All Things Pregnancy, Birth, and Family!
I just got back from a hike in the woods near my home. Hiking is one of my absolute favorite forms of exercise! During the summer, I try to make it to this park several times a week to wander the trails. Unfortunately, the busyness of life has gotten in the way lately, and I realized today that this is the first time I’ve hiked this fall. The very familiar trails were completely obscured by a carpet of gold and red and brown. I thought of a friend who I've wanted to share these trails with, and immediately I could hear her questioning voice in my mind…”I can’t even see the trail! How can you tell where we’re going?”
It would be a legitimate concern to someone unfamiliar with the territory. To an untrained eye, I was just walking in the middle of overgrown woods. But I’ve become so familiar with these trails over the years that I knew my feet never left the path. I knew that just a few yards ahead, it would veer to the right then begin to gently slope downhill before making a sharp turn and coming to a Y. Turn to the left and I’d have a level walk by the river; turn to the right and I’d start a challenging uphill climb.
Later, I knew I would come to another fork in the path. This time both options would look straight and easy. Because I’ve traveled both routes many times, I knew that regardless of which path I chose, I’d come to more trails and more choices. All the trails are interconnected, and all ultimately lead to the final destination (the parking lot!) but there are an infinite number of ways to get there depending on which turns I make along the way. Some routes are short and easy, while some are short and difficult. Some can be long and challenging, while still others are long, meandering, but relatively easy. All offer beautiful, but different, views of the woods and all require different levels of stamina. If my friend comes with me next time, she need not fear--she'll be in good hands!
When it feels like the trail has disappeared and you’re “lost in the woods” of labor, your doula can be a calm presence reminding you that you're on track--that up ahead, just out of sight, is your final destination: your baby in your arms!
When it feels like the trail has disappeared and you’re “lost in the woods” of labor, your doula can be a calm presence helping you to stay on track and reminding you that up ahead, just out of sight, is your final destination—your baby in your arms!
As I finished my hike today, I took a turn that led to a steep hill. Just as I neared what I thought was the top, it curved and continued on an even steeper incline. Even though I’d taken this trail many times, I’d forgotten about that last push to the top! As I huffed and puffed, I thought how much easier it would be if I had someone to lean on right then. I didn’t “need” someone, but it sure would’ve made it easier. In the same way, a birth doula may not be a necessity, but we can definitely make for an easier and more enjoyable pregnancy journey!
Q: What's scarier than ghosts and goblins???
A: Bringing home one of these:
Ask any new or seasoned parent, and they’ll tell you that while these cute little creatures look innocent enough, they come with the power to turn parents into zombies!
Fortunately, there are some things you can do beforehand to make life easier when your “lil' punkin” arrives!
Following are three easy steps to consider while preparing for life after baby...
1. Make a Plan.
Most expectant parents spend months planning their baby’s birthday, but give little thought to after the birth. While preparing for your child’s birth is very important (to mother and baby) even more important is planning for the days, weeks, and months to come.
Things to consider: What are realistic expectations to have after a baby? Expectations of yourself, your partner, and your baby? How will your roles change? Who will be responsible for what? Who will do chores like cleaning, shopping, laundry, and meal prep? What’s normal newborn behavior? Who will get up when the baby cries? How often should your baby eat, pee, and poo? How will you know if they’re eating enough or sleeping enough? How will you ensure that YOU’RE eating enough and sleeping enough?
Once you’ve assessed your needs…
2. Recruit your team
Write down a list of friends and family members who will support you and help keep you alive during the early weeks of life with your new human.
Things to consider: Are the people on your support team Helpers or Holders?
Helpers are people who want to DO something, who thrive on helping in practical ways. Still need a crib put together? Wishing your laundry would disappear and come back clean and folded? Can’t find your kitchen sink? Talk to the Helpers in your life now and see what kind of availability they can offer after baby comes (and maybe even before!). When someone says, “Let me know if you need anything” be prepared! Say, “Well actually, these are some things I’m going to need…how would you like to help?” (Hey, they asked!)
Holders are those whose idea of helping is coming over to get baby snuggles. Or maybe they’d like to help in more practical ways but are physically unable. Regardless, Holders are looking forward to holding and loving on your baby! Most babies go through a period of increased crying from around three to six weeks of age. This happens to coincide with the time many women are wanting to start doing more for themselves again…if only baby didn’t need to constantly be held! This is the perfect time to call in the Holders! While they may be disappointed at not getting holding time early on, it’s important in the first few weeks for parents to have lots of skin-to-skin bonding time with their baby. But when baby hits that fussier phase, the soothing techniques your Holders have been itching to share and those extra sets of loving arms will be put to good use.
3. Consider calling in a professional.