Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My First Birth Experience

I can't seem to find the right words to start this post, so I'll just jump right in. Last week, I got to experience my first birth. I am absolutely in awe of the whole experience, it has almost left me speechless. No amount of studying, reading or viewing videos of birth could have ever prepared me to see it first hand and to be a part of the action. I am so amazed at our bodies ability and design, the strength women have and the miracle of life itself.

Throughout my training and up until I left for the hospital, I kept thinking to myself "Is this what I want to do?" "Will this make me happy" and now I know that 100% for sure, THIS is what I want to do with my life. I want to empower women to advocate for themselves, I want to support them, educate them and their partner on the process of childbirth and on caring for their newborn. Being able to be such an important role in my client's lives is a blessing and an honor. Their trust in me during such an intimate time, is something that I will never be able to thank them enough for no matter how many families I support and how many birth's I attend.

At the current moment I am offering postpartum support. I absolutely loved my first birth doula experience, however my schedule is not flexible enough to properly support births. I am so thrilled to be able to offer postpartum support to moms, dads, and babies and am excited to continue learning and growing alongside my clients. Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get to this point, and thank you to everyone who I will be serving and supporting throughout the rest of my doula career.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Journey to Certification

There is a sense of accomplishment when you take steps towards following your dreams and achieving your goals. As of this weekend, I am one step closer to not only starting my own business, but to use my passion for loving on other's to serve and help mom's and babies.

To see how this journey began, let's take a look at the past year. Summer or 2016 was a strange summer for me. Summer has always meant spending multiple weeks at the beach, going on missions trips, to music festivals, sleeping in, spending the nights star gazing, watching movies and being with family and friends. Although I had a busy traveling schedule in the summers, I always managed to be spontaneous and carefree. But after I got married, I needed to become a little more responsible (Ugh, adulting is the worst). So I got an office job. I would sit at my desk in a windowless hallway on those beautiful, hot sunny days, nostalgic for spontaneity and flexibility. That's when I realized that if I wanted life to change, I had to work towards making that change for myself.

I started brain storming of ways I can make money while doing what I love. I love napping, but a professional mattress tester didn't sound like a real job. I love going to the beach and the pool, but I don't have the attention span to be a lifeguard, always on the look out, and what would I do in the winter? That is when it hit me. I want to be a doula. At the time I only had a basic understanding of what a doula was, I just knew they worked with mom's and newborn babies. And for those who know me, you know I love some good baby snuggles.

After some research and conversations with a friend, I got connected to Wendy Shiffer from Family Trees Doula School. It took me some more time, research, and asking for money for Christmas, but I finally saved up enough money and did enough research to feel confident that this is what I wanted to do, so I registered for the Spring 2017 session of Doula School.

For the last five months I have been reading about, researching and studying everything from the stages of labor, to the benefits of breast milk, to hormone cycles, epidurals, home births, medical interventions, how to properly swaddle baby, and so much more so that I can give evidence based information to families. All this studying, researching and reading all lead up to this past weekend. Our class met for a hands-on training workshop/seminar, resulting in our official certification. I am beyond excited to take this next leap of faith as I work towards working for myself, taking on clients I love, and serving them with all my heart. I may not be able to go back to being the completely carefree, spontaneous person I was growing up, but I will have more flexibility working for myself. I will be the one in charge and making all the calls, and I will be the one reaping the benefits of my hard work. And I can't wait to see where else this adventure takes me.

I can not write this blog post without sending a huge shout out to Wendy. She has been such a major blessing through this process. She is not only knowledgeable and passionate about what she teaches, but she is caring and wants to see her students succeed. She goes above and beyond and is there every step of the way. If becoming a doula and helping mom's and babies sounds like something you'd be interested in, I highly recommend you check out Family Trees Doula School and talk to Wendy.

To keep up with my adventures be sure to follow me on my social media pages (linked on sidebar)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Benefits of Vernix Caseosa

If you are like me, you saw the newest Johnson and Johnson commercial and cringed. The commercial sets the scene in a hospital room, a beautiful newborn baby is being bathed by a nurse. The narrator explains that this baby is just minutes old and that Johnson and Johnson is the brand most hospitals trust to wash newborns. But why do I, along with so many others find this cringe-worthy? It is because newborns are born with Vernix caseosa.

Vernix is a naturally occurring, cheesy like substance that coats the skin of newborns. This lipid-rich substance covers and protects the fetus from amniotic fluid during the third trimester but it also has a variety of benefits outside of the womb. Some of these awesome benefits are that it helps baby's skin surface adapt to it's new environment and keeps the skin moisturized. It has antioxidant properties due to the presence of vitamin E and melanin, and contains antimicrobial peptides(1). The best way to take advantage of these benefits is to rub the vernix into the baby's skin soon after birth, rather than wash it off.

In the womb, vernix works as a separation between the baby and the amniotic fluid. It is a lipid-rich substance that is unique to humans. Once baby is born it helps the skin defend itself from outside bacteria and fungal agents. More specifically it has been tested and shown beneficial to defend against E. coli, Group B Strep, Staph aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Listeria monocytogenes, Serratia marcescens and Klebsiella pneumonia (2). All of which could be a potential risk for baby.

Newborn baby with vernix still on their skin
Skin is our biggest organ, and one that continues to develop after birth. A baby's skin is not fully mature until about twelve months of age, so it is important for parents to care properly for their baby's skin and to know about healthy bathing practices. It is advised to give baby a bath 2-3 times a week for the first six months while being aware of the soaps and detergents that could irritate or dry out baby's skin (3). For a list of EWG verified baby wash products click here.

In conclusion, using a combination of healthy bathing practices as well as holding off your baby's first bath until the vernix is rubbed into their skin, has the potential to benefit your baby in the world outside of your womb. Although not every hospital follows this procedure, the benefits are becoming more well known. If you have any further questions or concerns, be sure to reach out to your health care provider.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Benefits of Breastfeeding

We've all heard the saying "breast is best" but what are the benefits of breastfeeding? How can breastfeeding help your little one and how can you use breastfeeding for your own selfish gain? *hint: it may involve being able to lose weight while eating more food. I bet Jenny Craig can't do that for you, now can she?

Benefits to baby

  • The first day or two after birth you are producing colostrum. This thick substance is very rich in antibodies, low in fat and high in protein and carbohydrates to help keep your baby healthy.
  • The composition of your breast milk is unique to your baby and will change to meet your baby's needs. For each child you have, your body will produce a different composition of breast milk based on the unique needs of your newest baby. 
  • Your breast milk contains living cells that will coat the mucous membranes of your baby's digestive system. this will protect him against all kinds of bacteria and viruses that he will be exposed to in the world outside of your womb. 
  • Exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least the first six months will reduce the risk of:
    • asthma
    • food allergies
    • allergy rhinitis (runny nose) 
  • Several studies on the development of intelligence in babies have shown that babies exclusively fed breast milk have shown higher scores on IQ tests (note: breastfeeding alone will not make your baby a genius, other factors such as loving touch, skin to skin and being held can contribute to a baby's development.) 
  • Breastfeeding also has analgesic properties. Babies who are breastfed while getting the heel poke to draw blood will cry little, if at all. It also comforts baby if they have a cold or the flu

Benefits to Mom
  • Oxytocin release
    • This can cause uterine contractions which help the uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size
    • Helps reduce the chance of postpartum hemorrhage
    • Suppression of ovulation and menstration
  • Helps mom return to pre-pregnancy weight faster, while being able to eat an extra 500-600 calories a day- Score! Who doesn't want to lose weight while being able to eat more food?
  • Reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures once mom is postmenopausal
  • Breastfeeding is FREE
    • formula can cost anywhere from $1,800-$2,600 per year per baby, but your body creates breast milk at no added financial cost (except maybe the extra burrito you bought at Chiptole to make up for all those burned off calories... but don't worry, your secret is safe with me) 

Although this is just a short list you can already see how beneficial breastfeeding is for both mom and baby. For more information check out Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding also look into your local Le Leche Leaque , talk to your doula, midwife, OB, and other friends who have breastfed.