Quiet Moments

I tend to believe that when you are faced with impending parenthood you often think that there will be a lot of sleepless nights, you gear up for a screaming baby, maybe you even anticipate some sort of frustration due to your typical schedule being thrown to the wind. The goodthing is that all these thoughts are completely normal, and getting used to the changes associated with having a new baby can be difficult.

I’ll give you a scenario… way too true to life and definitely a night I’ve experienced more than a couple times in the past several years. Ok: All of your kids are in bed by 7:30, you have the rest of the night to yourself. Your husband decided he needed to work late that night and gets home at around 9 and you want to spend some time with him. Fast forward to 11 o’clock and you are finally pouring yourself into bed and excited for a good nights sleep. You snooze away until 12:30 when you are violently woken up by screaming coming through the baby monitor and in a fog you stumble to the kids room and pick up the owner of the scream: a teething baby. You nurse her (or him) and put them back to bed. Soon enough you are settling back into a deep slumber. All of a sudden you feel like someone is watching you. You open your eyes in the dark… AN APPARITION! No…. its a 4 year old and its 2:30am. She’s scared and wants to cuddle. “Two seconds,” you mutter. She crawls into bed with you and you count to two, after which she runs to her room, gets her pillow and blanket and makes a bed for herself on your floor. Sleep comes slightly easier this time, so you fade. 4:30am… screaming… hmmmm. Teething baby again. Its harder to get out of bed this time, but you manage. Boob, cuddle, rock/sway, back in bed. After what seems like 10 minutes you hear giggling, gurgling and the like over the stupid blessed baby monitor. Its 6am. Your angelic beings have decided that they want to get up with the sun this morning. So you roll yourself out of the warmth of your bed and embrace the day, tired but alive.

A night like this can be approached one of two ways. You can either be angry/frustrated/whatever or you can be thankful. “Thankful?” you ask. How in the world could one person be thankful for getting so few broken hours of sleep?? One word: perspective. It might come as a shock but you could possibly go through your entire day and not get a single moment of alone time with your children. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos and busy-ness of life and completely miss out on quiet moments with our babies.

Consider this: every time that one of your kids calls out to you in the night, they desire something. Lucky for you, what they desire is exactly what you have in the middle of the night: TIME. When I am cuddling with my baby girl at 2 in the morning I am able to gain important knowledge of her. I learn the curve of her cheek as I run my hand down her face to settle her. I bask in her baby smell. In the still of the night I hear her subtle hum while she breathes heavily, nursing, content and falls back into a deep sleep. When my 3 year old yells my name in the night I am able to do something almost noone else can. He lays on my chest, hugs me tightly and I make him feel safe. My precious 4 year old believes that the best place that she can sleep is nestled in the curve of my stomach. And my big 6 year old, even still, just wants to know that he will always be my baby.

It’s not easy. Noone said it would be. And I, more than anybody, need constant reminders of how precious this time is. However, it is so important to embrace these special opportunities, because they will be gone before we know it.

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It’s OK to be picky about your care provider

One of the first decisions that you have to make as soon as the little stick turns pink is who your care provider is going to be. This one decision can set the tone for the rest of your pregnancy. It can determine if you will get your desires and wishes made for you. It can even determine if you will have a vaginal birth or a c-section!

I feel like, often times, we are super picky about everything AFTER baby comes. We tirelessly search for a great pediatrician that lines up with our views. Finding a day care provider is a rigorous process to ensure that they will care for your children the way that you would. Even our children’s playmates are held to a high standard so that our children aren’t learning things that we don’t approve of (whether that be new fun words or…alternative… behaviors).

But why…WHY…are we not as picky about the providers that will help to bring our little loves into the world? Why do we just accept the first doctor that is taking on new patients? Why do we blindly follow the advice of our friends and family about who they used and loved or hated without investigating further for ourselves? As stated before, this is the first big decision we need to make for our children and it needs to be approached as carefully as all the future decisions will be.

So, what do you need to do? Interview them! Interview potential care providers and see who most lines up with your goals and beliefs about your birth. I’ve even taken the liberty of providing you with a list of questions to ask at your interview (which is sometimes your first prenatal).

Questions to ask your OB:

  • How many births do you attend in a month?
  • How long have you been practicing obstetrics?
  • How can I reach you in an emergency?
  • Do you have a backup or do you work in a group practice?
  • If you are in a group practice, will you be definitively be the one to deliver my baby?
  • What is your birth philosophy?
  • If you are in a group practice, do the other practitioners share your birth philosophy?
  • What is your C-Section rate?
  • How much time do you allow for prenatal appointments?
  • What is covered in a typical prenatal exam?
  • If I have a question between phone calls, will you be the one to answer my questions or would an on-call nurse handle questions.
  • Are you open to birth plans and the use of doulas?
  • Are you open to a drug free and non-augmented birth?
  • Would you be willing to let me go to 42 weeks as long as baby and I were handling the pregnancy well?
  • Do you perform routine episiotomies?
  • Are you supportive of breastfeeding and an undisturbed first hour of life?

Feel free to add any as you see fit or comment if you have suggestions for additional questions.

The Mommy Wars

I’ve been hearing this term more and more… “Mommy Wars”… and its implication is intriguing. After much (about .25 seconds) investigation, exploration, and deliberation I’ve formulated a pretty elaborate definition of the term “Mommy Wars.”

Drum roll please……

Mommy Wars [mom-ee wawrz]: noun  A battle between mothers of different parenting styles and philosophies in order to maliciously yet ineffectually prove that the other mother is, in nearly every way, inferior to themselves.

I have to admit that through a process of looking inward and reflecting on some (not so) distant conversations I came to realize that I am a frequent combatant in this battle of words. In fact I would be willing to bet that if many of you mamas out there are as well. It starts with, “well, what works for ME is….” followed by rambling about our tried and true method that is the answer to every problem ever, and then is completed with a, “But that’s just ME.” However, if we were to look deeper into our carefully articulated advice, past the misleading pleasantry, right there where the true motivation behind our “guidance” is left exposed, you will find that it was nothing more than a switchblade shot in our own personal “mommy war.”

Now I know why I feel like I have the right to wage mommy battle against others who clearly have no idea what they are doing. I mean, I’m in the process of raising five children. They are practically perfect in every way (near-perfection is not just reserved for Mary Poppins). I am always well put together. My house is always clean. I sleep a solid 9 hours every night. And to top it all off I have dinner on the table at 5 o’clock sharp every day. I really just have it all figured out and want every one else to be as amazing as I am. (Hopefully all of you who know me also know that I’m joking. OR maybe you know that I’m being serious… dun dun dunnnnn)

But I don’t understand why, ya know, OTHER mothers feel its necessary to war against everyone else. I think its pretty safe to assume that not every family is the same, right? So then why do we also assume that one particular method will work for the rest of humanity the way it worked for us?

Parenting is one great big adventure of trial and error. And its through that trial and error that we become the parents that are perfect for our own family. Frankly that’s why I kept having kids, I screw up less and less, and figure things out a little bit more with each child (mostly joking… ok… kinda joking…but seriously). I really want to encourage the new moms, or even the seasoned moms. It’s not bad to ask for advice. Its not even bad to heed this advice. However, be confident in your abilities as well because the advice you receive just might not work for you. You have (more likely than not) been given an instinct that is far better than any other mothers anecdotal remedy to your personal situation.

I sit here writing this and, really, I’m writing to myself more than anyone else. I have personal struggles with wanting to be right and being critical (that is an entirely different post for an entirely different day) and I often find myself forcing my philosophies on others under the guise of trying to help. There is research to support all different sides of the parenting table, and no method/style is more right then the other. So mama’s reading this, will you put down the proverbial battle ax with me and accept the fact that what works for one isn’t going to work for the other? And that we are no better than the next mom who is just trying to figure it all out?

Let’s offer advice in love, not war. (hehe)

So many fingers…only one cervix

Cervical checks. Medical professionals love to perform them. I mean…they MUST love it, right? They do A LOT of them.

Consider the last several weeks of your pregnancy up until your baby is born. Week 36 your doctor checks you. Week 37 your doctor checks you. Week 38 your doctor checks you. Every week up until you birth your baby. Let’s say, for the sake of the example, that you are having your beautiful bundle at the hospital. You walk into the hospital in labor, they set you up to your monitors, and a nurse checks you. She confirms you’re in labor (as if you didn’t know that already), probably calls your doctor and he comes in 30 minutes later to check you again. They continue to let you labor. A couple of hours later the nurse comes in and wants to “see where you’re at” and checks you again. One hour later: shift change. A new nurse comes in an hour after shift change and does a round of vitals and then guess what? SHE checks you too, just to see how you’re progressing. Two hours go by, you’re feeling pushy and your support person goes to tell the nurse that you are feeling pushy, but she is attending to another mama, so a different nurse comes in. She wants to make sure that you’re “ready to push” by checking you…again. Not quite ready yet… have a small “lip” left. She tells you that in a couple of contractions she will check you to see if the lip is gone. 2-3 contractions come and go and she checks you yet again, you’re complete. Time to push.

So, from the time you’re 36 weeks you have had someones hands inside of your vagina a MINIMUM of 10 times and a MINIMUM of 4 different people. That is a lot of fingers, and a lot of people. All up in your business.

The question is… is it necessary??

First, cervical dilation is extremely subjective. When more than one person checks your cervix with different sized hands and fingers, they are inevitably going to get different “readings.” A nurse with small fingers may find that you are 4 cm dilated. Whereas your doctor, with larger fingers, may find that you are a stretchy 3.

Secondly, dilation before the onset of active labor can not tell you how soon you will go into labor. It is not at all unusual to dilate or efface well before you go into labor. Women can walk around at 3 centimeters for weeks before labor begins. In the same token, a woman can go from high and tight to active labor a day later.

Lastly, every cervix and course of labor is different. Hospitals seem to want to put you on this timeline. If you are not progressing in X amount of time your body is doing it wrong and you need help. However, the reality is that your body knows best! Your body is putting baby into the perfect position for you, your body is allowing baby to transition to earth in the perfect timing,  your body and baby know how fast to dilate your cervix, and when the time is right your body will cue you in to when to push, the feeling is undeniable and the urge is intrinsic.

Cervical checks come naturally to the medical community, and it has been become accepted as the norm amongst their patients. However, the choice is yours…it always is.

When Breastfeeding isn’t an Option: How to Bond with Baby while Bottle Feeding

You hear it all the time: Breast is best! While I do believe that is absolutely true, sometimes, breast just doesn’t work out. You can try with everything you have within yourself, bring in lactation consultants, go to meetings, see your pediatrician, seek advice from friends, spend constant hours working, positioning, experimenting, etc. and it can still end up with both you and baby in tears.

There is a certain stigma that follows bottle feeding. There are some that say that it is just impossible to bond with your baby at a bottle in the same way that you can bond with baby at the breast. While it may be difficult to exactly mimic a breastfeeding relationship, it is not impossible to bond in some of the exact same ways that a breastfeeder would.

1. Skin to skin
One huge benefit of breastfeeding is skin to skin contact. Having baby touch your bare skin promotes the release of the “love hormone”- oxytocin. However, what says that a bottle feeding mama can’t feel their baby’s super soft tummy against hers? You can achieve the same sensation by taking off your shirt, rolling up the bottom, or unbuttoning just enough to feel baby against you.

2. Look at your baby
Bottle feeding doesn’t necessarily mean that you can put a bottle in your little ones mouth and go about your business. Sometimes you can… so can a breastfeeding mom. While feeding your baby, though, look into his eyes. Hold him no more than 10 inches from your face to make sure that he sees you, too!

3. Don’t be silent
Sometimes just feeding your baby in quiet is OH SO amazing. But, a great way to bond intimately with your child during a bottle session is to let them hear your voice. Talk to her, sing, tell her a story. She loves to hear your voice, she knows your voice, and it will make that feeding even more relaxing.

4. Switch sides
Switching sides isn’t just for breastfed babies. Changing sides during a bottle feeding gives the baby a new perspective of you. It allows baby to learn both sides of your face and may keep them interested in eating for a longer period of time because of the change of scenery. (It does wonders for your back and shoulders, too!)

5. Unplug
Turn off that TV! Being distracted by electronics while giving your baby a bottle disengages you from him and could cause you to miss some prime bonding opportunities and an awesome oxytocin release! (This goes for breastfeeding moms also!)

6. Don’t prop!
Probably the most important recommendation I have is to hold your baby while she eats. It may seem super convenient to just put the baby on a pillow or bouncy seat, prop the bottle in the baby’s mouth and have both hands available to do what you need to do while she is preoccupied. However, you are both being deprived of super sweet cuddle time. Additionally, propping the bottle increases the risk of choking and ear infections. Your baby most likely downs that bottle pretty quick. Dedicate that special time to her.

Be encouraged. You are the beautiful, glowing, perfect mother to a brand new baby. You are doing a great job. Your baby is fed. Your baby is loved. Your baby is happy. Relish in that!

Stages of Labor- At a Glance

Stages of Labor at a Glance

Stage of Labor

Pre-labor

First Stage (Early Phase)

First Stage (Late Phase)

What you may experience

Nesting Instinct, Braxton-Hicks, baby drops into pelvis, backache, heaviness in pelvis, frequent urination, loose bowels, menstrual-like cramps, restlessness, weight loss, vaginal discharge, bloody show.

Slow and steady contractions (may seem like no big deal), mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension, bloody show, leaking or rupture of membranes, complacent and in control feelings, ctx 5-30 minutes apart lasting 30-45 seconds, increasing in strength but manageable. Able to go about your usual business.

Desire to go to birth place. Contractions accelerate: faster, harder, longer, and demand your attention.

Membranes may break if they haven’t already.

More backache, whole body is involved in contractions and deep pelvic pressure. Retreat inward, touchy irritable, quiet during contractions, less aware of surroundings. Contractions 3-5 minutes apart lasting around 60 seconds. Intense and not able to be distracted from.

What you can do

REST! The big event is near! Finish packing and tying up loose ends. Eat carbs for energy. Practice relaxation.

Bath or shower, rest, walk once rested, embrace partner during contractions, eat light meals, drink a lot, empty bladder. Call Dr or Midwife.

Begin experimenting with pain easing positions: kneel, squat, hands and knees. Sit on toilet seat or use tub or shower to relax. Drink and snack.

What’s happening in your body

Cervix begins to efface and dilate, hormones prepare for birth (progesterone decreases and estrogen, oxytocin, and prostaglandins increase), and pelvic ligaments relax.

Cervix effaces nearly completely, cervix dilates halfway or more. Baby’s head descends lower into the pelvis.

Cervix completely effaced

Baby’s head descends lower, bulging and breaking the membranes.

Endorphins are released

How long it may last

A few hours to a few weeks

From a few hours to a couple days (average 8 hrs)

3-4 hours

How far along you may be

1-2 cm dilated and partially effaced

50-90% effaced and 2-5 cm’s dilated

100% effaced and 5-8 cm dilated

 

 

 

 

 

Stage of Labor

Transition

Second Stage

Third Stage

What you may experience

Shortest but most intense phase. Feelings of doubt “I can’t do this anymore.” Backache, bowel pressure, hot and cold flashes, nausea, vomiting, belching, aching thighs, un able to be pleased, hostile, unaware of surroundings, Need to yell or groan. Contractions 1-3 minutes apart lasting 60-90 seconds, intense, overwhelming, double peaks, relentless.

Irresistible urge to push. Brief lull in frequency and intensity of contractions. A sudden burst of energy. Rectal pressure and possible urge to poop. Stretching/burning sensations as baby’s head expands perineal tissues. Contractions less intense and further apart (3-5 minutes)

You may be so engrossed in baby that you are oblivious to the placenta delivery. Cramping contractions.

May notice a gush of blood as the placenta separates. Overwhelming need to hold your baby. Relief that birth is over.

What you can do

Change positions for comfort: squat, kneel, and sit leaning forward.

Recharge between contractions, sip juice, meditate, be quiet and undisturbed.

 Use visual imagery, focus on how short this part is, try a tub or shower. Imagine releasing and surrendering. Play music, relax pelvic floor

Short frequent pushes are more efficient than prolonged pushing. Take your time. Push when you have the urge, not coached, unless you have an epidural. Avoid “purple pushing”

Rest between pushes. Visualize opening and releasing. Resist pushing during crowning by panting or blowing.

Place baby skin to skin on abdomen.

Encourage baby to nurse, which will release oxytocin to contract the uterus, help expel the placenta and stop the bleeding.

Enjoy your baby while the dr or midwife stitches your perineum.

Be quiet, calm, dim lights, stay warm.

What’s happening in your body

Cervix dilates completely; baby’s head squeezes through cervix into birth canal, begins to stretch vaginal canal and put pressure on rectum and pelvis. Endorphins are released. Cervix is being pulled up over baby’s head.

Perineal tissues stretch, preparing to accommodate baby and triggering the urge to push. Oxytocin is released. Baby twists and turns through the birth canal. Head eases out, attendant suctions nose and mouth and guides baby’s shoulders and body out.

Uterus is contracting or expelling the placenta and clamping uterine blood vessels to stop bleeding.

Baby placed on mother’s abdomen, wiped dry, cord cut and baby eased onto nipple.

Mothering hormones are released to contract uterus, stimulate milk production and enhance bonding.

How long it may last

15 minutes to 1.5 hours

½ to 3 hours

5-30 minutes

How far along you may be

8-10 cm dilated

Fully effaced and dilated; baby navigates through the birth canal.

Delivery of placenta

Routine Interventions During Labor

This is a short overview of some of the typical interventions that you may be faced with when you are having a baby at the hospital. Some hospitals are more “natural” than others, but in general, most hospitals use these techniques to manage your labor and birth. 

 Pitocin: A synthetic version of oxytocin. Used to induce contractions or speed up labor.

Benefits: Can start or augment labor when mother and/or baby would benefit from managed or immediate delivery. Can also control post birth hemorrhaging.

Risks: Natural oxytocin is produced in spurts; pitocin is administered at a steady rate. Pit-produced contractions are stronger, longer and usually closer together. Because of the rapid and prolonged contractions, uterine blood flow could decrease which would result in lower delivery of oxygen to the baby. Studies have also shown a higher incidence of jaundice in the newborn. Additionally, pitocin usually confines the mother to her bed, which makes dealing with the contractions much more difficult.

Alternatives: Nipple stimulation, walking, prostaglandin suppository

 

Episiotomy: A cut of the stretched skin of the vagina and underlying tissues about 2 inches long.

Benefits: To make extra space in the vaginal opening to allow for the use of forceps. It can also shorten the pushing stage of labor.

Risks: Postpartum discomfort, infection of the stitches, abscess extending to the rectum causing rectal-vaginal fistula, hemorrhage or hematoma, painful intercourse for up to a year following delivery.

Alternatives: Upright or side-lying birth positions (put less strain on perineal tissues), perineal massage before and during labor, short and gentle bearing down (push as it comes naturally)

 

Artificial Rupture of Membranes (AROM):When the practitioner inserts a small, hooked instrument in the vagina and snags or rips the bag of waters.

Benefits: Speeds up labor by allowing baby’s head to make direct contact with the cervix.

Risks: Increased chance of infection, cord prolapsed, put on unnecessary hospital timeline.

Alternatives: Walking, squatting, climb stairs, sit on a birth ball

It is important to remember that birth is a natural and normal process. These interventions should be reserved for cases where mother and/or baby are in distress and would benefit from the use of them. When a new intervention is presented to you, please ask your caregiver for more information. Use ‘BRA’ as a guide. What are the Benefits? What are the Risks? And lastly, what are the Alternatives?

 

Welcome!

My name is Jessica Dresser and I am a Certified Birth Doula serving Casper, Wyoming and the surrounding areas.

I am certified as a birth doula through Childbirth International and studied childbirth education with Birth Arts International. I encourage you to look around this website and check out my services. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me via the “Contact Tab” or email me at jessicadresser.doula@yahoo.com.