10 Tips to Gently Help Baby Sleep

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For new parents, one of the most frequently asked questions is “Are you getting any sleep?” What is a new couple to do when everyone wonders how you and your baby are “performing” in this area?  Here are a few simple tips that can help in those early days without resorting to less “baby-friendly” methods.

Understanding the basic needs and patterns of a newborn is very helpful.  This does not sound like a tip to help baby sleep, but it will guide you and lend wisdom. Flexibility and realistic understanding of newborn needs can help your baby make more sense to you.  Newborns do need to eat frequently and this does not last forever.  Some of the things below can, however, gently increase sleeping stretches or calm a needy baby.  As their stomach grows and milk increases, sometimes infants will have longer stretches of sleep, but pushing for that too early can stress everyone involved.  For a newborn, sleeping through the night probably means about a three hour stretch.  This increases! Don’t worry!  When you hear people complaining that their two month old won’t sleep for ten hour stretches, remember that they are only two months old.  This is a very young baby and they will require some patience.

Babies also experience growth spurts and these may cause an increase in wakefulness which can be jarring, but will often pass within a few days.  Developmental milestones such as crawling or teething can also disrupt sleep patterns.  Read what you can about infant needs and development. It will help in understanding what is normal behavior even if it does not involve long stretches of sleep.

Nursing or feeding your baby can be a great way to help them sleep.  Babies have small stomachs- about the size of a marble at birth- and their food is quickly digested.  A newborn has just come from the womb where he/she was constantly fed through the umbilical cord.  Your baby has never known hunger.

He will need to eat frequently in those early days and keeping him fed will often help baby be more calm and help with sleeping.  Also, many babies find comfort at the breast and will nod off and settle after a feeding.

Swaddling is a fairly simple way to mimic the tight, safe feeling that baby was so used to when they lived within your body.  Notice how a new baby will often startle when laid down on their back with nothing wrapped around them.  This space all around them is simply not something they have felt before!  Swaddling can help a baby feel secure, calm them, and aid in extending sleep a little longer.  You won’t want to swaddle your baby all the time, but during their nighttime sleep and a longer nap it can be very helpful.  Of course, do not over wrap or overheat the baby.

White Noise such as a vacuum, water noises, chatter from family, or even a noise machine can help a baby calm and extend sleep.  The white noise can also help drown out sharp or surprising noises that may startle a baby from sleep.  Just as swaddling helps a baby feel safe like they did in the womb, white noise might remind a baby of the gently lull of water noises they enjoyed before their birth.

Co-Sleeping is helpful for many moms and babies in extending sleeping stretches. Many newborns find great comfort from being near their mother; hearing her breathing and smelling her body as they rest.  This can also benefit mom because she won’t have to fully rise and run to another room when the baby is hungry, but can reach over to the side-car, co-sleeper, or her bed if they bed-share, and quickly feed baby before they are fully awake or upset and crying.

Bed-sharing should always be practiced with safety in mind and there are many options and methods that may work for you and be safe for your baby.  Never sleep with your baby in your bed if you have ingested anything that would make you less aware of their presence.

Movement is calming for many babies and can gently lull them to sleep.  Every grandmother on the planet knows how to place a baby on her shoulder and gently rock, walk, bounce, or soothe him or her.  Movement, like many of these other tips, reminds baby of their safe home before birth and can quickly help them calm.  The yoga ball you may have used in labor can come in handy after baby as a great place to bounce baby to sleep without having to walk the halls endlessly. Common baby devices like swings or bouncers can also aid in this. And, of course, grandmother is always a great option!

Notice your baby’s rhythm after the first six weeks or so.  While many push a strict schedule on a baby, experienced mothers know that babies will often settle into their own rhythm rather quickly.  It helps if your own life has some routine to it so that baby can settle in around that. Babies often crave regular, predictable, rhythms.  These things can be comforting to children as they grow and lend a sense of safety.

Many notice something like the following:  Baby wakes around 6am and eats, then goes back to sleep for another hour or so.  After waking at 7am the baby will be wakeful for a few hours then need a morning nap.  This nap can vary greatly in length but may be as long as a few hours.  (This is your time to SLEEP if you are behind!) After the morning nap your baby may be wakeful for an hour or two and then need an early afternoon nap.  Often baby will take another evening nap after this for an hour or so and then be awake and alert and wanting to be held during dinner!  Some babies will then go back down in the evening and sleep (sometimes) for one longer stretch- maybe even four hours!  This might not be when you normally go to sleep, but it may be your best chance to get a big chunk of sleep.  Don’t waste it!  Babies often awake again around 10pm or so and may be up every few hours again throughout the night.

Of course this rhythm is not universal, but if you pay attention you will find that your child will develop his or her own little routine and helping support that and being aware of it can actually increase sleep and help you prioritize your time. Some babies will just be happier and less overstimulated if you keep to a simple home-life routine for the first few months of their life. Don’t feel bad if you are not trotting the globe! Baby is growing quickly and he or she (and you!) need rest for that important work.

Babywearing can be a beautiful combination of swaddling, movement, and closeness to mother.  Many babies sleep well when in some kind of carrier, close to mom. Even when sick or overtired, babywearing can be just the thing to calm baby. If you do need to be out with baby, don’t forget your carrier so that they can still keep their sleeping rhythm while away from the house. While babywearing while away can be useful, don’t forget that some babies find the comfort of the home soothing and more conducive to sleep.

Car rides are something that many parents turn to when nothing else works.  The rhythm and noise of the car will sometimes help a baby sleep when all else fails. If this is what works for you, don’t be afraid to use it on occasion!  Obviously you can’t live in the car, but sometimes you just need to do what works.

Take a break! No matter what works or doesn’t work for you, don’t be ashamed to take a break.  Maybe this will be when your partner returns home, or maybe you will need a mom’s group, babysitter, grandmother, or friend to help. If no one is around, sometimes, you might just need to set baby down in a safe place and walk away for a moment.  An infant can quickly sense tension and a change in who is holding them may help them settle if mom is stressed and needs a break.

All mothers experience the frustration of sleep at some point with their newborn.  This is almost universal.  Don’t worry if you can’t figure everything out on day one, you are in good company.  Take a breath, ask for help, and forgive yourself.  You will learn as the baby grows and things will come together, in time.

Will all these tips work for you? Most likely not.  That is OK.  Take what works, try things out, and you will find the best solution for your family.

In the end, what other people always say about this time with a baby being short- it is true.  Babies do not last forever, they soon grow and sleep stretches grow with them. The learning and the challenges change but the knowledge and patience you gain at this stage will help you in the years to come.

Additional reading that may be helpful to you:

The Sleep Book by Dr Sears

Sweet Dreams by Paul Fleiss

Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr Harvey Karp (Video available also)

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family by West, Smith and Pitman

 

Cytotec in Birth

Cytotec in birth

Once you begin researching birth, you will probably stumble up the product known as Cytotec. Because of a powerful ability to cause uterine contractions, Cytotec has found its way into obstetric practice. What should you know about Cytotec before your birth?

Basic facts about Cytotec

Cytotec is a medication used to prevent gastric ulcers, specifically those caused by NSAIDS. Cytotec is not approved for use in labor induction, despite its common use. Cytotec is also known as Misoprostol or Miso and is a synthetic prostaglandin. Natural prostaglandins are produced and found in many places in the body, including  seminal fluid, which helps show how Cytotec can act as a labor induction agent, like a natural prostaglandin might. Cytotec is also sometimes used in conjunction with mifepristone to cause abortion.

Cytotec and Labor Induction

Because Cytotec is a synthetic prostaglandin, it can cause uterine contractions. Because of this, it is frequently used in labor induction, both in and out of the hospital. Cytotec comes in pill form and is typically cut in half (since the pill is not intended for labor induction it is not dosed properly for such) and then inserted into the vagina and onto the cervix. The pill then dissolves quickly and contractions often begin. Cytotec can be given a variety of ways including orally, sublingually, rectally, and buccally.

Because the drug dissolves, it is impossible to remove once administered, as opposed to Pitocin, which is administered via IV and can be turned off or down, if needed. Still, some like to use Cytotec as a cervical ripener, often in place of (but sometimes in conjunction with) something like Cervidil or Prepadil.

Studies have been conducted comparing Cytotec to Cervidil (prostaglandin E2) and found that Cytotec caused quicker deliveries but increased hyperstimulation.

“Although misoprostol in women at term with an unfavourable cervix and intact membranes was more effective than PgE2 in achieving vaginal delivery within 24 hours, misoprostol does not reduce the rate of caesarean delivery either in all women or in the subgroup of nulliparous women, and it increases the rates of tachysystole and hyperstimulation.” (12)

It is interesting to note that the above study, in which Cervidil and Cytotec were compared in their ability to ripen a closed or “unfavorable” cervix, the primary outcome was cesarean, with the second most common outcome being hyperstimulation and tachysystole.

A Cochrane review had this to say about Cytotec useage:

“Sometimes it is necessary to bring on labour artificially because of safety concerns for the mother or baby. Misoprostol is a hormone given by insertion through the vagina or rectum, or by mouth to ripen the cervix and bring on labour. The review of 121 trials found that larger doses of misoprostol are more effective than prostaglandin and that oxytocin is used in addition less often. However, misoprostol also increases hyperstimulation of the uterus. With smaller doses, the results are similar to other methods. The trials reviewed are too small to determine whether the risk of rupture of the uterus is increased. More research is needed into the safety and best dosages of misoprostol. Another Cochrane review has shown that the oral route of administration is preferable to the vaginal route.” (13)

Despite the effectiveness of Cytotec in labor induction, there is still debate on proper doses and if it is the proper choice, as opposed to other induction drugs.

Cytotec and VBAC

Induction has long been questioned among VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) mothers. This is primarily because of the risk of uterine rupture being higher among VBAC mothers than those with an unscarred uterus, and due to the additionally increased risk of rupture when induction agents like Pitocin, Cytotec, or Cervadil are used. Combining a scarred uterus with a drug that stimulates the uterus is considered riskier.

However:

“ACOG guidelines and other authors indicate that oxytocin use during VBAC is acceptable.” (11)

Sometimes, induction becomes necessary for VBAC mothers. When needed, it has been found that lower dosages of Pitocin is the best course of option and is preferable over Cytotec or Cervidil.

“While they [Cytotec and Cervidil] were initially considered safe for use during VBAC, current reports describe ruptures in approximately 2.5 percent of women after their use (one out of 40 cases).” (11)

These rupture rates are considerably higher than those in typical VBAC mothers. When induction becomes necessary for a VBAC mother, Cytotec and other prostaglandins increase rupture rates more so than Pitocin does.

Controversy Surrounding Cytotec

Any uterine stimulant (Pitocin, Cytotec, Cervidil) can cause hyperstimulation and even rupture of the uterus. In the natural birth community, Cytotec is particularly controversial.  Known as a drug which has caused both damage and death in induction mishaps, many discourage its use.

Part of this stems from this statement by the FDA addressing induction and postpartum use of Cytotec:

“These [induction and postpartum hemorrhage prevention] uses are not approved by the FDA. No company has sent the FDA scientific proof that misoprostol is safe and effective for these uses.

There can be serious side effects, including a torn uterus (womb), when misoprostol is used for labor and delivery. A torn uterus may result in severe bleeding, having the uterus removed (hysterectomy), and death of the mother or baby. These side effects are more likely in women who have had previous uterine surgery, a previous Cesarean delivery (C-section), or several previous births.” (1)

Litigation regarding the drug has also been telling.  While Cytotec is cheap and easy to administer, it has also been the subject of the largest medical malpractice suit to date.  David Woodruff won a California family a 70 million dollar award against a hospital and HMO who administered the drug in an induction.(4) The induction ended with a baby badly brain damaged by the powerful contractions that resulted.  The money was sought, in part, to provide continued care for the child.

This video clip tells the story surrounding this landmark case.

http://www.hwkslaw.com/video/denver-birth-injury-attorney.mp4

Stories of babies and women damaged or killed by Cytotec misuse, lawsuits, and the FDA’s lack of endorsement contribute to an overall distrust of this medication especially among those seeking natural birth.

Cytotec for postpartum

Despite the controversy surrounding Cytotec, the drug is useful in certain capacities relating to labor and birth, and is particularly helpful in stopping postpartum hemorrhage.

When used postpartum, Cytotec is often inserted rectally and can cause contractions of the uterus which can quickly staunch postpartum bleeding, thus preventing excessive blood loss and even death.

“A descriptive study showed that 1000 µg of rectally administered misoprostol, when given to patients who failed to respond to oxytocin and ergotamine, controlled postpartum hemorrhage within 3 minutes.” (8)

Some research has also found oral administration to be effective.  However, it is generally recommended that better studied oxytonics, such as Pitocin, be used; although, Cytotec is thought to be a good option in third world countries.

Cytotec has the capacity to save lives, when used appropriately. As with all other drugs and interventions, overuse, unnecessary administration, and excessive doses can do harm.

Be sure to speak to your care provider and find out how they will employ this powerful medication in relation to your birth.

Sources

FDA Statement regarding Cytotec

1. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm111315.htm

Package insert:

2. http://www.rxlist.com/cytotec-drug.htm

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misoprostol

Cytotec lawsuit:

4. http://www.lawweekonline.com/2012/05/david-woodruff-wins-case-of-the-year/

5. http://www.examiner.com/article/denver-attorney-receives-case-of-the-year-honor

6. http://www.hwkslaw.com/video/denver-birth-injury-attorney.mp4

Overview:

7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684033/#bib2

8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760893/

Cytotec and VBAC:

9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10368501

10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15036710

11. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0901/p823.html

Cytotec compared to PgE2:

12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17081181

Cochrane Review of Misoprostol use and safety:

13. http://apps.who.int/rhl/reviews/CD000941.pdf

Cytotec postpartum:

14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10432138

15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9091012

16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9790395

Birth Story

We are excited to share today an inspiring birth story from a couple that took a live Birth Boot Camp class.  Their story is wonderful, honest, and triumphant. The right birth team (including a doula!), a confident partner, and serious preparation can make a world of difference in your birth. Enjoy reading!

 

PREGNANCY

Nothing about my pregnancy was textbook. I had no morning sickness, suffered no constipation and my boobs were never sore. My appetite never changed and I had no weird cravings. In addition, I ended up giving birth to my son at 13lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight (and 7 weeks postpartum I am over 40lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight).

I said, many times, that if I hadn’t known I was pregnant, I wouldn’t have known I was pregnant. At 40 weeks, I was so content and comfortable in my pregnancy that I truly feel I could have stayed pregnant for several more months. I told a number of people this, and I received the most quizzical looks. I just felt SO GOOD.

So why did my doctor insist on judging me when I went in for an initial pregnancy confirmation? Why did she feel the need to tell me that I would likely end up with gestational diabetes, which would likely require induction or a possible c-section. Oh! That’s right! Because I’m plus-sized. Apparently a person can’t be plus-sized and healthy. I mean, obviously tipping the scales at 324lbs means I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and eat a diet short in vegetables and high in fast food. Except, it doesn’t. I have never had a cholesterol problem, I have never had high blood pressure and I eat a well balanced diet with a homemade dinner every night.

The judgment I received from my doctors office, in addition to the free formula sample I was given at that appointment (as are all new parents,) solidified my already growing interest in having my baby at home under the care of a home birth midwife. And so I did.

My midwife is amazing. She had no judgments of me based on my size. She provided helpful tips to ensure that I would maintain my health, and the health my baby, during the pregnancy. She laughed at the way my doctor filed me away into a specific category. We celebrated a victory together when my gestational diabetes test came back just as we expected – negative. She high-fived me every time I weighed in a few pounds lighter than the time before, all while we watched my belly expand and baby grow just as he should. She and I knew that I was a prefect candidate for an intervention free birth.

As I approached the 40 week mark, I grew anxious to meet this little person that the mister and I had created. This little wiggle worm who never once kicked me hard enough to cause me pain. This perfect little person that had dozens of people already head over heels in love with him.

LABOR

On Saturday April 13th (at 40w3d) I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with the most horrendous stomach cramps – much like when you have a stomach virus and absolutely MUST go to the bathroom RIGHT-THAT-SECOND. So I quickly waddled my way to the bathroom… except nothing happened. The sensation went away, to then be replaced by intense pressure in my lower abdomen. I thought, “well – this is interesting, and NOTHING like I had expected. Could this possibly be the start of labor??”

I waddled my way back to bed, and figured I’d try to sleep through whatever was happening. Except I was so excited at the prospect of this being IT that I couldn’t get back to sleep.

The pressure sensations remained, and sleep remained elusive, so I took myself downstairs to my couch – it’s the place I always want to snuggle up when I’m not feeling well. As soon as I settled down into it, I fell right asleep; waking every 15 minutes or so to another pressure sensation. At around 7am, I decided to go upstairs and let the mister know that we seemed to be onto something here.

He bolted out of bed with an enthusiastic: “IS IT TIME!?” and set to working on our list of things to

do in early labor, which included stocking up our bare fridge and pantry. I called my best friend, Seana, who was also my doula, as well as my midwife to let them know that there was SOMETHING happening. Seana said she’d be by in a couple hours to scope things out, and that I shouldn’t be surprised if it eventually stopped. The thought of whatever was happening suddenly stopping frightened me. My sister-in-law had 3 days of prodromal labor, and I was not keen on experiencing a fate similar to hers.

Sadly, after many hours of semi-regular pressure waves they started to be further and further apart. By 7pm that night, they were completely gone.

I went to bed certain that I’d have a repeat performance, so every time I woke during the night to pee. I silently scolded my body for not kicking labor into gear. When the mister and I woke up Sunday morning (April 14th, 40w4d) we were both disappointed that nothing happened. I decided to lounge in bed, while he went downstairs to make breakfast (can I just share that he is A-MAZE-ING).

About an hour after eating (scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast with goat cheese, for those wondering) I bolted out of bed with the same urgency as the last time. Except, this time my bowels emptied themselves. Several times. Oh great, I remember thinking, I’ve caught some type of stomach bug!

I make my way back to bed and decide that sleeping the day away sounds completely justifiable. My body, however, had other ideas. The pressure sensations from the day before were back, and yet completely different. They were less pressure and more pain. Chris and I timed them for an hour before we decided we should notify both the midwife and Seana.

Since my contractions were only lasting about 30 seconds and coming every 7-8 minutes, we were instructed to call the midwife back when they were lasting at least a minute and coming every 5.

This is where my details start to get fuzzy… well, not the details, but their sequence of order. I remember my friend Emily stopping by with the potatoes we asked her to pick up for us (for the stew Chris was making for the midwives). I remember throwing up (several times!). I remember coming downstairs for a bit and I remember Seana coming by to time contractions and eventually leaving to tend to some errands she had. At some point, I went back upstairs to our bedroom (which had become quite cave-like with the drapes shut).

As the contractions increased in duration and intensity, I did whatever felt right to me. While I was downstairs I laid on the couch, but would jump up and walk over to our wall and lean against it, swaying my hips, with each contraction. While I was upstairs I did much the same, but would start off on the birth ball or the bed. Somehow I managed to pass out, more or less, and snooze hardcore in-between each contraction. Since the contractions came on in a wave-like sensation (meaning the sensation would start off very mild and build up into its full intensity, only to taper off again) I was always given fair warning before they got too intense.

I very much labored within myself, focusing solely on the sensation of the contraction and breathing/rocking/moaning through it. I didn’t want to be touched or talked to. Poor Chris; we had taken two different birthing classes to learn how he can help me cope with the intensity of labor and I wanted NONE of it.

Eventually the midwife came by to check on me. Since I had a colposcopy a few years back, she wanted to work out any scar tissue sooner than later, and it’s a good thing she did! Though I have no idea how long I’d been laboring at this point, when she came by I was only at a 1, but with some evening primrose oil and some massaging I popped open to a 3 with my next contraction.

My midwife then left, as I had a ways to go. I continued to labor in my own little world – pacing around the upstairs, leaning against walls, rocking on the birth ball. I just kept doing what I felt like doing. Eventually, though, I wanted to just curl up and sleep so I parked myself on the bed and stayed there until the tub was filled.

And oh happy day when the tub was ready! I parked my happy self in there and just floated in my little warm oasis between each contraction. Seana, bless her doula soul, gently poured warm water over my back, shoulders, neck, and chest and it was GLORIOUS! She and Chris took turns wiping my face with a cool washcloth, and after each contraction I was offered water (which was actually an electrolyte mix Seana made with essential oils and honey). I felt like a queen! Like a hard working queen.

At some point my midwife reappeared and checked me again, massaging my cervix some more. I was a 6 and with some massaging I opened to almost an 8. I had a cervical lip, so she instructed me to do some lunges with each contraction, which I wasn’t happy about, (I was still in the pool) but I diligently did with each oncoming contraction.

As the evening progressed, I realized I was hungry and hadn’t eaten for HOURS (no thanks to all my early labor barfing) and I asked for something to munch on. I nibbled on saltine crackers and honey, which helped to work out my jaw that had decided to seize up on me, and continued to joke and chat. I surprised even myself with my chatter and jokes, since I knew that (at last check) I was coming into transition… and I was DREADING IT. All my reading had told me that transition was going to be awful. Yes, it’s usually the shortest phase of labor, but it also tends to be the hardest. So I waited… and waited… and waited. Then I started to feel pushy with each contraction. When my midwife checked me again, I was good to go. Holy hell, I didn’t have a “the world is ending, rip this baby from my body, NOW” transition.

I started pushing in the birth tub… I THINK I was more or less squatting, but I really don’t remember. After some time, (since I had no concept of time, I really have no idea how long, exactly) I was asked to move from the birth tub to the birthing stool, since the tub didn’t seem to be working. I begrudgingly hoisted myself out of the tub and onto the stool.

When the stool wasn’t producing any results, I laid down on the bed and had a very hospital like experience. There were no stirrups, but I had two people holding my legs up and I curled my chin down onto my chest and pushed with all my might. When this still yielded no results, a grab bar was brought in and with my two legs being supported, a third person held the other end of the bar and pulled.

This continued for some unknown amount of time and I was getting exhausted. I knew it was sometime after 8pm, because the one and only time I asked for the time it was 8-something. What I didn’t know, is that it was also after midnight by then, and with only saltine crackers, honey and Seana’s electrolyte beverage fueling me, I had more or less reached my limit. In addition, my contractions were now double and triple peaking, so I was working MUCH harder than before. The team could tell I was getting too tired, and they tried all they could to motivate me.

 

Seana knew how much I was looking forward to reclining back on ANYTHING, since I had been avoiding it at nearly all costs for fear of a posterior baby. She kept telling me that “very soon you’ll be able to recline back as much as you like!”. Chris was a champ, telling me over and over again how much he loves me, and what a wonderful job I was doing. Though they meant well, they felt like words that have been said a thousand times to a thousand different women, and I found no encouragement in them.

I continued to push with each contraction, thankful that I had a few minutes in between, but complaining every time a new one crept up. I think I said, “Oh man, not again!” more times that night that I’ve ever said in my entire life! With each push that the water didn’t break, I was becoming more hopeful that little man would be born in the sac, which is a rather rare occurrence and has strong spiritual meaning in some cultures. Seana could see that the bag of waters was holding back my progress, and though she also wanted him born within it, she decided it was time to break it.

After a few more pushes with the grab bar, my midwife suggested I have a shot of vitamin B to boost my energy levels, as she could tell my pushes weren’t as effective as they had been earlier. Not one to want to prolong the entire experience, I quickly agreed and took the shot in the butt. I was then moved back onto the birth stool and I could instantly tell that the Vitamin B was doing the job. The contractions were much more intense (not more painful), though they were still double and triple stacked.

As I was pushing with all my might, I could hear Seana and my midwife discussing little man’s hair color, since they could see his head. OMG! We’re almost there if they can see his head! THIS was the determination that I needed, because within a few minutes, I felt a LOT of stinging (I recall more or less crying that it strung WAY too much) and then this release of pressure… not too dissimilar to taking a GIANT poop after being constipated for a few days.

I heard crying instantly, and there was a bustle of activity as little man was lifted up onto my chest for me to snuggle on.

Holy crap. I had just given birth.

Before I could even really let it all sink in, the activity picked up again and little man had his cord clamped. Though we had intended to do delayed cord clamping, his umbilical cord actually snapped on its own. We have absolutely no idea why, or how… they are quite strong. So for his to have literally snapped, (not to mention have several other gashes as well as some micro tears) is a mystery that we will probably never have an answer to.

After 17 hours of labor, including 2 hours of pushing, and a second degree tear (requiring a few stitches) Colin Christoper Avedano-Tucker was born into the hands of his Auntie Seana on Monday April 15th at 2:34a.m.  We are absolutely smitten with our little miracle!

 

(All photos graciously contributed by Babymoon Birth Services in Sonoma County.  You can find her here: http://babymoonbirthservices.weebly.com/  and here:  https://www.facebook.com/Doula.Seana.)

 

UCSD “Doula of the Year” Awarded to Birth Boot Camp Instructor

Birth Boot Camp has been honored to have so many amazing instructors who can be found across the country. Today we want to recognize one of them, Debbe Canonne. Debbe certified as an instructor in September at our San Clemente, CA training.  

Debbe volunteers as a doula with Heart & Hands, a volunteer doula program associated with the University of California in San Diego (UCSD). The UCSD Heart & Hands program strives to provide a doula for any woman who needs one birthing at their hospital. Debbe (who was also a doula at her own grandchild’s birth!) has volunteered for 675 hours with Heart and Hands and been present at a total of 42 births. Of those only 3 were cesarean sections, proof in and of itself that doulas are a powerful asset to a birth.  

Here is a picture of Debbe with her plaque:

 

And here is a picture of the gorgeous ice sculpture commemorating the unique, service oriented, doula program that Heart & Hands organizes for UCSD.  

Debbe is also a certified lactation education counselor. After attending births she saw how many women needed help with breastfeeding immediately after the birth. She says,

“Even though this is the most natural way to feed a baby and babies are born with innate actions that assist them in doing this (smell, rooting, sucking, head bobbing, etc.), it is still a learning experience for both the new mother and her baby. I became a certified lactation education counselor (CLEC) soon after joining Hearts & Hands to facilitate that learning.”

We love having Debbe on the Birth Boot Camp team. Not only is she one of the most fun and energetic people you will ever meet, her experience and tenderness make her an asset to any birth.  

We love to hear why instructors chose to certify with Birth Boot Camp. Debbe says:  

“I choose Birth Boot Camp because of it’s strong evidence-based curriculum and great class materials-including the breastfeeding DVD. As a CLEC, I was totally impressed with the information on that DVD for new moms.”

Debbe is truly a great lady who strives to serve women in her community. If you are looking for a childbirth class or a doula in the San Diego area, check her out.  You can read more about Debbe on her website here-  http://www.douladebbebirthingbasics.com/


Kudos to women like Debbe and organizations like Heart & Hands that are making knowledge and support related to birth more accessible for ALL women. We are glad to know you.

 

Postpartum Must Haves (That Nobody Mentions!)

Every woman who gives birth will deal with postpartum recovery.  Despite the universal nature of this time in our lives, we seem reluctant to talk about the realities of what happens and what we need to be more comfortable.  Here are a few items and tips that you won’t regret preparing before the birth of your baby.

Pads and Diapers

Of course you need some kind of diaper for your baby, but unbeknownst to most women is how helpful grown up diapers are for mom.  Women lose blood immediately after birth and it continues on for weeks.  The time and heaviness of postpartum blood loss (or lochia) varies from one woman to the next and is often heaviest with the first baby.

Typically, blood loss will be heaviest in the initial days following birth and slowly decrease until it is mostly or totally gone by about the sixth week.  Having a wide variety of pads (and yes a few pairs of mom sized diapers) on hand is a wonderful idea and one which will save your partner the awkward moment of trying to figure out what feminine products you might want during a midnight trip to the corner store.

Extra Sheets

Having an extra sheet folded and placed under your side of the bed for the first few weeks can also be helpful and save you from needing to wash all your linens each morning .  Giving birth can produce a lot of fluids.

As mentioned above, there will be blood loss.  (We recommend the diapers because they tend to ensure that blood won’t get on your bed.)  In addition to blood loss, the first days of milk coming in can involve a lot of leaking, particularly at night.  If you are practicing some form of safe co-sleeping or just have your baby with you intermittently in the night, there can also be spit-up in your bed.  In addition to that, newborn diapers can, occasionally, be explosive.  Sleeping with an extra flat sheet (folded in half or in quarters) can make it easy to just throw that in the laundry in the morning, when necessary, rather than stripping the entire bed.

Nursing Station

With their tiny, ping-pong ball sized tummy, a newborn baby needs to eat frequently.  You, by necessity, will spend a lot of time sitting and feeding that sweet and hungry little baby.  Having a special “station” reserved and set up for just that can really relieve some stress.  A basket full of your nursing necessities is a wonderful idea, as it can be easily moved wherever you end up feeding the baby.

Some things to include in your nursing station basket might be:

  • Diapers and wipes for your baby.  Babies often have a bowel movement after eating.  Did I mention their little tummies?!  Having something set up means that if you need to change them after they nurse on one side then you won’t have to get up and fumble around in another room for what you need.
  • Snacks and drinks for mama.  Every time baby eats, you lose some calories.  And while it may be true that in our weight obsessed society, postpartum women are often pressured to lose weight immediately, you will need healthy calories, frequently.  Stashing some healthy snacks can curb your cravings and help you avoid junk.  Don’t forget the water- nursing takes a lot of your fluids and gives them to baby, so stay hydrated!  You will feel better and it might even help with your milk supply.
  • Lip balm.  For some reason, sitting and feeding that baby can really make your lips feel dry.  Having some lip balm on hand can make you more comfortable.
  • TV remote, phone, or a book.  Staring into the eyes of your fresh babe is a wonderful pastime and one not to be missed!  Sometimes, you might want have some reading material, a show to watch, or even just have your phone on hand to communicate with others, when you do have the downtime that nursing requires.

Breastfeeding Resources

For some women, breastfeeding is as natural as eating.  For others it can be a bumpy road, especially in the early days.  For this reason it can be incredibly important to have on hand some resources so that you have help when you need it most.

Books such as “The Breastfeeding Book” by Dr Sears, “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding” or “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League International, are all wonderful resources that you can turn to in the middle of the night.

Local resources like the numbers for your local La Leche League, lactation consultant, or even some good friends who successfully nursed their babies will be invaluable.  Never underestimate the help that a trained and experienced woman can do for your nursing relationship.

We also highly recommend our DVD, “Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE” because of it’s professional quality, fabulous interviews, and in-depth information from IBCLC, Mellanie Shepherd.  This DVD is of amazing quality and can answer many questions, in case you don’t have typical local resources available to you.  Not to mention, that video can make great entertainment while you sit and nurse!  You can find our breastfeeding DVD on Amazon.

Baby Items

While your typical postpartum lists include only things that a baby won’t even remember like shoes, changing tables, and matching nurseries, you might find some more practical items to be even more helpful.  A few, easy to put on, outfits for baby, like buttoned footed sleepers or sleep sacs can be great for those early days when baby sleeps and needs to be changed a lot.  A baby carrier such as a sling or soft shelled carrier can keep even a fussy baby content while, at the same time, freeing up your hands for other work you need to do.  Other than that, your baby won’t have many needs that don’t directly involve your love and attention.

A safe place for your baby to sleep is a necessity too, but needn’t be an expensive crib.  Babies are often happier (and can stay closer to mom and dad) in a bassinet, a sidecar, or a co-sleeper.  What is most important is that baby is safe, on firm bedding, and feels loved.

Comfortable Clothes

Nobody wants to listen to that sound advice, “Sleep when baby sleeps,” but it really is a good idea.  Some comfortable clothes can really help you be able to snatch sleep when you need it.  A few things that have some stretch and can be worn as your body returns back to its pre-pregnancy state really come in handy.  Getting yourself a couple things that are both stretchy and make you feel cute might be a lovely investment.

The sage advice from experienced midwives to “Dress so that people won’t stay too long at your home,” might also be important to listen to so you don’t get too overtired in the first weeks when you really need to rest.

Chore Chart

Figuring out who will do what in those initial weeks is incredibly reassuring.  A house still needs to be run and kept in serviceable order so that everyone can eat and function, but mom should not be wearing herself out doing it, especially in the first few weeks.  Whether dad, a close friend, grandma, or a postpartum doula helps out, make sure that the things you need are covered.  A simple list of what needs to be done can be found in the final chapters of your Birth Boot Camp Field Guide.  Fill it out.  You won’t regret it.

~

When you have a baby, there is recovery involved.  Being prepared for the things that nobody ever talks about can help you mentally, emotionally, and physically in the early postpartum period.  Your health and happiness will make that transition from woman to mother that much easier.

It might sound a little messy, but the early days with a baby are short, intense, yet indescribably beautiful. Enjoy and prepare for them!

Birth Boot Camp Statistics 2012-2013

Birth Boot Camp® childbirth classes strive to prepare couples for natural birth. In an effort to continually improve our curriculum and provide the absolute best education available, we seek feedback from our students.

Our instructors are required to compile statistics from their students. As a company, we spend many hours reaching out to our online students to find out how their births went and their thoughts on the class. We compile all of the information we receive and use it to make updates and improvements.

At the time of this posting, we have received reports on 359 students, total.

Without further ado, we present the current Birth Boot Camp statistics:

In contrast, the national US C-section rate is 32.8%. (Source, CDC.)

The overall US epidural rate is 61%. (Source, CDC.)

We are excited that we can offer an education that can help families have the birth that they desire.

You CAN have an amazing birth! Education makes the difference.

Curious to learn more about Birth Boot Camp and our natural childbirth classes? We have an online birth class option and/or natural childbirth instructors in your area. We also offer a comprehensive, 2-disk breastfeeding DVD, “Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE.”

 

Pre Birth Acupuncture (Guest Post by Peyton Theodore, L.Ac., MTCM, BBCI)

Pre birth acupuncture is acupuncture that is administered when a woman reaches full term, or 37 weeks. The focus of the acupuncture treatments is to prepare a woman for birth – both physically and emotionally, and to promote a healthy, natural labor and birth.

From a physical perspective, would you choose a shorter, less painful labor, with less need for intervention, if you could?

Research shows the physical benefits of pre birth acupuncture include:

Lessened need for interventions, including epidural, C-section, medical induction. ¹ ²
Cervical ripening. ³
Shorter duration of active labor. 4

From a Traditional Chinese Medical perspective, acupuncture works to open and balance the meridians coursing the uterus, cervix, hips, and pelvic area. Specific points are chosen to help create optimal conditions for birth; and assist in opening up the Qi (vital life force) & blood flowing between mother and baby, releasing any blockages (physical and emotional), strengthening the mother’s energy, calming the nervous system, and building reserves for birth and the postpartum period.

From an emotional perspective, the time period before birth can bring up an array of emotions fear, feeling overwhelmed, and exhaustion. Emotional health is always addressed in Traditional Chinese Medicine and if not addressed, is believed to lead to possible birth complications.

To help balance and release emotions, acupuncture points are selected for the individual’s needs on the following meridians:

Kidney/Urinary Bladder — Fear, Lack of Willpower

Spleen/Stomach — Worrying, Excessive Thinking

Liver/Gallbladder — Stress, Anger or Irritability

Lung/Large Intestine — Grief, Withdrawl

Heart/Small Intestine — Sadness, Lack of Vitality

Pre Birth Acupuncture offers an opportunity for a mother to maximize her potential for success during one of the most profound experiences of her life, to connect with her baby before this transition, and to feeling centered and peaceful…all of which will support labor and delivery.

Recommended Pre Birth Acupuncture includes 2 treatments per week from 37-39 weeks and 3 treatments per week from 40-42 weeks.

 

Peyton Theodore Web
 
Peyton Theodore, L.Ac., MTCM, BBCI
 
Peyton is a California State Licensed Acupuncturist, Health Coach, Childbirth Educator, Reiki Master, & Certified Meditation Teacher. She specializes in Obstetric Acupuncture at Cardiff Acupuncture in Solana Beach, California. For more information visit www.cardiffacupuncture.com 
 
 

1. Acupuncture in the management of pain in labor. 2002 Skilnand E, Fossen D, Heiberg E. Source Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, County Hospital of Oestfold, Fredrikstad, Norway.

2. Acupuncture as pain relief during delivery: a randomized controlled trial. 2009 Borup L, Wurlitzer W, Hedegaard M, Kesmodel US, Hvidman L.

3. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labor at term — a randomized controlled trial. 2001 Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P.

4. Acupuncture administered after spontaneous rupture of membranes at term significantly reduces the length of birth and use of oxytocin. A randomized controlled trial. 2006  Gaudernack LC, Forbord S, Hole E.

5. The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2006 Betts, Debra.

 

Do It Yourself Newborn Photography Tips

In the current economy and with the easy availability of advanced cameras, a lot of new parents are looking to take their own pictures of their newborn baby.

Although North America’s Top Newborn Celebrity Photographers Keri Meyers & Jennifer Blakeley recommend you hire a professional newborn photographer, they have developed some tips for those looking to handle the photo shoot independently, but most importantly, safely.

Says Keri Meyers,

“If you’re going to handle the shoot yourself, the most important tip is safety.  Always ensure your newborn baby is in a safe environment and position,” added Meyers, who recently launched NewbornPhotography.com with Blakeley.  The site is dedicated to helping new parents find the industries top photographers in their area.

For new parents that want to handle the shoot themselves, Keri & Jen have offered up these Top 10 Do-It-Yourself Newborn Photography Tips:

1. Natural light – Instead of using a harsh camera flash, position the baby and yourself in a room that has natural light coming from a window.  This will help to create more subtle and appealing shadows and texture.

2. Depth of field or blur – Use a large aperture with a long focal point, and if that doesn’t make sense to you, then stick your digital camera on “portrait” mode, and it will provide you a nice and soft background blur.

3. Get in close – Get down on the floor and get as close to the baby’s eye level as possible with your camera.  This will give you a more personal point of view.

4. Clear the background – Clothes, pillows, empty water bottles, whatever the case, de-clutter the background.

5. Soothing Sounds – Use white noise (i.e. hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, or iPhone app).

6. Timing is everything – The first few days and couple of weeks when your baby is still sleepy and curled up is the most ideal time for a newborn photo shoot.  Make sure your baby is well fed, and wait for your precious little one to doze off.  Patience is required to maneuver your baby into the correct position.

7. Don’t forget the “small things” – Those cute, tiny hands and feet are going to grow FAST, so get them on camera before it’s too late.

8. Don’t forget the “firsts” – Your baby’s first bath, steps, crawl and even first piece of “human food”, make sure to capture as many “firsts” as possible.

9. Candid photos – Sometimes the best photos are caught in the “spur of the moment”, so carry your camera phone whenever possible.

10. Get in the shot – Your child will want to know what mom and dad looked like while you were taking the photos, so don’t forget to ask someone to take your photo, or get a tripod and self time a family photography.

 

For more information, visit www.NewbornPhotography.com

 

About Keri Meyers & Jennifer Blakeley

Keri Meyers & Jennifer Blakeley are considered North America’s top celebrity newborn photographers in the business.

The duo has photographed Ian Ziering of Beverly Hills 90210 fame and his wife Erin and their newborn baby Penna, Brian Austin Green & Megan Fox and baby Noah, Donald Trump Jr., Vanessa Trump and their newborn baby Spencer and Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg, his wife and their newborn daughter Adeline, to name just a few.

 

Curious to learn more about Birth Boot Camp and our natural childbirth classes?  We have an online birth class option and natural birth instructors in your area.  We also offer a comprehensive two disk breastfeeding DVD, “Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE”.

Birth Boot Camp- Training Couples in Natural Birth