The Motherhood Journey: 2016

The Motherhood Journey 2016

It’s a new year and I am looking forward to a new year of blogging consistently and growing as a mom. I can’t believe my son turns three this year.

This last year was not an easy year for me but there some good things that happened. this past year I started several new jobs including working at a home for teen moms. This last year I found community through church and through mom groups. This year I started a business with Trades of Hope. Through all the hard times I’ve held onto hope.

This is what the year looked like in my motherhood journey.

The Motherhood Journey 2016

The Motherhood Journey 2016

Babywearing: My son is getting older so I haven’t worn him much lately but babywearing (or toddler wearing) was necessary in so many situations. For example, stores that don’t have carts, long hikes, the zoo, and when he wanted to be held but I was cooking.Check out our photos from the photo shoot fundraiser for the local babywearing library. I encourage you to join your local babywearing group for help with carriers and to try the different types.

Bravery: As a mom going through big life changes and uncertain times, God helped me be brave. Read about how I went from fear to pursuing my dreams.

Flourish: I learned how to flourish and what things are important and necessary for feeding the soul. I love that this is an area where we can continually grow. As moms, it is so important that we take care of ourselves as we take care of our little ones.

Fun: As a mom including fun times for your children is so important, especially if you work from home. I have greatly improved with my time management but also need to make sure my son is having a good time. One of the ways I did this was by creating a quiet time basket to keep him occupied while I did work or had my own “quiet time”.

Top 4 posts on the blog this year

  1. Why I chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to Potty Train My 18 Month Old

It has been almost a year since I potty trained Hezekiah and to be honest he still has accidents occasionally. I don’t regret potty training him “early” though. We saved a lot of diapers and my son gained a lot of independence. Potty training is not easy and I don’t know how I would have done it without this book and the support I had.

2. Tips for helping your child adjust to a sibling

I still only have one child but most of my friends have at least two kids so I had lots of sources. In the future, these tips will be very helpful.

3. How to have dates after baby

Going on a date when you have a new baby can seem impossible for some couples. In this post I give some ideas to make it happen.

4. The truth about postpartum depression, anxiety and baby blues

This was a guest post but I am glad that it was so popular since this is an important topic.

What four words described your year as a mom?

Preparing for postpartum (printable worksheet)

There are so many things to think about when you are about to welcome a new baby into your family whether this is your first child, you’re adopting, or you already have children. I created this worksheet to give families a place to have all of the information they are going to need in the weeks after giving birth. I suggest working on this worksheet during your third trimester of pregnancy so that you are prepared for a restful postpartum.

preparing-for-postpartum with printable worksheet

Preparing for Postpartum with printable worksheet

Meals

In the weeks following the birth of your child, you and your partner are not going to have much time to spend on meals. Having a plan for meals will reduce stress and allow for more time bonding as a new family. Nutritious and nourishing meals are so important during this time. In the weeks leading up to your birth, you can make extras of some of your meals to freeze. There are several websites that allow you to create a sign up so that friends and family can help you by providing meals. Another option is to be prepared to order from local restaurants that have delivery. This is another way that friends and family can help you if they don’t like to cook.

Snacks are so important for nursing moms, so ask somebody to pick up some healthy snacks next time they are at the store. I recommend snacks that are easy to eat while in bed.

20 one handed snack ideas for breastfeeding mamas from Paula Kathlyn

Tip: People can buy disposable baking pans from the dollar store. I suggest buying these so that you don’t have to coordinate returning the dishes.

Support People

Who is going to help you after the birth of your baby? Do you know who you can turn to when you need help? Usually, your partner will take some time off of work to be there for you and the baby. Sometimes family members will come over to help. If you don’t think your family visiting is actually going to be helpful, feel free to ask them to wait. You need this time to rest, heal and bond with baby; breastfeeding is established during this time. The time my husband had off work overlapped with the time my mom was in town to help out. Looking back, I wish it would not have overlapped.

Postpartum doulas are another great resource. Their job is to help new moms. I recently went into more detail about the role of postpartum doulas. Read that here. If you need help finding a doula, check out my doula resource page,.

Breastfeeding

If you plan on breastfeeding, being prepared definitely helps but most women need some kind of help with breastfeeding after they give birth. It is worth it though. When I was pregnant, I attended several classes and read a couple of books about breastfeeding. It wasn’t easy but I felt confident and knew what to do.

I had at least two incidences where I needed to call a “professional” for help. There was a breastfeeding hotline that I called in the middle of the night and another time I called a La Leche League Leader to find out if a prescription I had was safe to take while breastfeeding. These are the phone numbers you need to have on your refrigerator or in your phone.

Another way to prepare for breastfeeding is to make a basket with all of the things you will need while nursing. Here are some ideas for things to include: water bottle, nursing pads, snacks, a breastfeeding book (I read this one), nipple cream (this is the one I used and I loved it), and burp cloths.

The Best Baby Shower Gift for Breastfeeding Moms: The Breastfeeding Basket

More breastfeeding resources on The Motherhood Journey.

Your other children

Have you arranged childcare for after your baby is born? If you already have regular childcare, I encourage you to take advantage of it and continue (even if just once a week) even though you aren’t working.

Besides childcare, you can prepare activities to keep your children occupied while you breastfeed or put your baby down for a nap.

The Nursing Box – toddler + new baby help

How to Keep a Toddler Busy While Putting Baby To Sleep

http://www.teachingandmuchmoore.com/2012/04/mommy-tip-for-nursing-moms-and-freebie.html

Comfort

I suggest investing in some comfortable clothing. Minimal clothing is best to keep you in bed and make breastfeeding easier. Open cardigans and robes are great for keeping you warm and allow for skin to skin with your newborn.

Chores

The new mom should not do any chores for at least two weeks. Write out a list of chores for your partner, postpartum doula, family and other visitors and post it on your fridge so that your support people will know how to help you.

Did you do anything to help you prepare for postpartum? Is this list missing something?

 

 

 

How postpartum doulas help new moms

how postpartum doulas help new moms

Last week, I had a guest post from Katie of Milk and Nectar share about being a birth doula. Now I would like to share about postpartum doulas and what they do.  After birth, mothers need to be supported and have time for rest so that they can focus on taking care of their newborn.

How Postpartum Doulas Help New Moms

how postpartum doulas help new moms

The transition to motherhood is hard and sometimes lonely. I want to be there to help. I believe that some postpartum depression can be prevented if women had more support and less pressure as new moms.

Postpartum is not easy. New babies are great but this is also the biggest change a woman goes through. Not to mention the pressures and expectations from people around her. Hormones and emotions play a big role during this time.

Support is so important during the postpartum period. The right kind of support is even better. A lot of people want to help new moms but they don’t know how. Meals are always appreciated but new moms need space and privacy. I had plenty of support after the birth of my son but my biggest regret is having my mom and husband there at the same time. I would have received another week of help if my husband would have taken the next week off.

As a postpartum doula, I want to encourage the bond between parents and their baby. If the family has other children, I will help the whole family by offering suggestions for sibling adjustment.

The role of a postpartum doula is to take care of new moms so that they can focus on their new baby. Sometimes this includes encouraging the dad in his new role and giving both parents confidence in caring for the baby. This should be a time of relaxation and bonding not stress.

As a postpartum doula, here are some of the ways I will support the mom: When I arrive, I will make sure she is comfortable in all aspects (breastfeeding, body, boundaries, feels supported emotionally) and I will ask her what she needs most at the time. That could be rest, help with breastfeeding, food, water, a chance to take a shower… etc.

I encourage moms to limit visitors because they can be emotionally exhausting. The most important thing with visitors is that the mom knows her limits and communicates what she needs with others (i.e. privacy so that she can breastfeed). Visitors can be difficult in the beginning because being a new mom can be overwhelming and exhausting.

My presence as a postpartum doula will allow and encourage the mom to stay in bed. I will bring her food and drinks and make sure that she has all of her supplies (nipple salve, diapers, etc)  close to her. In the first couple of weeks moms do need fresh air and sunlight but they should not feel obligated to run errands (except appointments). I can go grocery shopping and/ or order food for the mom.

postpartum doula gift certificate

To be honest, after having my son I was not very good at resting but if I would have had a postpartum doula during the day taking care of me, it would have been easier. Rest and spending time in bed may sound boring but if you find things that are relaxing and nourish your soul, rest can be relaxing and beneficial to your ability to care for your new baby.

I want to be available for emotional support and encouragement, answering questions and helping the mom find resources that will help her become the best version of themselves.

The biggest way that postpartum doulas support families is by offering practical household help including laundry, tidying, meal prep and sibling care.

Postpartum doulas help make the transition to motherhood easier. After meeting immediate needs, I will ask how I can help smooth out the next couple of days or couple of weeks. Sometimes postpartum doulas only come once for a few hours and sometimes they come repeatedly. The role of a postpartum doula is to meet the needs of the families she is working with and that looks different for everybody.

We help parents come up with solutions to any problems they may be having. I can help moms with babywearing and breastfeeding. I do have some experience with elimination communication so if a family is interested in EC, I would love to support them.

A lot of the information in this post is inspired by Bear Mama Medicine’s guide for a healing postpartum.

If you are interested in hiring a postpartum doula to help you transition to motherhood, check out my postpartum services or doula resources.

If you were to have a postpartum doula, what would you most like them to do for you?

Doula resources

doula resources

Birth doulas and postpartum doulas play such an important role in helping moms during the journey of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I had a birth doula present when giving birth to my son and I can’t imagine doing it without her calm and steady support. Our wonderful midwives sent a postpartum doula to spend some time with us the first night after my son was born. These experiences and my passion to help women has led me on this journey to becoming a postpartum doula. Check out my postpartum services here.

Doula Resources

doula resources

DONA International find a doula near you

DoulaMatch.net find a doula near you
NAPS (Northwest Association for Postpartum Support) find a postpartum doula in the Puget Sound Region

Bloom Spokane find a birth doula or postpartum doula in the Spokane area

Brittany Furgason at Knit Together Births, Birth doula in Tacoma, WA

Xylina Weaver at Spokane Birth Support, birth and postpartum doula in Spokane, WA

Tammy Huguein at Tiny Toes Birth ServicesPostpartum doula in Spokane, WA

Courageous Beginnings Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum Services at C.A.R.E Alliance NW in Spokane, WA

Helen Martin at Born Ready LLC, postpartum doula in the Seattle area (I interviewed Helen for this post about elimination communication).

Courtney Pegram at Small Beginnings Photography and Birth Services, birth doula in the Spokane area (Courtney took these photos.)

Morgan Brooks birth and bereavement doula in Spokane, WA

Esther Edith doula and photographer in Spokane, WA

Over the Moon Birthing in Spokane

Natalie Bee Photography birth doula, postpartum doula

The Truth About Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and Baby Blues

Title photo

I’m so excited to be hosting my first guest post. I met Lisa in a Facebook group for women bloggers. She is such a great blogger: I love her honesty and encouragement. This is a topic that I don’t have much experience with but as a postpartum doula, I am passionate about helping new moms through the transition to motherhood especially if they are feeling any depression, anxiety or baby blues.

The Truth About Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and Baby Blues

Guest post by Lisa at The Mother Blog

Title photo

So you just birthed a baby out of your own body. First of all, you’re a superhero! Second of all, forgive your body for what it is about to go through for the next couple of months. You will soon experience feelings and emotions you’ve never felt before. Why is this? The simple answer is hormones. Your body produces such an abundance of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy that the sudden decrease after giving birth sends you into an extreme whirlwind of emotions and reactions. If you think about it, you’re also experiencing a drastic decrease in sleep and a life changing shift in routine. That alone is enough to place stress on your body, but add changing hormones and it’s a miracle new mothers survive at all. So what should you expect? Hopefully you are able to give birth and adjust to this new life without any major hiccups. Unfortunately statistics say that around 90% of mothers will experience baby blues or postpartum depression or anxiety.

Baby Blues

Baby blues is defined as the early onset symptoms of postpartum depression. The difference between the two is that baby blues will subside within a few weeks. Symptoms are less severe with baby blues. Once your hormones level out, your emotional health will go back to normal, or as normal as can be with a new child in the mix. You can speed the process along by getting more sleep (yeah right!), eating healthy and whole foods, and keeping your life as simple as possible.

Tip: Take the first couple of weeks to focus on adjusting to your new addition. Tell your friends and family that you would appreciate their presence in meeting your newest family member, but not until he/she is at least two weeks old in order to easily adjust to your new lives. If they feel like they must help in some way, don’t be afraid to ask them to deliver a healthy dish on your porch and invite them to come over as soon as you feel comfortable.

(Read more about the first two weeks with your baby here.)

Postpartum Depression

Disclaimer: If you ever feel the urge to hurt yourself or your baby in the months after giving birth, please seek professional help right away. Remove yourself from your baby and call your healthcare provider at that moment.

Postpartum depression has similar symptoms of baby blues, but these symptoms are amped up to an extreme and last longer. This affects around 10% of women after giving birth, so you are not alone! If you think about all the women who give birth daily you realize just how staggering this number is. There is absolutely nothing to feel ashamed about because this is out of your control. But finding help to combat PPD is not out of your control. I did not suffer from postpartum depression, but I had a close friend who did. We gave birth to our first children, both sons, a day apart. She is expecting her second son this spring. For this article, I decided that in order to give an accurate depiction of postpartum depression I would interview her on her own personal experience.

When did you know you had postpartum depression and not just baby blues?

Probably 5-6 months postpartum. I’m still not 100% sure if what I was going through was strictly from postpartum or a combination of being isolated in a new city where we had no family and friends. Probably a good mix of the two along with agonizing over every little detail of mothering.

What specific feelings/reactions did you struggle with the most when you had PPD?

I specifically had resentful feelings and feelings of physical violation at my worst times. I still struggle with being touched. Breastfeeding was something very complicated for me as time went on and I felt like I was stuck doing it. I still support it and believe it’s the healthiest option but it may not always be worth sacrificing the way you feel about your own body and your ability to feel well while going through the very tough learning curve of being a new mom. I also had very sudden moments of anger and crying that never got dangerous or out of control but were enough to scare me and make me accept that I was not in a good way.

What was your defining moment/situation that caused you to get help?

I don’t think I really had a defining moment, it was more of a buildup. I just remember sitting on the steps of my old duplex and telling my husband I didn’t know how to fix what I was feeling and I wanted to try going to a counselor.

How did you find help?

I went to the local Family Counseling Center and met with an OB to recommend a therapist.

What are you most afraid of with having another child?

I’m mostly concerned with adjusting back to having much less time to “fill my own cup” and having time to recharge mentally through the day. And having enough help on a daily basis.

What are you doing to safeguard against future PPD?

I don’t think we can necessarily safeguard against having postpartum struggles because there are just so many variables. How the pregnancy and delivery turn out, the living situation, the financial situation…I currently feel confident about everything surrounding me and I feel prepared as best I can to manage the big change.

Do you have any advice for new mothers?

The advice I would give is to remember that everything is a phase. Newborn phase can be isolating, toddler phase can be chaotic. Do your best to keep in mind that this is a sliver of the big picture and that you’ll work through everything and learn as you go. You’ll get nothing but stronger, more mature and more experienced. My confidence in myself has gone up exponentially since having my son, in spite of some of my personal issues I had to navigate.

Postpartum Anxiety

We don’t talk about postpartum anxiety a lot because people assume it is the same as PPD, but the truth is that it is not. I did not have symptoms of depression after my son was born, but my anxiety was magnified. I wrote a post specifically highlighting my postpartum experience with anxiety at www.themotherblog.com/motherhood-mistakes. Long story short is that until I received professional help, I was not able to bond with my son at all. I had materialized him into this milk guzzling, emotion draining, sleep killing machine. Postpartum anxiety, like any anxiety disorder, can disrupt your daily life so much that you cannot function day-to-day. This can become dangerous to relationships, your own well-being, and the emotional growth of your new baby. If you have extreme worries about your baby, your life after your new baby, or your partner’s adjustment to your new baby, or racing thoughts that you cannot slow down you might be suffering for postpartum anxiety.

You are entitled to find help for yourself if you think you have or are susceptible to postpartum depression or anxiety. Women who have a family history of depression or anxiety disorder or themselves have a history of these illnesses are more vulnerable to postpartum anxiety or depression. Or if you have extreme PMS symptoms and mood changes you are more likely to have postpartum issues. The good news is that there are professionals available everywhere to help you. The best thing you can do for your family is to get help for yourself.  Your OB/GYN or midwife will check in during your recovery to make sure you are not experiencing PPD or PPA, and if you are they can direct you to a professional in the field. There are many postpartum support resources at Postpartum Support International, including links to professionals and groups in your area. You are not alone in this journey of motherhood, so please feel free to connect with me @ www.themotherblog.com for support.

Do you have any advice for dealing with postpartum depression, anxiety or baby blues?

Five Essentials for surviving life with a newborn

I’ve seen lots of lists of newborn essentials but those lists were missing some of the most essential things: resources and support that will help you establish a positive breastfeeding relationship and bond with your new baby. These essentials are not about certain products but knowledge of where to go for help. That’s my hope that as a postpartum doula I will be one of those sources for new moms and that this blog will be a source for new moms. Here’s five essentials that helped me survive life with a newborn:

Five Essentials for Surviving Life with a Newborn

Five essentials to surviving the newborn days

Breastfeeding resources
I felt pretty prepared for breastfeeding my son. Before my son was born, I attended 3 breastfeeding classes (one at the hospital where I was planning on giving birth, one as part of my childbirth class, and one put on by a peer counselor at WIC). I also read a couple of books about breastfeeding including Baby Led Breastfeeding by Gil Rapley. Even with all that preparation, it didn’t go perfectly but I knew who to call and what resources were available to me if I had any problems after my son was born. There was a local breastfeeding hotline that I called at 4 in the morning. I attended a breastfeeding clinic at a local hospital when my son was one week old. A couple months later, I still had questions so I attended a La Leche League meeting.

With breastfeeding comes a lot of nipple pain so I recommend a nipple salve for those first few weeks. I used WishGarden’s New Mother’s Nursing Balm which was given to me by my midwife.

More breastfeeding resources here.

Support
It’s important to surround yourself with people who are supportive and willing to help out with whatever you need. The week before my son was born, my husband and I discussed how he could help me So that we would be on the same page. He was supportive by bringing me food and water. It was important for him to understand that it would be awhile before I would be able to do my normal chores. My mom came to help for a week and my husband took a week off work but looking back I think it would have been better if my mom’s visit would not have overlapped with my husband’s time off work. The role of a postpartum doula is to fill in the gap and help in whichever way is most needed by the mom. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Before my son was born, I wrote out a list of the chores people could do when they stopped by.

Baby carrier
Baby carriers (like ring slings, soft structured carriers and stretchy wraps) make it possible to go to the bathroom, eat lunch and walk to the mailbox. My newborn wanted to be held all the time and using a baby carrier allowed me to do that and use my hands at the same time. Ring slings were my favorite because it didn’t require any commitment. It was easy to put him in the ring sling before I had gotten dressed for the day. We also used our Ergo and Moby all the time. Baby carriers are also helpful for skin to skin time; The first time we took Hezekiah for a walk, I was just wearing the Moby with a sweater over to cover my back.

Meals
We were so blessed by all of the meals provided to us after my son was born. Before my son was born we set up a meal request on a website like Take Them A Meal or Meal Train. This helps give people a practical way to help you. Be sure to include foods that easy for mom to eat throughout the day (while nursing) like parfaits and protein snacks.

Babymoon
In the book Baby Led Breastfeeding, author Gil Rapley encourages moms to take the first couple of weeks to focus on establishing breastfeeding and bonding with baby. This means no chores (don’t worry about the mess, this time is important). This is the also an important time to have support but also privacy so that you can spend as much time skin to skin with your baby as possible. During this time, I lived in yoga pants and a wrap cardigan. This is meant to be a cozy and relaxing time. Limiting your visitors during this time while you are learning to breastfeed so that you are ready to feed your baby on demand.

What was essential to you surviving the newborn stage?