Not Another Mom

Birthing Babies, Mothering Moms

The Art of Co-Sleeping (Safely) September 14, 2013

Co-Sleeping/Bed-Sharing

What Parents Need To Know

  Although not a common practise in North American society, co-sleeping and/or bed-sharing is a typical and often expected way for new moms to bond and nurture their infants.

 Risks associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (aka SIDS) have led to a general belief that allowing an infant to share the bed with the mother is dangerous, but studies have shown that with the proper guidelines in place, this component of attachment parenting actually increases the bond between the mother/child, encourages longer breastfeeding and contributes to higher self-esteem in children later in life.

 The choice is always yours to make – should you choose to share your bed with your infant, there are a few things you should take into consideration:

  •      Infants should sleep next to their mothers only, between her and a guard to the side of the bed.  Never allow an infant to sleep between parents.
  •      If the parent is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or otherwise impaired, it is not wise to share the bed with an infant as this may affect your ability to judge where the infant is in relation to you.
  •       Be sure that the infant is on a flat surface, away from any cracks, gaps or objects that could smother them. This includes heavy covers such as comforters or duvets, pillows and the space between a headboard and the mattress.
  •      A basket or bassinet that is within arms reach of the bed may be a better solution than allowing a infant to sleep next to you.
  •       If you feel uncomfortable or stressed about having an infant in your bed, listen to your intuition.

 The proximity of a mother to her child may help the infants immature nervous system self-regulate during sleep. The infant will adjust to the mothers breathing patterns and heart rate, and enjoy a sense of comfort and knowledge that they are not alone.  The mother will enjoy an increased sensitivity to her infants presence, and become more attuned to her child in both needs and routines. If there is a breastfeeding relationship, evidence shows that co-sleeping babies will breastfeed twice as long as babies who do not co-sleep.

 The choice to co-sleep and/or share your bed with your infant can be fuelled by many scenarios, including:

·         A willingness to accept the child’s need for the parent both day and night, and the parent’s need for rest in order to support the child.

·         An infant who demands constant attention and love, and dislikes not being close to a family member (ie: being held, soothed, fed or rocked).

Millions of parents sleep safely with their children every year.  In Asia, where bed-sharing is a cultural norm in the first years of life, the parental population enjoys the lowest rate of SIDS worldwide. There is no evidence to suggest that bed-sharing,  under the proper methods and indications, is any more dangerous than putting an infant to sleep in a crib or bassinet/cradle.

There is also a fear that co-sleeping will undermine efforts to encourage early independence. For many families, the choice between comforting a distressed newborn through closeness and familiarity and teaching an infant to fall asleep on their own is not even an option, especially in shared households with other young children, or even other sleeping adults. Bed-sharing has not been shown to increase dependency on the parent – and has even been proven to foster higher self-esteem in children later in life. This can be attributed to the comfort experienced by a child who knows that they are not alone and will be tended to promptly.

An important note concerning SIDS: 

 It is important to recognize that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is not the same as asphyxiation from a blocked airway.  There is a tendency to attach a diagnosis of suffocation or asphyxia to these cases, however there may be no evidence to confirm that the above did in fact occur. SIDS refers to an infant who suddenly stops breathing for no known reason – and in a co-sleeping relationship, the mother is typically close enough to the infant to become aware of the issue and encourage breathing faster than in a situation where the infant is on the opposite side of the room or in another room altogether.  Only 18% of SIDS cases in Quebec between 1991-2000 were found to have been in unsafe sleeping conditions, with asphyxia or suffocation as the cause.

 REMEMBER:

·         FLAT surfaces with no pillows, gaps or heavy coverings.

·         BACK to sleep, in any situation.  Infants should always be placed on their backs to sleep initially (they may roll or move during the sleep session).

·         MOMS only for bed-sharing.  Only mom has the intuition and awareness of baby’s location.

·         SOBER sleeping only – never sleep with an infant if you are impaired by any method.

 

The Baby-Wearing Daddy June 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lady Caet @ 10:31 AM
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 HAPPY FATHERS DAY! Yes, even if you are a dad-to-be, you still deserve recognition on Imagethis day. It takes a lot to be a daddy – and for this mornings post I had the chance to interview one of my good friends, and fellow father, Xavier Knoxx.  3 years ago, he became a daddy to a beautiful little girl, and entered into a world that was ultimately scary and unfamiliar – but he charged ahead and I can honestly say that little girl has one amazing Daddy (not the best Daddy, of course, that’s a title I have to reserve for my own Daddy!)

  Xavier was happy to chat with me about his experiences with baby-wearing, which was really insightful and opened my eyes again to the male experience in newborn/infant care.

NAM: Was it your choice to try baby-wearing, or did your partner make you do it?

Xavier: I used it by my own choice. Having seen them before, I felt it would be a good item to help in day-to-day activities. 

NAM: Did you get any comments from the general public?

Xavier: Not really. Just weird looks, mainly from the older generation mainly.

NAM: What was your favourite part about using a baby carrier?

Xavier: Being able to keep my hands free. At first, I Imagedidn’t feel comfortable holding an infant. I didn’t really have much experience holding a child until mine was born, and it helped build my comfort level to hold her without fear of dropping her and making baby go splat.

NAM: lol

Xavier: yea, you can edit that last one if you want.

NAM: Is there anything you did with the carrier that made life easier than if you had used the stroller?

Xavier: Grocery shopping. Light housework. Mostly, I used it in public to avoid using the stroller which can be really awkward to get in and out of a car.

NAM: and a stroller probably feels very “daddy-like” to push, right?

Xavier: Yeah. Men like things with wheels. When I did use the stroller in public, I’d sometimes make car sounds to entertain her.

NAM: hahaha.  So, you’d recommend babywearing to other guys?

Xavier: I’m a dork sometimes. But definitely, especially for those who have limited experience holding an infant. It’s a pretty intimidating thing to do. I was so worried I would hurt her but doing this allowed me to build my comfort level.

NAM: Thanks so much for chatting with me!

Xavier: No problem!

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 So, as you can see, the benefits to baby-wearing for Dad are pretty high and awesome. For one thing, you guys have a much better torso structure for the carriers, especially when baby is bigger.  Using a carrier to wear your baby means you can do lots of cool things that you already do – like mowing the lawn, going to the car show, and washing your own car. Plus, that darn stroller can stay in the car since we all know that guys don’t typically have bags and purses to stow in the stroller anyway!

 So mom, if you’re looking for an awesome fathers day gift for the dad-to-be in your life, invest in a baby carrier or sling! He’ll love you for it!

 *If you’re in the Halifax area, check out my Doula4Dads workshop which has an entire section devoted to the art of baby-wearing!*

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9 things Dads know about Babies June 3, 2013

In 2011, Christopher Napolitano wrote a column for FitPregnancy on the 9 things Dad can teach mom about babies. Given that Fathers Day is just around the corner, I thought I would share some of his insights with you.  If you’re interested, the original article can be found here.

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  • Babies like things topsy turvy.  This is a GREAT game to play with a baby who has great head/neck control (6mths+). Before then, you can experiment with upside down toys, mirrors, or even just your face upside down.  After they can hold their head on their own, you can hold their torso and flip them upside down GENTLY so that the world goes upside down too. (CAUTION: Don’t do this right after a big feed…)
  • Babies appreciate a good mess.  Seriously, they’re drawn to mess like bees to honey – whether it’s a dirt pile, water puddle or a box of cheerios dumped on the floor, it’s the most amazing thing ever. Moms tend to freak out over messes, but Dads know that they’re easily cleaned up!
  • It’s okay for them (and you!) to cry sometimes.  Even if everything is fine: clean diaper, full belly, just woke up.. sometimes the world at that moment is just too intense and crying has to happen.
  • The job of a little human is to learn to leave home. This is what parenting is about. As hard as it is to think about, the goal is to teach them to be confident, independent individuals who can think, feel and react appropriately in the world.
  • Babies are inscrutable.  Mom might get frustrated trying to figure out what is going on in that little infant head, but Dad, you know that it’s important to not stress about the little things. If it won’t matter tomorrow or next week, then don’t sweat it!
  • Babies do not always need a breast to fall asleep.  Give mom a break! Dad, an important skill for you to have is to know how to shush, lull and rock your baby to sleep and keep them sleeping without moms help. The more you learn, the more you and mom can work as a team.
  • They will survive being cared for by someone else.  By 3months, they should be on enough of a routine that you can leave them in someone elses care for at least an hour – long enough to get out and get an ice cream or a coffee in the real world. Mom will panic, and want to go home right away or be texting the caregiver constantly, but Dad – you know that baby is just fine.
  • Attention compensates for technique.  This is where Dad excels – baby needs something: warmth, diaper, food. Dad might not have the supplies or the technique, but by gosh he’s going to do whatever he can. This is how you see babies with diapers duct-taped on, wrapped in curtains sucking on dad’s finger. They’re happy – but not necessarily pretty!
  • Babies don’t go by the book. This is probably why most dad’s won’t actually read the baby books mom buys – if they don’t read instruction manuals, why read a baby book? At any rate, Dad knows that his baby won’t go by the book anyway, so it’s just as easy to figure it out as we go along. Again, see the point above this for more tips on how this one works.

Dad, you’re a vital part of this team. Whether you are male or female, if you are the partner in this parent relationship you have important wisdom and insights to share. Remember guys, that men tend to think physically while women think emotionally – Mom wants to rationalize the issues and think it through, but you will just want to solve the problem at hand.  That’s not a big deal, and when you realize this, it will make your parenting team stronger!

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The Doula Challenge May 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lady Caet @ 7:16 PM
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 I found this amazing blog post written last year on an awesome blog written by a Dad. I was researching dads and doulas and I came across this – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 The original post can be found here

No way you’re expecting a baby!? Holy crap shut up congratulations that’s awesome. You’re probably freaking out in anticipation of the coming rapture. But heed one recommendation to vastly improve everyone’s birth experience – yours, your wife’s… even your baby’s: Totally get a doula.

Unless you live in Berkeley you could probably use a refresher on what the deal is with doulas. Fair enough.

Doula. Rhymes with “hula.” A doula attends a birth for the express purpose of supporting the mother. Why is this necessary? Because you, the expectant father, are beyond useless. You may be all set with clipboard, whistle, and stopwatch – ready to play Birth Coach. But your skill set is more suited to the role of cheerleader. JV squad.

Consider: whenever you try a potentially lethal activity like, say, scuba diving or parachuting, you are paired with an experienced instructor possessing technical expertise. The same should apply when a woman attempts to extract a baby from her loins. Doctors and nurses don’t count, because their real patient is the baby.

A good doula is akin to a revered yogi. Except instead of Ashtanga or hatha postures, the doula guides a woman through advanced childbirth poses – like stepping through her own vagina.

Perhaps if I briefly delineate our experience, it can serve as a template for what you might expect.

Our doula, Angie, met with my wife a few times well in advance of our due date. They reviewed Sarah’s expectations for the pregnancy and delivery. During a subsequent session, Angie performed some reflexology thingy. It must’ve been some next level shit to have relaxed Sarah, because my woman is strung like a Stradivarius. The pre-birth meetings also established a rapport, which is useful during childbirth.

In the delivery room Angie was in her element. She had an array of techniques for mitigating the various stages of labor. These included relaxing massage, acupressure to spur contractions, and simply appreciating the moment. I’m pretty sure there was some other stuff, but to be honest the whole experience was for me fairly nebulous. I mostly provided moral support. Plus I conferred with doctors on important matters like where in the hospital’s vicinity one was likely to find the best takeout.

Shortly after we got home from the hospital, Angie paid us a postpartum visit. I thought she was just swinging by for a high-five. But it turned out she was checking on Sarah’s recovery from childbirth and adjustment to motherhood. It was also at this time that Angie gave us the recipe* for her soothing vaginal gel-packs. For my male readership, a brief explanation is in order:

For some time after a woman gives birth, she reportedly experiences the prolonged sensation of having been punched in the vagina by Mike Tyson. (I have not yet been able to validate this analogy, but I’ll let you know when Robin Givens responds to my text messages.) The soothing power of these gel-packs is difficult to convey. But try and imagine the cooling pleasures of Junior Mints as infused via the gentle exhalations of divine kittens.

Doulas do not stumble into their profession accidentally like, say, air traffic controllers. Their greatest passion is healthy childbirth. They have wisdom, and they have stories, (some of which you don’t want to hear). There’s a lot of overlap between doulas and midwives. But whereas midwives mostly attend home births, doulas are welcome in the delivery room of a hospital. (I can’t think of a compelling reason to enlist a doula’s services for a planned C-section. But I invite enlightenment and scathing criticism in the comments section.)

Doulas are generally a crunchy bunch. They often subscribe to some combination of homeopathy, New Age, and the redemptive pleasures of the Lilith Fair. Few besides doulas are more opinionated on the merits of ingesting a placenta. Even fewer swap afterbirth cooking tips.

The cost of a doula ranges from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. That might sound like a lot of moolah for a doula. But given the hours involved, it’s an incredible bargain even at the higher price range. It’s a curious quirk of American obstetrics that a doula isn’t deemed a mandatory component of all pregnancies, like ultrasounds. Maybe the profession should consider a name change. I propose ultradoula.

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 In the Halifax area and expecting? Stay tuned for Doula for Dads, an exciting new workshop launching in Summer 2013!!!

 

Expecting twins or more? Don’t freak out! May 16, 2013

Photograph of eight month old fraternal twin e...

Photograph of eight month old fraternal twin en sisters napping together. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An interesting and awesome article I stumbled onto this morning here.  It talks about a family struggling with the idea of having twins, in a small space – and their [very real] emotions.  Yes, when you find out that your baby is in fact, two (or more!) babies, your feelings can quickly spiral out of control.

This is where pre-natal doula care is so important. When you are hesitant, scared or in any way experiencing negative emotions towards your pregnancy and upcoming birth, it can have many negative side effects on your pregnancy itself. This can include premature birth, long-lasting labor and high blood pressure. When you don’t deal with the emotions, the tendency is to deal with the physical signs of them – often lending to the unwanted “cascade of interventions” when really, all you needed was to talk through your feelings with someone and feel validated about them.

I understand having multiples can be a very scary thing – but it doesn’t have to be. In Halifax, there are tons of support areas such as POMBA and the IWK Extra Support for Parents program, and even the Halifax Volunteer Doula program. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to feel badly about what is coming up.

For more information, and to book a FREE consultation with me in regards to an upcoming multiples birth, please see my website at:

  http://www.notanothermom.com 

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Recently a post appeared on Babble, written by an anonymous father, about how fearful he and his wife are about having twins. He refers to having twins as a “nightmare.” He writes that he and his wife, who conceived the twins through in vitro fertilization after struggling with infertility, are “pissed. And terrified, and angry, and guilty, and regretful.”

The couple already has a son, so they feel like they know what they’re in for, and it’s not pretty:

“Our fear is not the new parent fear of the unknown. It’s the smart, informed fear of the known. Our biggest nightmare is that we’ll have colic again, or double colic. This time around, we’re counting down — not like expected parents but like cancer patients with only months to live. Enjoy life while you can, for soon it’s double the diapers, double the feedings. Half of zero sleep is … less than zero?

“So tell me how this isn’t going to suck. (Did I mention we live in a one-bedroom apartment?)”

I have twins. As a member of my local Mothers of Multiples club for more than a decade, I have many, many friends with multiples: twins, triplets, quads. I know people with multiple multiples (two sets of twins). I know people who conceived multiples with and without medical assistance. I know people who adopted mutiples; some of them knew they were getting twins, some of them didn’t.

I didn’t see the dad’s original post on Babble. I saw it when it was republished on Huffington Post and made the rounds among my friends. They were, frankly, horrified.

It’s hard not to be. Given the deep history many of these women have had with infertility, it’s hard not to be concerned when someone who does infertility is pissed that they’re having twins. I mean, it’s a known possibility, and one that every fertility doctor thoroughly explains. And, it’s not like this couple didn’t know they lived in a one-bedroom apartment when they decided to invest the time, emotional energy, and money into in vitro. A one-bedroom apartment is going to be a tight fit for four people or five people.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting twins, we were a little freaked out. When you daydream about having a baby, you pretty much usually only picture one crib in your nursery. How much stuff would we really need? How do you feed two babies at the same time? I had planned to continue working at least part-time; if we had to put  two infants in daycare, my job would no longer be a profit deal.

Mostly, though, I was concerned about keeping the pregnancy. All multiple-baby pregnancies are high risk. My primary focus became staying as healthy as possible, and reading everything I could about twin pregnancy and parenting twins.

My fraternal twin daughters just turned 12. They are amazing, beautiful, intelligent, compassionate young women, and I am grateful to have them in my life. Having survived my twin pregnancy, a premature emergency delivery, a stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, double cases of colic that turned out to be allergy-induced acid reflux, potty-training, and everything else all the way up to teaching them how to shave their armpits, I figured maybe I should offer this couple some advice.

Snap out of it!1. Acknowledge your feelings. Then buck up. I say this with love, and I say this as someone who has struggled with a lifetime of depression and anxiety disorders: I feel like maybe you need Cher’s character in Moonstruck to show up and smack you with a hearty “Snap out of it!” You’re the parent. Give yourself one day for a pity party and then move the hell on. If you find that you can’t do that, then please, for the love of God, get some counseling now to help you with that process.

2. Seek out positive support. It’s hard to avoid negativity when you’re pregnant: everyone’s got a horror story for you. With twins, this is doubly true. Instead of asking about people’s “nightmare” experiences, seek out positive support. Start by visiting the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NOMOTC) website. Enter your ZIP Code, and it will find your nearest local chapter. Many chapters allow you to join as “stork members” when you’re pregnant, and have Facebook groups you can join to ask questions and get advice. Some clubs also have mentorship or “big sister” programs that pair up the expectant mom with a mom who has been through the same things. Note: Parents expecting higher-order multiples shouldn’t be turned off by the “twins club” name — you’ll find plenty of triplet, quad, and other higher-order multiple parents at NOMOTC chapters. Another great organization higher-order families should check out is Mothers of Super Twins (MOST).

3. Focus on the pregnancy itself. Pregnancy with multiples is higher risk than singleton pregnancy. Focus on the pregnancy, and don’t worry too much about what comes next. Take things day by day. This is good practice for when the babies come: you’ll want to take that day by day, too.

4. Enjoy one-on-one time with your singleton. You’ve only got a few months left of being a family of three. Enjoy that time! Having two babies enter the picture is going to be a huge adjustment for your little one, but he’ll be fine. Take photos of the three of you and create memories. Listen to your son’s concerns and try your best not to show how stressed you are, or else he’ll really think there’s something to worry about. For parents who are expecting their first children, enjoy this time as a couple. Single parent expecting multiples? Enjoy your solitude and revel in the opportunity to pee alone.

5. Everything about parenting is surprising–having multiples is just one of those things.  There are always surprises involved with pregnancy and parenthood. You can plan, sure, but most of the time Mother Nature is just going to laugh at those plans. Seriously, do you know a single person whose birth plan actually went according to plan? I don’t. Whether you use fertility treatments or not, whether you’re having a singleton or quads, to a certain extent, parenting is one giant crapshoot.  I didn’t plan to have twins. I didn’t plan for my kids to have food allergies, asthma, or autism. On the other hand, I also didn’t plan for them to teach themselves Mandarin Chinese, come up with charity projects on their own, or be die-hard Star Wars fans. Surprises can be difficult, but they can also be amazing.

6. Know that the first year will be hard, but there will still be joy. Some things are harder with twins, and even more so if they’re born prematurely or have medical issues. My twin girls screamed 80 percent of the time they were awake, with pain from what turned out to be GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), brought on by massive food allergies. They didn’t sleep well. But you know what? There were also many, many moments of joy. If either of you aren’t experiencing any joy, or feel sad most of the time, seek help. Your ob/gyn or general physician should be able to refer you to a psychiatrist that can help with issues of depression after pregnancy. Also, if either of you have a history of depression or anxiety (as I do), now is a great time for a med check and to touch base with your therapist. Put a plan into place for what to do if depression or anxiety symptoms worsen during the pregnancy and after delivery.

7. Line up support. Plan out a calendar of help. Even better, ask a friend or family member to do this, so that you don’t have to feel weird or guilty asking for help. If you have family members that might be able to stay with you to help out, sign them up. If you don’t have family around that’s able to do that, consider hiring a mother’s helper. You don’t really need an expensive nanny or a nurse–you just need an extra set of hands. Find a responsible young teen in your neighborhood who can come over every afternoon.

8. You don’t actually need two of everything. Seriously, don’t freak out too much about the stuff. You don’t really need two of everything. You can get good advice on what’s really helpful and what’s not from members of your local mothers of multiples club, and you can often score secondhand gear and clothes on the cheap at their consignment sales.

9. No pregnancy is the same, and no baby is the same. You’re worried because your singleton hadcolic, and colic makes the first months especially hard. But your twins may not have colic; only 20 percent of babies have it, and at least one study found that first-born babies are more likely to have colic. In our family’s case, because we had identified that our twins’ “colic” was really stemming from food allergies, we had our third and fourth children tested for food allergies very early, and they didn’t go through the pain, suffering, and crying their older sisters went through.

10. Yes, you will sleep again. You’ll even have sex again. I know that you’ve heard nightmare stories from people who supposedly know what they’re talking about. But their personal experiences are just that: their personal experiences, not mine or yours or anyone else’s.

My dear expectant parents, all parenting is difficult. Anyone who thinks parenting is easy simply isn’t paying attention. Parenting multiples comes with its own unique challenges, but it also comes with unique joys. My twin daughters, who spoke a language all their own until they were two, are still incredibly close. They have different talents, different strengths and different weaknesses. They are yin and yang: two entirely separate individuals, intimately connected. I consider it a privilege to even witness the bond they have with each other.

 

Two Approaches to Childbirth May 13, 2013

Two Approaches to Childbirth

Giving birth isn’t meant to be a scary, traumatizing experience. This is YOUR day – it’s a time for you and your partner to have fun and be excited about what’s coming.

The more relaxed you are, the more accepting you will be about what is happening to your body. Muscles will soften, and loosen, lending to faster cervical dilation and a quicker labor. Loose muscles also assist blood flow and oxygen to the baby – so a relaxed mom is less likely to need interventions and constant monitoring.

A doula helps support you to stay in that positive cycle of action and will help you accept and relax through the contractions, procedures and hard parts.

Live near Halifax, NS and interested in having a doula attend your next birth? Check out my website at http://www.notanothermom.com for more information!

 

Breastfeeding is Natural and Other Lies You’ve Been Told April 30, 2013

Breastfeeding is Natural and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.

A great article by Unnecessary Wisdom all about how breastfeeding isn’t a skill we are born with, but rather one we need to learn.

A key part of this article for me was the point mentioned about how even just a few short decades ago, women had a whole team of other women around them: mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, community elders. These women were near and dear in providing support, guidance and most of all COACHING for those small things that just are not natural to us.

In todays society, many of us won’t have that luxury. Our jobs and spouses and commitments have moved us away from our family circle, and if you’re relatively new to an area you might not have the friendly support network in place yet.  The hospital nurses will attempt to show you the art of breastfeeding, but they’re also very busy and it just might not work out for you the way they are trained to show you.  This is why so many new moms only breastfeed for the first few days after birth, and then switch to formula after going home: because they just don’t know what they are doing, and no one is showing them how.

This is where a lactation consultant, like Nancy at The Good Latch can be a very useful service.  She can teach you different ways of latching and holding, and alternate ways to feed even when breast is just not working.  Need emotional support? Try a postpartum doula like Kylie at The Nurturing Touch who will work with you through those feelings and promote positive thinking on all the things you’re doing excellently!

via Breastfeeding is Natural and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.

 

 
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