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5 Things NOT to Say to A Pregnant Woman

So many of us have been there.  So many of us are still in the journey.  Pregnancy comes with lots of joys and challenges.  One challenge is the people who feel the need to say things we would rather not hear.   This blog is for them.

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  1.  “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”  That is just what every mom needs to hear…NOT.  She already feels fat and uncomfortable.  The last thing she wants is to know that someone else thinks she’s huge too.  What she really needs to hear is that she looks good.  A great thing to say instead is “WOW!  You look amazing!”
  2. “You haven’t had that baby yet?!”  I guarantee that she is very much aware that she is still pregnant.  She is so excited to meet her baby and the day can’t get here fast enough.  You are not the first person to say this to her, and you won’t be the last.  A much better comment would be “I bet you are so excited to meet your new little one!”
  3. “You look like you are ready to pop!”  This is even worse if she is only 6 months pregnant. And it goes along with #1.  Every woman wants to feel beautiful.  That gets harder the bigger she gets.  She would love to hear “You are beautiful.  Growing a baby is hard work.  Good job, mama!”
  4. “Birth is awful!  You’ll never guess what happened to me!”  No one goes to a bridal shower and tells their terrible divorce stories, so why do we hear so many scary birth stories at a baby shower?  Moms are already nervous about childbirth, this can make it so much worse.  Keep it positive. A great thing to say is “I’m sure you’ll have a beautiful birth!”
  5. “You’ll never be able to have your baby without an epidural, it’s just too painful!”  This actually can have several different versions, depending on how the mom is choosing to labor and give birth.  However she has decided to give birth, the best thing that we can do is be supportive of her and her choices.  A good thing for her to hear is “I hope you have the birth you want.  I believe in you!”

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience.  Even if you have done it before.  Their body is changing daily.  Their life life will never be the same after this experience.  SO, let’s let them know how amazing they are.  Let’s support them during this time in their life, because their pregnancy (and birth) story matters.

The Journey into Motherhood

The journey into motherhood looks different for every woman.  It even looks different for women with each of their babies.  My journey with Thomas (my 15 year old) was much different than with Sierra (my 13 year old).  Each pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is so special.  Every time a mom grows, births, and mothers her children, it will be unique.  It’s a journey that she should not have to walk by herself.  The people that come along side her are very important.  They will encourage, support, and love her.

Her partner is perhaps the most important.  Together, they will journey into parenthood.  Mom will go through lots of changes and knowing that she is loved and supported is meaningful.  This can look different for each person.  It might be foot rubs in the evening, listening as she is crying over what seems like nothing, helping her get comfortable even though it takes 10 pillows, or driving to the store to get pickles at 11 at night.  But it will always mean loving her, celebrating with her, and enjoying the journey day by day.

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Her family is another important piece of the team.  She will need their support, as well.  This means supporting her choices, even when they differ from the other women in the family.  It means staying positive and telling her that they believe in her.  It means celebrating the life that is growing inside her.

Women often don’t know the importance of a good provider.  Someone that listens to their concerns.  The right provider will have a similar view of birth as the mom.  They will support her decisions and if something happens that changes the plan, they will make sure that she and her partner understand what is happening.  The right provider will make a mom feel safe and she will trust them with herself and her baby.

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The doula is the final piece.  A doula will come along side the woman and her family.  She will be there to offer support in any way that is needed.  Mom will be able to call or text anytime.  She will talk with a woman about her fears, her excitement, and anything else she needs to talk about.  She will help the partner to feel confident in their role.  She is not a replacement, she is an addition.  The doula will “hold space” for the mom, helping her voice to be heard.  The right doula will help a woman feel confident, supported, and understood.

In many situations, one or more of these pieces might be missing.  She might be a single mom, or her partner might have to be gone during labor and delivery (as is often the case with military families).  She might have a rough relationship with her family, or have a provider that doesn’t always agree with what she wants.  One thing she can count on is that her doula will support her.  The right doula will know that every birth story matters.

5 Things Your Newborn Wishes They Could Tell You

You did it!  You grew a baby in your belly and you gave birth to your beautiful little one. You and your family are so excited to get to know this little one.  And your baby is getting to know you…and the world around them.  There is a lot going on in their little body.  Here are 5 things that your baby wants you to know (from baby’s point of view:)).

  1.  Skin-to-skin is one of my favorite things.  I love being close to you (and daddy).  It’s where I feel safest.  I know you and I know your smell.  I don’t want skin-to-skin to end when we leave the hospital.  My whole first year I want to be held and snuggled skin-to-skin.  It’s so good for both of us, and daddy too.
  2. The world is a scary place.  When I was in your belly, everything was muted.  I could hear your heart and your breathing, but now everything is so loud!  There are sights, smells, and sounds that are brand new to me. Even wearing clothes feels strange. It can be very overwhelming.  When it is, I just want to snuggle into you and go to sleep.
  3. Nursing is also one of my favorite things…and not just for eating. Sometimes I just want to be held and comforted.  Sometimes I don’t feel well and nursing helps me feel better.  Sometimes I am scared or tired and nursing will help me to sleep and calm down.  When I am nursing, I can smell you and hear your heartbeat.  It is very soothing.couch-baby
  4. I have no idea what a schedule is.  This newborn thing is hard (it must be hard for you too).  I don’t know when bedtime is, or when to take naps.  Sometimes I want to sleep for 4 hours, sometimes for 30 minutes.  Give me some time and I will settle into a routine (but it probably will still change from time to time).
  5. You cannot love me enough. I won’t get “spoiled”.  I promise that I won’t always need you as much as I do right now.  Eventually, I will want to explore my world.  I will have my own opinions and make my own choices, but right now you are the most important thing in the world to me.

The first couple of months of parenthood can be really hard.  Everything from nursing to learning what your baby’s different cries mean.  There will be days where you don’t think that you can take one more sleepless night.  But you will make it.  You only get these days with this baby once.  Cherish them.  Because your story matters.

 

What You Don’t Know

I talk to a lot of moms, both pregnant and not.  That makes sense, right? I’m a doula.  Pregnancy, birth, and babies are my business.  I love it all and I love talking about it!  However, one of my favorites is talking to first time pregnant moms.  There is something about that first time.  It’s all new and exciting.  And scary!  I’ve heard lots of moms say they don’t even know what questions to ask.  They don’t even know where to begin.  And often their husbands feel the same.  They don’t know what they don’t know.

It’s never too early in your pregnancy to start thinking about what is best for you and your baby.  There are lots of ways to approach your pregnancy and birth.  And lots of information about all of them.  It can be very overwhelming.  There are some great resources out there.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Birth Boot Camp (they have an excellent online childbirth class!)
  2. Spinning Babies
  3. Dr. Sears
  4. Evidence Based Birth

When you start to educate yourself, then you will start to know what you want.  Not what your mom wants, or your care provider, but what you want.  Everyone loves to tell moms what they should do and how they should do it, but this is your choice and your family.  When you know your options and what is best for you, then your voice will start to come out.i-believe-in-your-bodys-ability-to-have-your-baby-and-in-your-ability-to-know-your-body

Another thing that is important is to build your support system.  These are the people that you turn to with your questions, concerns, and fears.  It doesn’t need to be more than just a few people.  Your partner,  your doula, your provider, or other moms.  They just need to be people you trust.

My job as a doula is not to tell you what you don’t know (although, I do have a lot of knowledge to share), but to help you find the answers you are looking for.  I will come beside you and your partner and walk this journey with you.  I trust the decisions you will make.  I trust you to know what is best for your family.  I believe in you!  We will talk about your fears and concerns. I will listen when you are having a hard day or are sick of being pregnant.  I will encourage you to listen to your body.  I will support you in any way you need.  Why? Because  I love moms, dads, babies, families.  And I know that every birth story matters.

It’s Your Birth, You Can Have Who You Want To

It’s getting close.  You have spent 9 long months growing your baby and waiting to meet him or her.  Lots  of decisions have been made.  You’ve thought about the when and the where.  Family and friends are sharing in your excitement and can’t wait to meet your little one.  You’re grateful for all the support and love, but when the big day gets here, the question remains…who do you want to be with you during the birth of your baby?

This is a conversation that I have a lot with lots of clients. They generally have a good idea of who they would like there.  The thing is, they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  They  question whether or not to set their feelings aside and choose someone they  may not feel comfortable having at the birth.  This can leave a mom feeling confused and anxious.  So, how do you decide?

In middle Georgia, you are generally allowed to have up to 3 people in the delivery room with you.  One of those people is almost always your partner.  So that leaves you with 2 people.  If you have a doula (which I highly recommend), you are now left with one.  It’s one of the most important decisions you will make.  It can be the difference between a wonderful experience and one that leaves you feeling traumatized.

Here are some things to consider when you and your partner are deciding  who to have at your birth:

*Will this person be supportive of any decisions that you make?  So often, people bring in their own views of birth and can want moms to deliver “their” way.  It’s essential that everyone in the room is there in support of mom, her partner, and the baby.

*Does this person get along with your partner?  The last thing a mom needs when she is delivering a baby is for there to be tension in the room.  The support team should be unified.  The environment should feel safe and peaceful.

*Does the mom feel safe with this person?  Birth is hard work.  Mom needs to focus on herself and her baby.  When she feels safe and secure, she can  do the work she needs to do to bring her little one into the world.

Every situation is different, and there are lots of variables.  The important thing to remember is that this is your birth.  You get to choose who is there.  Feelings might get hurt, people might not always understand.  But, this is the only time you will get to give birth to this baby.  Make it what you want it to be.  Because this birth story matters.

Better Births = Better Comunities

One of my favorite things is hearing a mom tell me her birth story and knowing that she had a great experience.  I have two children and I know how much our births impact us.  But more often than I would like, a mom will tell me that her birth was not what she wanted it to be.  She felt alone, she wasn’t heard, or she did’t feel like she had enough support.  Sometimes the couple doesn’t know that they can have a voice in how their baby comes into the world.  Or maybe no one was there to help with breastfeeding. These stories are too common in our country.

So, how do we change birth stories?  How do we help moms to have the best births possible.

We start by helping women to educate themselves.  There are so many resources out there.  Childbirth education classes like Birth Boot Camp, Lamaze, the Bradley method, or the ones at the hospitals can be an excellent way for moms to decide what type of birth they want.  We have The Woman’s Nest, where women can find all sorts of support groups and classes.  And Facebook has tons of groups for all sorts of things pregnancy, birth, and baby related.

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Next, we let her know that she has choices.  Which doctor or midwife to see.  Where to give birth.  Who will be her pediatrician.  She can choose what is best for her family.  And when women do that, then things will start to change.  Like hospitals now offering tubs to labor in and encouraging skin to skin after delivery.  We have to demand that we get the care  we want and deserve.

Finally, we give our moms all the support they need.  This can be cooking meals or cleaning the house after the baby is born, watching her little ones while she is having her baby, or even just listening to her voice her emotions and fears.  All to often a mom just needs to know that she is not alone.

So, how does this effect our communities.  It’s simple.  When a mom has an amazing birth, she is able to  focus on her new baby and being a mom.  As a result, we have happier and healthier moms and babies.  That makes for a happier families.  And happy families make happy communities.  It’s the ripple effect.

As a doula, I strive to give the best care to all of my clients. I give them relational and emotional support, so that they never feel alone. I support them in their decisions.  I help them get any information that they need to make the best choices for their family.  I know that by doing this I am not only helping them, I am helping the middle Georgia community.  I know that each story matters.

A Place for All Women

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to the  Mommy’s Milk Breastfeeding Circle.  It is held in The Woman’s Nest in Macon.  I had never been there and I was so happy with what I saw.  The middle Georgia area has needed a place like this for so long and I am thrilled that we now have one.

The Woman’ Nest is owned and run by Lindsey Kyte, CNM.   When I got there,  I was immediately amazed at how warm and inviting it is.  They have converted a little white house into a place that women can go and find support of any kind.  I was there for the breastfeeding support group, so there were little ones and babies everywhere.  It was a safe place for the moms, as well as their children.  The room was beautifully decorated.  It was designed to make everyone feel comfortable.  The meeting felt like a group of friends just getting together for a play date.  It was an honor to be surrounded by such amazing women.

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Lindsey is  warm and caring.  You can tell how passionate she is about reaching out to her community within moments of meeting her.  When asked about it, this is what she said,

“I strongly have a passion for women being supported by women at all stages in their life but especially during motherhood…. we need to feel loved, appreciated, lifted, worthy, and not judged because we are so critical and judgmental of ourselves and abilities as women….We are all fabulous and have a lot to share with the world and I want women to feel that and have a sisterhood that brings it out in them!”

This place is wonderful.  You will feel welcome the moment you step in the door.  Their goal is to provide support for women in all stages of motherhood.  Because of Lindsey’s love and passion, women in middle Georgia now have place to go to.  They have classes, retreats, and circles.  All there to help improve the lives of families in GA.  Because when you improve the lives of moms, you are improving the lives of those around them. That has a ripple effect.  It can only make our community stronger.

As a doula, I love families and am grateful for anything that helps them in their journey.  The Woman’s Nest does just that.  We all need a bit of help now and then and a safe place to find it.  Because our stories matter.  They matter to us and those around us.  They matter to Lindsey too.

Thank you, Lindsey, for giving the moms in our area the support they need.