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Stay Cool While Pregnant – 5 Tips to Beat the Heat

How to Stay Cool While Pregnant and Beat the Heat This Summer

stay cool while pregnant

The heat of summer time can be rough during pregnancy. It can be uncomfortable, unbearable, and potentially dangerous to your health. Luckily, there are many fun ways to stay cool while pregnant.

I have had the pleasure of having a few pregnancies while living in Florida in the summer time. I remember the beginning was difficult in the summer because I tend to have very sick first trimesters. There’s nothing like feeling nauseous and fighting off 90+ degree heat. It was hard in a later pregnancy because I was then chasing a toddler around all summer. But I have to say, the worst summer was in my last pregnancy living in New York. We don’t have central air in our home and we had just moved in. Our home is almost 120 years old, and we were replacing some old broken windows. Therefore, we had no breeze inside to speak of and it was a heat trap.

I vividly remember taking a cup of ice cubes to bed with me every night. I used to put a towel across my chest and ice myself so I could sleep.

Why is it so hard to stay cool while pregnant?

Firstly, your blood volume expands during pregnancy and you have extra blood moving through your body. This is a normal process that supports the physiology of pregnancy and birth. The extra blood pumping through your body can make it difficult to stay cool while pregnant.

Secondly, because of the changes in blood volume, hormones, and circulation, your body temperature can increase by about .8 degrees C. This can make you feel more sweaty and uncomfortable in the heat.

Thirdly, your heart and circulatory system are working harder in pregnancy. Vasodilation moves more blood, meaning that more sweat is produced on your skin to cool you off. Your heart works harder to pump more blood and your heart rate is increased. Your body is working hard, even at rest.

5 Tips to Help You Beat the Heat This Summer

  • Hydrate smart. Be sure to stay well hydrated in these hot summer days. Drink extra fluids to compensate for fluid lost through sweat. Consider an electrolyte drink during activities or on very hot days. Ask your doula for a recipe for a delicious home made electrolyte drink. Also, foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables also contain a good amount of water to help support hydration. Lastly, it’s best to avoid substances like caffeine, which can cause your body to flush fluids.
  • Go swimming. Swimming can be extremely therapeutic in pregnancy. It’s a great form of gentle exercise in pregnancy. Firstly, it cools you off on a hot day. Secondly, it can promote healthy movement that is easy on the joints in pregnancy. Also, it changes the effects of gravity on your body and can relieve hip and back pain. It’s great for supporting optimal fetal positioning in pregnancy.
  • Make Smoothie Popsicles. You can take your favorite smoothie recipe and turn it into popsicles for a warm day. If you buy a good popsicle mold, you can make a set and store them in your freezer. Check out this great basic smoothie recipe.
  • Dress Cool. Take advantage of the opportunity to show off your beautiful bump. Wear lightweight and breathable clothing. I found that pajama style shorts were very comfortable and breathable in hot and sweaty weather. No one cares if you’re in pajama shorts (and they’ll probably never know).

And the most effective…

  • Plan for the Weather. Try to plan your day according to your tolerance for the heat. If possible, try to do any physical work in the early part of the day before it gets too hot. If you really need a break, find a place with AC for the afternoon to help relieve some heat. With other small children, you can take a break at the library or a museum during the hot hours.

A Long Pushing Phase: Support for Second Stage Labor

Working as a Team to Support a Long Pushing Phase

long pushing phase

The second stage of labor is also known as the pushing phase. Second stage occurs after full dilation in labor. Firstly, early labor contractions begin the process of preparing for birth. Secondly, active labor works to thin, pull back, and dilate the cervix to move baby through the pelvis. Then, transition occurs between 7-10 cm dilation, which is often the hardest part of labor. There is often a pause from the time of full dilation until the mother feels an urge to push. This is a time of rest before pushing. The second stage of labor then involves the fetal ejection reflex and pushing after the time of full dilation. The average length of the pushing phase for first time moms without an epidural is about 1-2 hours. With an epidural, the average is a little longer. It’s not uncommon to have a long pushing phase.

The second stage of labor can be challenging. Many people find that they are afraid of the sensations of pushing. These are really huge and foreign sensations that a first time mother has never experienced before. There can also be a feeling of a loss of control. In a long pushing phase, the birthing person can feel extreme fatigue and struggle to cope with the immense physical requirements.

As a doula, I have provided support at a number of births lately with a very long second stage labor. For a first time mother, these pushing phases could be 4-6 hours and still be physiologically normal births. It’s not the most common situation, but it does happen. Long pushing phases need some extra special support to help the family through this journey.

How can you provide support during a long pushing phase?

There are a variety of ways that a partner or a doula can provide support during this time. Firstly, let’s talk about pushing positions. Suggesting positional changes throughout this long phase can be incredibly beneficial. Movement can help shift baby into a better position and open the pelvis.

In my experience as a doula, the majority of the long pushing phases I have seen involve positional challenges with baby or a hand or arm up by the head. If mom is pushing on her back, switching to a more upright position such as squatting or hands and knees can be beneficial. Another technique that is highly beneficial is to play “tug of war.” The birthing person can pull on a sheet or towel that is securely attached to a squat bar or held by a support person. They can pull on the sheet while pushing with each contraction, creating extra pressure in the core muscles for extra strong pushes.

Another important aspect of supporting a long pushing phase is providing comfort. You can provide comfort using warm or cool compresses, calming touch, massage, offering water or food, or using whatever comfort items requested by the mother(essential oils, herbs, personal items, etc.).

Emotional support is crucial in a long pushing phase. After a while, it can be very discouraging to the birthing person when they have been working hard to meet their baby. As a birth partner, offering encouragement, praise, and reassurance can be incredibly beneficial. You can encourage the mother to embrace and explore the sensations felt during birth.

Research on Prolonged Second Stage Labor

Recent research reveals that allowing for an extra hour of pushing time lowered the cesarean rate from 43% to 20% in one study. The risks to mom and baby increased very slightly in some studies with prolonged pushing phases. However, these risks were ultimately very low in both groups studied. Research reveals that having a patient provider who understands physiologic birth and views long pushing phases as a variation of normal can reduce the rate of interventions such as cesarean section.

Pooping in Labor: What You Should Know

Are You Afraid of Pooping in Labor? Here’s Some Real Potty Talk

pooping in labor

Fear is powerful in labor. Our culture perpetuates shame for our bodies, and birth becomes foreign and seen as dirty. Pooping in labor is one of the most common fears I hear about from my birth doula clients. This is such a common and routine event in birth, and the vast majority of mothers have no idea it even happened. Let’s break down this fear and get it out of the way before birth.

Why do we poop during birth?

Birth is a physiological process that involves the entire body. If left undisturbed, the body will make all the movements and adjustments necessary for birth in most cases. Firstly, your baby’s head will move down through your pelvis and put pressure onto your rectum. Secondly, the fetal ejection reflect (or the urge to push) will stimulate your muscles to bear down with each contraction. Strong contractions alongside the urge to push use the same muscles that you would use while pooping. Your body will naturally squeeze out some poop while simultaneously pushing your baby out. It’s uncontrollable and these muscles are part of the birth process.

Pooping during labor can be a positive sign. It means that your muscles are working effectively while pushing. Also, it means that your baby is moving lower through your pelvis and passing over your rectum. Therefore, pooping in labor just means you are getting closer to meeting your baby!

It May Help Spread Beneficial Bacteria to Your Baby

Interestingly, pooping during labor can also be beneficial to your baby. You pass beneficial bacteria to your baby during birth. If you poop, it helps your baby become colonized with more beneficial bacteria. This may help your baby develop their microbiome and support the development of your baby’s immune system.

Researchers are learning more and more about the amazing benefits of supporting the infant microbiome. Some families who have cesarean births are researching a process called vaginal seeding. In vaginal seeding, the mother uses a swab to collect bacteria from her vagina and the baby is rubbed with the swab after a cesarean birth. Vaginal seeding replaces the bacteria missed if your baby was not exposed to beneficial bacteria through a vaginal birth. We don’t have a lot of good evidence to support vaginal seeding. But research reveals time and again that the infant microbiome is incredibly important.

Pooping during labor – What happens?

The chances are very good that you won’t even know if you pooped. Your care provider simply wipes it away. Any poop is whisked away and forgotten about. Besides, you have more important business of birth to attend to. It happens all the time and is simply a normal part of the birthing process. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.

Postpartum Anxiety: My Darkest Hours

My Experience With Postpartum Anxiety

postpartum anxiety

I think that postpartum anxiety feels like you are underwater. Everything around you happens through this lens. You know you need to come up for air, but what if you can’t? All the sounds around you are amplified.

I struggled with postpartum anxiety after each of my babies, manifesting in a different way each time.

  1. My daughter had major medical issues as a result of a misdiagnosed urinary tract infection in the first few months of life. Finally, she was diagnosed with failure to thrive. All it would have taken was a quick urine test. Our pediatrician clearly never looked at her file to see that she was born with a kidney condition. My doctor told me that breastfeeding wasn’t working. I was “crazy” for worrying about it and to just give her formula. Eventually, we treated the UTI and within a month she bounced back into the 80th percentile for growth.
  2. Secondly, we moved across the country and I lost my entire community and support network. My son was 5 months old.
  3. Thirdly, my last baby had some genetic medical issues and feeding issues resulting from a tongue tie. I had a major autoimmune flare up that left me with chronic pain in the first few months after giving birth. I also had some major life trauma from the past circling around in my brain that needed resolution.

What Postpartum Anxiety Feels Like

Interestingly, I don’t think there is one solid or universal description of postpartum anxiety. It is now believed to be as common as postpartum depression. My anxiety made me feel prickly. The constant touching of motherhood left me feeling totally touched out. I experienced headaches and sensitivity to sounds. I also noticed that I could NEVER shut my brain off. My thoughts were constantly racing about one hundred different things. It felt inescapable, like being underwater and drowning in the overwhelming thoughts. I couldn’t sleep at night, no matter how tired I was. It made me snap at my kids all the time, and it was destroying our relationship.

My Darkest Hours

In my darkest hours, I found myself My unrecognizable. I felt like my babies deserved a better mom. They would be better off with someone else.They needed someone who could better care for them. I wanted to run away, just to escape the racing thoughts and think clearly.

Make it stop.

I wanted peace in my mind and heart. I was drowning in anxiety and I wanted to come up for air.

Finally, I was ready to take action.

My Plan For Managing Anxiety

I’m not a mental health professional, and this is not health advice. But I can tell you the personal steps I took to change my life. I was living in my darkest hours. I said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and I decided I couldn’t live that way anymore. Finally, change was necessary.

  • I found an amazing mental health professional that specializes in perinatal mood disorders. My work with her has been an amazing, life changing experience. The WNY Postpartum Connection has a great website with a ton of local resources. Finally, I was able to unpack some lifelong trauma that caused me to be an anxiety-riddled adult.
  • Secondly, I made an appointment with my doctor. There is nothing wrong with using medication to manage anxiety, but I wanted to run some blood work to check for imbalances. This was so important for me. It revealed my autoimmune disorder and I was able to make significant health changes to manage it. Did you know that 65% of people with autoimmune disorders have a diagnosed anxiety disorder?
  • Thirdly, I made some nutrition and lifestyle changes. I started eating an AIP diet to manage my autoimmune issues. I had chronic pain and daily migraine headaches. Making diet changes and using nutrition mindfully were extremely helpful to me.
  • Lastly, I incorporated daily movement and exercise. I used whatever felt right at the time. Walking outdoors was helpful, but anything helps. In particular, weighted exercise was highly beneficial.

Resources

Birth and postpartum doulas can help you find resources for support with postpartum anxiety. We refer families to local resources. Birth doulas can also support you in exploring your risk factors for postpartum anxiety before birth. Also, doulas help you plan your resources and support network.

The WNY Postpartum Connection has great resources with lists of local professionals. Don’t hesitate. If you are struggling, please reach out!

Fear in Birth: How Fear Affects the Birth Process

How can fear in birth affect your labor, birth, and postpartum experience?

fear in birth

It is incredibly common for birthing families to have worries, fears, and anxieties about childbirth. Think of how childbirth is portrayed in our society. What images do we see in the media about birth? What are the stories we hear from others? Most birthing people confront some kind of fear in birth.

Firstly, I think it is important to consider the source of these fears. Our medical system that controls pregnancy care and birthing treats birth as a high-risk, emergency event that needs careful management. Also, I believe that we are totally separated from the birthing process in our current society. Home births used to be the norm, and we had exposure to birth and death within family rituals as a fact of life. This chasm has created a huge fear around birth, and we have lost sense of birth as a normal community ritual.

Common Fears in Birth

In my experience as a doula, some of the most common fears in birth are:

  • tearing
  • pain in pushing
  • bleeding
  • transition to parenthood
  • cesarean section
  • exposure (fear of being exposed to strangers)
  • trauma-related interactions
  • medical complications with mother or baby
  • bias/misogyny

Effects of Fear in Birth

The variety of fear-factors involved in modern pregnancy and birthing practices has a wide array of affects on birthing people. Firstly, fear creates hormonal changes in the body that work against your birthing hormones. The fight-or-flight fear response creates adrenaline. Secondly, adrenaline then works against the most powerful labor hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that drives contractions and progresses labor forward. Consequently, when a birthing person is in a fear state, adrenaline blocks oxytocin production. Then labor may stall and the pattern of labor progression may change because of this fear.

Fear in birth and pregnancy can even prolong the onset of labor. I have heard many birth stories where fear of birthing blocked a mother from going into labor. Fear affects the distribution and production of birth hormones in the body. Relaxation is important in late pregnancy and birth. It helps produce beneficial hormones for birth.

Fear produces adrenaline. Adrenaline then blocks oxytocin production in the body. Adrenaline will slow the labor process. It can cause slow to start labor, spaced out contractions, weakening of contractions, and slow or stalled dilation. Fear directly counters the process of opening and releasing that is necessary in birth.

Lastly, there is a link between fear, tension, and pain in birth. Fear creates tension in the body. Then, this tension can create resistance and pain in the body during labor. If you can reduce the tension, then you can reduce your level of pain. Therefore, reducing fear in birth can also reduce levels of pain experienced by the birthing person.

Some Thoughts on Calming Fears

I think that identifying and fighting your fears before birth is essential to preparing for a peaceful birth experience. The most predictable thing about birth is that it is unpredictable. However, one thing you can control is your own thoughts and your reactions. The first step in fighting your fears is to identify what they are. Make a list of your fears throughout your pregnancy. Ask yourself, “What do I need to know to counter this fear?” Do you need information or resources? Ask your care provider about your fears of birth. Make a plan to counter any remaining fears you have. Knowledge is power. Understanding your choices and gaining information is a major step in reducing fear in birth.

Take a great childbirth class.

Listen to podcasts to learn more about fighting fears.

Knowledge is power.

Screen Time: It’s Not What You Think

screen time

How Screen Time Can Enhance Learning, Independence, Innovation, and Connection

We see it all the time on the news and in our Facebook groups. “Screen time is bad for kids.” “No screens!” “Screen time makes kids unhealthy, lazy, and disconnected.” I have been bombarded by this message as a parent over and over for years.

In all honesty, I used to be a NO SCREEN TIME parent. We didn’t allow any screen time at all, for a long time.

Consider the following scenarios:

Firstly, I am standing in the hallway of my daughter’s school waiting to pick her up. There are 10 other parents waiting as well. I look around briefly and notice that EVERY parent is using a cell phone while waiting. These same parents then pick up their child and I hear them saying, “no screen time today! We don’t do that.”

Secondly, a parent leaves for work for the day. At their job, they are in front of a computer for 8 hours. They are working, learning, communicating, finding efficient ways to solve problems, creating products, and so much more. That same parent comes home and berates their children for wanting to watch shows, play an app on a tablet, or play games.

It’s really a double standard… and possibly childism

Adults are 100% okay with using technology to maximize their learning, connection, and leisure. Yet children are somehow not human? Not entitled to use the same tools? Kids are routinely put down for their interest in technology and using “screens” to gain information, knowledge, and enjoyment. But aren’t they just following their natural curiosity? This is childism.

Computers and screens are one of the most important technological innovations of our time. It is an amazing tool to gain information, solve problems, enhance creativity, and connect with others around the world in ways that were never before possible. Screens aren’t going anywhere. Certainly, the adults in our society would never accept moving into an anachronistic, screen free world. How are our children going to learn to use this tool if we continue to keep it from them? To hoard it to ourselves as a guilty pleasure after bedtime?

How Kids Can Use Screen Time

Kids are naturally VERY interested in technology because they are hard wired to learn. Technology is one of the best tools for learning. If we don’t allow our kids to learn to use technology safely, how are they going to gain the skills they need to be successful? Living a no-screen-time childhood has very few well-studied benefits.

Screen time can help kids innovate and create in new ways. My 4-year-old daughter has learned some basic graphic design principles such as pixels through using an app we borrowed from our local library. She creates new images every day and loves to print them. She wants to print some of her favorites and frame them for a sale to raise money for a local community group. Tell me how this is somehow evil?

Screen Addiction

I do think that screen addiction is totally a thing and can be an issue for people. However, with any addiction, the problem is the need behind the behavior rather than the screen itself. If your child is spending what you feel to be unhealthy or excessive time using technology, you might want to consider the factors driving that behavior. Is your child using screens for connection? Are they feeling overwhelmed in their environment or schedule and need a break?

My kids watch TV, use tablets, and the computer. Interestingly, 9 times out of 10 if I suggest we spend time together outdoors or in another activity, they will always put it aside. Sometimes I even simply say to them, “I think I’m going to go outside and weed the garden. I love seeing the flowers!” They always follow me to the door.

Alternatively, you can connect with your child by exploring their screen time interests. Get into their games and find out what they enjoy about it. Learn to play something with them. Explore some interests together. Watch learning channels and get into their favorite characters. You might be surprised how much connection you find.

Enhancing Learning and Connection

Kids can also learn how to solve problems and gain skills such as math and language through using technology as well. Many games require complex problem solving and language development in order to be successful. I believe that screen time can be a healthy challenge for kids.

As a postpartum doula, I often see many families get nervous about letting older children watch television or use a tablet after a new baby arrives. I used to be one of those parents. Use it as a way to bring everyone together. Let your kids show off their new game, or relax and cuddle together with your new baby and have a family movie night.

Do you allow your kids to have screen time? How does it work for your family?


Resources for considering screen time:

Living Joyfully has a great blog post about reconsidering screen time in the family.

In Defense of Screens is a great article that is a must-read about screen time.

Choosing a Care Provider: The Best Choice For Your Birth

The Why and How of Choosing a Care Provider to Support Your Birth

choosing a care provider

Choosing a care provider who supports your birth plan is the #1 way to have a well-supported and positive birth experience. Finding the care provider who is right for your family is a critical piece of birth planning. However, this can become difficult if you are unsure of your options and providers in your area.

Oftentimes, I hear of families going through pregnancy and suddenly find out that their provider doesn’t support their wishes in birth. Sometimes birthing families feel they are too far along in their pregnancy to switch their provider. Also, this can be a confusing insurance issue with many financial questions.

Clearly, you want to find a provider who supports your wishes for your birth and your baby. But how can you choose a provider when you don’t know what you want? Developing your birth principles and creating a birth plan are some steps you can take to determine your choices and discuss your wishes with a provider.

5 Steps to Choosing a Care Provider

  1. Decide what model of care resonates with you. Do you believe that birth is a medical event or a natural event (or somewhere in between)? Do you want the managed care of an OB or the community care of a midwife? Which model makes you feel safest and happiest? There is no right answer here, just the answer that is right for you. Consider your own medical needs as well as what makes you feel most comfortable. Research both models of care before making a decision.
  2. Ask for recommendations. Ask other moms in your community who they used for their care and ask what they enjoyed about their experience. Find other families who have birthed similar to your birth plan and ask them about their experience. Facebook groups are great for this, as well as local mom and parenting meet up groups.
  3. Call your insurance company and see which providers they cover and how their care fits into your plan. Take a few of the providers you learned about in step 2 and find out if they are covered by your insurance plan.
  4. Choose three providers and set up a consultation/interview. Three seems like a lot, but you want to have a few options to help you find someone you trust. The goal is to find a provider that you trust, feel comfortable with, and supports your goals in care for your pregnancy and birth. Your local providers should always offer an initial consultation appointment.
  5. Write a list of questions and ask them at each consultation. Write out your principles for birth and bring your birth plan if you’ve already created one. Choose the provider that you feel will best support your wishes for your family.

Use Your Power as a Consumer

Don’t be afraid to choose another care provider. You can choose another care provider at any point in your pregnancy, but if you wait until very late in your pregnancy, your options are limited. Many providers won’t accept patients very late in pregnancy. It is CRUCIAL that you start thinking about your birth before your third trimester. You want to find the best care provider as early as possible. But don’t be afraid to “fire your doctor” and make a different choice.

YOU have the power. It’s YOUR birth. And frankly, YOU are paying for it. Use your power as a consumer and choose a different provider if you don’t like your care. Do the planning and research as early as you can so you have time to make the best decision.


Resources:

Birthful has a fantastic podcast on how to create birth principles. You can use these principles to have meaningful discussions with your provider, and you can decide if a provider aligns with your principles.

I offer my birth doula support clients extensive resources for birth planning and developing their birth principles through our prenatal meetings. Check out this simple birth plan starter to get ideas.

Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding: My Third Journey

Breastfeeding a baby with a tongue tie is possible, but it takes special care.

tongue tie

After my third baby was born, he was able to breastfeed within the golden hour. The golden hour is the undisturbed hour after birth where mom and baby are skin to skin, nursing, and taking in the new world. At the very first latch, I knew it wasn’t right. I breastfed two other kids before him. This immediately HURT. It did NOT feel normal. I knew he had to have a tongue tie.

A tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a congenital oral anomaly where a thick membrane ties the tongue down. This greatly limits the movement of the tongue, and this restriction prohibits a baby from using their tongue to breastfeed normally.

Knowingly, when he opened his mouth we all saw his profound tongue tie. It was a very tight tongue tie. He could move his tongue very little. It was immediately noticed and clearly affecting his ability to nurse.

I have dealt with lip ties with my other kids, and I was very familiar with the effects of MTHFR gene mutations on oral development. I was taking a prenatal with folate instead of folic acid to try to avoid this problem. Frustratingly, it was still a huge problem for us.

It’s hard to wrap your brain around. In nature, my baby wouldn’t have survived without being able to breastfeed. It takes a minute for that to sink in. We hold nature to the highest standard of humanity, yet we tend to ignore its patterns of destruction. Thankfully, we have the ability to intervene in that destruction.

Pushing Through the Pain – You Don’t Have To

Nursing a baby with a tight tongue tie was the most painful experience of my life. I laid in bed in severe pain, with bruised breasts and bleeding nipples, for a full five days before we could see any kind of professional to release the tie. The pain of this experience was unfathomable. I was crying and curling my toes every time my baby nursed.

I couldn’t sleep because I was in so much pain. If anything brushed across my breasts it was excruciating. I actually wish someone told me that it was okay to pump and give him a bottle just to get some pain relief. I felt like I was cast off alone to deal with this and had no lactation support other than waiting and hoping that this ENT visit would be the answer. Thankfully, my postpartum doula was highly trained in breastfeeding and her support was lovely.

Doggedly, I pushed through all this pain unnecessarily and it made for a very difficult postpartum experience. I could barely put a shirt on over my breasts for almost 2 weeks.

Releasing the Tongue Tie

Finally, we saw an ENT who clipped the tie with scissors on the 5th day. I feel this was critical to the success of our breastfeeding journey. Day 5 is always the day that I start to have full milk come in, and clipping the tie that day allowed him to get all the milk he needed. It wasn’t the perfect solution, but it gave me the relief I needed to continue breastfeeding.

Over the next few weeks, my pain cleared up and breastfeeding was moving along successfully. However, my baby was excessively cranky. He was THE CRANKIEST and wasn’t nursing normally. He was excessively gassy, constantly spitting up volumes of milk, and was mad and uncomfortable all the time. It was horrible, far more than I experienced with my other babies. We went through many of my darkest hours.

Finally, at 6 weeks, we had a home visit with an IBCLC. She suggested that the tie wasn’t clipped fully or reattached. She gave me some great oral exercises to do and recommended we see a doctor for a second revision. The exercises were helpful and I could see him working his oral muscles. She also recommended chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy to support the second revision. These therapies were extremely beneficial and helped his muscle and tissue movement after the tongue tie revision.

Fast forward to 7 months. He’s nursing great but it’s probably not perfect. We did the best we could with limited resources.

What can you do if you think your baby has a tongue tie?

If you think your baby has oral ties, please be sure to reach out to an IBCLC. Don’t be afraid of clipping or revising the ties. It can make such a huge difference in your breastfeeding journey. Also, make sure you follow up with oral exercises, stretches, and therapies such as chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy. There are a wide variety of professional resources to support you.

The Birth of a Dad

birth of a dad

You walked with me, hand in hand, into the journey through pregnancy

You learned along side me

Once simply a partner, now preparing for fatherhood

You did the birth class homework

and you lived with me between worlds.

The waiting place

Together

Labor started and you were my partner

I watched you watch me

Laboring in the tub

waiting, worrying

Our daughter was finally born

I remember your expansion

it was the birth of a baby and the birth of a dad

unfolding, peeling back the layers

warmly absorbing a small cherished one into your heart

and you absolutely melted into fatherhood.

You held our daughter with such care

like a precious prize, or a bomb waiting to go off

the transformation unfolded right before my eyes

You held her so close

Three babies into parenthood

I have had the privilege of seeing you unfold every time

peeling back the layers

becoming all over again.

The birth of a father is not an event

but rather a softening

an unfolding

a transformation of the mind, body, and soul.

My Rainbow Baby: Celebrating Through Vulnerability

Sharing The Loss Before My Rainbow Baby

I recently read that Rainbow Baby Day is approaching in August. I have to be honest, this touches me in so many very special ways. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Rainbow Baby is a child born after the loss of a baby.

I have never told this story before. I often glaze over it. I am comfortable sharing my story of losing a baby, but rarely do I move through the details of that experience as I share. I’m feeling ready to get vulnerable and share this birth story.

You believe it could never happen to you. You try to do all the things right. You tried every health hack you could find to help you get pregnant, only to feel devastated at another awful monthly bleed. You have to just get through it and try it again. You have to forget how devastated you feel and continue to wait. Your friends don’t get your grief.

And then you finally see it. The magical second pink line. Is it really there? Is it an evap line? You put it away and try to forget about it before you get your hopes up again. Next day, BAM two pink lines. AWESOMESAUCE! You did it!

That was how it started. We told our families really early into the pregnancy. We were getting married soon, and we were focusing on the final wedding plans for our Buffalo wedding. It was a blissful few weeks of planning and excitement. A few days before flying to Buffalo for our wedding, I started bleeding a little. There is no greater sinking feeling than being pregnant and seeing blood when you wipe. It is unexplainable doom and anticipation of grief, walking side by side with your worst fear. Your heart just sinks into the earth through your feet and melts like a pool of blood.

I had an ultrasound and they found a subchorionic hematoma. HCG levels looked promising and were increasing, so we were told to just wait and see what happened. My bleeding stopped and I was feeling hopeful.

We flew to Buffalo for our wedding. At our wedding, we told the rest of our family about our pregnancy. Word spread through the wedding party and soon enough everyone knew. My sister had to sew me into my wedding dress because those few weeks were enough to change my dress size. In my pictures, I was wearing a white cardigan over my dress to cover up the on-the-spot stitching in the back.

After our wedding, before flying home, I started noticing some more bleeding. It was on and off bleeding throughout the next few weeks. Another ultrasound. No one knows what the hell is going on. I was prescribed progesterone. On and off bleeding for a few weeks and nothing. My doctor said we would check using a final ultrasound to see if the pregnancy was progressing normally. I went in that week expecting to see a baby. I remember that hopeful feeling. This isn’t something that could happen to me, right? No way.

No baby. I remember seeing the ultrasound and somehow knowing exactly what I was looking at. A shriveled up baby that was no longer full of life. I instantly started crying, with this crushing fear of losing all hope. I remember a somewhat supportive sonographer, but I was just totally swallowed by grief. I was a lone, sobbing, and told I needed to move on.

I was told I had to get it together and go through “check out” at the office. This involved a blood pressure screening where I was told that I had high blood pressure. I almost killed this woman. I mean, did she have absolutely no sensitivity at all?

I then sat in an office with my doctor. He told me my options. I could wait for my body to pass the baby or choose to terminate the pregnancy with a D&C. I just lived through weeks and weeks of some of the darkest hours of my life. I needed this nightmare to be over.

I chose a D&C. I was prepped for the surgery by a nurse who was an absolute angel to me. She was caring, peaceful, calming, and helped me through my fear of the procedure (sounds like a doula, right?). I remember how bad the IV hurt and I remember just sitting in the bed and sobbing. Not simply from the pain but just the total feeling of being utterly defeated.

I was absolutely terrified of waking up during the procedure and having the memory of someone scraping my dead baby out of my uterus. I was absolutely terrified of this memory. I was given some medications and some drugs to knock me out for a while. The last memory I have of my first pregnancy is the surgical lights of the OR room circling above my head.

Out of surgery, no longer pregnant. It’s very strange to be pregnant one minute and wake up the next without a baby. What the hell are you supposed to do? Just carry on with your life? And I remember all the people around me, going about their seemingly normal day. Didn’t they know what just happened to me? It was just a normal day.

At my follow up appointment with my doctor, he advised me to wait a long time before trying to get pregnant again. His exact words were, “You should probably wait a while to get pregnant. You’ll be scared shitless.”

5 years later, 3 babies later

NOT SCARED


Please visit this great WNY resource for bereavement support.