“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”
William S. Burroughs
I encourage my clients to take childbirth education classes as they prepare for the birth of their baby. The more you know about the physiology of birth, and what you can expect at each stage of labor, the less fear there is surrounding it.
Where you have your baby can also affect what what you experience— the procedures, care routines, people you will interact with, and what decisions you may have to make, can vary depending on whether you give birth at home, at a birth center, or even at different hospitals.
The amount of information you learn can be overwhelming. In the prenatal meetings with my clients, we sift through this information to find out what pertains to them specifically, based on their goals and how they want to feel during labor and birth. I help them identify what limitations may be present, and how to best work around them. I get to know my clients and their values, and what techniques, both physical and emotional, that will work best for them.
This is where childbirth preparation goes beyond childbirth education.
Preparation for your birth is unique to you. Sometimes, it’s unconventional and maybe even a little strange. I’ll use my own experience as an example: When preparing for the birth of my daughter, I watched every episode I could find of a show on A&E called “I Survived.” The show profiled people from all walks of life who had endured horrible events, like attempted murder, natural disasters, near-death experiences, and trauma, and how they survived those experiences. Their outlook on life was usually gratitude, and a newfound strength. My mindset was that if these people could survive those horrific events, and still have a positive attitude, then I could make it through labor!
That might not be the best form of prep for everyone, and that’s kind of the point. What preparation for birth looks like for me, will likely look totally different for you!
Here are ways others have prepared for their births:
What have you used to get through a physically or emotionally challenging time? Laughter? Visualization? Music? The deep breathing you learn in yoga or meditation? Do you value knowing the hard facts?
You can tap into your own experiences, your own strengths, in labor. Use what has worked for you, or what speaks to you, to prepare in a way that is as unique as you are.
I am a certified labor (birth) doula and postpartum doula serving Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley.
How can I help you have a more positive birth experience, that is focused on you and your unique needs?
Most people give birth vaginally, and the majority of birth plans focus on wishes and goals for a vaginal birth. Some desire very strongly to avoid a Cesarean birth, choosing to exhaust all other options before deciding that surgical birth is their best option.
But roughly 1/3 of the time nationally (and 18.1% of the time in Idaho according to cesareanrates.org), whether due to a medical emergency, complication, or other circumstance, people find themselves giving birth in the operating room.
The circumstances of your pregnancy and labor, how prepared you are for the procedure, who is there to support you during the surgery, and how your wishes are respected during your Cesarean birth, are all things that can affect your birth experience. Even when the unplanned happens, you can still have a positive birth!
So even if a Cesarean birth is your "worst case" option, it can be helpful to plan for it anyway. Here are some things to consider, and ways a doula can help you plan for the unplanned:
1. If you are familiar with the steps of the procedure, you won’t be caught off guard. Policies and procedures can vary by hospital and care provider. Will you be alone at any point? How many support people can accompany you? Is it commonplace to have your arms strapped down? What medications will you receive? What will it feel like, sound like, smell like? Will you be able to see and touch your baby right away, or even initiate breastfeeding in the OR? What can you expect after the surgery?
Your doula can help prepare you for what to expect, and help you formulate questions for your care provider. Some policies and procedures are negotiable, and having a discussion with your care provider ahead of time can make for a more positive experience. She can also help you create a Cesarean birth plan to accompany your standard birth plan.
2. You may have more options than you think. Some of what happens during a Cesarean birth is dependent on the reason for it. If it’s a true medical emergency, you may not have as many options as if you had an “urgent” or even planned Cesarean.
In a true emergency, you are likely to be put under general anesthesia and the baby born within minutes. This is a small percentage of Cesareans. Usually there is a lot more time, and more variability in the experience. You may have a choice in:
3. Your postpartum needs may be different. Do you have a support system at home that can also accommodate your needs after a Cesarean birth? Will you need extra help moving around, breastfeeding, someone to make you meals, someone to help out with the baby? Your doula can be a great resource to plan for what additional support you may need, as well as provide referrals to specialists. You can opt to hire the support of a trained professional in your home, like a postpartum doula.
4. Your emotional needs may be different. This is where a doula can really help to listen, provide a supportive presence, validate your experience, and if needed, help you find additional resources so that your emotional recovery is treated as importantly as your physical recovery.
Planning for a Cesarean birth when you desire a vaginal birth isn’t thinking negatively, or setting yourself up for one. It’s preparation for one outcome, out of many. It’s the first aid kit in your backpack as you hike up the mountain. It’s a mental exercise.
And it’s something you can do with a supportive, knowledgable, compassionate person on your side, looking out for you no matter what happens or how you give birth— your doula.
I am a certified labor (birth) doula and professional postpartum doula serving Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley.
Feel confident and prepared no matter how you give birth. Let's talk about how I can help!
I’m a big planner. When my husband and I went to Europe years ago, before we had kids, I researched for weeks to find the perfect hotels and activities within our budget, the trains that would take us from town to town, and how much money we would need for food per city, per meal, all laid out in a tidy spreadsheet that automatically adjusted based on that day’s exchange rate.
Fast forward a few years later when we were expecting our first child: I knew that the baby could come as early as 37 weeks, and still be considered “at term,” and so I was prepared for his arrival at 37 weeks. All the baby gear was purchased, the newborn clothes were washed, the diaper changing station was stocked. Months before, we had taken all the classes— childbirth education, breastfeeding education, new parent preparation, and we had our doula booked. I was ready to have this baby.
Over a month later, I was still pregnant. What I was NOT ready for, was the waiting.
After a positive pregnancy test, one of the first things we learn is our estimated due date. One of the things we tend to ignore is the estimated part.
Due dates are not an exact science. The website Evidenced Based Birth gives a whole explanation of how due dates came to be, but in a nutshell, determining your estimated due date based on the first day of your last menstrual period was a technique created in the 1744 in the Netherlands, refined in 1812 in Germany, and then revised again in America in the 1900’s. This method doesn’t take into account the fact that not every woman has a 28-day menstrual cycle, that ovulation can occur earlier or later in a cycle, or that implantation time can vary.
Even if you’re aware that going past your estimated due date is normal, it can still be frustrating to be “overdue.” You might be feeling uncomfortable, as your baby is nearly his or her full size and pressing on both your ribs and your bladder at the same time. You might not be getting much sleep, as you wake up several times a night to pee, or you just can’t find a comfortable position to lay in.
It can be especially frustrating when your family and friends view your estimated due date as an expiration date, and bombard you with texts and phone calls. When’s the baby coming? You haven’t given birth yet?! When are you getting induced? You look ready to explode!!!
These comments and inquiries are NOT helpful.
So if you find yourself pregnant at 40+ weeks, here is what to do when you are "overdue:"
1. Assume that you will go to 42 weeks. The mind is a powerful tool. Neuroscientist Robb Rutledge studies human happiness and developed a complex equation to predict happiness in a given situation. According to this New York Times article on his work, “How happy you are depends in large part on your expectations.” So if you expect your pregnancy to go past your estimated due date, you are less likely to be upset or frustrated when the bun in your oven needs a little more time to bake. And if your labor begins near or before your estimated due date, you may be pleasantly surprised.
2. Tell your family and friends that your due date is actually two weeks later. Granted, this is an extreme measure. And if you’ve already announced your estimated due date to your family, to your co-workers, and on social media, it may be ineffective. Just know that there are other ways to share your good news in early pregnancy. You can announce that you are expecting a baby “in October,” or “late fall,” as previous generations once did. If this isn’t your first rodeo, and you experienced the barrage of inquiries with your first baby, then fudging that due date might not sound like a crazy idea after all.
3. Indulge. See all the movies you won’t be able to go see when your baby is here. Take all the naps. Go out to a fancy restaurant, or any restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu. Get your nails done. Get a massage. Catch up on that show on Netflix you’ve been meaning to watch. Do whatever you want to do, while you have the time and energy to do it. It may be a while before you are in charge of your schedule again, so take charge of it while you can.
4. Take time to savor these last few days with your older kid(s). Taking care of other kids can be exhausting when you are pregnant. You just want to lie down for a few minutes, but they are suddenly resisting naps. They may seem more clingy or needy, and you wonder how on earth you will take care of both a toddler and a newborn??
Flip the script. Your little kid will be a big brother or sister in just a few days or weeks. You won’t have as much time to color together, or get on the floor and play with blocks, or take a walk to the park. Hold their little hands, which will seem huge after your new baby is born. Listen to their stories and field their incredible questions. Allow yourself to enjoy your older kid(s) in this moment, because everyone’s life is going to get a little shaken up when the new baby arrives.
5. Devote some time to postpartum planning. We focus so much on pregnancy, the baby shower, decorating the nursery, and the birth, and tend to neglect preparing for the postpartum period. We often think, “It will all work out” and “We’ll manage” without realizing that a little bit of planning can make a world of difference in how we feel after baby is here.
While binge watching A Baby Story, you can:
6. Check in with your doula. Your doula can be a great source of informational and emotional support when you find yourself past your due date. If your care provider is bringing up induction as a possibility, your doula can help prepare you for the process, or let you know about possible options or alternatives that you can discuss with your care provider. She will let you know that you are supported, and that she is there if you have questions or need reassurance.
7. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a skill that can be honed with practice. To be present in the moment, able to acknowledge and accept your feelings—good and bad— without judgment, you free yourself from allowing your emotions to control you. Being mindful can positively affect the way you live your life in general, but in the world of birth and parenthood, its effects are significant.
In labor, you can use mindfulness to accept the pain and discomfort you are feeling, and then let it go. This can help immensely with labor progress, with how you react to unexpected challenges, and how you end up feeling about your birth experience.
As a parent, you can practice mindfulness while you figure out breastfeeding, when you have to wake up in the middle of the night to attend to your baby, or when your toddler throws a tantrum in the grocery store.
So during pregnancy, as you wait for labor to commence, be mindful of what you are feeling. If you are tired, achy, sick of the constant text messages, fearful, or just ready to have this baby, acknowledge what you feel. Accept it, and let it go. Consider it preparation for your new life as a parent.
8. Find the good. What’s good about being “overdue?” Maybe you realize you do get some extra time with your partner as “just the two of us.” Maybe you get to attend that one last social event you weren’t sure you could make. Maybe your best friend from out-of-state will get to be there for the birth, after all. Maybe you know that when labor does start, you will be so thrilled you will welcome contractions instead of fearing them! Find the good in your situation and embrace the wait.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley.
Line up your doula now, so that if you go "overdue," you have the support you need!
I am an avid podcast listener. One of my favorites is a podcast called “Death, Sex & Money.” In one episode, host Anna Sale interviews actress Ellen Burstyn. Ellen shares that now that she is in her eighties, living alone, she has finally allowed herself “Shouldless Days,” days where she does only what she wants to do and nothing she should do. She turns away from the inner critic who faults her for not doing what she should, and instead listens to what she truly wants and needs.
I often think about Ellen Burtstyn’s "Shouldless Days" and think to myself, "Is it easier to do this when you’re in your eighties, without the responsibility of little mouths to feed and hands to hold? Is it easier to do this as a financially successful famous actress, living alone in a lofty New York apartment?"
And my answer is, "Of course!"
But that doesn’t mean that we need let the “should’s” dictate everything in life. By choosing to not act from a “should” mentality in every instance, you allow room for self-compassion, a turn to joy, and you prioritize self care.
Just stopping to question the “should” helps you to decide what to keep and what to let go. Sometimes you agree with the “should.” It aligns with your core values. You begin to edit out the unnecessary, the harmful, the confusion, and the waste that does not serve you and your family.
There are many opportunities to practice this in pregnancy and postpartum. You are faced with so many “should’s.” With a new tiny human to prepare for and care for, the stakes seem even higher on figuring out what you should do.
Should I birth in the hospital?
Should I find out my baby’s sex?
Should I get genetic testing?
Should I get an epidural?
Should my mother-in-law get to be in the room when I give birth?
Should we circumcise our son?
Should we host visitors after the baby is born?
Should I be able to keep the house clean?
Should we co-sleep?
Should I introduce a bottle?
Should I go back to work?
Should my baby be sleeping through the night by now?
Should I be back to my pre-baby weight?
To be truthful, the “should’s” never end. Whether you are expecting a baby, have a newborn, a toddler, or a teenager, there will always be someone (maybe yourself), telling you what you should do in any given situation.
Before you automatically oblige, pause. Are you also listening to the voice of self-compassion? Are you taking care of your own needs, as well those of your baby and family? Are you making room for joy? Do you need help? Do you need more information? Is there another way? What does your intuition tell you?
Amidst leaking breasts, a non-stop nursing baby, a clingy toddler, and a pile of laundry, if you can’t swing a Shouldless Day, try a shouldless pause. A breath. A chance to let go of what doesn’t serve you. A turn to what brings you joy, even a trace.
Maybe it's advocating for yourself in labor. Maybe it's saying "no" to a visitor. Maybe it's ordering pizza that night so you can sleep a little bit longer with your baby. Maybe it's asking someone else to bring the meal.
Question the "should's." Listen to what answers follow.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley.
What "should's" are you facing in pregnancy? How can I help?
Today we're going to back to the basics!
Doula 101 - The What and the Why
Preparing for a new baby can be an overwhelming task— there are numerous baby gear items to acquire, frequent care provider visits, increasing demands on your body as your baby grows and your body changes, classes to take, postpartum work arrangements to be made . . . . it’s no wonder that many people postpone thinking about how they will approach labor and birth until later into their pregnancy.
Sometimes it’s during a childbirth education class, or when you feel your baby’s rigorous kicks, or you can no longer see your toes underneath your growing belly, that you start to think, “This baby’s really going to come out soon!” You might panic, as you think about all the books you wanted to read, or that birth plan you need to write. And how in the world will your partner know what to do when you are in labor?!
Step in your doula. But what’s a doula? A doula is your continuous support during labor and birth, a knowledgeable birth guide who works for you, giving you the information, encouragement, and hands-on help you need to give birth in a way that feels right to you. She works with you and your partner in pregnancy, educating you about your options, and answering whatever questions you may have along the way. She knows all about birth. She helps your partner effectively help you by making suggestions on how to support you in labor. Your doula helps you both feel confident and prepared for birth, instead of fearful or anxious.
But isn’t that what your doctor or midwife is for? Or your nurses? Actually, no. Your doctor and midwife, and the hospital nursing staff, are primarily focused on the physical health and safety of you and your baby during labor. They are monitoring your blood pressure, checking fetal heart rates, administering medications, and watching for signs outside of a normal birth pattern. In a hospital setting, you may not even see your doctor or midwife until you have already starting pushing.
The nursing staff you may see more often, as they are the front line of patient care, but they usually have several other patients to care for besides you. They don’t have the time or the resources to continuously stay by your side, helping you breathe, or massaging you, or suggesting position changes. If you are in labor during a shift change, the nurse whose care you have been under will leave, and a new person will take their place.
That leaves just your partner and maybe another family member or friend to offer the continuous support that can make or break a birth experience. And although members of your support team may have given birth before, they aren’t necessarily familiar with birth in general, or the specific needs of your birth. They may not know what to suggest if certain challenges arise during labor. They may not have the information you need to make a decision about the course of your care.
Doulas bring a calming presence, knowledge about the birth process, and personalized care to your birth space. They attend all types of birth, from unmedicated home births, to Cesarean births, to inductions, and everything in between. Doulas get to know their clients during pregnancy, and support them in whatever decisions they make for themselves. They follow up postpartum, checking in on their clients’ well being, helping with breastfeeding, and referring them to additional resources they may need.
There are Postpartum Doulas, who work with families in their home, helping them adjust to life with a new baby. They help with newborn care, household organization, light housekeeping and cooking, and they help take care of baby so the new parents can get what every new parent needs— more sleep!
The Treasure Valley is a great place to have a baby, and one of the reasons is that there is a doula for everyone, in all price ranges, offering a different mix of services that work for your situation. When you have the right support, your birth and postpartum experiences are more likely to be positive, benefiting you, your partner, and your baby.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa and the greater Treasure Valley. Do you have questions about how a doula can help you have a more positive birth experience?
This is a two-part series. Look for the first part in my previous post:
What this Doula Wants You to Know About Birth
What this Doula Wants You to Know About Postpartum
1. The postpartum period is underestimated. Many people focus on the birth of their baby, choosing a care provider, a birth place, and making a birth plan. These are important endeavors, and require adequate research and planning. Yet often little consideration is given to the specifics of how life will function after the baby is here. Researching options for baby gear, registering for diapers and essentials, and choosing a pediatrician is only part of what you need to decide. Just as you need to determine who will take care of your house, older children, pets, work commitments, etc. before and during your birth, these needs will continue and perhaps be more difficult to meet when your baby is earthside. Factor in the need for physical healing, dramatic hormonal changes, and caring for your baby-- all with limited sleep-- you may realize that you need much more help than you planned for. Making a postpartum plan during pregnancy can help prepare you, your partner, and extended support system to meet the needs of the entire household after the birth.
2. Your body may take longer to heal than six weeks. There is a popular meme circulating on social media that pictures a paper dinner plate. That dinner plate represents the size of the wound in your uterus where your placenta was attached. I admit, as the mother of two kids and a trained doula, I had never considered the size of the wound inside my body after birth. It's a powerful visual. If that wound was on the outside of your body, no one-- including yourself-- would expect you to do much for several weeks after birth.
If your birth was physically difficult, you had tearing that required stitches, complications, a high-intervention birth, or a Cesarean birth, your body may take even longer to heal. In the immediate postpartum you may experience vaginal soreness, pain while urinating, difficulty pooping, heavy bleeding, contractions as your uterus shrinks back down to its pre-pregnancy size, sore breasts from learning to breastfeed, irritation or pain from your Cesearan incision site, swelling, profuse sweating, and a host of other physical discomforts.
Your care provider may "clear you" at six or eight weeks, but your body may need more time. You may not be ready for intercourse, work, chores, or outings. You may need more periods of rest, even if you feel physically better. You may need additional treatment, like physical therapy. Accept that your body went through a LOT, and allow yourself the time and grace to heal.
3. Be proactive with lactation support. If you choose to breastfeed, know that it can be difficult to get started. Taking a breastfeeding class in pregnancy is a good idea, but it may still confusing to implement what you learned when baby is actually at your breast. Add in hormonal changes, a baby that needs to eat, and conflicting advice from those trying to help you, and you have a recipe for anxiety and unnecessary stress. Seek out the support of a postpartum doula or lactation specialist early in the postpartum period to get you off to a good start. Any issues outside of normal may be more easily identified and addressed. If needed, referral to an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) can be made.
Two IBCLC's in the Treasure Valley I refer clients to are Melanie Henstrom at Baby Bonds and Lynnelle King at Family Seasons, LLC.
4. Pelvic floor therapy is a no-brainer. Pregnancy and childbirth do a number on our pelvic floor muscles. Complications include urinary and fecal incontinence, uterine prolapse, pubic symphysis pain, diastasic recti, and more. In France, postpartum pelvic floor therapy is standard care. In the United States, it is not, and unresolved injury can be left untreated, causing years of pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. Check out my blog post all about the pelvic floor.
Seeing a pelvic floor specialist in pregnancy can set you up for easier care after your baby is born, or even prevent issues postpartum. In the Treasure Valley, pelvic floor therapy is now even easier to obtain, with the launch of Treasure Valley Pelvic Health, a mobile pelvic therapy provider who will come to you. Your first visit is 20% off in the month of May.
5. Your emotional and mental health needs as just as much attention as your physical health. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) affect 15-20% of women. These include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum panic disorder, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and rarely, postpartum psychosis. Educating yourself, your partner, and close family and friends in pregnancy about the signs of these disorders can help to identify them and get treatment as soon as possible.
Even just noticing that you feel "off," and "not yourself," can be enough proof to seek out an evaluation from your care provider. Don't discount (or let others discount) the effects of a traumatic or disappointing birth experience on your emotional health, either.
Resources to begin to seek out help include Postpartum Support International (PSI) at www.postpartum.net, your care provider, or local mental health professionals with experience in treating PMAD's. You can find a recommended list of providers on my Parent Resources page.
Even if you don't suffer from a PMAD, you may feel overly tired, stressed out, emotional, sad, disappointed, discouraged, or down at times. A healthy and committed support system that allows you to rest, heal, eat well, and focus on little more than you and your new baby can maximize your chances for a positive postpartum transition. Postpartum doulas can play an important role for those without a strong support system, or those who want or need extra support as they transition to life with a newborn.
By planning for the postpartum period, building a robust support system, and taking advantage of local resources, you can start off on your new parenting journey from a place of confidence and strength. Everyone benefits from a healthy mother or birthing parent-- your baby, your partner, and you especially.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley. How can I help you plan for your postpartum?
This is a two-part series. Look for the next part coming soon:
What this Doula Wants You to Know About Postpartum
What this Doula Wants You to Know About Birth
1. The way you give birth matters. If the way you give birth matters to you, then it matters. Period. I don't have an agenda and I am not going to tell you what's the best way for you to have your baby. But I know that you may have an idea of what's best for you, and so what is important to you in your birth is what becomes important to me.
2. Who you choose as your care provider matters. If you have opinions on how you want to give birth, make sure your care provider is familiar with your choices, and supports them. Ask them early on in appointments how they will support your choices. Ask the why, the how, and the when. If you aren’t satisfied with their answers, you may want to look for a provider more aligned with your preferences. If you come to form your opinions on birth later in pregnancy, or you change your preferences, that's a common occurrence. It’s rarely “too late” to get a second opinion or find someone more suited to the kind of birth you want. There are a wide variety of providers here in the Treasure Valley and it's likely you can find someone who is supportive of your goals.
3. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Childbirth is a normal, natural event, but it’s not without its complications and risks. Your care provider, family, and friends may be focused on the physical health of you and your baby, but know that how you feel about your birth can also have a lasting impact on your overall well being. It may impact how you interact and care for your baby as well. You are likely to feel positively about your birth if you:
4. Your partner’s experience matters. When your partner is well supported, you will benefit. Your partner could be anxious about seeing you in pain, or could feel lost on how to best help you. They could be tired or hungry, and unable to attend to you in the way you need. When we work together in pregnancy, you are both prepared on what to expect. Pressure on your partner is relieved because you know that I will be there to fill in the gaps so that both of you can approach birth with confidence.
5. Your birth story is your own. What happened during your birth, how your baby was ultimately born, the choices you made during pregnancy and labor— these facts can’t explain the complexity of emotions, circumstances, history, physiology, and timing that became your birth story. You are not the same as everyone else who had an epidural, or Cesarean, or went unmedicated, or had a long labor, or gave birth at home. Your partner, doula, family member or care provider may have their own take on how the story went, and that’s okay, too. You can take in their perspectives, but only you know how you felt in the moment. Your experience is valid.
6. I believe in you. I believe in your body’s ability to birth your baby. I believe that you are strong, capable, and fierce. Even when you may not feel that way, when you are feeling vulnerable and scared, know that I believe in you.
I really mean this. Birth has a way of wiping out all pretense, all the social barriers and pleasantries we use to protect ourselves in the world fall away. What remains is this raw, emotional state is strength and love and beauty. With every contraction I am witnessing your power. With every difficult decision, I see your concern and love for yourself and your baby. I am in awe of you. I am on your side.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley. Let's talk about how I can best support you in your birth.
TRUTH: Babies don't need much when they arrive. They need to eat. They need a place to sleep. They need a few items of clothing, and of course, diapers.
ALSO TRUTH: You will still create an extensive baby registry because:
UNSPOKEN TRUTH: Creating a baby registry can be stressful. There are so many items to choose from. You don't know what it is you really need, and what you could live without. There are so many options within a category (strollers, breast pumps, diaper brands, etc.) and you are afraid of making the 'wrong' decision.
Plus, where do you register? You don't want to register at too many places, because you want to make it easy for the people buying things for you. Yet there isn't one store that has everything you need. And you need to consider return policies, long distance buyers, customer service, product availability, potential discounts or coupons, etc. It's no wonder many people put off building their registries.
Here are some tips to make this experience a little easier--and even enjoyable!
1) Don't attempt to register on an empty stomach. When I was pregnant with my first child, I made the mistake of not eating lunch before I started my registry at a large retailer. I thought the process would take an hour or so; over two and a half hours later, I was ravenous and shaking from low blood sugar. At that point I probably wasn't making the best decisions either, as I scanned random baby items in an attempt to fill out my registry.
2) Enlist the help of an experienced friend. Make a date of it! Go to lunch beforehand, and have your friend help you choose your items based on the realities of your situation. For instance, when I accompanied my pregnant sister-in-law as she shopped for a stroller, I was able to steer her away from the large, bulky jogging strollers she was eyeing toward a Snap-N-Go stroller, since it was one of a handful that would fit into her compact car. I had seen friends of mine disassemble their large strollers to fit in and out of their car trunks every time they went out-- a big hassle. A smaller stroller to get her through the first year with her new baby was probably the better option.
A friend or relative who has recently had a baby may be more up to date on the newest baby products, as well. This Haakaa silicone breast pump wasn't a thing when I had my kids but it is now the rage of breastfeeding parents, as it allows you to catch overflow from one breast while baby is latched onto the other breast.
3) Go online. Every large retailer enables you to build a baby registry online. The Amazon Baby Registry enables you to tap into the vast array of products sold on Amazon, with free shipping, easy returns, and loyalty discounts.
Smaller boutique stores offer the ability to create online registries, as well. Pi Baby, a boutique retailer in Boise, offers an online registry. The advantage to registering with a local retailer is that you can physically see and feel the products you are adding to your registry, and you can get the expertise of the sales staff in choosing those products.
One of my favorite registry sites to recommend to my pregnant clients is Babylist. With Babylist you can add items from any website, from big box retailers, to your local boutique, to the online-only store. You simply install their browser button onto your computer, or download their app onto your smartphone, and begin adding products from any website. To add Elevated Birth doula services or Postpartum Services to your Babylist registry, first go to our Gift Certificates page. Then click the "Add to Babylist" browser button, enter the dollar amount you want to add to your registry, and let your family and friends help pay for your doula support!
Or, you can create a Cash Fund to go towards doula support, a newborn photography session, pet sitting, large purchases like baby furniture, fitness classes, etc. and friends can contribute any amount toward those funds.
4) Go minimal. Babies truly don't need a lot. Perhaps you find that purchasing baby items second-hand feels better to you from an environmental standpoint, or because you know your baby will outgrow his or her use for certain items in no time.
Instead of registering for 30 newborn sized onesies, a swing, bouncy seat and Rock n' Play, and that designer set of crib linens that go unused because you end up co-sleeping, register for the basics. Create a cash fund that people can contribute to for future purchases, or things that will really help you settle into life with a new baby-- doula support, meals, housecleaning help, and anything that allows you to rest, heal, and enjoy your new baby.
Whichever route you take in building your baby registry, opt for the one that minimizes your stress level. Any product you find yourself missing or wanting, is ultimately just free two-day shipping away, anyway.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley. Let's talk about what's on your baby registry!
During my first day of doula training I knew what I wanted to name my new business. I didn’t spend a long time thinking about it; the name just popped into my head. True to my personality, I began to dissect the reasons why that name wasn’t right, and I forced myself to think of other business names.
But I kept coming back to Elevated Birth— or rather, it would not release its foothold on my mind. I listened to my intuition, accepted my new business name, and took the proper steps to make it official.
As I worked to build a website, design marketing materials, and “hang my shingle” so to speak, I chose the following words to explain what I could offer to prospective clients:
“Know your options. Feel supported. Elevate your Birth.”
But what does this really mean? The role of a doula is to educate and support; it's what doulas do.
What these words speak to, is the importance of YOU in our relationship.
Know your Options
I don’t teach childbirth education, not yet anyway— although that is on the horizon. I can help explain different physiological processes in birth and I can provide details on various procedures and interventions.
But when we discuss your options in pregnancy and childbirth, we go a bit deeper. We talk about how you may feel about a particular choice. How does that option align with what is important to you and your partner? What could we try, to avoid or prolong the need for a particular intervention? What kind of discussions could you have with your care provider to negotiate your options? How can you process a change in plans? What does and doesn't work for you?
We also go into detail about how your choices can affect not only the birth process, but also your postpartum experience. Questions arise and they are answered as thoroughly and as personally as you need. Information is tailored to get you through birth so that the needs of you and your partner are met.
Perhaps during our discussions you realize that your priorities and preferences have changed. That happens. Maybe during labor an unexpected situation arises— you have someone in the room to guide you through the decision making process. You know your options so you can decide what is best for you, and with that knowledge comes confidence in your decision making.
Birth is very much a physiological process. But it is just as much an emotional one, and the physical and emotional go hand in hand.
Physical support in labor takes on many forms. Depending on how your birth is going and what your preferences are, I am going to recommend certain positions and environments over others. When there is a change, I’m going to recommend something else. I’m always watching what’s going on, assessing your needs, and thinking of the next step or goal. I’m bringing your partner into the process, or maybe I'm recommending they take a break. You are both supported.
What emotional support looks like to one person is different than what it looks like to another. Some people need more gentleness and some need higher energy. Some need both but at different times. What you may need can also change from one moment to the next. I use the example that I can be rubbing your neck in labor and it is just what you need, and literally the next second it is the last thing on earth you want. It’s okay— you are accepted as you are.
That’s another form of support. I am not judging you; in fact, I’m embracing you! No matter what you choose for yourself, how you birth your baby, how you cope with labor, or how you and your partner interact or don’t— I’m here for you. I’ll help you. And I’m happy to do it.
Elevate your Birth
This has so many meanings. It’s both an action and a result. YOU are the principal player in elevating your birth; I am just the facilitator.
You elevate your birth when you make the effort to prepare for it. Birth is not something that just happens to you. You are giving it the eminence it deserves by educating yourself, surrounding yourself with support, and preparing your own body and mind for it.
Your support team will elevate YOU. Your partner and I will support you as you need, from holding your hands to holding space. We will lift you up so you can be free to let go.
Others will see your birth as elevated. You know what matters to you, so others involved in your birth are more likely to see you as an autonomous being and treat you with the respect you deserve. Your positive birth experience may inspire someone else to fear birth less, or to consider new options or attitudes about birth.
Your birth may elevate the way you see yourself. When you feel positively about your birth, it shows in other areas of your life. You may approach non-birth issues with more strength, grace, and confidence. The way you see yourself as a parent or as a partner can be impacted by the way you see yourself in birth. You can use what you learned in birth to help you in business, interpersonal relationships, with coping skills, and so much more.
Your birth experience is a part of your life’s journey. Choose to elevate it.
Whether you grew up here or are a recent transplant, if you are expecting a baby in the Treasure Valley, you've picked a great place to procreate. Here's a list of reasons why:
1. Midwives Abound
Choosing a midwife as the primary care provider in pregnancy is a choice more and more people are making for their low-risk pregnancies. Midwives view birth as a normal life event, and tend to minimize interventions. Their care is more holistic, incorporating factors like nutrition and the social and psychological health of their patients alongside physical care. Midwives attend home births, births at freestanding birth centers, and in some hospitals.
In Idaho, all midwives are licensed by the state. They can be Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), registered nurses with graduate education in midwifery, or Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), who are trained through a formal education program or through an apprenticeship. CPM's must pass a national certification exam. In the Treasure Valley, both types of midwives can be found practicing in a variety of venues. There are independent, traveling midwives who primarily focus on home births. There are those who see patients at birth centers, and either attend births there or at patients' homes. And within both major hospitals systems in the Valley, St. Luke's and St. Alphonsus, there are teams of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM's) who work alongside obstetricians in the labor and delivery wards.
Midwifery and/or home birth is illegal in several states. In other states, poorly-defined or restrictive laws discourage midwives from practicing for fear of prosecution. Even in states where midwifery is legal and regulated, midwives are few in number, or not an option in local hospitals. The abundance of midwives in the Treasure Valley, and the variety of venues and patients they service, is impressive for a population of just under 700,000.
2. A Choice in Birth Centers
The Treasure Valley has four freestanding birth centers. FOUR! To put this number into perspective, the South Bay region of Los Angeles, which has roughly the same population as the Treasure Valley, has ZERO freestanding birth centers. You would have to travel in LA traffic for at least 30 minutes (double that in rush hour traffic) to get to the nearest birth center.
Not in the Treasure Valley! From Nampa to Meridian to Boise, you can opt for that middle ground between home birth and hospital birth and have plenty of options to choose from:
3. The Valley's Hospitals are Growing and Innovating
Maternity services are offered at several locations in the Valley. Family-centered care and patient choice is a focus at the major hospitals.
St. Luke's offers maternity care in Downtown Boise, Meridian, and Nampa. The Nampa hospital is brand new, and offers specially designed family suites, with large labor tubs, refrigerators, and plenty of room for family. Especially innovative is the fact that several of these suites are NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) rooms, the first of their kind in the Northwest.
St. Alphonsus offers maternity care in Boise and Nampa. The Boise campus boasts a level III NICU, the highest level of neonatal care in Idaho. Its Nampa hospital is also brand new, growing to meet the demands of the Valley's expanding population.
In Caldwell, West Valley Medical Center offers family suites with king sized beds. There is no minimum age for visitors, so younger members of the family can get the opportunity to meet and bond with new babies before they get home. West Valley opened a brand new NICU last fall as well.
4. A Doula for Everyone
The community of doulas in the Valley is growing and thriving. As more people discover doulas, and the important role they play in supporting birth, there has been an increase in their demand. Different doulas service different segments of the population; depending on your specific needs, you can find a doula that aligns with your personality, values, and budget.
Doula associations and partnerships foster cooperation within the doula community, and strengthen and elevate the profession. I am a proud member of the following local doula organizations:
4. Finding your People
When illness reaches your family, whether you reach for the elderberry syrup or the Sudafed, there is a group for you. The Treasure Valley offers many different online forums and in-person meet-up groups to help you navigate the world of pregnancy and parenting in a way that speaks to you.
New to the area is Building Villages https://www.buildingvillages.org, an organization focused on early childhood development and parent support. Their pilot program for parents of newborns is launching next month. Meeting in Meridian or Boise, the Newborn Groups will meet for 10 weeks and will focus on the practicalities of raising a newborn and parent self-care, and will provide its participants with an opportunity to meet other new parents and build community. For more information, visit https://www.buildingvillages.org/newborn-groups/
5. Just Look Around You
In so many parts of the country, kids just don't play outside anymore. In the Treasure Valley, it's hard NOT to get outside. From the river, to the foothills, to the plentiful parks, this is an easy place to expose your baby to sunshine and fresh air. Getting out in nature is good for your own health and wellness, too.
Birth (and life) is better here!
I am a certified labor doula (birth doula) and postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, and the greater Treasure Valley.
How can I help you have a better birth? Let's talk!
I've worked in the forest, in the lab, and in an office cubicle. My favorite and most passionate work has been alongside clients as they reach inside to find their innermost strength, and give birth to their babies. Each birth is an honor to witness.