GP, OB or Midwife? Oh My!

Choosing a Care Provider for Pregnancy and Birth
Choosing a Care Provider for Pregnancy and Birth

Congratulations, you just found out you are pregnant!  You must have a million questions, and one of them probably is: just what are my options for medical care during pregnancy?  Choosing a care provider that you feel comfortable with and trust is one of the biggest decisions you can make for you and your baby.  Let’s quickly look at the three main types available in BC; General Practice, Midwifery, and Obstetrician led care:

The first person to know about your pregnancy (other than your spouse) is likely to be your Family Doctor, also known as a GP (General Practitioner or General Practice).  Not all GP Doctors are trained in supporting pregnant women or “delivering” babies, so if your GP is not, they will refer you to one who is when you announce your pregnancy.  These GP’s are specially trained and very knowledgeable, but appointments are typically short and to the point.  Be sure to have a list of questions if you are wanting more information on what to expect. Physicians generally offer informed consent. Most GP’s work in a shared practice (see more information below).  While GP’s work in hospitals and usually accompany patients should they need surgery, they are unable to perform surgeries like cesarean sections.

Midwifery care is ideal for women with low risk pregnancies who are looking for a care provider that specializes in pregnancy as a normal, natural life event.  They often spend 45 minutes to an hour at each prenatal appointment; answering questions and helping you understand your options. They specialize in informed choice decision making. Midwives attend home births, as well as hospital births.  They do not perform caesareans or vacuum assisted births.  In the Okanagan the midwives usually have you meet all of the team of midwives that could be there for the birth. Should a woman discover that she is having twins or no longer low risk for some reason, then the care will be shared with an OB. You do not need a referral from your GP to see a Midwife, so if you live in BC and are interested in midwifery care, it is best to contact any local midwives as soon as possible; they book up fast!  Midwifery care is covered under MSP just like physician care, so there is no cost.

Obstetricians (OB/GYN) are specialists and support women with high-risk pregnancies or who develop complications during pregnancy.  If you are seeing a Midwife or GP and they have a concern regarding your care, you may be referred to an OB.  They will either work with your Primary Care Provider (Midwife or GP), or take over your care for the remainder of the pregnancy.  Sometimes you are referred to an OB while you are in labour.  While your Primary Care Provider will stay with you whenever possible, the OB may become the person “in charge” of your care.  Just like GP’s, appointments are typically short (though every OB is different, and some spend more time!) and address any issues or concerns the OB may have.  If you have questions or things you want to discuss, be sure to bring a list.  OB’s are surgeons that are able to perform cesarean sections and support deliveries in hospital.

Each of these care providers may also work individually (solo practice) or in a partner or group
with other care providers, so it is important to know which kind of practice your care provider
has.  This can affect the type of care received.  The benefit of a solo practice is that unless there
is an emergency, your care provider will be the one providing care for your birth.  Group practice
allows each care provider to take on more clients as they have built in back up.  However, this also means
that the chances of not having your chosen care provider at your birth go up.

I feel I need to say this: Doulas do not provide medical support.  But, this means that the
help of a doula is a great compliment to all of these types of care!  So, whichever option feels right to you, or that you need, you can know that The Birth Nerd Kelowna supports all types of births with any type of provider.

What kind of support did you look for during pregnancy and birth?  What did you like about it?  What didn’t you like?

Sources: https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/advice-when-considering-midwife-or-doctor

A Doula for Camping?

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This summer my family went on a trip to Alberta to visit friends and family and to see some sights (you can’t have a six year old who is obsessed with dinosaurs and not visit the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum!). Originally, we had planned on going with my sister and brother in law and camping our way around. It seems almost sacrilegious to admit, living in BC; that we don’t go camping. We have such beautiful mountains and valleys and places to go that it seems a shame we never camp outdoors. So, when we couldn’t arrange all of our work schedules to coincide, my husband and I decided to just book a hotel because we have only a very basic idea of how to camp, so really we have no idea what we’re doing.

Besides knowing that we would need a tent, some sleeping bags, some hot dogs and s’mores, we really have no clue about the real things we need to have and know in order to go camping. I’m pretty sure you need to book space to camp in, that you can’t just show up in the woods and camp, or that there are places that aren’t good to camp in. And what do you do if it rains? See, I have no idea. At least we know enough to know we don’t know. Y’know?

So anyway, the plan was to all go together and my sister and her family could teach us what to do and show us the ropes. They were going to be our camping doulas.

Now, I’m sure we could have just googled what we needed to know, bought some stuff, booked a place, shown up and figured it out and had a good time. But, we decided not to chance it so if they couldn’t come with us, we weren’t going either.

Camping for the first time is a lot like having a baby. You kinda know you need some clothes, diapers and they don’t sleep through the night, but you don’t really know what it’s like to have a baby until they’re there. Especially in our society that frowns on sharing birth stories. You’re taught that there’s some screaming, some swearing, some asking for pain medication and then poof there’s a baby.

But, what about all the other stuff? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that person that can hold your hand and walk you through it? Can tell you the ins and outs, that one person you can go to who has helped others through this before? Well, you can!

As a birth doula, I am experienced in helping families understand the process of birth and prepare as much as possible. I can help them understand their preferences, prepare for the unexpected and am an unwavering support of their choices. I understand the unique benefits of different types of care providers, places of birth, pain management options, community resources and more. Having supported many clients through each of these, I have firsthand knowledge of how birth “works”.

For postpartum support, it is about having someone to tell you, unequivocally, that you are doing alright. And I know, because I’ve supported others through this time as well. I can help families through the first diaper changes, learning how to dress and swaddle baby, bathe baby and tips to help with feeding. How to clean bottles, as well as offering tips and tricks on caring for yourselves.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know until you’ve been there. If you feel like you have a million questions or blank areas of knowledge, it can be good to know that you can ask your doula because they have supported someone else through it. And if they don’t have the answer, they definitely know where to find it.

One day we will go camping with my sister and brother in law and have them teach us what we don’t know. But in the meantime, we’ll stick to hotels and restaurants for our trips. However, having a baby is one trip you can’t cancel. Consider hiring a doula for support.

 

Thanks to the Birthful Podcast #37: Birth Prep Essentials for the inspiration for today’s blog post!

 

Let Me Listen

The Folly of Comparing Struggles
The Folly of Comparing Struggles

I recently had a friend over for coffee.  We were visiting and she was lamenting about how her mother was driving her bananas.  The thought popped in my head: “At least your mother is still alive.  Be thankful for this time with her.”

I wanted to say it, but I didn’t.

I didn’t say it because that is my struggle, not hers.  That is my reality, not hers.

And my job as her friend is to acknowledge that for her, in this moment, this is something she is struggling with; and to be there for her as an understanding ear. It might seem like comparing apples to oranges.  But, making light of one person’s plight just because someone else has it “worse” is dismissive.  It is refusing to give support just because someone else would love to “have your problem”. 

I know my friend is thankful to have her mother.  I don’t need to point that out because I know that truly, she is.  That doesn’t make the stress of dealing with her mother at this moment any less.

So, it does not matter if someone else has it worse.  You are allowed to feel what you feel.  If you are struggling with a crying baby, you are allowed to feel frustrated even if someone else is sitting with theirs in the hospital somewhere hoping they will come home.  It does not take away any of the weight of your reality, of how hard it can be, to know that somewhere, someone else “has it worse”.  It doesn’t make your weights lighter to know someone else is carrying ones that are heavier.  Even if that someone is a best friend.

But truly, to start comparing struggles at all -like one is worse than another- is not supportive or helpful.

If you feel you are being dismissed for your feelings, seek out someone else to confide in.  Perhaps someone else who is going through the same thing.  It can feel really good to know you aren’t the only one who is having this kind of struggle.

And know that as my client, I won’t judge you for having different struggles or finding different parts of parenthood harder than others might.

We all have our own battles, let me listen and support you while you fight yours.

Orgasmic Birth – Audiobook review

La maison

As a Birth Nerd, I love to learn about birth.  I like to read articles online, books, magazines – anything birth related I can get my hands on.  One of my new favourite things is podcasts and audiobooks.  These are great to listen to while cleaning, tidying or even driving around doing errands or going to meetings with clients.  For audiobooks, I have subscribed to Audible.com and I have yet to be disappointed. (While audiobooks are great to listen to when you are busy at home cleaning or in the car driving, I will always love a good hard copy for reference).

My latest listen was Orgasmic Birth, written by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, and narrated by Aimee Jolson.

When I first heard of this book, it sounded to me like a “manual” type book, an instruction manual on how to have an Orgasmic Birth, as in actually orgasm during labour and birth.  I was interested in reading it one day, but it never became a priority.  Then, I was bummeling (boom-eh-ling, a term my family uses for “window shopping, wasting time”) around in the app on my phone, looking for birth related audiobooks when I found it, and decided now was a good time to try it!

The narration of this book was very well done.  It was a lot like listening to a friend discuss a topic they are passionate about, which was great.  The only issue I had was some of the pronunciation of birth specific words.  Episiotomy was pronounced Eh-PISST-ee-ah-toe-me.  That threw me off so badly the first few times that I had stopped listening to try to figure out what the narrator was saying.  Also VBAC is actually pronounced vee-back, not vee-bee-ay-see as done in the audiobook.  Other than that, it was easy to listen along and not get too lost.  The tone was very conversational, and not monotone or “instructional”.

As for content of the book, I honestly don’t know why I waited so long to check this book out.  I cannot wait to get my hands on a hard copy of this book to add to my reference library.  Like I said earlier, I had delayed reading this book due to concerns that it was a manual on how to achieve an orgasm during birth.  However, the book explains that they interpret “Orgasmic Birth” as any birth where the mother felt powerful, supported, and joyful, and not frightened or suffering.  It is filled with great, practical information on pregnancy, how to have a more mindful approach to pregnancy and birth, setting up your village of support, ideas on accepting, enhancing and maintaining intimacy (not just sex) with your partner and more.  Tips on nutrition, exercise, as well as mental preparation for birth and parenting.  Debra Pascali-Bonaro explains in detail the hormonal changes of each trimester of pregnancy and how they affect the pregnant woman, physically, emotionally and mentally.  There were also some great activities included to help prepare for birth that I can’t wait to share with my clients!

Then there are the birth stories.  There were some beautiful, inspiring birth stories in this book.  If you get this book for one reason, I hope it is to immerse yourself in the positive stories at the end of this book.

Altogether, this is a very well written, and well-read audiobook that I will recommend to my clients.  It will be making a debut in my lending library soon!

My overall recommendation: Highly Recommend – one of The Birth Nerd’s Top Picks!

If you are a client (or want to be) and are interested in this or other books in my lending library, please let me know!

Have you listened to audiobooks?  What is your favourite time to listen?

Is Doula Support For Me? Birth Edition

How can a doula help me_

Pregnancy brings many questions, and one is a particularly common concern; what kind of support do doulas provide?  Here I will break down different kinds of support I give all types of clients.

If you want information: If you are looking for reliable information on different topics related to pregnancy, birth, and baby; I can provide suggestions on books, reliable websites, and local resources such as classes and support groups.

If you want no information:  If you are simply seeking support for your choice to rely solely on your care provider for the information you need to make decisions about your care.  You have chosen your care provider carefully and trust their suggestions completely.  I will be a listening ear and unwavering support of your choices.

If you want no interventions: You are seeking support to help have an intervention-free birth and are wanting support and care for your choice.  Someone who will listen to your concerns and help you understand your options.  I can provide experienced support, I know what to expect and can provide suggestions for discussion with your care provider to help you stick to your birth plan.

If you want support for wanted/needed interventions (including planned cesarean): You are looking for someone to listen and understand your choice to seek out/ accept interventions that will help keep you and your baby healthy.  I will not convince you it is right or wrong, but will provide evidence based information as is appropriate and non-judgmental support.

If you want no medical pain relief:  You are wanting to experience birth with no pain relief and understand that doula support can help you reach those goals.  As a trained and experienced doula, I can provide suggestions for “natural” pain relief options that you and your partner can try.  We will practice a few at home during your prenatal appointments that will work well for early labour.  I will also provide in person support for these techniques during active labour, whether at home or your chosen place of birth.

If you want all the pain relief:  Experiencing the full range of childbirth sensations is not on your to-do list.  Your expectation is to accept pain relief as soon as possible and be able to relax and enjoy the birth of your baby.  I will provide non-judgmental (there’s that word again!) support, as well as help make your pain relief choices work optimally through suggestions of questions to ask your care providers, position changes and more.

If you are planning on your partner being your main support:  You (or your partner) are planning on them being right in there doing as much as possible to support you.  I will coach your partner with ideas of things to try to provide the best support, and fade in to the background when you have found a rhythm that works for you.  Then I will best assist by making sure you have everything you need when you need it, and allowing your partner to take breaks as necessary so that they are rested and at their best to be able to better support you.

If you are planning on little to no additional support:  You are wanting someone to provide that primary support.  As an experienced doula, I have supported families in this role before.

The list goes on and on.  As you can see, doula support is for every kind of pregnancy and birth experience.  If you feel your situation is unique and are looking for information on how I can best support you, please feel free to contact me.

My Clients are Not Damsels in Distress

Damsels in Distress

There has been some very thoughtful discussion on the (changing?) role of the doula in maternity care.  On one hand, there is a growing body of doulas who are concerned that not standing up and fighting for the rights of their clients is, by default, saying that the abuses of women in labour that they witness are ok.  That they are unwilling to do anything to stop it.  On the other hand, argue different groups, it is hard to maintain professional boundaries and gain acceptance when doulas are actively encouraging clients to not listen to their care providers.

This is a common interview question about my doula work, that of the doula’s role of advocacy.  Many sources of information on doula support cite the ability of the doula to “advocate” or speak to medical staff on their behalf.  I do not speak for my clients and I’ll tell you why: My clients are smart, capable adults who will soon be responsible for another human being.  They are more than able to make their own choices. The choice to speak out and make their decisions known is that of my clients and my clients alone.  (I will discuss how I do help them navigate this in a future post).

My role in their lives is finite, I will not be there to help them raise their children, and there is no time quite like pregnancy and birth for parents-to-be to find their voices and speak up for their children.  If they cannot wade through the options and learn how to make these choices now, they will be left struggling, figuring it all out while caring for an infant.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  I do not give my clients fish; I teach them to fish.  I will guide, teach and support, but I will not play a lead role in the decisions they make for their families.  It is impossible for me to care more about their birth than they do.

If I wanted to be responsible for my clients medical decisions, I would be studying to become a midwife or an OB.  I feel my talents are best used to educate and support, rather than undermine the medical professionals my clients choose to consult.

My clients are not damsels in distress, waiting to be rescued from their stone tower.  They have their own power and strength, and I tease it out of them, encourage them to use it.  I do not get my kicks from swooping in and rescuing them like a hero from a movie, they are the heroes of their own stories.  I believe that the power of a doula’s support is to stand beside them, hand them the tools they need, then simply provide support and watch as they tear down the prison, stone by stone, and build their own castle of support.

The real power for change lies with the women giving birth and their families, and it is my honour to watch it happen!

The Benefits of Paying Your Doula a Living Wage

Humblehoney

The culture of “A doula for every woman who wants one” is very ingrained in doula work. While this is a great idea, the problem is that so far, this has been interpreted as “the doula must lower her fees so everyone can afford her”. Even experienced doulas tell new doulas not to expect to make a living doing this work!

I won’t go into detail about what a living wage for a doula means, but in essence, it is the ability to provide for their family with the income from doula and birth work.  To me, a living wage does not mean supplementing my spouse’s income to make ends meet, it means being able to save, grow and thrive; not just as a family, but as a business as well. While there are several blog posts around about the costs of running a doula business, and how doulas can calculate a living wage, I wanted to focus on why it is beneficial to the client to pay their doula a living wage. Why is it worth it to you, the person who is receiving the services, to pay your doula a living wage?

Availability – A doula who does doula work for a living does not need to seek out other work in order to “make ends meet”. She is focused on her profession, her clients and their needs. Her mind is not pre-occupied with plans and worries about calling in “birth” to work, or how she will function at work the next day after supporting her clients all night. Her clients can rely on her to be available when she says she will be.

Transportation – This somewhat goes with availability, but earning a living wage means the client can reasonably expect their doula to have reliable, functioning transportation (read: own a working vehicle) to get to births. They don’t need to worry as much about their doula’s car breaking down, or the doula relying on public transit and cabs.

Childcare – For those doulas with young children who require childcare, relying on family members, friends and neighbours for free last minute childcare is a short term solution, as it puts a strain on those relationships to be asking constantly at the last minute for someone to care for their children. A doula who is paid a living wage is more likely to be able to pay for reliable childcare with on-call availability.

Community Support – This is one I have noticed personally, and I wonder if other doulas have as well. Doing doula work as a hobby or passion works well for a while, but after a time, the strain of the enormous commitment to my clients took a toll on my relationships with my spouse, my in-laws, my family and friends. When I started demanding a living wage, it shifted, and now I have more support from friends, family, and those I love to do the work I love. “Oh, you need someone to take the kids so you can go to a training? Sure!” It has become my job, which is something that is easier for my supports to understand why I am committing so much energy to doing it, day in and day out.

Continuing Education – With a living wage comes the ability to attend learning workshops, seminars, order books, online education and more, most of which cost money and some even require traveling to another city to attend. The doula who can afford to stay up to date on current practices or new techniques for support, is better able to support her clients.

Toys – If a doula is constantly worried about making ends meet, she is not going to be buying the latest new gadget, book or tool to share with her clients. While not a necessity, this is certainly a nice perk!

Back-up support – Paying a back-up (doula and/or childcare) to be on call is a great way to make sure your doula has a contractual agreement with the back-up to be available when they say they can be.

Refunds – I have talked to doulas whose budget is so tight that as soon as the money from doula work comes in (and sometimes before), it is gone. If it really came down to needing to give a client a refund, these doulas have no emergency fund from which to draw it, and the client may never see it.

Insurance – Doulas who work full time doing birth work are more likely to have insurance specifically for their doula work. In the unlikely and terrible event that something bad happens, this doula has insurance to cover any damages.

Experience – Constantly doing doula work for low fee or free, can wear a doula out quickly. “The most common cause of doula burnout is feeling overwhelmed by the commitment and uncompensated for one’s time and dedication.” (See reference here) Burn-out rates are high among doulas, with most new trainees not doing doula work within 3 years. When a doula is able to earn a living wage, they are more likely to stay working in the profession longer and gain more experience, which is a great benefit for their clients!

Giving Back – A doula who makes a living wage is more able to give back to her community. Once she is able to support herself and her family, she is able to donate time and money to other causes. Giving of oneself does not need to mean free doula support, there are many great ways to volunteer and support the community. Some doulas donate their time to educating families, some donate diapers and/or food to families in need.

Hopefully these items point out some great reasons to talk to your doula about ways you can pay her a living wage. Some great ideas include: looking into insurance coverage, asking for doula services for a baby gift from family, hosting a garage sale to raise money, asking to do a payment schedule and even bartering part of their services.

We all need to demand better, and as doulas start coming around to the idea that constantly doing free or low fee work is not a feasible plan for the long term, it is time that those that are paying for doula services come around to this idea as well. For those that are truly in a financial strain, we need to demand from our insurance, our health care and even non-profit organizations to help cover the costs of doula care. In this way, clients in need receive the support they need and their doulas can earn the wage they need to make a living doing the work they love.

If your doula is charging for her services, hopefully this list has given you some ideas of why this is good for you!

Postpartum Belly Binding – What is it?

The Lilypad

What is Belly Binding?

Different kinds of binding and wrapping methods have been used in cultures around the world for generations.  The Bengkung style is inspired by the Malaysian technique of wrapping and “knotting” the long fabric piece.  Culturally, binding is most often used in conjunction with a postpartum ceremony, massage or lying in period.  North American postpartum binding typically consists of a girdle or corset piece, typically made of elastic and possibly containing “boning” pieces for additional support.

What is a Belly Binding Wrap?

A Posptartum Belly Binding Wrap, is a long piece of fabric that is used to tightly wrap or “bind” the hips, stomach and torso after childbirth. The wraps can be made of cotton, muslin or silk fabrics, which are breathable and don’t add unnecessary bulk. These wraps provide the same benefits of corset style wraps, with the added bonus of being completely adjustable and adaptable to your changing body, and without the use of thick elastic and boning for postpartum support.  They also provide support for the hips and ribs, while a girdle style wrap typically focuses on the waist alone.

What are the benefits of binding?

Some of the many benefits of Belly Binding are:

– Binding after birth provides counter pressure and support to help the body return to its pre-pregnancy state faster, around six to eight weeks postpartum.

– The 360 degree support assists with abdominal wall retraction, improves posture, stabilizes loosened ligaments and provides support to the torso while the organs that were pushed aside during pregnancy return to their previous position.

– The steady pressure and support on the hips from the wrap assists the body in “closing” the pubic symphysis joint more easily.

-It can also provide support to prevent diastatis recti (separation of abdominal wall muscles) from getting worse.

– Providing support for the core can also help with urinary stress incontinence.

-There are also anecdotal reports that belly binding provides a comforting “hug” sensation that can help with symptoms of postpartum depression.

For more information on Belly Binding and specific benefits, please contact The Birth Nerd.

It will work best to support the torso and muscles while they are being re-trained to support the body on their own, like a brace. Don’t forget that exercise is the best way to develop and maintain good core stability, so please contact your care provider for suggestions of postpartum exercises that are right for you.
A belly binding wrap can help make it more comfortable for you to get back into a good exercise routine.

Who should use a binding wrap?

Anyone who feels they would benefit from postpartum belly binding can use a binding wrap! Check with your care provider before using a wrap to make sure you do not have any medical concerns preventing you from using a wrap.

When can I start?

You can start using a binding wrap as soon as you feel comfortable to do so, ideally around five days after baby is born, unless you have had a cesarean birth. It is suggested that mothers whose babies were born by cesarean should wait 6 weeks or longer, until the incision is healed, before using a binding wrap. Again, if you are unsure if it is safe for you to use a wrap, consult your care provider (Dr or midwife). If your baby is a few months or even years old, a binding wrap can still help to stabilize and support your core muscles, provide comfort and improve your posture, it is never too late to start using one!

How long can I use a bind for?

A binding wrap can be used for up to 10-12 hours per day, for around 40 days, though you can use it for longer if you feel you need to.

If you are interested in purchasing a wrap, and/or a belly binding session, contact The Birth Nerd for pricing and availability.  Special requests are available.

I hope this post has been helpful!  Have you used a Belly Binder?  If so, what kind?  What did/didn’t you like about it?

9 Ways to (and 2 Ways Not to) Prepare for Breastfeeding

9 ways to prepare for breastfeeding and 2 ways not to
9 ways to prepare for breastfeeding and 2 ways not to

If you are planning on having a baby, these are some great ways to prepare yourself, your supports and your house for the task of infant feeding. While these are aimed at breastfeeding, many of these are appropriate for bottle feeding as well.

  • EducateSome of the biggest obstacles to successful breastfeeding are lack of knowledge and understanding of how the breastfeeding relationship works. Learning what these common “booby traps” are and how to overcome them are keys to reaching your breastfeeding goals. Classes, support groups, books and reliable evidence based websites like Kellymom.com are great sources of information.
  • SupportSetting up your support prenatally can be an immense relief when the time comes to ask for help. Attending local support groups like La Leche League or Breastfeeding Café meetings during pregnancy can be a great way to get to know the people of these groups and make it not as daunting to attend a meeting or call for help during the hectic time after baby arrives. Other supports can be: your partner, friends and family, and a postpartum doula.
  • Meals Having a new baby is exhausting. In case no one has told you, babies don’t sleep on your schedule. And for breastfeeding, this is a good thing as frequent feeding helps stimulate milk supply. But, this means that you have little energy for doing pretty much anything besides caring for baby and basic self-care. Preparing freezer meals and setting up meal delivery (either paid or a family/friend meal train) for after baby arrives are great ways to free up time to rest and recover, which are essential when learning to breastfeed.
  • Home – Set up feeding stations at key locations around your home. Common feeding station locations include: the couch, your bed and a comfortable chair in baby’s room. Put a basket or bedside table beside these locations filled with necessities for you while feeding. Include things you will need like: remote for the TV, home phone, bottle of water, snacks, phone charger, and a list of phone numbers for professional breastfeeding support (ask your doula for suggestions!). If you have older children, keeping a few special toys and snacks just for this time will help keep them occupied while you are feeding the baby. Keeping these stations stocked is a great task for your partner to help them support you in breastfeeding.
  • Help – If letting the house get messy is not an option for you, don’t be afraid to find some help.
  • Doula – A doula will help you get prepared prenatally, as well as provide hands on breastfeeding support when baby is born. She can help you recognize signs of a good latch and understand some common roadblocks to successful breastfeeding. A postpartum doula will help support you in the home after baby is born. Her job is to make sure you are supported, emotionally and physically, so that you can better care for your baby.
  • StuffWhile all you truly need to breastfeed is a baby and breasts, researching what items you may need can be beneficial. Things like nursing wear, pillows and pumps can make breastfeeding easier for you and your family.
  • Breast PumpsResearch, but do not buy!  You will not know what your breastfeeding relationship will look like until after baby is born. While it is good to research what type of pump you think you will need (and set aside the funds), your true needs will not become clear until the second person involved arrives. For pumps, very basically, a manual pump is great for those expecting to pump occasionally, a single electric pump is great for moms who need to pump often (say, to go back to work) but not all the time, and a double electric is the best for those that are exclusively pumping. Remember that there are places that will rent pumps until you are able to buy the one that suits your needs.
  • TalkAsk your care provider if there is anything they recommend you do to help prepare for successful breastfeeding (whatever that looks like for you/your family).

What NOT to do:

  • Nipples – While I understand that it somewhat makes sense, there is no need to “toughen up” the nipples or breasts prior to breastfeeding. This is some really old advice. Our bodies are designed to breastfeed without any physical preparation.
  • Pump – Again, some people feel that pumping prior to breastfeeding will help prepare the body. However, pumping will stimulate the breasts to produce oxytocin, which is the hormone used to start labour. So while pumping can sound like it would “prepare” the breasts for baby’s arrival, it could also start labour. Best to leave the stimulating up to baby once they are born.

I hope these tips are helpful and give you some ideas of ways you can prepare for breastfeeding.  Have any other suggestions that I missed?  Comment below with your tips.

The smartest thing I ever did

Dinner every night

Dinner time in our house can get stressful. If we don’t have something started, or plans made, five o’clock rolls around quickly and we’re scrambling to think of and find ingredients for a meal, often while at least one child is in the fridge going “I’m hungrrrrryyyy!”. One day I came across freezer crockpot meal plans and we haven’t looked back!

My husband and I are in the middle of prepping our third batch of these freezer meals. We have made two others (from 5dollardinners.com), and find they have made our lives so much easier. We actually start to get cranky about making dinner when we don`t have any more left (Ugh, dinner again!? We really need to make more of those freezer meals!).

These plans are pre-made with all the instructions, grocery lists and recipes ready to go!  And for around $150 in groceries (a little more here, since we are in Canada and can’t find all the ingredients for the same amounts or prices), we end up with 20 dinners ready to throw in the crock pot or oven!  They also make great lunches as they are easy to re-heat in the microwave the next day.

Now, what does this have to do with my work as a doula? Well, beyond them being super duper handy with a crazy on call schedule, I can tell you that the smartest thing I did when I was pregnant with our second child was to freeze a bunch of meals. Life is crazy busy and exhausting with a baby and trying to make a meal at the end of a long day of caring for your new bundle of joy is the last thing on your mind (but eating something while recovering from birth is essential!). Making a freezer full of meals before baby arrives ensures that you have a decent meal ready to go every day. And our family of four (two of whom are growing boys) often has leftovers enough for at least one lunch the next day or even a second dinner. So, truly these meals last us six to eight weeks. If you make up a couple of these plans you will be set for a few months!

Does the idea of making them yourself sound daunting? Make a party of it! Try adding them to your baby shower list, or even have a baby shower where your friends and family come over and help you prep these meals. You could also contact me and book some prenatal support hours to just come over and help you make some meals.

Either way, I guarantee that you won’t regret planning ahead for your mealtimes!