birth plan

What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag (and beyond..)

Countdown is on! Your baby's arrival could be days or weeks or just around the corner. It's time to get those bags packed and ready to fly out the door at a moments notice!

We've made a comprehensive list of the must-haves, might-wants, and definitely-don't-forget items that you'll want to bring with you to the hospital. Keep in mind that your stay at the hospital may be short and sweet, or longer than expected. Pack your bag however you feel comfortable leaving the house for a couple of days, and ease your mind by making arrangements, if necessary, to send someone home to retrieve any special belongings you might want or need. 

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Protecting Postpartum

 

Everybody loves a squishy new baby. It’s almost irresistible to keep from wishing for the privilege to cuddle a weeks, days, or hours old newborn, who’s only just experiencing the big, wide world for the very first time. These tiny, precious lives leave us in such awe and wonder.

No doubt, you want to show off your little one, too. After all, this baby is yours; it’s you – in miniature form! It’s a miracle that you and your partner have made and brought into the world; the pride you feel is unexplainable.

It’s a fairly common cultural practice to expect that people will ask (or not) to visit you at your home or hospital in the early hours or days after baby is born. Whether it’s your closest friends or family, co-workers, or the most distant relative, it’s almost ritualistic to have a small parade of eager visitors, waiting in line to get their first look at your precious, wee babe.  

But guess what? This is your time. This is your moment. These are your first hours and days of passage into parenthood. It’s brief, it’s intimate, and it’s yours, so allow yourself to consider what’s best for you!

Giving careful thought to when and who you welcome into your space in the early days is important for a few reasons:

                The first hour of your baby’s is the most critical time of bonding and nursing.

This isn’t to say that you can’t bond or breastfeeding well beyond this point, but there is significant evidence that this time matters.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a learning curve, and time for privacy, rooming in and having space to learn this dance can be critical to your success.

Having visitors and learning to latch a baby to the breast can be so challenging. If you want visitors in the early days, allow yourself to retreat to feed the baby if you need to, or keep your visits brief and don’t be afraid to ask people to leave when you need some space.

Entertaining can cause undue pressure.

Are you going to feel pressured to entertain, provide food, or act as ‘host’ to anyone who comes by? If you don’t feel like you can have people in your home without feeling like a hostess, either ask them to wait until you’re ready, or draw clear expectations so you aren’t feeling the pressure.

You’ve just completed a marathon, followed by the biggest learning curve you’ll likely encounter in your lifetime; you need to time and space to rest!

Some cultures encourage women to rest and room-in with baby (with the exception of using the washroom, and joining in for some family/meal times), for 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS! Friends and family members will stop to bring food, healing teas, and help care for the house or the other children. Protecting the rest and healing of the mothers is of highest importance, and it’s reflected in the way they care for one another. Our North American culture might have a bit of a hard time wrapping our heads around that one, but perhaps we can learn something from them.

Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family what you need most from them. If you feel uncomfortable, ask your spouse or a friend to relay your post-partum wishes and needs…

  • Request that your friends and family to text or call ahead; no surprises means you’re in charge of the who and when.
  • Ask for nourishing meals or snacks; food, food and more food!
  • Make a list of chores that can be done around the house or in the yard when visitors come by.
  • Be clear that you’d like visits kept short, that way, when you’re ready for a nap or need to nurse, you can excuse yourself without feeling guilty.

This time is short; these fleeting first days?  You’ll never get them back. You won’t regret creating healthy boundaries for yourself that protect this precious time, giving you the space you need for your new family. 

What Do I Need a Doula For, Anyways?

 

When the subject of my birth work comes up in conversation, it isn't uncommon for their to be a lot of confusion over what it is I do. Most people have heard the term doula, or know someone who's had one, but they don't totally 'get it'. There are a lot of misconceptions about the purpose or value of a doula. Even among maternity care providers, the explanation for how a doula benefits a mother in labor is varied and uncertain. Expectant parents wonder things like, "What does a doula do that my partner doesn’t? We like our doctor and have an open relationship, isn’t that enough?, I plan to just take things as they come; is a doula really necessary?" These are just a few questions among many (more questions are addressed in my blog, Is a Doula Like a Midwife?...And Other FAQ. 

But what’s the big deal, really? Everyone you’ve talked to has assured you that it’s a fleeting moment; that it’s going to happen how it happens; that your baby is going to be born one way or another, and a healthy baby is all the matters, so why not just get on for the ride?  

Birth can certainly be one of the wildest rides of your life, and we know that the most challenging moments of our life can also be the most empowering. We also know that exceptional support throughout labor can change your experience from being something you 'handle', to something you own. Here are a few of the ways we can help make that happen. 

A doula works with your partner; it’s better that way!

There’s a quote in the doula world that goes something like this: “You know her, we know birth.”

I’m not your intimate partner. I don’t know what makes you tick and what makes you cry. I don’t know the words to whisper when you’re at your lowest low, or how to make you laugh or smile to lift your tired spirits.

I do know about supporting partners in labor; I know to how to help them find their confidence to give you what you need. I know that birth can be exhausting, and sometimes the partner needs a break. I know when he hasn’t made a trip to the bathroom in 6 hours, and I know to ask if he’s eaten or drunk before he turns white. I know that watching you, the person they love most, in the throes of labor, can be exhilarating and frightening, all at once. I know that birth can be intimate; that sometimes my role is in the background, supporting you from the sidelines, and other times we are in the thick of it together, a circle of support.  

A doctor’s not a doula, a doula’s not a doctor.

You can have the best relationship with your midwife or doctor, but when it comes down to your birth, their number one mission is a healthy mother and a healthy baby. When everyone else’s eyes are on charts and numbers, my eyes are on you. The emotional intensity of birth can be as overwhelming as the physical. There can be surprises around each corner and I’m there to remind you of what is happening, what the choices are, and then supporting you and helping you make it around the next bend.

Plan or no plan, a doula’s a must.

We all know, “the best laid plans of mice and men, often to awry”. It’s not so much about having a plan, but knowing that there are choices for your birth. Voicing the things that matter to you most gets your birth team on the same page, and that’s important. Flexibility in your birth planning is essential too, because we know that birth is unpredictable. No plan? No problem. We will walk with you through your birth as decisions need to be made and options are given.  

Most importantly, above all else, we will tirelessly care for you and your partner every step of the way.

We will walk the halls with you, squeeze your hand, tie your hair back, and cool the sweat on your head. We will hold the popsicle to your mouth and breath with you through the hardest moments; we will remind you that you are enough, of the strength you possess, and the miracle you are bringing forth.While you pour yourself to empty, we will help fill up your cup.  

Everything we truly aspire to can be summed up in this quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How you feel, matters.  Your birth, this moment, is deserving of the utmost attention and care. We are there to make sure of that.