A Doula’s Breastfeeding Plan

A Doula's Breastfeeding Plan
A Doula’s Breastfeeding Plan

Feed the baby.

It sounds so simple, and yet it isn’t. As a doula and childbirth educator, it seems to be understood that I will, of course, exclusively breastfeed this baby when he arrives.  I mean, in our training we are taught all about the amazing things that breastmilk and breastfeeding can do.  I have already had offers of support and help for when I breastfeed my baby. Not if. Not “what are your plans, how are you feeling?”  WHEN I breastfeed my baby.  I do plan to breastfeed my baby, but I have no set expectations on how that will go.  All I can do right now is prepare myself and my supports as best I can, then wait and see.

For those who are curious on how a doula plans and prepares to breastfeed, here are my plans:

I plan to rest as much as possible in the early days to allow my body to heal.

I plan to feed as frequently as my baby wants to, in order to help establish a good supply.

I plan to freeze healthy meals and plan easy snacks so that my body is nourished and better able to provide nourishment for my baby.

I plan to watch my baby for signs that he is getting enough milk.

I plan to arrange professional breastfeeding support if and when I need it.

I plan to breastfeed my baby as much as I can.

I plan to supplement any time I feel the need, for myself and my baby.

I plan to allow myself the grace to accept if I cannot breastfeed exclusively.

I plan to allow myself to feel any  grief I may feel if I am not able to breastfeed.

With my older boys, I had many challenges trying to breastfeed both of them. I felt immense pressure to breastfeed, and breastfeed exclusively.  I did not want to acknowledge the extreme grief I had over those struggles, and eventually not being able to breastfeed, it seemed to be so easy for so many others. Looking back at that time now, I wish I did not get sucked into the endless struggle over how my baby gets fed, so much so that I missed being present during those early days and weeks.

I was physically and mentally exhausted. Endless pumping, visits with lactation consultants, researching, buying herbs and (frankly, disgusting) teas, tracking down ingredients for and baking lactation cookies, washing pump parts in the middle of the night. It all took away from the only bits of time and energy I had to just… be.

Be with my baby.

Be with my new family.

Be with myself as I discovered how to mother (and again, and now again).

I wish I had had more non-judgmental, non-biased support.  Support that can see past the goal of establishing “breast is best” and look at the individual and their needs in this moment.  Sometimes that is not breastfeeding and that is ok.

This is nothing less than what I want for my clients as well.  I want my clients to feel supported and comforted as they work to reach their individual goals when it comes to feeding their baby.  Whether that is exclusively breastfeeding, supplementing, exclusively pumping, using donor breastmilk, using formula or any conceivable combination of these choices. My clients understand that I will not judge them for their feeding choices and/ or needs.  They know they can rely on me to help them get the information and any additional support they want or need to make the choices that are right for them.

Because we should all feel supported to do what is best for us and our families so that we can enjoy this fleeting time as best we can.

 

Birth!? Ew!

Birth can be gross sometimes.
Birth can be gross sometimes.

 

I recently came across a post in a Facebook group for doulas that was posted to discuss a recent Buzzfeed article about umbilical cord art. The article discussed how much the author thought that the idea of taking the umbilical cord and making art and keepsakes out of it (drying it, specifically), was gross. The doula’s in the facebook group were saddened and some were even furious that people can think it’s disgusting.

It has taken me a long time to learn this, but it is ok with me if you don’t like birth, or placentas, or umbilical cords! If you want your baby washed before touching them, I don’t want you to feel guilty because you read somewhere that it is good to wait before giving baby a bath, you won’t receive that judgement from me.  It can be empowering to some birthing persons to see or feel their baby’s head as it is being born and for others it could be traumatizing to force those options on them.

I acknowledge that I am one of the weird ones. I used to watch surgery shows with my family while eating dinner. “How’s your Mac and Cheese?” “Good. Did you see that vasectomy!?”.  Having grown up in a home with a mother with a disability, medical stuff was part of it. And some of it was pretty gross stuff. I am not phased in the least by the ick that comes with birth.

But, I realize that many people are.  Where I can see the beauty and wonder in a placenta, many others just see a disgusting piece of literally bloody grossness.  And while I love to gush and geek out about all things birth, I understand that not everyone wants to hear it.  (Though I am still working on not oozing birth talk all the time!)

I believe that part of being a doula is accepting that.  Coming to my clients where they are, instead of trying to persuade them to see things my way is integral to my mission of nurturing a culture of doula work that offers truly non judgmental support. 

Whether birth grosses you out or not, I support you!

 

If you liked this article and want to book a consultation with Amanda, you can contact her here.

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?