I am a stay at home mom to 4 beautiful kids. I am a breastfeeding and natural birth advocate and contribute to this website. I hope to one day become a midwife, labor and delivery nurse, doula, or childbirth educator. My boyfriend of 7 years and I just got married January 2013!
In Westernized cultures, a healthy baby and healthy mom are generally accepted as a good outcome of pregnancy and birth. Frequently, the actual birth experience is not given much consideration. More often now, however, it is being realized and accepted that the birth experience may affect a mother's ability to breastfeed and bond with her baby as well as her overall confidence in being both a parent and a woman.
The raw emotions that a new mother feels are often put on the back burner because she has much more to worry about now that her baby has arrived. These emotions may also shaded by well-intentioned people who remind the mother that she should be proud that both she and her baby are doing well. The mother may be numb due to the utter shock, disbelief, and denial of what occurred during the birth. Whether there was actual physical or psychological trauma during the birth or the mother is just severely disappointed that she did not achieve the birth she desired, these women tend to be ashamed of their feelings and afraid to tell anyone. Sometimes the effects of a traumatic birth don't display until well into the second half of the baby's first year. In some instances, the effects are not apparent until after the child's first birthday or, if the mother is breastfeeding, until after the child is weaned.
There is a name for these feelings: Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. About one-third of mothers will develop PPTSD1. Symptoms include flashbacks and nightmares of what happened, distress when reminded of the situation, and avoidance of anything that may be a reminder of the event. All of these symptoms may or may not be accompanied by symptoms of Postpartum Depression. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to keep in mind that you are not alone. There is support.
The following are resources to keep handy in case you or someone you know needs somewhere to reach out for support:
Postpartum Support International 1-800-944-4773
Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice & Support 0843-28-98-401
1 American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "One in three post-partum women suffers PTSD symptoms after giving birth: Natural births a major cause of post-traumatic stress, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808121949.htm>.
Countless ingredients, some yet to be discovered, perfect nourishment and comfort for the child, and life saving processes for the mother; No one can question the benefits derived from, not just breast milk, but the act of breastfeeding. Yet it seems every day there is a new story about a mother being harassed and humiliated trying to do so. So often, these people claim to be 100% pro-breastfeeding but say that the act should only be done in one's home, that their teenagers or husbands should not be exposed to it, or question how they could possibly find a way to explain what the mother and baby are doing to their children. Some even reduce it to the equivalent of using the bathroom! In their opinion, breastfeeding should be covered, hidden, and/or secluded. They claim to be 100% for breastfeeding but fail to estimate the damages society incurs by NOT seeing a mother feed her baby as nature intended. How will other women, very possibly including their daughters and granddaughters, learn to breastfeed if they aren’t exposed to it? How will their sons best learn to support the breastfeeding women in their life if they have never encountered it before?
Years ago formula was either too expensive or too dangerous to risk. Breast pumps were scarce and not known about like they are today. These women still had to leave their homes at some point and their babies still had to be fed. Back then mothers would have been exposed to their mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, and other relatives, even their grandmothers, breastfeeding. No one would have questioned what the best action to take would be. Simply feed your baby, relieve your breasts, and move on with life. However, we can’t do that anymore, not these days; now that formula is widely considered a superior way to feed a child and breast pumps abound. Now mothers feel the need to be cautious. They become anxious, almost paranoid, waiting for someone to give them that “look” or worse, confront them. Lots of mothers are prepared for such nowadays but there are just as many who aren’t.
There are some who are more comfortable with a cover regardless of what others might think, myself included, but my 13 month old will not tolerate one. Plus, the last time I used a cover, I put my head under it and the air was so thick it was almost hard to breathe, my baby was covered in sweat and we were in a car with the AC on blast! Since then my cover has found its way to the bottom of the diaper bag, I haven’t used it since. Fortunately for myself, my 13 month old doesn’t need to eat as much. Unfortunately, when he does need to eat, he will not allow this cover; He’ll either pull it up or off or play peek-a-boo with everyone else in the room with it. If my car is parked some distance away or whatever reasons permitting, I refuse to reduce my son to getting his nourishment and comfort within the confines of a bathroom. A lot of times when we go out, I do not plan on it and when we do plan on going out, I usually cannot find the time to pump my milk. Some women do not respond to a pump whatsoever, I do, but it takes me about 45 awkward and somewhat painful minutes to pump 1 5oz. bottle which defeats the purpose since my son will not take a bottle, even when he was younger, and he will not drink my milk from a sippy cup although he does drink other beverages from a sippy cup now. Even at this stage, my breasts become uncomfortably full going just a few hours without feeding him.
Most women breastfeed their babies discreetly, from a glance you wouldn’t be able to tell that they were doing anything more than holding their child, and when something does end up getting exposed, it is temporary and usually minimal, doubtfully the result of her trying to catch some attention. Even if a person is more comfortable using a cover or going somewhere more private, let’s make them feel welcomed if it isn’t working out for them and instead of insulting the mother, regardless of of the age of the child, how about we praise what an amazingly awesome job she is doing? This way, children will grow up acknowledging breastfeeding as the normal way to feed a baby. It will then impact others to believe likewise and ensure mother and baby's health and create a supportive society which will then encourage other mothers to feel comfortable to at least try breastfeeding and that alone would produce healthier generations.
I often come across many mothers asking which bottles to try for their breastfed infant so that they can switch between breast and bottle and back again with ease. I even went as far as to do my own little poll on a popular online parenting website! All of the following bottle brands have their own compatible breast pumps. You can visit amazon.com andbabiesrus.comto view reviews for yourself when determining which bottle(s) to try. Here is a list of bottles that have gotten the best reviews for being of ease of use with breastfeeding (1 being most recommended and 8 being the least recommended):
1. Tommee Tippee bottles were the most recommended bottle and are also available in blue and pink colors. There are 2 size options being the cute 5 ounce bottle and a 9 ounce bottle. They also have a similar version of the Dr. Browns bottle called Sensitive Tummy and Added Comfort if your baby requires special attention to air intake. Chief complaints about the bottle included the nipple collapsing and leakage.tommeetippee.us/department/baby-bottles
2. Dr. Brown's bottles have a variety of options to choose from being size (2,4, and 8 ounce sizes for their standard plastic bottle or 4 and 8 ounces sizes for their wide neck and pink or blue colored and glass bottles), color, wide-neck or standard, glass or BPA free plastic, and they even have a preemie nipple. The most common complaint with these bottles is that there are too many parts to clean. drbrownsbaby.com/bottles-accessories/bottles
3. Playtex Nurser with Drop Ins Liners has a wide variety of colors and designs to choose from as well as 8 and 4 ounce size choices. This bottle system is ideal for outings and daycare settings for ease of cleaning. Complaints about the bottles were usually about the measuring indicators being incorrect and leakage.playtexbaby.com/Bottles/Dropins/Premium-Nurser
5. Breastflow bottles have been recommended by lactation consultants and many parents, myself included, and are more affordable. These bottles also have a disposable version similar to the Playtex Nurser with Drop In Liners and are available in 2 sizes, 9 and 5 ounces. A nice feature is that the lid snaps onto the bottom of the bottle which is very convenient. Frequent complaints often referred to leakage, nipple collapse, and having too many parts to clean/difficulty putting the nipple together.thefirstyears.com/breastflow
6. BornFree bottles are available in both plastic and glass for both 9 ounce and 5 ounce sizes with character from Disney's The Lion King and Minnie Mouse and are "interchangeable with all BornFree cups and bottles". There has been minimal complaints regarding the classic plastic bottle but the glass bottle has gotten a few bad reviews apparently due to light, low quality glass cracking and breaking. newbornfree.com/products/bottles-nipples
7. NUK bottles feature a unique orthodontic nipple design that claims to "mimic moms natural nipple shape" with seductive designs available in 10 and 5 ounce sizes which is also compatible with the NUK Soft Spout so that the bottles can also be sippy cups later on. People have complained that having to keep the bottle nipple pointed a certain way is tedious especially during middle of the night feedings or when unknowing persons feed the infant. nuk-usa.com/all-products/bottles-and-accessories.aspx
8. mOmma by Lansinoh has a convenient feature that with just a simple change of the top can transform your bottle into a straw or sippy cup and back again with ease with or without the handles. The adorable round bottle, available in 5 and 8.4 ounce sizes, and one-of-a-kind nipple design offer a unique bottle-feeding experience. The very few complaints about this bottle include not being able to drain the bottle completely because of the design and the shape of the bottle makes it difficult to fit into warmers, bowls, cups, and some pots for heating.lansinoh.com/products/feeding-bottle
How many clients does she usually take in a month (any more than 5 clients in a month is a red flag)?
How much will she charge, does she have a sliding scale, what is the payment schedule?
Does the payment change if she is unable to attend or if you end up needing a c-section? If it doesn't work out can you get a refund or find someone else who might work for you?
Does she have other services available like belly casting, placenta encapsulation, photography, breastfeeding services, babysitting, or postpartum services?
Does she have a back up, can you meet them?
Get to know your doula on a personal level
Is she married, if so how long?
Does she have children, how many, how does she feel about her birth experience?
Why did she become a doula?
What is her overall philosopy on birth?
Did she breastfeed, how long, how does she feel about it?
Build a relationship
You should have at least 2 prenatal appointments with your doula. During these appointments you'll probably go over things she'll do to help you along during labor and if complications arise. Also during these times you should begin to get comfortable with her touching you in case massage, hair stroking, or counter pressure are used to comfort you during labor so you can let her know what you do and do not like beforehand and to build the comfortableness with her. If you would like she may have relaxation techniques to practice too which would be helpful so you know you can completely relax in front of her. Personally, I found an included belly casting session really helped me open up and get comfortable with my doula.
If at any point you are not comfortable with your doula: First determine if the issue can be resolved and try to fix it. If you think it is something that will affect your ability to remain comfortable with your doula for future appointments and/or during labor, birth, or postpartum then you should talk to her respectively and tell her you just can't do it; She may know someone else available that you may be comfortable with.
If you are a doula or want to become a doula: The steps also apply to you but from a different standing point. Try to give your client as much information as possible so that the family can feel comfortable with you; like a friend rather than business. Reassure partners that you aren't there to take their place, but rather to help them help the mother or step in when they need a break. Beware them that you can not speak for them, you are not a medical professional, and can not give medical advice; You are simply there to support the family and help comfort the mother.
My children are my world, my everything. I love them all equally yet uniquely.
However, every time I have wanted to have a baby its been for the experience of pregnancy, even childbirth, and mostly, of course, the baby.
I haven't had a baby because I wanted a kid or adult. Now, I am not saying I don't want my kids or kids in general.
What I am saying is this: We are lured to our babies; Kind of forced to love them by nature.
The beauty of a newborn who develops into this irresistible baby who eventually melts our heart with his or her every smile and laugh, which makes us turn into idiots trying to get them do it over and over again.
Every mother I've heard from wishes they could stop time at some point, for most multiple points, and enjoy their baby or child for just a bit longer.
Every mother craves a baby, their baby, cradled in their arms once more.
We start out caring for our babies before we even know what they look like. We go through the test of childbirth to bring them into this world.
We love and adore our precious babies who grow into toddlers, teenagers, and eventually adults who we still love just as much.
What I am saying is that every time I look at any one of my children I remember them within me, birthing them, their newborn beauty, and their irresistible baby-ness.
What I am saying is...
No matter how old they are, to me and to most, they will always be my baby.
I began having some contractions on September 28. They were mild but I figured I’d practice all the techniques I’d learned from some great books. Later on that day I went to the bathroom and discovered my mucus plug in my panties. I knew that meant I was somewhat dilated. I didn’t want the baby to be born in September, even though it really wasn’t my choice. It felt like my body listened when contractions just disappeared around 10PM that night. The next few days played out exactly the same; mild contractions all day that disappeared at night. A neighbor came over our house and asked me when I was due, I replied “October 6, but I think he’s coming this week”.
October 2, I awoke and as I was stretching I noticed a little gush. I thought I was just being silly so, I blew it off and continued stretching and felt another little gush. I figured I was peeing myself so I got up to use the bathroom. I sat there for a while wriggling around to make sure I didn’t feel any more gushes. I didn’t, but I did hear a little “plop” in the toilet. So I got up and looked in the toilet and saw another piece of my mucus plug. I then decided to go about my day normally and wait for contractions to pick up.
Contractions were frequent but, by timing them, I knew they weren’t in much of a pattern. I’d have one 30 minutes apart, another 5 minutes later, and then another 15 minutes later. But the pain was getting intense. When my boyfriend came home from work, I felt another gush. I told him that I thought my water was broken. However, since I have never experienced that, I couldn’t believe it and thought the baby was just so low I couldn’t control my bladder anymore. With my first two births my water was broken by a doctor around 5 centimeters dilatation and with my third birth my water broke on its own at 10 centimeters dilation. Then I got another gush and told my boyfriend that I was pretty sure, considering contractions and the gushes, that we’d be having a baby soon. He didn’t believe it and thought I should call and ask the Doula we hired. So, that is what I did and she advised us to call The Birth Center. I called The Birth Center and left my boyfriend’s cell phone number with the answering service because we had to run a few errands in the meantime. During the ride I decided I wanted to go in either way, just so I can be assured that something is being accomplished by all the pain I was having.
When we got back home the Midwife called us back, I explained all the details to her with which she advised us to go in and if it was too soon we could always go back home. I called our doula and we decided she’d meet us there. While my boyfriend was skeptical, I was pretty sure this was it but, I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take with my history of long labors. My boyfriend packed up the car, just in case this was the real thing. We stopped at an ATM for some cash to pay the lady my Doula found for us to help with the kids at The Birth Center. This lady seemed amazing as she was a Doula, Childbirth Educator, and had a degree in Early Childhood Education; plus she was a mom herself.
The night was wet and foggy. The person in front of us was driving really slow. I wasn’t in a rush, but my boyfriend seemed to be. We arrived at The Birth Center around 6PM and our Doula was already there waiting for us in the parking lot. The Midwife greeted us from the back door. She needed the microscope on the second floor where the prenatal appointments occur to examine whatever was gushing out of me so our Doula offered to stay with kids in the living room while I went upstairs with my boyfriend and got examined. The Midwife kindly asked if the nurse training to be a midwife could also examine me. I consented only because I believe this world needs more Midwives. It was determined that my gushes weren’t amniotic fluid but rather watery mucus and that I was 4cm dilated. My blood pressure was a bit high so they advised me to relax on the couch for a little while and we’d also see if my cervix made any change.
During this time my family and I all curled up on the sofa while my Doula watched me from the rocking chair next to me. She offered me sips of water every few minutes and we practiced relaxation. Every time I had a contraction she reminded me to breathe slowly. My boyfriend thought we were crazy, he messed up my relaxation by making me laugh because I could feel him staring at me. When the babysitter arrived my Doula and I went outside for a little and talked. My boyfriend took a cigarette break. We got inside and the Doula suggested I get on all fours, leaning over the sofa. She rubbed my back, which really helped relax me. Contractions were regular and getting more and more intense, but still in no kind of pattern. Between contractions it was like nothing was happening; I continued to talk and act normally often starting off where I had just finished when a contraction started. For the first time in all my 3 labors I wasn’t really scared.
Around 9PM the Midwife took me back to the “Blue Room” and reexamined me. My blood pressure was now normal and my cervix could be stretched open to 5-6 centimeters which, the Midwife explained it is common after you’ve had multiple children. So, I was admitted to The Birth Center. “Its official, we’re having a baby”, I told my boyfriend. Because it was late we decided to put the kids to bed in the living room. I really wanted them in the room but they might get rowdy if they get too tired. So the midwife and my boyfriend set up the sofa-bed for the kids. My boyfriend then brought the kids in so I could hug and kiss them good night and went out to get them tucked in and brought in the bags from the car. I got emotional when I hugged my daughter knowing she’d no longer be “the baby”.
When my boyfriend finally brought in our bags I decided to go take a bath but the nurse came in and said “only showers” because a bath might slow things down. Pointing the water stream on my belly helped take the edge off the pain of contractions. Meanwhile, my boyfriend stayed with kids and babysitter until everyone was settled in. After a little time in the shower I got out and got dressed in my nightgown and bathrobe. My boyfriend came back in and lay down on the bed with me. We tried to get some sleep but ended up chatting with the Doula for a bit.
Not long after, my boyfriend got up to check on the kids and have a cigarette. I wasn’t managing contractions too well so my Doula suggested a couple positions. The one that worked well was sitting on a birth ball leaning forward on the bed. My boyfriend returned and then my Doula put on some relaxation audio, which also helped a lot. In no time my boyfriend was snoring away. A little while later my Doula suggested we walk around. I took the time to check on the kids, all were asleep except my second child. After talking for a short time we decided to go back to the room. At some point the Midwife that was caring for me came in with the trainee nurse and told me she was leaving and wouldn’t be present at the birth. I’d be seeing another Midwife who happened to be the director of the whole birthing center.
My Doula continued to offer me tons of water, reminded me to use the bathroom, and eat a few light snacks to keep up my energy. She tried to get me up and moving around but walking hurt, getting on and off the toilet hurt, and when the baby moved it hurt. I stuck to the birth ball and got into a rhythm. When a contraction began I’d start taking in deep breaths, blowing them out and rocked side to side on the birth ball while my Doula brushed through my hair. If the contraction was super intense I’d give a little moan. I had no sense of time. The only thing I looked forward to be the breaks between contractions and I was relaxed enough that I dozed off during them. Now, I couldn’t focus on anything but my labor even between contractions. I started trembling but was hot so I threw off my robe.
Some time later I noticed the feeling that I needed to use the bathroom. I got up and went but not much happened. I went back to the birth ball and started telling my Doula that my butt felt weird. I heard myself grunting. My boyfriend got up and we told him to page the Midwife. When she entered the room it felt like they didn’t believe me but I had a weird sensation in my butt so I stood up, slid my panties off, and got onto the bed. My boyfriend sat down next to me. I got into a semi-sitting position because I wanted to catch my baby. The Midwife examined me and determined I was 10 centimeters dilated and explained that after one or two pushes my water would probably break. I double-checked that there was no cervical lip, like with my last birth, which there wasn’t this time. So, I got the okay to push and gave it my all. My water broke at 2:30 AM, exactly how the Midwife predicted. She walked away, to start prepping for delivery I guess, and was surprised when she saw the baby’s head crowning so soon. She hurried over and told me to touch my baby’s head. It was amazing. It felt hard and smooshy. I stopped pushing to let things stretch out. The Midwife reminded me to reach down and catch my baby, but I shook my head no. I felt that I couldn’t because, for some reason, my arms were helping me push and I needed them.
At 2:41AM on October 3, 2012 my baby was born and the Nurse put him on my belly. He was crying but once I started talking to him and touching him he seemed content. My boyfriend went to get our oldest son. I tried getting the baby closer to my breasts but the Midwife warned me not to pull too much because the cord was a little short. The Midwife asked me if it was a boy or girl so I reached down to feel what it was and replied “it’s a boy!” with which we all chuckled. The nurse let me know that I was given a shot of Pitocin, just before the birth because the second stage was really fast and I have had multiple children, both of which have the potential to cause excessive bleeding. My boyfriend returned with our son and after the cord stopped pulsating, the Midwife clamped the cord and my son cut it with daddy’s help. I realized my boyfriend hadn’t taken any pictures of the birth but my Doula spoke up and let us know she had been taking pictures this whole time. I was so grateful for her. My boyfriend gave me a kiss and said, “Thank you, you know I love you right?”. I felt a contraction and told the Midwife the placenta was coming. At 2:46AM I delivered it. So my Doula stuck around a while to chat. The baby and I got started nursing which he was great at. The babysitter came to see the baby and went home. My boyfriend went out in the living room to sleep with the kids and the baby and I took a nap.
Around 5AM the nurse came in to give baby a bath and do his measurements. Then the Midwife would come in to do the newborn exam. My Doula took some last pictures and said good-bye. The baby weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and was 20 inches long. His head circumference was 14 ½ inches. We named him after his father, my boyfriend, which is the same name as his grandfather too.
Have a list of resources ready for when you need it. The list should include lactation consultants, pediatricians, your doctor, your OBGYN/Midwife, and anyone or anything else you can think of that you might need.
Sleep when your baby sleeps whenever possible.
Maintain your balanced diet from pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, you may need more calories than when you were pregnant.
Don’t worry about exercise for at least the first 6 weeks. If you are up to it, start gently and get your doctor’s okay beforehand.
Enlist a support system to help you with housework and any other children you may have.
When you need a break from your baby, get someone to care for him/her while you do something for yourself, like shower or spend time with your older children.
When you don’t have any help around, let some things go undone. It may help to make a short list of a few things you’d like to accomplish that day and make it a goal to do just one or two of those things. Just be easy on yourself for the first few months.
Schedule your postpartum visit as soon as you get the chance. Call your care provider about any concerns that arise in the meantime.
If you are interested, it is wise to start thinking about your birth control options and discuss them with your doctor at your 6 week check up.
Try not to view it only as ‘I just had a baby’. Rather, try seeing it as ‘I am now a mother’ as well. Regardless of how many other kids you may have having a baby brings forth a new aspect of mother.
Research childbirth and determine what is important to you. There are many procedures, policies, and routines that you need to understand and determine if they are right for you and your baby.
Create your birth plan if you choose. Include your wishes, fears, cultural traditions/preferences, and anything else that is important to you.
Talk to your careprovider about your birth plan. If you didn’t create one, you still need to talk to him/her about your wishes to make sure he/she is on board. You do not have to compromise or go with anything because its his/her or hospital policy. If you discover that your careprovider isn’t on board with you, then find a new one.
Enlist a person you trust to support you during your labor and birth. Maybe for you this can be your partner, spouse, mom, sister, and/or a doula.
Find out about where you’ll be having your baby. Take a tour and ask questions. Sometimes what you find out may be a bit shocking and you’ll find that you really don’t want to have your baby there. Talk to your care provider about this; but you may need to find a new one.
Learn some exercise moves that can help prepare and strengthen your body for childbirth.
Take childbirth classes if you’d like. I personally would avoid those offered by hospitals.
Read a variety of natural birth stories and talk to other women who are comfortable discussing their births. Try to avoid those exaggerated horror stories.
Stay strong and stick to what you believe. Don’t let anyone, including medical staff, bully or pressure you into anything. You have the right to know benefits and risks of every procedure and to decline if you deem it isn’t necessary.
Treat yourself as if you are pregnant as soon as you begin trying to conceive. Take prenatal vitamins, quit smoking, and avoid alcoholic beverages. Find out if any medications you are taking are safe for pregnancy.
Find a few pregnancy medical care providers and interview them. Choose which one suits you best. If at any time you don’t feel it’ll work out, then change your doctor. Here is a list of good questions to ask.
Go to all your prenatal appointments.
Research all common prenatal tests and determine with your prenatal care provider which ones you should have and when. Exercise may help ease pregnancy symptoms. A good suggestion is yoga. There are also certain moves that help prepare and strengthen your body for childbirth.
While it is fine to indulge in moderation, make sure you eat a balanced diet everyday. This includes keeping your iron and protein up.
Take time to rest everyday. Pamper yourself every once in awhile too.
Read books, take classes if you want, and ask questions to educate yourself about pregnancy, labor, birth, the postpartum phase, newborns, breastfeeding, and parenting. For a list of my personal recommended reading click here.
While you're still pregnant, think of some things that will need to be done once the baby arrives that will be difficult. Do whatever you can. If you have kids already maybe some those things will include them. Here are a few tips.
Cherish every moment of your pregnancy, even the hard times. It may be uncomfortable and seem to drag out forever, but it is really only a once in a lifetime moment that you’ll never get back.