Why We Can't Live Without Our Snuggle Me Organic

As I was nearing the end of my second pregnancy, I was doing a lot of research into products such as baby nests and the Dockatot, they all seemed so unattainable as they were crazy expensive and I never truly fell in love with anything but the prints some companies had to offer.


My daughter was born and I still had nothing aside from a swing to use while I ran to the washroom, made something to eat or while trying to divide my attention between my new born and my toddler. Sharing my struggle amongst my girlfriends, one of them suggested I look into the Snuggle Me.

Here is what I discovered;
The Snuggle me was created by a Mom (of seven) and her mother-in-law, about eleven years ago when she experienced an overwhelming sense of guilt that there never seemed to be enough of her and she had little to no help.
She states, “I needed someone to just come in and hold a baby for me. That was it. Someone who could relieve this sense of guilt I felt when I had to lay these babies down.” – Mia Carr
With that, these Moms went to work to create a sensory lounger that could snuggle babies when Moms just simply need a moment.


Here it was, The Snuggle Me. I hadn’t even purchased the product, but I fell so deeply for this family, the love and the passion this Mom had behind creating a product that gave the support to a child that every Mom longs for.

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Our family purchased a Snuggle Me Organic, which is made in the USA. It was to be a Christmas present for our daughter, but let’s be honest… it was truly a gift for all of us.
We instantly fell in love with the softness, the ease it brought to washing and keeping it clean; but most importantly the sense of security and calmness it brought to her while she laid snuggled inside. It is something that is also so easy to travel with. We began napping her throughout the day in the Snuggle Me. It fit perfectly inside her bassinet and while we jumped into the hustle and bustle of the holidays, no matter where we went she had a little piece of home that brought the comfort she need to drift off to sleep while celebrations occurred all around her.

Our little love is just over eight months old now, sleeping in her crib, but still within the Snuggle Me. This was another huge bonus to this product, children tend to not outgrow it. The design allows them to be snuggled securely around their torso (like they're being held), while their legs eventually stretch out and hang over. Even our preschooler sneaks in from time to time to take a rest, it is just that cozy.

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We certainly all have our products as Moms, which we cannot live and/or survive without. I’d have to say this is definitely mine, being a Mom of two. Which is why it has been so important for me to share with you all AND why it was of utmost important for me to reach out to this fellow Mama and ask for a Snuggle Me that we could use with our clients. Many families would prefer not to drop money on products they’re unsure they or their children may not enjoy, so we’re here to help with that; supporting you however we can.


Have any questions?
Don’t hesitate to reach out, amanda@sweetstellas.com
Want to look into this particular product yourself, check out snuggle_me_organic on Instagram, our their website at www.snugglemeorganic.com/

What Does Overnight Care Look Like?

We often hear from parents that they are interested in Overnight Doula Care, but wonder what exactly an 8 hour shift looks like.

Typically an overnight shift is 8 hours, and begins around 10 or 11pm. When I arrive at a family’s house, I get an update on the day and identify any concerns that may be helpful for me to know as I begin a night of caring for your baby. Once that is done, I take the reins with baby and send the parents off to bed for a good nights’ sleep.

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Once everyone is off to bed, I get coffee ready for the morning, and do some breakfast preparation. I am often throwing in some laundry and if there are dishes in the sink, you can rest assured I will get them done for you! I will then settle in close to baby so that I may tend to any of babes needs throughout the night. In the case of a bottle fed babe, I prepare bottles, including sterilization and preparing formula. Throughout the night, I tend to all of babes needs such as diaper changes and feedings. When a momma is nursing, I will bring the baby in to mom when baby wakes for her to feed and then I take baby back, once again, tending to all other needs.

As an overnight doula, I am completely supportive of whatever type of feeding, sleeping, bedtime and diaper routine parents have established. My job is to come in and keep everything the same as what is done when I am not there. This helps to reduce any anxiety or stress the baby may feel being around someone who is not a parent. During our time together, if a family has identified anything that they are requiring help with, I will work with the family to work through whatever might be happening and make suggestions where I can. Most of my experience with overnight care has been with sleep training.

In the morning, parents wake up to freshly made coffee and breakfast. Parents are also encouraged to make special breakfast requests! I come prepared with a book of recipes that I have collected over the years and make breakfast based on what is available in the kitchen. Before leaving, I give an update of the night and see myself out, wishing you a great day.

xo

Kerri

Birth and Your Doula

Birth from the perspective of your doula is an incredible thing. We get to see you at your most vulnerable, and your most triumphant. Truly, it is an honour to support a woman during birth!

While every doula is different, we often find ourselves...

  • Applying counter pressure
  • Placing cold wash cloths on foreheads and backs
  • Fetching popsicles and freezies
  • Rubbing Partners back
  • Holding moms hand

We do whatever is needed in the situation, and sometimes that includes excusing ourselves to the waiting room to give you space. Our role during birth is whatever it needs to be, and that is largely determined by how your labour unfolds and what your wishes are.

We want nothing more than for you to have a positive birth experience and we will do everything in our power to try and help that happen for you. We strongly believe in your power as a woman, and know that you can do this.

We are your champion. We are your cheerleader. We are your doula.

Labour and Your Doula

Labour. It's an exciting time if you're an expectant parent, and it's equally exciting for us doulas! We eagerly await that text message or phone call, ringers on high volume with the most obnoxious ringtone known to man.

Watching a woman give birth, holding her hand or stroking her forehead, being there to support her in her absolute most vulnerable moments is something that is truly incredible.

The most important thing to remember when you are starting to feel like this could be it is to call your doula. There is a time and place for emailing and texts, but when you are feeling the beginning stages of labour it's really important to call your doula.

First and foremost, it is likely going to be really comforting to hear their voice. Additionally, it's important for your doula to hear your voice and read your tone. We can sense a lot just in a quick phone call, and can typically hear if there is any hesitation or fear, as well as if you are able to talk through any of your contractions.

Labour is the Superbowl of birth; the big game. When you call and let us know how you're feeling, typically we are by your side within an hour at most and can bring the energy down just a smidge, allowing your body to relax and do its beautiful work.

Labour and your doula. The moment we are anxiously awaiting for, so we can support you in your birth.

Labour Support with an Epidural

Many people think that if you're hiring a doula, you're likely having an unmedicated birth. Most have visions of doulas with long flowing hair, the smell of sage and patchouli, and chanting.

What they don't realize is that the type of birth we attend is determined by one thing: the client. If the client is wanting an epidural birth, awesome! We will be there, and will come packed with knowledge of how to support you before, during and after your epidural.

One of the biggest things about labour support when you've had an epidural is helping you to manage the pressure. The changes in pressure are still going to be felt by mom, although not painful, and keeping communication open about what mom is feeling is key. We often are there asking questions about what the pressure feels like, if it's located in a particular spot and then communicating that back to your health care team.

We can also do things such as fetch ice chips, water, and popsicles. You simply ask, or let us know what you need, and we will do it or get it for you!

Additionally, your doula can help with different positioning to help make you more comfortable while you wait for the anesthesiologist, then again after the epidural is in place and your movement is somewhat limited. 

After birth, when the epidural wears off, you may need assistance getting up to use the bathroom, or simply repositioning in bed if you're wanting to stay there.

Ultimately, doula support is tailored to the situation whether you choose to have an epidural or not.

It's your birth and we support that.

Who Are You?

Who are you?

You're a Mother. You're a partner. You're a Wife. You're a homemaker. You're a cheerleader. You're the rock in the family.

But who are YOU?

The most exciting days in your life have come and maybe gone. Weddings, babies, lifelong partnerships and promises. You have made this life that is worth living, a dream. Then it hits. Who am I? What do I need? When did I get lost in all of this happiness?

How do you find YOU again?

This process for me has been difficult, exciting and scary. I am still finding me. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other walking on my own path. Sometimes it is 3 steps forward and 1 back, but I am closer to me everyday.

We can do this. I can do this!

I am a Mother. I am a Partner. I am a wife. I am a homemaker. I am a cheerleader. I am the rock in the family. I am ME!

Who are you?

Lindsey

Third Trimester and Your Doula

So, it's just about baby time! You've entered your third trimester and the nesting has kicked in. Baby showers are in full swing and you're anxiously awaiting signs of labour.

But how do you know what to expect? Even moms who have had babies before often wonder about the start of labour, and this is a great time to turn to your doula.

Starting around 32-36 weeks gestation, your biweekly appointments with your health care provider will turn into weekly ones. Monitoring of both mom and baby will likely be a little more frequent and there are some tests coming that your provider may or may not recommend.

Having a doula there to answer questions and help you figure you would like your process of birth to go can be incredibly helpful. If you haven't been to this stage of pregnancy before, you likely have a lot of questions brewing! Here's where your doula comes in, with support and experience, to ensure you questions are answered in a timely manner and to let you know what your options are.

At this stage of pregnancy, options are a huge thing and if you don't know what they are, you have none.

Starting around 37 weeks or so, you will likely be asked about your birth plan. We like to call it Wishes and Options, because the overall plan is to have a baby.

Talk to your doula and ask you questions. The ones that keep you up in the middle of the night and the ones that pop into your head in the middle of the day.

Ask!

Get the answers you need and make a list of options that interest you. Stewart the conversation and get ready.

The best is yet to come!

Second Trimester and Your Doula

During your second trimester, pregnancy starts to become much more real for both parents. Baby starts kicking, mama's belly starts to get round and development is happening really rapidly.

More good news for mom is that morning sickness and exhaustion often go away during the second trimester and pregnancy becomes more enjoyable.

So, how does a doula fit into your support team during the second trimester? Referrals and resources are a big thing during this stage of pregnancy, and we take the job of researcher!

There are amazing things that get accomplished during the second trimester when you have more energy, like nurseries, baby registries and baby showers. Your doula can help by keeping you up to date with the latest baby gear to suit your needs, answer your questions, and even help keep you organized.

Additionally, you doula can help with finding reputable resources for things like registered massage therapy, spa services, naturopaths, prenatal yoga and fitness classes and so much more!

Late-second trimester your doula will also start preparing you for birth and postpartum planning. Here, they will ask leading questions to get you thinking about what you would like for your birth, and what life with your baby might look like.

You doula is there to support, to research, to lend an ear and to celebrate those second trimester milestones with you!

Fertility: Your Body, Your Journey, Your Choice - Nutrition

Hey guys!  This month we are going to talk all about diet. 

When I first started into my fertility journey everyone was asking me about my diet.  Diet is crucial for fertility (which is why it is our first post).  In order for you to be at your most fertile, your body needs to have the necessary nutrients. Pregnancy is less likely to occur if your body doesn’t have the basic nutrients that it needs. Many women will try a low-fat, high fiber diet in order to increase their health and lose weight.  While losing weight (if needed) has been shown to increase fertility, doing it in that manner hardly ever works for fertility because your body is not getting the necessary proteins and fats that it needs for hormone production.   
 
So, what do you do to increase fertility when it comes to diet, you ask? 

Well, I wondered the same thing.  I knew absolutely nothing about diet or nutrition so I decided (as recommended) to see a Naturopath.  Here are some recommendations that she told me:  

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• Remove processed foods, sugars and starches from your diet. o Get more nutrient dense carbs from veggies, fruits and starchy sources like sweet potatoes or squash. • Increase (or introduce) healthy fats in your diet.  o Coconuts, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs, avocado and nuts. • Ensure your getting enough protein. • Eat lots of leafy greens. o If you hate leafy greens try blending them into a smoothie. • Stay hydrated! o My Naturopath recommended that I have one glass of room temp lemon water every morning before I ate breakfast.  This will help flush your digestive system and will rehydrate your body.


Certain nutrients or vitamins are important for fertility.  Here is a breakdown of these vitamins and nutrients and why they are important for fertility with more details about each below:  

Vitamin A: promotes healthier cervical fluid and helps ensure follicles develop properly.
Vitamin D: aids in the production of estrogen which is needed to produce insulin, and helps regulate cell growth.
Vitamin E: promotes sperm production, helps to normalize hormone production, increases cervical mucus, increases egg health and is needed to absorb fat soluble vitamins.
Vitamin K2: helps the body utilize proteins
Iodine: for thyroid function and the production of sex hormones (the utilization of iodine requires vitamin A).
Omega-3 fats: helps regulate hormones, increases cervical fluid, promotes ovulation, and increases blood flow to the reproductive organs (so, super important for fertility!)
 

Vitamin A  
There are two types or groups of Vitamin A.  There is Retinol which is from animal sources and there is beta carotene which is from plant sources.  Your body can easily convert retinol based foods to a usable form of Vitamin A; however, it takes a significant amount of beta carotene to convert the same amount of usable Vitamin A as retinol.  
The following are retinol food choices:
• Liver from any animal • Butter and Heavy Cream• Fermented Cod Liver Oil (higher in vitamins) • Regular Cod Liver Oil • Eggs Yolks  
The following are beta carotene food choices:
• Carrots • Sweet Potatoes • Dark Leafy Greens • Cantaloupe • Bell Peppers

Vitamin D  
Vitamin D is actually considered a pro-hormone despite its name. This is because your body can actually produce Vitamin D on its own when it is exposed to sunlight, whereas vitamins are nutrients that you need to get through your diet or by taking supplements.   
Incorporate the following into your diet in order to increase your Vitamin D:
• Cod Liver Oil – (which also has Vitamin A!) • Mushrooms • Egg Yolks • Fish• Butter• Organ Meats  

You will get more nutrients from animals that are put out in the pasture since they are exposed to sunlight which will allow the animal’s body to produce more Vitamin D which in turn means that you get more Vitamin D.  

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and an antioxidant, which prevents damage by the oxidation of nutrients and other chemicals that are in your body which is important for hormone balance.  
Vitamin E has been shown to increase sperm health and mobility which is obviously great for fertility.  It has also been known to reduce sperm defects.   
Another interesting fact about Vitamin E is that if you have Fibrocystic Breast Disease (painful breasts, sometimes with benign lumps or swelling, before your period) Vitamin E has been known to offer relief from the pain.
Incorporate the following into your diet in order to increase your Vitamin E:
• Dark Leafy Greens • Nuts • Seeds • Avocados • Shellfish and Fish • Plant oils (olive and sunflower oil) • Squash and Pumpkin • Organ Meats • Grains (whole grains are even better)

Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 assists vitamins A & D. You can find it in certain fatty parts of animals that eat growing green plants. The growing green plants that the animal eats are high in Vitamin K1, part of that K1 is converted into K2 by the animals tissues. The amount of K2 in the animal is dependent on what the animal eats and when they eat it.

Incorporate the following into your diet in order to increase your Vitamin K2:
• Liver • Egg Yolks • Butter • Fish Eggs

Iodine
Our bodies require iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones; if you do not have enough iodine in your body then you cannot make enough thyroid hormones. When our bodies are iodine deficient it affects our thyroid, adrenals, and our whole endocrine system.  

Since our bodies cannot make iodine we have to include iodine rich foods like the following into our diet:

• Seaweed or Kelp • Coconuts • Blackstrap molasses • Saltwater fish • Spinach • Eggs
Since iodine directly affects your thyroid and hormones you may want to talk to a healthcare provider about how to check your iodine levels or possible prescriptions since Iodine deficiency is quite common.  

Omega 3 fatty acids

There are 3 different types of omega 3 fats; ALA which is plant based) and EPA & DHA which are animal based.  
ALA can be found in:
• walnuts • flaxseed • hemp
EPA and DHA can be found in:
• Egg• Oily Coldwater Fish (salmon, herring, tuna, cod, and trout)

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase fertility in women by regulating their hormones and ovulation, increasing cervical mucus and increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs. Omega 3 fatty acids are also supposed to help women who have endometriosis. Omega 3 fatty acids are also helpful for men as it helps with sperm production since DHA help protect the sperm from free radicals and damage.


Based on the information contained in this blog post, what can you change about your diet?  Where can you improve? Over the next month change your diet to include these options and see how you feel and how your body changes.  

Overnight Doula Support

As parents, we often feel guilty asking others for help, especially during the night with a little one. But today we are going to talk about why you should put aside your mom guilt and call in reinforcements!

Did you know that doulas can provide overnight support? It's true! We love nothing more than seeing you step into your role as a parent, confidently and well rested...ready to take on the demands of parenting! An overnight doula can be instrumental to your postpartum recovery!

Accept those offers!

We all have those people who offer to help us out day or night should we ever need anything. Take them up on this, mom!! Most support people who offer to help have been there before. They have experienced everything you have! So trust that they are there to help you and just let them.

If you have an overnight doula, don't be afraid to accept their help! That's what we are there for!

Ask for exactly what you need

As parents, we tend to downplay our need for sleep or uninterrupted time away from baby. It is crucial that we recognize exactly what we need a helper to do to get the most out of the help. Whether it’s to have an uninterrupted sleep, time away from the house, or feeding/changing diapers, be specific!

Leave us a list of duties that need to be taken care of, and don't be surprised if we do more than asked!

Prepare for those tough nights

Before a crisis hits, be prepared! Come up with a list of things that soothe your baby, where those things are located and people you can call to come over and help, including phone numbers. Creating a plan while you are in a calm and relaxed state, can help you include everything you will need/can do in a time of low sleep and patience.

Some things to consider are: Where are baby’s items kept? What is baby’s schedule for feeding/sleeping? How does baby sleep? Where? What will my support person need to know so that I can have some uninterrupted time to myself?

This is helpful not only for yourself on nights when you aren't in the care of your doula, but also helps your doula prepare so that you can rest easy, knowing that everything is taken care of!

Remember mommas, its ok to need a break and to ask for help sometimes. That’s what makes us be able to do this day in and day out.

P.S. You got this!!

Xo Kerri

 

 

First Trimest and Your Doula

You may be surprised to hear that we get doula inquiries for early pregnancy support, but it's true! Emails, texts and phone calls start coming as early as 4-6 weeks gestation, and for multiple reasons.

Pregnancy After Loss

Single Moms

Out of Town Family

There are loads of reasons why the inquiries come, but one thing is constant; early pregnancy support is vital to a healthy and happy pregnancy and postpartum.

What can your doula do during the first trimester?

  • research morning sickness remedies
  • visit you at your home if you are feeling unwell, tending to any household chores, cooking etc.
  • provide consistent support and answer questions

During the first trimester, prenatal appointments with your health care team will likely be monthly and there's a good chance you will have questions or early pregnancy symptoms creep up that you might want support with.

Your doula can do that, provide compassionate support right when you need it.

Tips for Cesarean Birth

Cesarean birth is a perfectly valid birth, and preparing for one is just as important as preparing for a vaginal birth. There are times when a cesarean is necessary and the safest option for mom and baby.

So what can you do to prepare? We've compiled our top tips to prepare for a cesarean birth!

Be Informed!

Talk to your doctor about the entire process and ask questions. Are you able to have one arm unrestrained so you can touch the baby as soon as he or she is born? Can they lower the curtain or use a transparent curtain so you can see what is going on? How many birth support persons are allowed in the room during the surgery?

Ask questions and get informed!

Get Some Rest

While resting during the late stages of pregnancy and anticipation leading up to your cesarean can prove to be difficult, the process of surgery can be physically, emotionally and mentally taxing. Get some rest and take it easy in the day or two prior to your birth.

Talk To Other Moms

Talk to other moms who have had a cesarean birth about what to expect in the days following surgery. What they found helpful, and what they didn't. Open up the lines of communication and create your support network. You are not alone!

Prepare For Postpartum

Make your postpartum transition a bit easier by creating diaper change stations on different levels of your home. Set up a few different feeding areas for mom and baby, that are stocked with snacks and bottles of water. Stock your freezer and put an open call to friends and family to do the same!

At the end of the day, preparing for a cesarean birth is the same as preparing for a vaginal birth. Knowing your options and establishing your support network are key!

xoxo

Shannon

Pregnancy After Loss

There are so many aspects to pregnancy and parenting that just aren't talked about. You know the things I'm talking about; the ones that happen every day and no one wants to talk about because they're hard. They stir up emotions that we would rather bury and hide from.

Today we are talking about pregnancy after loss.

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It's a time of such mixed emotions. A time I remember well. After the guilt and grief, numbness and pain came this time where we were supposed to be overcome with joy when we found out we were expecting again.

It had only been six weeks or so. The pain was still there from losing the one we would never meet. How on earth we were supposed to be overcome with joy?

I was overcome, all right. With fear. With anxiety. With a secret worry that we would lose another.

Pregnancy after loss is scary. While absolutely you greet each little milestone with open arms and joy, there's a huge amount of fear that comes with it. And then the questions start.....

Is it too good to be true?

When is something going to go wrong?

Something will definitely go wrong, right?

But the answer, truly, is that nothing bad is necessarily going to happen just because it happened before.

If you are pregnant after a miscarriage or some type of pregnancy loss, take it one day at a time and surround yourself with a support network that makes you feel happy, calm, good and confident. A network of people who will acknowledge and validate those fears and worries and who will give you the space you need to express them.

Be gentle with yourself and take it day by day.

Know that the fear and worry is totally normal, and it won't always be there. Sure, once baby is here a whole new crop of worry will surface, but the fear of pregnancy loss and miscarriage will cease to be.

Live and appreciate each sweet moment. Each kick and hiccup. Each roll and push. These are the moments that remind you that you are having a healthy pregnancy and that the fear holds no place for you.

If you ever need support, know that it is there and we hold you with compassion.

xoxo

Shannon

5 Minutes with Megan

Welcome back to our 5 Minutes With segment, where we spend a bit of time getting to know the individuals of this incredible doula team!

This month, you get to meet Megan. She is one of our doulas in Toronto, and she has a huge passion for evidence based birthing information, and supporting women throughout their journey to motherhood.



So tell us about the woman behind the doula - what do you like to do on your days off? 

On my days off from doula work, I love to explore Toronto with my toddler. Some of our favourite places include the zoo, Riverdale Farm and the Science Centre. I also enjoy doing theatre in my spare time, just for fun. It's something I have been doing since I was a kid, and I recently reignited my passion for theatre as an adult.
 
What is your favourite birth support and why? 

My favourite birth support is the rebozo, not only for it's practical use but also for it's rich and meaningful history. It can be used to support birthing people in so many ways, both physically and emotionally that I find it to be an indispensable extension of both my hands and my heart. 

 Why did you want to go into doula work? 
 
I wanted to get into doula work to help families know that they are the decision makers in their birth experience, and to provide any support that they might need to feel empowered and positive during their birth. 

What other areas of parenting and birth are you passionate about? Do they influence your work as a doula? 

 I am also passionate about babywearing. I found that wearing my son made my life as a new parent so much easier and helped me bond with him. I bring that passion into my doula w by being able to help clients sort through all of the (many!) babywearing options to find what might work best for them and providing information about our local babywearing groups' meetings, if babywearing is something that interests them. 

What advice do you have for a new (or new again) mom as she nears birth?

The best advice that I have for a mom preparing for birth is to trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, ask questions, get second opinions, feel free to say no. You are the prime decision maker in your birth, trust your gut and do what feels right for you and your family.


To get in touch with Megan and schedule in your empowered birthing experience with our Toronto team, email megan@sweetstellas.com

xoxo
Shannon

Your Postpartum Body

We are so very hard on ourselves, especially shortly after having a baby. There is an intense amount of pressure in the media to strive for perfection....

a clean house

kids in designer clothing

well kept yards

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and after having a baby, there is pressure to have an incredible body. We see it all the time. Post-baby bootcamp. Workouts and eating plans that place strict rules on what you can and cannot do...that don't necessary take into account (some of them do!) sleepless nights, hormonal changes, the demands of breastfeeding, your pre-baby body and lifestyle, your post-baby lifestyle (or lack thereof).

Be gentle

Be kind

It took 10 months for your body to change. On one hand, that's not a whole lot of time for your body to make all of these incredible changes. On the other hand, 10 months is a long time for things to shift and move and it's difficult to expect that within a few weeks of having your baby, your body will be back to its pre-pregnancy state.

Be gentle

Be kind

Your body doesn't undo all of that 10 months of change in a few weeks. It takes time, and while it can certainly be frustrating, we encourage you to love your new body and take it day by day. The scale does not define who you are.

xoxo

Shannon

5 Minutes With Lisa

A new feature that we are starting on the blog is a 5 Minutes With.... article to give you a bit of insight into the life behind the doula.

First up is Lisa!


So tell us about the woman behind the doula! What do you like to do on your off?

I'm an active mom of two boys, Ronan is 7 and Keegan is 5. When I'm not hanging out with them, I enjoy sewing (all crafting, really) and playing soccer.

What is your favourite birth support, and why?

I love the yoga ball or peanut ball. It's so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, even if you've had an epidural.

Why did you want to go into birth work?

Ever since Ronan was born, I've been fascinated by birth. His birth was very quick and I wasn't really sure of what was happening at each stage. It would have been so helpful to have someone I could rely on to normalize the process for me.

What other areas of parenting and birth are you passionate about? Do they influence your work as a doula?

I'm passionate about breastfeeding and car seat safety, and I'm actually taking my certification as a Car Seat Safety Technician this month! I am also fascinated by the family dynamics and how they change when a new sibling is added to the family. I love helping people navigate this time and help ease the transition for the entire family.

What advice do you have for a new (or new again) mom as she nears birth?

Take time for yourself and don't be afraid to say no. Some people think they are entitled to know everything about your pregnancy (gender, name, choices, etc.) and you are absolutely allowed to say no. The same goes for people wanting to touch your belly or even medical decisions that you may be uncomfortable with.


To book your consultation with this fabulously knowledgeable doula, you can email Lisa or get in touch with her by phone!

xoxo
Shannon

5 Things You Should Know About Home Birth

Thinking of having a home birth for your baby? We've compiled a list of 5 simple things that you should know and consider if you're thinking that this way of birthing is right for you.



Having a home birth means being able to create your environment

While is same is true of hospital births, birthing at home means having even more control over your environment. You are in familiar surroundings, which instantly lowers stress and keeps adrenaline low, letting oxytocin flow. To prepare, think about what your ideal environment looks like, smells like and feels like for birth. This may be the smell of a freshly baked batch of cookies, the blanket that you love to curl up with on the couch during movie night, or photos from your favourite vacation spot.

Embrace all of what this environment will be for you. Set up those pictures, wrap yourself in something lovely and comforting, bake cookies (or have your doula bake you cookies!).

Home birth can be messy

Well not can be, it is! All birth is messy! Have a shower curtain (or a few) on hand to protect your home and surfaces the best that you can and don't worry...everything can be cleaned!

Visitors may want to come earlier since you're already at home

This is definitely something we see with our home birth clients, and we encourage you to consider it carefully. At the hospital, if you've given birth in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning, chances are you won't be sharing the good news and visitors won't be knocking on your door much before noon. With a home birth, visitors seem to think that because you're already at home, you're free game for visitors. If you want space following the birth of your baby, you're perfectly within your rights as a new (or new again) parent to not share your news until you're ready, or post a sign on the door indicating when you will be accepting visitors.

Home birth isn't for everyone

If you are having a particularly difficult or strenuous pregnancy, are considered high risk or simply do not want a home birth, that's perfectly fine. There are loads of different conditions such as elevated blood pressure, prior cesarean birth, and prior significant postpartum hemorrhage, that make home birth a less than ideal option for some women. If you're still wanting a low intervention birth and to control your environment, discuss what your options are with your medical team and make a plan that includes as much of your home birth ideals as possible.

Only midwives attend home births

If you're considering a home birth and are under the care of an obstetrician or family physician with maternity specialty, chat with them about your options as only midwives (at least in Ontario) will attend home births. A simple transfer of care may be all that you need to carry your home birth wishes!

Remember! This is your body, your baby and your birth. Only you know what is right for you!

Having a doula present at your home birth provides a great deal of benefits, and we mesh incredibly well with the care of a midwife. While they are tending to your medical needs, we can provide emotional and mental support.

Put us to work! We're happy to head to your kitchen and make food to keep everyone energized. We can run out and grab supplies if they are needed. We can entertain older children if they are at home during the early stages of labour.

We can hold the space and help with the environment.

Wishing you all the best for a happy, safe, and healthy home birth!

xoxo
Shannon

The Placenta

We are thrilled to announce that Janice is in the midst of her Placenta Encapsulation Specialist training, and will be adding this incredible service to her doula work in January 2017!

The placenta: best friend to your baby for 9 months, the transient organ you miraculously grew to support life, the main ingredient in pills you ingest postpartum?!


It might be an odd thought when you consider placenta encapsulation - even I admit I was grossed out by a friend years ago who got hers done – shhhhhhh BUT I’ve seen many dogs and cats birth their babies and eat their placentas and kind of thought ‘well, they do it’… Ingesting your placenta is now a growing trend, even celebrities are doing it!

After my experience postpartum, maybe ingesting my placenta would have helped my body level out hormone levels, prevent the hives that came up and make my milk not take 5 days to come in. 



Maybe. But would I pay someone to come into my home, prepare my placenta, dehydrate it, grind it and put it into capsules for me to take IF it meant I never had to go through that? YES! A resounding yes. So if you think it is trendy or healthy or natural, whatever your take on the process, would you consider it to as a preventative measure for a known health issue?

There is not a lot of research behind placenta encapsulation and should be noted that much of the information online comes entirely from women who have tried it themselves. Traditionally the pills are taken by the mother shortly after birth and can be stored to take when your menstrual cycle returns. Also it can be made into a tincture for help with menopause symptoms.
Among these possible health benefits are:
  • Increased oxytocin levels
    • helps the uterus return to normal size
    • decreased postpartum bleeding
    • encourages mother/baby bonding
  • Increased CRH, a stress reducing hormone
  • Increased milk production
  • Increased energy levels
  • Decreased in post-partum depression and anxiety
  • Decreased insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Balancing postnatal hormones
  • Restoration of iron levels in the blood
There are currently no known negative side effects to ingesting the placenta. However, some mothers experience dizziness, headaches, engorgement and even become hyperactive. These symptoms can easily be remedied by lowering and/or changing the timing of the dosage given to the mother by her certified placenta specialist. Each placenta is unique to each mother and baby and can affect each women differently.



Placenta encapsulation is an alternative option for a healthy postpartum and it is an amazing and natural alternative to antidepressant and antianxiety medications. Whether it is just a fad and has a placebo effect on you and make you feel like super mom, if it can give you extra energy and a great milk supply, why not? If you have experienced post-partum depression or anxiety in the past why not try to prevent it. 



When in doubt I’m sure you will get a good laugh out of your family and friends reactions to eating your placenta! I bet they will think twice next time you invite them over for dinner.

xoxo
Janice

How Life Trauma Can Impact Your Birth

It seems that this month we are talking all about the hard and challenging topics surrounding birth. At the beginning of the month, we talked about breastfeeding challenges. In the middle of the month, precipitous birth. And now? Trauma.


Trauma is something very real and very scary for alot of people, and yet something that we tend not to spend a whole lot of time talking about. And trauma can have different meanings to different people.

Rape
Divorce
Death of an important person
Abuse
Car accident
Injury
Bullying
Abortion
Miscarriage
Infant loss
Childhood experiences
Adult experiences

Trauma takes many, many forms and has a massive impact on your birth process (and postpartum recovery!)

How?

Well, most often when trauma hits, human beings tend to bury the emotions that are associated with that trauma. Fear, guilt, anger, despair, depression, sadness. There are so many emotions going on at one time, that it's often easier to bury them than to face them and let them go.

As we bury them, we hold onto them (rather unnecessarily) and then they creep up in situations that we don't expect....like birth! When hormones are running wild and you're being faced with a life changing event, it's reasonable to think that those buried emotions and experiences will come to the surface.

So, how do you deal with life trauma while you're pregnant? Isn't that just opening a can of worms, and inviting for stress during pregnancy?

Well, the best thing you can do (I speak from both personal experience and as a doula helping my clients through trauma) is to talk. Open up and talk about what has happened, acknowledge those emotions no matter how far deep they are buried and then let them go.

They serve you in no positive way.
You didn't do anything wrong at the time (or now).
You are whole and you are safe.
That past experience can no longer hurt you.
It won't happen again.
You are stronger than what happened to you.

Harness your own power and strength, and send the trauma on its way. Talking about your trauma may stir up emotions, but know that you are one step closer to releasing them and being free of them.

Chat with your doula, your partner, a trusted friend. Find an outlet like yoga or meditation to help you acknowledge and release.

xoxo
Shannon