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A Postnatal Plan. What’s that and should I have one?

Birth is just the beginning.

Of course birth and birth planning is important. The day you give birth will be one you remember for the rest of your life. But it is just one day of your child’s life and it is just the beginning of your parenting journey. This is why you might want a postnatal plan as well as a birth plan. The first six weeks with your baby are likely to be some of the most intense of your life. It’s really normal for the time to feel like it is going so slowly and this newborn phase is going on forever when you’re going through it. Then to wonder where the time went as soon as you reach 8 weeks and look back now your baby has made themselves at home in your life. As the saying goes the days are long but the years are short.

Don’t worry this isn’t one of those trite exhortations to love and cherish every hard moment. This is an encouragement that if you feel the length of these days you are not alone and there is support available and it’s okay to look after yourself too.

So what is a postnatal plan exactly?

Just like a birth plan a postnatal plan is a list of things you can and will do to help yourself. It’s also a list of things those supporting and caring for you can and should do. Like with labour and birth there are certain challenges to being a new parent and these challenges can be managed in several different ways. Different things will help different people and your decisions are right for you. However, it’s much easier to see and think clearly about what will help you when you’re not already sleep deprived. So a postnatal plan is a list of things you may need support with and your choices for the form that support will take.

What should be on your postnatal plan? Making a postnatal plan

  1. Ways to look after yourself. Things that help you feel relaxed and cared for. Plan for keeping yourself hydrated and nourished. This might mean creating a snack station with plenty of easy to eat but nutritious food (like these yummy chocolate balls for example) and a big water bottle. It also includes making someone (your partner or your mum or your postnatal doula for example) responsible for making sure that it stays topped up. So it’s always there for you when you sit down to feed your baby or when you get a moment between your baby falling asleep and you joining them. Plan for what you will do when someone else is holding your baby (knowing that babies rarely like to be put down for long). Will you have a shower, or take a walk around the block by yourself or do some meditation or relaxation? This can be anything that you already know will restore you mentally. Planning to make those things your priority and knowing that they are important will help avoid the temptation to let other things (like filling the dishwasher) steal your time.
  2. Know you need to be looked after and be prepared to accept help. Our culture has tended to leave us believing strong people can manage everything themselves but we’re really not biologically designed to parent alone and unsupported. We all need our tribe, accepting help and support actually makes you stronger. Really getting that into our heads is one thing that can help us keep our mental health good during this time of new parenthood. Your postnatal plan can include a list of tasks that you will feel better if they are done so that those who visit can read through and pick a task to do while they are there. Plan to sleep when your baby sleeps and clean when your baby cleans (one way to do that is to get yourselves a sling and any time you really feel something needs doing you can do it and baby can keep on having a cuddle which is every baby’s second priority – feeding being their first).
  3. Make a list of all the places you can go for support when you need some. The people you can message or call any time of day or night to say is this normal? It’s especially common to need help and support with getting breastfeeding established. Breastfeeding promotion sometimes makes it seem like it’s the most natural thing in the world and everyone can do it easily. But really the majority of people need some support to get breastfeeding established. Sometimes that’s peer support, just people who have been there and done it and can offer encouragement. But often it’s also professional support. Knowing where to find a local breastfeeding counselor or lactation consultant and having their number in your postnatal plan will help you remember that it’s normal to need help and you know where to go for it. Check our post on breastfeeding suport to help you make sure you’re finding good quality supporters.

Would you like some help and support making and carrying out your postnatal plan? Pop over to our find a doula page and book a postnatal doula.

Normal for a Newborn

If you’re feeling prepared for your birth but really worried or apprehensive about what comes next, you’re very much not alone. A lot of people haven’t even held a newborn baby before they are handed their own and expected to immediately take complete responsibility for them. One of the things we do as postnatal doulas is to reassure parents that their newborn is behaving normally and that they are doing a good job of finding and following their instincts.

This list isn’t comprehensive but it’s a good start for checking many of the things newborns do that are completely normal. 

    1. My newborn wants to be held all the time.

      Yes, this is normal. Your baby is in what we call the fourth trimester  (just like the trimesters of pregnancy). This term recognises that compared to other mammals human babies are born relatively early in their development due to our large brains and relatively small pelvis shape. As a result, babies are happiest when kept in similar conditions to the womb (warm, low light, skin to skin, hearing your heartbeat) and allowed to get used to the world gradually and at their own pace. One of the easiest ways to keep holding your baby but also be able to go anywhere or eat anything is to use a sling. Check out our post on the benefits of slings for more information.

    2. My newborn is always hungry.

      Yes, that’s normal. Newborn babies have very tiny tummies. They feed little and often. They also get lots of comfort from being close to you and from suckling. Your breastfed newborn needs to feed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. Your bottle-fed newborn can also be fed little and often as required but follow your healthcare providor’s advice about how much formula is needed in 24 hours. There’s lots of good information about normal breastfeeding on the KellyMom website and lots of good information about bottle feeding for newborns in this leaflet.

    3. My baby doesn’t follow any routine.

      Yes, this is normal. Our expectations of babies and ourselves in the newborn period is often heavily affected by the myth of a ‘good’ baby perpetuated by childcare ‘experts’ based on the Victorian ideal that children be seen and not heard. So the ideal has been to separate as quickly as possible from our children, for them to follow a routine set by us and to sleep without our input during the night. The problem with this is it simply goes against our natural instincts and what our babies are naturally capable of. Keeping our babies close to us, carrying them and sleeping close by, feeding them when they are hungry follows our natural instincts and helps build a secure connection and good future mental health for our children. Routine is not important to your baby but if you feel better in yourself when you have a routine to follow it’s fine to work out a flexible routine that works for you once your baby is a little older (maybe around 6-8 weeks) and more used to life in the world.

    4. My baby doesn’t sleep ‘like a baby’.

      Yes, this is normal. It might feel like your new-born never sleeps. It’s probably not true but it’s probably true that they don’t have any idea what time of day or night it is and they definitely don’t have any idea we’re ‘supposed’ to sleep mostly at night.

      Newborn babies usually sleep quite a lot in the first few weeks but it’s usually in comparatively short bursts and more often than not they sleep best in close proximity to their mother.

      New-born babies will gradually start to concentrate their sleep a bit more to nighttime once they reach about 6-8 weeks but they will still need to feed frequently day or night. For the first six weeks at least, for your own sanity, you may need to think of yourself as having a 24 hour lifestyle. Plan your day and night around sleeping when your baby sleeps. Make comfy places to relax and feed your baby, be prepared with something to keep you occupied during long night feeds. Delegate housework to other family members or do it while your baby is awake in the sling or baby swing. Go to bed early or get up late and feel free to pop off for a nap when a trusted visitor arrives and can take over holding the baby for an hour. For more information on normal baby sleep click here https://www.isisonline.org.uk/

    5. My baby’s poo is black / brown / yellow

      Yes, that’s normal. The first poo your baby does is called meconium. It’s black and sticky and a serious job to clean off. As milk feeding is established your baby’s poo will turn gradually through brown to a yellow colour and about the consistency of runny scrambled egg (or sometimes more liquid). All that’s normal. This change in colour and in the first few weeks and a poo at least a couple of times a day (which may or may not be explosive) is all normal. Some green poo is also normal. If your baby has always got really green frothy poo and or if it smells really terrible then it might not be normal, this is the time to check with your health visitor or breastfeeding supporter if everything is going ok or if there might be something that needs tweaking.

    Always ask your doula any questions about anything you’re worried might not be normal. There’s no such thing as a stupid question and that’s what she’s there for, to help you gain your own confidence. Another way of encouraging yourself to gain confidence is to use positive affirmations. You will make up your own ones that are relevant to you but we’ve also put a few together to get you started.

Does it matter what your breastfeeding support person calls themselves?

 

Breastfeeding Support People are called all kinds of things. (Not all of them kind or nice things but that’s another story.)

Breastfeeding support is one of those areas where there’s little or no regulation as to who can set themselves up as a breastfeeding supporter or what they call themselves. One of the consequences is that you can see a lactation consultant and they might be someone with a degree in breastfeeding and many hours of experience supporting breastfeeding. Or they might be someone who used to be a midwife or trained as a nanny and thinks they know from experience. The thing is, some midwives know loads about breastfeeding and some nannies are great at educating themselves and naturals at support. But, you have no guarantees that you pick a great one and just as much chance that you pick one who really doesn’t know that much and will give you information and advice that leads to you giving up breastfeeding before you want to.

So how can you find good quality well-trained breastfeeding support? In the UK the best way to start is to look for local groups or ring a helpline that’s supported by the reputable and knowledgeable volunteers from one of the four main breastfeeding charities. The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, the Breastfeeding Network, the La Leche League and the National Childbirth Trust. These organisations all train their volunteers to a great standard and also train them to be honest and refer mums to someone who knows even more than they do when they reach the limit of their knowledge.

But what if you need that top level of knowledge, that expertise? If someone calls themselves a lactation consultant what you need to know is are they certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. Best way to find someone with this level of knowledge is to check the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain website.

It might be that you still need to do some research into local people, to find the right one for you.

But that’s just like you do with doulas, it’s about getting that feeling and clicking with someone when you already know they have the knowledge and training you’re looking for.

Here’s a personal tale on not stopping at the first person you ask for support with breastfeeding.

When my third baby was born I was already a qualified breastfeeding counsellor (with the ABM) you would think if anyone was going to find breastfeeding easy it would be me. This photo of our second feed is lovely because it shows how easy it is for even babies who struggle to get a good latch to keep hold of it in that laid back position. I love the photo of our first feed too (it’s not on the right storage device to share here now but maybe soon) because it really shows the truth

about the post-birth glamour (there really isn’t any glamour but there’s a kind of raw beauty to be sure). But what you can also see in that first feed photo is that from the very first feed I  had to support my daughter’s latch. She had a try at breast crawl and self-attachment and while she had it all going on with trying to find the breast she just couldn’t get a good enough latch to be happy until I gave her a little support.

Well as the first two weeks went by I put all the effort into all the things I was so used to telling other mums about. We used skin to skin contact and laid-back feeding positions but still, I was in so much pain I wanted to cry every time she wanted to feed (which was basically all the time.) But also because of having my breastfeeding training, I started to notice things about the way she fed and the way her tongue looked and wonder if she might have a tongue tie. Luckily for me, I also knew that the infant feeding co-ordinator at my local hospital was an IBCLC and that I could call her direct and say “help!” As a breastfeeding counsellor, I could be pretty sure we were struggling with tongue tie but it was so good to be able to hand over the worry and be reassured by the next level of expert. She confirmed  that yes, that was the problem, and I hadn’t just forgotten everything I knew and ‘done it wrong’ (there’s no right or wrong in mothering but sometimes it feels like that in the heat of the moment.) Also, luckily for me although the local hospital wasn’t treating tongue tie I could go to the one in the next town away and another wonderful IBCLC was able to divide my baby’s tongue tie and it was onward and upward (although of course not without twists and turns in the road) from there on.

So that is why I’m grateful for IBCLC’s on a personal level and a professional level and why I’m celebrating #happydayoftheibclc and that’s why I think it doesn’t matter what your breastfeeding supporter calls themselves it matters what they really know. I’m grateful there’s an easy way to tell if someone really knows their stuff or just likes the idea of being a lactation consultant.

 

Are you starting out with breastfeeding? Maybe our top tips can help it go smoothly for you and you won’t need the top level of support but at least if you do you know where to find it now.

 

Skin to skin. Not just for birth.

Skin to skin it’s the answer to everything.

You may have already read about skin to skin and how many benefits it has for babies when they are first born. If you’re pregnant now read up on those benefits and think about if you want to add skin to skin to be kept in your birth plan whatever else happens.newborn babies skin-to-skin

But if you’re looking back on what happened when your baby was born and skin to skin didn’t happen as you hoped for whatever reason don’t despair it’s not too late. Equally, if you’re looking back thinking how lovely that skin to skin time was now is a great time to get back skin to skin with your baby.

If you had a birth that didn’t go to plan or if you and baby are struggling to get breastfeeding going well or if you’re finding it difficult to feel that overwhelming bonding and falling in instant love that you’ve been lead to expect will happen as soon as baby arrives skin to skin can help. Skin to skin can happen as much as you like, any time you’re in the house you can snuggle skin to skin under a blanket or pop baby skin to skin in a stretchy sling. Skin to skin raises oxytocin (the feel good loving hormone) levels so don’t worry you can not overdo it. Babies and mothers (and dads, siblings, grandmas etc) benefit in many ways by spending as much time as possible skin to skin.

Bathing with your baby.

One way of being skin to skin that many people find really positive is to have a bath with your baby. Sometimes this is called re-birthing but it’s nothing spiritual or just for hippies just an opportunity for mum and baby to get the skin to skin and cuddles they might have missed out on at birth or just to get some more. Here’s a quick how-to guide if you think you might benefit from this.

  1. Have someone help you, run a nice deep bath, get in and relax.
  2. Have your helper pass you your baby.
  3. Hold baby between your legs (in the warm water) as you sit in the bath make eye contact and talk to your baby about how long you’ve been waiting to meet them, how important they are, how beautiful they are and how much you’re going to love them.
  4. Then bring your baby up on to your tummy/chest so you are tummy to tummy just as you would have been had birth gone to your original plan. Relax like that as long as you and baby are happy.
  5. Have your helper put a towel over your baby to keep them warm if necessary and be prepared to hold your hand or stroke your arm if the tears start to fall. If the tears fall do not be surprised, let them come and let the emotions out. Make sure you’ve picked a helper who is prepared to be with you through the emotion and offer loving sympathy not try to cheer you up or fix the problem. The talk and the helping may come later but this is the time for just feeling and letting the feelings out.
  6. It’s quite likely that in this position tummy down, head between your boobs baby will start to root. As long as baby isn’t getting upset try to leave them to it to find the nipple and latch on themselves.
  7. Your helper can take your baby and then offer a support if needed for you to climb out of the bath when you’re ready.

Your birth or postnatal doula will be more than happy to be your support person or helper through this process. If you don’t have anyone who’s right for the job yet check the find a doula page.

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How to choose a baby sling or carrier.

In a previous post, we talked about why you might want to use a sling to carry your baby. If you’re looking for a sling to use you might find yourself confused by all the different kinds that are available. It can’t be said enough that the best way to find the right one for you is to visit a sling library and talk to a consultant. 

If you can’t make it to anywhere at the moment here’s a rough guide to types of slings you might find you like.

(The links -click the photos- are affiliate links so if you click through and buy a sling I will get a small financial reward but as always I would recommend the slings I’ve recommended even if I didn’t)

The most important thing you must know about any sling you choose is how to use it safely there are some very simple guidelines to follow to make sure of this.

TICKS

        1.  For a newborn baby, a stretchy wrap sling can be really cosy and comfortable and really help to create that safe feeling that reminds them of being in the womb. Stretchy slings can seem a little complex to tie when you first get started but a little practice (try using a doll or teddy to practice with so when you come to wrap your baby you’re relaxed and confident and your baby picks up that vibe). There are lots of types of wrap but to a certain extent, you get what you pay for. These are a reasonable price and are made with bamboo so super soft and comfortable. Buy this kind of sling if you’re looking for super soft cuddles and free hands with a clingy newborn. 
        2. Woven wraps work in a similar way to stretchy wraps and come in so many beautiful colours and patterns. They also last longer and are more supportive than stretchy wraps but not always so snug and some people find them more of a challenge to learn to wrap. There are many great youtube channels where you can learn though as well as, of course, going to a sling library or workshop. Make sure to buy the right size by checking this guide.  Buy this kind if you’re looking for a soft and pretty longterm sling for carrying your baby everywhere. 
        3. Mei Tai style carrier. These are more simple than wraps but still made of soft fabric. They have a waist tie and then shoulder straps which need to be crossed over your back and tied around baby. They’re really easy to use and nice and soft so make a good halfway house between a wrap and a structured carrier. Buy this if you’re planning to carry your baby with you all over and like a soft option that’s really easy to learn to use. 
        4. Ring slings come in many types and styles and some are easier to use and more comfortable than others. It can be tempting to experiment with padded ring slings and ones made from regular cotton but although they can be a bit more expensive ring slings made of woven wrap material are much more supportive and easier to adjust for comfort. If you like the idea of a quick up and down option a ring sling might be perfect so if you struggle to get comfy even with practice do pop along to a sling library and get some support, once you have the nack they are super comfy and easy to use. Choose this kind of sling if you’re looking for a quick way to have free hands and like something soft and pretty. 
        5. Structured buckle carriers.  If you prefer buckles to tying and want a really quick and easy option a buckle carrier might suit you. There are some which have less structure just fabric and buckles and some that have more padding, it’s really a personal preference which you find most comfortable. Whichever you choose for the sake of your back and your baby’s comfort it’s recommended to choose one that is ergonomically designed and has a wide base that keeps baby’s knees higher than their bottom. Choose this kind of carrier if you want a very quick option and don’t find the padded straps uncomfortable. 

         

5 Tips for Increasing your Milk Supply

Establishing and maintaining a good breastmilk suply is one of the top worries that many mums have about breastfeeding. Our society and the prevalence of formula advertising have made us think that this is a very common problem but it’s really quite unusual to not be able to make enough milk with the right supportive atmosphere. There are some people who have conditions which mean they don’t make any or enough milk and if that’s you this blog post may not be of much use to you but you might need support from a qualified breastfeeding counsellor or an IBCLC.

Your doula is more than happy to provide you with practical support and confidence in your normal breastfeeding journey and will be glad to refer you to expert support if you need some.

Should you even be worried about how much milk you’re making? 

Probably not if your baby is putting on weight, producing wet and dirty nappies, not making you sore and feeding frequently.

Signs of good breastmilk suply

Making sure you have a good breastmilk supply and get enough milk into your baby is as easy (and as hard) as following your baby’s lead.

Here are our top tips.

  1. Make sure your baby has a good latch and can easily transfer milk from your breast. Being well attached to the breast makes it easy for baby to get all the milk they need and the more milk they take the more milk you will make. The easiest way to help your baby get a great latch is to use a breastfeeding position that will encourage all your baby’s natural instincts. Laid back breastfeeding positions are perfect for this. If you find it difficult to get a comfortable latch even in this position please get in contact with a breastfeeding counsellor or an IBCLC there are sometimes physical reasons for that pain (such as tongue tie) that need extra support and care. If you want to focus on relaxing and feeding baby, don’t forget your postnatal doula is there to bring you water and snacks and hang out your washing while you do this very important job.
  2. Get skin to skin. skintoskinWhen babies are born they are ready and good to go with breastfeeding and the easiest start to that feeding journey and to having loads of milk is to hang out skin to skin as long as you can. If you miss out on this initial skin to skin don’t panic it’s never too late to get skin to skin with your baby and once is never enough. Hang out with your baby skin to skin anytime you like as much as possible for as long as possible. Not only is it great for your milk supply but it’s a great way for dads and babies to bond too.
  3. Feed feed feed. In the first few days, every moment your baby spends suckling is a moment that’s switching on more of the milk-producing cells in your breast. And in those first few weeks, there are many growths spurts where you baby (who will always feed frequently) will seem to feed constantly. That constant feeding suddenly happening again often makes women worry they haven’t got enough milk but it’s actually nature’s way of putting in the order for more milk in the next couple of days. Even if you think baby can’t possibly be hungry again allowing them to keep swapping sides and feeding more will allow them to build up your supply, never forget you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby.
  4. Look after yourself. Making all the food another human needs to survive and double their weight in six months is hard physical work. Make sure that you keep hydrated and well nourished and find ways to fit in any extra sleep you can get. Even malnourished women can make enough milk for their baby but a mother’s body will prioritise milk over its own well being and keeping your head in the game without feeling completely run down and overwhelmed is important too.
  5. If you plan to mix feed in the long term manage it carefully. Mix feeding is prefered by some women for many different reasons. It can be done and it can suit some families really well. But making sure that breastfeeding and especially your milk supply is established first is important too. Maximising your baby’s time at the breast in the first six weeks will mean your supply is well established and much more flexible after this time. If you do any bottle feeding before six weeks try to use your own expressed milk if possible and if you find baby is still hungry after a bottle feed offer a top-up from the breast, not the bottle. Also, remember the purpose baby is increasing feeds during growth spurts and add in extra breastfeeds not extra bottles.

What about galactagogues and lactation cookies?

You might like lactation cookies, lots of them are really yummy and there’s no harm in munching them if you do. But ultimately you don’t need them to make plenty of milk for your baby. Some women find them helpful especially during growth spurts and your doula will be happy to make you some but eating them is no magic pill and will only help if you’re also frequently feeding your well-latched baby. Sometimes complex feeding issues may be helped by the use of galactagogues but if you’re in that situation you need the expert help of a breastfeeding counsellor or IBCLC who will help you find the right solution for you.

 

5 Reasons your doula might use a baby sling and why you might want to try it too

When your postnatal doula arrives at your door there are a few things she might have with her. One might be cake another is a sling to help her as she cares for you and your baby. So what’s so great about slings?

  1. Lots of babies sleep really well in a sling. Babies come into the world with expectations based on their experience to date which is of being in a lovely snuggly womb. Being in a sling, especially on the move. Is very soothing and cosy and can help babies to sleep. One of the most popular jobs postnatal doulas do is allow mums to get some time (often to sleep) to themselves which they can be easily relaxed enough to do when the baby is sleeping snug in the sling with their doula. This is also a brilliant advantage for dads and partners and grandmas and uncles. Slings help everyone help baby sleep.
  2. Babies who are colicy or refluxy are often more comfortable upright and well supported in a sling. Doulas often find themselves supporting families when baby is struggling with feeding or with being comfortable after a feed. Babies who cry a lot can be really draining to care for and doulas can do a great job of taking some of the stress away by caring for the family and helping them to care for themselves. Being able to calm a baby is an important skill for doulas and using a sling is a great tip we often pass on to families as an added tool for their toolbox
  3. Slings leave your hands free to do housework. While housework isn’t the main reason your doula is there she’s more than happy to do a few chores that help you feel relaxed in your home and allow you to focus on resting and recovering from birth and sleepless nights. Using a sling allows your doula (and you if you give it a try) to load the dishwasher, fold the laundry or make you a sandwich with two hands.
  4. Slings also leave hands free for caring for mum and older children. Your doula can keep on looking after you (give you a foot massage for example) or entertain your older children (make a wooden railway over the playroom floor for example) while you look after yourself. Using a sling will allow you to keep on doing things for yourself, go for a country walk, get a manicure, have coffee with a friend and look after your older children, take them to the park and push them on the swings or stay home and read a book.
  5. Last but very much not least, sling cuddles are some of the best kind. Doulas are not shy to admit we love a cuddle, we’re great at giving them and we’re oxytocin junkies so we rarely turn one down. Some people (who are wrong) will tell you that cuddling your baby all the time will make a rod for your own back. The evidence of the many happy healthy independent children who were carried in slings shows that’s simply not true. All the cuddles are great for mums and dads and babies too.

If you’re thinking “this sounds great I want in” talk to your doula she can help you get going with a sling. Or find a local babywearing consultant to help you find the best sling for you. Click through and read our quick guide to the different types.

Then get in touch with your local sling consultant.

 

Babies cuddled in slings

5 Great Positive Affirmations For Life with a New Baby

When you’re pregnant much of your focus goes into planning for your birth and practical purchases for your baby. But once your baby is here the reality of how much your life has changed in that one instant can be quite overwhelming. The first few weeks with a new baby in your life are a mix of emotions, learning to feed, change, cuddle and find ways that your baby will happily sleep all at once.

Some of the skills you used preparing for your birth can help you through this time too. Any deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help you calm down when things start to get stressful, going for a walk or dancing around your kitchen can bring some light relief and help soothe a crying baby and positive affirmations can help you to keep your focus and remind you what’s important. Here are 5 of the Hampshire doulas’ favourite positive reminders for new parents. If your baby isn’t here yet you might also find these positive affirmations for birth helpful.

  1. The days are long but the weeks are short. When the day seems to be going on forever, when it feels like you haven’t slept in as long as you can remember, when you wonder if you will ever drink a hot cup of tea again. This reminder is that in the whole length of your life with this new child these first few weeks are not really very long at all.

shortweeks

The other wonderful thing about reaching the end of each week is you can look back and remember how far you have come.

2.  One of the inevitable parts of being a parent is worrying, is my child well, are they developing ‘properly’, am I doing a good job? Sometimes books about how babies grow are helpful and reassuring but sometimes, especially with the ones that claim to be able to solve all your problems and make your child a ‘perfect baby’ they can increase the stress we feel. The good news is there’s no such thing as a perfect parent and your baby just needs you to love them. The way things work for you is the right way for you.

works-for-us

 

3.  It’s so very easy as our new identity as someone’s parent develops and begins to flourish to forget that we are people too and that we matter as well. We need to look after ourselves. When there’s a new person in your life, who you are so in love with and who has so many needs it’s easy to get to the end of the day and realise you’ve not had a moment to yourself. Now that moment doesn’t need to be totally alone or something out of the ordinary but it needs to be a time when you’ve realised you need to care for yourself and you’ve done something that feeds your own soul. This can be as simple as taking a walk in the fresh air with baby in the sling, asking your mum to cuddle her new grandchild for half an hour while you have a nice long shower or just putting on your favourite music or TV program and relaxing in your chair once your baby has finally fallen asleep.

self-care

 

4.  Sometimes we feel euphoric with a new baby and sometimes we feel just amazingly tired. It’s completely normal to have ups and downs, good days and bad days. It’s also OK to admit you don’t love every moment. It’s important to seek out your tribe at this time, to build a network of friends you can trust to be honest with, to be able to say I had an amazing day and I feel wonderful without worrying they will think you’re showing off. But, to be just as able to say “I had a terrible day, I haven’t showered I have eaten only chocolate all day and my baby has been super grumpy I’m so fed up,” without worrying they will think you’re a bad mum. To have people who will always say ‘me too’ ‘I get what you mean’. Sometimes we can know the way we feel isn’t ok with us, we can’t seem to ever feel really happy, we’re always worrying everything seems to be on top of us and we haven’t had any good days and it’s OK to admit that’s how you feel. In fact, it’s important to talk about it if you feel like that. Find someone you can trust, GP, Health Visitor, a really good friend who will help you get the help you need to stop feeling like that and go back to the usual ups as well as downs of life.

honest

 

5. Whatever your first few weeks are like with your baby they are part of your story and you will make the right decisions for you and come through the other side. You won’t be exactly the same as before you had your baby, and that’s all good. Your new you and new reality may take time to get used to but know you are amazing. Learn to love the new you, you’ve got them with you for life.

accept

 

Which is a positive affirmation we can all use and remember, whatever stage of our life we’re in right now. This is part of my story. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you’ll never change or never grow it means you love yourself enough to make good choices for you and to keep on learning. 

Home breech birth

During World Doula Week we have the privilege to share a series of interviews with people who have benefited from doula support. Kirsten had a baby who was in the breech position and decided to have a home breech birth. For more information on why some women prefer to choose vaginal birth rather than caesarean for a breech baby, this website is a good place to start reading.

How did you hear about doulas?

When I had my first son in New Zealand I had a pregnancy massage with an English girl. She had been a doula in the UK and told me all about it. I thought it sounded lovely but as I had an independent midwife, I didn’t feel that I needed a doula.

Why did you want a doula?newbornskintoskin

When it came time to have my second son I had moved to the UK. Since NHS midwives are not guaranteed to be at your birth (unlike in NZ), I really wanted someone that knew me and my birth preferences to be with me through the birth (apart from my hubby!).

How did your partner (if you have one) and wider family feel about the idea when you first bought it up?

My hubby thought it was a great idea.

How did your doula help you prepare for your birth?

My doula gave me lots of positive affirmations which I stuck around my house to help me keep feeling positive and prepared for my baby’s birth. She was happy to answer any questions I had. If she couldn’t answer she would find out the answers for me. She came to meetings with me. I was planning a home breech birth which was outside of normal hospital protocol so I had some meetings at the hospital about this. My doula supported my decisions and choices throughout the preparation.

What did your doula do on the day when you went into labour?

My doula was available on the phone to discuss options/plans. When I asked her to she came over to my house (I had a home birth) and helped calm the atmosphere. She coached me through the contractions reminding me to slow my breathing and relax my shoulders. She encouraged me. She answered the door when the midwife arrived. After my baby arrived he was a little slow to breathe deeply (which is normal for breech babies and he remained well with a strong heartbeat throughout). The midwife asked my doula to call an ambulance so that she would have any equipment and fast transport if needed. As it happened the ambulance crew weren’t even needed in the room as baby began to breathe deeply of his own accord and the midwife was able to give him a little oxygen and was happy with how well he was doing after a couple of minutes.

What did she do after the baby was born?

Cuddled him! While I was feeling faint and my husband was engaged in necessary practical tasks and my midwife looking after me it was good to have my baby still held in loving arms. My doula then looked after my placenta ready for encapsulation and tincture. She gave me a small piece of placenta for under my tongue to help prevent excess bleeding. She was able to remind my midwife that I did not want the injection to expel the placenta. She made me Vegemite toast and a glass of chocolate Nesquik! Later she brought me an amazing chocolate cake!

What was the best thing about having a doula?

The total unbiased support. Knowing she’d be in my corner.

Would you recommend having a doula to other families?

Without hesitation. Every woman should have a doula in my opinion!

Caesarean birth

During world doula week we’re privileged to be able to share a series of stories from people who have benefited from doula support.  A common misconception is that doulas only support ‘natural’ births but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Vickie’s baby was born by planned caesarean birth and she found the support of her doula invaluable.

How did you hear about doulas?

I heard about Doulas from Mumsnet and from a friend who I ended up choosing as my Doula.

Why did you want a doula?

I have complicated pregnancies, and having had a really terrible experience with my second child, I wanted an informed third party to advocate for me, and act in my interests as I didn’t feel my partner was confident enough to fully assert my wishes.

How did your partner (if you have one) and wider family feel about the idea when you first bought it up?

My family had no clue what a doula was, but when I explained it they all said having someone with both medical and holistic information was a great idea. My partner was equally confused initially, but valued the support particularly when our daughter was taken straight to NICU.

How did your doula help you prepare for your birth?

My Doula gave me information on my birth options, even down to types of caesarian, and empowered me to actually request these things. She came to consultant appointments and translated the medicalised language used, and was another pair of ears.

What did your doula do on the day when you went into labour?

My birth was a planned section at 33 weeks, my doula arrived on the morning of the section with my partner, and massaged my legs, and helped me decompress from the previous horrid evening. She advocated for me as there was some confusion regarding whether the birth was happening that day. My Doula went with my partner to NICU to meet our daughter, which was a comfort to him in such an alien environment.

What did she do after the baby was born?nicudoulasupport

My Doula acted as a buffer between me and the rest of the world, which was needed as I was exhausted, had lost a lot of blood and had a baby in NICU. She provided me with information and encouraged me.

What was the best thing about having a doula?

Having another female to support, inform, and advocate for me. Someone who fully understood and unconditionally supported my decisions. This was especially valuable in a situation where a partner may not fully understand what you are experiencing.

Would you recommend having a doula to other families?

I have, and will continue to! Such a positive experience that every woman should be able to have!