Childbirth Education

Ask the Educators: What is a Postpartum Doula and What Do They Do?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, “What is a postpartum doula and what do they do?”

Maybe you have wondered the same? Maybe you have heard of a postpartum doula, but want to know more. Maybe you’ve never heard of one. Our amazing Childbirth Educator, Terra will help breakdown exactly what a postpartum can do for your and your family.

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Just like birth doulas, postpartum doulas are widely known in some circles and have never been heard of in others. As our society begins to recognize that the needs of families and mothers are not being met, awareness is starting to grow about the positive and pivotal role a postpartum doula can play. So what exactly is a postpartum doula?

Postpartum doulas are trained professionals who provide physical, emotional, and educational support after your little one’s birth. The key here is that postpartum doulas provide unbiased and evidence-based care. So many mamas are afraid to ask questions of their families or friends because they know they will receive advice or opinions that may feel judgemental. Imagine being able to ask someone for unbiased advice and support - someone who doesn't have their own personal agenda for your child in their response! A postpartum doula’s goal is to leave you feeling so empowered and confident that they work their way out of a job. You know your baby better than anybody else, and a postpartum doula’s hope is to encourage you to find that strength and trust your intuition.

But a postpartum doula is so much more than just being your biggest cheerleader and advocate. Postpartum doulas not only answer questions, provide resources, and listen to any concerns you may have, but they help cover the day to day basics as well.

Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding

Postpartum doulas are trained to assist with all types of feeding and to provide the best resources for you on your journey. They know that whatever path you choose, it can be tough to navigate, and asking questions feels overwhelming because there are so many different opinions. Many postpartum doulas have additional lactation training, or know lactation counselors or IBCLCs who can drop by for an in-home visit. They can assist with pumping questions and help prep, clean, and wash everything you need for feeding so that you don’t have to. Most importantly, they are there to normalize that feeding isn’t always a walk in the park, and there are lots of tips and tools that can help.

Emotional and Physical Support

Postpartum doulas help create a safe space for you to process your birth experience, or new feelings that arise after your birth. Sometimes it feels so good to tell your birth story, and sometimes there are new feelings that are overwhelming to work through. Postpartum doulas are there to listen, but also to encourage you to seek extra support when needed. They have a wealth of resources here in the community and want you to know there is always someone to talk to if this path is feeling far harder than expected. In addition to emotional support, they are there to make sure you are taking care of you. Your doula encourages you to take naps, enjoy some alone time, and soak in a bath. They want you to know that you are your greatest asset, and the more you can feel cared for, the more you can feel confident in your parenting role.

Newborn Care

Want to learn how to give your little one a bath, soothe them, use that new baby carrier, or just have a question about what is normal? Postpartum doulas can help normalize the often overwhelming transition to becoming a parent, teach helpful tips and tricks, and help make your new role of being a parent of one or more kiddos feel manageable. A postpartum doula is not a medical care professional, but they can help navigate some of your basic questions and refer you to your provider when a question is out of their scope of practice.

Household Help

Laundry, dishes, meal prep, and more. Postpartum doulas are there to help take care of the small stuff that can feel BIG when you have a newborn. At the start of every shift, your doula will sit down with  you and ask what is top of mind - is it holding your little one so you can get some solid rest, emptying and reloading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen, starting a meal, taking the pup on a walk, or all of the above? Postpartum doulas are there to assist you with everyday things so that you can simply BE, rest, shower, and bond with your little one.

Day and Night Support

Yes that is right, postpartum doulas help provide daytime and overnight support as well. Most daytime shifts are 3-4 hours and overnight shifts are typically 8 hours. Your doula wants you to feel supported when you need it the most. It is flexible and individualized for every family. Some families seek out support multiple times a week and some families only need a few shifts. Postpartum doulas can be of help anywhere from the first few hours you bring your little one home to months afterwards. Every mama and family is different, and postpartum doulas work to support you in the way that fits best.

So how do you find one of these magical postpartum doulas you ask? Talk to us at Blooma! We have wonderful recommendations of postpartum doulas who are on staff, or in our community. We want YOU to feel supported and cheered on during this wonderful, crazy, and oh such a journey transition and postpartum doulas are there to help.

Written by Terra Peterson Jonker, DONA Certified Birth Doula, trained Postpartum Doula, and Childbirth Educator and Prenatal Yoga Teacher at Blooma.

You can find a class with Terra, or any of our other childbirth educators here.

Ask the Educators: Skin to Skin Contact and Bonding After Birth

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, "What are the benefits to skin to skin contact after birth?"

Maybe you have wondered the same? Maybe you plan on skin to skin contact, but dont know the exact benefits. Childbirth Educator Beth Supple to the rescue! Learn why skin to skin contact in the Golden Hour after birth is recommended.

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When a mama gazes into her baby’s eyes immediately after birth, and baby is placed on mama’s abdomen with direct skin contact, a multitude of amazing things happen for both. The first hour after birth is referred to as the “Golden Hour” for a reason.

What happens physiologically to mama and baby during this time is fascinating. Healing begins faster, bonding occurs, breastfeeding has a better success rate, and probiotics get exchanged in a cozy environment. These benefits have made skin-to-skin internationally recommended.

Physical Healing and Emotional Bonding

Both mama and baby maintain a perfect hormonal balance during Golden Hour. Oxytocin, the hormone of love, is the highest during orgasm, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding. After a baby is born and placed on the abdomen, but before the placenta is delivered, the amount of oxytocin released is at its peak. This release minimizes bleeding by stimulating uterine contractions. It also stimulates milk production and begins bonding. Oxytocin is released most easily if a mama is able to gaze without interruption into her newborn’s eyes and feel the baby on her skin. With skin-to-skin, the risk of postpartum hemorrhage is decreased, and there is a better success rate for breastfeeding.

In a natural labor, the body releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, helping mom and baby with pain relief during the birthing process. These endorphins also help create a sense of bliss after birth and dependency between mama and baby. Add that immediate release of adrenaline, and even the most exhausted mama and baby are typically alert immediately after delivery. The bonding of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding can extend this miraculous alertness.

Increased Rate of Success for Breastfeeding

When a baby is skin-to-skin in the first hour of life, baby and mama have primordial instincts to breastfeed. The first milk produced, called colostrum, smells similar to amniotic fluid. Baby is actually able to crawl up to the breast, motivated by sense of smell. His or her little legs push down on mama’s belly to hunt that nipple! This also helps massage the uterus, minimizing postpartum bleeding for mama too. Amazing isn’t it?

Colostrum is the perfect first meal for baby. It is nutrient rich, high in protein, and full of antibodies to help protect baby from infection. It is lower in sugar and fat than breastmilk, so it is easily digested. A few milliliters help to stabilize baby’s blood sugar over the course of the first 24 hours. Colostrum also helps establish lifelong gut flora. Who needs probiotics anyway?

Probiotics and Baby’s Body Temperature

That is not the only remarkable clinical exchange: good bacteria colonizes from mama’s skin to baby’s! The mother and baby share the same unique antibodies, so a mama’s skin is already a familiar place for baby. Mama’s abdomen is the most beneficial space for a baby within the first hour. Delaying baby’s first bath enhances this probiotic balance, and keeps baby’s body temp appropriately cozy! Through thermal synchrony, mama’s body is able to fluctuate temperature and meet baby’s needs. If a baby is too cool, the mama’s chest temperature heats up to warm him or her. An intuitive mama’s body is almost always better technology than a hospital baby warmer.

Skin-to-skin is not always possible immediately after birth. If mama and baby need to be separated, skin-to-skin can still begin as soon as baby is returned. There are still many benefits to skin-to-skin, even if it is delayed beyond the first hour, including bonding and breastfeeding. And let’s give some recognition to the similar miraculous power of a partner’s skin-to-skin abilities - Partners that practice skin to skin create a relationship with baby, lower stress levels, babies cry less, and enhance bonding. Skin-to-skin for the whole family!

Written by Beth Supple, MN, RNC-MNN

Beth is a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse, childbirth educator at Blooma, and mama of two.

 

References:

Crenshaw, J. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4): 211–217.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4235060/

Holley, S. (2017). Providing Evidence-Based Care During the Golden Hour. Nursing for Women’s Health, 21(6): 462-472.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321701874_Providing_Evidence-Based_Care_During_the_Golden_Hour

Odent, M. (2002). The First Hour Following Birth: Don’t Wake the Mother! Midwifery Today, 061.

https://midwiferytoday.com/mt-articles/first-hour/

Erlandsson, K., Dslina, A., Christensson, A. (2007). Skin-to-skin care with the father after cesarean birth and its effect on newborn crying and prefeeding behavior. Birth, 34(2):105-114.

https://nuroobaby.com/skin-to-skin/the-benefits-of-skin-to-skin-contact-between-dad-baby/

Natural Ways to Induce Labor

(Photo by Meredith Westin Photography)

Mamas-to-be - it can be exhausting and frustrating to be facing week 41 of your pregnancy. Maybe you are wondering how you can encourage your body and your baby to begin labor. Natural induction methods are gentle enough that you won’t go into labor if your body is not ready but can help move things along at the end of your pregnancy. Always talk with your midwife or obstetrician before attempting to induce labor naturally. 

Here are some natural induction methods to help you and baby along:

 Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used in traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body to stimulate Qi, or energy. Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture is safe to use during pregnancy and research shows that acupuncture may help obtain optimal positioning, increase cervical ripening, and even shorten the length of labors. Acupuncture is one of the wellness services offered at Blooma and it can be beneficial for mom and baby in all stages of life and pregnancy. You can book an acupuncture appointment here or by calling us at (612) 223-8064.

Dates

While it is nice to go on a date with your partner late in pregnancy (for the connection and privacy of just the two of you), we are talking about a different kind of date – the sweet dried fruit that comes from a date palm tree. Several studies have looked at the effects of eating dates late in pregnancy because the Quran contains verses claiming that dates are beneficial for pregnancy. Randomized studies have found that eating dates might ripen the cervix more, lower the need for pitocin induction or augmentation during labor, increase the likelihood of having a vaginal delivery, and decrease postpartum blood loss. Dates can be great for bringing on labor, but be sure to talk with your care provider first. Dates are high in sugar, so we wouldn’t recommend making them a large part of your pregnancy nutrition. 

 Nipple Stimulation

Stimulation of the nipples releases the hormone oxytocin, which can lead to ripening of the cervix, uterine contractions, and milk production. Nipple stimulation can be an effective tool for inducing labor naturally. Studies are varied in the methods used and lengths of time for nipple stimulation, some studies used breast pumps and others used breast massage. The studies found that women were more likely to go into labor with nipple stimulation, had lower c-section rates, and decreased risk of postpartum hemorrhage. However, there have been a few case reports of hyperstimulation of the uterus, by either causing too many contractions or contractions that are too long.

 Castor Oil

Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is produced by pressing the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. It is an herbal remedy that has been used for hundreds of years to induce labor, but it also works as a powerful laxative. Studies found that using castor oil can be an effective tool to stimulate labor as well as ripen the cervix. However, study participants in several different studies reported nausea after ingesting castor oil.  This is a popular natural induction method I see as an RN, but most women feel pretty miserable after taking castor oil. Also, there is strong evidence that taking castor oil in early pregnancy can be harmful to the developing fetus.

 Sex

Theoretically, having sexual intercourse should help to stimulate labor because human semen contains prostaglandins, which help to soften and ripen the cervix. Also, any orgasmic stimulation can increase uterine activity (whether alone or with a partner). And it’s fun, so why not? The evidence on having sex to induce labor is mixed. Some studies found no significant difference in those advised to have sex and those who were not. However, another study found sex in late pregnancy was associated with an earlier onset of labor and decreased chance of induction. Since it is safe to have sex during pregnancy and may even relieve some stress, we think this method is worth a try. Your partners can thank us later. *It is not advised to have penetrative intercourse of any kind if your water has broken.*

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga and movement don’t necessarily induce labor, but can be beneficial for getting your body ready for labor and can even lead to a quicker delivery. Prenatal yoga poses can help your baby into the optimal position for delivery by stretching and opening the uterine and pelvic ligaments. New research has found that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labors and are less likely to use epidurals. Exercise during pregnancy also reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, preclampsia, and c-section. So, it's a no brainer, sign up for one of Blooma’s  yoga or barre classes today!

 The evidence has shown that these natural induction methods can associated with stimulation of labor and cervical ripening in women that are term or post-dates pregnancies. Remember to talk with your care provider before attempting to induce labor naturally. To read more about the research studies cited in this blog post, visit https://evidencebasedbirth.com.

 

Written by Beth Supple, MN, RNC-MNN

Beth is a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse, childbirth educator, and mama of two.

 

 

 

Milk & Cookies: Breastfeeding Support at Blooma

My breastfeeding relationship with my son got off to a rocky start after his complicated birth. First I wasn’t sure if I had enough milk,  then I had too much. I am so thankful for the breastfeeding support group I attended while living in Denver. And, after our rough start, I went on to meet my breastfeeding goals with both of my children. A few years later, as a doula, childbirth educator, and lactation counselor, I am so excited to start leading a similar support group here at Blooma called Milk and Cookies. Breastfeeding support groups are an important part of building a mama’s confidence. It also creates a network of mamas who are able to help you through your struggles and celebrate your successes. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s not always easy.  A little reassurance can go a long way. Plus, the evidence shows us that providing women with in-person breastfeeding support helps them to breastfeed for longer.

Here are a few questions I’ve been getting about this new group:

Who is this group designed for?

This group is designed for any breastfeeding mama and her baby. While I expect that a lot of mamas will be seeking support in the first 12 weeks of baby’s life, mamas at any age and stage are welcome. This class is discussion-based and tailored to answering your questions about anything from sore nipples and latch difficulties to pumping at work and transitioning to solids. If you come to class with a question that I am not qualified to answer, I will happily refer you to the best lactation consultants in town!

Do I have to come with a specific question?

Nope! You might just come to practice breastfeeding in public, meet some other mamas with babies around the same age as yours, or because you just ran out of cookies. Yep, we will always have cookies. Listening to others ask questions and get answers can be helpful to know you are not alone in experiencing breastfeeding hurdles.

Do I need to arrive on time?

Of course not! You have a NEW BABY and I know how hard it can be to arrive to anything on time, even with the best of intentions. So shake on some dry shampoo and head out the door. You are welcome no matter what time you arrive.

So, will everyone just have their boobs out the whole time?

Basically, the answer is yes. Most mamas will breastfeed at some point during class because babies get to eat whenever they want. If you feel more comfortable covering up, go right ahead, and if you don’t want to, that’s fine, too! Very quickly, you will get accustomed to talking to other mamas who are also feeding their babies.

Milk and Cookies meets at Blooma at our Minneapolis location on Mondays from 12:30-1:30pm. You bring the milk, I’ll bring the cookies.

You can find this new class on our regular class schedule.

Written by Mari Melby,  childbirth & lactation (CLEC) educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.

Fetal Positioning and Its Impact on Birth

This article was written by childbirth educator and certified Spinning Babies Parent Class leader, Amy Kelley. You can learn more about all Blooma’s childbirth education classes, including Spinning Babies Parent Class here.

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Many scholars have researched fetal positioning.  Childbirth educator Pauline Scott and Midwife Jean Sutton published Optimal Fetal Positioning in 1996.  Their research suggested that mother’s movements have an impact on the position baby assumes later in pregnancy.   Carol Phillips, founder of Dynamic Body Balancing, determined that symmetry in the tension and looseness of pelvic and uterine muscles, ligaments, and joints can help baby navigate their way down and out of the birth canal more easily.  

Gail Tully combined this research with her own clinical experience and application to create Spinning Babies.  The premise of Spinning Babies is to begin with the baby; to open possibilities to support physiological birth and improve parent attachment and baby bonding.  As Spinning Babies Parent Educators and doulas one of the most important questions we can ask is “Where is Baby?” By asking “Where’s baby” we gain insight into fetal positioning, location of the baby in the womb, location of the womb in relation to the pelvis, and the station of the baby.  

Most babies pick their position around 34 weeks and most will stay in that position until labor begins.  As an expecting person enters 36-38 weeks gestation, the lower uterine segments soften and baby drops or lowers.  Babies heads are heavier than their bottoms which allow them to settle into a head down position. Most babies start out facing the mother’s right or left side.

Midwife Jean Sutton notes that birth seems to go easier when baby enters the pelvis from the left side.   This is due to the natural shape of the uterus, being rounder on the left and steeper on the right.  A baby coming down on mothers left side curls into the left side like a hammock.  Flexion, which means curling up, is preferable.  Flexion allows the crown of the babies head to enter the pelvis first and gives baby more freedom to wiggle and help with the birth.  When a baby is in flexion, a smaller diameter of the head enters the pelvic brim which eases engagement. When baby enters the pelvis from the right side he/she fits and matches the steepness of the right side of the uterus with a straighter back (extension).  This lifts the baby’s head and creates more potential for the baby to turn into the posterior position (when the back of baby's head and spine is lined up with the mothers back). The baby aims a bigger diameter of their head into the pelvis in extension. The top of the baby's head does not mold as well as the crown and results in the mother needing to do more work for her and baby.  Sometimes additional intervention is needed. About 50% of posterior babies will require delivery via cesarean.

By bringing balance to the uterus, broad ligament, round ligaments and pelvic floor, we can help baby get into a more optimal or ideal position for labor and birth.  More important than pelvic shape is the tone and relative symmetry of a woman’s uterine ligaments and muscles. When there is more room in the womb, baby moves more freely.  You will learn all about balancing the soft tissues of the uterus and daily activities to encourage dynamic movement in your body by attending the next Spinning Babies Parent class at Blooma.  The Spinning Babies Parent class at Blooma explores techniques to optimize birth anatomy for easing the birth process and empowering parents to fulfill their birth desires with less intervention.  

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Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor and mama-to-be.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula.

Upcoming Spinning Babies Parent Class Options

February 28 at the Minnesota Birth Center (STP)

March 23 in Minneapolis

Spinning Babies - Empower Your Birth

Blooma is proud to partner with the world renowned Spinning Babies program. The goal of Spinning Babies is to create conditions where baby can find the optimal positions for labor, making birth easier, less painful, and even pleasurable! Our Spinning Babies Parent Class teaches you and your partner exercises to expand your pelvis and make room for baby.

Here are the kinds words from one mama in our Spinning Babies Parent Class. You can learn more about Spinning Babies Parent Class, and find a class for you using the dates listed below.

Spinning Babies was hands down the most valuable childbirth education class I took. I felt so fortunate that the parent class was offered at Blooma during my second pregnancy. I was familiar with the Spinning Babies website, but the instruction and coaching offered during the Spinning Babies Parent Class made a world of difference for me. We were trying for a VBAC. The class gave us a better understanding of anatomy and positioning, as well as concrete daily actions to optimize baby's position. It also helped me process some elements of my first labor that ended with an unplanned c-section.We did the the Spinning Babies exercises every day for the last 2 months of my pregnancy, and ended up having a successful VBAC! Baby was in great position and my labor was fairly swift and uncomplicated. I really felt that, no matter what the outcome of my second birth ended up being, using the tools from Spinning Babies Parent Class empowered me. Knowing that I was doing everything I could to physically ready myself for birth gave me great confidence and peace. When the time came, my body and my baby were ready! I am so thankful for the Spinning Babies Parent Class, and I highly recommend it.

Written by Blooma Mama Robynne

Spinning Babies Parent Class At Blooma

December 7 in St. Paul with Amy Kelley

December 15 in Minneapolis with Amy Kelley

January 26 in Minneapolis with Amy Kelley

February 28 in St. Paul with Amy Kelley

Ask the Educators: What If I Poop During Birth?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, What if I poop during birth?

Educator Sarah Auna answers the question many are nervous to ask....

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Birth is not proper :: it’s primal

Birth is not lady-like :: it’s boss-like  

Birth is not pleasant :: it’s powerful

Birth means not holding things back :: ANYTHING!

 

Including your poop. Let the poop go. From a birth worker’s perspective poop = progress.

Pooping during labor means a birther’s body is releasing, letting go, and opening up. It means the baby is moving itself into a position low enough to stimulate the colon, meaning progress is being made!

Now you have to be a real birth-nerd (like we are here at Blooma) to come to a place of “celebration!”  when it comes to pooping in front of your birth team. So here is some info you may need before you can really let it all go in birth…

 

Will I poop during my birth?

The plain answer is simply, yes. Most likely. But, not in the way that you think.

The human body “cleanses” itself a few days, or sometimes hours, before active labor starts. This allows your body to focus on the work of labor.

You’ll likely have most of your bowel movements in private during early and active labor. This is one of the reasons why it’s so smart to labor at home as long as possible. It allows you to eat the calorically-dense, highly-hydrating, nutritious foods that feel good in your body --- and then use the privacy of your own bathroom to let them go.

If you need to “go” at your place of birth - you can ALWAYS ask for privacy. Many birthers love to use the toilet to support themselves in birth. It’s cool, private, quiet, and a familiar place of “letting go”. Just keep in mind -- if the sensation of needing “to go number-two” is combined with an uncontrollable urge to bear down… then you’ll likely have an audience in the bathroom -  because it’s not time to poop - it’s time to push a baby out!!

This “uncontrollable urge to push” is known as the Fetal Ejection Reflex and it’s often all mixed up with that “I have to poop” feeling.

Here are some common phrases birth workers hear when this Fetal Ejection Reflex is present:

“I feel like the baby is coming out of my butt”

“I can’t, not push!”

“I’m puuuuuuuuushing!”

“It feels like there is a bowling ball in my butt!”

“I have to poop so bad!”

“I sound like my toddler when they poop!”

 *GRUNTING* ... just primal grunting.

 

What if I poop my hospital bed?

If you’re choosing to birth on a bed (with or without an epidural) and you poop during your pushing phase -  then your midwife or nurse will be at the ready to clean it up quickly (often without your knowing) and your doula will be there “fluffing the air” with some quick peppermint or citrus oil, while she thinks: “Hooray! Great work! Great progress! We’re almost there!”

 

What if I’m having a water birth and I poop in the birth tub?

Many women find that having the “shroud” of the water in birth really helps to the facilitate that “no f***s given” vibe that’s needed to tap into their primal- birthing self.

More importantly, if/when you poop in your birth tub -  it’s not a “CODE BROWN! EVERYONE OUT OF THE POOL!” scenario. Rather, the midwife or nurse, whose job it is to be at the watch, will use a little fish-tank net to swoop up the floater before you (or anyone else) even know it’s there.

 

Remember, poop = progress!  Get real with yourself, your partner, and your pride and if you’re struggling to find peace with this aspect of birth…. just recall midwife Ina May Gaskin’s birth declaration: “LET YOUR MONKEY DO IT!” and you’ll tap into that primal, powerful birther who is ready to bring forth life, no matter how messy it gets.

 

Sarah Auna is a birth doula, childbirth educator, and yoga teacher at Blooma. She specializes in adding humor and real-talk to birth and motherhood and she’s here to help you through all of this! Find her classes HERE.

 

Thank Goodness for the Prep Work! Margaret's Birth Story

“Giving birth can be the most empowering experience of a lifetime – an initiation into a new dimension of mind-body awareness.” ~Ina May Gaskin

As soon as I got pregnant I read everything related to pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to know what to expect, and what I could do to ensure everything went smoothly.

I opted to take Hypnobirthing class through Blooma (shout out to Channing!).  

Hypnobirthing provided me with information about what to expect in the different stages of labor, and offered several techniques to help me cope with the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that pop up during childbirth.  It also provided a platform for my husband and I to talk about my wishes during labor and birth, and how he could best support me.  It helped him to know what to look for as I was going into labor and what he could expect.  Which, it turned out would be very helpful in my labor and birth.

As a part of Hypnobirthing you do daily work on affirmations and visualizations.  These were incredibly helpful for me on so many levels.  It not only helped me work through my own fears leading up to my labor and delivery, it helped me cope with the new experiences I was having in pregnancy empowering me as “labor-day” drew near. 

Doing this work helped me to honor and trust in my body and my son to birth safely.  These things that I practiced turned out to be critical, allowing me to have a labor experience that left me feeling happy and empowered.

I had measured “big” all along, and was so convinced my son would come early. I think every first-time mom thinks this - or is it just me?  I remember my midwives telling me that it’s normal for a first-time mom to go past her guess date.  I also remember thinking “yeah, okay – but that won’t be me”. The universe was laughing in my face.  It was a full eight days after my guess date that I went into labor. Nine days post-guess date my son, Crosby, joined us Earth-side. 

By labor started with a false-alarm water breaking (being that pregnant in the height of the summer – one never knows).  After this false alarm I was having inconsistent surges/contractions.  This went on for several days…

Finally, on Friday, August 3rd, I hit a mental break.  I had been having surges irregularly for at least 24 hours and I felt like I was not progressing AT ALL.  I remember thinking I was going to be in this in-between state forever.  As these surges continued, I utilized my breathing skills that I had been practicing and continued my affirmations.

After two phone calls to the midwife, an increasing pressure and discomfort low in my pelvis, and continued inconsistent surges, I was convinced I was in very early labor or prodromal labor. I consciously welcomed the sensations that I was feeling and let them flow.  In fact, I remember wanting to feel more of it – because I knew that would mean we were getting somewhere!

Eventually, I felt like I needed to use the restroom, so I tried, and tried, and tried.  I didn’t need to go to the bathroom - it was a head, my sons head. In the moment I was confused. Listening to my body I thought I was progressing, but because of my irregular surges and after my conversations with the midwife I was convinced I wasn’t even close to birthing this baby. (Side note: my husband was NOT confused – he knew what was up.  But remained a steadfast observer and supporter.)

Before I knew it, my body sprang into action.  I felt a surge coming and my whole stomach bore down! After a conversation with my husband, and a call to the midwife, we were on our way to the birth center!

These pushing surges continued and about 30 minutes later we arrived at the birth center.  My midwife checked baby, I got in the water, I was checked, and he was on his way out!

This is where things got good! The water was AMAZING.

This was a happy phase for me – it felt good that my baby was coming, that I was in a comfortable space surrounded by the support team I trusted.  I worked with my body and breathed through the pushing phase. This is really where I feel the techniques that I had learned and practiced paid off!  About 2 hours after arriving at the birth center, we had our baby boy.  It was the most crazy and surreal experience.  I wouldn’t change a moment of it.

In the moment, I couldn’t tell you what stage of labor I was experiencing, but I knew to use my breath. I knew how to build support around me that allowed me to get through the moments of fear. The months prior to my birth, I had been learning and practicing so that I could put these lessons into action. It felt so good to work with my body as I brought my dear boy into this world.  My experience would not have been the same if I did not put in the work.  By preparing and practicing coping skills I set myself up for success.

Doing the work, taking time to educate yourself (and your partner), preparing your mind and body, and sharing your wishes with your support team are amazing steps you can take to create an amazing and empowering birth experience.

Written by Margaret Achu – Certified Health Coach, Occupational Therapist, Mama You can follow me on Instagram @coach_margaret_achu or check out my website margaretachu.com

To schedule a Health Coach appointment with Margaret, you can contact her at coach@margaretachu.com,  or you may schedule an introductory session through Blooma’s Wellness page.

Is This Really Happening? Becca's Birth Story

"Ugh, here we go again," I thought, “more Braxton Hicks contractions.” I was sitting down to eat dinner with my three-year-old. We had just gotten home from the neighborhood wading pool, where I unabashedly stuffed my gigantic belly into a swim suit and floated on my hands and knees among all the small children in the pee-laden pool water. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions through the second half of my pregnancy, but in the last few weeks they had really picked up momentum. They had become intense, and I was certain I would have to endure them for another week, at which point my midwives would tell me my time was up and I had to schedule a c-section. I was trying for a VBAC, so I was on a much tighter time schedule. My first was born at 42 weeks and six days via beautiful c-section, after 45 grueling hours of labor. Even though I was really hoping for a VBAC, I was unconvinced it was something my body was going to do. My care providers told me, "Trust your body," and that was a really nice idea, but I was having a hard time getting there. 

So there we were, Arthur and I, still in our swimsuits, eating dinner. My husband, Mike, was at work. He wasn't scheduled to work that evening, and even though it was my due date, he was also unconvinced that this baby was coming any time soon. So, he picked up an extra shift. About ten minutes into dinner, I realized the contractions were happening pretty regularly. "Huh," I thought, "maybe I should download one of those contraction-tracking apps." So I did, and I immediately realized I was having contractions that were one minute long and five minutes apart. "Hmm," I thought again, "maybe I should pay attention to this."

The contractions kept coming at regular intervals, and I took Arthur in the backyard to play with the neighbor boys. After 30 minutes it seemed like things might be getting more intense, but I was in full denial that this was actually labor. “Mommy, are you ok?” asked my sensitive, perceptive little guy. “Yeah, mommy’s ok. I just have a tummy ache.” I was sure this would pass and we would continue on with our night as usual. But I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, so I called my mother-in-law, Susie, and asked if she would come over. She got so excited and asked if she should take Arthur to her house for the night. "No," I said, "I'm sure this is nothing. Will you just come play with him for a while and help me with beditme? I'm sure this will go away." Well, in ten minutes, it most definitely was not going away, it was getting stronger. I called over the fence to the neighbors, "I think something might be happening. Can you watch Arthur until Susie gets here?" I went inside and frantically started picking up the house, and before I even realized it, I was bracing myself and breathing through contractions. Time to text the doula. 

Me: Something's happening.

Nicole (one of my amazing doulas): Oh yeah? 

Me: But I'm sure it's nothing.

Nicole: Do you want me to come over?

Me: No, I don't think so. 

Nicole: Are you having contractions?

Me: Yeah, they're a minute long and five minutes apart.

Nicole: Well, that's something! Is Mike there?

Me: No, he's at work.

Nicole: Maybe you should have him come home.

Me: I don't think so. I'm sure it's nothing. 

 

But, I went ahead and texted him…

 

Me: Hey babe, I'm feeling some intense stuff here.

Mike: Great! Ignore it.

Me: I know, right? I'm sure it's nothing.

Mike: Keep me informed. I love you!

I continued to brace myself and breathe through the contractions. "Maybe I should take this seriously," I thought. "Nah, I'll just get in the bath." But first I called Nicole. We talked through two contractions, and she said she was coming over. "You're in labor!" she announced. "You think so?" I asked. I was still unconvinced. "I'm going to take a bath," I told her, “and it will probably go away. Door’s open – come on in when you get here."

I called Mike and told him he should think about coming home. "Ok, should I keep taking tables? Or just finish out what I have?" I told him he should probably finish his tables and head home. "Do you think this is it?" he asked. "I don't know. I think so. I don't know," I said.

I sat in the bath for exactly 30 seconds and said aloud to myself, "Get me the hell out of here." I was so uncomfortable.

I think that's when I finally accepted that I was in labor. I started frantically throwing Arthur's overnight things in a bag. "He can't see me have a contraction," I thought, "he'll be so freaked out." Susie came bursting through the door then, and I shoved the overnight bag at her, and asked her to get Arthur out of there as soon as possible. She watched me have a few contractions and joked that I might have a home birth after all (which is what I had wanted with the first one). She was very concerned to leave me alone. I knew Nicole would be there soon. I couldn't get Susie and Arthur out of there fast enough. I knew I couldn't let my body do its thing until Arthur was out of my care. For months I had been in tears every time I thought about this moment - letting go of Arthur as my baby and turning my attention to a new baby. I had envisioned this would be a heartfelt moment, with prolonged hugs and kisses, as I said goodbye to my little boy who would be a big brother the next time I saw him. But there was no time for that. In between contractions I gave him a quick kiss and shoved him and his grandma out the door. 

A few contractions later Nicole arrived. "Is Mike on his way home?" she asked. I wasn't even sure. Did I tell him to come right home? Things were getting so intense that I couldn't really remember or bother with my phone. Thank god for doulas. The details get a little blurry from here, as I instinctively moved to my hands and knees and started making that all-too-familiar moaning sound I had made three years earlier. I was kneeling on the floor with my head on the couch, thinking, "I can do this. I got this. I can do this for ten hours." I had prepared myself to last 12 hours; that was my max. I knew I could labor that long. Past that, I was giving myself permission to wave the white flag. I was determined not to have a repeat of the marathon labor I had with my son. I was left traumatized by that birth. Deep down, I didn't really care how this baby came out - via VBAC or via c-section. What I did care about was having a different birth than the first - one that didn't last for 45 hours. I was already one hour in. I could do this for quite a while longer. And hey, I could get an epidural at the hospital. Yep, I got this.

Thirty minutes later Mike came through the front door, saw me on hands and knees, and heard the familiar moaning, and he knew it was real. “That’s a noise you don’t really forget,” I remember him later telling the doulas when the birth was over. "Ok guys, I'm going to pee, then we need to go," I announced. This most definitely WAS happening.

On the short walk from the house to the car, things got ugly. I crawled into the backseat and turned circles like a dog trying to find a comfortable spot. This was really happening. Like REALLY happening. In the next five minutes I had five contractions. I was panicking and climbing the walls of the backseat - I was no longer in control. I let the pain come out of my mouth and screamed through each contraction. They were coming one on top of another. "I'm losing it!" I cried. "I need a fucking break! They're coming so fast!" We weren't even on the freeway yet. We still had 20 minutes in the car. "Mike, I need an epidural as soon as we get there! Ok?" "Of course, baby. Of course," he calmly reassured me. Poor guy. I’m sure the last way he felt was calm.

Nicole was following us to the hospital. Our other amazing doula, Liz, was meeting us there. Nicole was a labor and delivery nurse at Methodist at the time, and she was scheduled to work that night. Our plan was working perfectly. She was going to be my nurse that night, while Liz was going to be our doula. At our last clinic appointment, we had joked with Vida (our favorite midwife) that we would see her on Friday night, which was her on-call shift at the hospital. And here it was, Friday night. My dream team was all in order. And it was my due date. Was this really happening?

It was, and very quickly at that. Somewhere on Hwy 100, I started to feel pressure. Liz's all-knowing doula powers kicked in and she called Mike right at that moment. "Tell her to pant like a dog," she instructed. Thank god for that. I crawled and screamed and swore and panted the rest of the way to the hospital. What a ride!

Liz opened the car door and I fell into her arms. I clung to her all the way to triage, and I clamped my eyes shut, firmly telling anyone around me who could hear that I wanted an epidural. They checked me. I was already at a seven. Holy mary mother of god! "I want an epidural! I want an epidural! I want an epidural!" As I screamed and grunted my way to the delivery room, everyone reassured me the epidural was on its way. Before I got into bed, I leaned over through a contraction, and my water exploded onto the floor. Vida appeared, and I calmed down long enough to say hi to her. I asked yet again for an epidural. I got up onto the bed and she checked me. "Becca, you're at a ten. Look at me." When Vida tells you to do something, you do it. I opened my eyes for the first time since arriving at the hospital. "Becca, you're complete. You can push." WHAT?! I didn’t think those were words I’d ever hear. Those were words reserved for women who had vaginal births. Was I going to join that club?

I was in agony, but I felt amazing. And I also realized I wasn't getting an epidural. But what I didn't realize was how good it would feel to push. I mean, not good, but at least now I felt like I could do something with the pain. Pushing was hard. Really fucking hard. After 20 minutes I thought to myself, "Shit, some women push for hours. I don't think I can do this for hours." But lucky for me, Liz is a master at describing how to push. If it wasn't for her, I think I would have pushed for much longer. "Becca, push that baby across the room!" Every time Liz said that, I pushed in a different way. And every time I pushed like that, everyone who was looking at the business end of things started cheering. I guess pushing isn't just pushing - there is a specific way to push that creates a lot more progress. "I want this baby out!" I screamed. It was time. Two more hard rounds of pushing, and someone was saying, "Becca, reach down and grab your baby! You're having your baby. Open your eyes! Reach down and grab your baby!" I couldn't reach down and grab my baby – all I could do was keep pushing. A few seconds later, a warm, wet baby was placed on my tummy, and Mike paused, looked, and announced, "You have a baby ... GIRL!" Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! "Mike, I did it!” I cried. “Mike, I did it! Mike! I DID IT!" 

I'll never forget that moment. Maybe one day I'll think of it without tears welling in my eyes, but not today. It was the most profound feeling of accomplishment that I've ever felt and will ever feel. And it was over. Thank god, it was over. In only four hours, our family of three was transformed into a family of four.

Everyone who knows about Arthur's birth asks me if Francesca's birth was healing. No, no it was not. I did need to heal from Arthur's birth, but I needed to do that by honoring his birth, not by replacing it. All I wanted was for this birth to be different that my first, and it couldn't have been any more different. The births of my babies are both beautiful in their own ways. Birth is such a mystery until it happens. You never know what kind of birth you will get, and I am lucky to have birthed my babies in completely different ways. I may not have yelled "I did it!" after Arthur was born, but I should have.

Francesca Felice was born on her due date, 7/7/17, and she weighed 7lb 7oz. Lying there with my new baby girl on my chest was the best feeling I think I'll ever feel. It was over. I didn't have to labor anymore. And look what I had to show for it! A baby girl! I did it. I did it. I DID IT!

Written by Becca, Assistant Manager at Blooma Minneapolis, Prenatal Yoga Teacher, and Mama of two.

 

Honoring the Significance of Pregnancy & Birth: The Fourth Trimester

Carrying a baby, birthing a baby, and mothering a baby is one of the biggest life experiences.  This transformational journey continues once baby joins a family earthside.  Each mother deserves time and space to heal from the effort of birth, honoring her own unique circumstances and needs.  Planning ahead for the fourth trimester can impact your entire postpartum experience.  Studies have shown that care, nourishment, and guidance during this time can result in long term health benefits to mother, baby, and the entire family.  

No matter what type of birth you experienced, your body went through a significant transformation.  This time is about you mamas and your body needs rest.  In Chinese culture, “Zou yuezi is a sacred 40 day period following birth that is a time to shower the new mother with nourishment and self care through therapeutic baths and deep oil massages.  In Western culture you may not be able to set aside a full 40 days and we understand that, but try making your first two weeks postpartum a sacred time, bonding with baby and resting.  

“Mothers cannot give from a depleted source.  Every mother needs emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual validation, nourishment, and support.  When a mother is respected and well cared for, she, and her whole family, will benefit.” - A motherwoman principle

In our childbirth education classes at Blooma we encourage students to abide by the 5-5-5 rule the best they can.  New mothers should plan to spend at least 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed, and 5 days near the bed.  Do you remember birthing your placenta?  There is a wound that size that needs to heal.  Low activity and rest can promote healing of the perineal tissues, allow birther’s organs to reposition themselves, and reduce the length of postpartum bleeding.  Have your partner or others bring you anything and everything you may need.  Request warm nourishing foods from your support team.  According to research, warm, soft foods such as bone broth, soups, or a good combination of carbs, protein and fats can help aid in digestion and provide the needed energy to nourish you and your babies body.  

 

 

After speaking with several postpartum mothers about their postpartum experience, responses were very individual and unique.  More than once, however, mamas noted they wished they would have asked more for what they need.  You are the gatekeeper of your space.  You may decide to decline visitors until you and your partner have enjoyed alone time to connect, get a handle on breastfeeding, and rest.  It’s important to keep in mind that following birth you will experience physical and emotional changes, many of which happen within the first 2- 6 weeks.  This can be a sensitive time.  If you don’t feel comfortable being naked, crying, or sleeping in front of certain family or friends here are a couple ways to decline visitors until you are ready.

*Avoid posting on social media outlets unless you are ready for people to start reaching out.  

*Ignore your phone.  Honestly, this is one of the times in your life it’s totally acceptable to be severely tardy in your replies to text, emails, and voicemails.

*Leave a nice sign on the doorstep saying thank you for celebrating in the arrival of our little one, we are not quite ready for visitors but will let you know when we are.

You may be a mama who is dreading all the alone time and know you will crave connection with others.  Make a list before baby arrives that includes family and friends who have flexibility in the daytime or evening to stop by and keep you company. A postpartum doula can be an amazing lifeline and worth every penny.  Postpartum doulas have specialized training for childbirth recovery, emotional well-being, and breastfeeding.  Postpartum doulas can help during the day or night.  If you would like a list of local postpartum doulas please reach out to a Blooma staff member and we will hook you up!

Regardless of what kind of postpartum choices you envision will best suite you and your family, have a list of people nearby you can call on to help you feel nourished, held, and supported.

Attention family and friends of a new parent: Consider asking, “How can I help you?”  or think “What can I do to make your life easier?”  Instead of bringing a baby gift, bring a meal.  Something that can be put in the freezer is a gift that will be received with gratitude.  Offer to help with laundry, care for baby so mother can take a healing bath or nap, or bring the older children to school.   We’ve included a great list of helpful “gift” ideas for new moms below:

Origins herbal heating pack for muscle tightness in the shoulders/back, etc or make your own rice pack

Padsicles (see Educator Jamie’s recipe here!)

Healing Herb Soaks (we sell a variety at Blooma St. Paul & Minneapolis)

Gift cards for Massage

Set up a meal train or drop off a meal on the front steps  

Robe (mamas keep this by your door and put it on before someone arrives to give the hint they shouldn’t stay long)

Build Your Nest: A Postpartum Planning Workbook

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother

 

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor and mama-to-be.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com

Value Systems & Birth Choices

A birth plan is important as a decision-making tool in the prenatal period and as a guide for providers at the time of birth. Now, the vast majority of nurses, doctors, and midwives know (and often expect) that a family will enter birth with a piece of paper that details their specific hopes during the different stages of labor and delivery including newborn care. Many hospitals even offer families an easy to use, and hospital specific, birth plan that goes straight into their file before birth. 

This all is wonderful news for birthing families. It means that providers are interested in what families want and need during one of the most vulnerable and intimate times in life. Providers that listen to families needs are able to provide more specific and supportive care.

While I encourage everyone to write a birth plan, it can sometimes create expectations that come with any give "plan". For example, a mother’s highest priority may be to have a vaginal birth. In her Birth Plan she may write that she does not want an epidural, but at the time of labor an epidural may be what she needs to allow a vaginal birth. Both items are important in her plan, but what holds the most value?

I encourage you to take a different approach to writing your Birth Plan by creating another important document, your Birth Values. By writing your Birth Values, you can allow your personal values to play the biggest role in your birth decision-making process.  The Birth Values approach allows a birthing family to ditch a Black and White Birth Plan and the sense of the "right and wrong", "good and bad" and "success and failure" that it can sometimes bring. Exploring your values goes deeper into the internal needs of the birthing woman, her partner, and the evolving family, rather than only looking at the choices available at the time of birth. 

An Example - A mother may have in her Birth Plan “something” that will help her remain calm and in control. This could be a birthing tub, nitrous oxide, or an epidural. But, it isn’t so much the item on her birth plan that is important, but the underlying value- feeling calm and in control during birth.

At the time of her birth to remain calm and in control, that “something” may change. A mama that planned to be in a birthing tub may now prefer the epidural. Or, a mama planning to have nitrous oxide wants to get into a birthing tub.  The item on her Birth Plan may have changed, but it still aligns with her Birth Values of being calm and in control. Her Birth Plan may only point to one of these things, but at the time of birth, another makes her feel calm and in control. Changing something on the Birth Plan shouldn’t make a mama feel like she has failed because she is still making decisions that align with her Birth Values.

Values do not start and end at the hospital. They are at the center of our very being, and they are at the heart of the new and challenging path new mothers embark on. Values are what matter.

So sweet mamas, and dear birthing partners, please do not ditch the Birth Plan. It is important, and it can act as a wonderful source for essential conversation in the prenatal period. It helps guide the mama, partner, and birth team  - keeping them on the same page before labor and delivery. But, I encourage you to dig even deeper and look at your values as you bring forth new life. Write these values down and share them with your birth team, this way you can move through labor and delivery fully wrapped in those values. 

By doing so, you will feel more fully heard, held, supported, honored, empowered and understood. It can also allow you to be super gentle on any decision made during birth. If there is any one thing I want for a birthing mother, it is that she feels held and supported, and that starts with first understanding her most intimate values before she ever steps foot into her place of birth.   

Best to each of you on your birthing journey, 

Brook Holmberg - full-time Birth Doula, a Childbirth Educator, a Lactation Counselor, co-founder of Birth Doula Centering and above all else, a value-drive mother. 

borealbirth.com 

Birth Doula Centering  - Twin Cities

 

Ask the Educators: What does it mean to lose your mucus plug?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

Each Blooma Educator is a seasoned birth doula, up to date on birthing practices and policies.

Our educators frequently hear the same concerns about pregnancy, birth, and beyond. We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, what is the mucus plug, and what does it mean to lose it?

The mucus plug is exactly what it sounds like—a plug of mucus in the cervix that helps to protect the baby from infection. When a woman loses her mucus plug, like many early labor signs, it can be a sign that labor could start in the next few hours, days, or even weeks. It does not give us any exact information about when the baby will arrive. What it does mean is that the cervix IS making change—yay! It is thinning out (or effacing) and dilating. During this process, the mucus plug comes out. For some women, it really does look like a plug of mucus that comes out all at once, and for others, it’s more like a thinned-out, jelly-like substance that leaks out over a longer period of time. (Who said pregnancy wasn’t glamorous, right??)  Some women notice that they have passed their mucus plug, and some don’t. The mucus plug may be tinged with drops of blood and may be pink or red in color. Another term for this that you may have heard is “bloody show.”

It is common to experience a small amount of bleeding within 24 hours of a vaginal exam or having sex in late pregnancy.  This blood is likely brownish in color, and again, just a few drops is no big deal. This is not your mucus plug. The blood that may come out with the mucus plug is typically pink or bright red.

*When you lose your mucus plug, it should be mostly mucus with some blood. You do not need to call your provider if you lose your mucus plug. However, if it is mostly blood with some mucus, you should call your provider immediately. Any bleeding like a period (rather than just a few drops) needs to be taken seriously at any point in pregnancy.

Written by Mari Melby, a childbirth educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.

Five Tips for Staying Healthy Through Your Pregnancy

When most women find out they're pregnant, first comes excitement, then comes the sometimes overwhelming reality of all the changes that are to come. We want to take care of ourselves and our changing body to promote the best health for ourselves and our babies, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. There’s advice everywhere, and it’s often contradictory. As someone who’s delivered babies for over 20 years, here are my top 5 behaviors for keeping you (and baby) healthy through your pregnancy:

1) Eat well – We all know that pregnancy is a time when we need more calories for the development of the growing baby.  Mamas need an extra 300 calories a day. An average apple has 95 calories, a banana 105, and a ½ cup of cucumber only 8.  We also need a lot more protein than most of us usually get.  You need 2-3 servings of meat and/or legumes a day to get the recommended amount.  Eggs and peanut butter are also good sources of protein.

2)Move Your Body– Exercise is always important. It’s also a lot easier to say, than do. During pregnancy, exercise helps keep your weight healthy and safe for you and baby.  It has also been shown that women who exercise during pregnancy tend to have an easier time with labor.  Yoga can be particularly helpful, especially to maintain flexibility while building strength.  Some studies even show that women who exercise during pregnancy have babies who are healthier during their first year of life, compared to babies of women who don’t exercise.

3) Sleep – Over the course of pregnancy, this only gets harder, both because of body discomfort and the need to empty your bladder in the middle of the night.  Sleep is when our bodies rejuvenate themselves.  Things are much more tolerable when we have had plenty of sleep.

4) Find a community – It’s easy to start to feel isolated. Finding support with people going through the same thing gives you a place to get questions answered about the changes that go with pregnancy. Find a community of other mothers or mothers to be (Blooma is a great place to do this!)

5) Communicate with your partner – Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to your body and mind, and it’s easy to internalize a lot of those changes and the thoughts that go with them.  Remember that your partner wants to know what’s happening.  Together you are the base for your family, so make sure to carve out time to maintain the relationship that existed before pregnancy.

We encourage you to move your body, relax your mind, and connect with other mamas at Blooma. Learn more about our offerings here.

 

Written by Laura France, MD, FACOG, obstetrician/gynecologist, Senior Medical Director – Women and
Children’s Service Line at HealthEast. Learn more at www.healtheast.org/maternity.

Birth Story: "Go With The Flow"

Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of Hudson's Birth.

The moment I found out I was pregnant I had an Amazon Prime order in for the top pregnancy books so I could prepare for pregnancy and birth.  I’m a Project Manager by profession, so needless to say I’m a meticulous planner.  We took the Blooma Birth Class, did classes with our midwives, and I constantly read blogs and birth stories. I had, what I thought was, the perfect detailed birth plan.  I wanted a natural water birth with the midwives at my hospital.  Little did I know, my sweet baby boy had a different plan for me.

My due date came and went, and I wanted to avoid induction if at all possible.  We had friends and family constantly reaching out, asking for updates and wondering why the heck I hadn’t been induced yet.  It was the longest two weeks of our lives. After trying every natural way to induce labor I learned that baby will come when baby is ready!  I also learned that maybe we shouldn't have shouted our due date from the rooftops to family and friends - post due date was such an emotional time to get through.

Had it been my choice, I would have waited even longer. I simply didn’t want to go through the cascade of interventions that can oftentimes lead to a c-section.  But, at 42 weeks, we went in to the hospital for induction and I was only 1 cm dilated.  My midwife was supportive of my birth plan, and tried to stay true to it as much as possible following the induction. Thanks to our classes and preparation, we felt educated to make decisions as things progressed forward.

After 36 hours of labor, I was exhausted and, in my mind, “gave in” to the the epidural.  Within 2 hours of the epidural I went from 6 cm, to fully dilated and ready to push.  After 3 hours of pushing, the OB came in to check the positioning of our baby.  He was face up and after a flip and 3 additional hours of pushing, it was determined that he was stuck.  I was devastated to find out that a c-section was my only option after 40 hours of labor.  

In a blink of an eye, Hudson was here, and I completely forgot about all of the exhaustion and pain.  Along the way, I listened to my body and the excellent health care professionals surrounding me.  Do what you can to prepare for your birth, but be ready to adjust your plan based on what is actually happening.  Go with the flow, and listen to your support team, this will be the key in getting through it all.  Be your own advocate and surround yourself with people you trust.  Labor and delivery is a beautiful experience - even if it doesn’t follow “the plan”.

Written by A Blooma Mama.

Share your birth story with us here.

What on Earth Is a Padsicle And Why Is This DIY Project So Important?

A padsicle is a pad soaked in herbal tea and then frozen to be used not only to help soothe the tissues of the perineum and the vulva after a vaginal birth, but also to promote and expedite the healing process. The tissues of the perineum, vulva, and vagina are quite tender and swollen after birth regardless of whether or not stitches were needed.

Padiscles can dramatically improve the healing process and can help decrease painful sensations of discomfort. I suggest making these during the week of your guess date or in early labor. This is also a great task for partners, postpartum doulas, friends, or family that want to be helpful. My husband and I gathered all the supplies ahead of time and made these during labor. It was a great distraction during early labor and I was beyond grateful to come home to these!

What you’ll need:

  • - Spray bottle
  • - Gallon Ziplock Bag/Tupperware/Glass baking dish with a lid
  • - Parchment paper
  • - 6 quarts of distilled water
  • - 30 overnight/super maxi pads
  • - Pure Aloe Vera Gel-This ingredient is optional! If you do choose to incorporate this ingredient avoid using dyes and fragrances.
  • - Postpartum sitz bath herbal blend. You can order this blend or make your own:
    • 1/2 cup comfrey root
    • 1/2 cup calendula flowers
    • 1/4 cup lavender flowers
    • 1/4 cup witch hazel bark

It is always important to be selective about the products you use for menstrual care, but it is especially important following birth as the tissues of the vulva, vagina, and perineum will be particularly sensitive as they heal. It is best to avoid products containing chlorine, plastics, perfumes, dyes, and other toxic ingredients. When your skin comes in direct contact with chemicals, those chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream these chemicals often accumulate as our bodies typically lack the enzymes necessary to break them down. Be sure to read the listed ingredients as some products that are branded as “natural” or “free & clear” are often misleading. These pads are a fantastic choice.

Instructions:

  • - Bring distilled water to a boil.
  • - Add the postpartum sitz bath herbs to the pot of boiling water. Stir the herbs, cover the pot, and remove the pot from the heat. Allow the herbs to steep for 20 minutes.
  • - Strain the herbs and fill a spray bottle with the tea. Save the remaining tea in a pitcher or mason jar(s) in the fridge for your peri bottle and sitz baths.
  • - Unwrap each pad.
  • - If you are using the aloe vera: Using a butter knife or spatula spread a thin layer of aloe vera gel covering the surface of the pad.
  • - Spray each pad with the tea concentration on where your sore perineum will make contact. Use enough tea to dampen the pad but don't saturate the pad as you want to preserve some of the absorbency of the pads for postpartum bleeding.
  • - Wrap the pad in parchment paper and place in your chosen container. Once container is full place it in the freezer until you are ready to use the padsicles.
  • - When you are ready to use them, unwrap the padsicle and let thaw for 3 minutes before using. Use 2-5 daily for the first two weeks postpartum.

  • *To use in peri bottle: Fill your peri bottle 1/2 way with warm water and then add the tea until the bottle is full. Use this mixture every time you use the bathroom.
  • *To use in a sitz bath: Fill your bathtub with just enough water to cover your lap and then add 1 cup of tea. Soak for 10-20 minutes. Repeat 1-3 times daily.

Written By Jamie Huberty-Koerner is, a mother, birth doula, placenta encapsulator, student midwife, and a childbirth educator at Blooma.

What is Spinning Babies Parent Class?

Spinning Babies is a technique made famous by Gail Tully. It is an approach based on easing baby’s rotation - when rotation is easier for baby, birth is often easier for mother. We are so excited the Blooma is the FIRST organization to offer The Spinning Babies Parent Class with our trained Childbirth Educators.

What is Spinning Babies?

Spinning Babies looks at birth from a physiological perspective - birth is seen as a natural and normal occurrence for the body with mamas using their own powers to allow labor to start on its own. The Spinning Babies approach investigates baby’s role in labor.  We know that baby's position plays an strong role in the process and progress of birth.  By knowing fetal position, and the space available in the womb, less force and medical intervention is warranted.   

Why should I take the Spinning Babies Parent Class?

Spinning Babies Parent Class is a great opportunity to better understand how baby is an active participant in labor. You will learn how to maintain balance in your body prior to labor, helping to create ease and even pleasure during your birth.  This hands-on class allows you and your partner to practice comfort techniques and daily exercises with ample time to ask questions.

How will Spinning Babies Parent Class impact my birth?

Learning the material and techniques in the Spinning babies Parent Class will instill confidence in your body’s ability to birth your baby. As Gail Tully says, “Not too tight, not too loose, not too twisty.”  Some of our daily habits (i.e. sitting for long periods of time, placing more weight on one leg versus another when standing/leaning, long commutes to work) can create imbalances in the body. The Spinning Babies Parent Class teaches techniques to help bring more symmetry to the tensions/looseness of your muscles, ligaments, and joints. This can help baby navigate the pelvis and surrounding tissues more easily.  This knowledge will help alleviate fears of the birth process and leave you feeling empowered and excited as your little one’s guess date approaches.  

Interested to learn more? Sign up for an upcoming Spinning Babies Parent Class!

October 4 at the Minnesota Birth Center in St. Paul

November 17 in Minneapolis

If you have any questions about this class, or the Spinning Babies technique, please reach out to our educators at education@blooma.com.

Written by Amy Kelley, a M,ama, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga Instructor, Kids, Toddler, & Byob Yoga Instructor.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com

 

Ask the Educators: When Should I Go to My Hospital or Birth Center?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

Each Blooma Educator is a seasoned birth doula, up to date on birthing practices and policies.

Our educators frequently hear the same concerns about pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

A question our educators frequently hear: At what point during labor should I go to the hospital or birth center?

First and foremost, we advise all birthing people to listen to their body and their heart.  The most important thing is that you feel safe wherever you are.  This means some birthing people may stay at home longer than others, and some may choose to head to their birthing place earlier on.  Your labor may not meet the criteria below, and that’s the beauty of birth!  It’s not a one-size-fits-all kinda thing.  There is a wide range of normal when it comes to labor patterns, and despite the differences each birthing person may experience, there is always some amount of common ground.

Here are a couple tips and tricks to give you insight.

It is always a good idea to let your care team know when you suspect you are in labor.  Your provider, and doula if you're choosing to work with one, can help you identify where you are at in your labor by listening (in person or on the phone) as you cope through a contraction.  They may suggest rest and comfort measures and encourage you to stay at home a bit longer.  If it’s clear you are in full-on active labor, your provider or doula may suggest making your way to the car (which sometimes can take 30 minutes as you’ll need to pause and focus during contractions) and head to your place of birth.

“4-1-1” is a great tool to help you gauge the progress you are making.  During active labor, contractions will pick up in intensity, become closer together, and stay that way.  We love to see a pattern of 4 minutes between the start of one contraction to the next and each contraction lasting for about 60 seconds.  This pattern should occur for at least an hour.  At this stage of labor your contractions will require your full attention and focus and you will not be easily distracted.  Your job is to breathe and cope through each wave and surge, and then rest in between.  Your support people (partner and/or doula) will be giving you their full attention; helping with position changes, providing water/snacks, encouraging you to go to the bathroom frequently, and reminding you of your strength and power.  It can be so helpful to have someone right by your side the entire time.

Plan accordingly with the travel time from your house to your birthing place.  It is also important to factor in heavy traffic times. Sitting in a car is not the most comfortable place to labor, so if you are approaching a heavy traffic time, you may want to work with your care team to work around it.

What might be an advantage to laboring at home for a longer period of time?

You may be giving birth at a hospital or birth center. But, it is a good idea to labor at home.

It helps to arrive at your place of birth when labor is fully established.  At this point you are more likely to be in a good rhythm with coping through the discomfort and know what tools work well to help you manage each surge. Sometimes arriving at your place of birth too early in labor can cause contraction patterns to subside or stall.

If you are hoping for an unmedicated birth, staying at home as long as you feel safe and comfortable increases your chance of avoiding interventions.

Your home is where you live!  It’s comfortable and safe.  You have your own blankets, pillows, bed, and couch.  You are surrounded by your own scent and personal feel.  You have access to your own kitchen and food preferences to keep you nourished.  Being in your own space allows you the ability to control things like lighting, music, and mood in a much more private and uncensored space than that of your birthing place.

Always remember to listen to your body and your heart. When unsure, always reach out to your educator, doula, midwife, or doctor.

Want to feel more prepared for your birth? Have more questions for our educators? We encourage you to join us for one of our Childbirth Education Classes at Blooma. Find one here. Best of luck to you and your birth!

Laboring at Home Photo by Jenna Dailey

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga Instructor, Kids, Toddler, & Byob Yoga Instructor.  Wife, dog mom, sister, daughter, and auntie to 6 beautiful children!  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com

A Birth Story - Baby Fritz

Seven weeks. It’s been seven weeks since Fritz decided to grace our lives with his presence outside of the womb. I truly do not know where the month of May went – it seems to have flashed by in a snap. However, the seven weeks leading up to Fritz’s arrival dragged slowly on.

My pregnancy with him, my third, carried along relatively fine and uneventful. But, as anyone who has been pregnant before will tell you, the last handful of weeks tick by at a snails pace. As our family approached his due date, there was a flurry of family events, and we wondered if you would be a part of them – our daughter’s birthday, Easter, and a few baptisms of his cousins. Nope. He decided he wanted an entrance and celebration that was completely his own.

At my 40 week appointment, two days after my guess date, I was completely fed up with being pregnant, and so dearly wanted labor to be over and our baby to be on the outside of my body. I spoke with my midwife about stripping my membranes – something I hadn’t done with our other two babies. She told me that with stripping my membranes, I may or may not go into labor, I could cramp, I could spot, etc.

About an hour after my appointment, I had consistent cramps that felt worse than the Braxton-Hicks I’d been feeling for weeks. But, I still wasn’t sure it was actually labor. I called my husband home from work and a friend to come over to watch our napping kids. Even though I wasn’t sure this was IT, my second labor and delivery was four hours start to finish and I didn’t want to take any chances.  With a flurry of last minute packing and spewing out instructions about our other kids, we went to the hospital, only to see the look in the nurse and midwives’ eyes that I was not in ‘real’ labor. We stayed for observation for a few hours and were sent home. I was so disappointed, and frankly, embarrassed that I didn’t know what my body was doing. Retrospectively, I am glad that we went, even if just to know that everything was healthy and moving along.

The next morning came with cranky kids who seemed to know that something was going to rock their world later that evening. To get out of the house, I put together a list of errands that I had been putting off – like going to the DMV, Costco, and the bank. Waddling in and out of each store, I would have random contractions at no regularity. And, due to the ‘false alarm’ the night before, I wasn’t even sure that they were contractions. After getting the kids home for lunch and down for naps, I finally sat down to time my ‘random’ contractions. Twenty minutes apart. “Oh,” I thought. Maybe this would actually turn into something.

An hour or so later my husband came home, got the kids up for naps and outside to play. Thirty minutes (and two contractions later), I decided we should go on a family walk ‘around the block.’ My contractions were now coming about every five to ten minutes, and soon I needed to stop and breathe through them. My husband called his dad to come over and watch the kids while we went to the hospital. As we got home from the walk, I labored in the living room while my husband tried to make the kids a quick dinner and we waited for my father-in-law to get there. Within ten minutes, my contractions (and back labor) were increasing in intensity and length. Something really felt like it was changing quickly and my husband sent me outside to wait by the car. I kissed my older two babies as I walked out the door, now truly realizing that our family was changing right before my eyes. Within one minute of his dad showing up, my husband was in the car and pulling out of the driveway. Running three red lights with me laboring in the front seat, is how we pulled into the hospital and were raced up to our delivery room.

The nurse who brought us to our room introduced herself and quickly helped me into bed, letting me know my midwife was on her way. My husband happened to tell this nurse that our favorite nurse, who had been a part of both of our previous births had her same name. “Oh, she’s here today too!” said that nurse who brought us to our room. As my contractions were coming right on top of each other, and full of back labor, I was only able to burst into tears, when our favorite nurse walked into our room, ready to be a part of another Olson baby birth.  Her presence, words of encouragement, strength, and gentle touch always seem to be exactly what I need to get through a natural labor. With a team of two nurses and our wonderful midwife, a little baby boy was born into this world not 40 minutes later. He was put on to my chest immediately, stuck his thumb in his mouth and looked up at me with the bluest of eyes.

From the time that I starting timing my contractions to the time that our babe was in my arms was four and a half hours of the most intense labor I have experienced yet. It was so deeply worth the bundle of true joy and easygoing nature which has been given our family. Frederick ‘Fritz’ Simon is a gem and a delightful addition to our little family.

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work