Category Archives: postpartum

What's in your nursing basket?

What’s in you nursing basket?

Preparing you Nursing Basket
By: Sandi Hoover of Roots Prenatal Yoga in Des Moines

In all the wonderful ways you are preparing for labor and birth, here is an idea to help prepare for the first few weeks at home with baby. For all the time you will spend feeding your little one you may find it extremely helpful to have a portable basket (a bag works, but I like a basket to easily see and get to contents) to have for when you are nestled in for a nice long session of feeding baby.

Here are a few things you may consider having in your kit:

nursing nest basket~Water bottle – It never failed that when I was in bedroom my water was in the living room, or when I was in nursery water was not there. My sweet husband could almost anticipate my, “honey, could you please bring my water bottle” a minute after baby latched on and my thirst kicked in.
~Breast pads and nipple cream (Newman’s Nipple Ointment is the BEST and can be prescribed by your provider to be compounded at your pharmacy)
~Burp cloth(s)
~Nail file, hand creme – for you. My nails never looked as good as they did those early days of nursing!
~Chapstick, or better yet coconut oil that you can use for yourself and baby.
~Positive affirmation – this could be on a notecard or even on your phone. Some affirmation ideas: “I may not be perfect, but I am the perfect mother for this baby” “My baby and I are getting to know each other more each day. I take motherhood day by day”, “I give myself space and grace to get used to being a mama”.
~Baby nail clippers – I found it easiest to clip baby nails when they were asleep, which is often after they nursed.
IMG_2211~Your phone – while it is nice to check email or social media from time to time I hope you will leave at least one feeding session media free where you can just relish in the wonder of your baby. You will not regret this special time together.
~Kleenex – I was so emotional those first few weeks and just smelling my baby and remembering their birth story could easily bring on the waterworks.
I’m sure there are more things you could pack your basket with, but I’m a simple gal. Personalize your basket to suit you. I would restock my basket before I went to bed for the night to feel ready for the next nursing session. Blessings! I bow to you mamas.
safe sleep

Information leads to safer decisions

The following post is a copy of a letter written to major media outlets in central Iowa, regarding the coverage of infant deaths that occurred in May 2015.  We believe the summary of information may be beneficial to our followers; therefore, we are sharing it with you here.

andrew_sketch_final_lowresIn the wake of extremely tragic events we urge you to please take the opportunity to educate the public on safe sleep habits. Informing parents that sharing a bed with their baby is unsafe is not just inaccurate but only serves to promote fear. Certainly, there are instances when bed sharing is not recommended, in smoking homes, when baby was not born full term, when the baby is bottle fed only, but to indicate it is always unsafe is truly a disservice to the public.

Many families share a bed with their baby (co-sleep). In many other countries around the world, it is the social and medically accepted norm. This sleeping behavior is neither new nor dangerous, it’s a normative behavior that is as old as humankind. Culturally, we shifted away from co-sleeping based on the best information available to us at the time, but now we know better, and it’s time to realign.

From what limited information I have been able to gather through media reports on these recent cases it seems clear that unsafe sleep habits played a significant role in these tragedies – not co-sleeping, but unsafe co-sleeping. Making this distinction is crucial. When an infant death occurs in a car accident and it appears to be due to improper or unsafe use of a car seat, tips for safety in the car are provided, not recommendations to never take a child in a car. Similarly, when a drowning occurs the message is not “do not swim,” but rather “here’s how to stay safe when you do swim.” Giving such recommendations, in a world where taking infants in the car or going swimming are quite normal, is extreme and a public disservice.   Providing current evidence and suggestions for increasing safety in this circumstance is no different.

Health psychologist and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, reports that her research has shown that fear of co-sleeping actually increases the likelihood that parents engage in dangerous activities, like falling asleep with baby on a couch or recliner. This is why we urge you to not make statements that claim co-sleeping in unsafe, but rather to provide the public with information about how to do so safely. Informed families are then better able to make their own decisions about what is best for them and their babies.

There are many reputable professionals and organizations that support safe co-sleeping. La Leche LeagueLLLI Safe Sleep 7 International, a world-renowned organization dedicated to supporting breastfeeding, published their first book on this subject in 2014. The book, Safe Sleep, is a thorough and current review of the evidence for safe co-sleeping. They provide several excellent research summaries, including the Safe Sleep 7: Smart Steps to Safer Bedsharing and Rhyme for Sleep Time on their website. According to La Leche League International’s findings, if these steps are followed a baby is as safe as in a crib. Dr. Bill Sears, a well-known author and practicing pediatrician for more than 30 years states, “Instead of alarming conscientious parents, sleep advisers should be teaching parents how to co-sleep safely.”

James J. McKenna, Ph.D. Professor of Biological Anthropology, Director, Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide To Co-sleeping, provides the following guidelines on his website:

  • Safe infant sleep begins with a healthy gestation, specifically without the fetus being exposed to maternal smoke.
  • Breastfeeding significantly helps to protect infants from death including deaths from SIDS/SUDI and from secondary disease and/or congenital conditions.
  • Post-natally safe infant sleep begins especially with the presence of an informed, breastfeeding, committed mother, or an informed and committed father.
  • Infants should sleep on their backs, on firm surfaces, on clean surfaces, in the absence of smoke, under light (comfortable) blanketing, and their heads should never be covered.
  • The bed should not have any stuffed animals or pillows around the infant and never should an infant be placed to sleep on top of a pillow.gorilla-co-sleeping-with-newborn-gorilla--9136
  • Sheepskins or other fluffy material and especially bean bag mattresses should never be used. Water beds can be dangerous, too, and always the mattresses should tightly intersect the bed-frame Infants should never sleep on couches or sofas, with or without adults wherein they can slip down (face first) into the crevice or get wedged against the back of a couch.
Babywearing Basics

Intern Birth Blog: Babywearing for Beginners

This week I wanted to look into all things babywearing! My interest was sparked by a cousin of mine who started showing up at all of our family gatherings carrying her daughter in beautiful pieces of cloth. Every time I saw her, she had a new carrier and even started buying them as gifts for other family members when they were pregnant. She went on and on about this new trend of babywearing and has been doing it for the last 3 years.

In order to learn more I got in touch with with Suzi Lang of Babywearing International of Central Iowa. So, for those of you who are not aware of what this babywearing is all about, have no fear, I think I’ve figured it out!

What is babywearing?
Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a sling of another form of carrier. Although this is a recent trend here in America, babywearing has been around for centuries and is done all around the world. There are four main kind of carriers which range in price anywhere from $40-$300.

1.) Soft Structured Carriers
babywearing soft structured (180x281)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Wraps
babywearing wrap (600x600)

 

 

 

 

3.) Ring Slings/Pouches
babywearing ring sling

 

 

 

 

4.) Mei Tai

babywearing mei ties

 

 

 

 

 

This whole concept can be a little confusing at first for us beginners, so here’s a video if you’d like a more clear image of how exactly a wrap is worn.  This is one of the many, many ways a wrap can be worn. Caregivers can carry babies up to any age as long as they feel comfortable doing it, and baby is wanting to be carried.

What are the benefits of babywearing? Beyond the trend…
Besides the fact that all these wraps and carriers can be super cute accessories, there is much more to it than that! Babywearing has countless benefits for both mom and baby:

Hands free what mom doesn’t want that?! As someone who works at a daycare facility, I know there are times a baby needs to be held, yet I have a million other things I need to get done with two hands. Babywearing allows the mother to have the baby close to offer that comfort, yet both hands free to complete tasks.

Suzi filled me in on a few more benefits:

• “Happy Babies.
It’s true…carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. “

“Healthy Babies
Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.”

• “Confident Parents
A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.”

•” Loving Caregivers
Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s
life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!”

•”Comfort and Convenience
With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!”

Okay, what’s the catch?
There isn’t one!  If mother and baby are both content and mom is practicing safe babywearing techniques, there are no proven physical or emotional negative effects. This graphic includes the main babywearing techniques:
babywearing abcs

Get Connected:
Great news, there are several babywearing groups in Iowa right here in Iowa!  There is even a babywearing retreat happening in April.

I hope you’re learning something along with me. Please do not hesitate to comment below with your babywearing experiences, or any questions. Lastly, if you or someone you know would like to be featured in my next blog, email me at Hello@IowaBirth.org.

~ Intern Marianne

Birth Blog: Intern Edition Introduction

Intern MarianneHello all!

Welcome to the birth blog: intern edition. My name is Marianne Hart and I am a senior studying Child, Adult and Family Services at Iowa State University. I have the privilege of interning with Iowa Birth Organization this semester and am so excited for all the learning opportunities which lie ahead.

A little bit about me: I grew up in Eldridge, Iowa in the eastern region of the state along the Mississippi. I am the youngest of 3 children and a lover of cats, outdoor activities and baking cakes. Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by pregnancy and birth. As a child, I was the “weird” girl who would put a blanket under to shirt, pretending to be pregnant, only to later give birth to a doll and create crying sounds as I tended to it’s needs– not your average 5 year old. This passion has only grown with age and I hope to work in the birth industry post graduation this coming May.

With that being said, I will be updating this blog bi-weekly; these blog posts will pertain to birth related topics as well as information I gather from interviewing birth professionals in Iowa. This blog will serve two purposes: 1) informational for those reading it and 2) enabling me to explore hot birth topics and hopefully steer me toward the right career path!

If you are interested in being featured in a blog post or have a topic you would like to see covered, please comment on this post or email Hello@IowaBirth.org and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Until next time,
Marianne

Metamorphosis: no going back

I’m getting frustrated with our culture’s constant talk about when women (and dads too) are going to get “back” to their old (fill in the blank….life, body, self, etc.).   Becoming a parent, by whatever means you become one, is a metamorphosis.  It is a change, a life-altering change.  You were one thing – now you are another.   There is no going back.  You are something entirely new.  You are still you, but you are something completely different too.

We do not ask the butterfly when it will be a caterpillar again.  Instead, we look at the butterfly with awe and reverence.  We respect and appreciate the butterfly for what it has become, what it is now doing, and what it will do.  We reflect in awe and wonder at the process that has taken place in order that it could become this new thing – the metamorphosis.

Something New

The notion of a woman should return to something she once was – and can truly never fully be again – is counterproductive; in fact, it can be harmful.  Rather than a focus (through both language and behavior) on what was, how might we instead promote a new sense of respect and admiration for what was done (the change, the morph) and what now is (the mother, the parent)?   What would that sound like?  What would it look like?  Can we do that?  Can we shift our cultural paradigm from regression to progression?  Can we, as a society, be more forward focused?

None of this is to say that a parent should never “hit the town,” or “spend a day doing….,” but rather to say that we must stop insisting on it.  We must stop implying that this is both feasible and a necessary return.  For some, this may mean a mourning phase – this can take many healthy forms.  It is necessary to recognize that with this new thing you have morphed into, there had to be something that was left behind.   I will never again “hit the town” in the same way I did when I was not a parent.  It’s simply not possible.  I am a different person.  I’m still fun, I’m still silly, I’m still a wild-and-crazy gal, but I’m different too.  I’m a lot different.  I think differently, I feel differently, I “hit the town” differently.

My point is this: let’s honor that difference, rather than judge it by wishing it away.  Let’s talk about the change, the metamorphosis, in a positive way. Let’s focus on, support, and encourage all the things I am now.  Look at me, the new mother—a beautiful butterfly, with awe and reverence, rather than question when I’ll go back to being the caterpillar I was.

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