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blueberries are a great food for pregnancy

10 Most Nutritious Foods For Pregnancy and Postpartum

We are so excited to feature a post today detailing the 10 Most Nutritious Foods for Pregnancy & Postpartum from our resident pregnancy exercise and nutrition expert, Katie Dudley. We believe that part of preparing for a healthy, natural birth is preparing our bodies with optimal nutrition. Katie’s list is something every pregnant woman should read.

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During our first few visits to our care provider, we often receive a long list of foods to avoid, but we rarely discuss the foods that we SHOULD consume to support a more safe and comfortable pregnancy. In preparation for baby we hear even less about what we should eat once baby has arrived and our body is healing to provide nourishment for our breastfeeding child. The following is a list of foods that help to combat many of the common pregnancy symptoms and well as provide you with better care for postpartum healing. Incorporating these foods on a regular basis will help to crowd out the less nutritious foods that may contribute to common ailments in pregnancy and postpartum.

Bananas

Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC

Bananas contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are perfect for many common pregnancy symptoms. Early on in pregnancy, bananas are a great source for alleviating nausea and morning sickness. They travel well, so keeping a banana on hand in your purse or bag is easy. This can come in handy for any muscle cramps and also regulating blood sugar during the day. Bananas are a great prebiotic food that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption for baby’s development. Another digestive benefit is they can help mom with symptoms of constipation and diarrhea that can occur throughout pregnancy. Later on in pregnancy, many of the nutrients found in bananas assist in reducing swelling and high blood pressure.

Berries

blueberries are a great food for pregnancy
Photo credit: maira.gall / Foter / CC BY-ND

Another excellent prebiotic food that promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, berries are among the highest foods in antioxidants. Berries are considered superfoods as one of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can consume. They contain a high amount of fiber for regularity and satiety, but are low in sugars, helping keep mom’s blood sugar stable. They are the fruit of choice for mom’s who at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. High in vitamin C, berries give your immune system a boost to keep mom and baby well. Even better, they are a great natural source of folate, which your body can readily convert for baby’s development.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is excellent for pregnancy
Photo credit: looseends / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Bone broth can be an excellent source of protein and fat to enhance mom’s immune function and provides essential amino acids for growing baby. Essential minerals that aid in brain and nerve functioning are also found in fresh bone broth. With its rich nutritional content, bone broth is great way to reduce symptoms of morning sickness. This is particularly helpful when it is difficult to get foods in. The vitamins and minerals in homemade broth make a perfect food for both pregnancy and postpartum as they aid in the growth of nails, skin, hair and connective tissues. This serves as an important function as they help mom’s body grow with baby as well as recover once baby is here. These same nutrients also condition the digestive tract and keep things working smoothly.

Dark Chocolate (Real)

Dark chocolate can be excellent food for pregnancy
Photo credit: Chocolate Reviews / Foter / CC BY-ND

Yes! Dark Chocolate. Real dark chocolate (not the processed, sugary kind) has some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any foods. It is higher than berries, red wine, and high quality dark chocolate (70% or more cacoa) made from raw cacao, is quite the nutritious food and is a perfect option for those sweet pregnancy cravings. A surprising source of fiber, dark chocolate can even contribute to good digestion. High in minerals like iron, magnesium, cooper, zinc, selenium, potassium, and manganese cacao keeps mom energized for baby’s growth and development. The varieties of minerals also improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Quality dark chocolate can also be a nutritious pick me up for mom with a small amount of natural caffeine. With less caffeine than a cup of coffee, be aware of consuming this late at night and when breastfeeding.

Cultured Foods

Yogurt and other fermented foods are excellent during pregnancy
Photo credit: roboppy / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Found in cultures around the world throughout history, cultured and fermented foods like real yogurt (read ingredients), sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kefir, pickled vegetables, coconut yogurt, organic buttermilk, organic sour cream and probiotics are a healthy way to incorporate healthy bacteria into mom’s system. A balance of bacteria in the body is necessary for many bodily functions like making B vitamins, good digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function and mood. The bacterial flora in mom’s body is especially important for the baby as he passes through the birth canal and takes on the flora from mom. This is also true during breastfeeding. Recent studies have even shown that the bacteria are also found in the placenta and may help prevent preterm births. There is current evidence that if mom and baby have a healthy balance of flora, there is also less chance of colic, thrush, digestive upsets, and allergies. Consuming cultured foods is particularly beneficial to moms that have GBS, have been on antibiotics or have a history of taking them.

Eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrients necessary during pregnancy
Photo credit: cobalt123 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

This nutrient dense, superfood will keep mom satiated and energized throughout the day. Eggs are an excellent whole foods source of protein during pregnancy and postpartum. Eating a sufficient amount of protein in a balanced diet protects mom from various health concerns like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. High quality eggs are also a source of healthy fats, that are important in baby’s brain development as well as help to lower mom’s risk of postpartum depression. In addition to healthy fats and protein, pregnant and nursing moms can get many of their essential vitamins and minerals from eggs like iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins and minerals are important in supporting a healthy pregnancy as well as postpartum healing and recovery.

Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are an excellent source of nutrition during pregnancy
Photo credit: jirfy / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Dark leafy green vegetables are the ultimate superfoods full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants perfect for mom and baby. With a recommended 9-11 servings of vegetables and fruit a day, incorporating several servings of greens provides an excellent source of natural folate for baby’s development that your body can easily convert. They are full of fiber to keep mom full and her digestive system running smoothly. Nutrient dense dark greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, and arugula are a non-dairy source of calcium and full of immune boosting minerals. These help to prevent many pregnancy related complications like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and anemia. Incorporating green vegetables throughout the day keeps moms energy levels stable without raising her blood sugar. If you have difficulty getting greens in at multiple meals, add them to a smoothie, mix them in a stir fry, add them to eggs, or have a side salad.

Healthy Fats

Avocado and other sources of healthy fat are excellent for pregnancy
Photo credit: mikemennonno / Foter / CC BY-NC

Healthy fats play an essential role in baby’s growth and development. They are particularly important in eye and brain development or as Dr. Sears would say, “Growing a little fathead”. Ours brains consist of almost sixty percent fat and it is important that enough fat is provided for proper brain function. According to several studies from the Harvard School of Public Health, they found that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in healthy fats reduce their chances of allergies and developmental delays. Consuming a variety of healthy fats is crucial for mom and baby throughout pregnancy and postpartum. During pregnancy they will help mom to stabilize her blood sugar, improve digestion, and regulate blood pressure. With less sleep and a more demanding schedule, moms need all the help they can get. Eating various healthy fats like a moderate amount of cold water fish, avocados, flaxseed, flax oil, chia seed, olive oil, coconut oil, organic grassed meat, and nuts assist mom in absorbing the nutrients her body needs for sustained energy as well as postpartum healing.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great nutritional source for pregnant women.
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

Mushrooms are often overlooked for their nutritional benefits, but they are actually packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D. This comes in handy during those winter months when it is more difficult to get appropriate levels of vitamin D from being outdoors. In combination with the antioxidants, D can boost mom’s immune system as well, keeping risk of infections lower. Sufficient levels of vitamin D will also support baby’s bone and teeth development. Recent research has been shown that proper levels of vitamin D in women reduce chances of postpartum depression. With an abundance of B vitamins, mushrooms can alleviate symptoms of morning sickness and increase mom’s energy levels. Mushrooms are also an iron rich food, helping with the increased blood volume during pregnancy.

Onions & Garlic

Garlic and onions are a fantastic source of healthy nutrition for pregnancy.
Photo credit: Ruby’s Feast / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Part of the allium family, not only do they help our meals taste great, but onions and garlic are some of nature’s greatest medicines. They both are excellent anti inflammatory foods as well as support your immune system and balanced cholesterol. Rich in antioxidants, garlic and onions protect moms from various health conditions during pregnancy like pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure by promoting healthy circulation. By increasing circulation, these properties reduce pregnancy related swelling. Raw garlic also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which may assist in keeping illness and infections away. This can be beneficial for pregnant and breastfeeding moms avoiding unnecessary medications. Check out our free pregnancy nutritional e-book for more information and ideas for recipes.


Katie Dudley, nutritional and exercise expert for Birth Boot Camp Childbirth Education.

Katie Dudley, HHC, CPT, CES, PES is passionate about natural health and wellness. She enjoys educating and empowering others to take control of their own health.  She believes women can have an amazing pregnancy and birth. Katie earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia with a focus in Child and Family Development and Educational Psychology. Following her love of fitness and nutrition, a trainer since 2005, she is a Certified Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement Specialist and a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. Katie currently has a private Holistic Health Coaching Practice, Cornerstone Integrative Fitness and Wellness, where she works with women and families all over the country. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.

Read more from Katie!

Exercises for a great pregnancy and birth.

Foam rolling for pregnancy.

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Taking The Fear out of Birth Prep- The Cycle of Cs

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How do we take the fear out of birth prep? Every childbirth educator is aware of the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle. It is frequently talked about as we help prep students for birth. Helping students understand that their emotional state can impact their physical experience of an event such as birth is eye opening and important. However, our words are powerful and lasting, especially if we focus on fear and pain. Today Amanda Devereux, co-creator of Birth Boot Camp DOULA, talks about re-thinking our reliance on Fear-Tension-Pain with a shift to something new and vastly more positive. Check it out. She has good words to share.

It is imperative that prep for birth help remove fear. There’s always more than one way to look at things and it’s time for a different perspective on the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle. We all know the value of understanding this cycle, but when a woman is in labor this mental image and these words are not where her energy, nor ours as doulas, should go. Pointing out a person’s tension, fear or pain is never helpful.  Instead, a good doula sees the tension, notices the fear, and then takes steps to help relieve tension or help remove the fear. We can then offer ways to help cope with pain in labor.

When we turn the cycle inside out and look at how great labor really works, we can see the Cycle of Cs. This is where birth happens and this is where a good doula finds her work. The three Cs of labor are:

Confident – When a woman has confidence in her ability to birth her baby and confidence in her baby’s knowledge of birth, her fears are gone. She knows this journey is the perfect one for this baby and she makes way for this little one’s birth. Although doubt may sometimes creep in, her confident roots gained from childbirth education and innate wisdom will give her footing. Her birth team will remind her of the magnitude of her strength and continue to further build her confidence.

Calm – Birth is primal, raw and sometimes loud; but even in this there is calm. A mother’s confidence leads to this calm. Laboring mothers are reassured by the smiles and supportive eye contact of their team, by routine, and the calm energy offered by all those confident in her ability to birth this baby. A laboring mother finds calm in her atmosphere, smells, sounds and rhythms.This becomes the grounds for her coping.

Coping – Each birth is unique and will require that a mother discover just how to best cope with the sensations of the birth of this baby. Her calmness and trust in her abilities will allow her to open her mind, heart and body to this birth. Though this she will find ways to cope. As she moves further through her labor and her baby nears, she will find increasing confidence through her ability to cope.

When we see in a mother the fantastic strength and power she shows us when she is birthing, we are seeing what has always been there. Her strength, her power – these are not new, she’s just reaching depths that she likely never knew she had. As doulas, it is our job to help her move through the Cycle of Cs, to shed light on her confidence, to help provide the calm and to make way for her to find her best way to cope.

Amanda-Devereux-web

Amanda Devereux is a doula based in New Orleans, owner of Nola Nesting, a mother of three and co-creator of Birth Boot Camp DOULA. Join Amanda at Birth Boot Camp DOULA training and help couples have amazing births in your own community. 

Julia West teaches childbirth classes in Grapevine, TX

Childbirth Classes in Grapevine, TX

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Today, we introduce Julia, a hardworking and beautiful wife, mother and childbirth educator in Grapevine, TX. We love our natural birth instructors and appreciate all the work they are doing as they promote childbirth education and Birth Boot Camp in their own communities. It gives us great pleasure to introduce them to you and let them tell you a little bit about themselves and their passion. Find a Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator in your area! 

First, could you introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about your own birth experiences and how they influenced your desire to teach birth classes.

I am a stay-at-home mom of one and one on the way. My husband and I have lived all over Texas and recently moved back to the DFW area. Our first son was born at the Katy Birth Center with a wonderful midwife. She encouraged me to get really health-conscious during pregnancy, prompted us to take a birth class, she loaned me books about birth and introduced me to Ina May’s writing and she really encouraged me spiritually and emotionally. When labor started, my husband and I were excited and confident. Labor progressed steadily and we worked together through each contraction, both happy to be putting our newfound knowledge into practice. The environment at the birth center was peaceful, quiet and calming. I remember vividly thinking everyone seemed so calm! Our son was born after 10 hours of labor, 1 hour of pushing and weighed 9 lbs 4 oz. It was the most incredible day- even though it was the hardest work my body has ever done, I would relive it all if I could! We are now anticipating the arrival of baby #2 in just a few weeks!

What first got you interested in the realm of birth?

I was always a sort of squeamish person. I did not like talking about blood, bodily fluids, anything private or personal and especially not childbirth! I did not want to think about pregnancy or labor until I had to. About a year after I got married, my sister had a medicated birth that really opened my eyes. I started researching more about natural birth, reading birth stories and looking up midwives in my area. During my first pregnancy, my passion was sparked and I became a fiend for all birth and pregnancy literature I could find! After my son’s birth, I knew I wanted to help other mothers to gain confidence in the natural process of birth and to eliminate the need to go through unnecessary interventions.

What are your particular passions concerning birth?

I believe birth can be a beautiful, empowering, bonding experience for a couple and that it was designed to give mothers confidence to carry them through motherhood. I know too many mothers who feel like the experience was stolen from them or that birth was just something to “get through” to get a baby. Many women feel confused about the things done to them during labor and delivery, when she should be involved in every decision made about her body and her baby. No matter the birth women choose, I don’t think any woman should be made to feel unimportant, uninvolved or in the way of the delivery of her baby. I truly believe that if women don’t know their options, they have none. My passion is to provide women with evidence based information, encouragement and support.

There are lots of different birth educator training programs out there. Why did you choose Birth Boot Camp?

I was originally drawn to Birth Boot Camp because I felt like the materials and the themes would appeal to dads. My husband’s knowledge and confidence had a huge impact on my confidence. He knew that birth was normal and he knew I had worked hard to accomplish my goals. Not only did he offer labor support, but he supported my nutrition and fitness goals and he never doubted my ability. I know every woman needs a partner that is prepared and supportive, in pregnancy and birth. As I learned more about the curriculum, I was so excited to know that it did not just focus on the process of birth, but on staying low-risk in pregnancy, preparing emotionally and mentally and having good communication with the entire birth team. Many women do not realize the impact their care provider will have on their birth and I love that Birth Boot Camp provides important questions for women to ask and gain confidence that they are in the right hands! This class also provides information what to expect when pregnancy or birth do not go as planned and the options women have even in those circumstances. It is such a well-rounded curriculum and I am proud to teach it.

Tell us a little about your Birth Boot Camp training experience. Where did you train? What did you like about it?

I attended the training in Grapevine, TX in April 2013. I loved the discussion in the room and was so thankful to hear input from nurses, doulas, educators and other moms who all had the same passions. I was in a room full of women with incredible knowledge and experience!!

How is teaching your own classes going for you? What do you enjoy most about it? 

Teaching class is so fulfilling and fun! I love meeting new couples and hearing their thoughts and hopes about birth. My favorite moments are the ones where I see a “lightbulb” go on and I can tell a couple is learning something new. Where else are they going to hear the real statistics about maternity care in our country and around the world? Or get a real understanding of how the placenta functions? How many women don’t really understand many of the prenatal tests and how the results can impact their births? We are able to have open discussions and I am happy to give them the information they need to make their own decisions! You’d never know I was squeamish before to talk about bodily functions! ;)

To close, tell us how you see natural childbirth education having a positive impact? Why does this work matter to you?

Julia-West-web

I have seen first hand that a positive birth experience can impact a family for years to come. I know the birth process can have long term effects on the mother’s health, physically and emotionally. And I am fascinated by the science that shows the birth process can have lifelong health effects on generations. But mostly, I believe that God designed and created birth to “work,” and when we try to fix something that is not broken, often the experience is not as safe or fulfilling as it could have been. Common thinking in our country is that birth should be left up to the experts, birth is dangerous for all women, and the more controlled the birth, the safer it is. I hope to give every woman I know confidence, comfort and encouragement to have a voice in pregnancy and birth.

Where can we find you?

I teach at the lovely Grapevine Birthing Center. You can find out more about my class at inspiredbybirths.com.

Want to learn more about Julia? Check out her video on youtube where she talks about why she loves natural birth.

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Foam Rolling For Pregnancy

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Today we are pleased to share a guest post from our resident fitness and nutrition expert, Katie Dudley. Katie has created a program for our online and in-person childbirth education classes that is second to none. In fact, there is nothing that even comes close in depth and uncompromising quality when it comes to pregnancy health and nutrition. One element that she felt was imperative to our program was the practice of foam rolling or myofascial release. Here she explains how this practice, when properly done, can be helpful and effective. In your childbirth class you will receive much more in-depth instruction each week. Enjoy and have an amazing pregnancy!

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Throughout the course of pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a vast amount of physical changes to accommodate for baby’s growth. As the body progresses during pregnancy the added weight and pressure of the physical changes may exacerbate preexisting muscle imbalances or create new ones. This growth places an abnormal amount of weight on a woman’s frame often causing a rotation of the pelvis and slight curvature in a women’s lower back (lordosis). Lordosis, a malpositioned pelvis, knee pain, hip pain, leg cramps, and back pain can all be caused by muscle tension and imbalances creating discomfort in mom-to-be.

The tension and imbalances are often a result of sitting for long periods, poor nutrition, stress, altered movement patterns, dehydration, and bad posture. Most of these symptoms are preventable and for a more comfortable pregnancy and better birthing process, we should be proactive in addressing them. Along with balanced daily nutrition, consistent pregnancy exercise and flexibility work, one of my favorite methods for alleviating pain and discomfort during pregnancy is through self myofascial release.

Self myofascial release or “foam rolling” is a convenient and inexpensive form of self massage. It is administered by using body weight and a high density foam roller to address knots and adhesions in our muscle tissues. From chronic positions like sitting or altered movement patterns (created by our daily physical habits), our tissues can become matted down and unable to contract and be activated properly. For example, when people sit at a computer or in the car all day, certain muscles, such as the glutes, become mashed down making it difficult for them to be activated correctly, thus placing more work on the lower back and hips. When this happens it alters our biomechanics, putting emphasis on the wrong muscles and joints to move our bodies. This is even more noticeable during pregnancy. By placing pressure on these trigger points and the surrounding tissues using a foam roller, we can help release the tension. This allows for greater blood flow and better muscle activation which relieves discomfort.

Many of us do not have the time or resources to visit the chiropractor or massage therapist as much as we would like. Regular foam rolling can help achieve similar results in between visits. The foam roller is a great maintenance tool. Often times we try to stretch the pain and tension away, but without relaxing the trigger points, it is difficult to increase muscle extension of shortened, tight muscles. By applying the myofascial release technique, you will create better range of motion and strength through the proper length/tension relationship between joints. There will be less tug of war on your frame.

By reducing overall tension in your body through foam rolling and balanced nutrition, you may find benefits in many different areas:

-Greater strength and muscle activation

-Less fatigue and better energy

-Decreased aches and pains (lower back pain, sciatica)

-Relief from physical demands of pregnancy and new baby

-Increased blood flow

-Better sleep

Not only is foam rolling beneficial for mom, it’s great for dad too. Myofascial release is safe for most individuals. Those that should avoid foam rolling are individuals with neuropathy, sensitive skin conditions, and severe swelling. When rolling, you want to avoid joints, spine, neck, lower back, abdomen, chest, and varicose veins. Pregnant women should also avoid their inner thigh, belly, and inside of their calf muscle. Mom may need to modify foam rolling as she progresses in her pregnancy. She should only roll to her level of comfort and adjust where needed. Moms with diastasis recti may want to avoid any prone positions during foam rolling.

Foam rolling is a great addition before or after exercise and is complimented by stretching afterward. Fit it in when you can, on the living room floor watching TV or at night before bed. The more consistently it is administered, the better your results will be.

How to foam roll:

Using a high density foam roller, roll muscle groups like calves, peroneals, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors, lats, and upper back. Roll slowly, taking your time making sure to release tension. Allow the muscle to relax. Rolling should be tender, but not unbearable. Spend a few minutes on each area. You may use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball for smaller areas like your upper back.

1) Sit on foam roller or floor

2) Position foam roller on targeted muscle group

3) Support your body in a comfortable position with neutral spine

4) Slowly roll until you find a tender place, keeping body relaxed

5) Making sure to breathe, allow tension to release in surrounding tissues, about 30 seconds to 1 minute

6) Move on to other areas of the targeted muscle

As with any new exercise, consult your care provider first.

You can have an amazing birth- and pregnancy! Thoughtful and conscientious nutrition and exercise can help you along this path.

 


bbc_katie-dudley

Katie Dudley, HHC, CPT, CES, PES is passionate about natural health and wellness. She enjoys educating and empowering others to take control of their own health.  She believes women can have an amazing pregnancy and birth. Katie earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia with a focus in Child and Family Development and Educational Psychology. Following her love of fitness and nutrition, a trainer since 2005, she is a Certified Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement Specialist and a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. Katie currently has a private Holistic Health Coaching Practice, Cornerstone Integrative Fitness and Wellness, where she works with women and families all over the country. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.

newborn breastfeeding

Newborn Breastfeeding and the 10th Day Growth Spurt

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Breastfeeding success has always been an important goal for Birth Boot Camp and breastfeeding education is included in our online and in-person classes through a long and detailed video presentation by Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC. One thing that often throws people off in their breastfeeding journey is the very early days and the confusion and lack of personal confidence that unexpected growth spurts can cause for the nursing mother. We love this guest today from Alex Rounds, an experienced breastfeeding mother and lactation counselor. Our hope is that you will read this and share it with expecting mothers so that they can thrive during the first months of breastfeeding. And, if you are really passionate about breastfeeding, taking her advice and giving mom a gift during this “10th day growth spurt” just might change a life and help preserve a nursing relationship. 

Enjoy!

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Experienced parents recognize some baby shower gifts don’t end up getting much use. We can’t predict what we’re really going to need until we meet our babies. But there are some things about infants that are predictable, like dirty diapers, sleep debt and growth spurts. We know babies grow quickly by the sheer volume of newborn to 0-3 month clothes on the registry, but the actual implications in terms of feeding aren’t often talked about. So I want to share a proposal that would make a fantastic tradition of giving a 10 day growth spurt gift/IOU to every mom out there. Women Infant and Children (WIC) Director Peter Schlichting brought up the idea with intent to give new moms extra attention and love at a time when hormone levels are dropping and infant needs are increasing as a way to promote continued breastfeeding, but a 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift should be for all moms.

All moms can probably use a little extra attention during the postpartum period, but breastfeeding moms and their newborns may especially benefit from a reminder around the time of the first major growth spurt. The gift of time and companionship when a new mom is home alone with what may seem to be an insatiable newborn can be incredible. In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are almost 80% but rates drop to 40% by 3 months (CDC, 2014), a drop largely attributed to concerns regarding milk supply (Li, R., Fein, S., Chen, J., & Grummer-Strawn, L 2008). Often this is misguided: it is not necessarily a supply issue but a growth spurt. If we can help moms get through the first growth spurt, maybe we can help increase breastfeeding rates at 3 months and beyond.

The gift can be anything from a pedicure, massage, lunch date or anything special for the mom. It should be something for the woman, not for her baby, and adaptable to whatever the moms needs are at the time. After giving birth, focus shifts from the woman to her baby, a new mother’s hormones are in flux and if she is like most women, she has lost a little sleep since her darling little one arrived. The combination of a baby with a growth spurt and a hormonal shifts can be rough on Moms to put it mildly, so a little extra attention and focus on the Mom can help her adapt and give Mom the boost she probably needs.

Getting out of the house might be a treat at this stage, but not all women are ready to venture out, so keep in mind your friend’s perspective. If you plan a trip out- you might want to include an hour of your time to help Mom get out the door with her little one, and to offer to drive. For Moms who aren’t ready to leave home, bringing take out lunch from a favorite restaurant or having a home visit by a massage therapist with postpartum experience can be phenomenal. Take the time together to ask how she is doing, if she’s getting enough help and how breastfeeding is going for her.

The first growth spurt usually occurs between 10 and 14 days and comes at an often difficult time for breastfeeding moms. Whether breastfeeding has started off without a hitch or with challenges, the breastfeeding mom may feel that things should be getting easier. But then a few weeks after birth the baby will increase the frequency and often amount of time spent at feedings. Uplifting mother centered support can be the light that helps her get through the frequent feedings that come with growth spurts. When you give her the 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift, talk with her, she how she’s doing, and ask her if she has noticed a growth spurt, and if she hasn’t yet, you can remind her to expect one soon.

Some points that are important to know about breastfeeding that can help Mom, family and friends understand breastfeeding are:

Milk production is triggered by demand. The more a baby nurses, the more milk will be produced.

Frequent feedings are normal for a few days during growth spurts but typically space out within 2-3 days.

Breastfeeding takes more time in the beginning but long term is less time consuming than formula feeding.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. It moves through their digestive system with ease. That’s why babies need to nurse frequently. Formula is more difficult to digest.

Newborns should breastfeed 12 or more times in 24 hours. At the same time, it’s important to watch babies hunger cues, and not necessarily go by the clock.

Babies may cluster feed, or feed several times over several hours, then take a break. This is normal.

If your friend who has planned to breastfeed is having trouble or has questions, many communities have La Leche League Chapters (find them here http://www.llli.org/webus.html) which typically hold monthly woman to woman support meetings. LLL leaders, Breastfeeding or Lactation Counselors, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and other professionals who specialize in breastfeeding are great resources too!

A little extra support, a treat, and a reminder about normal developments can help a new Mom when things may seem hard. Let’s do our best to help new moms transition into motherhood. Let’s make sure new Moms know they have a community that cares, who they can lean on, and that there are resources. And most of all, let’s take care of them.

Alex Rounds, Doula

In a nutshell, Alex Rounds is a moderately well-adjusted human being.  She is a member of La Leche League, a Breastfeeding Counselor, and Mom with a total of 8 years personal experience breastfeeding, not all of which were easy.  She has three fun, quirky and ever-challenging sweet kids. Presently, Alex’s time is consumed with homeschooling, studying midwifery, volunteering, providing breastfeeding support, and attending birth as a doula.

 

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