7 Things NOT To Say To A New Mom

0IHHGNXUCHWe all know that a new mom* has many things going on. She’s hormonal, sleep deprived, questioning her ability as a mother, breastfeeding (or trying to), did I mention she has no sleep? Everyone means well, and sometimes we don’t quite know what to say and the wrong thing comes out. Before you utter another word, try to replace any of the following with “You’re doing a great job!” (Yes, all of these have been said to me.)

1. Are you going to have more babies?
Let the woman have a break!! She just had a baby. It doesn’t matter if this is number 1 or number 4, do not ask if she is having more kids. It’s possible that she had a tough time conceiving and this will open wounds you don’t know about. Maybe around the 1 year mark, IF you are good friends. Do not ask a random mother in the grocery store. Appropriate Variant: There is nothing appropriate about asking a new mom if she is going to have more babies.

2. Are you going to try for a girl/boy?
Maybe the mom is happy to have all girls or all boys? Maybe it’s none of your business? Maybe they did try for a girl/boy and got the opposite and she is dealing with the emotional baggage that comes with that. Appropriate variant: nothing! Don’t ever ask if mom is going to “try” to have the opposite sex baby.

3. My child didn’t sleep for a whole year! 
New moms don’t want to hear that!!! She wants to know that there’s hope, that she will sleep longer than 2 hours at a time, that she won’t feel like a zombie every day. Give the woman some hope! Appropriate variant: How is your sleep? Are you able to nap when the baby does? or listen to her story and then say “My baby did the same thing.”

4. Want to come over to my house for tea?
This is very well meaning. After all, moms need support, friends, and company, but…. The appropriate variant is:  I’ll bring lunch over and we’ll go for a short walk around your house! Would you like me to come over and hold your baby while you have a shower? Offer to go to her. Sometimes, the thought of going out with a baby (and other kids if it’s not her first) is overwhelming in itself.

5. Your baby is so big! Your baby is so small!
Be careful with this one because the baby might have had medical problems, may have been in the NICU for a while, or the parents might have her on a strict food schedule due to weight. Alternatively, the baby might be quite large because of other medical issues, and the parents might be sensitive to that. Appropriate Variant: Your baby is so cute!

6. You have such a good baby!
You have no idea if that baby was up all night, or was crying the whole way in the car to her destination. Babies have a knack for knowing when they should be angelic and when no one is around to cry their faces off. Appropriate variant: He looks so sweet when he’s sleeping/laughing/smiling.

7. Now you have the perfect family!
What was the family before? Appropriate Variant: What a perfect addition to your family!

.Appropriate Variant for all: You look amazing and you’re a wonderful mom!

What have you been told where you looked at the person dumbfounded and unsure of what to say? Let me know in the comments!

*New mom in this article is used to signify any woman who just had a baby. It doesn’t matter if it was her 1st baby or her 5th baby. She is still a mom of a newborn.

Baby Announcements – Social Media Etiquette

Baby AnnouncementOften I find out that my facebook friends have had their babies because one of their family members posts a congratulatory post on their wall or posts a photo of themselves holding the new baby. This comes before the new mother or father has a chance to announce name, birth date, weight, etc in their own time. I have also heard of family members finding out from the mother’s facebook friends instead of their own family that a baby was born because the parents were busy learning how to change diapers, breastfeed, and handle their baby that they hadn’t had a chance to make it down the list to call everyone before someone jumped the gun to publicly congratulate the new family. If it is important to you to make the announcement of your baby’s birth, make sure to talk to your family BEFORE you have your baby in hand.

Here are some tips that I’ve discussed with my clients when they have concerns about their child’s birth announcement being posted before they have taken a breath to realize that they are a family of 3.

  1. Make it about your excitement, not about them. Use words like “We want to post the first photo” or “It’s very important to me that we make our own announcement when we are ready” instead of “We don’t want you to post any pictures” Make sure that they know this is important to you.
  2. Make it about someone else. “Aunt Judy would be really upset if she didn’t hear it directly from me, so please don’t post anything publicly until we have a chance to tell our family personally.” If your family will react negatively to number 1, it’s hard to get mad at someone for thinking of other’s feelings.
  3. If you know that someone will post on your social media account even though you’ve laid down the ground rules, make sure they are one of the last to know. That may sound mean, but you’ve just had a baby, so your needs are more important than theirs.
  4. Inform people if they can share the news via text or phone. Do you want to be the one to tell every single person, or do you want to set up a phone tree? Can your mother call your aunts and uncles, or do you need to?

Your social media preferences will differ from family to family, and even from mother to father, so make sure you are both on the same page as each other before talking to family members and friends about when and what you’d prefer they do or don’t post.

My own birth story

Baby TylerWhen we found out we were expecting another baby, we were so excited! Our third boy! Below is my birth story, as remembered by me.

While being 39 weeks pregnant, I won tickets for my son’s hockey team to attend the Canucks’ Heritage Classic game on March 2. This was a big deal! The boys hadn’t been to a Canuck’s game in a few years, and what a bigger event than the Heritage Classic?! It was all set that Gary (my husband) would take the boys over and I would stay home and not have a baby.

Fast forward to 1am on March 2, when my water breaks. Right, no heritage classic after all. I called my wonderful midwife who came over to administer my antibiotics – because I was GBS+. I went back to sleep with tiny twinges. At 5am, we woke up to the alarm to take the boys over to Vancouver. I convinced Gary that he should still go, and things may not get started soon anyway. Previously, my water had broken with both boys and both times took 8+ hours to begin labour. Gary left at 5:30 to pick up another player on his way to the ferry. Contractions began as they left at 5:30am (of course they did). At 6:30 when Gary arrived at the ferry, he called and let me know that he was going to send the boys over on the ferry with the team, and his mom would meet them on the other end to take them to the game, and he would come home. He got back to the house around 7am.

While he was gone, contractions were coming every minute-minute and a half. They were about 45-60 seconds long. I was managing pretty well on my own. I kept doulaing myself through the whole thing! Relax the shoulders, bend the knees, use gravity, drink water. We called Michele back at 7:30 to come back to the house as things were picking up rapidly. Gary was being helpful making sure everything was in order, and pushing on the right spot on my back during contractions. Michele arrived close to 8am, did a quick check and happily said I was 7cm dilated! (If she said 3cm I was going to FREAK OUT!) Contractions kept coming every minute with not much rest in between. They were hard and fast. I kept repeating out loud, as I was bending my knees rhythmically, “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok”. 20 minutes later, we checked again and I was almost 10cm dilated with a little cervical lip left. I knew that the only way to get the lip out of the way was to completely relax my body and ride the contraction. I relaxed and went to a place I’d never been before. I was calm, I was rested, I was riding the wave. Then for the last half of the contraction, I lost it! I needed to move, and I needed to do it now. The lip was gone, and I could start pushing my baby boy out!

His head was way down already, and he was easily seen. After several pushes, he was almost out! The second midwife, Joanne, arrived as the ears were coming out. A casual “Hey! I’m having a baby, come join the party!” from me, and a few more pushes and his head came out! I remember thinking, just get the head out and then everything else will be easy! Right, I forgot about the shoulders! Once the shoulders were out, I was holding my squishy new baby. 9lbs 13oz of pure love was born at 8:33am at home – only 3 hours after contractions began. His head was said to be that of a 6 week old baby, and not one tear for me. Yay perineum!

Being my own doula has really shown me how if you can relax, give in to the process, and embrace labour, miracles can happen exactly as you intend for them to. There is a difference between pain and suffering, hence my mantra “I’m ok”. I was in pain with the contractions, but I knew that I was ok. Pain is just a side effect to receiving an amazing gift, and it was all worth it. (again)IMG_2469

One of the first things I said to my husband was “You can still make it to the game!” To his credit, he didn’t go. 😉

 

 

*Each of my births have been completely different. The first one was a natural hospital birth 13 hours. The second one was an induction in hospital with an epidural, 6 hours after contractions began baby was born. This time was a natural home birth, 3 hours. Each one happened perfectly for the time I was in and for what I needed. I wouldn’t change any of them.

The Birth House

I just finished reading a good book called “The Birth House” about a woman in Nova Scotia. Based during the times of WWI, it follows a young midwife and the struggles her town has to ensure that women can say how they want to birth their babies. A hot shot doctor comes into town and sets up a maternity care hospital and “cares” for the women. Some of the things he does to help them have an easier birth is give them chloroform so that they do not have to endure the pain of labour, and then he pulls the babies out with forceps. When a woman was so swollen – head to foot – he said she was suffering from “hysterics” and that it was “normal” and she should exercise more and eat less meat. He relied on books and “modern technology” instead of the woman standing in front of him explaining what ails her.

The book is set in a time where a woman has little value. A woman was meant to obey her husband’s every word, absorb any beating, take care of the children (and sometimes there were 10 or more), keep house, tend to the farm animals, and more. Women were not in control of their own bodies. Husbands made decisions on where their wives would give birth. Doctors would shoo husbands out of the room and made decisions for the patient without any input by anyone. Women’s bodies were simply taken over.

What upset me when reading this book is that we are still seeing these things today. Women are still being told what to do, what not to do, how to birth, what to eat, what to drink, when their time is up, when they need pain medication, and sometimes are not being listened to.  Studies show that women benefit from having continuous care, supportive environments, and doctors who they trust.  Our current modern technology includes electronic fetal monitoring, IV’s, epidurals, and of course, cesarean sections. Each has their own place in certain situations, the problem is when interventions are used in births which don’t warrant any of them. How can we enable women to know that they are in charge of their bodies, and that they can say yes or no to the “modern technology” we have now?

Women need to be given all of the information they need to decide for themselves of how to have their babies. If a woman wants to have a vaginal birth with no interventions, then let her have it. If a woman wants to choose to have a cesarean birth, then let her have it. If a woman is given all of the information for and against both sides, then, and only then she is then able to make an informed decision. Let women choose what they want for their birth and have a doctor who will support them and help them achieve this way of meeting their new baby.

*I say the word doctor a lot during this piece, but in fact, some midwives are the same as the doctors that I depict above. In the profession of midwives and doctors, the care you receive will depend on your individual doctor or midwife.

Luisa Isabella – June 2012

ImageI had the privilege of attending the birth of Luisa Isabella to two amazing laid-back parents, and one smart big brother! It was my second birth in 3 days, so I was really excited to see how everything was going to unfold going off the high I had from the previous birth. Mom was a rock star during the contractions, and I loved the way that dad knew how to support her in every way. They were an extremely efficient team. Luisa is a lucky little girl! Congratulations M & J!

Also, how cute is this picture!?!?

Dads and Doulas

I get a lot of dads asking me what tasks I do during labour, fearing that I will take over and they will be pushed out of the picture. This is simply not true at all. I am there to support both mom and dad in the labouring process.

Because there is such a strong bond between mom and dad (they did make a baby after all), the woman in labour usually prefers the dad to be her main support. A dad’s role is to tend to the woman’s needs, reassure, encourage, love, and support her. They are there to hold her and be in awe of how much strength she has. With all of the tasks falling on the shoulders of one person, plus the need to remember breathing techniques, positions, various bits of medical knowledge and questions to ask the nurse, midwife, or doctor, it might be a good idea to share the responsibilities with someone else. This is where a doula can help dad.

Here are some ways that doulas can help dads have a positive birth experience too:

  • Dads don’t have to remember everything from childbirth classes. A doula will remind you!
  • Doulas provide dad and mom with reassurance that they are doing the right thing.
  • Doulas suggest things dads can do if they are at a loss or they simply aren’t sure at that moment.
  • Doulas take care of tasks outside the room or away from mom so that dad can stay with her. (getting water, warm blankets)
  • The doula’s goals are the same as dad’s – positive birth experience, healthy mom, healthy baby.
  • Doulas help the partner be more involved with the birth.
  • Doulas can explain medical interventions that are happening too quickly to be explained by medical professionals.
  • Doulas can give dad a break during long labours, to get a bite to eat, or to go to the bathroom.

 Doulas not only provide services for the mother, they provide services for the couple. Having someone with you, constantly, can make you feel more confident and at ease, and will help you be a better birth partner.

 

Noah David – June 2012

 

I love when couples become parents for the first time! Everything is new, the tiny toes, the sweet faces babies make, and the things said to the new baby. This is the case when little Noah came into this world. Noah was born surrounded by friends and family. I’m sure that he will be loved his whole life!

Thomas Gordon – March 2012

Oh my goodness what a cutie! Another successful VBAC that I am so proud to be a part of. Mom was able to breathe and cope so well with her contractions. She is a superstar!! Dad was there for her the whole way through and was such a great coach. I can’t believe the control and strength mom had during pushing! I am so proud of this couple, and thank you for allowing me to be there to support you and welcome this little guy into this world. Congratulations new parents!! He’s such a sweetie.

Clara Jane – February 2012

ImageI had the privilege of attending the birth for two of the most laid back, relaxed parents-to-be. Even though mom was doing all she could to have her precious little girl arrive, little Clara was determined to arrive on her own date, in her own way. The love and care that these two parents have for their little girl is amazing, and it’s not hard to see that she will be especially loved.  Thank you for being my first clients in 2012! Congratulations to you on your first baby!

Superhero Doulas

I recently read a great blog post from Doulafilm.com about doulas being superheroes. These are the numbers that really stood out for me. Remember, this is all based on scientific studies.

“No. 9. A doula-supported mother is 50% less likely to need a caesarean section = mother and baby healthier = world is a better place”

In the era where the woman who didn’t have a cesarean is a superhero, and not just normal, we need to perhaps re-evaluate what women were built for. I’m not here to harp on cesarean births, in fact I think that they do have their place, however, it is unacceptable to have a cesarean rate higher than 30%, (it should really be much lower), which we do have here in Victoria. It’s not hippy, granola, or unsafe to have a home birth, just as it’s not a negative decision to give birth in a hospital. But, there are MANY things we can do to lower our cesarean rate, like this hospital in Ontario.

“No. 7. Benefits of doula = 60% reduction in epidural requests = mother and baby healthier = world is a better place”

When a mother is recalling her birth story for family and friends, or maybe sharing stories with a mom in the park, and mentions that she had an all natural birth, she is not gloating or trying to prove that she is the stronger woman. She is simply saying that she was able to cope with the pain of labour in her way. She prepared. She had tools and knew how to use them to her advantage. Moms-to-be can use a doula to her advantage!

“No 2. Benefits of doula = 67% mums still breastfeeding at 6 months = world is a better place”

Breastfeeding is on the decline. I feel that sometimes it is viewed as a “hippy” thing to do. Breastfeeding your baby past a certain age (and I would guess that age is under 6 months old), isn’t seen much out in society any more. Long gone are the days when breastfeeding was normal. Breastfeeding used to be on Sesame Street! You aren’t doing the “better” thing for your child by breastfeeding, you are doing the “normal” thing by breastfeeding. It’s free, you don’t have to prepare anything, the milk is packed with immunities that your child needs, it lowers your risk of several cancers, it provides a lot of bonding time, and it helps prevent postpartum depression. Some women have trouble breastfeeding, and there is A LOT of help in your community. Lactation consultants, public health nurses, breastfeeding educators, other moms. REACH OUT for help if you need it. You will do yourself and your baby a lot of good.

I really enjoyed this article, but I don’t feel like a super hero, I just feel really grateful that women choose me to help them bring their beautiful babies into this world. What do you think?

See the full article here