Planning for Postpartum

Have you thought about day to day life after giving birth?

Photo Courtesy of Kendra Deen

Most people consider and chat about birth plans. I’m the first to admit that I wish I had made a birth plan, or at least made an effort to be more informed about birth. But you know what less people plan for?

The realities of postpartum. Postpartum is the time from after you give birth until always. But for our purposes, we will talk mainly about the first 6 weeks post birth.

Are you familiar with juggling? Holding several balls in the air at the same time will acting like its all easy-peasy.

That is a lot like postpartum days in our western culture. We are shaped by society to act like we have everything under control and we are loving life meanwhile, we are:

– Greiving the loss of a baby or the loss of life before baby (yes both forms of grieving are normal and valid)

– Bleeding… enough to wear or consider wearing adult diapers. But really, they work!

– Learning how to care for a super tiny, wildly dependant HUMAN BEING Sometimes. Or trying to move forward in life without a tiny dependant human.

– Healing with a dinner plate sized wound in our uterus. No exaggeration.

– Dealing with hormones, Baby Blues, or Postpartum Mood Disorders.

– Feeling unsexy.

– Wondering when we loose this “I’m still pregnant” look.

– Trying to find time to shower or sitz bath.

– Feeling anxious, worried, and unlike a good parent.

– Feelings of joy and overwhelm

And so much more.

It’s okay not to be okay during this time. It’s okay (and historically normal) to need extra care and support.

Setting expectations for this time in your life is important. Planning for things as simple as how you will get meals and snacks, who will take care of house chores, and how can you get the most sleep are all things that will make postpartum easier.

As well, in depth conversations with your partner or loved ones about what you may need is excellent. Keep in mind not to take every piece of advice as evidence-based knowledge and consult with professionals when it comes to healing and infant care.

If you are ready to make your Postpartum a success, start with my Plan Your Postpartum Virtual Workshop. It consists of 3 online live videos posted weekly (each saved for anyone who can’t be live), handy snack recipes for after birth, handouts and worksheets to help you thrive, and lots of supported discussion with yours truly.

Cost for this workshop is a sliding scale – Pay what you can between $20 – $40 CAD. It will be held in a private Facebook group. If you would like to join, register below!

Wishing you and yours an informed, planned birth and postpartum experience.

Lauren (Mama) Miller

What About Me?

A guide to your baby’s older sibling(s)

The very moment a baby is brought into the world of an older sibling, their environment shifts forever. This transition is often a difficult one for a child. Rest assured, there is plenty you can do to assure your child(ren) feel safe, loved, and like the important member of the family they are.

Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

In our household, despite following all the tips and tricks I knew from life as an Early Childhood Educator, our three year old struggled with some OCD tendencies after we had our second baby.

At bedtime specifically, if things were not done according to the plan in her head, she would have us repeat it until it was perfect. It was a stressful situation for all of us, elongating bedtime, as well as concerning us about the state of her mental health. With time it passed and to this day we continue to find ways to make her feel helpful, understood, and supported as our family grows together. 

When incorporating the tips below, it is important to understand that instant success is not likely, but time and consistency will help nurture the bond between older sibling(s) and baby.

Tips for Sibling Adjustment

First and foremost, every family setup is different and each child is unique. You know your child best and what their individual needs are. That being said, all children need to feel safe, loved, and understood. Here are a few ways you can help maintain those feelings:

Quality One on One Time

Photo by Nicholas Githiri from Pexels 

The key to successful one on one time isn’t what you’re doing with your child(ren), it’s how present you are.

Put away all distractions and try your best to give them an allotment of one-on-one time every day. 10-15 minutes is all it takes to make a huge difference in their day.

During newborn days I would read stories to my toddler while the baby was asleep on my chest. On weekends when my husband went to the grocery store, I had him take her with him so that she got a one-on-one time slot and an outing with dad. Win-win errand-running win! 

The grocery store trips lead me to tip number two…

Feelings of Importance & Inclusion

Focus shifts to the baby during this time and it’s easy to send off older siblings to play on their own, but most of the time they would like to feel included and important.

Luckily, having your child pitch in a little is easy to do. Have them bring you clean diapers/burp cloths/bum cream while you’re tending to baby. Make sure you express your gratitude for their help!

Remember that every child can help with household chores too, just keep your expectations low and be fully prepared to re-do their hard work (when they aren’t around!!). 

Assuring that your child feels like a valued member of the family helps to reduce their feelings of resentment toward their fresh sibling. 

Routine, Routine, Routine

I can’t stress the importance of a steady routine and children enough, but especially through tough transitions like welcoming a baby into the home, routines are KEY!

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Of course, life is shifting and things have to change to accomodate baby. Maybe you can’t do older sibling bedtime anymore and your partner has to step in and do it. Perhaps instead of eating with your child for every snack and meal, now you have to hold the baby or nurse. It happens, but keeping things the same as much as possible is really important.

If your child has the language to answer, try asking them how new changes are making them feel and what you can do to help. 

Bedtime is a particularly sensitive time in our daily routine as I mentioned above. I always did bedtime with our girl so when we had baby I tried hard to keep it the same. What it looked like for us was both doing bedtime together. My husband did the washroom bit while I held/nursed the baby. Then I tucked our toddler in while he rocked baby. He would sit on the stairs (our comfort compromise) until our toddler was asleep while I bounced the baby asleep on an exercise ball. It was a balancing act and a half, but we made it work!

The Doula Bonus

One HUGE perk of hiring a Postpartum Doula is having that extra set of hands. If there is a part of your day that you can just tell is going to be a struggle, have a doula there to help.

We are great with older siblings and often come prepared to spend ample time one on one with them. Personally, I love to bring age appropriate stories with me for some quality reading time.

On the flip side, we are also stocked with all of the tips and tricks for snuggling a baby so that you can spend that one on one time bonding with your other child(ren).

Living in the Kingston Ontario area and Interested in booking your free consultation? Book one below!

Wishing you all the happiness,

Lauren (Mama) Miller

Becoming a Doula

The long story

Other titles for this post were “My Birth Stories” and “That Time I Ate a Whole Box of Halloween Candy”, but neither title really works to describe what the following story is really about. The following words best describe my personal journey toward becoming a Doula.

My career history is overflowing in experiences with young children and families. Like many of my peers, I grew up babysitting and accommodating the needs of unique family units. I took a year and a half off after high school to work and I stumbled across the Early Childhood Education program one day at my call centre desk and decided soon after to enroll in the two year program.

Fast forward two years and I was working as a registered ECE in an infant room in Kingston, Ontario. I LOVED my time in that room. That was also the year I met baby L. She was three months old when she started in our room. So young for an infant room in Canada, but both of L’s parents were University students and her older brother was already a child in our centre.

She was so tiny that I often carried her on my chest during outside times and two major things happened to me during my short time with her. One, I knew I was meant to be a mom. I know I said this before but she really solidified it —just ask my ovaries! The second thing she did was make me consider the struggle of motherhood. I couldn’t wrap my head around how hard her mom must have struggled with sending her to a centre and how difficult her daily life was between caring for two children, going to university, and pumping. Yet, as so many mothers do, she pushed through. I was in awe and as a mom of two, I still am!

Down the road I also worked as a nanny which was my closest trip to mom life before motherhood. Goodness, I love those kids to this day. But in the moment, I seriously wondered how I could love my own children even more than I loved them?!

… And then she had kids. *narrator voice activated*

That’s right. Now I get it. I get how fiercely you love them, what you’d do to protect them, and how much you are willing to go through or give up just to keep them happy and healthy.

M, my first, was born on Halloween day. The day after I binge ate all the Halloween candy in sight (totally worth it). The exact day we tried to avoid having a baby… of course. She was two days on the other side of her due date, and no labour came naturally after my water broke. I was introduced to Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) to kick start contractions and it did the trick! 3 hours of difficult contractions while I waited teary-eyed for an epidural.

Once the epidural took hold, I was in heaven. I was happy again, less stressed, and ready to have a baby. I felt just enough to push her into this world in about an hour. Her birth didn’t go without its complications. The OB noticed her heart rate drop on the fetal monitoring system and advised for getting out the vacuum tool. I asked for three more pushes and welcomed our girl into this world. She also had to see a pediatrician because she was born 18 hours and 5 minutes after my water broke which meant she required a second pediatrician visit. Other than that, she was a healthy, screaming baby. Loudest baby in Labour and Delivery if you ask my family.

N came into the world a whole lot later and faster. She was 9 days on the other side of her due date. At 41 weeks and 2 days I was induced with Cervidil and then had my water ruptured by the OB on call. From the point of having my water break to holding her was two hours. TWO HOURS!

I had two failed epidurals, three failed IV’s and so much anger. Not anger for giving birth naturally. I had anger for being in the hospital. If I had chosen a home birth I could have avoided hearing the other mama’s screams that made me ask for the epidural, all of the failed pokes, and the added stress. Hindsight is sharp, my friends!

She was my calm baby at birth, which was probably a good thing because I was in shock. My body just did that! I was proud-meets-disbelief. I have my midwives and husband to thank for coaching me through it all. After some cuddle time, we all got to go home… not even four hours later.

Although both of our girls came into this world in hospital settings, both events were quite different. Prenatal care with M was with an OB at a busy Toronto hospital and ended with an OB on call (and her team of residents) delivering her. While N was delivered at a smaller hospital outside the city. My prenatal care with her was a team of midwives and I can safely say that if I was to do it again, I would choose a midwife. They were amazing at making sure I was well informed and never rushed.

With both of my experiences, where I really felt unequipped was in the postnatal phase. With our first, I went out and got active far too soon. I walked to and from a mom group once a week and around the neighborhood more. I didn’t realize that my body needed to heal. I mean really heal. With our second, I didn’t nourish my body, I didn’t ask for enough help and on top of it all, I went on a long walk a few weeks in and threw my back out (and still didn’t ask for help!!). Again, I didn’t honour the healing process. Throughout both postpartum experiences, I didn’t focus on my own nutrition beyond feeding my hunger anything and everything in my path. I lacked serious postpartum nutrition know-how.

Originally my lack of birth and postpartum knowledge had me look into becoming a birth worker. I came across an ad for Doula Training Canada and while researching their Labour and Birth Doula program, out jumped the words “Postpartum Doula”. That was my “Ah-Ha” moment.

I started talking about this program non-stop. When DTC ran their scholarship program – this mama applied right away. While I waited to hear back I continued to talk to anyone about it who would listen. And you know what? Most people I told responded with love, support, and so much excitement for me. My stars were aligning and once I was approved and registered —My path was lit. Hello Doulahood!

Thanks for reading ❤

Feature image courtesy of Kendra Deen