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Friday
Feb132015

Falling In Love

Falling in love is the best…. the feeling of falling in love with your baby is beyond the best and almost impossible to describe.  The other day I was watching the Ellen show and an actress who had recently had a baby was describing the incredible, unconditional love she felt towards her newborn daughter.  Though she loved her partner, her parents, her friends etc., this feeling was like no other.   She also went on to describe the time she spent with her child, how she fed her baby, where the baby slept and so forth.  Though she didn’t mention the correlation between these things, I knew that how she had cared for her daughter had facilitated this bond they now shared.

The release of oxytocin (the feel good, “love” hormone) during labor, childbirth, and nursing is widely known.  However, these are not the only ones.   Often as a postpartum doula, I am asked how a partner can become more involved with their new baby.   Things like massage, skin-to-skin contact, dancing, bathing and wearing your baby are great ways to bond as well and aren’t exclusive to just mamas.  Babies also adore all of these practices and will fall in love with you back.  So kiss, hug, snuggle, and sway with your babe and let the love fest begin! written by: Patti Schultz, CPD

 

Monday
Feb022015

Looking Beyond the Birth - preparing for your postpartum experience

As women and families prepare for childbirth, there is often a focus on preparation for the labor and birth.  Birth is such a huge event that often it is difficult to look beyond that point. It can overshadow even the fact that there will be a baby arriving that day! There is good reason for this focus and preparation for birth. There is nothing more magnificent than when a woman in childbirth reaches deep inside herself and finds a power she never knew she had.  This happens whenever she is offered trust and patience, adequate support, and shared decision making, no matter what her birth choices or whether she ends up having a natural birth, medicated, home birth, or surgical birth. It is worth the preparation and exploring the options to find the team and location that most fit her vision of her birth, whether she is seeking an obstetrical or a midwifery model of care, or choosing to birth in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home.

 It is also valuable, however, to spend adequate time preparing for the immediate postpartum period. This is an extremely important time, the first moments of a baby’s life! It can be heartbreaking when a woman has had an amazing, empowered birth experience only to have this sacred time diminished by the protocols of neonatal staff at the hospital.

By the time a baby is born, parents are usually completely exhausted from the birth.  At the same time, there is a rush of hormones that leaves them experiencing unimaginable bliss and extreme vulnerability upon meeting their new baby. It is very easy for them to allow things to happen to their baby that they wouldn’t normally agree to.  This is why it so important for parents to make decisions for their babies beforehand or often the decisions will be made for them. The hospital staff will simply adhere to the standards of care which may not be aligned with the ideals of the parents or only make sense for a certain demographic.

There are many things parents have choices about for newborn care.  Among them are choices about when the umbilical cord gets cut, whether their baby gets suctioned, how long their baby spends skin to skin and breastfeeds before the initial newborn assessment, whether their baby receives eye prophylaxis, vitamin K injection or hepatitis B injection, whether their baby gets a bath, wears a hat, whether their baby gets tested or treated for jaundice at the hospital (as opposed to being tested/treated by their own pediatrician), or in some cases, whether their baby gets a septic work up and treated with (possibly prophylactic) antibiotics. There are appropriate uses for all of these interventions. There are also times when these interventions can interfere with the bonding and breastfeeding process, which if disturbed can take weeks or months to correct, and even have a lifelong impact on the health of the baby.  The more a parent knows about each of these procedures, and the more they understand their rights as a patient, the more prepared they will be to make the appropriate choices at the hospital.

When a family has a labor doula present at their birth, they receive continuous support until breastfeeding is established and their new family is stable and settled in.  She often remains on call for questions and support, and it then falls on the parents to stand strong and clear in their decisions, possibly even when the hospital staff is making different recommendations or using coercive language. After birth, the newborn becomes a patient of the hospital’s pediatric team (unless the family’s chosen pediatrician has privileges at the hospital).  During the immediate postpartum period, the pediatric team can be counted on to take a conservative approach to newborn care and offer procedures based on a ”just in case “ position.  Many parents believe that healthy bonding and breastfeeding, rather than intervention, is the best way to assure their newborn’s health.  It is a given that the most important thing to a new parent is that their new baby be healthy and safe.  It is imperative that parents know that there is more than one approach to achieve that outcome. Parents need to be prepared to advocate for their newborn’s rights as a patient in a way that reflects their own education and values.  

It is often said that birth is the right of passage that prepares a woman for parenthood.  These important initial choices are the first of many decisions that parents will make for their children.  Just like choices in birth, there are many options in parenting styles. Many parents and birth workers would like to see the same support and shared decision making for newborn care as women have been pushing for in their birthing choices.

Just as it has fallen on women around the world to demand better conditions for childbirth, it is equally as important for new parents to advocate for better choices for their newborns.  It is not always an easy task. Choosing a birth team that will support your choices and having the support of your “village” helps. Being well prepared with evidence-based education is essential. Birth matters! by Margaret Byrne (labor doula and massage therapist)

Friday
Dec192014

"I Haven’t Given Birth, But Neither Has Your Male Obstetrician"

            My first gynecological visit was traumatizing to say the least. My mother wanted us to have the same doctor, who happened to be a male, so I obliged. At the age of sixteen, with my feet in stirrups, with some man I’d barely seen in passing, with his head between my legs, spouting off his version of a failed attempt at a joke about missing my birth (he was reminded by my mother that he was on his way to the hospital when I made my screaming debut into the world), I found it hard to relax and ask the list of questions I had made in my head while impatiently waiting with the receptionist. As you would imagine, my subsequent visits were filled with less anxiety and I was able to recall the list I had once made. The only hitch was, that I couldn’t understand how this guy, regardless of his prestigious diploma that hung in the office as a reminder of his status as a bona fide lady doctor, could relate to any qualms I may be having with my reproductive organs, because, to put it simply, he didn’t have the same ones I did. I had reservations for years about his qualifications and whether or not he truly understood my body. However, my hesitation was always met with reassurance and knowledge.

            As I help a woman onto a birthing ball while her partner tenderly holds her face and hands and we all rhythmically chant, “low, down, out,” to work through a contraction, I am in an incredibly natural state. When a client tells me she is feeling pressure, or that all four quadrants are tightening and she can feel it wrap around to her back, I can relate and empathize with her. While I may have never felt a baby grow and move inside of my body, I know what it feels like to have tender breasts and uterine cramps. There are definitely benefits to having given birth that would make me an even better doula, however, it isn’t a necessity - just as it isn’t a necessity for millions of women to entrust their pregnancy and reproductive health to a male doctor.

            Just as anyone studies diligently and becomes well versed in their field, I too have continued to expand my knowledge base in order to grow and be well acquainted with my clients’ experiences. Being a childless doula has not hindered my ability to soothe or comfort a woman in labor. I am in my most comfortable and relaxed state helping a client get into a more ideal position or giving a massage while scents of lavender waft through the air. I hope to eventually have children, and feel the miraculous sensations so many women before me have felt, but, until then, I can confidently say that my childless status will not in anyway define the way I comfort and calm a woman mentally, physically and emotionally during labor.  Written by Emily Roerig a birth doula.

Friday
Nov142014

"The Middle-Wife"

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back. 

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So, I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. “This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.”

“First, my mom and dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then my dad put a seed in my mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.”

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

“Then, about two Saturdays ago, my mom starts going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. “She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh,  oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

“My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my mom to lie down in bed like this.” (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

“And then, pop! My mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!” (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

by an anonymous 2nd grade teacher

Monday
Aug182014

You, Your Baby, and Music

Even newborns are exquisitely prepared for a music experience. Although babies are born with little control over their bodies and without much visual acuity, their sense of hearing is well developed. They begin to hear and respond to sound in the womb from about 19 weeks’ gestation (Hepper and Shahidullah, 1994) and are alert to the sounds of music and speech as soon as they are born. Babies are as fully prepared to learn the music of their culture as they are to learn its language, and they learn both in the same way­­ by immersion.

Each day, your baby’s brain is developing millions of neural pathways that will be used throughout a lifetime. Neural pathways are in some ways similar to natural pathways on the ground: just as a footpath becomes clearer the more we walk on
it, a neural pathway develops more efficiently the more it is stimulated. And, just as a footpath becomes overgrown and may disappear entirely if it’s not walked on, the neural pathway will atrophy if it’s not stimulated. Simply put, if we don’t use it, we lose it.

While every child is born with the potential to be a music­maker, that potential must be nurtured. Just as a seed grows and blossoms only if we give it water, soil, and sunlight, your child’s music development needs the proper stimulation and support. From the moment you start making music with your baby and reinforcing the music she makes, you will be providing the rich music­making environment she needs for her music potential to flower and flourish.

Not only that, but music is a very powerful bonding experience. No matter the quality of your voice, there is no sweeter sound to your baby than the sound of your voice, simply because it’s yours. Your voice brings more comfort and delight to your little one than does any other.

Music Together With Miss Wendy­­ music and movement classes in Decatur for BABIES, TODDLERS, PRESCHOOLERS, & the grown­ups who love them­­ helps you nurture your baby’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and musical

development as well as the emerging musical bond between you, both at home and in the classroom. The 10­week Fall semester begins the week of September 8th. For more information, to register for a class, or to sign up for a free demo visit: www.MusicTogetherWithMissWendy.com.

Note: Large portions of this text were taken from Music Together’s Babies in Mixed­age Classes Family Guide