The Yearly

It’s not pleasant to be in stirrups, or to have a doctor and nurse staring at your yoni while you lay on a table half clothed, shivering under a sheet, staring at fluorescent lights. Or waiting for the doctor and nurse to finally enter the room, no one to talk to, and rereading the posters on the walls about the final stages of development of a fetus and iud selections. As unpleasant as it is, it’s super important to your health!

So, while we all know early detection is the best way to survive cancers, and prevent pre-cancer from developing into cancer, we don’t always want to think about how it may be living inside our bodies already. For anyone who has ever had an abnormal exam, yearly is best for repeat Pap smears, and every two years for women who haven’t.

As boring as it is, it’s worth that little piece of mind that comes from your Gynocologist office giving you the all clear!

That Feeling When…

…your head is full of knowledge and your heart is full of love…

When Jen Kamel advertised her VBAC Facts videos on Facebook, I jumped all over it! Being a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) mom myself, and having had several clients who either had or attempted a VBAC, I wanted to know all I could. I’m still neck deep in information to process, and loads to learn before I’m done with the initial course information, but I’m so excited to have gotten my hands on this, and soon to follow, my brain wrapped around these facts and policies.

My cesarean “meet the baby” picture.

Most important is to avoid the first cesarean, if possible, but oftentimes that’s not an option. When it’s not, it is imperative that moms don’t have their rights for a VBAC stripped from them even before they make it to labor. My goal as a doula is to help mothers have their ideal birth whenever possible, and now armed with this information, I feel much more prepared to share this with moms, and help them to go in prepared if/when they’re told for whatever reason they’re not a candidate for a TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean).

My VBAC “meet the baby” picture.

The images above speak volumes on the difference between something being stripped from you, and being able to choose the path for yourself. In both of these pictures I’m greeting a baby about to be whisked off to the NICU for being born too early, and underdeveloped lungs. In the first you’ll see someone holding my son, “allowing” me to kiss him before they rushed him off. In the second, until her cord is clamped, and she is relying solely on herself to breathe, I’m holding her, and being able to count toes and fingers and smell that new, wet baby smell that helps the breasts produce colostrum. This is what mothers and babies deserve to have the opportunity to have. Even when you know there’s going to be an urgent situation once baby is out, baby and Mom have a crucial first moment of bonding.

This is what we doulas strive to provide for our clients: the voice, the knowledge, and the rights of both mother and child.

Nursing Newborns

Have you ever been warned that having a baby means there will be days you’ll feel so drained that moving off the couch to the bed seems like too much of a chore to be worth the warm blanket and familiar pillow? Or putting your feet on the floor is only worth the energy used when you’re certain it’s that or pee the bed? How about being told that hearing your baby cry almost literally makes your nipples crawl into your breast tissue in fear of having to be chewed on by a ravenous toothless (or not entirely toothless) human? No? Me neither! And I’ve had 7 of them! In all the pre-baby speeches I received about not sleeping, not having the energy to go to the few and far-between kid-friendly parties, no one thought to warn me about feeling “touched out,” the horrors of cracked nipples and still having to nurse/pump through the pain, the struggle and tears with wrong latches, lip tie, mastitis, and inverted nipples, or nursing strikes (when baby decides eating is for the weak and goes hours, or days, without latching or latching long enough).

With all the well-meaning, unsolicited advice I received, and still receive, no one warned me that my baby would at times want nothing more than to nurse for 24 hrs straight, and that it’s OK to do nothing but nurse that baby. I was never told about the mental leaps that babies go through that cause them to have terrifying meltdowns they’ve never shown before, and make you wonder if they’ve been possessed by the devil himself (though I’ve been told 36 different ways to cope with it by 40 different strangers and nearly all of them childless).

Having had a miscarriage before my first baby, I felt I didn’t have the right to complain about my swollen feet and itchy belly toward the end of the pregnancy, or to be upset when things weren’t going well, or that it made me ungrateful for my child when I wanted nothing more than an evening with just my husband and no rattlers, diapers, breast pumps, nursing sessions, or cries that interrupted the best part of the show, or punctuated the kiss that I’d waited all day to get. The truth is, we are human, and we gave birth to humans. It’s perfectly normal, and acceptable to feel overwhelmed, overly exhausted, and completely lost! If you think you’ve got it all together you’re missing something. Just ask any mom who has ever left the house on time or early with every kid dressed, makeup on, gas in the car, and the dog fed. She probably left all the lunchboxes on the kitchen counter, or the curling iron on, or forgot to leave the key to the shed for the lawn guy coming at 3pm, or (worst of the worst) left the diaper bag with 20oz of defrosted breastmilk sitting by the door.

Stop judging yourself! Love yourself and that baby. And refill your cup. Any questions?

Taking Care of You

It’s important to always spend some time for yourself, but never more important than when you’re caring for a human. And when that human is inside your body, messing with your posture, throwing off your equilibrium, causing your back, feet, pelvic floor, knees, hips, sciatic nerve, and/or tailbone to suffer, there are two things you should consider: massage and realignment. When that human is too small to walk alone, and you’re carrying them around, which affects your posture, your upper body alignment, your feet, your knees, your lower back, your neck… and basically your entire body, there are two things you should consider: massage and realignment.

It’s no secret that I have my favorite people to work on my body, and those of my family, but each person should decide for themselves what they wish, which personalities click, what technique they prefer, etc. What is important is you go to someone who is qualified, and who has the proper education for working on pregnant women and infants. When choosing a provider, ask them questions about their education level, and their style of chiropractic care. Someone who went to school for the extra two years to become educated on a higher level is going to know more than the doctor that spent just a few days discussing anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, and a week talking about how babies differ from adults when it comes to adjustments.

When looking for a massage therapist, talk credentials with them. Do they specialize in anything? Listen for words like prenatal and postnatal massage, deep tissue, shiatsu, sports massage, or gentle touch, heat/cold therapy, hot stones, or things that are important to you. If you’re pregnant, you want someone who knows what pressure points to avoid, and how to properly work on problematic areas.

Most important is safety, as well as your comfort. Being a mom is a hard job! Don’t hesitate to care for yourself, so you can better care for those depending on you!

The Black Infant Remembrance Memorial

Every day we see more and more the prevalence of the mortality and morbidity rates with families of color. The CDC reports 11.4 of every 1,000 black babies will die before their first birthday. Contrast that with the 4.9 of every 1,000 non-Hispanic white babies. Because of this dirty secret finally coming to light, there are people working diligently to raise awareness of the issue of black infant mortality. There is a stark contrast between white and black birth outcomes; and these poor outcomes with black families are blind to the level of education, the size of homes or bank accounts, or level of fame, leading to undeniably higher death rates for both mother and baby. No one should ever know the pain of the death of their child, and it should never be that because your melanin is higher so is your risk of facing that reality.

The founders of Black Breastfeeding Week, Kiddada Green, Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka and Kimberly Seals Allers, also founded The Black Infant Remembrance Memorial. This gives the ones affected by the loss of a child a chance to share their story, share pictures, to give and receive comfort, and to see the life of their loved one meant, and still means something, and has touched the lives of more than just the mom and dad. These women lead busy lives, but see the intense and immense need for support, and therefore carved out time and money to assist the community. They’ve been affected by loss, and though they may have found ways of memorializing their loved ones, it’s seen all over how these grieving women gloss over their loss, because they don’t have a support system, or resources to assist them as they navigate through the empty and lonely path of grief and loss. If you have a moment, read also Kimberly Seals Allers article about the website, and interview of the ladies about why we absolutely need Black Breastfeeding Week.

Summertime Baby!

Pregnancy is so exciting! There are amazing things happening within your body, and the joy of being a part of that is indescribable. Even when it’s 150° outside. What’s not so exciting is dehydration and the effects that can have on you and your unborn. Contractions and swelling are no fun, and can be no laughing matter! As the temperatures go up, please remember your water bottle.