photogenic during labor, you will want some pictures to look back on. Be sure to pack a camera to capture those precious moments.

Comfortable Clothes — Both you and your partner will want to be comfortable while spending such a long time in the hospital. Be sure to pack plenty of comfortable clothes for the two of you to wear during labor and after baby is born. A loose gown is best for labor, and shorts or sweats with a comfy shirt work well for after the delivery.

Slippers or Flip-Flops — Nobody wants to walk around barefoot in a hospital. Still, putting on sneakers or boots every time you get up is a pain and not exactly comfortable. Flip-flops or slippers can help solve this problem.

Socks — Some people prefer to skip the shoes altogether and wear comfortable socks instead. Pack a few pairs in case you discover this is your preference.

Hair Tie or Clip — There is nothing more distracting or annoying than hair in your face. A hair tie or hair clip can help tame unruly hair and keep it out of your eyes while you focus on bringing baby into the world.

Glasses and Contacts — Whether you typically wear glasses or contacts, you will want to pack both options if they are available to you. Many women find that glasses are more comfortable to wear during labor. Still, others report that glasses tend to fog up and choose to wear contacts instead.

Snacks — Snacks are not always readily available in a hospital environment. Therefore, it is good to have some healthy options on hand. These are good for your partner to munch on during your labor, and for those delivering in hospitals that allow it, they can also be good for you to keep your blood sugar well-balanced. Snacks are also helpful after delivery, especially if you deliver in the middle of the night when the hospital kitchen is closed.

Lip Balm — Dry lips are very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they are a common occurrence during labor. Some quality lip balm can help fix this problem.

Music — Many women find a “labor playlist” is the perfect way to help themselves relax. Put together a list on your phone and bring a speaker to play your tunes while you labor.

Essential Oils — Good smells are also a great way to find a happy place and relax. Essential oils can provide those smells, and some even have naturally relaxing effects. Just be sure the oils you choose are safe to use around baby.

Massage Oil or Lotion — Another great way to get those relaxing smells into the air is to use a scented massage oil or lotion. Use these to rub down sore spots for an extra nice effect.

Heating Pad or Rice Sock — Heat can help relax tense muscles and relieve sore spots. A heating pad or rice sock can provide just the right amount of heat to help you find relief.

After the Birth

Baby Book — Writing down stories of those first few days of baby's life in the moment is a wonderful way to ensure they are recorded accurately. Additionally, having the baby book nearby to get handprints and footprints to keep when the hospital staff is getting a footprint of their own is very helpful.

Supportive Nursing Bra or Cami — Depending on how long you are in the hospital, there is a chance your milk could come in while there. Having some support can help make you more comfortable during this process. Additionally, a nursing bra will make feeding your little one much easier in those first few days.

Nipple Cream — While you and your little one are still getting the hang of nursing, you might find that your nipples become very sore and cracked. Nipple cream can work wonders for new mamas during this time.

Breast Pads — If your milk does come in during your hospital stay, you are definitely going to want to have some breast pads on hand to catch any leaks.

Pads — While all hospitals provide sanitary pads, there is a chance you will find them uncomfortable. Therefore, if you are picky about your sanitary products or if you prefer cloth pads, be sure to pack some of your own.

Extra Underwear — After hospital births, disposable mesh underwear are usually given to new mothers. Many women love these; however, not everyone does. Pack some extra underwear just in case you don’t care for them.

Toiletries — The first shower after delivery is heavenly. Make it amazing by bringing your own toiletries.

Phone and Charger — After your baby arrives, you are going to want to spread the news. Be sure to bring your cellphone and a charger so you can do this as soon as possible.

“Coming Home” Outfit — The day baby comes home is a special one. Be sure to bring a special outfit for the occasion. Make sure to bring a couple of sizes in case baby is bigger or smaller than anticipated!

Car Seat — Without a properly fitting and properly installed car seat, you will not be allowed to take your little one home. Therefore, you will want to check “purchasing a seat” off your to-do list before labor begins.

Take this list and add or remove items to make it your own. I hope it helps you prepare for the arrival of your little guy or girl!

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.

10 questions you should ask when writing your birth plan.

Megan Jennings

 

Your birth plan is a great way to communicate your wishes to your birth team, but it can be hard to decide what your wishes are. Here’s a check list of a few questions you need to ask yourself while making your birth plan and a few sources for finding answers

___ Will you have a labor coach? Will your main support be your husband? Will you have a doula?

___ Who do you want or don't you want in the delivery room? 

___ Will you have a birth photographer? Does the hospital allow you to take photos?

___ Do you want anything special in the room, like a labor playlist on your iPod, oil diffuser, led candles, your own pillow and blanket?

___ Would you like to get out of bed during labor?

___ Do you want a drug-free birth? Why? Make sure you and your care provider are on the same page.

___ At what point or under what circumstances would your Doctor perform a C-section? Are you at a higher risk of needing a C-section, and is there anything you can do to avoid having one?

___ How often and in what situations does your Doctor do episiotomies? If you feel strongly about avoiding one, ask how you can prevent tearing when pushing.

___ Do you want Dad to cut the umbilical cord? Will you bank the cord blood or allow the cord to finish pulsing before cutting it? Would you prefer a cord burning ceremony if you’re birthing at home?

___ If it's a boy, will you have him circumcised? Why?

Here is a couple of great sources to help you find answers to these questions and more: 

Evidence Based Birth, their mission is in their name. They want you to have research you can rely on to make important decisions regarding your birth and child.

American Pregnancy Association has a great article on epidurals and the pros and cons of getting one, along with a plethora of other topics.

Sometimes this process can be a bit overwhelming and you may feel like you need a bit of guidance. This is why I offer prenatal birth plan consulting. For more information click here