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Blog

Filtering by Tag: postpartum depression

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!

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.

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Chelsea Gonzales

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We’ve all heard of the baby blues, but what exactly are they? Are they different from postpartum depression, and how can a woman know whether or not her postpartum emotions are normal? These are all questions that many new mamas have, which is completely understandable. After all, we all want to know what’s going on with our bodies.

Fortunately, there are some answers. That said, the differences between normal postpartum moods, baby blues, and PPD may not be incredibly noticeable at first. Therefore, if you even think you are suffering from PPD, seeking help from a healthcare provider as soon as possible is always the best thing to do.

What Are the Baby Blues?

The baby blues are completely normal and something a huge percentage of new mamas experience. Typically, the baby blues last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, during which the new mother will feel big mood swings and heightened emotions, a large amount of stress, and/or extreme disappointment.

These feelings are caused by a variety of factors including adjusting hormones, lack of sleep, and the enormous life changes that are happening all around the new mother. Luckily, the baby blues will gradually go away on their own accord as the family finds their new normal.

What is Postpartum Depression?

PPD looks and feels very much like the baby blues. It may include increased and relentless negative feelings, lethargy and lack of motivation, and even harmful thoughts. Unfortunately PPD affects up to 1 in 7 new mothers. This condition does not tend to go away on its own and can be dangerous if left untreated.

Fortunately, there are treatments available, and by finding help, affected mothers will be able to live the happy life they dreamed of.

How Can I Tell the Difference?

Length of Time

The length of time that the negative emotions last is a pretty good indicator of whether or not you’re dealing with a case of PPD. As mentioned earlier, the baby blues will almost always go away after 2 weeks. Cases that last longer are likely to be full-fledged postpartum depression and should be treated as such.

Intensity of Emotions

Because it’s good to seek out treatment as soon as possible when it comes to postpartum depression, waiting for two full weeks may not be the best solution in some cases. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the intensity of a new mama’s negative emotions. If the mother seems to resent her child, or if she is having thoughts of harming herself of others, it’s time to find help.

Other signs a mother is experiencing PPD rather than baby blues include any and/or all of the following:

  • No motivation to do basic tasks

  • Constant crying or anger

  • Anxiety or panic attacks

What Should Be Done about PPD?

If you think you or a loved one is suffering from PPD, it’s very important that you seek out help. The best place to begin is with a primary care physician, midwife, or OBGYN. This care provider will be able to help solve the problem with prescriptions, referrals, or a combination of both.

One of the best ways to keep negative feelings at bay and make your postpartum weeks a bit easier is by hiring a postpartum doula. If you’d like more information on how a postpartum doula can help you, please contact me today!

What to do When Your Birth Doesn't Go as Planned.

Chelsea Gonzales

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Doing your research and knowing exactly how you would like your birth to go is always a good idea. In fact, I even recommend writing these thoughts down to create an easy-to-read and easy-to-share birth plan. This helps ensure that your desires are well known, and with the right birth team, many of those wishes will probably be met if at all possible.

That said, things don't always go according to plan. Problems crop up, little annoyances snowball into big emergencies, and some babies and bodies just have minds of their own. These things aren't necessarily common, but they do happen, and many times this means the initial birth plan must be modified to fit the situation.

While I don't recommend dwelling on the “what ifs”, I do think it's a good idea to consider what you will do should unplanned things happen during labor and delivery that steer your birth experience in another direction than originally planned. After all, there is no way for us to control everything, and being mentally prepared for unexpected issues can help ensure your experience is a positive one, even if it isn't exactly what you planned.

Wondering what you should do in case things do go awry? Consider these tips.

Before The Birth

Hire a Doula — A doula is an advocate for birthing women. For this reason, having a good doula is essential when issues arise. She can ensure that your birth plan stays as intact as possible while also providing you with reassurance.

Know Your Stuff — Soaking up as much information as possible about birth is also incredibly helpful. This will allow you to make informed decisions about your own body and health, as well as that of your baby.

Create a Backup Plan — Making a birth plan is great. Making a “Plan B” and even a “Plan C” is even better. Decide what you'd like to happen in case you decide you absolutely must have an epidural. What if a C-section is required? Having a plan for these things will still give you a bit of control even if your initial plan gets tossed to the side.

During the Birth

Keep Your Cool — If you do get news that your caretaker won't be able to sick to the original plan, take a deep breath and keep your cool. Remember that you are doing your very best, and your caretakers are there to keep you and your baby safe. Getting upset won't help anything, and may actually hurt baby by causing them distress.

Remind Caretakers of Your Plan — Reminding your birth team of your plan won't fix any problems that come up. However, that simple reminder might mean your team keeps your wishes in mind and sticks to the plan as much as possible.

Lean on Your Doula — Your doula is there to help you and advocate for you. Let her be the one to insist that measures be taken to mind your wishes whenever possible. Your doula will also be able to help you remain calm in stressful situations. Allow her to do her job.

After the Birth

Take Care of Yourself — Obviously, you'll be grateful about baby once they are born, and clearly you'll need to take care of and enjoy them. That said, it's also important to take care of yourself.

Remind yourself regularly of just how awesome you are and give yourself plenty of self-care time in order to reflect and heal mentally. Lastly, you'll want to watch out for signs of postpartum depression. A birth that doesn't go as planned can be a cause of depression, and PPD should be treated as soon as possible.

Are you looking for a doula to support you no matter how your birth goes? I'd love to chat! Please contact me today for a consultation. 

Overnight Doulas vs Night Nannies

Chelsea Gonzales

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We recently discussed the difference between a nanny and a daytime postpartum doula. If you read that article, you now understand just how valuable a postpartum doula can be to a new mother and her baby, and why a doula might be a better option than the more common nanny.

This is all great, but what about nighttime care? The family will be sleeping at night, so does it really matter if you choose a night nanny over an overnight postpartum doula?

Because a doula is more expensive than a night nanny, many new parents may be tempted to go the cheaper route. However, there definitely is a reason overnight doulas charge a bit more, and the extra cost is well worthwhile.

Breastfeeding Focused

Just as daytime postpartum doulas want your breastfeeding goals to be met, so do nighttime doulas.

Many night nannies give bottles in order to allow mama to sleep. This is thoughtful in a way, but it also makes building a nursing relationship difficult. Obviously, you could ask a night nanny to bring baby to you instead, but she still may not realize the importance of this, and she probably will not provide support when doing so.

Postpartum doulas, on the other hand, understand how important those first few weeks are when establishing a nursing relationship. They also have knowledge that can help you improve your breastfeeding skills.

For instance, most postpartum doulas recognize hunger signals quickly, meaning that many times you and baby can be ready to nurse before the actual crying begins. Additionally, a doula will set up a nursing station for you, ensuring you have any pillows you need, as well as water. This is invaluable in the middle of the night when getting up is less than ideal.

Help Establishing Routine

In addition to supporting your breastfeeding relationship, doulas are also excellent at helping families establish nighttime routines. Whereas a night nanny will be focused entirely on caring for your infant, a postpartum doula focuses on the family as a whole, meaning your entire family will be getting the nightly rest they need by the time your doula leaves you.

This is, of course, extremely helpful when it comes to adjusting to such an enormous change.

Light Housework or Cooking

Generally speaking, night nannies focus only on baby. Postpartum doulas on the other hand, are happy to lend a hand straightening things up while baby sleeps. Some may even make you a light breakfast before leaving for the day.

Of course, mama and baby are a doula’s number one priority, but when both are taken care of, she makes a point of seeking out other ways to help before taking a break herself.

Expertise and Respect

Many nannies have tons of experience with kids. However, not all nannies do, and since there is no true nanny certification out there, you really never know what you're going to get.

Because postpartum doulas must be certified, you can rest easy knowing the caretaker you hire has a certain level of expertise. This means you will feel no doubt that baby will be safe, and you both will be well cared for by a doula.

Doulas also do not impose their own parenting tactics on clients. Instead, they will follow your lead and respect your wishes, offering helpful tips and helping you ensure your parenting methods are safe along the way.

An overnight doula is definitely the way to go when you need nighttime help with a newborn. Do you need some overnight postpartum help? Please contact us for information on our Oklahoma postpartum doula services.

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.

Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Chelsea Gonzales

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Postpartum depression is a serious issue for a surprisingly large number of women. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to catch the milder cases of PPD, and this—along with a few other factors—means a good many women aren’t given the help they deserve.

Why is postpartum depression so difficult to recognize? Well, this could be due to a couple of things.

First, a small amount of anxiety, stress, and even a short-lived, mild case of the baby blues can be normal. After all, your hormones are going through some pretty significant changes, and coupled with the enormous life changes being made, this can be overwhelming. Separating the usual overwhelmed feelings from true PPD can be difficult.

Another issue is that many new mothers will put on a happy face for family and friends. They may feel guilty or embarrassed about feeling down-in-the-dumps when they’ve just experienced the miracle of birth. Additionally, many mothers don’t want loved ones to worry about them.

Despite this, it’s important that we worry, and even more important that we learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. Nobody deserves to suffer through the postpartum months, and by taking steps to help the new mamas close to you (or yourself), you will help ensure the people in your life don’t either.

What to Look For

Wondering what you should be watching for? Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms:

Persistent Negative Feelings

Be sure to talk regularly with those who have just given birth. Ask how they’re feeling and validate their feelings. Never brush off a new mama’s feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness. If a woman in your life has just given birth and seems to have persistent feelings of sadness, panic, or hopelessness, she could be suffering from postpartum depression.

Lack of Desire to Care for Baby (or Herself)

Many depressed women have no desire to care for their newborns. Often, this will mean dad is left doing most of the work. Unfortunately, a mother who lacks the desire to care for her baby could be neglectful. Additionally, those with this problem often have no desire to care for themselves either, leading to a whole host of other problems.

Not Sleeping or Eating

An overly anxious or depressed mama may have trouble sleeping for any length of time, something that will quickly lead to more negative feelings. She may also have trouble eating anything at all. This is clearly an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later, especially if the mother is nursing.

Constant Fatigue

On the other end of the spectrum, many women who suffer from PPD simply want to sleep all the time. This constant fatigue will be apparent if your new-mama loved one is falling asleep on the couch or spending a large amount of time in bed.

What to Do

Of course, simply recognizing postpartum depression isn’t enough. Here’s what you should do if you suspect a person you care for is suffering from PPD:

Tell a Healthcare Professional

First and foremost, you will want to let a healthcare professional know about the problem. If you’re in a position to tell your loved one’s doctor yourself, do so. Otherwise, encourage the new mother to let her doctor know so they can work out a treatment plan.

Encourage Positive Activities

Of course, what your friend does in her day-to-day life is also important. Let her know it’s okay to carve out time for herself and encourage her to use that time to engage in uplifting activities. This might include reading a book, hanging out with friends, or simply journaling her feelings over coffee. Making time to do what makes her happy should help your friend cope a bit better.

In addition to this “me time” to do what she loves, those suffering with PPD should also take extra care to make time to:

  • Be outside
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Bond with baby
  • Provide Support

No person should be expected to battle depression on their own. Being available to support your friend or family member is more important than you might realize. In fact, a constant stream of support could be the most valuable thing she receives during this tough time.

Obviously, you can’t be available all the time. However, by joining forces with other friends and family members, and hiring a well-qualified postpartum doula, you will easily be able to give your loved one the love and care she needs.

Are you looking for a quality postpartum doula in the Oklahoma City area? Please contact me today to learn more about my after-birth support services.