Bonding with Your Baby

In a world that is constantly on the go, bonding with other humans is often the last thing our minds.  True, intimate connections have been replaced by social media and surface level relationships  It somehow seems easier and safer that way. 

But, is safe and easy best?  Should we avoid connection and bonding because it's inconvenient?  Not at all.  Humanity needs true connection now more than ever. Adults and children alike are designed to need healthy attachment - it's a part of our DNA. It begins with pregnancy and continues to birth, childhood, marriage and beyond. Simply put, bonding is essential for our survival.

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HOW TO BOND WITH YOUR BABY

In Pregnancy

Bonding comes naturally to some, but others may need to work at it. A first-time mom may have  to make conscious efforts at forming an emotional connection with her baby during pregnancy.  It can be a challenge because pregnancy can be somewhat abstract, especially in those early days. Even if you're feeling the physical effects of pregnancy via morning sickness, your brain can take time to catch up with your body.

If you're looking to form a deeper bond with your baby during pregnancy try talking to your baby. Tell him about your day. Read her a story. If you're experiencing something that is causing you stress, tell your baby that it's ok. 

Prenatal Yoga is another wonderful way to bond! Not only does it help you feeling healthy and vibrant through your pregnancy, it provides space and guidance to meditate and create affirmations for pregnancy and birth. Prenatal yoga instructors are magicians when it comes to getting you connected the squirmy little love inside your womb. 

During Birth

During labor and your birth your body will produce a virtual cocktail of hormones. These hormones directly affect your ability to bond not only during the birth of your baby, but immediately postpartum as well. Boosting this hormone cocktail is key to getting your body to relax and creating a safe space for vulnerability and attachment. 

When contractions begin your body naturally produces oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone or the bonding hormone. It causes the uterus to contract during labor and after birth the contractions continue in order to shrink your uterus to a smaller size. Contractions are necessary to bring your baby into this world, so the more oxytocin you have flooding your system, the stronger and more consistent your contractions will become. Not to mention that this oxytocin will help you bond with your baby post-birth. More on that later!

To boost your oxytocin cocktail try dimming the lights, turning on soft music, or getting in the tub. Have your partner add some encouraging words, kisses, and comforting massage and you'll be floating on cloud nine with all the loving goodness that will be surging through your body. 

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Postpartum

When your freshly born baby is brought immediately to your chest, you'll get a huge rush of oxytocin. In addition to causing your uterus to continue to contract, it will also trigger milk production along with prolactin - the mothering hormone.  This powerful hormone cocktail is what causes you to find your baby to be completely irresistible and turns on your instincts to nurture and protect your sweet baby.  Oxytocin & prolactin are key to helping you take on their new role as a mother.

If you're eager to facilitate bonding in the best way possible, immediate skin-to-skin contact and on demand breastfeeding is the best way to stimulate your body’s natural oxytocin production after birth. As your baby suckles at your breast it will signal your body to release more oxytocin and will encourage  to connect to your baby.  Skin-to-sking contact and latching at the breast also helps your baby to release his or her own oxytocin. 

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact go beyond those first few hours and days. We recommend continuing skin-to-skin for several weeks, whether or not you choose to breastfeed. This direct contact helps regulate your baby's temperature, breathing, and cortisol levels. Additionally, it can help promote lactation, hormone regulation, and feelings of euphoria in your body too!

The Fourth Trimester 

While there is plenty you can do to aid bonding through stimulating oxytocin and positive thoughts and emotions, externally you have even more influence.  Your choices with your time, your environment, and your attention have lasting impacts on the bond you will have with your baby.  This is true for adoptive parents as well!

It is for this reason that we encourage you to put down the cell phone and shut off the TV while you are bonding with your baby. The blue light that emits from these electronic devices can actually inhibit oxytocin flow and create more stress in your life. Creating a calming, relaxing, oxytocin-promoting cave is one of our favorite tips to share with our postpartum doula clients. Find a serene space in your home with a comfy chair, some natural light and make this your bonding spot. This is a place where you can get away from the noise and just chill with your baby. 

Be gentle with yourself as you adjust to the realities of having a new baby. Go at a slow pace as you allow your body to recover from birth and allow your baby to acclimate to his or her new surroundings. Be mindful of external sources of stress and do everything you can to eliminate those from your life... at least for the time being. 

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HIRE A POST-PARTUM DOULA

If you want extra help in bonding with your baby, consider hiring a postpartum doula.  Our vision in providing postpartum support is not simply taking care of your baby for you (although that does happen at times), but in doing all we can to help you facilitate an environment for healing, recovery, and bonding. Your doula is there to support you through breastfeeding and pumping.  She can give you suggestions for boosting your milk supply and storing breastmilk. She can walk you through soothing and calming techniques, bathing your baby and more.  Her presence provides you with opportunities to just focus on your new baby while she fills in the gaps around the house. 

What if

Sometimes the bond comes on really strongly from the moment you pee on the stick. But don't worry if it takes a little while for your heart to catch up with your head. It's not uncommon for some women to have a delay in bonding and for it to even take a few days or weeks after birth. There is nothing wrong with you or your baby is you don't bond immediately. But doing everything we've suggested here will ultimately help you get there. 

In the end, we just want you to know that your body was made for this connection.  Your hormones and your baby's hormones work together to create the most beautiful and tender relationship. Early attachment will help you create a strong bond to your child for years and years and years to come. 

Doulas & Epidurals

One of the common misconceptions about doulas is that we only support natural, unmedicated birth. And while we absolutely provide valuable physical support for natural births, we also have an incredible amount of expertise and support for those who plan on getting an epidural. 

Have you ever thought about hiring a doula, but hesitated because getting an epidural was a part of your birth plan? Well, on today's blog we'll talk all about how doulas can assist and care for you during your unique (and pain-free!) birth. 

If you're here, you probably already know what a doula does... at least in theory. A doula is a trained birth assistant that is present at your birth to support you and your partner. That is the very foundation of what a doula does: SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT. And in such a way that helps empower you and build your confidence. As your doulas, we trust that you are an adult and can make the right decisions for you and your baby - and if that includes pain medication in labor - then we are all for it!  

Your doula meets with you prenatally to get to know you and learn more about your unique birth plan. It is during these meetings that you can explore your options for pain relief in childbirth and learn all about how your doula will be there for you throughout the entire process. If you have questions about the risks or benefits of epidurals as well as questions about the procedure itself, this is a great time to chat about all of that. We also highly recommend taking our Confident Birth childbirth class where we talk a lot about the various options for pain relief in labor: both natural and medicated. 

One of the things we talk about in this class is the WHY... why people choose epidurals in labor. 

It can be difficult to let go and surrender yourself to the physical changes happening in your body during labor. If your body is extremely tight or you aren't fully able to relax during contractions, it can potentially hinder cervical change making your labor longer and more intense. If this is the case an epidural can provide relief from the intensity, allowing your cervix and body to relax and open. For women with longer labors, an epidural can allow them time to rest and build up energy reserves as they approach the pushing stage. Some choose to have epidurals simply because they are fearful of the pain and have no desire to feel the contractions. The reasons are unique to each individual and there are many more than what we've listed here. 

For those that choose to have epidural pain relief, we want you to know that this is a choice we fully support and encourage you to talk to your doula or care provider about the specifics at your place of birth. Every hospital is different. Some hospitals want to ensure you're in active labor before administering an epidural and some won't give it to you after you're dilation reaches a certain point. Some hospitals allow your doula during the procedure, while others request that only your partner remains in the room. Knowing what to fully expect during this process can help put you at ease and make sure you're mentally and emotionally prepared. 

Once your epidural has been administered and you begin to feel the relief it provides, there are many ways your doula can continue to support you. 

Because you now must remain in bed, your doula will assist you in shifting from side to side for comfort and help support your body with pillows so you remain relaxed and are able to rest. It’s important to change position frequently to aid continued relief throughout your labor as well as to assist the baby in navigating the changing diameters of the pelvis. Your doula can utilize a peanut ball to keep the pelvic outlet open for your baby's descent. If your hospital doesn't have peanut balls, we recommend purchasing one as they are one of the best tools to use to prevent cesareans. 

Massage is another wonderful tool. Because your body and brain are no longer consumed with coping with the intensity of your contractions you can more easily move into a deeper state of relaxation. If you aren't sleeping your doula can massage your scalp, hands, hips and low back to keep you relaxed and help you stay present emotionally. She can also utilize other tools such as aromatherapy, guided meditation, and acupressure. We encourage as much rest as possible once you've received your epidural so you are fully energized when it comes time to push. 

Each doula is unique in her approach to supporting you through your epidural and will be by your side to get you through it. For more information about birth doula services, we invite you to schedule a time to chat with us. We'd love to hear about you and match you with a wonderful epidural-friendly doula!

We Come to You! Private Prenatal Classes in Orange County

Now that the nausea and the newness of this pregnancy have subsided a bit, you're probably starting to think about what classes you want to take. There are so many options from childbirth preparation classes to breastfeeding classes to newborn care basics. The choices can be overwhelming an often times the dates or times offered don't fit into your busy schedule. 

Enter Doulas of Orange County and our private prenatal classes!

Picture this: You pre-select from a menu of topics to create a customized curriculum based on your needs and interests. You choose a time that works best with you and your husband's schedule. Prior to our visit, we send you a form to fill out that allows us to customize your private class to fit your learning style and your points of interest. We bring everything we need to guide you through an engaging, fun, and informative class in the comfort of your home.

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You sip a cup of hot tea as you settle into your comfortable couch while you learn all about birth, breastfeeding, and baby care. You and your partner explore various comfort measures like massage, breathing, and relaxation techniques. You try out some essential oils, some different positions for labor, and together we have honest conversations about fears, nerves, and anything else you want to chat about freely. When your private class comes to an end  finished, you feel calm and confident. You feel excited about your new knowledge and tools that will help you make informed decisions on this parenting journey. 

Informed, prepared and confident. Isn't that exactly how you want to feel as you welcome your baby into this world? We can help you get there. 

Do you have friends that are pregnant too? Wouldn't it be fun to put together a couples class in your home? Or maybe you want to invite your parents to your baby care class so they get a refresher on the basics! We can make it happen! Our customizable, professional, and private classes will meet you exactly where you're at. They are fun, practical, uncensored, and always judgment-free!

Here are just a glimpse at some of the most popular topics you can choose to include in your customized curriculums:

  • Birth 101: Local hospital options, recommended care providers, birth planning
  • Confident Birth: Stages of Labor, Hormones & Labor, Pain-Relief options (both natural and medicated), Comfort Measures, What to Expect, Interventions, Induction, and more!
  • Breastfeeding 101: Positions, What's Normal, Pumping, Overcoming Breastfeeding Hurdles
  • Baby Care Basics: Newborn Care, Swaddling, Soothing, Feeding, Bathing, Diapering
  • VBAC 101: Preparing With Confidence, Birth Options, Finding a Supportive Care Provider
  • Comfort Measures: Relaxation Techniques, Massage, Essential Oils, Rebozo
  • Grandparents Class: Refresher, Modern Parenting, How to Be the Greatest Grandparent!

    These classes are all about YOU and what you want to learn. Each class provides ample time for honest discussion and plenty of questions - remember there are no silly questions!

Ready to get started?! Visit our classes page to learn more about your options. For a full weekend with multiple classes or for group rates, please email us for a custom quote. 

Packing Your Hospital Bag

Woohoooo! You've made it to the third trimester and the reality that your baby is arriving soon has probably hit you like a ton of bricks! If you're like most of our clients, you want to be as prepared as possible for your birth and this means getting your hospital bag packed and organized by 36 or 37 weeks. If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by this task - we’ve created an easy, but comprehensive list to make it easier on you. Having your bag packed and ready to go will help you feel more at ease as you enter these last few weeks of pregnancy and prepare to meet your sweet baby!

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Hospital Bag Must Haves:

These are the things you shouldn't skip! Even if this is the bare minimum that you pack - don't forget these items! 

  • Prescription Medications
  • Toiletry Items: Face wash, moisturizer, tooth brush, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, contact solution, etc. (They do not have most of these items at the hospital so definitely bring your own!)
  • Glasses (if you're a contact-lense wearer)
  • Slippers (we recommend throwing them away after)
  • Comfortable clothing: if you're not interested in wearing a hospital gown for birth or postpartum then make sure you have clothing that allows for easy access to your belly and your nether-regions. 
  • Chapstick or lip moisturizer
  • Hair ties  
  • Outfit to wear home: non-restrictive clothing is best!
  • 1 or 2 extra pillows (covered in old or dark pillow cases that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Cell phone/Tablet chargers
  • Nursing tanks & bras
  • Ear plugs & eye mask (helpful for those that need a little extra help to fall asleep!)
  • Several copies of your birth/baby care plan
  • Photo ID and insurance card
  • Snacks for you and your partner! (grab our free printable for packing labor snacks here!)

Some Convenient Extras

These are great options to have for comfort in labor.

  • Blue Tooth speaker
  • Pre-prepped play lists (we recommend creating several - some with upbeat songs to energize you, others with relaxing sounds and no lyrics to help you focus)
  • Fitness Ball (some hospitals have these, but they may not always be available or be the right size. When in doubt, it's helpful to bring your own). 
  • Essential Oils for labor
  • Rebozo or a long scarf 
  • Christmas lights (read more about why here)

Partner Essentials

We haven't forgotten about your awesome partner! The following is helpful to have on hand to make their experience enjoyable!

  • Snacks!! (we take eating seriously, don't forget food!)
  • Hydrating beverages
  • Personal toiletries 
  • Comfy clothing
  • Breath mints or gum
  • Comfy shoes 
  • Text/Call/Email list to announce the birth 
  • Extra layers (hospitals get cold then hot then cold again - dress in layers!)
  • Phone/Tablet charger 
  • Treats for the nurses (protein bars, cookies, chocolate, etc. are all big hits!) 

Baby Needs

Your little one doesn't need much and the hospital has most of it especially diapers, wipes and swaddles! Many of these items are optional.

  • Cloth diapers/wipes (if you're choosing to use cloth, you'll need approximately 10-12 diapers per day to be safe). Don't forget your wet bag for storage!
  • Soft swaddles 
  • Going home outfit
  • Socks 
  • Onesies (2) 
  • Infant car seat

We hope this list is helpful as you get ready for your baby's birth day! Is there a "must-have" that we missed? We'd love to hear from you! Share your ideas in the comments!

Why is it ok to shame sleep training?

It never fails... 

We post about sleep training on social media and the questions or accusations come pouring in. 

"Don't you know that babies are biologically designed to wake during the night?"
"A parent shouldn't ignore their baby."
"Why have a baby anyway if you can't handle the sleep deprivation."

My goodness you would have thought we had specifically promoted starving a child, ignoring a child, or putting your needs as a parent before your child. But we didn't mention any of those things. 

So why the shame? Why the judgmental comments? Why all the questions?