The Benefits of Belly Binding

Nashville Doula Services now offers belly binding services!

What is Postpartum Belly Binding? 

Belly binding is a tradition in many eastern cultures.  The practice involves using special knots to tie a long strip of cloth around the abdomen – sometimes after applying an herbal paste or essential oils to the abdomen – during the postpartum recovery period  to support a woman’s uterus and other organs after childbirth. The Bengkung style of belly binding seen here is specific to the Malaysian culture. 

Benefits of Postpartum Belly Binding:

  • It helps to slim the ribcage, abdomen and hips.
  • Pulls in the separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) back together.
  • Encourages healing from pelvic/pubic separation (a partial bind during pregnancy can be especially beneficial for pelvic support).
  • Supports relaxed and stretched out muscles.
  • Reduce fluid and air retention in bowels/abdomen. 
  • Gets rid of the “empty” feeling after childbirth.
  • Nurtures the mother in a time of vulnerability and healing.
  • Prevents back pain. While wearing it, you are reminded to sit and walk straight, a good antidote to the “nursing-slouch”.
  • Decreases postpartum bleeding time by speeding up the process of getting rid of waste blood in a natural way. 
  • It’s an ancient traditional natural way of healing after birth.
  • In the case of a miscarriage or still-birth, belly binding can improve emotional healing as it speeds physical healing.
  • It feels good!

Belly Binding FAQ

Q: How long should I wear the binding?

A: Traditionally, the Malaysian belly bind is done  for the entire postpartum “confinement” period, which is 30-40 days in the cultures that observe this practice. This is unpractical for modern day living, and the results diminish after a week or two.  We’ve found the best belly binding  length to be 12-24 hours for 5 – 10 days.

Q: When do I start belly binding?

A: 2-5 days postpartum after a vaginal birth and 4-6 weeks postpartum after a c-section. 

Q: What makes belly binding different from western postpartum girdles like Belly Bandit?

A: Its length and the custom fit. A Malaysian Belly Bind is a long wrap that covers from under the chest all the way down to below the hips. This way, it doesn’t just work on the waist, but also helps the ribcage and the hips go back to their former dimensions. It also stays put when you move, and so it doesn’t press on the abdomen. Girdles that only bind the abdomen also push down on the pelvic floor muscles and organs, potentially causing or worsening pelvic, uterine, or bladder prolapse. The custom fit cannot be found anywhere else, and this improves the results you will see. 

Q: How effective is belly binding compared to a postpartum girdle, like the ones you can buy at  Wal-mart? 

A: Imagine the difference between buying pants that claim to fit everyone, regardless of size or shape and getting custom-fitted by a professional. What would be more comfortable? The custom fit is, of course, going to give you the best results. Likewise the traditional belly bind is a custom fit every time. It’s made of soft materials instead of having boning or Velcro like most girdles, which can dig into your skin and be painful when you sit or lay down, especially if you’ve had a cesarean. The Malaysian belly bind is the best option for your time and money if you want the results mentioned above. 

Q: How do I go to the bathroom while wearing the belly bind?

A: I recommend having the belly bind wrapped beneath all of your clothes for the best fit and most comfort and convenience. The most effective belly bind stretches from just below your bust to about mid-hip, near your pelvic bone. For modesty’s sake (and because of heavy postpartum flow) you’ll want to wear whatever underwear (mesh, etc.) while binding. It is still easy enough to pull your underwear out from under the bind the first time you use the bathroom and when you’re finished, simply pull them up over the bind or tuck them back underneath. 

Q: My belly bind bunches, rolls, or moves during the day. How can I keep it from doing that?

The belly bind moves because you move! Realize, the cultures that do this also practice confinement, which is a period after birth where the woman remains in bed the majority of the time. If you are up and moving postpartum, the belly bind is going to shift, bunch, and roll. The only way to prevent this is to move less. Part of what belly binding does is encourage you to be down and resting.

Q: Am I too late to belly bind if I’m x-number of months/years postpartum?

The short answer is no. You can still receive benefits belly binding after 8 weeks postpartum.

Q: You mentioned the belly bind can be useful during pregnancy. Can you tell me more about that? 

A: During pregnancy the hormone Relaxin works to loosen up all our joints in preparation for birth. This enables the baby to move more easily through the normally rigid pelvic area, as it allows bones and joints a greater range of movement. Unfortunately this can also result in greater discomfort during pregnancy when the pubic bone begins to separate. Sitting, laying down, and normal day-to-day movements sometimes become painful or even impossible. The bind can be tied short, giving support to your growing belly as well as your hips and pelvic/pubic bones. It is easier, however, to simply use a scarf, short baby wrap, or rebozo to wrap the hips, rather than have someone come bind you every day. (Please note: misuse of the belly bind during pregnancy without support from a professional can lead to restricted fetal growth and worsened pain, and is not advised).    

Q: Can I still belly bind if I have a c-section?

A: You can still receive belly binding if you have a c-section. We will wait until 4 – 6 weeks postpartum, based on your healing and recovery. The belly bind still has many benefits within the first two months. Depending on your comfort level, I may utilize a Taiwanese form of belly binding that is gentler on the incision site. 

Q: Can I still belly bind if I have a miscarriage or still-birth?

A: You can still receive belly binding if either of these situations occurs, and in fact, the belly bind will speed your emotional as well as physical healing. Contact me for special bereavement pricing.

Q: How much does belly binding cost?

A. It is $150 a session.

Q: How do I sign up for belly binding?

Follow this link!

New Birth Center in Nashville

On our last post, we shared about a new midwifery option offered by WOMEN OB. With an increasing demand for a more hands-off approach to birth, we are excited to share about a new birth center option coming by the end of October to St. Thomas Midtown.

What is the overall vision for this birth center?
The vision is to give low-risk patients access to a home-like environment for a natural, holistic birth within the walls of a highly specialized hospital. This allows women to have the atmosphere conducive for a natural labor, all while having the benefit of a very short transfer (down the hall) to labor and delivery or the OR, should the need arise. The goal is to have a patient-driven, family-centered birth center that will become a community standard. This is the first birth center of its kind within an inpatient facility in Middle Tennessee.

Doulas, Whitney and Vicki, get a sneak peek tour of the new birth center!

Which providers are part of the birth center committee? 
WOMEN OB put together a committee of obstetricians and midwives to make this new birth center a reality. This committee includes:

Dr. Sharon Norman, Dr. Donna Crowe, Kayleigh Holthaus, CNM – WOMEN OB

Dr. Nicole Heidemann, Dr. Reagen Saig   – Tennessee Women’s Care, PC

Dr. Allison Strnad – Heritage Medical Associates

Addie Graham, CNM/FNP – Vine Hill Midwives

Can any provider deliver babies at the birth center? 
Any care provider with practicing rights at St. Thomas Midtown will have rights to deliver at the birth center.

When is the birth center opening?
It is currently scheduled to open by the end of this October.

Where is the birth center located?
The birth center will be located inside of St. Thomas Midtown. Patients will use the same triage entrance as the rest of the L&D floor. However, once admitted into the birth center, double doors will “close off” the birth center from the rest of the hospital, giving patients more privacy.

How many rooms will there be?
The birth center will consist of three rooms in its own hallway, separated by double doors. The rooms have the best view of the downtown Nashville skyline in the whole hospital. 

How will the rooms be different than other hospital rooms?
So much attention to detail went into designing these rooms to make them as home-like as possible within a hospital setting.
Each room will be equipped with:
-Regular, double size beds – no hospital beds
-Walk-in showers
-Labor tubs for hydrotherapy
-Birth ladders
-Birth stools
-Birthing balls and peanut balls
(Don’t know how to use these tools in labor, a doula can help 😉 )

Who is the perfect candidate for the birth center?
The birth center is intended for low-risk mothers. Providers will be given a criteria that the patient must meet in order to qualify for delivery in the birth center. Babies must also be at term (37 weeks+) and healthy in order to deliver at the birth center. 

Because epidurals will not be administered in these rooms, the birth center is for women choosing a natural delivery. Admittance into the birth center rooms will be at active labor (around 5-6cm).

Will VBAC candidates be approved for the Birth Center?
Unfortunately, VBAC (Vaginal birth after Cesarean) will not be permitted in the birth center. 

Will IV Fluids be required?
Saline locks will be recommended but no routine IV fluids will be given. 

What about fetal monitoring? 
The birth center will utilize intermittent monitoring. Portable monitors will be available, as well as scarves to cover up monitors. Another feature of the birth center includes a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio.

Will there be pain medication options?
Nitrous oxide and a short list of IV pain medications will be available.

What if I decide I want an epidural?
Epidurals will not be administered in the birth center rooms. These rooms are intended for women desiring a natural birth. However, if a mother requests an epidural, she will transfer to a standard L&D room, if a room is available. No need to be re-admitted in triage.

What if I end up needing a C-section? 
Similar to an epidural, the birth center is for women planning a natural, vaginal birth. If a C-section becomes necessary, the mother will go down the hall to the OR.

Can I eat or drink during labor?
Yes, a small fridge will be provided for outside food. Although, since women are not being admitted until active labor, most are not going to be wanting to eat very much at that point. But food and drink will be allowed. 

What happens after delivery?
The birth center will provide 4 hours of uninterrupted mother-baby bonding time. After the four hours, the mother will be moved to a standard postpartum room for 8-12 hours. Discharge time will vary depending on the mother’s delivery, desire to leave, and written approval from the pediatrician (made in advance).

What other requirements will there be to birth at the birth center?
Patients wanting to use the birth center will be required to take a mandatory class at St. Thomas by 36 weeks. This does NOT replace a regular childbirth class. Dr. Norman recommends all couples take a natural birthing class

Why do I have to get written approval from our pediatrician?
Typically after a natural, vaginal delivery with no complications, a mother is cleared for discharge within a few hours. However, discharge for babies is dependent on the pediatrician. The state requires screening on a newborn at 24 hours for conditions like congenital heart defects. If the mother would like to go home within a few hours of delivery with her baby, she needs written permission from her pediatrician. If the mother would rather stay the night in a standard postpartum room, she can choose to do so as well.

It is amazing to see the changes and increase of options for pregnant women in Nashville. We can’t wait to assist our client’s at this new birth center!

New Midwifery Option in Nashville

We are excited to share with our clients and readers a two-part blog post revealing some exciting new options for birth in Nashville!

This week we were honored to sit down with Dr. Sharon Norman and Certified Nurse Midwife, Kayleigh Holthaus of WOMEN Obstetrics and Gynecology to learn about some exciting changes within their practice that we know so many of our clients and birthing families in Nashville are going to want to hear about! (We were also able to chat with Dr. Donna Crowe for about 5 minutes before she had to dart off to labor and delivery!)

Two years ago, this group of all-female physicians added two Nurse Practitioners because they wanted their patients to have easier access and faster response time to questions or concerns they had throughout pregnancy. This patient-centered approach naturally led into the desire to give pregnant clients more access to high-touch, low-intervention birth, which so many of their patients really want. Although the physicians at WOMEN OB all love to provide this type of care, they decided to make this even more accessible to their patients. That’s when they added midwifery care to their service line.

Nurse Midwife, Kayleigh Holthaus

Sharon Norman passionately tells us, “We cannot hold patients back if what they really want is midwifery care.” She goes on to tell us that they not only are thrilled to have added Kayleigh Holthaus, CNM to their fantastic team of providers, but that as of next week they will be adding a second midwife to the team, Angie Long. Together, the two certified nurse midwives will be able to see all midwifery patients, and attend all of those births. To date, this is the only hospital-based midwifery option in Nashville that we know of that offers such a low patient to provider ratio. You are guaranteed to know and have built a relationship with the midwife who will attend your birth! To ensure this level of care, the two midwives will only take about 10 births a month, each.

The two-midwife team is also able to give prenatal care and attend VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), so this is another fantastic option for VBAC in Nashville. Current patients of the practice can switch to midwifery care during their pregnancy if they are good candidates.

Side note: Have you seen their gorgeous office? Not only is this practice made up of wonderful care providers, the atmosphere for all the prenatals and well-women visits is so relaxing and calming.

(Photo Credit: Pencil and Paper Co)

If you are pregnant or planning to be and you are interested in midwifery care through WOMEN OB, give them a call!

Stay tuned for part two of this informational blog post where we share with you some insider info we received on the new birth center at St. Thomas Midtown opening in October of this year!

Why Moms are Keeping Their Placenta

“You’re encapsulating and eating your what?!” For those of you who chose to encapsulate your placenta, you may have heard this question from curious or confused friends and family. Today we will totally dispel the mystery of placentophagy (eating your placenta)!

Let’s start with the basics. What is a placenta? The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to your baby and removes waste products. The placenta also produces hormones that support your pregnancy, labor, and birth.

So, you may be wondering how consuming this organ will benefit you after having your baby. Throughout history women have told stories of their experiences including improved mood, increased energy, improved lactation, a reduction in postpartum bleeding, a faster recovery, a boost in energy and relief in postpartum blues to name a few. There have been several studies done to help us understand some of these possible benefits. Here are our top 5 favorite reasons for choosing placenta encapsulation to jump start your postpartum season!

1. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health, postpartum women have lower than average levels of a hormone CRH, triggering depressive symptoms. They concluded that eating the placenta will raise a mother’s CRH levels therefore, reducing Postpartum Depression.

2. Many mothers have reported an increase in energy after consuming the iron rich placenta through encapsulation. A 1961 study on the Iron Content of Placentas and Cords by Bonnie McCoy, M.S., stated: “Data obtained on the fifty placentas and cords… The total iron content of the samples averaged 75.5mg and ranged from 34.5 to 170mg…” To compare: a 3 ounce cut of steak contains about 2.75mg of iron.

3. If you have heard about after birth pains or a difficult recovery after birth, placenta encapsulation has a possible solution for that too. It has been reported that the “Placenta Opiod-Enhancing Factor” may possibly reduce pain in the birthing mother after delivery. Read more here.

4. Many mothers have suggested an increase in milk supply through anecdotal evidence on consuming placenta capsules. Placentas contain hormones and Lactogens that possibly enhance mammary gland growth and milk production. Read more about it here.

5. Some key hormones contained in the placenta may play a role in these reported benefits. Prolactin promotes lactation. Cortisone combats stress and increases energy. Prostaglandins have anti-inflammatory properties. Hemoglobin helps to replenish iron. Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII stops bleeding and enhances wound healing. Gammaglobulin is an immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.

Some mothers wonder, “Does the encapsulation process cook out the hormones and nutrients?” We say- No! The placenta is carefully steamed and dehydrated to ensure these important hormones and nutrients are not lost. This process is referred to as the Traditional Method. Your placenta is encapsulated either in your home or in the encapsulation specialist’s work space. After completing the two-day process, your placenta capsules are hand delivered to you.

If you have tried placenta encapsulation after any of your pregnancies, let us know your experience in the comments below. If you are in the Nashville area and interested in having your placenta encapsulated for your upcoming birth, contact us here and check out more info on this service here.

Q&A: Postpartum Depression

In a world where talking about “baby blues” and even Postpartum Depression is seen as taboo, we are opening up the conversation. Here in Nashville, we have an amazing resource for moms who may be experiencing some postpartum hardships: Emily Pardy at Ready Nest Counseling. We interviewed Emily to get some insight on how couples can prepare for the postpartum season and how she can support couples through this time.

Tell us a little bit about you.
My name is Emily Pardy. I’m a wife, mother, author, counselor, and founder of Ready Nest Counseling. I love to hear stories, tell stories, and inspire others to do the same. I enjoy coffee, Netflix, and love baking from scratch when I get the chance!

What services does Ready Nest Counseling Provide?
Ready Nest Counseling offers marriage and family therapy that helps couples transition into parenthood through the life stages of conception, pregnancy, postpartum, or infertility. Ready Nest Counseling focuses on the relational, mental, and emotional wellness, addressing specific challenges that a couple faces during these milestones.

When would you suggest couples reach out for counseling on pregnancy and parenting?
Everyone knows a baby will change everything. But, rarely do couples sit down and actually talk about their expectations, fears, or hopes about how parenthood will affect their world. I would encourage couples to be as proactive as possible, reaching out as soon as they want to begin the conversation about starting a family. Therapy is often considered the “last resort” for many couples, and too many times they get help when they face problems and challenges they don’t know how to handle. By preventatively getting therapy as part of their family planning process, they can truly enjoy this phase of their relationship by deepening their commitment, understanding, and trust before it ever gets tested.

Once a couple is pregnant, it’s normal for new fears and anxieties to set in. The mother and father are already adapting to the idea of their new roles as parents, yet they don’t have the relational and emotional tools necessary to help them effectively support one another through this transition. Ready Nest Counseling can help assess couples’ backgrounds and expectations, then give them the communication skills they require to help them engage in this process and enjoy it to its fullest.

What conversations are important for parents to have prenatally?
There are many bases to cover when it comes to preparing for a new baby. Sometimes these conversations are fun and lighthearted, like deciding on a baby name and picking out colors for the nursery! Other times, family dynamics create challenges that a couple has never faced before, such as determining how long the relatives will visit or which household chores each of them should perform. Reviewing each other’s history is incredibly helpful to know how both partners were “parented” and what their view of their own upbringing has been, as well as their perception of how their partner was raised. Everyone has deep feelings and opinions about how they were brought up, some positive and some negative, and it’s important to share these feelings and get on the same page as your partner in order to move forward in your own family with a united goal for your own baby.

Ready Nest Counseling offers couples an exclusive assessment that examines various factors of each couple’s own upbringing, and gives them a better understanding of how it will affect their own parenting style. Couples can then learn how to integrate their viewpoints into a parenting plan that helps their family thrive.

What are ways that couples can help prepare for the postpartum season to help minimize baby blues?
As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power. Couples tend to avoid information about baby blues and postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders because they either believe it will never happen to them, or they are too scared to admit it might. Unfortunately, not knowing about the baby blues and postpartum ends up being far more frightening than developing a plan ahead of time so they know what to do in case they need to take steps towards getting help. Talking to their doctor or healthcare provider about any history of mental illness is essential. Asking friends about their raw, real experiences after childbirth can also be empowering. Finally, learning simple communication skills about how to navigate difficult conversations can truly offer preventative help for couples preparing for birth. Also, it’s important to note that several cases of postpartum depression and anxiety actually start during pregnancy; so, it’s never too early for a couple to learn more!

What are some helpful ways a mom can process her birth?
I have a motto for moms that “Every birth has worth.” Whether a new mom just experienced a birth that didn’t go according to her birth plan, or a couple endured a traumatic birth, it’s important to know that every story matters. Many moms can come out of the birth feeling like it happened to her, instead of actually engaging in the experience herself. This can manifest as grief, loss, depression, anxiety, and many other emotions that she didn’t anticipate. Support is incredibly important during this time, so that’s why Ready Nest Counseling encourages dads to participate in the therapy process even if it feels like “just mom needs help”. New mothers need to feel validated in their perception of what happened, then they can begin to process the events separate from the meaning. With help, new moms can rewrite their own birth stories, gaining perspective and gratitude that can help them heal from an experience that should have brought them joy from the beginning.

What’s the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?
Many people don’t know the difference between “baby blues” and real postpartum depression. In fact, it is unfortunately common for healthcare providers to use the terms interchangeably, leading many new parents to fear their own experiences when quite possibly their emotions are entirely normal. Nearly every new mother (up to 80%) experiences some kind of “baby blues” within the first two weeks following birth. This can consist of sadness, crying and sobbing uncontrollably at times, irritability and mood swings, overly worrying about the baby, and having difficulty sleeping. While these adjustments can be difficult for the whole family to endure, the mother should be able to cope with proper support, and her feelings should level out within two or three weeks as everyone adapts to the new family dynamic and sleeping/feeding schedule. The fog of baby blues lifts as the new mother’s hormones balance out and her milk supply regulates. If, after a few weeks, she doesn’t feel like herself or the new father (or other close support) is noticing “she just doesn’t seem like herself” then it is quite possibly something more.
Postpartum depression (or anxiety, or other perinatal mood disorder) can show symptoms even when the mother is still pregnant and anytime within the first year after giving birth. Many people don’t realize that a new mom can experience a dramatic shift in emotions as late as 9-12 months after bringing her new baby home, so it’s important to understand that she is still within a timeframe of healing and adjustment long after the healthcare provider has given her the green light to resume normal daily life.

If the new mother has felt something isn’t right, or someone who is close to her suspects she is acting differently beyond the window of “baby blues”, it’s time to ask for help. Other warning signs for postpartum mood disorders include:
• Changes in eating habits (too much or too little)
• Changes in sleeping habits (too much or too little and not only resulting from baby care)
• Racing or intrusive thoughts that won’t stop
• Overly sad or anxious
• Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
• Thoughts that the baby/family is better off without you
• Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
• Thoughts of harming oneself or baby
• Compulsively cleaning, counting, or checking things
• Isolation or desire for isolation
• Extreme need for constant help or inability to be alone
• Lack of desire to hold or interact with baby

How common is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 15-20% of new mothers within the first year after childbirth. That’s nearly 1 in every 5 new mom out there! What’s more, new dads can also experience paternal postnatal depression (PPND), and if the mother is already diagnosed with PPD then they are twice as likely to have depression as well.

The good news is, that both PPD and PPND are entirely treatable, but it’s important to get help as early as possible. Postpartum depression is no one’s fault. It is temporary and treatable, but only with proper diagnosis and care. Sometimes medication or alternative medicine will help the new parent to cope, and therapy is always recommended to help the family learn the right skills to communicate, heal, and work together towards healthy habits that will help the family thrive. As the mom heals, so does the dad. The best indicator of dad’s mental wellness is the new mom’s mental and emotional wellness, so it’s vital that the entire system gets treatment to ensure the whole family benefits.

What are some warning signs that the partner can look out for?
If you suspect your partner might have postpartum depression, don’t wait to get help. There are many warning signs that can be red flags for PPD, but the number one sign is simply “not acting like normal”. Partners understand this best since they are usually around one another the most prior to birth and right after bringing the baby home. Many times, after a new mother has been diagnosed with PPD, the father will sigh with relief stating “I didn’t think that seemed normal, but I thought it was just from being tired or adjusting to the new baby.” If you’ve felt this way for more than two weeks, ask your partner about their behavior, and encourage them to get help.

Other warning signs for postpartum mood disorders include:
• Changes in eating habits (too much or too little)
• Changes in sleeping habits (too much or too little and not only resulting from baby care)
• Racing or intrusive thoughts that won’t stop
• Overly sad or anxious
• Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
• Thoughts that the baby/family is better off without you
• Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
• Thoughts of harming oneself or baby
• Compulsively cleaning, counting, or checking things
• Isolation or desire for isolation
• Extreme need for constant help or inability to be alone
• Lack of desire to hold or interact with baby

For new dad’s, however, signs of PPND may appear differently. Men tend to mask their depressive symptoms, functioning well while hiding deep feelings of shame and anxiety. A new father might display symptoms PPND through anger, uncontrollable rage, deep feelings of insecurity, substance abuse or other inappropriate temptations, or withdrawal. New dads are the primary source of support for the new mom and baby, so it’s important to make sure he is getting proper support as well through this tender season of life.

Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for more information about postpartum depression and mood disorders to gain better understanding of your partner’s condition. Contact Ready Nest Counseling to empower your relationship through this challenge. New parents need to know they are not alone, and their relationship can come through this with deeper commitment and understanding. This season may feel overwhelming right now, but it is not futile. Parents can bring purpose to their story through healing and connection and can be able to enjoy this beautiful phase of life and all it has to offer.

Creating a Postpartum Care Plan

So often a mother will plan and plan for the birth of her baby that she forgets to think about what life will be like after baby gets here. You have your birth plan and your newborn care plan, but what about a postpartum care plan? Thinking over the basics of the first few months of the postpartum season can take away so much of the stress that comes with a newborn baby.

Sleep

How many hours of sleep do you need to feel your best? Since babies need to wake up during the night to be fed and changed, you will also be up with them. If you are not getting adequate sleep at night you need to be napping during the day in order to function. You will hear time and time again, “Sleep when baby sleeps!” For some moms this may seem impossible with guests coming in and out and thoughts of laundry and dishes piling up. Enlist the help of your partner, a family member or friend, or a postpartum doula to ease your mind and let you sleep during the day so that those night feedings don’t seem so daunting.

Feeding

How will you feed your baby? Are you wanting to breastfeed on demand or formula feed? Sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned and you may end up giving your baby bottles of pumped milk. You may even plan on having your partner feed your baby once or twice at night so you can sleep. However you decide to feed your baby, have tools and resources in place such as breastfeeding support groups, a breast pump, and bottles.

Meals

Every family is different. Talk with your partner and come up with a plan so that meals go smoothly after you bring baby home. Have a family member set up a meal train and coordinate meals with your family, friends, and community. Prepare freezer meals in the last weeks of your pregnancy to easily heat up and enjoy. Order food to be delivered from your favorite local restaurants. Hire a postpartum doula that can do some grocery shopping and prepare a meal for your while you and your partner rest and bond with your baby. Any and all of these options are good to consider and have on your postpartum care plan

Roles

Sit down with your partner and ask yourselves specific questions such as: Who will do the caring for the baby during the day? Who will do the cleaning? Who will do the cooking? Who will do the laundry? Who will be at home? Who will do the shopping? Who will run errands? Discussing these “roles” can clear up some confusion you may have once baby arrives. If you have always had the role of doing the laundry, that may be hard to continue once you are spending much of your day breastfeeding and holding your baby. Talk with your partner about what each of you can do to keep your house running in decent order with a new addition to the family.

Visitors

Having a new baby is hard. You will be tired and covered in milk. While the exhaustion and mess is so worth it, you need to think about who you are comfortable with coming into your home during this time. The first week or so you may wish to have only your closest family members and friends come to visit. However, as the weeks go on you may wish to have more not-so-close visitors that are wanting to see the baby and bring you a meal. If you have a meal train, you can set up a cooler by your front door so people can leave food without coming in. Go over your wishes with your partner so they can communicate this to whoever is wanting to come into your home in those first few weeks.

Relationship

A very important conversation for you and your partner to have before baby arrives is about your relationship. Ask yourselves what is most important to you. Talk about what might change about your relationship with a baby and what you wish would stay the same. If date night is important to you, then do your best to continue that. Just like sleeping or eating, your relationship with your partner is just as important to have a plan in place to make your postpartum journey a joyful and positive experience.

All in all, whether you are talking about meals or baby care expectations, having these discussions will set you up for a purposeful postpartum season. Check out our Postpartum Care Plan Template to make a plan for yourself!

Download: Postpartum Care Plan Postpartum Care Plan (1)

What is a Postpartum Doula?

You leave the hospital or birth center with more precious cargo than you arrived with. Your partner drives down the highway with their hands precisely at “ten and two” while averaging about 5 mph under the speed limit. You pull into the driveway, unload the car seat, and walk through your front door. Now what?

We want to share with you the invaluable benefits you receive when you decide to hire a postpartum doula.

Postpartum doulas fill in the gaps for new and even seasoned parents as they adjust to life with a new baby. Just like a labor doula, we are here for your physical, emotional, and informational needs. The difference is that we come after baby is born!

Postpartum Doulas are Your “Baby 411”

There are so many questions new parents are faced with that first week home. Is my baby sleeping too much? Shouldn’t my baby be sleeping more? Will we ever sleep again? You may be craving your favorite meal but are overwhelmed by the thought of cooking. Your partner may be wondering how they can help. You may still be processing your labor and birth- and that’s ok! A postpartum doula can support you through all of this and more.

We are experts in baby sleep techniques and baby calming techniques. We stay up to date on all types of parenting styles. We will support your wishes even if you are still discovering what your parenting style is! Postpartum doulas can educate you on anything pertaining to newborn care including umbilical cord care and bathing your baby.

Close up baby bathing on mothers hands

It Takes A Village

It is ingrained in us from family, friends, and our fast-paced American culture to “get back to life” as soon as possible after having a baby. As a culture, we miss a key element to the healing process and the important task of bonding with your baby (and let’s be honest – for some, bonding with your baby DOES feel like a “task” at first – and that’s ok). In many cultures, family members surround new mothers and take care of their every need in the weeks and months following the birth of their baby. As postpartum doulas, we seek to restore that element of family type support, truly becoming your “village” as you rest, heal, and bond with this precious new life.

What Does a Typical Day with a Postpartum Doula Look Like?

 Postpartum doulas help with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and pumping. We can hold your baby while you shower, take a nap, or go on a short walk down the street. Postpartum doulas can tidy up around the house, throw in a load of laundry, or whip up a delicious meal for you while you bond with your baby. We can help you meal prep and fill your freezer with yummy easy meals to nourish your body for those first few weeks. Postpartum doulas can help your partner discover their role in all of this! We love helping dads tap into their abilities to soothe their babies too.

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Even if you are so sleep-deprived when your postpartum doula arrives that you don’t know what you need her help with, she will ask you a few questions, send you to bed, and start whipping things into shape! If need be, we even provide 24/7 care.

Postpartum Doulas Help You Grow Gracefully into Parenthood

All in all, we are here for your needs. Even if you just need an unbiased ear to listen while you process your birth story– we will be there for you. If you are new to the mommy scene and want recommendations for postpartum yoga, massage, or even play groups, we can find those resources for you. You are transitioning into new territory- parenthood! This is a fun and exciting time for you and your growing family! We want to help you transition as smoothly as possible. You should have an extraordinary first few moments and weeks with your new bundle of joy.

For a free consultation to learn more about hiring YOUR postpartum doula, contact us today! 

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Creating a Newborn Care Plan

When you sit down to create a birth plan or write out your birth goals, you need to include a postpartum plan for you and your baby. After your baby is born whether you had a natural birth, used pain medication, or had a C section, you have some choices to make about how you and your baby are cared for in those first few postpartum moments and days.

Consider questions such as: Will you bring your own hat and blankets for your baby? Who will cut your baby’s cord? Will you keep your placenta? When will visitors come to see you and your new baby? Every mother’s answer to these questions will be different.

You will also be given the option to accept or decline several different newborn procedures. It is important to research these procedures during your pregnancy to make the most informed decision for you and your growing family. These procedures include:

  1. Vitamin K
  2. Eye ointment
  3. Hepatitis B vaccine
  4. Baby’s first bath
  5. Circumcision (for boys)

Discussing each of these with your child’s pediatrician may give you a better idea of the risks and benefits. Besides having a conversation with your doctor and other trusted mothers, you may wish to do your own research. Websites such as Evidence Based Birth can be a great starting point to read about each of these topics.

Knowledge is power. We want you to be able to feel informed and equipped with the tools to make these decisions for you and your newborn. Use our quick and easy Newborn Postpartum Plan Worksheet to help you get on your way to a smooth transition into parenthood!

Creating Birth Goals

If you are pregnant, you have likely heard of a birth plan. Most birth plans include your choice on monitoring, use of pain management drugs, movement during labor, and other medical procedures. The ideal time to research and discuss these choices is at the beginning of your pregnancy, when you are choosing a care provider and birthing location.

Once you feel confident about your care provider and birth preferences you can begin thinking about your birth goals. Your goals are different from a “plan.” Your goals are what makes your birth special and unique. Your goals are the key to having a purposeful and fulfilling birth.

Thinking about your birth goals is an important step to get you excited about birth and make your experience unique to you. You can start by answering these five questions for yourself:

  1. What do you want to remember about your birth?
  2. What do you want to remember feeling?
  3. How do you want to be treated and supported?
  4. What would make your birth memorable?
  5. What would help you best process a change in plans?

Your answers to these questions may be completely different from the next pregnant woman. That’s what special about creating birth goals. Once you have brainstormed on these questions, begin writing down some tools you can use to achieve these goals.

For example, who do you want present at your birth? Do you want your mom and sister alongside your partner and doula there? Or do you want a more private space with just your partner and doula? You may even decide to have a birth photographer present!

Another consideration is your senses. Choose something unique to your personality for each sense. Do you want to be diffusing energizing peppermint or calming lavender? Do you want high energy music playing or a calming instrumental playlist? Do you want to use a picture of you and your partner on your favorite vacation as a focal point or a beautiful bouquet of flowers to focus on during contractions? Do you enjoy a heating pad on your back or a cold washcloth on your forehead? Do you want to wear your own clothes during labor or wear a special necklace or ring gifted to you by a loved one?

Many women also use positive affirmations during labor. You can write cards with encouraging phrases on them such as, “I am getting closer to meeting my baby!” Or “I feel safe and supported.” This may be something you read aloud during labor, or you simply stick under your pillow and you know it is there if you need it. Some women even write their affirmations on a poster and set it up in their labor room for everyone to see and read. You may even have your partner or doula write down a few amazing, awe inspiring moments during labor for you to look back on after.

Birth is unpredictable. Even if you create a concrete birth “plan,” your labor may decide to have a plan of its own. Most women who have experienced labor and birth will tell you that something happened during the process that they did not expect or plan for. Maybe you wanted a natural birth and you ended up getting an epidural. Maybe you hoped for labor to begin spontaneously and you ended up being induced. Even if a C-section is needed for the safest outcome for you and baby, you have choices! You get to choose to make your baby’s birth a positive and special experience. Check out our Birth on Purpose Birth Goals Worksheet to create your own unique list of goals for your birth!

Download here: Birth Goals Worksheet

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Planning a Mother’s Blessing Ceremony

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What is a Mother’s Blessing?:

A Mother’s Blessing, also known as a blessingway, is an opportunity to create a moment in time that celebrates and honors a pregnant woman and her journey into birth. This ritual is derived from a Navajo tradition that recognizes and honors the journey of pregnancy and the transition of birth as a momentous occasion in a woman’s life. It is a celebration of pregnancy and birth as a sacred and unique journey where the collective energy of loving women can help guide the mother through birth.

Unlike most cultures, we don’t find many rituals in American culture these days. There’s rarely a coming of age or naming ceremony. For many, weddings and funerals are the extent to rituals that they experience in their everyday lives. But there is power in ritual. It marks transition, it affirms important values, and it provides an opportunity to connect with women in a sacred place free of distractions. When women connect, we celebrate our femininity. And that subtle acknowledgement of a tribe is profound. Rituals are doorways between the spiritual and physical world. We experience a moment in time and then step back into our daily lives enriched by that experience.

This post uses images from four Mother’s Blessing ceremonies (Felicia, Lauren, Merrill, and Laura) – read more about Merrill’s and Felicia’s ceremonies on their blogs. 

Creating the Perfect Environment:

Guest List.
Think about the important women in your life and who you want by your side as you celebrate your steps into childbirth and motherhood. This could include your mother, aunts, sisters, and the grandmothers, your closest girlfriends, your doula, and if it’s an option, even your midwife.

Food.
This is a celebration, so food is important. It’s best to have food ready for after the ceremony so it is not a distraction during the ceremony. Think about comfort food, after all you are pregnant, so pick food that you love!

Location.
The location and atmosphere you create for your ceremony is key! Some love the idea of a midday garden party or an evening celebration with candles. You want to think about how many people will be there and find the perfect spot that sets the tone for your ceremony.

Sacred Space.
There are many options for creating a space that feels sacred and special. This can be done by having all the guests take off their shoes, place their phones in a special basket (for no distractions), or giving all the guest floral crowns. You can create a special place by incorporating your favorite flowers or lighting the room with christmas lights. Also consider music for the background and diffusing essential oils or lighting a candle to enhance the experience.

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Planning the Ceremony:

This is where you can be as creative as you like. It’s like planning your wedding ceremony. You can keep it traditional or you can add your own unique touches. You can make the ceremony as spiritual or as religious as you would like it to be. Think about what activities would make you feel special, loved, and prepared for childbirth and motherhood. Make this your own. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Statement of Intention.

Starting the ceremony with a statement of intention is a great way to let the guests know what to expect with this type of ceremony. Many may have never heard of a mother’s blessing, so explaining why you want to hold a celebration like this may be a great starting point. You could also include a reading or poem. Here is an example of an opening statement:

“Today we gather in gratitude. We are grateful for the new life we are about to welcome into this world. We are grateful for the presence of [Mother’s name] in our lives. We also gather in preparation. We intend to prepare [Mother’s name], giving her strength, support, and clarity in mind, body, and soul, for herself, for her birthing, and for her baby.”

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Candle Lighting.

The act of lighting a candle is a powerful way of signifying the start of a ceremony and it creates an atmosphere of reverence. One idea is for you to light the first candle and then have all the guest light their own candles from the your flame. The guest’s candles will be the ones they light once the you go into labor as a symbol of prayer and support. You could also ring a bell as a symbol of starting the ceremony.

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Maternal Lineage.

If you happen to know your maternal lineage (your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.), it can be a very special touch to the ceremony to acknowledge the women who came before you. After all, you would not be here if they had not gone through childbirth. This can be done by having a family tree as part of the decorations or reading their names during the ceremony. Some women wear a special piece of jewelry that belonged to their mother or grandmother.

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Releasing Fears. 

Pregnancy has a way of bringing up fears, especially in regards to childbirth. Having a moment in the ceremony to acknowledge and then release those fears is very powerful. You can write down a few fears before the ceremony. The more honest and vulnerable you are during this portion of the ceremony, the more meaningful and authentic the fear release will be. This can be done by writing them out and then ripping them up or burning them. Another is option is having your guests repeat a few lines after you state each fear:

“Release your fears, expectations, and distractions. May you now be free to focus your mind and heart on the present moment. Trust in the process, your body and baby know what to do. This is your baby’s birth story.”

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Birth Affirmations.

Most Mother’s Blessings will include some form of birth affirmations. This can be done by having each guest write an affirmation and read it to you, have the guests decorate birth flags or rocks with a word of strength, or having each guest say a prayer or scripture over you. This is a great activity to follow a fear release, because it builds you up and encourages you for your upcoming birth.

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Birth Alter or Necklace.

Another activity that can be included is creating a visual for you to have during labor, like creating a birthing affirmation flag or a birth alter. Each guest bring a bead and during the ceremony they can string it all together to form a necklace that you can wear during labor as a symbol that you are not alone. These physical mementoes can help center you as labor begins.

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Pampering the Mother. 

This ceremony is about celebrating you so what better way than pampering you and adorning you with beautiful things. Some might do a foot washing or a massage as a way of blessing the mother’s body. Physically laying hands on the mother is one way to show the community of support around her. Another option is painting your belly or decorating with henna. This is a way to honor the sacred home of the baby. Another activity might be brushing the mother’s hair and braiding it with flowers. This is about you, so think about what would make you feel honored and special.

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Yarn Bracelet.

A common activity found in Mother’s Blessings is creating yarn bracelets. You stand or sit in a circle and pass a ball of yarn around the circle, then cutting a piece off and tying a piece around your wrist. This string can serve as a reminder to think about the mother when she goes into labor. Some will take it off once the baby is born, others use the yarn to serve as a reminder to help you after delivery. They will take the yarn off once they have helped you postpartum.
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Giving of Gifts.

Gifts are a big part of baby showers and there’s no reason gifts can’t be part of this ceremony. Some mother’s give a small gift to all their guests to honor them. Or you could have all the guests pitch in to help the mother pay for a birth or postpartum doula.

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Poetry Reading.

If you want to include readings in the ceremony, it’s not a bad idea to include some type of written program. That way guests can follow along and know what they are supposed to read. If the you have a partner that is interested, they could write a poem that is read at the ceremony.
Here are some ideas of Mother Blessing readings:

May you be blessed with an easy transition
from mother of one to mother of two.
May you be changed in all the ways
you hope to be changed.
May your body open easily and then heal.
May those surrounding you during birth guide you
through what’s coming.
May you know joy in bringing another soul to the world.

“I am grateful for this new being
who is small in body but great in Soul,
who has come into our midst as a gift.
May I be sensitive to the sacred
as I nurture and learn from this child.
Give me patience. Give me strength.
And grant me wisdom and love
to help my baby learn to sing her own song.”
-Annie Spring

“A woman in birth is at once her most powerful and most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed understands that she is stronger than she knows.”
– Marcie Macari

“Close your eyes and breathe deep.
Breathe in peace, breathe out pain.
Imagine your feet, toes curling into dirt.
Think of yourself as rooted, think of your place in the earth.
How did you come to be here?
Through generations of women named
A maternal lineage. Think of their birth stories,
What you know, what you believe to be true.
Realize that their births carry deep wisdom.
Each birth is a powerful experience, each birth traces down to you.
Just as you pass this knowledge onto your baby
Understand that your birth is your own.
It will be different from all others, like the swirls in your thumb.
Your birth will have a unique pattern, unfolding with each contraction.
Rising and falling like a newborn’s chest,
This birth belongs to you.
This birth is the end and a beginning.
May this blessing of birth come to you without fear.
May this blessing of birth come to you with great understanding.
May this blessing of birth make your heart soar.
May this blessing of birth bring shouts of delight to your lips”
– Natalie Evans

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Birth requires a spiritual intention. A pregnant woman feels unlike anyone else on earth. And perhaps only a woman–perhaps only a mother–can truly understand this. The knowledge that a new being is growing inside of you creates immense joy and happiness. When consumed in birth world, women face the thin veil between life and death. Their baby is very much alive but not yet born. While physically it is no small feat to birth a child, spiritually a woman is shifting from housing two souls to now creating an individual life who will walk this earth. The depth of that experience, and the need for preparation, deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Let us know how you celebrated your journey into motherhood!


Here is a quick reference downloadable for planning your own Mother’s Blessing Ceremony.

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