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Blog

Filtering by Tag: self care

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!

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. 

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!

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.