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.

Doula Myths Solved!

My friend at Buddah Belly Doulas in Vancouver wrote this, and I love it. To see what they offer in the Vancouver area, visit http://buddhabellydoulas.com/

When I first heard the word “doula”, I had no idea what it meant. When I heard that a doula is someone who supports a woman through her labour and postpartum period (or fourth trimester), I didn’t realize such a service even existed. I was also surprised to hear some of the benefits to having a doula were shorter labours and lower chances of having postpartum depression.

I have to admit, when I thought of a doula assisting me in my labour, I pictured a woman with hairy armpits who was yelling at me for having my baby in a hospital with drugs. I never thought that three years after first hearing the word doula, I would become one. That’s why I want to debunk some of the most common myths about doulas today:

1. Myth: A doula won’t allow a laboring woman to take any pain relief drugs.
Truth: A doula is there to help support a laboring woman and help ensure a safe and satisfying childbirth as the couple defines it. A doula will not make medical decisions for the laboring couple. A doula will not judge a couple’s decision to have pain relief. Instead, a doula will help the couple explore and understand both the benefits and drawbacks of using pain relieving drugs.

2. Myth: If you’ve met one doula, you’ve met them all.
Truth: While every certified doula abides by the certifying body’s ‘scope of practice’, each doula is unique. Interview several doulas to find someone whose philosophy, personality and areas of specialty most closely meet your needs.

3. Myth: A doula will interfere with medical advice.
Truth: A doula will not interfere with medical advice. She facilitates communication between all involved and encourages the couple to ask relevant questions so they can make informed choices. Doulas do not make decisions for their clients and doulas DO NOT offer medical advice.

4. Myth: A doula will “take over” the role of the partner.
Truth: A doula is there to enhance the relationships between the hospital staff, the laboring couple and others present. Often times the partner will become more involved with a doula present. As Penny Simkin, P.T. states “While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he or she loves the woman more than anyone else there.” A good doula will reinforce the fact that this is your birth, not hers. She will strengthen the pair bond by instilling confidence in the partner and facilitating open communication between the couple and others present.

5. Myth: A doula will take away “the best part of a nurse’s job.”
Truth: A laboring woman can never have too much support. Nurses and doulas realize this. While a doula is not a nurse, she is still a birth professional who is skilled in the art of labor support. A doula strives to work as a team with the nursing staff and welcomes any suggestions and physical support that the nurse may provide. Nurses are often responsible for several laboring women at the same time and their shifts may end before you deliver. The doula is there just for you. Her obligation, unlike a nurse, is completely and sovereignly to you.

6. Myth: A doula has a negative opinion about a hospital setting.
Truth: A doula has the utmost respect for the lifesaving technology available for unexpected circumstances in a hospital. While doulas have a strong belief in a woman’s ability to birth her baby and always strive to ensure that the birthing process remains normal, doulas appreciate the judicious use of life saving technology when the situation becomes abnormal.

7. Myth: Doulas are not necessary because the nurse (partner, family member, friend, fill in the blank) is there.
Truth: A doula does not perform clinical skills, is not encumbered by hospital procedures, and is not overwhelmed by caring for several women at the same time. She is the only member of the maternity care team who is focused completely on the mother’s well being and will remain with the woman constantly from the beginning of labor to the end. A doula is not emotionally involved with the laboring woman, as are other family members and close friends. The doula knows what to expect and remains calm and objective when she sees the laboring woman in pain. Often, a doula has seen significantly more unmedicated births than the hospital staff.

8. Myth: A doula will leave if the mother gets an epidural.
Truth: There seems to be an urban legend of sorts about the doula who left as soon as the mom got an epidural. This is not usual. A doula is there to support the laboring woman with any decisions she makes. She still needs continuous support even with an epidural. The doula can give dad/partner a break to go get something to eat or to take a nap if it’s been a particularly long labor. She can take pictures, get ice-chips, do hand massage or just sit quietly while the woman rests.

9. Myth: Doulas secretly want to catch the baby.
Truth: A doula does not have the clinical skills or the knowledge to want to receive the baby on her own. Trying to deliver the baby on her own would be a dangerous decision that would not ensure the safe passage of mother and baby through the birth process.

10. Myth: Doulas only attend home births.
Truth: Doulas attend births at home, at the hospital and at birth centers. She will remain at home with the laboring woman until it is time to go to the hospital/birth center (where applicable). The fact is that the vast majority of women living in the United States birth in a hospital setting and therefore most of the births a doula attends are in the hospital.

12. Myth: All doulas are “patchouli-wearing, tree-hugging, earthy vegetarians”
Truth: The majority of doulas are professional, well-educated women. The key is to find a doula who suits your individual needs and personality.

13. Myth: A doula has her own ‘birth plan’ and strives to make the couple follow it.
Truth: A good doula will help you formulate your own birth plan and then bend over backwards to follow it.

Birth Doulas and Cesarean Birth Rates

There have been many studies done to show the link between a continuous support person and the rate of cesarean births. Studies show that not only do birth doulas lower the chance of cesarean birth, they also lower the rate of epidurals, forceps, vacuums, and other medical interventions. As a result, doulas can increase the immediacy of breastfeeding, and bonding for the family.

The advantage to having a doula, especially if this is your first child, is that the doula has been the support in labour before, and has been trained to support the couple in labour. (Keep in mind that every labour is different, and even if you are pregnant with your third child, you can still benefit from having a doula) Many times, the labouring woman and her partner are in the room alone, and unless the partner has read the books and remembered everything from the prenatal classes, they may be at a loss as to what to do. Doulas can suggest different possitions, can reassure the woman that she is doing a great job (and that the partner is doing well too), can get water for the woman so that she is never alone in the room, and so much more.

A randomized controlled trial of continuous labor support for middle-class couples: effect on cesarean delivery rates.

Alternative Strategy to Decrease Cesarean Section: Support by Doulas During Labor

Continuous Emotional Support During Labor in a US Hospital

To find a doula in your area, contact your local doula organization or DONA International for a list of certified doulas in your area. The local Victoria network for doulas can be found here.

Baby Charlotte – Jan 2011

Two of my best friends, and a wonderful couple, had a baby girl in January 2011. Their “whatever comes our way” attitude really helped them through their pregnancy and labour. I was honored to be there shortly after Charlotte was born and to have helped them in the postpartum period. Charlotte is thriving, and has two amazing, loving parents to take care of her every day!

Love you guys!

The “Real” Hospital Bag

When I was pregnant, I was getting ready to pack my hospital bag and looking at all the crazy lists they had online, listening to all the advice from people (who didn’t have kids), and watching all the looks my husband was giving me (are you bringing that???). I’ve now compiled a REAL list of things you will ACTUALLY use.  Let us all know what you packed that you loved or hated for your labour experience.

For the baby

  • 2 outfits. (one for a girl and one for a boy, or if you know, 2 so that you can pick) I recommend a sleeper. If you are having a c-section, you may want to pack 3 or 4 sleepers depending on how many days you will be in the hospital with the baby.
  • Car seat (base already installed into the car and checked by a certified car seat installation specialist. You can have this done weeks before at a fire station or a hospital. Ask your hospital where you can have this checked. This is very important to do to keep your child safe)
  • A stuffed animal or blanket you got especially for this moment. You want to be the first one to give your child a present? Bring it with you!

Wow, what a short list for a baby. really? that’s it? Yes. That is it. The hospital will have everything else you need. Diapers, wash cloths, even a little hat for them to wear outside. They have babies everyday in the hospital, they are prepared. I took a few diapers into my take home bag to make sure, and I even took the pads for the heavy bleeding. (I do recommend an extra blanket if you are having a winter baby)

For you

Make sure you bring your birth plan if you have one or make decisions about what you want during the birth of your child. It won’t happen as you imagined it, but if you set out some guidelines they will help you balance the labour process and avoid any confrontation with doctors. Try to talk to your birthing coach, doula, or prenatal instructor, about this.

  • If you are being induced or having a c-section and will have to wait around:
    • cards, or something else to pass the time. this sounds dumb, but we actually used ours for 5 hours while the Oxytocin was working through my veins
    • Snacks for hubby or birthing partner – they get hungry, you are not allowed to eat
  • Comfortable PJ’s for after the baby is born. Many many lists say a night gown with buttons, but I found those super ugly and expensive, seriously I’m not going to wear it again! I opted for comfy pants and I wore the hospital gown backwards (opening side to the front instead of to the back) so that I could breast feed.
  • Something to drink. You can’t eat, but they let me drink. I had Emergen-C with me in the hospital which we just mixed with water. It has tons of vitamins and is super good for you, so if you’ve been in labour for a while this is a great pick me up. As long as the hospital lets you drink, this is your friend. Much less sugar than Gatorade and they are like $0.99 per package. However, I can never drink them again because they remind me of labour, but it worked at the time.
  • Note book/Notepad and Pen to record baby’s time, weight, height, etc. I recommend this. You will remember it forever, but if you are hopped up on Fentanol or an Epidural, you may not remember in the moment. This is also a good place to put a list of people to call with phone numbers.
  • Camera with fresh battery and an empty memory card. Nuff said.
  • Music. Find out if your hospital will have a CD player or Ipod player for you to use. We played classical music during the labour (you couldn’t hear it through my screaming), and at 6 months, it was the only music our baby would fall asleep to. Amazing, strange, and awesome all at the same time! Pick something you like, you may have to listen to it a lot.
  • Your own Pillows in your own pillow cases. The hospital will have some sort of shortage on pillows. I guarantee it.
  • Lip Balm, a hair tie, toothbrush, brush, any other toiletry you think you’ll need. It can make you feel like a real person again after going through labour.
  • An extra pair of socks or two. This is my NUMBER ONE tip for mothers to be. Many say that they didn’t think of socks. I birthed in socks, they got dirty, I wanted more socks. Your feet will probably get cold, and the blankets they give you at the hospital leave much to be desired. You cannot wear slippers to bed, so bring socks. 2-4 pairs of socks. they don’t take up much room.
  • Full-Butt underwear. No tampons after labour! Big, Giant, Monster sized pads is what you get to look forward to for 5-14 days after. Fun! They will give you some pretty sexy mesh underwear to wear after labour. That’s right ladies, I said MESH. They recently changed the post birth underwear to thin cotton. If your nurse will give you an extra pair or two to take home, do!
  • Clothes to go home in. Think Yoga/sweat pants and a loose fitting top. Of course if you are one of those women who lose all of your baby weight as soon as the baby comes out, you may want to bring your old Jeans, they might fit.

Things you DO NOT need to bring with you

  • 5 different nursing bras. Bring ONE. Do not buy many nursing bras. Day 3 after labour, your boobs will magically grow another 2 sizes or so. You will not know what size you need. WAIT until you need them!
  • 3 suitcases full of stuff. You will most likely be fine with one small suitcase or duffel bag.
  • A million snacks. YOU cannot eat anyways once labour starts. You can eat afterwards, but then you can get the good stuff from anywhere!

Dads should pack a change of clothes and swim shorts if they want to get into the tub or shower with mom. They should also have some cash for anything they want to buy at the hospital (Starbucks, Tim Hortons, etc).

If you do not have a doula, things like a tennis ball for massage or massage oils might be handy as well. If you do have a doula, ask if they will be bringing these things with them.

Good luck out there all you moms and moms to be! I wish you a relatively pain free labour!!