When you hear the term "doula" many people think of hippy women in long skirts dancing around at home births with animals and birds and rainbows... I admit I used to think of myself as one of these doulas, but I'm going to tell you why I don't see my profession like this anymore, and why I don't think you should either...
When I became a doula in 2014 I was a hard core "crunchy" doula (mind you at this point I did not have any children of my own yet). I believed in anti-vaccines, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, etc. AND worst of all, I felt this was a one-size-fits all category. I thought that everyone should make these decisions because WHY NOT? Sure I still supported clients that didn't make these choices, but in my heart I was conflicted. I didn't understand what would make parents not want to be as "crunchy" as possible.
Then I found Prodoula and chose to begin the journey of recertification.
It seemed like almost overnight I had an epiphany. I realized that not only was I not providing "truly unbiased support" but I was judging my clients (without even realizing it). I began to research and study and realized that ....
EVERY FAMILY IS DIFFERENT!
EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT!
EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT!
How could I, as a doula, make these assumptions and decisions for all families? How could I feel that I knew best for everyone without even knowing them? These questions haunted me, I thought about them constantly, and finally I realized I was growing as a doula and as a human being.
What may work for one family may not work for another. What may have worked for a family's first child may not work for the second one. I realized that I needed to throw my ideas of being a "perfect parent" or "perfect family" out the window. I needed to come alongside these families and aide them in being the best family they can be in this period of time. I needed to provide them with the information and resources that they need to make the best informed decisions they can for their family. Most of all I needed to support and commend them in making the best decisions for them.
Prodoula helped me to realize all of this. They helped me to realize that I could be a strong business owner who supports ANYONE who comes to me for help. Not just one specific group of moms, or dads, or families.
I have lots of parents ask me if I support them in choosing "X,Y,Z" and my answer is always, "YES! I support you!" I don't want you to feel bad or judged about your choices. Parenting is hard enough already without feeling judged, manipulated, and watched every second of the day.
So no matter what decisions you make, whether it be:
Cloth Diapers/ Disposables
Vaccines/ No Vaccines
Epidural/ Natural Birth
Whatever that decision may be, or if you are somewhere in between...
You are not alone!
You have support and help every step of the way!
Yes, it may take time to figure out where exactly you fall in all of these things, but know you are not alone, that every parent out there is also mulling over these decisions too.
Leave a comment of what your toughest decision has been in pregnancy or parenting!
When you have an infant over the holidays one of the major questions you get asked is "what does baby want for Christmas?" Most of the time this question is overwhelming because you feel awkward giving them a specific item, or you may not know what the baby might want! So here are three gift ideas per age group that are items that are great for that age group, and may be the forgotten items that you will end up purchasing later.
Babies 0-3 Months
Tummy Time Mat- These are great items to allow baby some cushioning on the floor and play and explore in their little world with colors, sounds, and toys. There are lots of types, some grow and change with baby as they get older, and some are specifically for tummy time.
Price Range: High/Moderate
Specific Recommendation: Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym, Infantino Go GaGa Tummy Time Mat
Sound Machine- These are great items if you feel baby is waking up a lot or you don't have the quietest home. They provide different sounds to help drown out the nose around them.
Price Range: Moderate
Specific Recommendation: Skip Hop Owl Soother and Sound Machine, Dohm by Marpac Natural White Noise Sound Machine
Tag Blankets/ Soft Toys- Toys that have different textures are a great way for baby to develop their sense of touch. There are all different types and sizes, so you're sure to find something your baby will love!
Price Range: Low
Specific Recommendation: Infantino Topsy Turvy Soft & Snuggly Lovie Pal - Cow
Babies 3-6 Months
Exersaucers or Jumpers- This is a great time to start getting baby upright and they will love it too! They are starting to see more of their world and love this new perspective!
Price Range: High
Specific Recommendations: Baby Einstein Rhythm of the Reef Activity Saucer
Bath Toys- This is the age that your baby is starting to like and engage in toys. Spending time in the bath can help strengthen and develop baby's motor skills and their hand eye coordination. (Make sure to avoid squirt toys as they can get moldy fast! If you do choose those type, put a little bit of hot glue in the holes so water can not get inside)
Price Range: Low/Moderate
Specific Recommendations:Munchkin Bath Time Turtles, Munchkin Bath Bobbers
Teethers- This is the age where most babies begin to get teeth, and its a safe bet you'll be trying everything you can find to help with their pain. This would be a great time to stock up on some different types of teethers to try in the future!
Price Range: Low
Specific Recommendations: Infantino Go GaGa Squeeze and Teethe Toys, Skip Hop Explore & More Roll-Around Hedgehog
Babies 6-9 Months
High Chair- Typically babies begin feeding between 6 months and a year, so this is a great time to get your high chair. There are lots of different types and brands, so make sure you do some research and choose what is best for your family!
Price Range: High
Specific Recommendations: Chicco Stack 3 in 1 Highchair
Convertible Car Seat- Baby might be getting to big or too heavy to car around in that infant seat much longer! This is a great time to invest in a car seat that will last!
Price Range: Moderate/ High
Specific Recommendations: Diono or Chicco
Toddler Table Settings- Cups, Plates, Bowls, Utensils Oh My! There are LOTS of things you will need once your baby begins to eat, so why not stock up now?
Price Range: Low
Specific Recommendations: There are lots of great products in this area, you just have to find what works best for your child. Tommee Tippee and Munchkin are two great brands to look at.
Babies 9-12 Months
Walker- Baby might be walking already, but if they need an extra hand for stability or just a little extra self confidence these can give baby a little extra hand to begin walking independently.
Price Range: High/Moderate
Specific Recommendations: Vtech Sit to Stand Learning Walker
Table and Chairs- This is the time where baby might be wanting to eat more independently, or they may be interested in toys that are more of a "table top" activity (puzzles, coloring, etc)
Price Range: Moderate/High
Specific Recommendations: Step2 Lifestyle Dining Room Table and Chairs Set
Blocks- Babies can use their creativity and develop fine motor skills at the same time.
Price Range: Low
Specific Recommendations: Infantino Go GaGa 12-Piece Block Set
Remember those essential items too! They may be perfect for someone who needs a little gift or a small add on!
Some things to think about:
Hair clips (for girls)
Bath Care Items
Whats at the top of your baby's wish list?
Most of us have heard of Postpartum Mood Disorders, but did you know its a REAL thing to have the same issues during pregnancy? These symptoms are classified as Antepartum Mood Disorders and yes, they are REAL!
Many women overlook the symptoms and signs of Antepartum Mood Disorders because they didn't know they existed. They also may attribute the things they are feeling to hormones, lack of sleep, or just the adjustment of having a child soon.
But what symptoms could classify as a Antepartum Mood Disorder?
Untreated Antepartum Mood Disorders during pregnancy can have harmful affects on your health and the health of your baby.
Some of the affects that could occur are:
If you feel that you are dealing with any of these symptoms, please reach out for help! You do NOT have to go through this alone, and there are many ways to deal with Antepartum Mood Disorders.
If you would like help finding resources or need someone to talk to please email BrightHorizonsDoula@gmail.com
Here are some great resources to utilize if you feel you or someone you know could use some help!
There are so many options and opinions on where your baby should (or could) sleep.
I can't sit here and tell you to buy one specific product and your baby will sleep through the night, or even part of the night. I can tell you about several different options that are available though and what the main features are.
1.) co-sleeper- these come in two types, ones that are in the bed and ones that are out of the bed. These are great for breastfed babies because baby is right there throughout the night. They are also great if you plan to keep baby in the room with you and have a lack of space, but don't want to partake in "traditional" co-sleeping.
Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper
This is the original co-sleeper and has some great features, and has grown into many more options now-
This is the top of the line co-sleeper made by Halo which also has music, a light, and vibrates-
2.) Pack and Play- These come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. This is traditionally used as a portable place for baby to sleep but is also very convenient for parents who want to be able to move baby around the house or parents who are on the go. This is also a much longer use product because of the way it is designed, especially if you get one with an attachable bassinet.
Graco has some fantastic options and lots of price points-
This is the cadillac of pack and plays made by 4MOMS-
3.) Crib- Putting baby right into a crib can be great! This is a great option for parents who have the room for a crib whether it is in their room or in a separate room for baby.
Delta has some great options in plenty of price points for parents to choose from, and they are also carried in most big box baby stores.
A great option for parent's who want top of the line products that can be kept as heirlooms or to pass down between children.
4) Rock and Play- This is a great option for babies who have colic or reflux. It is created on an incline and rocks so baby is comfortable. This is a product that does not last a long period but is a great asset for many parents!
This is the original rock 'n play. They offer automatic or stationary so you have a choice.
Sitting in church last night the topic of our MOPs night was friendship. I sat there watching this video about how this mom had all these amazing friends and they all did life together. I know that she wasn't but it totally felt like she was sitting there gloating. She talked about how friends fight and you have to just get through it. It felt like she was talking to so many of us in the room.
Sure its great to have mom friends but where do you find them?
How do you not get discouraged when you don't find them right away?
What if the ones you thought were the "perfect friend" let you down?
and the worst but "has to be asked question"...
What happens when you value that friendship more than they do?
Most of my friends don't have children yet, so I feel like I've kind of been left on the curb as they've moved on. Its been hard, sad, and discouraging.
Trying to find new friends has also been hard, I mean its not like I'm in school anymore where I befriend the girl sitting next to me and we have nights of studying and coffee dates.
Where do I find friends in this new stage of life?
How do I make sure that my son has playmates?
I wanted to share what I have found since becoming a mom and where to find "mom friends" (even though I'm still working on this goal!) I could tell by the looks on some of the other mom's faces that they were as confused as lost as I am!
So here are 10 places to find "mom friends" and work towards having that utopia that the mom in the video talked about.
1.) The Library- just going and sitting with your children and looking at books or attending a library program will help you to get out there and be around other parents in a non threatening setting.
2.) The Park- Usually your children will go run and play and you will be on the sidelines, so why not reach out and talk to another mom or dad standing around too?
3.) Local "baby stores"- I've actually become friends with someone in the aisle at Modern Natural Baby (a local "crunchy" mom store)
4.) Mommy and Me Classes- this one is a little more challenging if you have a hard time putting yourself out there, but it forces you to be around a small group of moms, and through the weeks of class you will probably get to know each other.
5.) Local Parenting Classes- maybe take a CPR or First Aid class, something that is educational but gives you a little adult time.
6.) Adult Classes- Maybe its a painting class or a dance class but something that isn't "child based" and "adults only"
7.)Mom Groups- These are usually based for stay at home moms but some offer evening or weekend events too!
8.) Church- (this one may not be for everyone!) Most churches have children's events and allow the parents some time to socialize!
9.) Meetup.com- This is a great website where you can find local events and groups basically geared towards any interest you may have!!
10)Facebook Groups (or any social media)- These are great because you can talk and get to know people before you meet face to face!
Some Sites to Check Out!
For some mothers breastfeeding can be extremely challenging for a vast amount of reasons. One of the biggest reasons that mothers will stop breastfeeding is if they feel they are not producing enough milk. Here are 15 tips that may help you stay on track and keep breastfeeding to meet your goal!
1.) Make sure you are drinking PLENTY of water! Aim for approximately 100oz per day.
2.) Make sure you are eating enough! Breastfeeding mothers still need about 300-500 extra calories per day!
3.) Eat things that have oatmeal,
4.) Drink Gatorade (or another type of sports drink) if you want a natural drink try coconut milk.
5.) Make or buy lactation cookies, they have ingredients that help increase supply.
6.) Extra skin to skin time with baby
7.) Rest, it will help your body work to produce more milk.
8.) Fenugreek- this is an herb which can help with production, it can cause gas in some babies though!
9.) Nurse as much as possible, it will stimulate your body that you need more milk.
10.) If you are pumping- you can power pump or add in extra pumping sessions.
11.) Massaging your breast when pumping or nursing.
12.) Lactation Smoothies- There are lots of great recipes for these online!
13.) Try to relax! (easier said than done I know) this will help though!
14.) Add Brewer's Yeast and Flax seed to your diet
15.) See a lactation specialist!
If you need help increasing your supply or finding help in your area, comment below or send a message!
Becoming a mother when you don't have your own mother to lean on is VERY hard.
You don't have a person to call with every symptom or pain to see if it is "normal"...
You don't have someone to go shopping for baby clothes and all the other "cute stuff"
You don't have someone to call when reading the 1,000 articles about what you "really need" to bring baby home and say "Mom, do I really need 8 different kinds of butt paste?"
But that is only the beginning of not having a mom there, and most people don't "get it". They say "oh well you have your husband/significant other, thats what they are there for!" and you want to scream! You want to tell them that you need your mom so you can learn to be just like her. That your husband has the slightest interest in butt paste, onesies, and which shade of blue the nursery should be. Yes there are other people there too, but they don't "get" these things like your mom would. They don't understand why certain things seem so important to you, or why others don't.
When baby is born and you want your mom to be the first person to hold them and realize she can't, and she never will hold them. In the middle of the night when baby is screaming for you and you are crying because you need your mom too. You need your mom, your rock, your cheerleader. You need that one person who can sit with you and make you feel like you are the best mom in the world, because that is what they were to you.
You have to learn to be an amazing mother without her being there to help you.
THAT is the hardest thing about being a motherless mother. Not being able to have someone show you the way. Someone that is there for every failure and triumph. Someone that is there to laugh when your baby throws up on you for the first time, or pees on you, to help make light of how gross you feel. No one else cares about those little moments the way your mother would.
The second hardest thing about being a motherless mother is the jealousy and anger. You REALLY try not to feel it, you don't want anyone to see how sad and angry seeing that bond really makes you. You see a friend with their mom out shopping for a crib and instantly cringe. You are on the phone with a friend and they say their mom is taking the kids for the weekend and you instantly become angry, you think, "I could use a break, my mom would know that". Your friend complains that her mom is "always there" to be around the baby and it takes everything in your power to not burst into tears and tell her how lucky she really is.
When you realize that your child will not be able to experience the person your mother was. The special bowl for chicken noodle soup when you are sick. The new coloring book when you're having a bad day. The trips for ice cream when you're sad. Knowing that your child will have a void because of your loss. Having to try to show your child how amazing your mom was, and trying to be that amazing too.
When you have a loss like that in your life, it hurts and cuts you to the core. What most don't understand is those wounds open back up again at different stages of your life. When you have the loss of your mom when you are young and know she still had so much left to teach you.
This isn't being written to make you sad or feel bad, its to show that there are others out there in the exact same position. That you are not alone, even though you do have this GIGANTIC void in your life.
You will learn who you can call to go shopping or grab coffee. You will figure out that talking to your child about your mom is amazing therapy. That looking at photos will help you to not only tell your child about your mom, but help you to remember things too. It will make you cherish those "silly" family traditions and drive you to start ones of your own.
Make sure that you take the pictures, and write out the memories for your child. So if and when you pass, they will have those things to pass on too. <3
If you are having a hard time dealing with motherhood and being motherless, check out these great resources:
Motherless Mothers: How Losing a Mother Shapes the Parent You Become
Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, Second Edition
Support Groups: http://hopeedelman.com/support-groups/
Swaddling... Its like a magical thing..
Baby won't sleep? Swaddle them!
Baby is fussy? Swaddle them!
Baby is cold? Swaddle them!
But what exactly IS swaddling?
Swaddling is when you wrap a baby tightly in a blanket, basically to replicate the feelings of being in the womb.
What if Swaddling is too hard or baby does not like it?
There are some fantastic products on the market today that help with swaddling quicker, tighter, or easier. Most babies LOVE to be swaddled but of course there are those out there that do not! As always gage what your baby needs or wants!
Here are three products that could help if your baby does not like being swaddled with a "traditional" blanket!
1.) The Halo Sleep Sack- Many hospitals are now using these as an alternative to blankets! They come in cotton or fleece so you can choose which fabric is best for baby! They make swaddling a breeze, and allow baby to move their legs naturally (in case you have a little Houdini like I did!
2.) The Woombie- One stop shop! You place baby in, zip up and you are done! This is great if you think that swaddling is too hard or you have a fidgety baby! These come in a cotton/spandex blend and are available in multiple sizes.
3.) The Zipadee-Zip- This blanket provides a slight resistance but allows for baby to move freely. It is a star shaped design to help baby have more room. This is used for babies that are transitioning out of a "traditional" swaddle but still need some extra soothing. These come in different fabrics and also three different sizes!
Important things to remember:
Always make sure you lay baby down on their back
Once baby begins rolling over, they can not be swaddled anymore
Always make sure baby's airway is not blocked and baby is able to move their head