My Birth Story

birth story

Here is the birth story of my daughter, Wren. It’s a bit long so get comfy before you start to read! Go ahead and grab your popcorn, I’ll wait. (Warning: I try to keep the story positive but there is talk about blood, pain, and some complications for both me and my baby.)

The beginning

I was tired of being pregnant. It was mid-August so it was hot and humid. It was a normal Tuesday evening at the end of my 38th week of pregnancy. I was feeling really tired so I went to bed early. Around 10:45 I woke to a strong, different feeling in my belly. “Was that a contraction?” I wondered, but I went back to sleep. I had noticed more discharge in the previous days (my mucus plug) and when I used the toilet I noticed some dark blood (bloody show). I had another contraction and woke my husband after 1 am. We got up and were too excited to go back to sleep! Was this really happening? I showered, cleaned, and snacked before eventually going back to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I was definitely sure I was in labor. I was craving bagels, so we went to get bagels and smoothies. I was having steady contractions and remember needing to hold onto the booth while waiting for our food. My husband decided to work from home and I napped, packed our bags, and tried to keep myself fed. My contractions varied in intensity and were pretty sporadic with timing. We started to get discouraged as the day went on – my husband even told a coworker that he would probably be in the next day when he logged off of work. My water hadn’t broken and there was no clear contraction pattern, but we began timing contractions using an app as they seemed to be getting stronger and more intense. The contractions would be an hour apart, then 20 minutes, then 4 hours.

We decided to walk around Lake Harriet to provide a distraction and hopefully get things moving. On the way there, things seemed to begin picking up. At this point, it was 6 pm, and walking must have done the trick because by the time we were halfway around the lake, my contractions were between 2-10 minutes apart lasting from 10-30 seconds. Still sporadic, but getting intense enough that I had to hold onto benches and trees. Towards the end of our walk back to the car I was feeling the need to vocalize through some of the contractions and just wanted to go home. (I bet I was getting some interesting looks on our walk at the lake, holding onto trees and moaning through my contractions!)

On our ride home, my contractions got more intense and frequent, and I was vocalizing through all of them. I also started to realize that I was experiencing back labor, and I wasn’t too thrilled about it! We decided to call the midwives at the Minnesota Birth Center when we got home. My midwife suggested I eat, take a bath, nap, and try some Spinning Babies movements. We did pelvic tilts and forward-leaning inversions, to ease my back pain and help baby get into an optimal position. They were not comfortable and I didn’t make it through all of the suggested movements, but they definitely worked because by the next hour my contractions were consistently 3.5 to 4 minutes apart. I tried to rest and took another bath and a shower. We eventually decided to head to the birth center around 11:30, just over 24 hours after my first contraction.

At the birth center

We got to the birth center at exactly midnight. I remember looking at the clock when we got out of the car and it hit me that it was the day we would meet our baby! That was one of the moments that has always stuck with me from my birth experience. Once we were at the birth center my midwife, Kaitlyn, checked my cervix and told me that I was dilated to 5-6 centimeters and 100% effaced. This was great news! I remember being really worried about ruining the beautiful white sheets, which is hilarious because birth is what they do. (And bleach is a thing.) Since I was Group B Strep positive, I needed to receive IV antibiotics so we got those going. I was having contractions every 1.5 to 2 minutes and thankfully was able to sleep in between. I never would have believed that I would be able to sleep in labor!

I was able to enjoy the birth tub while we had the IV running, which was incredibly comforting and soothing. I drank water, coconut water, and bottled smoothies. Using the toilet was extremely uncomfortable due to the pressure on my tailbone, and I spent a lot of time holding onto the towel bars in the bathroom. They’re pretty sturdy! Kaitlyn checked me again and I was at 8 cm. We discussed breaking my waters but I wanted to avoid any interventions so we decided to wait. About 10-15 minutes later, I felt a pop and a gush while laying on my side and knew my water had broken on its own.

My contractions definitely got stronger, more intense, and closer together. I got back in the tub and things started to get REAL. The contractions were on top of each other, back to back, and I wasn’t getting a break. I was very vocal, moaning and screaming through the contractions. This is clearly when I hit transition – it was the peak of strength in my contractions. I remember yelling “no no no” and telling everyone that I couldn’t do it. Back labor is intense, and coupled with baby’s head moving down, the pressure felt like too much. I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I started feeling like I needed to poop and I was terrified. The contractions were radiating from my back to my front, and it was really intense. I just wanted to be done.

I tried to listen to the midwife and birth assistant when they told me to push, but it was too intense. I was hyperventilating. My body was pushing on its own and I was fighting it because I was tired, overwhelmed, in pain, and scared. I got out of the tub and they got me an oxygen mask, then talked me through pushing to get my baby out. She was having some troubles keeping her heart rate up and I remember the birth assistant telling me to breathe oxygen down to my baby. That helped me focus on breathing vs completely losing control. I continued to push, screaming and crying.

After what felt like forever, but was really only about 30 minutes, I heard the words “there’s her head!” and my husband told me what he could see her hair. I pushed a few times and her head was out. Everyone got very serious and started talking very quickly, and I was told that we needed to get my baby out now. It turns out that she was pretty blue and her cord was wrapped around her neck. I could feel her shoulders and it was so intense that I didn’t want to push anymore. But two pushes later, she was born at 4:34 am.

They got her cord unwrapped and suctioned her mouth and nose so she could breathe. They gave her my oxygen mask and rubbed her. Finally, she started to cry. My husband cried and she was placed on my chest. We were bundled up with blankets and laid there for the next 1.5 hours. She finally started to “pink up” and slowly looked less purple. My husband cut the cord, and I eventually delivered my placenta. They were concerned about my bleeding and thought I might have a cervical laceration. There was a piece of tissue in my uterus from the amniotic sac, plus Wren was grunting and not keeping her oxygen levels up. So they called an ambulance to transfer both of us to the hospital. Thus, we both got to have our first ambulance ride at 6 am on August 14, 2014.

Hospital transfer

At the hospital, I had a D&C where they removed 12 cm of tissue from my uterus. Wren was taken to the special care nursery where she received an x-ray and antibiotics for fluid in her lungs. It could’ve been pneumonia but they don’t really want to biopsy a newborn’s lungs so she got IV antibiotics instead. I was finally able to go hold her and nurse her at 12:30, 8 hours after she was born. She latched on immediately and stared up at me with so much love in her eyes, and I cried. After all the drama, chaos, and exhaustion, I was finally able to hold my baby and stare in her eyes, and all the love and adoration that I didn’t feel that morning came flooding to me.

I was admitted that night and trudged from my room to hers every 2 hours to nurse and snuggle. She stayed another 3 days in the special care nursery after I was discharged, so my husband and I slept together on the tiny couch in her room. I was exhausted, hormonal, and emotional. As I talked about here, I felt so guilty. Her birth ultimately did not go as planned and was traumatic, even though the care we received was incredible. My midwife was with me during the surgery and came to check in on me the next day. My husband was very supportive. The nurses in the special care nursery were amazing. But it was a rough start to life with our new baby.

After my experience, I began to understand why support is so crucial during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Would having a doula have changed anything that happened during our experience? No, I’m sure it would have ended up being the same. But I really do believe that the way I felt would be different. I wouldn’t have been alone in the recovery room for 6 hours. My husband wouldn’t have had to choose to leave me or our daughter alone. I would have had an extra voice in the room that could’ve possibly broken through the terrifying thoughts and overwhelm in my head. I would not have felt so alone when we left the hospital and had to go back to “real life.”

This is why I believe doula support is important, and this is why I doula. Because of my experience, I hope to help others avoid feeling helpless and alone. I was a birth doula intern at the Minnesota Birth Center in 2018-2019 because I believe the care they provide for birthing people and families is incredible and I loved my experience supporting families there!

birth story

Doula du Nord at the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been accepted to have a table at the 2019 Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo!
This is a great event for anyone who is pregnant, has kids, or is planning to have a baby. And it’s family-friendly too! I hope to see you there.

birth and baby expo

Details:

When?

November 2, 2019
9:30 am to 3 pm

Where?

Capitol Hill Magnet School
Saint Paul, MN

What?

A wonderful event featuring local businesses related to pregnancy, birth, and parenting as well as kid-friendly activities (face painting, storytime, and more!) and presentations/workshops.

Have questions about the expo? Contact me!

 

8 Common Breastfeeding Myths

With so much information floating around the internet about breastfeeding, it can be hard to know what is true and what is a myth. I’ll break down eight of the most common breastfeeding myths so you can tell fact from fiction! Keep reading for the bonus myth at the end.

It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt.

This is a very popular myth. There are even ideas out there that you should “toughen up” your nipples during pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding. Rubbing your nipples with sandpaper is NOT necessary… really, please don’t do that!

Pain while breastfeeding may be common, but that doesn’t make it normal. It can be a new, sometimes uncomfortable feeling as you and your body adjusts to nursing (or pumping for) your new baby, but it shouldn’t be painful. If you’re experiencing pain while breastfeeding your baby, you might need some troubleshooting to make it more comfortable. And if you ever experience toe-curling, intense pain, please talk to an IBCLC or your medical provider!

You can’t eat onions (or garlic, broccoli, chocolate,etc…) while breastfeeding.

People say that you have to eat a bland diet while you’re breastfeeding. No onions, garlic, spicy food, chocolate, broccoli… But the truth is, breastmilk is made from your blood, not your stomach contents. And besides, your baby already got a taste of the foods you eat regularly in utero through the amniotic fluid. Science even says that your baby may like foods more that they taste through breast milk!

In some cases, babies have an allergy or intolerance to something in breast milk, such as dairy, soy, or wheat. If you suspect your baby isn’t reacting well to something in your milk, consult your medical provider and consider keeping track of your diet and baby’s symptoms.

Breastfeeding is “all or nothing.”

This myth is absolutely NOT true. Breastfeeding is an amazing thing and any amount that your baby receives is beneficial. But it is fine if you need or want to give your baby formula, supplement with donor milk, or pump and give your breast milk in bottles. It’s also okay if you breastfeed for a while and then stop – even one teaspoon of colostrum is shown to have benefits for babies. You are doing a great job, regardless. Breastfeeding does NOT have to be all or nothing.

Only people with large breasts can breastfeed.

Good news – breast size doesn’t affect whether or not you can breastfeed! Milk production is not based on the size of the breasts. Someone with an A cup can produce as much milk as someone with a DD cup. Having smaller breasts doesn’t mean you will not be able to make “enough” milk… and having larger breasts is not a guarantee that you will be an overproducer or make “too much” milk.

You can’t continue to breastfeed your baby if you go back to work/school.

You can absolutely continue to breastfeed if you’re planning to return to work, start a new job, go to school, or otherwise be away from your baby! Many parents pump and provide breast milk for their babies when they are apart. Some parents feed their baby with donor milk, formula, previously pumped milk, or a combination. Pumping to provide enough milk for your baby during the times you’re not together can be a lot of work, but people do it every day!

You shouldn’t breastfeed in public.

Personally, I think this is the silliest myth of the bunch. Do people think babies just don’t get hungry outside of their home?! Babies need to eat, just the same as everyone else. Don’t be afraid to feed your baby in public!

How you feed your baby in public is really up to you – it’s a personal preference. Some people prefer to find a private space, such as a nursing room or the car. (Don’t assume you just have to do it in the bathroom – there are better options!) Others prefer to use a lightweight blanket or nursing cover/scarf. Sometimes people buy clothes designed for breastfeeding that provide easy access and generally keep it somewhat covered. Another option is to use the “two shirt method” of having one shirt underneath and pulling the other up to give baby access to the breast, leaving your breast mostly covered. And others are totally fine breastfeeding with no cover at all. There are some people who prefer to give baby a bottle in public so they don’t have to deal with breastfeeding.

All of these options – and any others that you come up with – are totally valid, and totally okay. Do what you’re comfortable with and need to do to make sure your baby is fed and happy!

You can’t breastfeed your baby if you take medications.

The majority of medications are safe for breastfeeding. There are some that are contraindicated, but if your plan is to breastfeed, be sure to talk to a medical professional or IBCLC about any medications you’re taking. LactMed (website & app) and Infant Risk (website, app, & hotline) are great options for learning about how medications interact with breastfeeding.

You should only breastfeed your baby until… (enter milestone here.)

Everybody has an opinion about breastfeeding and is more than willing to offer it up. Some people say that you should only breastfeed your baby until they can talk, until they eat “real” foods, until they can walk, until their first birthday…and the list goes on.

The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends “exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”

What do I think? I think that breastfeeding is a relationship between you and your child. You should breastfeed for as long as it is mutually beneficial. Sometimes that simply means providing colostrum for your baby for the first hour after birth. It could mean breastfeeding until your baby turns one. Or it may mean breastfeeding into toddlerhood and beyond. It is a decision for you to make, and nobody else.

Bonus myth: You’re a bad parent if you don’t breastfeed.

I know sometimes it feels like you can’t do anything right, especially if you can’t or don’t breastfeed your baby. There’s a lot of shaming out there. But it’s not true. You’re a great parent, no matter how you feed your baby.

What do you think of these breastfeeding myths?
Contact me if you have questions!

Feature Friday – Raven Ivory, Photography + Films

Hello and welcome!

I’m excited to announce a new weekly feature on my blog and social media! Each Friday I will feature a different product, service, event, or business. I will try to mix it up but will mainly focus on the topics of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and family.  Read more

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

 

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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The Value of a Postpartum Doula

Basically everybody who has kids knows the value of having help in those first few months after bringing  baby home. Your family and friends love to come over and hold the baby or drop off a meal – but the first few weeks can feel like an endless whirlwind of visitors. Entertaining guests plus adjusting to life with a new little one can be draining and stressful! This is when you will be most thankful for your postpartum doula.

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Best Gifts to Buy for New Mamas (Or for Yourself!)

New mamas are dealing with a lot: feedings, recovery, sleep deprivation, and the wonder of their perfect new little one. You can make their days a bit brighter or easier with these products. They’re great for Mother’s Day, birthdays, the next baby shower you’re invited to, or holiday gift exchanges. Plus, they also make great treats to pamper yourself!

motherhood-1209814_1920

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So… What Exactly Does a Postpartum Doula Do?

I hear this question at least once a week. Given that I didn’t even know what a postpartum doula was when my daughter was born, I’m not surprised! I enjoy answering questions and helping educate people about the importance of postpartum support! Here are some other questions I am often asked.

postpartum doula

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