I Didn’t Love My Baby Right Away… And That’s Okay

baby

We’ve all seen the photo – you have, haven’t you? – of the parent holding their new baby in their arms, breathless with joy, tears in their eyes. We’ve heard the story – surely you know the one – of the moment when their newborn child was placed on their skin and all they could feel was an overwhelming sense of love. That’s how birth goes, right? That all-consuming, overwhelming, indescribable sense of immediate joy, love, and connection.

But what if that’s not how it goes?

My daughter’s birth did not go how I expected. She wasn’t in the “optimal” position, even after completing exercises. I felt each surge so intensely in my back – and it was not fun. My childhood/past traumas came out during the later stages of her birth and I was completely blindsided. I had my husband and incredible midwife to support me but I was lost. I felt out of control. It felt like I was floating in darkness, fear, and pain, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out. There’s a lot about my daughter’s birth that I don’t remember. I’ve since learned that trauma survivors can dissociate during childbirth, which is likely what happened to me.

By the time she was born, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and totally DONE with the whole experience.
When she was born, I felt relief that she was here and I didn’t have to go through anything else. I felt wonder at what I had just done, and that it didn’t actually kill me, even though I was sure that it would.
She had some minor complications, so I felt worry and concern for her. But when I think back on those first few moments, what I remember feeling most is this: guilt and shame.

“What is wrong with me?!” I wondered. “Why do I feel like this?”

We both had to transfer to the hospital (from a birth center) and spend a few days there. On our second night there, at one of the middle of the night feedings, I finally broke down in sobs as I confessed my guilt and shame to my husband. “Why don’t I love my baby?” I cried. “I was supposed to love her as soon as she came out. But I didn’t. I’m a horrible mother.” We talked it through and I was finally able to release some of that guilt, shame, and fear that I had been feeling since she was born.

I was relieved that my husband didn’t think I was terrible. He thought I was sleep deprived, exhausted, and had been through a traumatic, intense experience. He didn’t blame me or look down on me. But still – I didn’t feel the way that I had been made to believe that I SHOULD feel. By the next day, I was already able to feel more attached and connected to her, and by the time we went home on day five I was feeling those joyful, loving feelings. For me, it took a few days and some time to process what had happened. It wasn’t immediate – and that is okay.

It’s okay if you don’t feel that immediate rush of love towards your baby.

There are so many ways you may feel after giving birth – and they are ALL okay. There is not one way that you should feel. Birth can be overwhelming and intense, and it can be easy for all of the feelings to get muddled together. It’s okay to not even know how you feel. You can still love and connect with your baby! There is nothing wrong with you.

I hope that reading this can help you prepare for birth, feel understood and respected if you experienced something similar, or help you support someone you know during or after their birth. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below or contact me here.

(If you feel that you struggle to have a connection with your baby or child and it’s affecting your life or relationship, please discuss it with your doctor or midwife. They are there to support you.)

BRAIN – The Best Acronym for Making Informed Choices!

brain

The BRAIN acronym

There are times when choices or situations come up that we might night know how to approach. We don’t always know the right answer, and making a decision can feel overwhelming. If you take the time to look at your options and ask some intentional questions, you can make an informed choice! This is a great acronym for any time you need to make a choice, but I’m introducing it to you today as it can be especially helpful during your pregnancy, postpartum, and birthing time. If you’re faced with a decision that has you feeling unsure, overwhelmed, confused… first, take a second to pause for a deep breath.
Then, use your B.R.A.I.N:

1) What are the benefits? If you decide to do the procedure, have the test, make the choice… what are the advantages? Why should you choose to say yes? What are the pros of this choice? How will it positive impact yourself, your baby, and/or your labor?

2) What are the risks? The opposite of the above question – what can happen? What are the disadvantages or the cons? How will it negatively impact yourself, your baby, and/or your labor?

3) Are there any alternatives? What other options do you have? Is there a similar test or procedure? Are there other choices that could have similar results?

4) What does your intuition say? Listen to your gut. What is it telling you? How does your partner or support person feel? Does this choice fit in with your values? Does it make sense for you?

5) What if you do nothing or you say NO? What will happen if you decide not to do it, or if you decide to wait? Can it be delayed? Can you take some time to think about it and talk it over with your partner or support person?

Contact me to learn more about how I support families during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum!

What to Eat and Drink During Labor

Eating during labor is really important! A steady intake of calories can help you keep your energy levels up, nourish your body, and help you stay hydrated. Eating during labor can help you be comfortable and prevent nausea. Here are some tips and options for what to eat and drink during labor.

Feed yourself the way you would feed a toddler.

Some of my favorite snacks for labor are “toddler snacks.” They’re portable, quick, and easy to eat. Applesauce pouches, crackers, fruit, trail mix, juice, popsicles, and granola bars are all great options! Honey sticks are one of my FAVORITE things for labor – they give a quick burst of sugar and are super easy to eat. And delicious! Kids love them too.

Hit up your local REI or another outdoor recreation store.

Another great way to find snacks is to hit up your local REI store and browse through their snack section! They have lots of snacks for people who like to backpack, bike, run, or hike. Again, pouches are quick and easy to eat. There are many different varieties available so try a few out and find your favorite! Granola bars, snack bars, jerky, electrolyte mix… the options are countless!

Remember the protein!

Protein packs a powerful punch and can help you stay full and refuel your muscles during labor. These options will vary according to your diet, but meat sticks or jerky, string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, hummus, and protein drinks or bars are all great options!

Mix up your drink choices!

Water is obviously a great choice (our bodies are up to 60% water, after all!) and I encourage all birthing people to drink as much water as they can. But there are other ways to stay hydrated! You can add fruit, herbs, and vegetables to your water –  I love to add citrus like lemon and lime, cucumber, berries, watermelon, rosemary, mint, etc. Other great drink options are coconut water, smoothies (bottled or homemade), broth, and electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, Nuun, Powerade, Smart Water, etc. You can even find recipes to make your own “labor aid!”

Eat smaller meals (or snacks) more often.

Sometimes you won’t feel super hungry during labor, especially in the later stages, but it’s still important to eat! This is why I suggest people keep small, quick meal or snack options on hand. All of the ideas mentioned above are great, but you can think about other things you might want to eat during your birthing time!

Make sure to eat during early labor!

You might be too excited and distracted to eat when you’re in early labor – this is really happening! You’ll be meeting your baby soon! – but having a hearty meal before your labor gets intense is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Early labor is a great time to have a bigger meal. Eat whatever you feel you can handle and want! We went out for bagels and a smoothie when I was in early labor and it was a great breakfast. You’ll thank yourself later for nourishing your body!

Make your own meal plan for labor!

There are so many great options for food to eat during labor. These are just some ideas to start – take these choices and add to them! Some other great options are oatmeal, sandwiches, soup, leftovers, breakfast foods, and whatever YOU are craving!

Remember food for your partner/support people, and postpartum too!

While you’re planning and making a list, be sure to add your partner or support people’s favorite foods and snacks too. Just maybe avoid anything super fragrant, or bring extra mints! Be sure to think about what you’ll want to eat postpartum as well. Many of the above options are great for postpartum but it can be wonderful to treat yourself after all of your hard work. You deserve it!

View my blog about the best snacks to eat while breastfeeding!

Heartburn During Pregnancy

heartburn

Many people experience heartburn during pregnancy. Sometimes it’s simply unavoidable due to hormones and your growing uterus, but it can be worth it to see what gives you relief! Here are some things you can try to help you be more comfortable. (Disclaimer: I’m not trained to offer medical advice, diagnose, or treat anything. I’m simply offering suggestions that have worked for me and others. Talk with your medical provider and follow their recommendations.)

Avoid triggers.
Some common triggers of heartburn are tomatoes, citrus, juice, spicy foods, chocolate, dairy, sugar, greasy/fatty foods, and caffeine. Maybe you can start a food journal to keep track of what you’re eating and how it correlates to heartburn. You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet, but it’s good to be mindful and pay attention!

Eat smaller meals.

Try to eat small, frequent meals and/or snacks during the day instead of 3 big meals. And avoid eating in the few hours before you go to bed. Laying down soon after you eat can cause stomach acid to leak into your esophagus and lead to heartburn.

Wear loose-fitting clothes.

Tight clothes can put pressure on your abdomen and cause heartburn. Loose-fitting clothes are less restrictive.

Talk to your doctor about OTC remedies.

There are many things you can try that don’t require a prescription, but you should still okay them with your doctor. These include Tums, Maalox, papaya enzymes (my favorite!), and digestive bitters. Some people swear by drinking apple cider vinegar, pickle juice, or baking soda water. Try some different options out and see what works for you!

Talk to your doctor about prescription options.

Sometimes a prescription can be most helpful if you’re experiencing chronic or more than occasional heartburn.

Did you experience heartburn during pregnancy? What worked best for you?

Contact me to learn more about my services.

How to Support a Loved One Through Infertility Or Loss

How to Support a Loved One Through Infertility or Loss

We all want to be helpful and supportive to our friends and family when they are hurt or grieving, but we often don’t know what to say or how to help. Here are some tips to offer support and hold space for a loved one who is experiencing infertility or loss.

Listen.

The most helpful thing we can do to help others, in general, is to truly listen to them. Invite them to share, and simply listen. We don’t need to try to fix or solve anything – because usually, we can’t. Just sitting there and listening without judgment will be incredibly helpful. Our loved ones will likely have many thoughts and emotions that they haven’t been able to share with most people in their lives, and being free to process those with you is one of the best things you can do for them.

Don’t make it about you.

Although you may also be hurting, ignore your desire to try to relate their situation to yourself. While it might be true that you have been through something similar, or you are also grieving their loss, or whatever it may be… at this time, you need to hold the space for your loved one to process. This might mean finding another person to talk with about your feelings.

But don’t be afraid to show emotion.

Someone going through infertility or loss may feel like everyone around them is avoiding expressing feelings about their situation. Often we feel like we can’t cry, or express our sadness, about a loved one’s situation. But it can actually be helpful to that person if we let them know that they aren’t alone, and this is affecting us as well.

Avoid platitudes and triggering language.

Saying things like “it just wasn’t meant to be,” or “you can always try again,” and “it was God’s plan” can be extremely hurtful and minimize your loved one’s feelings and experiences. While most people have good intentions, phrases similar to those above can cause more harm than good. If you feel like you just need to say something, you can remind the person that you’re there for them or ask what they need most that day.

Don’t be afraid to talk about it.

You might feel as though you should avoid talking about your loved one’s loss or infertility, or that bringing it up will cause them pain. But the truth is that, as mentioned above, these situations can often be incredibly isolating and make the person experiencing it feel alone. Talking about it, asking how they’re doing, saying the baby’s name in case of a loss, remembering dates that are important to them… all of these things can help that person understand that you’re there to support them.

Ask what would be helpful.

Everyone is different, so everyone experiences things differently. What helped you or another loved one might be hurtful, or at least not helpful, in this specific situation. Being willing to say “how can I help you most right now?” is a wonderful way to meet that person where they’re at and support them in an individual way. Knowing that someone is willing to help you how you need it most can be incredibly powerful.

Be sensitive.

Sometimes people don’t want to talk about what’s going on in their lives. It might be too painful, or they might not be ready to share. Or they might withdraw and need space. It is helpful if you can try to understand that they are hurting, and that looks different for everyone. If you are sharing happy news about your own pregnancy, be extra sensitive with them – tell them before you announce it to a large group or post on social media, tell them in private or over phone/text/email so they can excuse themselves from the conversation if needed. Know that they may need to distance themselves from you while they sort through their feelings about this, which is totally normal.

Supporting someone through infertility or loss can be difficult and emotional. You’re doing a great job by being there for them and trying to do your best.

Meet Your Doula, Chelsey DuBois

Welcome! Get to know your doula, Chelsey DuBois, with a fun Q&A session! Contact me or check out my about page to learn more!

Chelsey DuBois
(Photo by Love & Light Photography)

Where do you live? Where are you from?
We just bought a house in South Minneapolis and are enjoying getting settled, learning to be homeowners, and checking out our new neighborhood! I have lived in Minneapolis for almost 9 years. I was born in Maryland, lived in Texas from age 3-10, and lived in small-town Wisconsin for middle/high school.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to be outside in nature – hiking, biking, camping, and exploring with family and friends. I absolutely LOVE live music, especially local rap/hip hop. Dessa and Doomtree are my favorites. I also enjoy cooking, reading, and traveling.

What’s your favorite animal?
I love red pandas and fennec foxes! I think they’re unique and adorable. I’m also an animal lover overall, and can’t resist giving some love to any pets I come across.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. It’s about creating a simple, less stressful life for your kids and is inspired by the Waldorf educational philosophy.

Where would you travel if you had no limits?
Last year we took a trip to Iceland and it was incredible so I would definitely love to travel there again. I also spent 10 months in Japan as a foreign exchange student and have wanted to go back ever since! I hope to visit as many state and national parks as possible, so that’s up there on the list as well!

Chelsey DuBois Iceland(Photo by my mom in Iceland!)

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I have been prioritizing sleep so I’ve had an earlier bedtime than usual recently, which means late nights are tough. However, I don’t love waking up early even though I like mornings.

What did you do before you became a doula?
Since high school, I have worked with kids in some capacity. I’ve worked as a babysitter, reading tutor, preschool/daycare teacher, nanny, and now as a sibling/postpartum doula. I love working with kids and families!

What do you always have in your fridge/pantry?
We always have eggs, beans, spinach, hummus, olives, garlic/onions, applesauce pouches and other quick snacks, frozen fruit/veggies, and coconut milk. These allow me to throw together pretty quick meals and snacks when needed!

What did you want to be as a child? What was your dream job? 
As a child, my “dream job” was always changing based on what was happening in my life at that time. When I got glasses in 3rd grade, I wanted to be an optometrist. When I broke my wrist in 5th grade, I wanted to be a radiologist. I also remember wanting to be a ballerina and veterinarian! My dream job was often related to teaching, and that dream stuck with me. As part of my services I offer some classes as well!

What’s your favorite thing about doula work?
That’s a hard question! I think my favorite thing is meeting families where they’re at and supporting them in the specific ways that they need. Each family and situation is different, so it’s always a fun challenge to get to know a family and how to best help them in the moment. I obviously also love watching babies enter the world and snuggling them during postpartum shifts!

Chelsey DuBois postpartum shift(Photo by Federer Photography)

Babywearing Has…

Babywearing has been an incredible tool for me as a parent as well as a birth worker. We started wearing our baby when she was a week old… and we were still wearing her when she was 3.5! I also love wearing babies as a postpartum doula – it’s such a great tool for comforting, bonding, daily activities, travel, and everything in between! I absolutely love it when families ask me for help to wear their babies, and they love it too! The benefits (for everyone) are endless!

We love our local babywearing chapter, Babywearing Twin Cities. We have met so many amazing friends through meetings, tried and checked out different carriers, gotten tips and help for wearing our daughter, and learned so much from this group! I’m so happy we have such an incredible resource in our area! Their purpose is “building the bond between babies and caregivers through baby carrier education and support.”

This year marks the 10th year of International Babywearing Week and the theme is “Babywearing Has…” so I thought I would highlight some of the amazing things that babywearing has done for our family over the years! Here are some of my favorite photos!

What has babywearing done for you? Here’s some of what it’s done for us…

Babywearing Has…

… let us hike together as a family. In state parks, nature centers, and on vacation in places like Canada, Colorado, and the North Shore.

babywearing colorado

babywearing north shore

… kept us calm during sickness and doctor visits.

babywearing          babywearing

… helped us exercise our civic duty!

babywearing vote

babywearing vote

… taught our child to love live music.

babywearing concert

babywearing concert

… accompanied us on road trips, through airports, and to landmarks.

babywearing mt rushmore

babywearing lighthouse

 

… let us enjoy activities like farmers markets, running errands, and taking walks together!

babywearing farmers market

babywearing walk

… provided endless snuggles and fun!

babywearing snuggles

babywearing fun

AND

… made our daily lives, activities, and experiences even better.

tandem babywearing

babywearing pool

babywearing museum

babywearing

Contact me, check out my services or learn more about me!

doula du nord

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Suess! Read Across America Day

For the past twenty years, books and reading have been celebrated on March 2, Dr. Suess’ birthday. Read Across America was created by the National Education Association to encourage all children to love reading, and what day could be more fitting than the birthday of a beloved children’s author? Dr. Suess’ books are cherished by many, both adults and children alike. Almost every adult you ask can name a Dr. Suess book, I’m sure!

How can you celebrate Dr. Suess birthday and Read Across America Day? Here are some ideas:

Read Dr. Suess books

Did you know that Dr. Suess wrote and published more than 60 books in his lifetime? That is a lot of books! These books include Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and Oh, The Places You’ll Go! among many, many more. Do you have a favorite Dr. Suess book or memory? Let me know in the comments!

Watch a movie or TV show inspired by Dr. Suess

There are a number of films based on Dr. Suess books such as The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, and of course the holiday favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There is also a show called The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That that my 3.5 year old loves that is available on Netflix or the PBS Kids video app.

Do a Dr. Suess craft or activity

Handprint One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue fish craft
Print some Dr. Suess coloring pages
Make an ABC book
Make playdough Green Eggs and Ham
Mix up some oobleck to go along with Bartholomew and the Oobleck
Do a Truffula Tree color matching and fine motor skill activity
Make a game to match baby animals with their mothers for Are You My Mother?

Eat Dr. Suess themed snacks

One fish, two fish Goldfish crackers
Hop on Pop-corn
Strawberry banana skewers for Cat’s Hat
Truffula tree seeds with Skittles or colored cereal, such as Trix
Red and white striped pizza
Green Deviled eggs (add food coloring or avocado to the yolk mix)

Make learning fun

Practice stacking apples like Ten Apples Up On Top
Sort, count, graph and make patterns with colored Goldfish crackers
Talk about words that rhyme
Plant a tree!
Talk about size to go along with Horton Hears a Who – big, bigger, biggest or small, smaller, smallest
Dress up like your favorite Dr. Suess character
Get moving with Dr. Suess inspired Yoga

Most of all, have fun together! How are you celebrating Dr. Suess’ birthday or Read Across America day?

12 of the Best Snacks to Eat While Breastfeeding

If you’ve ever fed a baby from your breasts – whether that looked like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping, or a combination – you know that it makes you hungry. Really hungry. First, your body likely recently grew and birthed a human being. Maybe more than one! That is hard work and you did a great job. Now, your body is working hard to produce milk to feed that human being. No wonder you feel hungry all the time!

In order for you to feel your best and to create milk for your baby, you need to eat. And you need to eat well. Sometimes that can feel extremely difficult, but it’s so important! Many of the best breastfeeding snacks are ones that are easy to eat one handed and easy to keep stocked near where you will be pumping or breastfeeding.

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What Does an Antepartum Doula Do?

Have you heard of an antepartum doula, or a “pregnancy doula?”

Pregnancy can be tough for a multitude of reasons. Maybe the pregnant person has a young child at home, or are simply overwhelmed. Maybe they are the one in charge of handling everything during the pregnancy, or their partner/support person is away for some reason. Maybe they’re dealing with horrible morning sickness or other symptoms, or even suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, HELLP syndrome, or preeclampsia. Maybe they’ve been placed on bed rest, are pregnant with multiples, or have a pregnancy-related illness/injury. No matter the reason, pregnancy can take its toll!

Fortunately, pregnant people who are dealing with a high-risk pregnancy or complications during pregnancy generally have their medical needs met, with lots of monitoring and support from their medical team. But there are many areas in which pregnant people in these situations don’t get extra help and support.

It can be hard for a pregnant person to relax when they are on bed rest, lacking support, or not feeling well – there are so many things to deal with that they need to learn to “let go.” What if they have another child to care for during their pregnancy? What if they’re doing it all alone? Maybe they’re struggling with their pregnancy not going how they had expected, or don’t have the best resources for their current situation. An antepartum doula can help take away some of this pressure and stress and make it easier for the pregnant person and their family to cope.

Emotionally, it can be difficult to deal with or “come to terms with” the fact that this pregnancy is possibly not going as expected, or is proving to be more difficult than imagined. Helping the pregnant person feel that they are supported and in control can greatly improve their experience with pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Having a non-biased person who will listen to the highs and lows, celebrate the good days and offer support and encouragement on the difficult days, and talk through the fears and concerns that the pregnant person and their support person have can be incredibly helpful during this time.

Physically, and practically, antepartum doulas can make a huge difference in the pregnant person’s life, as well as their family’s. Small things that others might forget – running errands, taking care of the pets, lending a hand with other children, taking the trash out – are all tasks that the antepartum doula specializes in. Preparing freezer meals, organizing the nursery, helping to prepare a plan for birth and postpartum, and other similar tasks can help the pregnant person and their partners to relax and feel more in control. This can be especially important in high-risk pregnancies where the birthing person needs to stay in bed or control their stress levels.

Support is crucial in pregnancy, and especially in high-risk situations. An antepartum doula can provide specialized, non-biased support to families going through these situations during the pregnancy and beyond!

Contact me to learn more about the antepartum/pregnancy services I offer or view my services here.