Guidelines to newborn sleepRead More
The baby is out of your body.
You both survived—are thriving even—and your loved ones have stopped asking about you.
The question you get now is a version of “How is baby?” on repeat.
Maybe you get the “How are you” from a kind distant relative who isn’t sure what to ask, and you don’t believe they are looking for an honest answer.
The most common question you get directed to yourself, mom, is the kind of question that is designed to get information about your parenting style and not you— the “Are you breastfeeding baby?” “Are you staying home or going to send your baby to daycare?” “Are you letting the baby cry it out?” The kind of questions that incite very strong feelings of judgement. The kind of questions you don’t have to answer, not from family or coworkers.
These are questions very deeply engrained in our culture, but what if we shifted our mindset?
What if we trusted mothers?
We don’t need to mine moms about how they feed and put their children to sleep.
Trust that mothers know their babies best.
So what can you do, when you can’t change society or the people around you?
You can respond to these questions in a way that takes a stand.
“Mary, I appreciate your concern about how our baby sleeps. Our baby is sleeping biologically normal for her age.”
“Mary, you seem very concerned about how our baby is sleeping, but she’s in very good hands in this loving family.”
Honesty seems hard to come by in the digital era, where we mostly post happy pictures. It’s ok to answer someone’s question honestly when they seem to care about baby and not you—especially close family. In fact, I encourage you to do so. “Mary, the baby is just fine. Thank you for being concerned with her. I am having a kind of rough time, however. I know you didn’t ask, but it feels good to share that.”
Ask other moms how they are doing without judgement and without giving advice
This one is harder than it seems. Just ask another mom how she is doing and listen. You don’t have to offer any advice. In fact, you really shouldn’t unless someone asks you. Remember all the unsolicited advice you got when you were pregnant? Yeah, you remember now. You probably didn’t love it.
When people stop asking about mom, it sends the message that mom doesn’t matter.
Let’s change that.
Birth is not just a physical event. As our bodies heal in the following months from delivery, so do our minds.
There is much to process after baby is born. We continue to process our pregnancy, the stages of labor, delivery (and sometimes the complications that we associate), the journey to feed our baby-- all while our bodies heal, hormones shift, and sleep deprivation sets in (and we mentally process that too! We’re amazing).
The best way to evolve through this complex experience is through talking to someone who is equipped to listen and (when necessary, which is not all the time) provide insight.
Depending on the complexity, us doulas will sometimes refer families to a doctor. We do this when we recognize signs of anxiety, OCD, and depression. I most often see these when a mom has not had the opportunity to process her birth or there remains unresolved feelings of inadequacies, failure, isolation, and disappointment—anything outside of the normal baby blues.
To squash these feelings before they happen (and sometimes talking is enough prevention), It's important to schedule time with a postpartum doula.
The benefits to scheduling time to process your birth
Resolves feelings of inadequacies and failure
Let's you be heard and not judged
Allows you to gain valuable insight into ways/options you can heal (rebirth, skin to skin, etc)
Could potentially free you of negative feelings attached to delivery
What that time looks like varies from client to client. To learn more, give the Modern Doula a call.
In a perfect world, I would make CERTAIN my mamas, who want to breastfeed, are equipped with the knowledge and tools to do so immediately after birth through to the end of their breastfeeding relationship/goal. Sadly, there are many hurdles that women face the moment they have their babies—the biggest one being lack of education prior to the start of nursing. Below I will impart the wisdom I have learned from experience and ongoing education.
The Importance of the Golden Hour
No matter how baby comes out (and emergency C-sections can but don’t always present a challenge during this time frame, depending on hospital policy), the first 60-90 minutes are the most important when establishing the first latch. Baby recognizes mom by left-behind amniotic smells and is most alert and ready to make his or her way towards the breast. Your hormones throughout pregnancy that made your areolas so dark? They coursed through your body to make your breasts easier for baby to find! They’re like targets! What I’m trying to say is babies are smarter and stronger than we give them credit for. If we allow them to have an hour after birth on mother’s chest, they will usually latch on their own with almost no help at all. You can watch videos of this on Youtube. It’s incredible.
Miss this window of time? It’s ok. Don’t fret. Baby becomes sleepy and may just need a little extra support to latch when he or she awakes. That’s what Lactation Consultants are for!
It is empowering and extremely helpful to know how to hand express. You’ll never have to panic if you lose your pump or a part breaks or if baby goes on a nursing strike. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. It took me months to perfect this. Also another great job for a Lactation Consultant!
You might have been told that milk comes in a supply and demand way. This is true. If baby isn’t eating, your breast doesn’t know to make milk. Feeding baby often helps the breasts empty and get the message to make more milk. Babies also nurse for many other reasons than hunger. They nurse for comfort, for sleep, belly aches, to bond and more. Breastfeeding is also helpful to mama.
Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, which studies have shown help reduce mood disorders.
Warm compresses and dangle-feeding for clogs
Before I discovered that my body didn’t respond to electric pumps, I got golf ball sized clogs on the regular. I sought help desperately and often. The best piece of advice I got was—at first sign of clog, slap a warm compress on the breast, massage, then dangle feed. Read more at Kellymom, my fave resource.
TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT
There is no doubt about it—Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things to do and our culture makes it harder by silencing and shaming women. The more we talk about this, the less of a stigma it may become. Exposure is the first step to challenging this norm.
Please remember, mama, it aint easy. You’re doing great!
Have more questions on feeding your infant? Send Rae a message.
In the wee hours of Postpartum exhaustion, you might have Googled, “Help me at night with my newborn!!!!” to see results for Night Nannies and Baby Nurses and Doulas. So what are they and how exactly do they differ from Postpartum Doulas?
To put it simply, a Night Nanny can be anyone who is paid to come over at night to help with a newborn. This person may have many years of experience and be quite adept at offering tips and tricks. They might even know how to gasp sleep train! However, Night Nannies do not need to carry any certification, which means if there is an emergency situation, they might not be trained to help. Because of this, not every Night Nanny might be qualified to put a mind at ease.
A Baby Nurse is a bit more evasive. In big cities like Boston and LA, you can find someone to come into your home as a Newborn Care Specialist. Perhaps they worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at some point. With the title nurse, they should be medically able to monitor baby and mom, which can set many new families at ease. With that being said, not everyone titled “Baby Nurse” is an actual nurse! Some agencies call their contractors Baby Nurses when they are really just Night Nannies. If you see on an Agency website that a Baby Nurse can stay with a family for an extended period of time, night and day, they might actually be a nanny.
A Postpartum Doula is trained and certified to come into your home after the baby is born to help establish care routines like bath time, bedtime, and feeding. We can help mom and dads get sleep by watching the baby in the wee-hours of the night. We can identify feeding issues, mood disorders, and get parents to the right medically trained care professionals. A Postpartum Doula does not stay with families for an extended period of time like a nanny, though they do prefer to be booked in multi-hour increments. Postpartum doulas typically have a different focus than Nannies. We prefer to cultivate an environment where parents can bond with babies, as opposed to coming into the home and taking over the newborn care, which means we prioritize parents well being as much as baby's. It is these qualities that makes Postpartum doulas in high demand these days!
No matter who you are looking for to help, you want to ask your potential care professional the right questions. Below is a really good start!
What is their experience?
Are they doula certified through an agency that is reputable?
Are they CPR certified?
Do they ask questions to learn your expectations and needs?
Gut Check- Do you feel relieved and safe?
ProDoula has an excellent and more specific explanation of what Postpartum Doulas do on their blog. You can read it here!
We’re looking out for you, mamas and papas!