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Three Tips to Avoid Perineal Tearing in Birth

Worried about perineal tearing in birth? Consider these ideas…

One of the most common fears my clients express has to do with perineal tearing in birth. So many women are afraid to “tear” during childbirth, and rightfully so! If you’re anxious about it, you’re not alone.

What are perineal tears?

Perineal tearing happens when the tissues surrounding the perineum tear during birth as the baby passes through. Some tears are very minor and require simple comforting care, while others are larger and deeper and require sutures from your provider. Perineal tears are graded from 1st degree (skin abrasion) to 4th degree (passing through the anal sphincter and tissues). The vast majority of tears are minor and can heal simply on their own.

Perineal tearing is very common. It happens in approximately 44% – 79% of all births. However, less than 3% of these tears are third or fourth degree tears. You are more likely to experience tearing if you are having your first baby or have a vacuum or forceps delivery.

Tears can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful. Also, the tissues in the vulva/perineal area don’t always numb well for sutures, which can make repairs painful as well. The healing process can be very rough and most mothers report it as very uncomfortable. It’s important to understand how to avoid tearing in order to have the best birth and postpartum experience possible!

Perineal tears suck! (There, I said it!) Who wants to deal with that?

There are many factors to consider when examining the topic of perineal tears. Firstly, there is a genetic component that gives some tissues greater ability to stretch, flex, and heal than others. Secondly, birthing choices and practices can offer you a better chance (but no guarantee) of avoiding this discomfort. Also, your baby’s size and position can also make you more likely to experience a tear. Babies who are born with hands/arms up or are in an alternative position at birth can make you more likely to tear as well. There’s no BIG SECRET to avoid tearing, and sometimes it just happens no matter what you to. Awareness of a few simple ideas can give you insight to prevention.

3 Ways to Avoid Perineal Tearing

Nutrition, Movement, and Body Love

As you are well aware, nutrition is critical to support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. Nutrition is one of the most important things you can do to support your journey. If we think of labor like a marathon, then we can easily see how it is important to prepare your body.

Consumption of adequate protein, collagen, and omega-3 fats can help support healthy tissue and muscles. Also, good hydration will help keep your skin and tissue healthy and support circulation. These same elements can support healing after birth as well.

Movement is a critical component to the health of our bodies every day, and especially during pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises that practice strengthening and relaxing your muscles can help prepare your body for birth. Natural daily movements, proper alignment, and incorporating squatting into your movement routine can help improve circulation, strength, and flexibility.

Although controversial, perineal massage can help prevent tears during birth. There are many resources available to learn how to do this. In this massage, you are essentially stretching and preparing your perineal tissues for birth. In one study, mothers who were randomly assigned to do perineal massage experienced a 10% decreased risk of tears that required stitches. This benefit applied to first time mothers only. Research shows that this practice is not hugely beneficial, but something to consider if it resonates with you.

Supportive Birth Positions

Birthing position matters. Imagine how it feels while you are squatting. You can feel the tissues across your perineal area tighten and stretch. This is great for preparing your body, but might not always be the best at preventing tearing. Some research shows that upright positions could potentially slightly increase the risk of second degree tears. However, it lowers your risk of episiotomy.

If you have an epidural, lying flat on your back can increase your risk of tearing. Using a side-lying position while pushing can help prevent tears. One study reported that the use of a side-lying position increased the rate of having an intact perineum (no tears) from 12% to 40%. Getting off your back is beneficial for most birthing people, as it also allows your sacrum to move and make more room for your baby to move through the pelvis.

Listen to Your Body

One of the most effective ways to prevent tearing is to listen to your body. Following principles of physiological birth allows us to listen to our body’s cues about when and how to push. Wait to push until you feel the urge to do so and avoid coached pushing. Coached pushing means that someone is telling you when and how to push rather than listening to your body’s cues. If you wait for the urge to push (fetal ejection reflex), then your body will give you important feedback. As your baby is crowning, you can slow down and use your breath to move your baby through slowly.

As your doula, I can help you plan some strategies to prevent tearing. Let’s get this into your birth plan and ease your mind. We can work together to manifest the best birth experience possible. Even if you do experience tearing (which sometimes happens no matter what you do), we can create some healing and nourishing strategies to get you feeling your best.

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Saying “YES!” to Your Birth Plan

Moving From NO to YES in Your Birth Plan

Everyone talks about writing the birth plan. It’s one of the most common questions and topics that come up in doula work. Birth planning is so important! You need to discover your options and learn what is right for your family. However, I often see birth plans written based on what a family doesn’t want. NO to all the things. It’s such a powerful phrase and it is so necessary.

When we plan our birth from a NO perspective, we are planning from a place of fear. Fear creates negative energy that can adversely affect the hormones of labor. We can actually be so busy focusing on the “no” that our body has a hard time saying “yes.”

Birth Hormones

There are several hormones that are involved in the birth process. Birth hormones help prepare your body for labor, tell the uterus to contract, help us counteract the pain of labor, and support bonding with our newborn.

Firstly, oxytocin is a hormone that is also known as the “love hormone.” It creates feelings of love, well-being, comfort, and nurturing. Oxytocin increases during pregnancy and majorly increases during birth and tells your uterus to contract. Also, it supports healthy uterine contractions after birth to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. A quiet, peaceful, and calm environment supports the flow of oxytocin to support a healthy birth. Oxytocin is also that feel-good vibe you get when snuggling and nursing your baby.

Secondly, endorphins are calming and pain relieving hormones. Endorphins skyrocket during the birth process and can produce altered states of consciousness that support physiological birth. They also play a role in nurturing and bonding with your baby.

Thirdly, adrenaline is a hormone that is released when we are under stress. This is fight or flight mode. When we are experiencing fear, adrenaline kicks in and tells us to FIGHT or FLIGHT. Adrenaline actively suppresses oxytocin and endorphins. This happens when we experience fear, stress, or anxiety.

Move from NO to Yes

Many families start their birth plan by thinking about what they don’t want to happen or what interventions they don’t want. For many families, this is based on past trauma or the experiences of others. It’s for a good reason! But when we are in the NO mind, we are living in fear. Then, we are planning our experience from the perspective of our fear.

Fear creates an incredible amount of adrenaline. If you’re trying to plan a calm and gentle birth, then the last thing you want is to be living from a place of fear. It’s taking you into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline can impede labor progress, make labor more difficult to deal with, and interfere with the good vibes you are trying to create for your family.

Learning what you can say YES to is equally empowering. Discover what you really want can help you plan your birth by saying YES. What is it that you really want? What do you want your experience to look like? You can plan your birth based on what feels good and right, rather than saying no to what you fear.

Your birth doula can help you move from the place of fear. We can work together to create a vision for your birth that you can say YES to.

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! But how do I do that?” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to plan your dream birth.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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A 30 Second Meditation for Tough Times

Make Yourself a Priority – Try this 30 Second Meditation!

The past few weeks have sure been crazy. This week, I wrote this 30 second meditation for those times when shit hits the fan. You’re in the middle of the chaos. You’re ready to pull your hair out. Take a 30 second meditation pause. No matter who you are, you have 30 seconds to spend on yourself. No excuses.

Stress is a huge factor in prenatal and postpartum health. Chronic stress literally trains your brain and your body to behave differently than it should. It makes you more likely to experience adverse birth outcomes and affects your health. Also, the effects of stress can actually rewire your baby’s response to stress. Take this seriously.

Try this out the next time your toddler shits in the bath tub, or when your kids dump 5 bottles of paint on a white carpet. Are you worried about how you’ll handle the stress of parenting a newborn? Release your fears and know you are prepared with a strategy for self-care.

I’m not really a zen doula, but…

Making tough choices can also be really stressful in pregnancy and birth. You could even use this meditation if you are faced with a stressful moment or feeling overwhelmed in birth. As a birth doula, I remind clients of these small strategies all the time. It helps when everything seems overwhelming. It brings us back into our body and remain in the present moment.

Mindfulness and meditation is so incredibly beneficial for the postpartum time as well. But, I find that it’s hard to make this part of daily life if you haven’t practiced or prepared yourself to do it. I can’t just whip out a meditation when I’m crazy stressed. Give it a chance and practice it at the small moments of your day. You’ll have a go-to strategy when you really need it.

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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What is STATION and Why it Matters!

What is station? 

Have you heard of a doctor or midwife referring to the term “station”? Station means the position of the baby through the pelvis. Basically, it tells you where baby is in their journey through the pelvis.  

Firstly, station is measured as baby engages down through the pelvis. A doctor or midwife can measure station during a pelvic exam. Secondly, the pelvis has two openings, also called the inlet and the outlet. In order to move through the pelvis in birth, baby has to engage into the pelvic inlet. Labor and rotation support baby’s descent through the mid pelvis. Lastly, baby has to rotate and descend through the pelvic outlet for birth.  

Station is measured from –3 to +3. A baby that is floating high above the pelvis is considered to be –3 station and crowning is +3 station. Also, a baby is said to be “engaged” in the pelvis at 0 station. This means that baby’s head is aligned with the ischial spines of the pelvis. Many babies will be in this position before labor starts, especially for a first-time mother. Also, in second or more pregnancies, baby may not engage into the pelvis before labor starts.  

Why does station matter?  

It’s important to know where your baby is in your pelvis during birth. Firstly, this information gives us a clue as to what techniques and positions can be used to support your labor. Secondly, it gives an understanding of labor progress. Station gives us information that we can use to make choices to open the pelvic inlet (brim) or the outlet for birth. This supports baby’s descent through the pelvis and ultimately can lead to an easier birth experience. It’s good to know!  

Your birth doula can help offer suggestions to support opening the inlet or outlet of your pelvis.

However, many families choose not to have pelvic exams during birth. It’s also possible to infer station based on labor progress and progression. You can still make decisions to support baby’s movement even if you don’t have a pelvic exam.  

Opening the Pelvic Inlet 

If baby is not engaged into the pelvis (-3 station), then it is very helpful to use techniques to open the pelvic inlet. The pelvic inlet is the top of the pelvis. This is the first place your baby needs to move through in birth.  

Ideas! 

Abdominal Lift and Tuck 

An abdominal lift and tuck is a great technique to engage baby into the pelvis in early labor (at –3 or –2 station). This must be done during a contraction.  

  1. When a contraction begins, wrap your hands together underneath your belly and lift about 2 inches. 
  1. Bring your belly in towards your spine. It will be somewhat uncomfortable because of contraction pressure, but use your personal judgement.  
  1. Bend your knees slightly and flatten your lower back by tucking in your pelvis.  
  1. Hold your belly this way for the entire contraction. 
  1. After the contraction, release and relax.  
  1. Continue this technique for 10 contractions.  

Birth Ball Circles 

Sit on your birth ball. Move your pelvis in lively circles in each direction.  

Standing Release 

The standing release is a great technique to release tissue tension that may prevent baby from engaging in the pelvis.  

  1. Stand near a wall and open your feet about hip width.  
  1. Lean forward to touch the wall.  
  1. Have a partner place one hand lightly on your sacrum and another hand lightly on your lower abdomen.  

Opening the Pelvic Outlet 

Firstly, the pelvic outlet is the exit of your pelvis. Your baby has to move in the inlet and out the outlet. Secondly, there are many techniques that can be used to specifically open the outlet of your pelvis. This allows your baby to have more room to rotate through to crowning. In station terms, this is the time beyond engagement at +1 to +3.  

Ideas! 

Narrow the Knees 

This rad position changes the outlet of the pelvis to allow more space. By changing the position of the femur bones, you can manipulate the pelvis. This is also called close kneed pushing.  

Simply shift your knees close together and feet apart. This is a great position for pushing if the provider can see baby’s head but little progress is happening.  

Squatting 

This is exactly as it sounds. You can squat while holding onto something near you. Also, you could support yourself on the ground in a semi-squat or have a partner support you. Squatting can increase the pelvic diameter by 2 cm!  

Considerations – Why does station matter?? 

Station matters in birth. You wouldn’t want to squat in early labor because it would tighten the opening of your pelvis. Knowing where baby is in your pelvis can help you choose tools for a more comfortable and easier birth experience. Also, I find that these movements are very instinctual in birth. For example, many women often naturally assume a squatting position while pushing. We can combine the science of birth with the art of intuition to have a better birth experience.  

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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Ginger Root: Soothing Nausea in Pregnancy

Evidence on Using Ginger Root to Soothe Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

Are you experiencing nausea and vomiting in pregnancy? You’re not alone. Up to 70% of those who are pregnant experience some degree of nausea. There are an ever-growing number of suggestions out there to help soothe this discomfort. Some of these suggestions are evidence based, and some are not. Ginger root has been extensively studied in pregnancy to soothe nausea and vomiting.

My Experience

Firstly, I have to share that I always struggle with debilitating nausea in the first trimester. I used to keep a “puke cup” in the car for those long drives home after working. It was especially difficult in certain seasons of life while working as a birth doula. I’m not ashamed to admit that! It’s so hard!

Secondly, I rarely found anything that gave me any long term relief. Over the course of my pregnancies, I think I tried it all. I have tried sea bands, acupuncture, sour candy, vitamin B6 & Unisom, smaller meals, and the list goes on. However, I have found that consuming ginger root throughout the day, in tea or chew form, would help me make it through when I really couldn’t be sick.

What is Ginger Root?

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an herb grown in tropical regions. People consume ginger around the world as food and medicine. The main active component of this root is gingerol. Herbal preparations contain the root or rhizome. It is commonly used in herbal medicine to treat conditions such as nausea, vomiting, colds, fever, inflammatory conditions, headaches, and much more. Also, ginger can soothe chemotherapy-induced nausea and post-operative nausea.

Ginger root can be consumed through making a decoction from the fresh root or a simple tea from dried root in single bags. Tinctures, candy, and juice can also be made from ginger. All of these preparations are very simple to use at home and create yourself.

Evidence on Ginger Root in Pregnancy

Ginger root has been extensively studied for the use of nausea and vomiting. It has been studied for decades for use in pregnancy. However, one drawback of many of these studies is that there is a lack of uniformity in the type, usage, and dose of ginger and duration of use. This is common in herbal medicine, as most herbalists seem to prefer an individualized and holistic approach.

One systematic review studied the use of ginger for at least 4 days during nausea in pregnancy. Across many randomized clinical trials, the use of 1000mg a day for at least 4 days was effective at easing nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Secondly, another systematic review involved 1,278 pregnant women and studied the use of ginger root in powdered capsule form. All of the studies included in the review showed that ginger root helped lessen the intensity of nausea in pregnancy. However, only three of these studies (out of seven) showed a reduction in vomiting episodes.

Thirdly, another study showed that ginger root was shown to be as effective as supplementation with vitamin B6 or B6 & Unisom for treatment of nausea and vomiting.

Is Ginger Safe?

Several studies have shown that ginger root causes no adverse effects in the first trimester at a dose of 1000mg/day. There are very few studies on use in the second or third trimesters.

***Please talk to your doctor or midwife about using any herbs. I am a student herbalist and I am sharing information and research that is widely available to families. I am not a medical professional nor am I giving medical advice.***

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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Does Raspberry Leaf induce labor?

…and what it really does instead!

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus spp.) has gained quite a reputation amongst the crunchy community. Often, I see people posting in Facebook groups about this herb. “I heard raspberry leaf induces labor. Did you try it? Did it work for you?” Then, many comments will follow about how someone drank a weak cup of Red Raspberry tea and they went into labor in a few hours. I see this all the time and I find it is one of the most common herbal misconceptions. In this post, I want to correct the record about this herb. Also, I’d like to offer some additional resources as well as ideas for crafting an effective Red Raspberry infusion.

What is Red Raspberry Leaf?

Red raspberry leaf is exactly what it sounds like. It is the leaves from the raspberry plant. It’s not the sweet fruit. This leaf has a pleasant and earthy taste. This herb has been used historically as a nutritive tonic and is especially beneficial for women throughout the childbearing year. Also, it is especially supportive in pregnancy.

You can harvest your own leaves from the raspberry (Rubus spp.) plant before the plant begins to flower. Alternatively, you can purchase dried raspberry leaf.

How does Red Raspberry Leaf work?

Red raspberry leaf is a nutritive and tonic. Firstly, it is packed full of nutrients and minerals that are essential to support a healthy pregnancy. This is a nourishing herb that is packed full of calcium, magnesium, iron, and more. These are essential nutrients that are highly beneficial and supportive in pregnancy. It also includes vitamin A, vitamins B1-3, vitamin C, E, selenium, and niacin. According to The Herbal Academy, one ounce of raspberry leaf contains the following:

  • 408mg calcium
  • 446mg potassium
  • 106mg magnesium
  • 3.3mg iron
  • 4mg manganese

Secondly, an alkaloid called fragarine helps to tone the uterus. It does this by smoothing, toning, and restoring elasticity to the uterus by balancing the muscle tissues. It weakens what is tight, and tightens what is weak.

The combination of the nutrient boost and toning alkaloids is what makes raspberry leaf so supportive in pregnancy. It provides a huge nutrient boost for the body (and muscles) and works to tone the tissues. The uterus is a muscle, feed it!

Interestingly, it has somehow gotten a reputation as an herb to induce labor. This is unproven and there is no evidence to suggest that it will induce labor or start/strengthen contractions. It works slowly over time to nourish the body and tone the uterus to support normal function. It is not a quick fix tea. However, it can be beneficial even in small amounts at the end of pregnancy as a nutrient boost.

How to use this herb…

There are many different ways to use red raspberry leaf. Your doula can point you to resources for more information. You can use this herb easily by making an infusion.

Firstly, make sure you purchase organic red raspberry leaf from a reputable source. It’s very economical to purchase a bulk bag. It should smell fresh and look fluffy. It should list the herb as the sole ingredient. You could also purchase a smaller quantity at a local shop. Secondly, I recommend that you avoid it in tea bag form because it’s hard to get a significant medicinal dosage with such a small quantity.

To make an infusion, you can use one of these methods:

  • In a quart jar or saucepan, pour 1 quart of hot water (boil water and let it sit for a minute) over 1oz dried herb. Let it steep for 4-8 hours. This makes a very strong infusion. Strain and enjoy warm or cool.
  • For a lighter tea, pour 1 cup hot water over 1 Tbsp dried herb.

Did you use red raspberry leaf in pregnancy? I would love to hear your experience.

*Please consult with your doctor or midwife before using. As a student herbalist and birth worker, I strive to provide you with resources to discuss in coordination with your care provider.

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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Bone Broth Recipe for Pregnancy and Postpartum

My Favorite Bone Broth Recipe

So, you have been hearing about this magic elixir called bone broth. What exactly is bone broth? Essentially, it is a broth that is cooked with vegetables and bones and simmered for an intensely long time. This breaks down the elements of the bones and vegetables and brings them into the broth, hence the title “bone broth.” In this post, I’m offering you my favorite bone broth recipe.

Firstly, bone broth isn’t a simple stock. It takes somewhat of a craft to create it. Secondly, store-bought brands often contain ingredients such as yeast extract, which is related to MSG. So, the best way to get your hands on bone broth is to make it yourself.

There are many postpartum preparation books out there these days. I have noticed that their recipes often call for exotic or expensive ingredients that are not common in the average American home. I think they are great resources and you can definitely become inspired to plan your postpartum nourishment with these recipes. But do know that ANYONE can make some very simple foods for pregnancy and postpartum. No fancy ingredients required.

Benefits of Bone Broth

What are the benefits of drinking bone broth? According to Precision Nutrition (a website I LOVE for nutritional information), bone broth contains the following elements:

  • Collagen: holds together bones, skin, joints, ligaments, and connective tissue. It also contains important amino acids – the building blocks of life!
  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs): components of cartilage that are helpful in repairing tissue and joints.
  • Minerals: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
  • Healthy fats

Firstly, you can see that this is a basic nutritional boost that can support pregnancy and postpartum healing. Secondly, the collagen and healthy fats can support health and healing of the soft tissues. This can help support expansion, joint health, and muscle function. Your uterus is a muscle!!! Additionally, the added protein and mineral boost supports healthy blood volume expansion.

How-To: My Favorite Bone Broth Recipe

I prefer to make bone broth in the instant pot when I can. With a large family, I can’t always leave it simmering on the stove for days. I use the large instant pot, so you might need to alter this to fit. This can also be simmered on the stove for 24 hrs.

Ingredients

  • Bones from 2 free-range roasted chickens (all bones & remaining carcass with meat removed)
  • Assorted vegetables or scraps: carrot, onion, leeks, garlic (about 1-2 cups)
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Herbs and spices of your choosing – I use whatever is around
  • 8 cups water

Directions

  1. Place bones in the pot and pack evenly.
  2. Add chopped vegetables.
  3. Add about 8 cups of water. This part gets tricky. Its difficult to determine the exact amount of water needed. I use about 8 cups. However, you want to just cover the bones. It should look really packed in the water.
  4. Add ACV and let sit for 15 minutes. This helps extract the nutrients.
  5. Add salt, herbs, and spices.
  6. Place lid on the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 4 hours. Allow for natural pressure release. If cooking on the stove, bring to a boil and simmer for 24 hours.

You may need to play with this recipe, but this is my basic broth routine. Also, you can let it cool and store in single serving ziplock bags for easy postpartum nutrition. Your doula can help you prepare this after your baby is here! If you make this, let me know what you think.

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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Breastfeeding in Pregnancy – You Can Do That?!?

Did you know you don’t have to stop breastfeeding in pregnancy? 

My first “tandem nursing” babies…

Many parents are told that they need to stop breastfeeding an older child once they become pregnant. Mostly, people are told that this is because it increases the risks of preterm labor and miscarriage. But what does research say? What anecdotal stories are out there to support this?  

This is something that we are rarely exposed to. Can you think of a time when you have seen someone breastfeeding while pregnant? Most of us can barely recall ever seeing a nursing mother in public at all. I know I never saw another parent breastfeed before having my babies. We have a huge experience gap with this topic in our society.  

My Experience…

Let me share my personal experience. First of all, I’d like to share that I have breastfed through three pregnancies and tandem nursed for years. I have had 3 out of 4 pregnancies extend beyond my due date. Also, I have had all very healthy, larger-than-average babies.  

It’s a big commitment! However, I have found that it is worth it if you can continue. Those early days of sickness, sore nipples, fatigue, dry nursing, breast tenderness with rowdy toddlers, aversions, and the list goes on. Some parents find it easier than others, and you have to remember that breastfeeding is a relationship. It’s okay to set boundaries and set the terms of your relationship for your own well-being. Since our culture already makes it hard to be a breastfeeding parent, it makes total sense that a subsequent pregnancy feels like a natural end point for your nursing relationship. But, you don’t have to stop breastfeeding your older child until you feel ready.  

So, what does the research say about nursing during pregnancy?  

Firstly, one major concern often cited on the topic surrounds the risk of preterm labor. Sometimes, people say that the hormones released while breastfeeding (oxytocin) can create uterine contractions which can cause preterm labor. In one study of 320 women from Iran, researchers found no significant difference in the rate of full term versus preterm births and newborn birth weights when comparing breastfeeding mothers with those not breastfeeding.  

Another study from California also looks into the issue of preterm labor and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin through nipple stimulation, and oxytocin is what also tells the uterus to contract. This small study of 57 mothers revealed no adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes.  

Secondly, many people offer their concern over the increased risk of miscarriage while nursing in pregnancy. Interestingly, one study of over 10,000 women found that there is no significant increase in the risk of miscarriage for mothers who breastfeed and feed complimentary foods during pregnancy. This study also found that the risk of miscarriage is increased to 35% for mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies.  

Of course, you can decide for yourself what works for you in your relationship with your sweet growing little one. Nursing during pregnancy and going on to tandem nurse is an option for most healthy parents. Your doula can help support you while nursing in pregnancy, and even provide you with resources to support tandem nursing (nursing two babies). If you want to learn more about breastfeeding during pregnancy and nursing more than one child, check out these resources for more information! 

Kelly Mom

La Leche League

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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Your Dream Birth: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Let’s talk about your dream birth.

Do you feel like you can talk to your provider about what you REALLY want for your birth? So often, any discussion about a birth plan is prefaced by the phrase, “…but you know, these are just preferences because things don’t always go according to plan.” Of course, things sometimes don’t go as planned in birth. I think that most birthing families are acutely aware that things can turn in unexpected ways. Everyone loves to tell their birth horror stories.

Many people say that a birth plan is “just a plan.” Firstly, this phrase is often said to suggest that you give up asking for what you desire. Secondly, this a phrase used to assert control over a birthing person. Also, it’s a way our patriarchal culture encourages women and birthing families to stop asking for what they really want and need.

Of course you know it’s just a plan or a vision. In American culture, we are all well aware that things can go wrong in birth. It seems like that’s all we hear about. When we tell birthing families to give up the birth plan, it makes it easy to stop asking for what you want. It suggests that you are powerless in your birth. Also, it suggests that your desires aren’t likely to be heard.

I believe in you and your dream birth.

Families deserve the birth of their dreams. You have the power to plan your dream birth. As a birth doula, I support you in manifesting your dream birth. Whatever that may look like for you at the time. When challenges arise in birth, you will always have your guiding principles and vision to support your decision-making. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Here are 3 important questions to consider when planning your dream birth:

  1. How do you want to feel? Consider what feelings you want to create in your birth experience. You can think about whether your dream birth is a quiet and focused experience, a loud and passionate celebration, or anything in between! Who can support you and help create this feeling? Also, consider whether your current situation is aligned with how you really want to feel.
  2. What do you need to know more about? Think about where you are at in your journey. What resources do you need? Do you need more information to support your choices? Who can help you find more information? What do you really want to ask your care provider?
  3. What do you really want this to look like? Really think about this one. What is it that you really truly want for your birth experience? Forget all the “what ifs” and simply let yourself envision it.

You can use these questions as a guide to get in touch with what you really want. Then, you can make a plan to turn this vision into reality. What do you really want for your birth?

Check out one of my favorite resources as you go through this process!

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

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The Strong-Willed Child: Adventures in Parenting

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child Who Doesn’t Take “NO” for an Answer

strong-willed child

Parents know this child. The strong-willed child is the kid who has to have it their way. Firstly, this child is incredibly passionate when they are into something. They might spend hours fully investigating a topic or an activity. When they really want to do something, nothing is going to stop them.

Secondly, the strong-willed child needs to do things according to their own expectations. For example, they may feel that things HAVE to happen a certain way. This could mean a certain sequence of events or activities. It’s not that they need predictability, but that they believe things must be a certain way for a very good reason. A strong-willed child can handle a change of plans as long as it’s their idea.

Thirdly, this child often takes matters into their own hands. If they ask for something and their request is not honored, then they may just go ahead and try their luck on their own. If an adult says no, they will either argue or go ahead and do their own thing anyway. (And yes, we say no in our house. I have 3 kids ages 4 and under – NO is how we set boundaries.)

What Life is Like

If you’re reading this, then you might be thinking “YES this is so my child.” I think that a lot of these traits are a normal part of development in childhood and toddlerdom. However, some kids just seem to show these traits more strongly than others.

My strong-willed child is now almost 5. Everything requires explanation, preparation, and analysis. Her intensity is often overwhelming. If she is told “no” to something that she finds a totally rational request, she will simply do the thing anyway and have a really in-depth explanation about why she felt it was the right thing to do. How do you argue with that?

Interestingly, my experience has shown me that these personality traits can show up from the very early days. They might even relate back to pregnancy and birth. A postpartum doula can help you understand more about your baby’s personality and how to meet their unique needs.

This is a really great quality for people to have. Perseverance and passion are amazing qualities in life. This intensity can give you the strength to push past the point when other people would have probably given up.

However, for toddlers and young children, this can lead to scary moments and safety issues. This is especially true if they fully believe that what they are doing is totally rational and justified. You can’t convince them otherwise, and they will simply take matters into their own hands. We have to keep everything on lock down in our home.

How to Harness This Power

As stated previously, this quality can be an amazing asset if it is harnessed into a positive force. In my family, I try to use my daughter’s strong-willed nature to facilitate learning and independence. If she wants to learn about something, we just go with it and she will stay focused on something for a very long time. I try to say “yes” as much as possible. But I have to have trust in her process rather than trying to “win” an argument.

Trusting the process may look like: teaching safety, setting boundaries, explaining the value of something, allowing natural consequences to happen, and giving space for them to work out their problems.

When you give the strong-willed child space and time to work through their problems, they can often come to their own solutions. If they are respected in their independence, they are more likely to come to an adult when they are really in trouble. Be present and available, but don’t try to save them from natural consequences of a situation (unless it’s a safety issue, obviously).

Be present. Accept their process. Be open and available. Harness their passion.