Hey there, you. Yes, I’m talking to you.
I see you. You’re a new postpartum mom on the outside. That’s what they all see right now. But I know where you are and where you were. You don’t fool me. There is so much more on the inside than what meets the eye. I know you haven’t gotten to focus much lately on your passions, your dreams or your feelings. You’re in a place where everyone seems to think that you don’t get to decide how you feel.
I want to tell you that they’re wrong.
You get to decide how you feel. You have to feel your truth. They don’t get to silence you just because they have a picture perfect vision of what it “should” be. You have transformed, for better or worse. No matter what you feel, having those feelings doesn’t make you bad or different. Do you know what it makes you?
It makes you human.
You see, the truth is that we need you to be ok. Your baby needs you to be ok. Society needs you to be ok. But if you’re not ok, that’s ok too. I just hope you’re given the ability to get there.
As mothers, sometimes the best advice can be found from the flight attendants.
“Under your seat you will find your baby’s life jacket. In the compartment up above there is an extra oxygen mask for him. You have a flotation device and an oxygen mask as well. Please take heed, and secure them on yourself first before assisting your baby.”
We live in a day and age of technology, where every article is thrust upon us as to how best care for a baby. How many articles have been shared around social media with information about how to care for you?
We need articles. We need gentle reminders. We need showers, food and exercise. We need physical touch, quality time with loved ones and moments where we can laugh and celebrate who we are. Sometimes we need help, whether it be others coming into the household to assist us, time away from our daily routines or medication to help us over the road bumps that can occur during this transformational time. It’s a pretty big deal what our bodies and minds have been through. Don’t discredit yourself just because women do it every day. You did it, and you’re wonderful.
As mothers, all of our needs are different. We can’t stamp the same cookie cutter over every postpartum woman and not expect there to be outside pieces, which are just as deserving, just as beautiful and just as beneficial.
In this day, we want it all, don’t we? Both parents may want to have their own careers, friends and interests. Self-care is becoming widely accepted. Date nights and time alone are the best ways to nurture a relationship. Allowing children to grow up in a well-researched and nurtured environment is also usually at the top of the list. Oh yeah, we also need sleep…
HOW in the hell do we get all of this to happen with our sanity intact?
Perhaps you should sleep on it first, and then address the other things. After all, sleep is important! Sleep deprivation can cause many symptoms, ranging from irritability to depression.
Whether you just got your positive pregnancy test, or you are dealing with one of the many sleep regressions, we are here to offer you a plan to get you OUT of the zombie squad, and back to feeling like your normal self.
Imagine, having your own personal sleep consultant to custom tailor a plan that will align with your parenting values, whether you believe in no-cry or cry-it-out. She will carefully consider your family’s situation, your children's’ ages and sort through existing issues that may be causing things to go awry. Upon coming up with this plan , she is available to talk you through implementation and answer questions before this goes into motion.
But wait…there’s more!
Imagine, a professional infant care specialist, steps into your environment to help you implement this plan, answering any questions, and collaborating with the sleep consultant in case any changes need to be. This infant care specialist is with you just long enough to get the plan situated, and then gives you your independence and life back.
Still a little unsure?
Imagine that for two more weeks, you have unlimited email support with said sleep consultant to really make sure that even once you have your independence back, all is going according to plan. We are there with you the whole time!
NY Baby Co. is thrilled to release our latest collaboration with Binx to give you and your family the gift of sleep. With this amazing partnership, the benefits are endless. An infant care specialist alone, would be helpful for the duration of contract, but then there’s the possibility that things could slip up. A sleep consultant would have an amazing plan, but your already exhausted family would have to implement it. Together, our powers can combine to set us apart from the others and give you what you deserve: a permanent solution!
Both NY Baby Co. and Binx understand that supporting the modern family means respecting different philosophies and working WITH them, rather than advising against them, giving the family peace of mind. We want to work with you and give you the tools you need to have it all. No need to fake it or juggle! We have got you covered, and we are here for you every step of the way!
Check out this page to learn more about this exciting new collaboration and how you can start getting great sleep again!
What I Learned From Little Pea
When my oldest son was two and it was time for his nap, we had a solid routine. I would change his diaper, he would toddle over to his pile of books, pull one out of the pile and attempt to squeeze between my sizable pregnant belly and the rocking chair. Little Pea, by Amy Krause Rosenthal was among our favorites.
Little Pea is a book about – you guessed it: a little pea who lives with his pea parents. Every
night, Little Pea’s parents struggle to get him to eat his dinner, which consists of pieces of candy. They beg and plead with him, citing that he will not grow big and strong one day if he doesn’t clear his plate. An even bigger dilemma for Little Pea, is that if he doesn’t eat his dinner, he will not get dessert: a heaping bowl of spinach. Little Pea is ecstatic about his dessert prospect, so he begrudgingly eats his candy, knowing he will soon be slurping down his favorite green treat.
This book held a lot of amazing memories for my son and I, including belly-busting laughter at the sound effects Little Pea makes upon having to eat his loathed candy for dinner. But the doula side of me sees a big lesson for everyone in this book.
What is this lesson? Perception, of course!
It is so tempting to read this book and think “I sure wish candy could make me big and strong. I’d be so much happier.” But when we do this, we are invalidating Little Pea’s feelings about the detestable taste of candy.
Perception is different in the birth world too…
The woman who is vocalizing through contractions, may not be in as much pain as you think.
The epidural may have helped that mother relax and dilate faster.
The 2 hour birth from start to finish may have actually been a traumatizing scenario.
The planned cesarean may be just what this family wanted for peace of mind.
When we feel strongly about something, our feelings are never wrong. Even if our feelings differ from another, it is possible for both perceptions to be right because different perceptions fit different people. One of my favorite parts of being a doula is meeting families where they are at and supporting their perceptions, which may change day to day.
If I am ever able to be a postpartum doula for Little Pea’s family, I will hold his baby so he can eat an entire bowl of spinach with both hands, uninterrupted, and then happily help his family to function in whatever way they need for that day. After this, I will get in my car, put on my tunes and grab my bag of Twizzlers for the ride home. Little Pea will never know my love for candy, and he will never have to, because I support all families, regardless of how they feel about candy.
My name is Kimberly. I’m a birth and postpartum doula. I help women every day to have the birth and postpartum experiences of their wishes. Many of these women wish to breastfeed, and I happily help them latch their babies, troubleshoot at all hours and listen to them talk about their own unique experiences.
But I have a deep, dark secret…
Breastfeeding wasn’t enjoyable for me.
That’s right. I nursed both my children, and my second one is actually still nursing. From an outsider looking in, my nursing relationship might be seen as the picture perfect scene aboard the easy train. I specifically remember getting a breastfeeding photo shoot in the beautiful tide pools of Hawaii with my second born to try to cherish and enjoy the moment. The pictures yielded were beautiful, and everything that I imagined breastfeeding to be before I started doing it myself. What people didn’t see in those photos, was the teething, distracted baby I was trying so hard to keep latched for one photo by singing silly children’s songs as he attempted to pick my nose.
For me, breastfeeding is not easy. It was never easy. I absolutely thought it would be, though. From hospital staff, to lactation consultants, to other doulas, to articles shared on social media, I was convinced that breastfeeding would be the easiest thing I’d ever done. It is always promoted as such a natural thing. Natural is defined as “existing in or caused by nature.” By that definition, breastfeeding is natural. But I don’t see the word “easy” in that definition at all. Why do we promote it that way?
For some women, breastfeeding does come incredibly easy. I was not one of those women.
I was the woman who fought to latch a tiny baby who was supposedly post dates.
I was the woman who stomped her feet every time the baby latched to cope with the pain.
I was the woman whose husband left for six weeks for a training, and had to troubleshoot alone.
I was the woman who was seemingly blessed with oversupply, but developed clogged ducts and mastitis, since no one was around to help hold my fussy baby while I pumped.
I was the woman who thought she had thrush for months, before finding out she had a rare phenomenon called Reynaud’s.
I was the woman who wished her baby would stay asleep in public places so she wouldn’t have to nurse him.
I was the woman who lost too much sleep and resented her husband.
I was the woman who desperately tried to bond with her baby through breastfeeding, but it normally didn’t happen.
I was the woman who lived her postpartum journey feeling like less of a woman because what was natural didn’t come easily.
But I’m not any less of a woman than any other woman on this planet. We don’t ever have to enjoy every moment of motherhood, no matter how natural it seemingly is. I feel so blessed to live in a world where there are so many different options out there that suit each family. There are different variations of normal and different feelings we can express. Navigating those feelings in whatever ways we see fit is what makes our journeys unique. If our feelings about everything were consistently positive, it would make for a very boring world. As a mother, I choose to shoot for feelings that are valid, and this World Breastfeeding Week, no matter how you chose to feed your baby, I encourage you to do the same.
Fourth Trimester Survival Tips
We discussed the fourth trimester in our previous blog for those who are just tuning in. Today, we want to share some tools to help navigate this fragile and often demanding time.
As you have probably guessed by now, the best way to help baby adjust during the fourth trimester is to recreate womb life. This could be a tall order, and sometimes baby needs just the right combination. Don’t worry, we have a huge assortment of techniques for you to try, and we feel confident that you will figure out the sweet spot of combinations your baby likes best. (And don’t be surprised if they change day to day. Anything goes in the fourth trimester!)
WARMTH: Wombs are warm, cozy and even at times, restrictive in how much baby can move. Swaddling baby is a perfect help for this, and is the safest practice to keep baby warm without loose blankets in the area. Another really great way to give baby this warmth is to do skin to skin. Sometimes when we are out and about or have other little ones who need our attention, this can be hard to fulfill, which is where baby wearing comes in handy.
FEEDING: Babies are not used to this new feeling of hunger. In order to help them, they develop a sucking reflex, which provides comfort to them. This can be especially hard on mothers who choose to breastfeed as often, they feel they are attached to their baby 24/7 in the beginning. Staying on top of baby’s feeding and recognizing feeding cues will help to make sure baby is nourished before the hanger kicks in, only leading to more frustration for all parties. Watch for signs such as rooting. If baby is not hungry, a pacifier or even a clean, trimmed pinky finger turned up can be great aids to trigger this comforting sucking reflex for babies to feel safe. Staying on top of gas is another way to ensure this comfort. Burping baby, doing bicycle legs and perfecting baby’s latch on the breast or using a good quality bottle can all help baby to not have too much gas.
MOVEMENT: In the womb, baby was used to mom’s movements as well as the waves of the water that surrounded him/her. This can easily be mimicked either by rocking baby or by investing in a quality swing. Many babies are even calmed by the feeling of a bath.
NOISE: Baby also got to hear certain sounds in the womb that were calming to him/her. A white noise machine can be a great asset to keeping baby calm, but there are also plenty of apps that will get the job done as well. Music, singing to baby or even a simple “shhhhhh” sound spoken either at length or rhythmically (“sh sh sh sh shhhhhh”) can help baby to feel as though the womb still surrounds him/her. If there was a song you listened to when baby was in the womb, give it a try and see if he/she remembers it!
AMBIANCE: Remember, the womb was a dark place. Sometimes, lights can be a little too stimulating for baby. With dimmed lights or even full darkness, you may find a better response. Phone screens, flickering lights and even strong smells.
The Fourth Trimester
It’s mid-November. You are snuggled up in your bed with your splendidly heated house, under your warm blanket. Perhaps you even got to enjoy a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate before slipping into a slumber. You are perfectly relaxed, aware of your surroundings and comfortable.
And just like that, your alarm clock goes off. You rush up, engage in your morning routine and head out the door into the brisk temperatures. You feel tired and cranky. It’s so cold! Why is it so cold? And it’s so early. Why oh why oh why?
This abrupt and strange feeling of a different environment is exactly what our babies feel when they exit the womb. Suddenly, it is cold, there is not a cord connected to them anymore to deliver the nutrients they need, there is no constant rocking and swishing, the noises that once calmed them are now replaced by a whole world of different noises and the darkness of the womb has been replaced by fluorescent lights.
Given your feelings about swapping environments as you leave your warm toasty house in the winter, you can empathize a little bit with the even bigger transition your baby makes from womb life to life on the outside. Baby’s first three months of life are generally dedicated to this transition in what is lovingly called “The fourth trimester.”
The fourth trimester can be a frustrating time for everyone. Baby has no idea what is going on with him/her and has to come to grips with the fact that food now has to be worked for and the people who are there to help can only be communicated with by crying. You surely can imagine the frustration parents feel during this period as well, trying to give all they can to their baby but sometimes just not knowing what to do and feeling helpless.
As doulas, the last emotion we want you to feel is helpless. In our next couple blogs, we will discuss how to help both baby and yourself through this transition. While the fourth trimester is only three months long, we want it to be as seamless as possible and encourage you to build your toolbox with the tips we have to offer.
Sleep Regression Survival
Just when you thought you got the hang of a solid routine, your baby is suddenly a stranger to sleep. How on earth could this have happened when sleep was going so well? Is baby waking frequently at night? Dropping naps? Fighting sleep? These are all common signs of a sleep regression.
Sleep regressions most commonly occur around three to four months, eight to ten months, twelve months, eighteen months, two years and three years. However, babies can have them with milestones and developmental leaps as well. Sleep regressions can last anywhere from two to six weeks, although a longer or shorter timeline is possible. After all, every baby is different.
If you are feeling at the end of your rope when it comes to sleep, take comfort in knowing that these sleep regressions are completely normal, even if your friend’s baby is still sleeping a solid ten hours.
But in the mean time, what can we do to get through it? Here are five strategies and coping mechanisms to pick and choose from:
Know that it is Temporary
The good news is that sleep regressions don’t last forever. There will be an end in sight. It isn’t a predictable end, and it may not align with the other babies who are the same age as yours, but understand that these regressions are normal as well as the fussiness, frequent feeding and overwhelming need to be cuddled.
There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a method of torture. It can be downright debilitating. If you are struggling to keep your head above water, enlisting help is a great idea, whether from a partner, friend, parent or postpartum doula. A meal delivery or cleaning service is another great idea to delegate tasks which may become too overwhelming to stay on top of with lack of sleep. Sleep and self care are important. If you feel your needs are being neglected, try not to power through. Taking care of yourself is a huge priority.
Many parents make the decision to sleep train around these times. While this tends to be a hot button “all or nothing” subject, know that there are gray areas. While cry-it-out works for some parents, others may be more apt to try methods that don’t require this process. There are also many sleep training methods that are breastfeeding friendly. If you aren’t sure where to start, a sleep specialist could be a great resource to get you on the road to routine again.
There’s an App For That
Sometimes, having predictability, even when it is just a predictor of everything being chaotic and unpredictable, can make a world of difference! Since many sleep regressions occur with developmental leaps, knowing when the leap is happening can help to distinguish when this behavior may occur. Many new parents are so exhausted, the thought of reading a book can be daunting. This is why the Wonder Weeks app is a great resource. It predicts when leaps are coming for your baby, can describe signs of the developmental leaps and will even tell you what you can do to help. Even if you don’t have time to read the app, a simple chart with thunderclouds and sunshine icons can’t be a better quick reference so you’ll know what is coming.
Trust Your Gut
If something is just not seeming right to you, it is always a great measure to visit your baby’s care provider and seek reassurance that there isn’t another issue causing a loss of sleep, such as an ear infection. You know your baby better than anyone, so if you sense something else may be going on, it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Hack That Waffle Iron
Happy National Waffle Iron Day!
Today, we celebrate the joy and convenience our waffle irons bring us. What better time to bust out our waffle irons for a special treat than today? Of course, we can ALWAYS make waffles, but did you know that there are countless other fun things that can be made in the waffle iron? You didn’t? Your postpartum doulas are here to help!
Did you ever realize your waffle iron could do so much? Even we are tempted to give some of these a try! These ideas are great fun for the entire family and are bound to please! What better tool for a busy parent to have, than something you can open up, pop food into and presto!
Breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert is ready! Treat yourself today! Dust that waffle iron off and enjoy!
Dear Pre-Mom Self
Dear Pre-Mom Self: I’m not letting you go
Anna Gannon released an article with the Huffington Post called “Dear Pre-Mom Self: It’s Time to Let You Go.”
I always love reading these endearing articles from mother to mother, but this one was unsettling to me. I would like to offer a different perspective.
Let me just get this out of the way first, I love myself. It took a long time for me to admit that, for fear of being seen as selfish, a bad mom, or unworthy of being loved. The truth is that loving myself is what makes our family thrive.
Being a parent is hard, and what is even harder is that it comes with all these expectations. There is judgment out there that if you don’t let yourself go and become a self-sacrificing martyr for your children, that you somehow aren’t a good enough mother. Friends, family, strangers…they observe your life as if grading a paper. Did she party too much? Did she lose her baby weight? Did she put her kids in daycare? Is her house clean? Does she have a full head of makeup every day? Does she order takeout? No matter what end of the spectrum, it is always so easy for someone who isn’t in our place to second guess whether what we are doing is right.
I love my alone time. I love getting massages and pedicures. I love running. I love drinking vodka tonics with my friends and dancing like we are still in college. I love that I can look at my husband and tell HIM to get up with the baby tonight, because my body has worked hard, and I deserve some sleep. I love to work. I love talking to my kids about all of my passions. I love that even though times are hard, I come out of them with support from my friends, who never judge a thing I say.
So today, I’d like to say “I see you.”
I see you, Pre-Mom Self,
I love you. I’m sorry it took me so long to realize that. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. This life is hard. I don’t remember the last time I sat on the toilet without someone screaming at me. (Sorry about that, by the way) The days are long, and the nights are longer. You never left though. I’ve made time for you when I can, and that has made all the difference.
Thanks for giving me dreams to follow. Thanks for also realizing that my boys have dreams too. But despite all these dreams, you’ve given me an ability to tell them my dreams every day. My oldest son, Tristan now talks about being a doula. I write this with tears in my eyes knowing he’d be a damn good one. I’m so incredibly proud. My boys are strong, determined and inspiring…just like you. You never let us forget that.
Thank you for saying “Give yourself some grace. Today was hard, and you can eat the ice cream. Speak up and tell your husband you want some wine as well.”
Pre-mom self, you looked good. I look good too. You gave me a strong baseline to grow from. I know that I don’t have to weigh a certain number, or run marathons to show my worth. But I do know that I want my boys to be healthy, and they will only learn if I do it for myself. So I make time with you when I can.
We won’t judge others for what they do. I know you thought you were the best parent you knew. But the truth is, you’re not…you don’t even know what it’s like to have kids. I do. Together, we have evolved in a way.
We are radiant.
You should see how strong I am now. You were so strong already, but I’ve grown from you. I’ve known challenges you’ve never known. Raising children is a struggle, and making time for yourself once you have them is another struggle. It’s also downright amazing in between the struggle. It can be such a mind game. Together though, we are an unstoppable team.
Don’t worry. I’ll never forget you. I’ll never leave you behind. My boys love you…you are the inner child that binds us. My husband loves you…you keep our marriage together when every bit of me wants to resent him for working and leaving us alone on another difficult day of teething and poop-flinging. I love you. You give me so much to live for. One day, my kids are going to be old and grown, living for themselves, and I’ll be able to let them go with nothing but happiness in my heart. This is all thanks to you…you were there for me.
I would say I miss you, but I don’t have to. You are like the sun. I can’t always see you, but I know you’re there. I’ll never let anyone make me feel the need to let you go. The judgment may be strong, but together we are stronger. The important people know we are a good team and that is all that matters.
Z is for Zoodles
You guessed it! Today we are talking about finger foods for baby!
First of all, all babies are different on milestones, so there is not one single age we can mention in which your baby will have moved past purees and become ready for finger foods. (Or perhaps you are doing baby led weaning and starting with finger foods from the get go!) However, once the time comes, we have a great list of fun things to try with your little one and watch his/her face to see which ones are preferred.
The first food we thought of today? Zoodles! If you haven’t heard of zoodles, they’re all the hype. You can buy a special tool to make zucchini into noodles, and sautee to the texture of regular pasta. This can many times be a great alternative for our gluten free friends, or even just those who are health conscious. It is a great dish to cover in marinara sauce, peanut sauce or teriyaki sauce alike. And hey, adults LOVE this food too! Our favorite pick as far as affordable and highly rated on Amazon here.
But just in case you aren’t feeling the zoodles, here’s our other picks for finger foods:
The list of finger foods can go on and on! There is truly no choice. Some parents like to introduce foods a little at a time to easily target any allergies which may occur. However, as far as feeding your baby, you are in the driver’s seat, and may parents even feed their babies off of their own plate. There is no wrong way to do this, however we can only hope that maybe just maybe, your baby will love something on our list!