Parenting

Breastfeeding Must Haves

When it comes to breastfeeding all you need is your boob and your baby, right?

Well, sort of. Obviously the mother and the baby are the two most important factors in making this breastfeeding thing work but having other supplies on hand can vastly improve your experience. And while we believe that nursing your baby is one of the most natural acts in the world, we also recognize that it doesn't always come naturally. We've chatted about this very thing in a previous blog, but to recap, breastfeeding is a learned behavior, much like learning how to play the piano. You need certain components in place to start off on the right foot, but success takes time, patience, and practice.

Thankfully, with new product conveniences we have lots of tricks and tools that can enhance your breastfeeding experience, taking some of the stress away and providing you a greater opportunity to bond with and focus on your baby. Here are just a few of the "must haves" that we recommend.

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  True, intimate connections have been replaced by social media and surface level relationships  It somehow seems easier and safer that way.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 bodyโ€™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. 

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. 

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?

3 Sleep Training Myths Debunked

So. You're tired and considering getting some help getting your baby to sleep... but you have some hesitations. I get it. There are a lot of beliefs surrounding sleep training your baby, some of which sound pretty scary. 

My intention for sharing the following information is not to "talk you into" sleep training your baby. If what you're doing is working for you and your family, then sleep training may not be for you. But if you're feeling depleted, worn down, at your limit or if your baby's sleep is a constant source of stress, I want you to have some more information to make a confident decision for your family.