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!

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!

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.

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.

Read more

Affirmations for a Positive, Powerful Birth

Birth is a time of intense feelings, both physical and emotional. There are big changes happening in your body as you prepare to welcome your baby into the world. It can feel overwhelming and scary, but having some positive sayings or mantras can help you to feel more prepared and confident. There are so many birth affirmations on Google and Pinterest, and I used Canva to create some of my own. Some women print them to display in the room while in labor, others read them as inspiration and motivation during their pregnancy. Having positive phrases that remind you of your strength and power will definitely help you stay positive!

Here are some of my favorite birth affirmations:

birth affirmations
Read more

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

Read more