Transitioning Through Being Single to Being a Parent.

Singlehood to Parenthood

As I have grown from childhood to adulthood, I have heard many times, “Your life changes forever when you have children”. I think most people accept this statement as truth. However, until you are a parent, it is hard to image how deep this change goes. Intellectually, I knew that I would get less sleep and be wholly responsible for a new tiny human, but I really didn’t understand what that would mean.

Here are some examples of how your life changes when you go from being a non-parent (A.K.A. singlehood) to parenthood:

EVERYTHING TAKES LONGER

It takes longer to do EVERYTHING. Before I had my son, I got myself ready (in 45 minutes tops, including putting on make-up) and reminded my husband when it was time to leave (but he was responsible for himself). Pretty easy. Then I had my son, and it took a minimum of 2 hours to get ready with a tiny 7 pound baby!

PERSONAL TIME?

Everything takes longer, except personal time. That is something you have to fight for, or it won’t happen. This tiny human wants to be with you continuously, just like when pregnant. So, instead, he joins me during bathroom breaks, bath-time, and any other time.

COORDINATING SCHEDULES

Before my son’s arrival to the world, I worked as a nurse, so I generally worked 3-4 twelve hour shifts a week, and the other days I could schedule appointments. I now work from home, so you would think that it would be even easier for me to schedule appointments. WRONG! I now have to remember and consider all my potential babysitter’s (A.K.A. family) schedules, in addition to my own, when making appointments because if they are not available, I’m not either.

FORGETFUL

Smart, normal brain, turned to pregnancy-brain, and then transferred to mommy-brain. My phone calendar is the only way I can keep track and organize my life.

GROUP APPOINTMENTS

I try to save those babysitters for when absolutely needed; so that means  I have a companion for most of my appointments. There’s nothing quite like getting a pap smear or a skin check by your doctor while also chasing, breastfeeding, or trying to distract your child at the same time.

GERM SHARING

If you ask most of my family, I have some issues with germs, or at least had. My husband was amazed the first time I shared my food with my son, but still wouldn’t with him. The relationship between a parent and child is so intimate that body fluids (A.K.A. poop, snot, vomit, saliva) don’t bother me like they would with anyone else.

My Son Eating

My son eating chicken. He LOVES to eat!

 

FOOD

I’m Cajun, so I like my food spicy. I was never willing to adjust my seasoning when cooking for anyone. Well, that was until I had my son. I cook blander so that my son’s mouth is not on fire when he eats. I also buy food that I don’t like because I know my son does. I’m not sure if I ever purchased a tomato before I had my son. Now I purchase many every time I go to a grocery store.

CLOTHING

Your body shape changes so much from pregnancy to postpartum. It took me almost 17 months before I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. Besides the obvious of getting clothes that fit your body, there are also other considerations when breastfeeding. You need a bra that is conducive to nursing. Some women use nursing bras, sports bras, or even regular bras that they can pull up. You also need a top (whether shirt or dress) that allows easy access. If you buy a shirt, or dress, or even a bra that is hard to use when breastfeeding, chances are it’s going to get little wear because lets face it breastfeeding is a 24 hour job, and our little baby (or toddler) is counting on us to feed him.

SHORT DAYS

My days are always short. There is never enough time to accomplish everything on my to-do-list. This will probably always be the case now that I am a mom, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How did your life change when going from singlehood to parenthood? Leave your comments below!

I am a certified Positive Discipline parenting and Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator. I teach classes in Lafayette and Eunice, Louisiana. I am also a breastfeeding and cloth diapering mother. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby. You can also read the latest on my Facebook page at MY Birth & Baby.

 

7 Ways to Help Mom with Baby

7 Ways to Help Mom Get Extra Rest

The first 6 weeks of a newborn’s life can be intense for many reasons. Everyone is excited and marveling in baby’s perfection. Mom is recovering from either her vaginal or cesarean birth. Parents are shocked at how time consuming it is to care for this tiny human. Baby prefers to sleep during the day and play and power-nurse at night. Needless to say, this time can be exhausting. Here are some ways to help mom get a little more SLEEP:

LIGHT CLEANING

Some women cannot rest if their house is a mess. Do some laundry (folding included); load the dishwasher; put away dishes; sweep; help older kids clean up their mess. These are all things that do not take a long time, but can really help mom’s peace of mind. She may be more likely to sleep, when baby sleeps, if she feels like her house is not falling apart.

COOK

Cooking is time consuming. Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That! (Especially new parents!) Plus, if mom is breastfeeding, she is most likely RAVENOUS all the time! Cook or bring foods that are nutritious, but that she can also eat one-handed.

TAKE BABY OUTSIDE

Babies and children LOVE being outside. Baby’s fussy? Bring him/her outside. The warm sun, being in nature, new sights, fresh air, the peacefulness – there’s something about being outdoors that will calm the fussiest baby. My husband did this for me often when he would get home from work. This was often the only way I could get in some extra catnaps.

BABYWEAR

Babywearing is not just for mom. While baby often prefers mom and dad, anyone can wear a baby. This is a great way to recreate the womb. He/she was bounced, held tight, and kept warm while in mom’s belly; babywearing recreates that. Babywearing is also great for bonding, while allowing adults to multi-task. So, strap in baby and go for a walk!

SKIN-TO-SKIN

Skin-to-skin does not need to always be with mom. Sometimes mom needs a break. Skin-to-skin with dad is also great. My husband did this often with our little one, especially at night. My son got the warmth and snuggling; my husband got the bonding time; and I got to sleep.

CHANGE DIAPERS

If baby wakes up, change his/her diaper first, then give him/her to mom. Newborns poop a lot! Meaning, they need to be changed a lot! Take over diaper changes when home, so that mom gets a break and maybe even a few more moments to herself. Plus, baby gets familiar with someone else that can meet his/her non-nutritional needs.

ENCOURAGE CO-SLEEPING

Co-sleeping will look differently for each family. It is advised for baby to at least be in the same room as mom. The closer baby is to mom, the more mom stabilizes baby’s breathing, encourages nursing, reduces the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), AND gets more sleep. Make sure you are practicing co-sleeping safely.

What are some other ways to help mom get more sleep during the newborn phase? Comment below!

I am a certified doula, childbirth and parenting educator. I am also a registered nurse and a breastfeeding mom. For more information about me and my services, visit MY Birth & Baby.

Supporting Mom While Breastfeeding

Ways to Support a First-Time Breastfeeding Mom

Mothers, in general, are biologically made to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has many health and emotional benefits for mom and baby. It can also be challenging. Mom just birthed a baby, is recovering, and is now providing 24/7 care and nutrition for this totally dependent little human. Encouragement and support from her partner, family, and friends can go a long way as she navigates this new experience. Here are some ways that you can support mom:

DO SOME READING

Read/watch breastfeeding information with mom before the baby arrives. It’s hard to help her when you don’t have the same info. You may have a better memory, you know, pregnancy-brain turned mommy/sleep-deprived-brain and all. There are many great books about breastfeeding. I loved the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. If you take a Birth Boot Camp Childbirth class, there is also a great 3.5 hour Breastfeeding DVD featuring an IBCLC.

FEED HER!

Whenever the baby eats, make sure mom also has food and a drink. I was ravenous while breastfeeding for the first few months! And so thirsty! As the baby drank, my mouth would get drier, and drier. Some mothers have breastfeeding baskets at their favorite breastfeeding locations; stock them with snacks!

CHANGE DIAPERS

Change the baby’s diaper before/during/after nursing; whatever the baby needs. Any extra second of sleep is a win for a mother with a newborn!

ENCOURAGE ONLY MOM TO FEED BABY

Don’t offer to FEED the baby. Mom is biologically made to nurse her baby, not family and friends. Though it may be exhausting the first 4-6 weeks, the frequent feeding is SO IMPORTANT in establishing a good milk supply for the rest of the breastfeeding relationship. Whenever someone else feeds baby, mom needs to pump for that feeding. Otherwise, mom’s body will not know that the baby ate, and she will eventually produce less milk. Most breastfeeding mothers would prefer to nurse than pump. Pumping requires a lot more work – Ain’t nobody got time for that 😉 For more information on what to expect in the early weeks click here.

LIMIT VISITORS

Keep nay-sayers away from mom. In fact, limit visitors. Having a fresh baby is such an exciting time! Nothing draws a crowd faster than a cute baby! However, it’s often awkward trying to learn how to breastfeed with people around all the time, especially if there are issues at first. If visitors must come, encourage brief visits and give them a task! When I had my son, church members brought food and my mom and sister helped with cleaning. This was a huge help, and allowed me to relax more!

SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE-BASED INFO

If you need to look up a question online, please search on reputable sites. Kellymom articles are by an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and evidence-based. La Leche League International (LLLI) also has great information. First-time mothers and first-time breastfeeding mothers often have many questions. Just make sure answers are correct!

HELP HER FIND A SUPPORT GROUP

La Leche League (LLL) is an international breastfeeding support group. They offer online support as well as local meetings. To find the meeting nearest you click here. The LLL Leaders are, also, often available for phone-phone support for issues. If you are in the Lafayette area, you can also join the La Leche League of Lafayette Facebook group. There is also a newly formed Community Breastfeeding Club in the Opelousas, LA area. Encourage mom to attend with, or without, breastfeeding issues. There is no replacement for woman-to-woman support!

FIND AN IBCLC

The early days after birth may be intense with the frequency of nursing, while mom is also trying to recover. So, if she is having issues with breastfeeding (latch, pain, baby losing weight . . .),help her out! An IBCLC specializes in breastfeeding, is up-to-date on evidence-based research, and went through many hours of supporting breastfeeding women to become certified.  Don’t wait! The sooner mom can get help the better!

COMPLIMENT HER!

Last, but not least, tell her how awesome she is doing! She just grew a baby, birthed a baby, and is now nurturing/nourishing him/her – this is not for the weak at heart! This is very important and exhausting work! Let her know you appreciate it and that she is AMAZING!

What was the most helpful thing you did for a breastfeeding mother? Or if you are a breastfeeding mother, what was the most helpful thing someone did for you and your breastfeeding relationship?

I am a breastfeeding, cloth diapering mother of a very active son. I teach childbirth and parenting classes in Lafayette, LA. I am also a doula and a registered nurse. To learn more information about me and my services please visit http://www.MYBirthAndBaby.com.

Postpartum Date Night Ideas

5 Postpartum Date Night Ideas: Without ever leaving your house!

Making connections with your significant other often is difficult while both try to adapt to life with a little one. The postpartum period is a wonderful time to bond with your bundle of joy. However, it can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes the last thing couples want to do is – well, do ANYTHING ELSE! However, just as the baby is a priority, so should your relationship.

Men and women both need touch and connection. Women often feel “touched-out” from all the nurturing, breastfeeding, and bonding that goes on day and night with their newborn, especially during the many growth-spurts and developmental milestones that are happening ALL THE TIME. Women still need to feel desired, attractive, and cared for. Men often need to feel that they have not been replaced by the baby, and that they are still desired as well. The good news is that you can have this special time together without leaving your house or spending a lot money. You can even do these activities with your newborn, or arrange for someone to watch your baby close by.

  1. Play a Game – Play a board or card game. This activity does not need a lot of effort and may also give the two of you the opportunity to talk. Hey, you can even go wild and make a wager – See where the night takes you 😉 If your newborn is with you, take turns holding/baby-wearing baby.
  2. Have a Picnic – Spread out a blanket and have your favorite meal. Talk, drink some sparkling wine, and even light some candles.
  3. Rent a Movie – Rent a movie from Netflix, Amazon, MGO – whatever your favorite go-to-movie app is these days. Nowadays, it’s as easy as clicking a button to rent a movie. Eat some food, snuggle, hold hands, and enjoy.
  4. Bubble bath – Now that the 2 of you have gotten all sweaty from playing that board game and eating, take a bubble bath together. Talk, close your eyes, take deep breaths, and sink into the bubbles. Baby wants to join you? No biggie, make it a family affair – Many babies also find baths relaxing.
  5. Massage – Take turns giving each other massages. Go all out – light some candles, play some relaxing instrumental music, and rub on some oil. (It’s not a real massage without massage oil!) A sleeping or breastfeeding baby may be necessary, but it can still be done!

As you have read, date nights can be simple and inexpensive. Just enjoy each others company, reconnect, establish touch, and remember to have fun!

What inexpensive postpartum date activities did you and your partner try?

father holding son in the air.

5 Reasons Men Need Postpartum Groups Too!

I regularly attend monthly meetings for 4 different support groups (postpartum, breastfeeding, natural birth, and birth advocacy). I joined these groups after I had my first, and only, child. These groups have great women, conversations, and support. I often leave these meetings feeling refreshed, that I am part of a community, and supported.
As a family we experienced many changes after having our son (limited sleep, moving to a different city, my husband starting a new job, and me remaining on maternity leave, to name a few). Even if we had not experienced all those extra changes, our family still increased from two to three, and it was a pretty big deal!
I’m so grateful that I found and a part of these groups, but what about my husband? A friend of mine’s husband recently has tried to start his own dad’s group. I think this is a great idea! Here are some reasons why:

Men are going through huge transitions

Yes, I have gone through huge transitions this past year, but so has my husband. Our demanding and amazing little son has totally changed our world. While we are so grateful for our little man, we also both have needed time to process our new lives and identities. With the birth of our son, my husband became a father and primary bread-winner. Two roles with a lot of responsibility. As we have figured out our new roles, I have had great support from encouraging women. My husband on the other hand, has been left to navigate these tricky waters alone.

Men need to vent too

Life is often busy, with many ups and downs. Venting or talking is a good way to process the events of life. It’s also helpful to do said venting with people who are going through similar experiences; they are often more understanding.

Men need guy talk

Men and women often communicate differently. Yes, my husband can also talk to me, but sometimes he really just needs to speak to another guy.

Men need to do “guy” things

My husband and I have many similar interests and activities that we like to do together; but not all of them. That’s okay. We would probably drive each other crazy if we spent every moment together. Personally, I like when he gets guy time. He comes back refreshed, often with a more positive perspective. Plus, most importantly, he gets to do those boring guy things, while I don’t have to.

Men have feelings too

Often society expects men to be (and they often are), the rock, the comforter, the fixer, and the strong one. But, who is taking care of them?
What are some other reasons men need support groups? What support groups for men are near you?
I support families through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Check out my classes and services at MY – Birth & Baby Website!
Husband giving labor support.

Pregnancy, Labor, Birth, Postpartum – Oh MY!

I am exactly 1 year 8 weeks postpartum from my first, and so far only, birth of my son. I was advised, even before my birth, to write my birth story as soon as possible, so that I did not forget. However, I’ve continued to procrastinate. I’ve asked myself why. I’ve concluded that it is because I have had conflicting feelings. How do you write about something that you are still processing and don’t know how you feel?

I had a natural, un-medicated, home birth (I know I don’t win any medals). It was a life changing event. It was traumatic, empowering, challenging, and what was best for me. I think this is why it has been hard for me to process; how can it be all these things at once?

Pregnancy – Nauseating (literally) and joyful. From 7.5 weeks to around 16 weeks I had severe morning sickness. I tried ginger chews and tea, lemon, protein, carbs, vitamin B, and large quantities of honeydew and cantaloupes. I woke up an extra hour earlier every morning and my husband would bring me half a honeydew or cantaloupe in bed. I would then slowly walk to the bathroom to get ready for work where I would suck on ginger chews. That is how I started every work day. I would then go to work in a busy PICU where co-workers and patients would urgently tell me everything they needed as I tried not to vomit in their face. Around 20 weeks the nausea was gone, and the happy hormones kicked in! I felt this natural high and deep connection to my baby. From then on, I loved being pregnant!

Labor – I went on maternity leave 5 days before my labor started. I was antsy – I kept busy with organizing the nursery, installing the car seat, cleaning the car, going shopping, going to the movies, walking the streets, cleaning . . . and by also going to physical therapy, chiropractor, massage therapist, Dancing for Birth, and acupressure. After I returned home, from my Dancing for Birth class, I felt really crampy, and soon after felt my first contraction! I asked my mom to give me an acupressure treatment and had contractions 10 minutes apart that first hour. Afterward, I took a bath with contractions 5-7 minutes apart. They soon progressed to 3-5 minutes apart, and then I stopped keeping track. They were always at least a minute in length. I told my husband I was having contractions, he shut off the TV, and said “I should go to sleep then” (we were taught to do this in our Birth Boot Camp class), and I said “yeh, that’s not happening.” My midwife and her assistant came shortly after. I labored for 21 hours. I still feel cheated because I never experienced the early happy labor (you know when you’re excited, watch TV, go on walks, and spend quiet time with your husband . . .). I planned a water birth, so I labored in the birth pool for a large amount of my labor (which in hind-sight I really shouldn’t have done). I was nauseous most of my labor, so I refused food, and instead drank water and Kefir yogurt. Half-way through labor I received a liter of fluids to help with hydration. I received oxygen periodically (which I would quickly pull off because it was annoying). I screamed my husband’s name at least a hundred times because he HAD to apply almost continual counter-pressure to my back (yes, he too, was very sore the next day). The electric company decided to perform a scheduled power outage during labor, so after a couple of hours my midwife called to tell them she was doing a homebirth and the power needed to be turned on immediately, which it was shortly afterward. My mother did at least 6 loads of towels during labor because they gave me a new dry towel every hour when I went from the birth pool to the bathroom.

First time holding my son after his birth.

My first time holding my son after his birth.

Birth – The pushing phase, though long, was my favorite phase. I felt this surge of energy (though still exhausted), nausea gone (and very hungry), and the ability to do something. It was intense, but productive. At one point my midwife asked me what I was afraid of and I thought “nothing, this just freaking hurts!” However, soon after I feel that things turned around for me psychologically and I was able to push through the pain. I finally labored on the toilet, which was the most productive for me. When birth was eminent, my midwife told me that I needed to move off the toilet, and I said “no”. She said I could not birth my baby in the toilet and I said “Watch me!” The midwife, midwife assistant, and my husband all lifted me and put me on a birth stool (This is one of my favorite humorous memories). The “ring of fire” sensation occurred soon after. I thought, “ok, ring of fire, I’m almost there, ok, slow down, let it stretch, nope, I’m too tired, if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it!” – So I powered through (which I later regretted), my baby was born, and I felt intense relief! He exited “sunny-side up”, hence the back labor. After the midwife unwrapped the cord from my baby’s body, I scooped him up and exclaimed “He’s so cute!” (Though, I really hadn’t even processed him yet). I looked over to my husband, who was beside me, and locked eyes with his teary eyes (when I think of this moment I get teary eyed myself). I then walked to and laid in my bed. Shortly after, I coughed my placenta out.

Newborn Skin-to-skin with Dad after birth

Our family relaxing in our bed together after the birth.

Postpartum – I had many second degree tears, and I was sutured at home. I also had swelling for many weeks after. I was not ready for the level of healing my body would have to do, while pregnant I only thought of the baby. Almost 5 months after my son’s birth, I still had not healed, and had to have reconstructive surgery. By 7 months, I finally healed. I also had issues breastfeeding initially, resulting in using a nipple shield for 2 months. I saw a lactation consultant around 10 days postpartum, and it was a game changer! My church members brought food for the first week and my family helped with cleaning and caring for me. My midwife also came to me for visits, which was also nice.

Some things that I would do differently next time would be refusing vaginal checks (once I said yes, they kept happening), labor more on the toilet and upright, avoid using water early in labor, hire a doula (that was one of the first things my husband also said he was doing next time), work on building up my abdominal muscles more in pregnancy, see a lactation consultant sooner if needed, have a freezer full of meals for postpartum, and have my husband take off more time from work.

I didn’t have the romantic water birth that I envisioned, but if I had, I might not have had that eye-connecting moment with my husband and they wouldn’t have had to lift me off the toilet (two of my favorite memories). My body took longer to heal than I could ever have imagined, but it also forced me to slow down. I had my natural un-medicated birth, but I can appreciate why some women choose a different route (and I even asked for it at one point during my labor). I thought I would return to work when my maternity leave ended, instead I stayed home with my son. Even though my son’s birth was hard, I would do it again. I am now at a place in my processing, that I see it as a challenge, and think about how I can do it better next time. My birth did not go as planned, as many life events often do not, but I remained an active participant, trusted my body, birthed my baby, and I am proud of that!

To learn more about me and my services, check out MY – Birth & Baby website.