Doulas and Partners

Whenever we are at a trade show or expo, we often hear the phrases

My partner can do that

That's what I'm there for

and

I don't want a doula to take over my role

Rest assured, a doula is not there to take over and you're absolutely right; there's nothing that we know how to do that makes us any better than your birth partner.

What is also true, and often not communicated, is that doula support extends to the birth partner during labour and birth.

If your partner needs to step out, grab a coffee, get some sleep, communicate with family about labour progress, your doula can step in to alleviate their role and ensure that mom is continuously supported.

Additionally, watching the woman you love going through the various stages of labour can be difficult. It's emotional and draining for both parents. A doula can take a bit of the pressure off, support both mom and partner, keep the atmosphere as calm as possible.

And if anything were to go wrong, your doula is there as a constant that you both can focus on. She will prompt you to ask questions, relay information to you, make sure that you understand what is happening and support whatever decisions you make during birth.

After the birth, your doula stays in contact during the first six weeks to ensure a smooth transition into parenting. Lines of communication are open for both parents, and partners are encouraged to let the doula know of any behavioral differences or when they need help as a new parent as well.

We are there for support, however that looks for the parents at the time.

What Is It Like To Be On-Call?

We are often asked during our consultations what it is like to be on-call, so I thought it would make an interesting editorial piece.


So, what's it really like to be on-call, and when does that even start? What does it mean?

Well, the on-call period for our clients really starts from the time that a family contracts our services to the 6 weeks following the birth of their baby. Now....typically, early on-call is lots of emails and texts, and as mama approaches 36/37 weeks gestation, their phone number gets moved to our favourites list with the loudest ringtone we can find in our options.

We answer every text and email promptly, and once that 36/37 week gestation time hits, we answer the phone regardless of the time of day.

So, what is that like from our perspective?

It's like every other day of the year.

While certainly our senses are heightened and we are filled with excitement and anticipation for our clients, we have a few rules surrounding the on-call time in the later stages of pregnancy.

We don't leave the city limits (unless planned prior to contract)
We don't drink alcohol
We have our ringer on high at all times (with vibration on as well)
We go to bed early
We make plans for backup and backup-backup child care
We have our bag packed and by the door
We have a change of clothes laid out in the bathroom for middle-of-the-night changes

In a few words, the on-call time is amazing. It is so exciting when the phone rings (regardless of time of day) and we are called into action. Witnessing birth is something truly incredible, and we wouldn't trade those moments for anything in the world.

xoxo
Shannon

What Does Non-Judgmental Support Mean?

Whenever we meet with a new family, we are often asked for our opinions on their parenting style, wishes for their birth, for our own birth stories or for how we have supported our clients in the past.


Ultimately, non-judgmental doula support means keeping our personal opinions out of your care and providing you with unconditional, unbiased support so that you can make a confident and supported decision for you and your family.

In a world where everyone has an opinion, what you do for your family and how you tend to your body during birth are definitely not the places for other peoples opinions. Truly, you know your body best, and you know exactly what feels right for you in your birthing process.

Similarly, you know your family and the inter workings of the members in your family best. No one is in a better position to make decisions that impact your family other than you! So, from where we sit, it would be doing you an your family a disservice if we pretended to know what would work for you, or ever implied that one way of parenting is better than another.

Our stance will always be, do what is best for you. And we will support it.

xoxo
Shannon

Sex After Pregnancy and Childbirth

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! As you transition from pregnancy to parenthood, you will likely experience a new world of emotions, hurdles, and milestones. The relationship between you and your partner however, needs just as much attention and support as it had before.

Sex may not be something either of you are thinking about right now, but eventually that time will come. After all, it did play a role in your new mom title.






In reality, you partner will be ready before you are. For good reason, they didn’t go through the physical demands of pregnancy, labour, and childbirth. You may find yourself needing to tell your partner that you are not physically ready. You need to take the time to heal and it’s absolutely acceptable to do so. You do not need to feel guilty or embarrassed, your partner will understand.

In some cases, you may be physically healed but not be mentally ready. When I was pregnant, I was told to wait until your doctor gives you the “okay” at your 6-week postpartum check-up. I was very strict about following this rule. Then when I asked the doctor at my appointment, she said that I was able to as soon as I felt ready. Physically, I felt better before my 6-week check-up, but I needed that “go ahead” from the doctor to be mentally ready. 

Being emotionally ready is another feeling you may struggle with. You may have some extra skin or stretch marks that you never had before. Try your best to be proud of your post-baby body! You are beautiful, and that absolutely perfect baby in your arms, she made your body amazing! I promise you that your spouse isn’t concerned with anything you feel insecure about, and very likely thinks that you’re even sexier after having carried and birthed your precious baby. 

When the time finally comes, keep in mind that your partner does not want to hurt you. If anything hurts or feels uncomfortable, tell them. Things may feel different, you might be tense or nervous, you may be sensitive or feel a weird point of pressure. Everybody is different, so be gentle and remember to communicate with your partner as openly as you need to.

xoxo
Ashley

Tips for Managing Gestational Diabetes


A diagnosis of gestational diabetes can certainly throw things out of whack for the remainder of your pregnancy. From limited diets to tracking food consumption and upping your water intake, it may mean a lifestyle that you aren't accustomed to and some changes for the health of both you and your baby. Here are some easy tips for managing gestational diabetes.


Check Your Blood Sugars Regularly:  Meet with a Diabetes Educator or your OB to learn how to check your blood sugars, what your levels should look like and how to take any medications that they have prescribed to you.

Monitor Your Eating Habits:  Meet with a Dietitian/Nutritionist, they can help you monitor what you are eating and teach you how to change your diet to keep your blood sugars under control. 

Eat Those Carbs:  Carbohydrates are an important component in any Diabetes diet.  They are what keep your energized and what keeps your baby growing.  Hormones can make it difficult to control your blood sugars in the morning, so consider spreading out your carbohydrate intake throughout the day.  Eating a variety of foods like whole grains, fruits (with skin), veggies and dairy products will help you get the carbohydrates that you need.  High fiber or low-glycemic foods like apples, pears, broccoli, carrots, beans and flax seeds will help keep your blood sugars at your optimal level, which will also make you feel full longer.

Avoid Sweet Drinks: This includes juice, sweet tea, soda and any drink with added sugar.  These drinks are one of the fastest ways to raise your blood sugars.  Water is your best option or low-fat milk.

Physical Activity:  Regular physical activity is encouraged during pregnancy, however, if you develop Gestational Diabetes physical activity is a MUST.   Of course consider what your physical activity level was before your pregnancy and pick activities that will not put you or your baby at risk.  Try swimming, water aerobics or walking as these are low-impact activities.

Catch Some Z’s:  Because let’s be honest, getting enough sleep is important in every pregnancy.

Research Breastfeeding:  Exclusive breastfeeding (when breast milk is the only source of food for your baby) is recommended if you had Gestational Diabetes.  HOWEVER, please remember that the decision is ultimately up to you and whatever works for you and your family is what is best.  It doesn’t hurt to know all your options though.  Meeting with a lactation consultant could be very beneficial if you are considering breastfeeding.

Schedule Follow-up Visits:  Unfortunately, developing Gestational Diabetes increases your risk of Diabetes later in life as well as in any future pregnancies.  Some OB’s recommend all women that developed Gestational Diabetes get tested for Diabetes at 6 to 12 weeks postpartum due to this risk. It is important that you let your future doctors know you had Gestational Diabetes in a previous pregnancy so they are aware of any future risks you may have.

 xoxo
Stephanie

Trust Your Body, Birth Your Baby

All too often during a prenatal appointment with a client, we hear things like...

but how will I know it's actually labour?
what if I can't handle it?
will I know when to go to the hospital?
I'm not sure I can do this.


When it comes right down to it, our bodies were made for birthing babies. What we lack is a profound trust in our body's ability to perform under...stress...fear...anxiety...in hospitals...at home...with too many people in the room...in emergency situations.

We lack a trust in ourselves to trust our instincts
We lack a trust in ourselves to trust our body's natural abilities
We lack a trust in ourselves

We strongly encourage you....let go of the negative associations with birth, contractions, hospitals, home, pain, and breathe in everything that is good. Think about the life that is inside of you; you made that! (with a little help!) He or she knows you by the beat of your heart, and soon...will know you by your smell, the soft sound of your voice and the closeness of your skin.

Trust your body.
It was made to bring your baby into this world and it knows exactly what it is doing to get them here safely.

Birth your baby.
Do it your way. Take control of your situation and circumstances, but be mindful to go with the flow of things, listening to your body and trusting it throughout the process.

We promise you; you will know when it is time, when it is real.

Just trust.

xoxo
Shannon

How Dad Can Support Breastfeeding



If you have decided to breastfeed your baby, there may be a chance that your partner will feel like they are out of the loop or helpless.  Here are some tips to get Dad involved in the feeding process.
 
 
1.       Bring baby to Mom – During those late night feedings, take the opportunity to bring baby to Mom! Why not see if you can soothe the baby down first & hand a nice calm baby to Mom.  Not only will Mom appreciate the break (since she’s exhausted too), Dad gets extra bonding time.

2.       Prop her up with pillows – Give Mom the option of sitting in your comfiest chair. Ensure she’s comfortable and ask her if she would like the nursing pillow or a pillow to support her back.   If she’s lying in bed as if she would like her feet propped up. 

3.       Make her a snack – Since baby is eating Mom mind as well take the opportunity to eat too.  For obvious reasons a one handed snack would be your best option. 

4.       Bring her a drink – It is very important that nursing moms stay hydrated!  It is not uncommon for mom to get quite thirsty while they are nursing.  Water would be a good idea, try to avoid anything that is caffeinated or high in sugar. 

5.       Wash bottles/clean pump – Be the designated dishwasher. Mom is preparing and serving the meal, do her a favour and offer to do clean-up. 

6.       Occupy older kids/pets – Try to keep distractions to a minimum; Mom will truly be grateful for this. She cannot exactly round up kids or pets while she has another child latched on. 

7.       Burp & change baby - Breastfeeding is a lot of work and it’s hard on the body.  Burping and changing the baby would be a nice break for mom. 

8.       Be supportive – If Mom wants to feed in public without a cover, support that decision.  If she is comfortable breastfeeding in public you should be comfortable with it too.

9.       No questions asked – When Mom decides she wants to wean baby off nursing, support that decision and be sure to let her know what an amazing job she did, even if she didn’t breastfeed for long.  

xoxo
Stephanie

Biting during Breastfeeding: Tips and Advice from a Doula



So you’ve made it this far, way to go! You’ve overcome the sleepless nights, the tender nipples, the cluster feeds, and any other challenges that your milk-filled, leaky breasts have presented to you. Everything is going well, you and your baby have figured each other out, and then it happens. You are happily nursing when you feel the most unbelievable pain! You swear your entire nipple is gone.


The truth is, it may or may not happen to you. But if it does, know that biting does not need to be your reason to stop breastfeeding. There are many things that you can do to protect your supply, end the biting, and thereby continue nursing your precious baby. The following are tips you can try if you experience biting during breastfeeding.

1. Be mindful of your tone: High-pitched tones are associated with positive emotions while lower tones are associated with negative emotions. Listen to your tone of voice when you are happy versus when you are not; I promise you will notice the difference. And so will your baby. Your tone of voice must match the words you are speaking.

2. Speak firmly: You would not sweetly tell your child not to run in front of an oncoming car, you would sternly yell NO, STOP! Now, I’m not telling you to yell at your baby, instead, speak firmly and sternly and raise your voice slightly if needed (which will likely be one of your first reactions anyways). Your baby will know you mean business.

3. Pull baby into breast: It sounds mean, but keep in mind that it will only last a second… and babies are much tougher than we give them credit for. When your baby bites, pull his/her face into your breast immediately. Your baby will associate this sense of panic with the biting. 

4. Do not reward: Continuing to nurse immediately after your baby has bit will send the message that what he/she did was okay. Taking away the food temporarily will tell baby that it is not okay for he/she to bite you. Continue your next feeding as normal.

5. Unlatch when finished feeding or falling asleep: Sometimes your baby will remain on the breast even after he/she has finished feeding. This is a good time for baby to bite as he/she is simply playing around and experimenting. When baby is biting, he/she is not latched correctly, which explains why your baby may bite as they fall asleep.


xoxo
Ashley

5 Tips for Surviving Life with a Newborn

When I first meet with a brand new postpartum doula client, I make sure that they know one thing by the time I leave their home. The first six weeks postpartum are about survival. Whatever that looks like to you, however that has to happen...whether you're in yoga pants every day or you get dolled up and hit the mall just to bring some normalcy to your life...however you survive is completely fine.


  1. Eat when the baby eats. Sure you've heard about sleeping when the baby sleeps, but you have to fuel your body (even if you're not breastfeeding). Keep a stash of crackers beside the chair that you sit in when feeding baby. Make granola bars and keep them in the freezer. Stock up on individual packs of crackers, cookies, pretzels, dried fruits and nuts. Noshing throughout the day will help keep your energy levels stable.
  2. Sundresses are your friend. This time of year means one thing...heat and humidity. To easily feel like a normal person again, stock up on some sundresses (and body glide to protect your skin from chaffing). They're flowy and girly, so you will emotionally feel relatively pulled together, but not stuffed into shorts and tank tops that might make you emotional over your post baby body. 
  3. Remember that the fourth trimester is about recovery. There will be time for fitness later. This is about survival and recovery. Eat well. Hydrate yourself. Be kind to yourself emotionally. Sleep when you can and don't sweat the small stuff. The saying (as much as it might grind your gears to hear) This Too Shall Pass is all too true. Sleepless nights are temporary, as are mood swings, your baby ponch and engorged boobs. 
  4. It's ok to say no. If you don't want visitors to pop over, say so. If your freezer is fully stocked to the point of dripping overflow water on your floor, say something. People mean well, they really do, but if you need space that is completely ok. You and your body have just been through a massive change and you're trying to adapt to a little babe needing you at every moment of every day. If you need space, just say the word. People will be far more understanding than you think.
  5. Ask for Help! It doesn't make you any less of a parent to ask for help. Maybe you need someone to come over and hang out with the baby so you can grab a shower or a nap. Maybe you just need a friend to come over with a glass bottle of wine so you can feel like an adult again. Ask for help. There are loads of family and friends out there who are itching for a way to help, but aren't sure what you need.
My tips for surviving the first six weeks could go on and on, I'm sure, but really at the heart of it is that you know your family and your baby best. You know what works for you, and need to stand in your power. Be confident in the decisions that you are making for your family!

My clients always ask what I would do if I was in their situation. I tell them that I don't live in their body, nor do I have to take care of their baby on a daily basis...so it's not fair for me to dole out that type of advice. I do say...if I needed a shower, I'd put him in a bouncey seat on vibrate on the bathroom floor....or.... it's only best if it's what works for you....and....it's not selfish to want time to yourself, you have to take care of you!

Remember....the fourth trimester is about recovery and survival. Whatever you need to do to survive, even if it deviates from your original plan for pregnancy, birth and parenting, that's ok. Plans change...babies change...life changes, and that's pretty awesome.

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How Doula's Can Help, Even if it Isn't Your First Baby

So often I am asked but how can you help me? This is our second/third/fourth baby, we've done the labour thing before. I know what I'm doing.
  


The answer, very simply, is that no two pregnancies, labours or births are the same. Even our bodies, after they have been pregnant once, change and adapt to what it means to be pregnant.

Life changes the moment that your first baby is born. Colors are brighten, sounds are louder. Everything is more vibrant, fresher and more amazing.

Then comes that moment when you find yourself pregnant again, and life seems to stand still.

How will I parent two?
Is there enough love? 
Patience?
How am I going to survive being pregnant and parenting a toddler at the same time?
What do I do when I go into labour and Jr. needs to get to soccer practice?
What about the after?

With the support of a doula throughout your pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum, your transition can be made so much easier.

Labour and Birth

During labour, your doula is by your side every step of the way from the moment you call them, until an hour or so after the birth of your baby. When this is your second+ child, you may call your doula to help you labour at home, where their care can extend to other members of your family. If you are needing to rest, your doula can entertain older children to make sure you are getting the quiet time that you need.

Postpartum

Adding a new baby to your already awesome family dynamic can be a daunting thought, as can the thought of getting dinner on the table every night while tending to your baby and other children. Thankfully, a doula can swoop in with a food delivery. I often like to drop things off at a clients house, leaving a bag of goodies on their door. I text them on my way home to let them know there's a delivery, and never ever ring the bell (who knows when mama and babe might be napping!). It's like a visit from the magical food fairy! For more ideas on how a doula can help during postpartum, look here.

Ultimately, a doula is there to support you in whatever you need, be it getting you information on the newest birthing craze, or lending a supportive shoulder to cry on when you are feeling overwhelmed.

First baby or fifth baby, the support remains the same. Unconditional, unbiased and there right when you need it.

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Do's and Dont's of Postnatal Pelvic Floor Recovery

When I had this post scheduled in my editorial calendar, I had every intention of writing about the do's and dont's of pelvic floor recovery. You know...what exercises to do, how often, and all of that stuff...but then I attended a seminar by The Mama's Physio and I learned some really amazing things that I wanted to share with you!


Did you know that there are different types of pelvic floors? I had seriously no idea! It can be high or low, strong, relaxed..even short or long. I found Ibbie's seminar absolutely fascinating and the key takeaway? What many think are kegal exercises are actually not, and more often than not...they don't do a darn thing. I had no idea that the glutes and pelvic floor have to both be strong to function optimally.

I also learned that after we give birth, we actually shouldn't expect to pee when we sneeze. I assumed that this was a regular side effect from housing a baby in your uterus and then giving birth vaginally, but in fact it indicates that there are pelvic floor issues that need to be assessed and tended to.

A photo posted by Shannon Moyer-Szemenyei (@sweetstellas) on
Other things that are often brushed aside by doctors as just another sign of being a woman and having carried babies...pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, and pain during sex. I had no idea that those female reproductive issues were things to take note of and things that a physiotherapist could help with!

One of the exercises that we were led in was drawing in long, deep breaths. Seems simple, right? But when do you do it, are you aware of where your pelvic floor is? Do you imagine it rising and falling? Do you feel the connection it have in terms of movement with your diaphragm?

I could go on and on about the seminar and all of the knowledge that Ibbie shared with us, but I really truly think that the best thing do do is tell you to go see her, or invite her over to your home for an assessment. What you may be dealing with during pregnancy or postpartum could very well be treatable, but you won't know unless you see someone with the expertise to help!



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5 Ways to Help a Mom Through Infant Loss, Stillbirth and Miscarriage

You very likely know someone who has experienced some type of infant loss, be it miscarriage, stillbirth or a the death of a young child or infant after birth. Perhaps you have experienced this type of loss, and aren't quite sure how to find the words to ask for what you need.

When a parent experiences the loss of their child, a big part of their heart is broken. There is immeasurable guilt. Time seems to stand still.

As a friend or family member, how can you help?
As a parent going through the loss, how do you ask for help?


Here are five things that you can do to help when someone you know is experiencing infant loss
  • Remember dates. Jot down the due date, and remember that your friend is likely going through a huge range of emotions, most of them painful. This would have been when she should be holding her baby. She would be celebrating birthdays around this date, so remember that and send her a quick thinking of you note or text when it draws near
  • Take her out for coffee. Sometimes a good cup of tea or coffee can soothe the soul. Sometimes it can't. But all you can do is try.
  • Make arrangements with a spa to treat her to a service. Better yet, pick her up at her house, drop her off at the spa, and take her out for lunch when her treatment is done.
  • Hold the space. There are moments when there are no words, and that is absolutely ok. Sometimes the parent going through the loss doesn't want to hear it'll be ok, or you can always try again. Stay away from the cliches and advice, because nothing will really ever make this better for her. Just hold the space, hold the quiet, and let things be.
  • Bring over her favorite meal. That is, make it and bring it over, but text her when you're driving away and have left it at her doorstep. She may not want to see people, not even her very best friend, but I am certain that she will appreciate the care and time you took to make this meal for her.
As a mom going through infant loss, it is difficult to ask for the help and support that you truly need. Sometimes you want to forget that the whole thing happened, and other times you want to hold onto what of your pregnancy you had and honour your baby like only you can.

On days when you want to be left alone, it is perfectly ok to post a note on your door asking for quiet, saying you're napping or asking for deliveries to be left at the door. If you don't want to see anyone or have visitors, that's ok. It's your choice who you let in and when.

If you need a buffer, ask your best friend to field calls or texts for you. Let your family know that you'll be in touch with him or her, and then have them send updates to your family.

There are no right answers, no perfect solution or checklist to follow when you've just experienced a miscarriage, still birth or infant loss. It's incredibly emotional. It's heartbreaking. But there is support out there, and those who care about you will want to help. Let them know when it's ok, when you need space and know that their heart is in the right place.

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How to Process Birth Trauma

It's one of those topics that noone really wants to talk about, but is so important to verbalize.

Birth Trauma.

It can be scary, and it can lead to a million different emotional and mental complications {also ones that noone wants to talk about}.


It is important to process your birth trauma shortly after your birth has happened. The longer that you hold onto those emotions, the longer they have to fester and give life to guilt, depression, and a whole list of other traumatic complications.

When I meet with my postpartum doula clients, the first thing that I ask is how did your birth go? While I have been met with a wide range of answers, I find that it is best if I just sit and let them talk. They often need an outlet, a safe space, to process how everything went.

Did they feel in control?
Did something happen that they didn't consent to?
Did they feel respected?
If they deviated from their birth plan, was that ok?

If you need to process birth trauma, I strongly encourage you to talk it out. Find a friend and a quiet coffee shop, go out for a drink or dessert and just talk it out. Pour your heart on the table and let go of the guilt.

The best thing that you can do for yourself when you have experience birth trauma is to open up your heart and talk it out.

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Tips for Vaginal Birth Recovery

Another great topic from the beautiful mamas in the New Mom's group!

Something that we are rather unprepared for is the after birth portion of the birth process. We labour, push, tear, are stitched and sent home with advil. Whoop di do!

Thankfully there are a few things that you can do at home to help recover from a vaginal birth, whether or not you had any tearing.


Ice

This is one that my cousin told me about following an episiotomy in 2010. Spritz a thick overnight sanitary pad with way and then stick it in the freezer. Once it is nice and chilly, wear it like you would a normal sanitary pad. Pretty much instant relief for sore perineal muscles, swollen and sensitive areas and completely episiotomy and tear friendly.

Sitz Bath

I'm sure you've heard of them, but what are they exactly? Well, they are a blend of healing herbs that you add to a shallow pool of bath water to sit in. It's used to cleanse, as well as soothe. Earth Mama, Anointment and Happy Rock Holistics all make lovely herb bath remedies for postpartum use.

Relief for Swelling

Another thing that you can use to help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by vaginal childbirth and swelling is a bottom spray.With soothing ingredients like witch hazel and peppermint, a spray like this just might come in handy for other things like bug bites and sunburns!

Put your feet up!

If you had an epidural, there is a good likelihood that you will have some swelling in your legs. To help the fluid drain, keep your feet up as much as possible. I found lying on the couch with my legs up over the back of the couch to be the most effective, even if it was super awkward.

When it hurts to sit...

Sit on a pillow. The further down you have to go, the more it is going to hurt those sensitive areas that are still healing. Put a pillow on the seat in the car, on the couch, on the recliner or glider. Elevate the spots where you will sit so you don't have to squat down as far.

Cramping

You may find after vaginal childbirth that you have a decent amount of cramping in your abdomen. Totally normal, and they likely remind you of the cramps you get around the time of your period. A hot water bottle or heating pad on your tummy may bring relief, as might an herbal tea with ginger (which will also help with any queasiness during postpartum recovery), peppermint essential oils massaged onto your tummy and ibuprofen.


When all else fails, remember that your body has just been put through something fairly traumatic that it likely has never done before. Take it easy, be kind to your body! Listen to it when it feels like you need to slow down. Have a bath with epsom salts for weary arm and leg muscles.

Take your time! I promise it will feel better soon!

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Toddler Anger Management

Yes, you read that title right. If you have a three or four year old in your home, you probably are all too familiar with the clenched fists and whiney-scream that result from a frustrated toddler who is trying to express their emotions.




I have worked with another doula client when her little guy was experiencing some anger and frustration when his new brother came home, and we looked at a few different scenarios.

Yes, our attention is split when there are multiple kiddos in the house and yes...the baby always wins. For her, her eldest would act out agressively whenever she was nursing. For me, our oldest turns on the whine whenever we are feeding the baby. Jealousy? Of course, but look at how it manifests in your little one.

What worked for her little guy was a Caught You Being Good jar. He really took to this idea and his behaviour changed dramatically when he started getting caught for being good, had positive reinforcement, and his good behaviour became the focus as opposed to the less-than-great behaviour.

To make your own Caught You Being Good jar, there are loads of ideas on Pinterest.

For mine, he clenches his fists and starts swinging. It might be at me, it might be at himself. Strangely, it is never at his baby. (thankfully!)

Around here, we have a rule. If you're feeling angry, ask for a cuddle.

So what do we do? We ask..."Owen are you angry?" when he says that he is, we ask what he needs. With the angriest of voices, he says "a cuddle". He seems to need that physical touch, that little bit of pressure of mom or dad's arms wrapped around him so that he can take a big deep breath, and settle down.

Then we talk it out, and talk about a new learning angle. This is something that his teachers use at school, a new learning angle every week. So, sometimes we will say "this week, your learning angle is to cooperate" and we talk about what that word means.

Sort of like the word on the street on Sesame Street. He seems to really get it, and is able to settle down when we use a couple of key phrases.

How do you deal with an angry toddler? If you have any tips to share, please do!!

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Tips for Tandem Nursing

Last fall, I posted in a new mom facebook group that I've belonged to for a few years, asking if there were any topics that they wished they could read up on while they were pregnant so as to prepare themselves for when their baby's were born.

Tandem nursing was on of the topics suggested, and one that I found particularly interesting so I went off searching for information to provide you with a great list of tips for tandem breastfeeding success.


As with breastfeeding a newborn, preparation is key so make sure that you set up a nursing station with all of the essentials:
Water
Nipple cream
Pillows
Receiving blankets
Snacks
Keep your nursing station stocked so you have everything at reach.

Finding a local support group or lactation consultant can also do wonders. While reading articles and doing research is great, hands on knowledge is even better. Link up with a doula, a friend who has successfully tandem nursed, or a local breastfeeding group.

Nursing one is exhausting. Nursing two is even moreso. Make sure that you're getting regular rest. The old saying of sleep when the baby(s) sleep is even more true when you are tandem breastfeeding. Give yourself a bed time and stick to it!

Experiment with different holds until you are comfortable and look at where you are sitting when you nurse. You may need extra room for wiggly babies, so consider upgrading your glider to a larger recliner or chair-and-a-half. In terms of hold, some moms have experienced great success with lying babies one on top of the other across her belly. Others prefer a rugby or football hold, which makes sense. One arm per baby.

If you are tandem nursing a baby and a toddler, put together a basket of toys for the toddler to play with during sessions when they aren't nursing. As with most other things, toddlers need distraction when you are tending to a newborn. Coloring books, crayons, stickers to create their own story pages, and puppets are all fantastic options which are also quiet, so as to contribute to a peaceful atmosphere for everyone.

Breastfeeding is hard work, so be sure to surround yourself with people who support your choices and make you feel confident in them.

Have a tip for other tandem nursing moms out there? Leave it in the comments!

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Self Care Challenge: March

Can you smell it? Feel it?

Spring.

It's right around the corner. If you still have snow on the ground, I bet the tiny crocus have popped out to show their beauty. Spring is almost here...you can almost touch it!

This month for self care, we are focusing on fun.


I bet your haven't put yourself first in a long while and had a simple night of fun, out with your friends.

No dirty diapers to change
No babies to feed
No midnight murmurings on the baby monitor

Book a night with your girlfriends, and spend some time getting ready. Have a long, hot shower (when was the last time that you had one of those?!), complete with singing at the top of your lungs. Put on your fancy heels, a bit of bling and an extra layer of lipgloss.

Oh! And double check for spit up stains on your way out the door! If you have one, a baby wipe should clean it off pretty easily!
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Gratitude Mandala

While searching for the perfect graphic for this post, I stumbled across the idea of a gratitude mandala and thought that it would be the perfect idea for this months gratitude exercise.



Think of a recent experience or hardship. Often, it is these trying moments and times where trauma breaks through where we see our true strength and there are the most lessons to be learned. It is also in this space where we have the most to be thankful for.

What will your gratitude mandala look like?

For me, I am thankful for the experience of birth trauma. Yeah, I know...kind of sick, right? Well, for me, birth trauma brought me to where I am today. It showed me my true power and strength. It showed me resolve. It tested my limits and shook the very core of who I am.

But I will be forever grateful, because the outcome was Owen. I look at that little guy, who will be five in just a few months, and I am grateful that he is here. He is my anchor, and he holds me steady. He's a constant, and as much as he tests my patience, I know that it's only tested because he is so very much like his mom. My passion, my resolve, my core shines through in him and that is pretty amazing to witness.

What will your gratitude mandala look like?

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5 Ways To Love Who You Are

This year for Valentine's Day, take the focus off the candy, chocolate, hand drawn hearts and sparkly things. (just for a second, then you can go right back to being spoiled by your valentine!)

Take a look at who you are and consider for a moment...do you love who you are? There are probably elements of who you are that you really like...

Maybe you've been doing the squat challenge and you really like your booty
Perhaps you've taken a painting class and found a hobby that you really enjoy with a hidden talent you're proud of

But...do you love you?


Be proud

Have you accomplished something really awesome lately, but were too humble to take the credit and celebrate it? Shout that accomplishment from the rooftops. Take credit where credit is due and be proud of your accomplishments! Too often, we as women shy away from praise and I personally think that is a load of you-know-what. Take the praise, be thankful for it!

Appreciate your stretch marks

Sure, they're deemed unsightly by society for the most part and more often than not are photoshopped out of magazine spreads. But consider this...they carried love, once...twice...three time. They carried an immense amount of love and etched something so profound and unconditional onto your heart. Love them. Embrace them.

Indulge

Maybe it's a pair of diamond earrings, or maybe it's as simple as a new lipgloss. Again, as mom's and women we put our needs last. Well, today is your day to go out and buy yourself something pretty. Just because it's for you, and just because you can.

Tap a nap

Seriously, sister friend...go take a nap. And not the kind where you have to set your alarm to get up at a specific time. The kind where you mindfully put yourself to sleep, in the good sheets and wearing your favorite pajamas. The kind where you lock your bedroom door and put in ear plugs so you don't have to hear the gentle knocking of the kiddos. Let yourself rest.

Have a secret chocolate stash

Again...you probably put yourself last. You sacrifice the last bit of milk for the kiddos cereal and your coffee goes without. You give up the last waffle or pancake at breakfast because someone else just had to have it, meanwhile you haven't even been able to sit down and eat yet. So I propose this. This Valentine's Day, buy your absolute favorite chocolate and hide it. Don't even tell your husband. Just stash it away and when he asks hey do we have anything sweet? answer him with you've got me! I've totally done this on a handful of occasions and, while he always finds my stash, it's mine and mine alone for about a whole day.

Happy Valentine's Day, mama! You deserve the world!

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How to Create a Safe Space at Home

One thing that I hear over and over again from my postpartum doula clients is that once they become a mom, they feel lost and overwhelmed. Suddenly, the essence of who they are has changed and now they are being called on for feedings, diaper changes, meal prep for the rest of the family, cleaning the house, and the list goes on and on.

So how do you create a space that is just for you, within the walls of your chaotic home?


Think about the things that you truly enjoyed prior to becoming a mom. Maybe you really loved to curl up with a favorite blanket in a comfortable chair with a beautiful book and warm cup of tea. Perhaps you like to get your hands dirty with clay and a pottery wheel. Make a list of the things that you really loved...things that make you truly happy.

Now, look at your list and consider the space that you have in your home. Maybe you have an unfinished basement and a pottery wheel would be totally doable. Maybe you don't have that space but you have a lovely corner in the nursery where you could put a reading chair and side table.

Then, make the space uniquely yours. In my art studio, for example, I have an area for creating at a high table with lots of storage under neath. Then, I have my rocking chair, side table and stack of books off to the side, with a cozy blanket. The entire room is just for me, and only those who are invited in are allowed. It is my space, and I feel safe, free and like myself when I am in it.

On my cork board, I have inspiring phrases about being awesome, drawings that I have done of arrows and anchors, and badges of honour that I want to be able to look back on and learn from. I also have pictures of those important people who have etched their way on to my heart, those folks who are proud of where I came from and who I am becoming. Reminders of why I do what I do, and how hard I push myself.

So...what does your safe space look like? Is it an entire room, or a corner of a shared space where your family can see you taking time out for yourself? Full of books, or empty for self reflection?

Whatever the space, make sure that it is yours. Make sure that you feel safe, grounded and secure there. Make sure to take care of your heart.


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