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Breastfeeding – My Favorite Essentials

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My name is Rickie Bryner. I am a Childbirth Educator and Postpartum Doula. Click here to learn more about me About Me

Have you wondered what you need to buy and have on hand to help get breastfeeding off to a good start? Here are my favorite tips and product information. I am not getting paid for any of this, these are simply my best helps after working with expecting and new mothers for over 14 years (and being a busy mom to 4 myself). All the best wishes on your breastfeeding journey.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get breastfeeding off to a good start. Some of these are essentials & some are “would be nice-to-have’s.”  Some of the extras could be added to a baby registry list or would make a nice gift if you are having a shower. 

Nursing Bra 

I think it is good to have at least two on hand for the first few weeks after delivery. You might wake up and leak milk in the middle of the night and leaks can happen at random times as your body is figuring all of this out – so an extra bra makes for less laundry.

You can always get fitted for the perfect bra once your milk has transitioned, any engorgement has stopped, and as your body returns to its non-pregnant self.

  • Avoid underwire nursing bras. I can’t emphasize this enough! Underwire bras are extremely difficult to place perfectly. They can put pressure on milk ducts leading to clogged ducts which might eventually turn into mastitis.
  • Look for soft cup or supportive, yet non-constrictive sport nursing bras. I have also seen some very cute camisole-type nursing bras. These might be uncomfortable, however in the event of a cesarean as they’ll put extra pressure on your surgery incision. But for a vaginal birth or once your incision has healed, some women really like these.
  • I suggest a nursing bra with a similar cup size as you became in pregnancy. Most women go up about 1 cup size in pregnancy, so stick with this size for your nursing bra. Most nursing bras allow for about 1 cup size in expansion which will be helpful in the first week as your milk supply may be abundant at first or if engorgement occurs. Once your milk starts to regulate better you will likely be closer to the cup size you became in pregnancy. Not always, but this is a good starting point.
  • If selecting a soft-cup bra, you may want to go down a band width size after a month or so as your rib cage area will get smaller after baby is born. If you want your nursing bra to last longer and not purchase a new one in a month, go down one band-width size when purchasing. For example, if you were a 34 before pregnancy and are now a 36, go with a 34 for your nursing bra.

I love the selection of nursing bras now. They used to be so hard to find. Now I seem to find cute ones at Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney online and more. I also really like Medela’s nursing products. Here is a link to learn more – Medela Nursing Clothing

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A breast pump is essential if returning to work or if you have times your will be separated from your baby.

Breast Pump

  • If you will be returning to work and wish to pump breastmilk while away from your baby, a hospital-grade, dual electric breast pump is best. Check with your local hospital to see if rentals are available or check your local breastfeeding store.
  • If you are not able to rent a hospital-grade pump, a dual electric pump is your next best option. Dual means that you pump both breasts at the same time. Most insurance companies are covering a breast pump now, which is wonderful news! Check to see what they will cover. My favorite pumps are made by Medela. Here is a great one to use if returning to work – Medela Symphony Pump – I know a lot of moms really like the Spectra pumps, but I have heard and seen first-hand they are not as great at removing milk (a key ingredient to maintaining supply). I think both pumps are great overall, however. If you can’t afford those or your insurance won’t cover them, look for as high of quality dual electric breast pump as possible.
  • Pumping both sides at the same time releases more prolactin in your body and helps maintain milk supply.
  • Car adapters are an amazing thing!! Consider this feature if you think you may need to express milk in your car.
  • I think a small manual breast pump is also great to have on hand for those times you might be separated from baby briefly and don’t want to take your entire pump with you. I love Lansinoh’s Manual Pump the best but there are lots of great ones out there.

 

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Breastmilk Storage bags will help you store pumped breastmilk. Milk can be stored in the freezer for 3-6 months. If you have a separate, stand-alone, deep freezer, it can be stored for 6-12 months.

Breastmilk Storage Bags

They now have zip-loc storage bags for breastmilk. Back in my day, we used twist ties. I love these Lansinoh Storage Bags – you can usually find them at Wal Mart, Target in the Breastfeeding supply section.

  • I recommend storing smaller amounts of milk in each bag – perhaps in 2-3 oz increments (even though the bags will hold more).
  • You will find that breastmilk becomes a precious commodity. Once you thaw it, it is good for 24 hours in the refrigerator. If it is placed in a bottle for baby after thawing,  it is only good for about 2 hours. So you won’t want to fill up a 4 oz bottle and have baby only take 2 oz. It would be better to start out with a small bottle and warm up more if baby is still hungry.
  • Never warm breastmilk in the microwave – it can kill the wonderful properties in the milk. Use a cup or bowl of warm water.
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These bags make it so easy to clean all your breast pump and supplies.

Medela Steam Bags

Ok I just love these Quick Clean Microwave Bags for quick, deep-cleaning of your breast pump, bottles and all the parts! You can use each bag up to 20 times. These were one of my favorite inventions.

Haaka Silicone Manual Pump

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Here is a link to find the Haaka pump on Amazon – Haaka Pump

I had one mom tell me this made her life so much easier. Sometimes when you begin nursing on one side, your milk will simultaneously let down on the other breast. Rather than letting this precious milk go to waste into your nursing bra, you can place the Haaka hands-free silicone cup onto the breast you aren’t feeding from and capture some of that milk to store for later.

Nursing Pads

  • I recommend purchasing SMALL packages of a few different types of nursing pads. These will capture those small leaks that can occur if your milk randomly lets down when you are not feeding your baby.
  • Everyone has a different preference so go with what speaks to you. Some moms prefer washable/re-usable pads. Some like the disposable.
  • Change your nursing pads frequently, especially if they become wet. The wet, dark environment near your breast can easily lead to a yeast infection if moisture builds up combining with the sugars in your milk.

Hospital-Grade Lanolin

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  • If your nipples are sore, the first thing you need to look at is your baby’s latch. That is the #1 cause of sore nipples – a poor latch.
  • However, if your nipples are dry/cracked you want to make sure they heal so that bacteria doesn’t get into the breast area and cause a breast infection.
  • Lansinoh hospital-grade lanolin can be applied after the feeding. A little goes a long way. Most if it will be absorbed by the time baby nurses again, however, it is safe for them to ingest if a small amount remained.
  • Cost-Saving Tip: Instead of Lansinoh, try expressing a few drops of breastmilk after baby nurses and then rub this into the nipple and areola. The breastmilk will naturally moisturize the breast and is also filled with antibodies to protect against infection.

The Rest Dress 

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Find this amazing dress here – The Rest Dress
  • I love this dress because it helps you rest and recover while still feeling beautiful after birth. Rest helps to increase your milk supply.
  • I also love this dress as it allows for skin-to-skin with your baby any time. Skin-to-skin promotes breastfeeding and boosts milk supply as well.

Boppy or Support Pillow

  • This can help baby be in a comfortable position while nursing.
  • If mom is relaxed, baby will relax more while latching on and during the feed. This is our goal.
  • You can use regular pillows but this is a nice extra to have if you can afford it or if someone gives it to you as a gift.
  • You can also use this pillow for tummy time as your baby gets a little older (supervised tummy time of course). It will elevate their chest and make tummy time more comfortable and enjoyable as they are first beginning to do floor tummy time (around 2 months of age).
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Breastfeeding (in any amount or length of time) is a wonderful gift you give to your baby.

A Few Other Recommendations:

  • Stool or ottoman to put your feet on while nursing.
  • Favorite water bottle – you will get so thirsty when baby latches on. You should be drinking lots of healthy fluids throughout the day to help your milk supply and stay hydrated.
  • Lots of easy to grab and healthy snacks. You will be hungrier when you breastfeed. You need about 500-600 extra calories/day than what you needed before you became pregnant.
  • A good support group or find your local La Leche League where you can call or attend support groups. La Leche League
  • The number for a great lactation consultant in your area!

Happy Breastfeeding!

Written By: Rickie Bryner, BS, LCCE, Postpartum Doula

 

 

 

 

 

Trusting Your Body During Labor

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I can’t tell you how many expecting mothers say they are nervous about giving birth. One mom even used the word “terrified.” It seems like once you become pregnant, people tell you all the dramatic labor and birth stories they know, not the stories where things go wonderfully well. Sound familiar?

I feel like I am on a mission to help women restore trust in their bodies. Your body has unique wisdom and an innate ability to give birth. In fact, your body was designed for this very purpose! Trusting your body, that it knows what to do and that it will communicate with you during labor can remove some of the fear you have. It will help you feel confident and ready to embrace this life-changing experience.

Of course, things don’t always go according to plan during labor. Your care provider is there to not only support you as you give birth but to help in any situations where intervention is needed for the health of mom or baby. We are so lucky to have many life-saving tools and resources.

However, remember that usually labor and birth outcomes are positive. To illustrate this: think about how many stories you have heard on the news of mothers giving birth in the car. Most of the time, mom and baby are very healthy and there was no intervention. Her body knew what to do!

Pregnancy Food Cravings

Here are a few interesting facts that may help you regain trust in your body.

Placenta: Your Body Grows an Entirely New Life-Sustaining Organ

I usually ask my classes, “How many of you had to lay there each night during pregnancy and tell your body to grow a placenta?” They all shake their heads. The placenta is a new organ that your body creates to sustain baby’s life during pregnancy. All of the nutrients and oxygen baby needs travel from mom to baby through the placenta. All waste products baby can’t process are given back to mom through the placenta. It is an incredible organ that YOUR BODY CREATES!

 

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Relaxin: Your Joints Soften

During pregnancy, a hormone called Relaxin is released in your body (1). This helps to soften your joints. Your body knows that baby will need to travel through your pelvis in order to be born. Relaxin helps the pelvic joints soften to ease baby’s passage. It may lead to soreness for mom during pregnancy, and you will need to move more slowly as pregnancy progresses; however, it is your body’s way of preparing for birth.

Why You Dilate to 10 Cm

Did you know that as baby engages into the pelvis, their chin is usually tucked in towards their chest? If we were to measure the “bi-parietal” diameter of you newborn’s head at that point, it would average about 10 cm (Source 2). It is no wonder that your body dilates to 10 cm during labor in order to allow passage of baby into the birth canal. Your body and baby are designed to work together in order for baby to be born.

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Photo courtesy of April Bladh with Utah Doulas & Co (https://utahdoulasandco.com/) Instagram: @bladhphotography

Pain of Labor 

The Pain of Labor is actually very important. It can communicate what mom needs to do to birth her baby (3). For example, a mom may develop an intense backache during contractions. This could be because the baby is in a posterior position and having a hard time traveling through the pelvis. At this point mom will usually be uncomfortable lying down and want to find a different position (usually on her hands and knees). Finding a position that is most comfortable will often help the baby rotate and lessen moms pain during contractions.

Your body knows what to do…listen to what it is telling you during labor and birth and seek positions that are most comfortable for you.

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Breastfeeding: Your Body is Already Preparing

Your breasts account for about 2 pounds of the total weight gain you will experience during pregnancy. This is because the milk-making glands and fat deposits are increasing in your breasts to naturally prepare your body to make breastmilk.

As early as 20 weeks of pregnancy and beyond, a pregnant mom may notice a yellowish substance at the nipple. This may even leak out when mom is relaxed or in the shower. It is called “Colostrum” and is actually the first type of breastmilk your body makes.

Your body is so wise and knows that it will need to sustain life after baby comes – it starts preparing early on in pregnancy.

Your Inner Wisdom Will Guide You Through Pregnancy, Labor, Birth and Beyond

This is one of my favorite Lamaze Fundamentals. I have seen the truth of this repeatedly as I have supported families over the years and watched parents make decisions that just “felt right” for them. There will be times that you may feel strongly about avoiding or needing a medical procedure. There will be times you will be guided to the place you give birth or the care provider you choose. There may be times you have a feeling about what your child needs. Listen to your gut; usually it is right. Your body knows what it needs and your body knows what to do.

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I’m Rickie Bryner, a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and a CAPPA trained Postpartum Doula. I have been teaching prenatal classes and supporting expecting families for over 14 years. I have a passion for helping moms and partners take the fear out of birthing, replacing it with confidence and all the tools they need for their journey. Click here to learn more about me About Me. Learn more about my classes here Childbirth Classes.

Sources:

1) Shilling, Teri (2019), “Medical Interventions.” Retrieved from: https://www.lamaze.org/medical-mediation.

2) Danielsson, Krissy (November, 2018), “Biparietal Diameter and Your Pregnancy Ultrasound.” Retrieved from: https://www.verywellfamily.com/biparietal-diameter-bpd-2371600.

3) Lothian, Judith (1999), “Really Teaching Lamaze: The Power of Pain.” Retrieve from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3431764/.

 

 

 

Postpartum Glow: Part 2

Postpartum Recovery by Madison Johnson
Photo courtesy of Madison Johnson – Photos by Mad Website

In my last post Postpartum Glow: Part I we talked about how to tackle two common Postpartum Pitfalls: 1) Lack of Sleep and 2) Unequal Workload. Today we will focus on Postpartum Pitfall #3 – Social Isolation. This post contains suggestions to help you plan for a SUPPORTED Postpartum Recovery. Planning for physical AND emotional recovery after baby comes is essential to your health and well-being as a new parent.

Postpartum Recovery
Having a baby is a life-changing event, and taking care of a newborn is no easy task! On a personal note, having a baby was so much harder than I expected even though there were many things that were wonderful about it.

Learning to care for a new human being can be scary for new parents and it takes time to get the hang of this new role. A new mother has many physical changes occurring in her postpartum body making the task even more demanding (hormones, establishing a milk supply, lack of sleep to name a few).

To complicate things further, parents or new mothers can feel isolated from their peer/social group they used to identify with as they add this new role of motherhood to their identity.

Healthy Postpartum Recovery

Why We Need Support: Going through a difficult event by yourself can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. Thus, it is critical for new mothers and parents to have a plan for finding much needed connection and emotional support with others after baby’s arrival. (1)

Ideas – Planning for Emotional Support

Schedule Visitors to Come: Remember the list you were going to create of “helpers” and “visitors” after baby comes? See my last post Postpartum Glow: Part I . You want your helpers to come the first few weeks and for longer if they can. Visitors in the very beginning can be overwhelming; you are recovering from having a baby – not entertaining! However, planning for a few special visitors after the first few weeks can boost your emotional health. 

  • Lunch-In – Do you have a friend that can come over for lunch one day? Even better, can this friend bring lunch to you? Can you schedule one per week for a while? A friend can hold the baby and give you a chance to talk about all you have been through and what life with a new baby is like! You can catch up on what is going on in her world. Don’t worry about having a clean house. She will probably be happy to do a job or two while she is there!
  • Couples Dinner – Do you have a couple friend that could bring over dinner one night? If you would feel awkward asking them to bring dinner, can you order pizza or take-out? I remember after my second baby was born, a couple friend came over and we ordered pizza. We had so much fun talking and it gave me something to look forward to that evening.

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Reconnect with Partner: Many couples get lost in caring for their newborn and forget to connect with each other. Newborns are demanding; however, it is important to devote time each day to your relationship with each other. Being able to express your feelings, the good and the bad, about this journey will strengthen your relationship and enhance your ability to cope with this life-changing role.

  • Be honest about your feelings. Take a few minutes each night or each morning to check in and see how your partner is doing. It is okay to express your honest feelings about what you are going through. Don’t judge and be extra supportive of each other.
  • Be clear about your needs. Partner can’t read your mind! You might think it is obvious that you would love a shower or a nap, but sometimes these needs slip partners mind. Try saying, “I really appreciate your help. I haven’t showered today and really need a shower. Can you watch the baby for a few minutes when you get home from work so I can shower and have 20 minutes to myself?” Expecting partner to read your mind usually leads to trouble.
  • Plan a Date! Put a date-night on the calendar after baby is born. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate, just time for you to reconnect and get out of the house. You could go grab a quick bite to eat, go for a walk to one of your favorite spots, etc. Many newborns will sleep if you are “baby-wearing” or will take a nap in their carrier so you can even bring them along with you if you don’t have someone you trust to watch the baby.

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Connect with Other New Moms: This face-to-face connection is critical for a new mother. You will realize you are not alone in the many challenges and joys you face from: sleepless nights, to feeding struggles, to losing that baby weight and more!

There are many ways to meet other moms in your community. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; you might be surprised at how many moms are excited to meet you and the new friendships (often life-long) that you will make.

  • Positive Birth Groups: Ask your care provider if they know of a group in your area. These are popping up more and more. You can begin attending during pregnancy and continue the friendships after you have the baby.
  • Library Story Times: Many local libraries have lap-sit story times, often followed by a brain-development play time for moms with younger babies.
  • Mommy & Me Yoga Classes: There might be a cost here but such a great way to exercise, help your body recover Postpartum AND meet other new moms! Babies usually love the outing as well and seeing little friends.
  • Stroller Strides – Fitness class while baby is in the stroller. Some are held indoors during the winter months.
  • Other Fitness Groups – These are popping up more as well. Some are designed specifically for new moms and you can bring your baby with you!
  • Facebook Groups: Join local Mom’s Facebook Groups for your area. Many will keep you posted about local events and meet-ups close to you.
  • Breastfeeding Support Groups: Reach out to your local WIC office or La Leche League Chapter. This is a great way to meet new mothers, share breastfeeding success stories and struggles, and connect with other women.
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As a Postpartum Doula, I love not only helping mom get much needed rest, but offering emotional support as well. Just having someone to talk to during the day so that you don’t feel isolated is mood-lifting. Click here to learn more about me and my Postpartum Doula Services: About Me

Consider a Postpartum Doula: A postpartum doula can be an excellent source of emotional support after baby comes. It is wonderful to have someone to process your birth experience with and share your postpartum feelings & emotions with. Your postpartum doula will listen in a non-judging way and help you recognize the normalcy of your wide-range of postpartum emotions.

A postpartum doula can also point you to resources in your area for additional support and helping you connect with other women in your area. Click here to learn more about the benefits of a Postpartum Doula.

Know When to Seek Help: If you are feeling lonely, depressed, or anxious, it is important to reach out for additional support. Be sure to share your feelings with your care provider as well.

Postpartum Depression

If you live in Utah, click here to find a great list of local Support Groups and Resources for expecting and new moms: Utah Postpartum Resources for New Moms.

Click here for a post about Postpartum Mood Disorders filled with many resources for support in this area: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression & Anxiety – You are not alone!

Resources:

  1. McAndrew, Frank (November 2016). “The Perils of Social Isolation” Article retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-ooze/201611/the-perils-social-isolation.

 

 

Postpartum Glow: Part I

Did anyone tell you that you had a “Pregnancy Glow” when you were first pregnant? I got this comment occasionally; although, not many people told me I had a “Postpartum Glow” after my babies came.

Postpartum Recovery by Madison Johnson
Photo courtesy of Madison Johnson – http://www.photobymad.com/

What if there was a way to have the healthiest Postpartum Recovery possible? Perhaps even have a little GLOW about you? Or at least feel like you were able to enjoy your newborn baby?

In this post, I share some pointers to help you PLAN for a healthy postpartum recovery.

Creating a Postpartum Plan BEFORE baby comes is the most important step. Many parents simply underestimate how challenging recovery will be. A Postpartum Plan can make the transition to parenthood smoother for both you and your partner – physically and emotionally.

Taking care of yourself after baby is born will:

  • Help your body return to it’s non-pregnant state much quicker
  • Help establish a good milk supply for baby if you are Breastfeeding
  • Decrease the chance of Postpartum Depression or other Mood Disorders
  • Help your body recover from labor and birth
  • Increase bonding with your baby
  • Help you have more energy in the coming months

The biggest Postpartum “Pitfalls” are:

  1. Lack of Sleep
  2. Frustrations from Unequal Workload Between Mom and Partner
  3. Social Isolation
  4. Postpartum Mood Disorders (1)

We will address lack of sleep and unequal workload in this blog post.

Healthy Postpartum Recovery
Lack of sleep can lead to feeling run-down or fatigued. Fatigue puts mom at risk for Postpartum Depression and other Mood Disorders. Having a good Postpartum Plan can help you get essential rest.

Planning for Less Sleep:

Newborns have no concept of day or night, let alone a clock. Their bodies operate on reflexes to ensure their survival. Therefore, they will often wake up multiple times during the night to feed – they need to do this as it fosters healthy growth. Nature has designed it this way. Their tummies are very small and they can’t take in a lot with each feeding, requiring them to eat more often. A breastfeeding mom that feeds her baby during the night stimulates a rich milk supply – remember breastfeeding is supply and demand! If babies came sleeping through the night, your milk supply would likely suffer.

Here are some tips to cope with less sleep….let’s face it, it’s exhausting for mom and partner:

  • Have the baby room in with you. If you have a bassinet close to your bed, you can quickly reach for baby during the night and put them back down easier.
  • Talk to your baby’s pediatrician to see if co-sleeping may be an option (if you are exclusively breastfeeding) & how to do this safely.
  • Enlist partners help early on, especially if partner can take some time off work to help you at night.
  • Partner can change baby’s diaper and put them back to sleep for you after you feed the baby.
  • Keep the room quiet and dark or dimly lit when baby awakes, so they don’t think it is time to get up and play.
  • Stay in your PJ’s during the day – or at least your comfy clothes. It will be easier to fall asleep if you feel cozy and comfortable during the day.
Postpartum Plan and Lack of Sleep
Can partner take the baby first thing in the morning if they have a later work schedule so you can go back to sleep after being up with baby all night? OR can partner take the baby late in the evening so you can head to bed earlier?

Creating a Postpartum Sleep Plan – Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. During the day, what tasks can you set aside so that you can focus on resting anytime the baby is asleep? Many moms try to hurry and get something done when baby falls asleep only to feel more tired later on. Even if you can’t fall asleep, in the first few weeks, you should try to rest any time the baby is resting.
  2. Who can help with household tasks so that you can rest when the baby rests? Accept all offers for help. Having someone else do a load of dishes or laundry can put your mind at ease so you can relax.
  3. Do you have someone that could care for the baby for a few hours while you take a nap or get some extra sleep? Even help a few times per week can be a lifesaver. Perhaps partner works from home, or goes into the office late. In this case, partner can take the baby for a few hours so you can completely rest. Or maybe you have a trusted friend or family member that can give you some relief in the early morning or afternoon.
  4. How do you feel about a Postpartum Doula? Is this in your budget? A Postpartum Doula’s primary responsibility is to help mom rest and recover. They can take the baby so mom can sleep; many postpartum doulas come at night! They can also help with regular household tasks or caring for other siblings so you can recover.

Planning to Share the Workload:

Did you know that a preschooler demands your attention (on average) about 180 times per hour? (1) They keep you very busy! A newborn is equally demanding. They may sleep a lot in the first few weeks, but when they are awake, they require your total focus.

A newborn baby is a full-time job. A breastfed baby, for example, needs to eat every 1 1/2 to 3 hours and about 8 -12 times per day. Early feedings can take 30-45 minutes per feed. You can easily spend 8 hours plus per day on feedings alone.

During the first few weeks, mom should be recovering from pregnancy, labor and birth. She is also building her milk supply; therefore, her focus should be on herself and baby – not household tasks. Household tasks and overdoing it can cause her Lochia flow (the shedding of the uterine lining after birth) to increase and slow down her healing.

Newborn Visitor Rules
Say yes when people offer help. It is also ok to ask for help after baby comes. Most visitors would be happy to quickly fold a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher.

Think about these questions:

  • Who are your Helpers and who are your Visitors? Make a list of people that will want to come over after baby is born. I recommend having HELPERS come the first few weeks so that you can rest and recover. Then, after a few weeks, you will be excited to have VISITORS. Visitors that don’t help you, however, will make it harder to recover. (2)
  • Can you say “YES” to any offers for help? 
  • What tasks does mom usually do each day to keep the household running? Make a list and decide who will help with these tasks.
    • Who will be vacuuming and cleaning the house?
    • Who will be doing the dishes?
    • Who will do the grocery shopping after baby comes for the first few weeks?
    • Who will do the laundry?
    • Who will do the cooking?
  • How will you ensure you are eating healthy, nutritious meals?
    • Can you make some freezer meals before baby is born?
    • Can partner cut up some fresh, healthy foods that mom can easily grab to eat during the day for snacks? (i.e. fruit, veggies and hummus, fresh breads/whole grains).
  • Who will take care of any pets? 
  • Are there any other tasks mom does that she will need help with in the first several weeks? For example, after a Cesarean mom may not be able to drive for the first few weeks. 

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Thinking about these questions BEFORE baby is born can help you plan for Health Postpartum Recovery. This can also help you avoid conflicts with partner over some of these issues as you can discuss these before and develop a plan.

Written by Rickie Bryner, BS, LCCE. Click here to learn more about me: About Me

Resources:

  1. Medina, John. Brain Rules for Baby. Seattle: Pear Press, 2010.
  2. CAPPA Postpartum Doula Training, October 2018, Phoenix, Arizona.

 

Labor Support – What Every Partner Should Know

Childbirth classes can help partner know how to best support mom. Here are some no-fail tips every partner should know when offering labor support.

Tip #1: Don’t Eat That Juicy Burger!!

Labor Support Partner
#1 Labor Support Tip for Parter – Don’t eat that juicy burger during mom’s labor!

You are probably laughing right now, but I am serious! Mom’s hormones are going to be fluctuating A LOT in labor. She’ll probably feel nauseous as labor progresses. In many hospital settings, mom is only allowed to have clear fluids or ice chips during labor – she won’t be able to enjoy that yummy food with you.

My sweet husband actually brought in a juicy burger from Carl’s Jr. during my first labor. I did make the mistake of packing what he called “gross” snacks in the labor bag and he was starving. However, the burger didn’t smell so good to my laboring hormones! Partners, I have your back: Mom will love you if you avoid this labor pit-fall!!

Labor Support Partner Ideas
Labor Support Tip: I would recommend picking out some snacks you really like and throwing them in the labor bag. You are going to need to keep up your energy during labor so you can offer incredible physical and emotional labor support to mom.

If you need to take a break for nourishment, ask someone to come be with mom. Let’s face it, labor is likely going to take a while. You can ask a nurse or other member of her care team, your doula, or a close friend or family member to be with her. This way mom will have continuous labor support while you are gone.

Tip #2: Bring Your Bathing Suit

Hydrotherapy during labor (water) has been called “Nature’s Analgesic.” It is a natural pain reliever and relieves pressure in just the right spots during labor.

Labor Birth Support

Because of the incredible benefits water provides, mom may REALLY enjoy laboring in the tub or shower. Why not hop right in with her? To avoid others being exposed to your birthday suit, it might be great to have your own bathing wear!

You can slowly pour water over her belly using a small cup, or help spray warm water to ease aches and pressure. Or offer a massage, counter-pressure, or snuggle close to mom to offer words of encouragement.

Tip #3: Bring Breath Mints!

This one is so important, it cannot be overstated. Have you ever heard of the “In Your Face” Technique? During the hardest part of labor, which we call the “Transition Phase,” mom often needs constant support and encouragement because the contractions are so intense. I often encourage partner to get very close to mom. Place a hand on her shoulders or hold her face in your hands. You will want to be face-to-face with her so that she doesn’t lose focus.

Labor Support Partner

Can you imagine someone telling you words of encouragement with smelly breath?? Yuck! And the pregnancy hormones and often-felt nausea of transition will just make it worse.

Pop in a Breath Mint before the above mentioned “In-Your-Face” technique. Trust me, mom will be VERY thankful. Pack your toothbrush if you are worried. Maybe brush after you eat that juicy burger.

Tip #4: Be Prepared that Light Touch and Stroking (which she may have loved just a few minutes ago) might become very annoying!!

Interestingly, as the pain of labor intensifies, you will want to stimulate larger nerve fibers when offering labor support. Large nerve signals reach the brain faster than pain signals traveling to the brain from your uterus. Therefore, the larger nerve signals help block out the pain signals of contractions that are traveling on much smaller nerve fibers.

If the light massage and stroking motions become ineffective or seem to irritate mom, or if mom’s contractions are very intense, you will want to try: Hand Massage, Back Massage, Foot Massage, or even Ankle Massage.

Labor Support Partner
Labor Support Tip #4: I remember my doula massaging my ankles during transition with the birth of my second baby. I was so surprised and didn’t expect that at all. However, it did take my mind off the contractions and was very effective!

Tip #5: Whatever she is doing – NO MATTER WHAT – she is doing GREAT!!

Positive encouragement goes a long way during labor. I remember having a hard time relaxing during my first labor, even though it seemed I was doing everything right. I was on the birth ball, using a great breathing technique, and Mike was great at back massage. However, I still didn’t feel like I was coping well with the strong pain of contractions.

My nurse came in the room and all she did was put her hand on my shoulder and say, “You are doing such a great job, you look like you are in so much control.” I literally felt tension drain out of my body at that point.

Tell mom she is wonderful. Tell her you love her! Tell her she is doing great and that she is so strong, even if she looks like she is falling apart. Anchor her, let her know you are by her side. She can and will be able to get through this with you there.

Labor Support Partner
Labor Support Tip #5: Positive words and encouragement can make all the difference in mom being able to cope more effectively with contractions.

Other tips for Labor Support:

  1. Ten Tips for Labor: https://www.lamaze.org/10LaborTips
  2. Tips for Labor Support Team: https://www.lamaze.org/BirthTeam
  3. Take Charge Routine: http://birthandbabies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Take_Charge_Routine.pdf
  4. Positive Encouragement In Labor: https://www.verywellfamily.com/things-to-say-to-a-laboring-woman-2759006
  5. Water During Labor: http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/water-birth/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Tips for Pregnancy Discomforts from Your Utah Doulas

 

Pregnancy Discomforts

The more I learn about pregnancy, labor and birth, the more miraculous the whole process becomes. From the time your baby is conceived, your body undergoes many changes to support the growing fetus. Your body is designed to do this!

Pregnancy Discomforts

However, many of the physical changes your body goes through can cause discomforts.

At Your Utah Doulas, we feel you deserve a VILLAGE OF SUPPORT throughout your journey. Below we share our favorite tips to help you feel more comfortable during your pregnancy.


Utah Doula Katie Davis
Hi, I’m Katie Davis, a birth doula for Your Utah Doulas. Being a doula has been an incredible, and rewarding experience for me. I feel honored each time I am invited into someone’s life to be apart of their birth experience. I strive to provide education, encouragement, and caring support to each woman so she will be able to cherish the memory of her birth. To learn more about Katie click here Katie Davis

I’ve worked with a lot of pregnant women who have discomfort while they are sleeping. I also have a hard time sleeping and I’m not even pregnant! These are some of my favorite sleeping tips that have really helped my clients feel more comfortable and get a good night’s rest.

  • Take a warm bath or shower before bedtime
  • Sleep with pillows under your knees and arms
  • Read a good book, or listen to relaxing music before bed
  • Avoid eating large meals within 2-3 hours before bed

Childbirth Educator Rickie Bryner
I’m Rickie Bryner, a Childbirth Educator for Your Utah Doulas. I have 10+ years of teaching experience and love helping expecting families feel more confident about giving birth and becoming new parents. I am also a busy mom of four kids. To learn more about Rickie click here Rickie Bryner.

I also had a hard time sleeping when I was pregnant. I struggled with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) with all four of my pregnancies. My legs would drive me crazy when trying to fall asleep! It felt like I had the wiggles and my legs just wouldn’t relax or sit still. My husband says my crazy legs would frequently kick him in the night.

Here are some tips for Restless Legs:

  • Be sure you are getting enough Iron. Studies have linked Iron Deficiency to Restless Legs. Make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamin. Additional sources of iron are: lean meats, cashews, spinach, whole grain cereals and breads.
  • I used an Accupressure Sequence before bed and it helped so much. Here is a link: Accupressure for Restless Legs
    • I would press each pressure point and hold it for about 10 seconds, moving from head-to-toe.
  • Use a birth ball/exercise/yoga ball for comfort. I would frequently lean my upper body against a birth ball in the evenings to relieve pressure on my back and hips.

Utah Doula Lizette Larned
Lizette works with Your Utah Doulas as a birth, sibling, and nesting doula. She has a degree in family studies, is research oriented, and has extensive background working with children that have disabilities. As a nesting doula she helps moms before and after birth to create spaces in their homes that are beautiful and functional. To learn more about Lizette click here Lizette Larned.

A lot of people get leg cramps when they’re pregnant which are a) unexpected if you haven’t experienced them before and b) uncomfortable!

The good news us that usually they’re benign and you can do some really
simple things to help ease those crampy legs.

Calcium: Leg and back cramps can be a sign that you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet to support yourself and your little one. Some calcium rich foods include dairy (if you tolerate it well), almonds, and dark leafy greens.

Exercise & Stretching: Beyond diet, you can ease your cramps with daily exercise and some gentle stretching. This being said, if you are on bed rest, exercise may not be an option but gentle stretching always is.


Utah Doula Bekkah Tweed
Bekkah is a DONA trained birth doula. She has experience with many types of births in a variety of settings and loves working with first time moms. She loves being invited into the sacred birthing space and strives to make it a positive, empowering experience for every family she works with.

During my third pregnancy, I started to realize that it was so much easier to take some extra steps to prevent the uncomfortable, achy body rather than deal with it later.

Some of my favorite things to make the transition from first trimester to third trimester a little smoother are:

  • Invest in a good belly support band early on! It can help so much to alleviate pressure on your back and hips as baby gets bigger.
  • Prenatal Yoga is so good for loosening up tight joints. It can also make for a smoother labor.. bonus!
  • Compression socks can help with swelling- especially if you have a job that requires you to be on your feet a lot.
  • Find a good Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) that specializes in Prenatal Massage. They will be your best friend!

Utah Doula Katie Forester
Katie is a birth and postpartum Doula in Utah Valley. She loves helping women feel powerful in their decisions surrounding their pregnancy, birth and postpartum time. To learn more about Katie click here Katie Foerster.

My advice? Move, move, move! Regular physical activity can keep your back strong
and might relieve back pain during pregnancy. With your health care provider’s OK, try
gentle activities — such as walking, water exercise, or yoga.

Lower Back Stretch Idea:

  • Rest on your hands and knees shoulder/hip width apart with your head in line with your back.
  • Pull in your stomach, rounding your back slightly.
  • Hold for several seconds, then relax your stomach and back — keeping your back as flat as possible.
  • If you feel so inclined, it is also beneficial to roll your hips in circles.
  • Keeping your body limber helps to prevent a sore pelvis, muscles and back. As a
    bonus, you will prepare your body for birth!

Utah Doula Katelyn McCurdy
Katelyn is a seasoned Mother of two from West Haven, UT. You can usually find her outside adventuring with her family or reading from her endless book collection.  She is a birth doula and belly-binder with Your Utah Doulas and loves this work with all her being. To learn more about Katelyn click here Katelyn McCurdy.

I had terrible Sciatica with my second pregnancy.  Around 34 weeks I could barely walk!

My best tips for sciatica are:

  • Get a great belly band
  • Apply heat
  • Stretch Daily or try Prenatal Yoga.
The belly band itself made a HUGE difference for me.
Stretch Idea: Here’s a great stretch that can help. It will relieve some pressure on your sciatic nerve:
  • Stand facing a wall
  • Place hands on wall and lift your right leg behind you to the count of five
  • Switch legs and repeat
  • Do three reps on each side at least once a day

To learn more about Your Utah Doulas and how we can best support your during pregnancy, labor and your transition to parenting, visit our website at: Your Utah Doulas.

Author: Rickie Bryner, BS, LCCE

Pregnancy Food Cravings

Can you relate to strange food cravings during pregnancy?

Pregnancy Food Cravings

I know I had some interesting cravings. The most random was when I craved Crunch Berries Cereal!

Why do we have cravings during pregnancy?Pregnancy Food Cravings 

We aren’t 100% sure the cause of food cravings; however, if we take a step back and look at cravings, we might gain clues about what our body needs. (1)

Food cravings should not be the only thing that helps you decide what to eat in pregnancy, though. Be sure to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and take your daily prenatal vitamin to make sure you are getting everything you need. (2) 

What your body needs

Your body is growing a baby, working 24-hour shifts to do this! Many changes happen in your body to support your growing baby.

  1. Your blood volume increases by about 40% in pregnancy. This makes sure lots of circulation is getting to you and the baby – plus plenty of oxygen, too! Could this be why women crave a lot of salt early on? So your body can retain extra fluids?
  2. Baby is going through a period of rapid cell-growth and development, especially the brain. One of my friends is Vegetarian but during pregnancy she craved MEAT, MEAT, MEAT! It actually sounded good to her. Protein is vital for cell growth and development.
  3. Baby’s teeth and bones are developing and hardening. I always wanted a glass of milk at dinner when I was pregnant. Perhaps it was due to my body needing CALCIUM to support this growth.

As I took a look at my Crunch Berries craving, I discovered that Crunch Berries have 100% your daily need of Folic Acid. This is a key mineral that helps the baby’s neural tube (which includes the brain and spinal chord) develop.

Pregnancy Food Cravings

Can Some Cravings Be Dangerous?

There are rare times when a mother may crave things such as rubber tires or Pinesol Cleaner. If you crave these non-food items, it is important to talk to your care provider – you may be experiencing PICA. It could mean you are deficient in important vitamins and minerals.

Should You Always Listen to Your Food Cravings?

I recommend eating a well-balanced, healthy diet during pregnancy. Make sure to take you prenatal vitamin daily to fill in gaps for any vitamins/minerals you aren’t getting enough of.

I also recommend taking a step back to look at your food cravings. Of course let yourself indulge in them from time to time, but….

….try to incorporate other healthy foods that will provide the nutrients you need as well. 

Happy Cravings!!

Rickie Bryner, BS, LCCE

Resources:

  1. Bouchez, Collette, “Pregnancy Cravings: When You Gotta Have It!” Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/pregnancy-food-cravings#1.
  2. American Pregnancy Association, (2017, May). “Pregnancy Nutrition.” Retrieved from URL: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-nutrition/.