burbank doula

Three Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Had A Baby

I had my babies a long time ago, but I still remember the feelings of anxiety. Was I doing it right? Was I making the best choices for my baby, myself, our family? There was so much noise being thrown at me from well meaning family, friends, doctors and experts, sometimes it was hard to hear my own heart. 
 


I knew that my guts and intuition were spot on when it came to my baby's needs.

 

I wish I had known that it was appropriate to expect the people around me to respect and support my choices. As a new parent, it's healthy to set boundaries when the people around us are not being supportive. It's not okay when other people undermine our confidence in our choices. Having healthy boundaries is a huge part of emotional health in the fourth trimester. Well-meaning relatives and friends like to give advice and to help solve problems that aren't always actual problems, just normal adjustments postpartum. This can keep new parents from finding their own rhythms.

I knew that it was impossible to spoil my baby, whether through too much snuggling, baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and attachment parenting.  I wish I had known that other people's choices were equally valid for their families, that those choices do not define a "good" or a "bad" parent.  These divides undermine every new parent. It makes little sense to create separation where we could be building supportive community. The truth is, we don't know the details of another person's life or why they make the choices that they do. We're all doing the best we can, for the most part, making the best choices we can.



We all deserve respect for our parenting choices, even when we disagree.

 

I wish I had known more about what to expect during my second birth in the hospital. My first birth was a home birth. I had a great birth team, I was prepared, and I knew exactly what to expect. My second birth was in a hospital. I didn't do any preparation for what hospital birth would entail. I didn't really realize it would be that different from my home birth!  I wish that I'd had more access to education and information, that someone had explained what a hospital and its procedures would be like. As it was, the hospital birth I had was also positive, but it was very different from what I expected. I felt like I was learning to swim, in the middle of labor, and hospital procedure was a shock. 

I've long since worked through the emotions and feelings about my own birth experiences. But those experiences inform what I try to bring to my clients during their pregnancies, labors and births. It's a huge part of my "why." Why I listen, why I validate, why I encourage birthing people and parents to trust their intuition, to ask questions of their providers, to set boundaries, and to use their voices when they disagree. It's why I bring an attitude of non-judgment to the table, so that all of my clients feel supported in their choices, no matter what those choices are. And why I strive to stay informed, so I can offer the most current, evidence based information to my clients so that they are never left adrift or bewildered in the face of a decision or a hospital procedure. 



What we know about birth is that it does not always go as planned. It can be full of surprises.

 

Having a doula doesn't guarantee outcomes but it can help you deal with surprises or when your plans change. A doula offers validation, support, empowerment and information. These things all go a long way towards helping you get the outcome you want and can help you feel good about your birth outcome even if it wasn't what you'd planned for. And that's a good thing to know before you have a baby. 

You have an all inclusive pass, new parents. It's okay.

I was horrified this morning when a business, one that supposedly helps and supports new families, posted this on social media:

“Just because you're a mom with little ones doesn't mean that it's OK to walk around with wrinkled clothes on being all frumpy looking…. Having children doesn't give you a "look like I just rolled out of bed pass."

Really?

How about, no. Thank you. 


It's no secret, we live in a culture that tries to make women, their bodies, their needs, and their lived experience, invisible.

I’ve lost track of how many magazine articles I’ve seen, lauding this celebrity parent or that for “getting their body back in just 6 weeks” or “being bikini ready after having a baby.”  The problem is, and anyone who has given birth to a baby will tell you this, is that you don’t, actually, get your pre-baby body back. Ever. Your body is irrevocably changed by the process of pregnancy and the forces of giving birth, whether that's vaginally or surgically. You might have plastic surgery, exercise the pounds away, and hide most of the external markers of motherhood, but your body, your mind, and your spirit are all, still, forever, changed. That means your life is forever changed. You shouldn’t have to hide that, and you shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of the changes. Yet our culture sets these unreal expectations up and berates new parents for not meeting them, all when they are at their most vulnerable.  

Getting comfortable with your post-baby body and your post-baby life is a big deal! 


As a birth and postpartum doula, a professional who works with new parents and young families, what I care about is this.  Has the person I'm talking to had something nourishing to eat yet, today? Are they getting any sleep (notice I don't say enough sleep, just any sleep) and are they getting any support from their family, friends and community? 

It's the first thing I ask them.  9 times out of 10, the answer is, “I grabbed half a stale bagel which I ate standing up over the sink/over my child’s head while they were nursing/on the way to work. I haven’t had more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep a night, my partner is working double shifts/overtime/7 days a week, my parents live 3000 miles away and had to go home last week, and I feel exhausted.”

The last thing you want, when you are stretched that thin, is for someone to give you a hard time over what you’re wearing or whether or not you managed to pull a brush through your hair.

Don’t let celebrity and pop culture gas-light you or shame you for your experience. Or parenting "experts" either! Believe me when I tell you, it IS a big change and it’s okay for your priorities to shift after you have kids. Practicing good self care is a challenge when you have children. Yes, it’s necessary and it is worth doing for yourself, but you get to define what that looks like and you get to define how that works for your family. And sometimes meeting those needs means asking for help, when you’re in over your head.


The very last person who should be judging you is the person you are paying to help you. 
 

New parents, parents of small children, I salute your yoga pants, your pj’s, your leggings. You have a pass to wear whatever the hell you want to wear, and I really only have one question for you. Well, two. Are you getting enough to eat? Did you get some sleep last night? 


How can I help? 

Perioral Dermatitis and Pregnancy - Pt. 2 - Food Triggers

We know that what you put IN your body is as important as what you put ON it. The only way to learn your personal triggers is to pay attention to what you are putting on and in your body and then notice how your symptoms respond.

  • Spicy foods. This is a common one to watch. If you notice an increase in tingling, redness, painful new blisters or a spread of affected areas after a Thai curry with extra chilies or Taco Tuesday, then spicy food may be a trigger for you.

  • Caffeine. For the latte lover, this one is tragic. Caffeine appears to be a perioral dermatitis trigger for some people. While you're probably already limiting your caffeine intake during pregnancy, this is one to pay attention to. 

  • Salt, oil, acids.  These 3 triggers can all fall under the umbrella of things that go “ON” the skin in addition to “IN” the body. Greasy foods like fries and chips, acidic things like citrus and vinegar, salty things. All worth paying attention to when you're keeping a food diary. 

    Goodbye, shoestring french fries. It’s only for a little while.

  • Is there a yeast connection? There has been some discussion about whether or not perioral dermatitis is linked to candida. If you have a lot of yeast infections, thrush, or have previously dealt with candida overgrowth, it may be something you want to check out with your doctor, midwife or a nutritionist.


If you suspect there’s a link between your PD and certain foods, it is really worth investigating!


Which leads me to a couple of helpful suggestions.

  • Food based sources of probiotics*.  We know that the gut is linked to skin issues. You can get probiotic benefits from eating yogurt with active cultures, kefir, miso soup, pickled foods, and dark chocolate.
     
  • Food based sources of zinc*. Allergies allowing, you might add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, spinach, chickpeas, shitaki mushrooms, and fresh green peas to your diet. Plus? Throw in some organic dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. Shave some over a midnight snack of antioxidant rich strawberries, what’s not to love?

If you are struggling with perioral dermatitis and skin outbreaks during your pregnancy, it can really help to pay close attention to food-based triggers and increase foods that promote gut health.

Perioral dermatitis can be healed.

*Always run any dietary supplements past your midwife or doctor first. Some things can be toxic for you and/or baby at elevated levels.



 

Three "Must Haves" For Every Pregnant Person

Every baby magazine and website on the planet has a list of “must haves.” From fancy creams, essential oils, bags, clothes and baby products, everyone has their favorite.  

I've boiled it down a little bit more to my three most essential things for every pregnant person.

A positive attitude can have a tremendous affect on your pregnancy, labor and birth outcome.  


1. A good sense of humor.  You’re going to need one.


Pregnancy is fraught with change, both physiological and emotional. Changing hormones, a changing body, it’s a roller coaster! There are days where if you don’t find something to laugh about, you might cry. And there days when you will cry anyway.  Heartburn, morning sickness, a sudden aversion to your favorite snacks, no sushi for 9 months, and baby rolling on your bladder 2 stops away from home on the subway; all of these things are temporary, but they can also be inconvenient, frustrating, and very uncomfortable.


Don’t talk yourself out of the very real feelings you will experience during your pregnancy.


Give yourself the space to simply experience what is real for you, good, bad, easy, hard, conflicted... It makes the ups and downs of making a tiny human just a little bit easier.  


2. A Reliable source of take-out and well-stocked snacks.


You don't always have the energy to run down to the corner bodega or go pick up an order of 9pm egg rolls. Having a reliable, pre-planned source of take-out during your pregnancy is key. When you want Thai food, you want it now, right? 

It’s also really handy if you think ahead each week and pre-stock your favorite pregnancy snacks. Whether that’s pre-slicing veggies, bagging up smoothie fixings, making up a batch of fresh, healthy salsa, or making sure your favorite ice cream is in the freezer.  By planning ahead you’ll be more apt to make healthy choices, plus you'll feel less deprived and grouchy when you’re peckish and wanting a nibble of something right now. And if you're planning ahead, you might just think about putting some healthy (well, healthier anyway) egg rolls or chicken satay in the freezer for those days when a smoothie just won't do. 
 

A healthy berry smoothie is a wonderful pregnancy pick me up and can contribute to your prenatal nutrition. 


3. A pregnancy buddy. Someone who is there for you through it all.

It really helps when there’s someone you can call, day or night, with questions and concerns, or when pregnancy anxiety has you fretting. It’s nice to know you have someone who will squeal at the tiny jammies you just bought and get excited that you bought your first box of newborn diapers.  That stuff is fun and believe me, you need that joyful, fun support just as much as you need support for the tough stuff. Could be your bestie, your mom, your sister, and... it could also be a doula.  

It helps to know you have the rock-solid support of someone who won’t judge the choices you make for yourself or your baby.

It helps to know that you have someone in your corner who isn’t going to put in their $.02 unless you ask for it. Who, even then, is going to keep the conversation centered around what you think is best for you and your family, not their opinion. That’s what doulas do. We’re there for you, when you need a laugh, a shoulder, wisdom, support, or just a ready ear.  Your doula is going to be excited to hear that you found a super cute Doctor Who onesie or bought a car seat and your doula will be there for you if you just need an ear because your sense of humor is faltering. Your doula will help you B.R.A.I.N through important decisions and help you with research to find the resources you need, when you need them.


And who knows? Your doula might even bring you egg rolls…

 

Together We Stand


This woman owned, small business supports the LGBTQIA+ community, Black Lives Matter, supports the rights of immigrants and the rights of indigenous people, religious freedoms, civil rights, and this business will always stand for the simple truth that women are PEOPLE who have the fundamental right to reproductive choice.  

As your doula, I will always support your right to advocate for yourself, with your own voice and in your own words.