Sunday, August 21, 2011

Newborns Basic Needs

 A newborn baby has only three demands.  They are warmth in the arms of its mother, 
food from her breasts, and 
security in the knowledge of her presence. 
Breastfeeding satisfies all three
~Grantly Dick-Read

Babies are born with such basic needs. They need food, warmth, safety and comfort. The baby business industry would have a new mom feel inadequate. They push products and programs for everything from feeding to learning. A new parent can easily feel overwhelmed at the amount of marketing, disguised as information. Unless a woman needs to pump her breasts for medical reasons or to go back to work, it is not even necessary to purchase an expensive breast pump. 
Frequent nursing in the arms of her mother, spending time in her arms or sling and co sleeping all encourage the babies neuro development and growth. 
The time will come soon enough when her baby will venture out into the world. But for now, let her snuggle in the safety of her mother's arms.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Increasing Your Milk Supply

Making enough milk for your baby is a concern all new mom's face. While some could pump enough for multiples, many women find that their milk supply less than what their growing baby needs.

First: Determine if there is a real need for more milk.
Is baby gaining enough weight?
Is he/she eliminating appropriate for her age? 

Successful breastfeeding tips:
  1. No artificial nipples! (no pacifiers, bottles, etc) for the first few weeks.
  2. Rest. Making milk is a new mom's primary occupation, resting gives the body a chance to focus.
  3. Hydrate. Drink a 10-12 ounce glass of water every time you nurse. Water in helps milk production. 
  4. Herbal tea. Fenugreek, mother wort and red raspberry leaf  herbal teas can help increase milk production.
  5. Nursing-In. Take an in house retreat, by taking baby to bed for 2 days, mom and baby naked from the waist up. Skin to skin contact, frequent nursing, extra fluids for mom, healthy meals and snacks, lots of naps for both can help restore a diminished milk supply.
Relax. Get help when you need it. Take care of yourself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Early Labor To Do List

Labor. Just the sound of the word sounds like work to me. While having a baby is labor intensive (pun intended!), for some there are hours of prodromal (early and light) labor. For me, my labors always started with hours of light contractions that I could easily function around. My philosophy has always been to stay engaged with what you were doing before labor started as long as you can. There will come a point when your body will no longer allow you to be distracted. But in the meant time, find a labor project to keep the mind busy while the body gets things going.

Here is a partial list of some of my early labor activities with my six babies:

  • shopping (with my first baby, early contractions started while birthday shopping for family members at the mall).
  • walking around the block with my kids 
  • playing in the back yard with my kids
  • cooking
  • taking my daughter to the DMV for her license (funny story!)
  • shopping for nursing bras
  • grocery run for last minute items
  • scrubbing the floor
  • making the labor bed
  • fixing last minute snacks to hold the kids over
  • laundry
  • reading with my kids
  • picnic in the backyard
  • crocheting
  • watching movies (on tv)
  • pelvic rocks
  • scrubbing the bathtub
  • out for Mexican food
  • eating
  • making red raspberry leaf tea
  • drinking water, juices, herbal teas with honey
  • napping
  • cuddling
  • making love
  • relaxing in our pool
Remember, these were all things I COULD do.
The conditions must be favorable to continue such activities, such as:

  • bag of water intact
  • contractions light and infrequent
  • always with another adult (my husband accompanied me on the walks, and grocery shopping)
  • no alarming signs such as heavy bleeding or fever
For me, there was plenty of real life to keep me busy in early labor. Of course, if my life hadn't been so full, I could have worked on a baby blanket or scrap booked our latest vacation. And  of course, the active work such as scrubbing the floor and walking actually help labor along.

Then there  are the women who head straight into active labor with no smooth climb up the mountain. They do not have time to think about a labor project. They already have one!

For those of  you who had long early labor, what activities did you do?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy BIRTHday, Sam!

Sam turns 11 on August 12. My baby, my youngest kiddo. And, of course, does not like being referred to as "my baby." But he is. My labor with him was a little crazy. After nightly contractions for nearly a week  past my due date, I was ready to throw in the towel and agree to just keep him in there a little longer. On Friday morning, I woke up with a "to do" list longer than my arm. Light contractions that I heartily ignored kept coming all morning. At 10 am I drove Angela, my 16 year old daughter to the DMV to take her drivers exam.  I tried to help calm her nerves while silently calming my own nervousness inside. Here was my oldest child taking her drivers test while my body pleaded to bring forth my youngest the same time. Crazy! We made it through her test, managed lunch and play dates for the afternoon, and took Angela to the mall for her part time job. She was surprised when I got out of the car to run for some last minute items. (Unfortunately the department store didn't have my size nursing bra in stock and would order for me. When would I need it? Uh, we could barely contain our laughter....) After a dinner of pizza delivered by our local pizza shop, I was ready to deliver this baby. Finally, I decided it was time to actually lay down, maybe rest a bit somewhere around 9 pm. At midnight my husband called the midwife, saying it was time. She was on her way to a home where they were having thier first baby. She promptly turned the car around and headed to my house. She arrive just in time to catch our healthy baby boy, born just before 1 am on August 12. Angela was my doula, a job she didn't ask for, but willingly did. And she was amazing! I love retelling my kids birth stories. No matter how old they are or how old I become, those days will always be some of the best days of my life. Sam, Happy Birthday buddy! I love you!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Breastfeeding: What's In It for Mom?

We all know that breastmilk is the perfect food for newborns. The American Academy of Pediatrics enthusiastically supports breastfeeding for today's infants. Breastmilk is  a live food, easily digested, and helps prevent allergies and ear infections in little ones.

But what about the benefits for mom? Beyond the obvious benefits of convenience (no bottles) and low cost (free), how does breastfeeding benefit a new mom?
  • Biggest loser. Breastfeeding moms lose their pregnancy weight easily since they are burning an extra  500 calories a day.
  • Keep the tata's. Breastfeeding helps reduce a woman's chance of getting breast and other reproductive cancers.
  • Chill time. The hormones responsible for milk production also help mom relax. Oxytocin, relaxin and other hormones released when breastfeeding are calming.
When it comes to taking care of mom and baby, breastfeeding accomplishes both.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Labor Tips for Dads

Most guys come to my childbirth class totally wondering how they got dragged there in the first place. Not for lack of love and caring for their wife and new baby, but because they are out of their comfort zone. I reassure them that they are already the best labor support for their partner. After all, she chose him to be her partner in life. For better or worse. Having a baby is about as much "life" as it gets, and encompasses both the "better and the worse."

Here's a few tips for guys who find their palms sweaty at the thought of supporting their beloved during the most intense and wonderful day of their lives together:

  •  Go ahead.....attend childbirth classes and learn along with your expectant wife/partner.
  •  Be as involved in her care as you are comfortable, such as going to some of the appointments, helping her make healthy food choices and offering to take walks with her.
  • Make plans ahead of time for how your place of employment will handle your sudden absence for the birth. Anything that can be done ahead of time should be taken care of well in advance of her due date.
  • Take the guess work out of helping her in labor. Ask her what helps her relax, exactly how she likes to be massaged, etc. Open communication is essential.
  • Talk to the belly. Your interest in her growing belly is another way for you to bond as a growing family.
  • Take the time to read some of the things she is learning, and ask questions about things you don't understand. Respect her feelings and her wishes on certain subjects, but don't be afraid to engage conversations about sensitive issues. 
Above all, be open, receptive and interested. Your baby's birth is a big event for both of you.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Why I Teach Bradley Childbirth

    (This is a copy of an essay I wrote on Facebook the other day...just a repeat here for anyone who might have missed it!)

    I have been teaching birthing classes to expectant moms and their partners for over two decades. Mostly my classes were held in my living room, turned classroom. The kids and I would spend class day sweeping, dusting and transforming our family room area into a peaceful and clean oasis for the new mamas and papas. This year I moved my class room to an off site location so that my kids could feel a measure of privacy in our now very small townhome. There just isnt't the space for big classes in the smallish living room, filled with rock band accessories, musical instruments and art supplies.

    But I did decide to go ahead and teach my private classes in this smaller setting. So on Monday this week we were doing our "deep clean" ritual, right down to the yucky crumbs under the couch. As we were all grumbling about cleaning, it dawned on me why I still teach. When my first beautiful baby was born by Cesarean section, my body responded by shooting my blood pressure up to dangerous levels. I was sedated and drugged for nearly a week as the doctors and nurses tip toed around my bed, hoping to avert any seizure activity in this young mama. I was numb and out of it. I guess that was to my advantage, because I didin't know until much later how dangerous my situation had become......

    Fast forward two and half years. At the suggestion of a friend, I took a Bradley Childbirth Class. Short story, I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy on August 2, 1986 with no drugs or surgery. I was ecstatic! We had decided that if I had a repeat of the first dangerous birth, then he would be our last child.

    Happily, the story doesn't end there. With a beautiful strong birth story under my belt, I trained to become a Bradley teacher myself. And went on to have four more awesome babies.....alll without drugs or surgery. .....

    So, when my three YOUNGEST children were helping me clean for Bradley, it was a sobering thought...if not for my successful Bradley birth with thier older brother, they might not have been born. With that change of heart and perspective we joyfully cleaned right down to the dustboards and cobwebs.

    My heart is full, and I am so grateful that I have the awesome privilege to mother 6 great kids!