Normal isn't just a setting on the dryer.

A doula isn’t a care provider. A doula isn’t in charge if something weird or abnormal happens. A doula’s first response to a concerned parent should be, “Have you checked with your care provider?” 

A doula’s expertise lies in normal. 

So why hire a doula?

Normal: It's not just a setting on the dryer.

Normal: It's not just a setting on the dryer.

Because normal is hard.

The learning curve for parenting is steep. It’s trial by fire: already sleep deprived parents come home with their new baby, who is adjusting to life without womb service.

And the parents have to figure out all those little newborn cues quickly while learning brand new skills, like how to change a diaper, how to feed a baby, and how to use a Nose Frida. (Yes, it's really a snot sucker. Yes, it's a real thing. Yes, parents really like them.)

And they have to log every time they feed the baby, how long the feeding  takes, every time the baby needs a diaper change, and anything else their care provider deems necessary to make sure the baby is healthy and growing.

Not to mention, all of these normal questions arise that must be answered:

How do I breastfeed? How do I give a bottle? How much milk does a newborn take? How long does it take to breastfeed? Why is my baby crying? How do I soothe a crying baby? 

There isn’t really a textbook black and white guide for every situation.

A doula teaches parents how to soothe a crying baby. A doula provides helpful techniques for those first baths.

A doula knows how to give twins their bottles at the same time. The real magic happens when twins go to sleep at the same time.

A doula is up to date on safe sleep standards. (Don’t use those cute stuffed animals or bumpers in the crib!)

Every parent I know has confided, “No one told me how hard having a newborn would be. I’m so tired!” Totally normal to feel that way--but a doula can definitely help you catch some extra Zzzzz's. 

A doula offers parents time for self care.

Need a shower? Take one while your doula keeps a watchful eye on your newbie. Better yet, take a shower and then slide into your freshly made bed for a blissful nap in between feedings or while the doula gives the baby a bottle. Wake up and have a snack while you snuggle with your content baby.

A doula listens to what parents are really saying.

A doula is a sounding board for an overwhelmed parent.

So, a "normal" day for a brand new parent might mean constantly interrupted, fractured sleep, or 5 hours of straight sleep. (Can you believe 5 hours in a row is what many consider "Sleeping through the night"?)

"Normal" might mean breastfeeding every two hours, or it might mean feeding with a  bottle. A normal expectation for one parent could mean they were able to brush their teeth and another might feel deprived without 3 sit down meals!

And for situations beyond "normal", your doula will help you feel confident in contacting your care provider to determine the next step to have healthy parents and a healthy baby. 

Doulas don’t always solve problems, but a doula knows that usually a parent can figure it out with a little time and creativity.

A doula creates space and validation for reflection and growth as parents figure out their babies, and themselves.

Contact 321-405-BABY for details about booking Postpartum and Infant Care Doula Services. 

Authored by: Staci Plonsky

Beauty and the Beast: The Remake

Beauty and the Beast: The Remake

The new Beauty and the Beast added in extra songs, different humor, new characters, some additional story lines, as well as removing a few things. If you're curious, here's a rundown of specifically what’s different. 

I started to think about how being pregnant a second or third time feels emotionally/mentally similar to watching this movie.

One of the most common things second time moms will say is, “This isn’t like my first pregnancy!” or will reference a certain milestone they anticipate.

“With my first baby, I had morning sickness. I don’t with this one—is something wrong?” or “My 1st baby was born at 38 weeks and 6 days. This baby will come at the exact same time. “ or even "Why won't this baby sleep the same way our older child did?"

A few reasons for feeling different this time around...

Read More

Watched pots never boil.

Elephants have gestation periods that last up to 22 months. That’s almost two years of pregnancy! I look at Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo’s mother, with new awe.

I promise, you do not resemble an elephant, even at your most pregnant state! 

I promise, you do not resemble an elephant, even at your most pregnant state! 

Anyone who has been pregnant past 38 weeks probably understands my shock and awe of an elephant gestation. And anyone who’s been pregnant past their due date definitely understands.  

There’s the anticipation with that “due date” in mind. (Note: A due date is not an expiration date. Many mothers carry a pregnancy past the official due date with their care provider’s support.) Most women kind of hope and suspect they will deliver “early” before their due date. When it comes and goes with nary a Braxton Hick in sight, they feel a little disappointed.

Because babies don’t get smaller in utero, do they? And they’ve just delayed meeting their baby by another day. Or two.

sofancy

 It’s like that feeling when the love of your life has been out of town, and is finally returning.

You put on your favorite outfit, maybe some new lingerie, paint your nails, apply your makeup carefully, and drive all the way to the airport.

You navigate the traffic, and you’re waiting in the cell phone lot for your beloved to notify you the plane has landed.

And instead, you get an alert from the airline that the flight was diverted due to terrible weather and it will be hours or even another day before you are reunited.

You sigh, complain, cry, wipe off your mascara and drive back home. Alone and tired and disappointed.

That’s kind of what going past your due date feels like emotionally.

Physically, you feel more tired. Heavier. Truly, you’re not the size of an elephant, even if it feels like it. And is there a waddle to your steps now? Does your back ache? Normal.

Some women choose to walk for miles every day. They’re hoping that walking a lot will help initiate labor.

Some consider chiropractic care or acupuncture or acupressure.

Some have sex in very imaginative positions, all in the name of “natural induction.”

Here’s your doula’s advice:

  • Take good care of yourself; these last days are preparation for the uncertainty and discomfort that labor and parenthood embody.
  • Take a nap. This may be your last chance for a 3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon for a long time.
  • Get a prenatal massage. It feels so good and so relaxing.
  • Go on a date with your partner, even if LulaRoe leggings and a muumuu are all that fit. Wear it proudly, knowing that soon you’ll be back in your favorite jeans.
  • Write a love letter to your partner to give after the baby’s born.
  • Take a bath or get in a hot tub (not too hot! You know that, right?). The water has a marvelous buoyant effect.
  • Go to a movie and forget about your discomfort for a bit as you enter a willing suspension of disbelief.

And talk to your care provider about your options.

Many will request you schedule an induction date to reserve their calendar just in case you’re still pregnant in another week. (Hospital scheduling for non emergent inductions can be challenging at the last minute) Others will continue to employ watchful waiting.

Most care providers will begin scheduling non stress tests and ultrasounds once you’ve gone past your due date. A non stress test measures the baby’s heart rate as it corresponds to movements the baby makes. An ultrasound will test for additional factors such as growth and movements. These will be scheduled every few days until you deliver your baby, to ensure that your baby is continuing to thrive in utero.

Keep in contact with your doula meanwhile. She’s the one person who won’t be overwhelming you every minute of the day like well meaning family and friends: Have you had your baby yet? Are you in labor yet?

Perhaps you could send all of those asking you about your still pregnant status to this website.

When they say watched pots never boil, that means watching it and obsessing over how long it takes makes it seem to take so much longer. Pregnancy can be the same way. 

watched pots never boil

watched pots never boil

Authored by: Staci Plonsky

Gaga for Muffin Tops

MuffinTops

Did you see Lady Gaga’s costume for the Super Bowl? Was that a “muffin top? What was she thinking?

I don’t know what she was thinking. But I was thinking, “Wow! She looks amazing! I wish I had abs that looked like that!”

As I said my thoughts out loud at a party, a friend pointed out Gaga’s little bulge over the elastic of her pants.

I squinted. And tried to look more closely. And then realized that one doesn’t even need to squint to see my own physical excess. Log out of my own eye, right?

This performer was singing and dancing while jumping off a “so high I’d cry” roof. She demonstrated amazing physical fitness. She was confident and energetic and so incredibly beautiful! She has a beautiful lean shape to her, and danced in very high heels. I can’t even walk in high heels, friends.

What kind of a world is this where we find a tiny little bulge in a beautiful, fit woman and find that tweet-worthy? (Which is exactly what happened following her stunning half time performance.)

I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too.
— Lady Gaga

Here’s what Lady Gaga said in response on Instagram: "I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I'm proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don't need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That's the stuff of champions. thank you so much everyone for supporting me. I love you guys. Xoxo, gaga”

Finding flaws in someone else will never bring us peace about ourselves, and finding flawlessness in someone else will also never bring us peace about ourselves.

My 5th grade teacher used to say, “Never compare yourself to someone else. You’ll either end up conceited or defeated.”

 Regardless, an extremely common question after having a baby is “How do I lose the baby weight?”

Here are some tips for safely losing excess baby weight.

1.       Your body didn’t change in a day. Give yourself the same time you gained the weight to lose it. Like, say, 40 weeks.

2.       Your body will never be the same. It may go back to the size you used to be, but for most people, some things have shifted and stretched to a new normal (including your uterus!)

3.       Wait for 6 weeks after delivery to resume exercise.

4.       Breastfeeding burns an extra 300 calories. Don’t starve yourself or your body will slow its metabolism thinking you’re starving!

5.       Consult a dietician for a balanced plan. Keep in mind that easy to prep and eat-one-handed foods are important when you have a new baby! (We have a postpartum service to provide you with easy to eat meals and snacks, by the way!)

6.       Recognize that eating nutritiously has a huge impact on energy levels, which is a huge deal for a family with a newborn! Avoid eating cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner! "Treat yo'self" with moderation. 

7.       Eat small snacks and meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar and energy at an even keel. Keep a basket of snacks and a filled water bottle near where you care for your baby so that you can eat a granola bar or sip some soup or smoothie easily.

8.      Be kind to yourself. Act as if you're talking to your best friend. Would you judge her for not going straight back to the perfect body? Hopefully not! 

Here’s a recipe for a high protein smoothie that you can sip while you feed your baby (bonus: the oats can boost a milk supply!)

greensmoothie

Banana Oat smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup baby spinach or chopped kale
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or other nut butter
  • Honey (about 1 tablespoon, but less if desired)
  • 1 cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, or rice)

Optional: Add 1 tablespoon of chia or flaxseeds

Cheers!

Authored by: Staci Plonsky  #youreNotAlone

What to do when you don't feel like yourself.

Sometimes, women mention feeling moody and out of sorts. Prickly, unapproachable . . .like a porcupine.

Most of our clients, in fact, have been known to discuss some type of emotional upset at one point or another.

Being pregnant and recovering from pregnancy can play havoc with hormones and emotions as well. We've invited a local family therapist to share strategies to manage stress, health and minimize risk of depression and other maternal mood disorders. 

porcupine

We are delighted to host a guest blog from Jessica Stebbins, LMFT, owner of Brevard Family Wellness Center in Merritt Island, FL.

Pregnancy and the transition into motherhood can be one of the happiest and most difficult times in a woman’s life. There are so many changes that occur as you grow a new life, from hormones and body changes, family dynamics with your partner and other family, friendships, sleep, work situations, and even home environment. It is easy to understand how this can all be overwhelming and between the hormones and other changes, women easily experience mood swings with greater intensity.

Pregnancy and the months postpartum, with all the changes, puts women at greater risk of experiencing a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety,  eating disorders, mania, and even psychosis.

This can be true for women who have never experienced a mental health disorder or for those who have a history of mental health disorders, even if they have been well controlled in the past. Unfortunately many of the changes that increase your risk, are also necessary for a healthy baby and mom or inevitable.

Have no fear, however, as there are things that you can do to minimize your risk for depression or anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum.

1.       Find support-

One of the biggest protective factors for mental health issues is support. It is important to know that you have others around you that understand you, care about you, and are able to help when needed. It’s important to have someone you can talk to when you have a problem or even to just chat with. This support network can come from family, friends, co-workers, your spouse, support groups, your doula, and even counseling.

2.       Exercise-

Of course you need to make sure that any exercise you engage in is safe for you and your baby and that you talk it over with your doctor first. Once you have permission from your doctor, however, it can be a great stress reliever. There is research that shows that exercise in general and yoga in particular can be just as effective if not more so than antidepressants for mood. Just make sure that it is a form of exercise that you can enjoy.

3.       Get out-

Between exhaustion, not wanting to expose yourself or baby to germs, or it feeling as though its not worth all the work and effort to go out, many pregnant and new moms choose to stay home most of the time. This increases the feelings of social isolation and limits your exposure to the healing outdoors. Go out in public, interact with others, and spend time outside in the sun (or shade) and with fresh air.

4.       Supplements & diet-

There are many vitamins and minerals that are essential for your body and brain to function properly and therefore are crucial to mental health. If your diet is lacking or you suspect you may have a nutritional deficiency or could benefit from supplements, talk to your doctor to determine which are right for you and safe for baby if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  They may suggest a blood draw to determine any nutritional deficiencies.

These are just a few things that you can do to help reduce your risk for depression and anxiety. If you feel that these suggestions aren’t enough or you have a history of mental health disorders, it may be a good idea to seek out help from a trained professional. This person can help to listen to what you are experiencing, validate how you are feeling, and assist you in determining additional coping skills you may use to reduce feelings of stress, overwhelm, anxiety, and depression.

Not quite ready to seek out a counselor?

How about trying the Brevard Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Group in Merritt Island!

 I will be running it with Staci Plonsky, doula,  at my Brevard Family Wellness Center office. You can find the details here...

pregnancy support group

This group meets the first and third Saturdays of every month, at 9:15am, located at Brevard Family Wellness Center, 2460 N Courtenay Pkway Ste 114, Merritt Island, FL

 

We can't wait to meet you! This group is designed to be an enjoyable time to get to know other mothers and talk about strategies to reduce stress in your lives as new parents. 

Fact or Opinion?

Fake or Real news?

Mark Zuckerberg is fighting back against "fake news" sources after a bitter election year. According to a recent press release, Facebook is rolling out some new methods to screen for legitimate news media. We've all seen (and perhaps shared--oops!) some of the juicier news tidbits that have turned out to be false. 

Fact vs Fiction

Fact vs Fiction

Sometimes, a well written blog article masquerades as fact. And considering a study that shows nearly half of all Americans get their news from Facebook--you might begin to see the problem. 

So how do you tell the difference between a legitimate news source and tabloid or other fake media?

1. Look at the web address.

Does it end with .gov or .edu? Probably legitimate. Those ending with .com, .org, .net tend to require more investigation.

2. Who owns this domain?

Is it a well known media company like the New York Times or a regionally respected news source? A non profit university? Look for an "about us" or a company logo to determine the source and purpose for their organization's existence.

3. What kind of information is being shared?

Most legitimate journalists strive to report unbiased information, sharing the events that occurred without greatly slanting the story one way or another. Sources should be cited if the article is giving statistics or other information. If you're finding a great deal of bias,  employ suspicion. 

4. What is the author's interest in this topic?

Is the author also a salesperson for a product or service that would be affected by this article? Conflict of interest is always a red flag. 

Finding accurate information

Finding accurate information

These kinds of conflicts often arise within birth and parenting related topics. 

Consider finding studies about and using your BRAIN with regards to hot button, controversial issues such as: immunization, circumcision, formula feeding/breast feeding, cosleeping, amber teething necklaces, VBAC, homebirth, etc. (Note: Your care provider should be able to help you understand the scientific nuances within the issue at hand.)

 Tip: Look for a double blind study performed by a respected university to begin to uncover the facts.

Benefits
Risks
Alternatives
Intuition
Nothing--wait.

Sometimes, double blind studies performed by university level researchers are not available. Then it's important to look for what information is available surrounding the topic.  (Note: Your care provider should be able to help you understand the scientific nuances within the issue at hand.)

It's wise to have a balanced viewpoint. Some say that you should be able to explain the opposing view point as well as its proponents.

And it's okay to make choices despite evidence to the contrary, if you feel strongly it's right for you. It's not okay to invent statistics to convince others that it's also right for them.

That's where your doula comes in--regardless of personal opinions, a doula will support YOU. 

Truly, at the end of the day, you make up your own mind. Let it be rooted in knowledge of facts, and interpreted within your own experience. Then stand strong in your decisions. 

When a heroine is satisfied that she has exercised judgement with clear vision, moral principle, and common sense, she need not acquiesce to opposing viewpoints.
— Jane Austen

Staci Plonsky has been a doula since 2010. She enjoys connecting on Facebook and strives to share accurate information. 

Making a Hospital Feel Like Home

Making a hospital birth feel like a home birth: 

Most women want to give birth in a space that feels like home. For people who give birth in the hospital, here are some helpful ways to make the space more personal. 

The space in the hospital room needs to be relaxing, peaceful and with a non-institutional feel. 

Here's why that's a good idea. One word: oxytocin. This is a hormone that flows naturally when a woman feels safe and loved. It is present following orgasm, during labor and when breastfeeding. What better way to feel safe, loved and cherished than with your partner and chosen support team, and a space that evokes a feeling of home?

With that in mind, here are a few ideas that former clients have implemented. 

 

1. Bring a pillow from home.

It will smell like your laundry detergent, be familiar to your tired head and soothe you when you rest with it. Some clients bring a soft blanket, too. 

 

2. Ambient lighting.

A salt lamp, an essential oil diffuser that doubles as a night light, a mini strand of twinkle lights can keep the mood relaxed and intimate. 

 

A strand of 100 mini lights can change the mood of the room in a twinkle!

A strand of 100 mini lights can change the mood of the room in a twinkle!

3. Add a visual focal point.

Perhaps you have a banner or sign from your baby shower. Or your mother made a banner with your boy and girl name choice to celebrate immediately (see the image below). Even a picture of a favorite vacation spot or an ultrasound image of your baby can be soothing and helpful to your focus. 

 

This sign added cheer to the room, and coupled with a tray of cookies, added a sweet personal touch to the room. 

This sign added cheer to the room, and coupled with a tray of cookies, added a sweet personal touch to the room. 

 

4. Sound garden:

Block out sounds from the hallway of footsteps and voices and other women giving birth. Bring a small speaker your smartphone can connect with and choose your favorite tunes or a station you like. (Note: Select music or sounds you can relax to. If heavy metal is your thing, enjoy it!) Verbal affirmations that you have practiced with a partner will also be helpful.

music for labor

 

5. Bring your own juices or snacks.

Having access to your own special coconut water or broth or whatever you choose can give you a sense of power when you might most need it. (Discuss nutritious and approved options with your care provider ahead of time)

6.  Communicate.

The more you establish rapport with your care provider and nurse, the more relaxed you will feel. Discuss your birth plan ahead of time with your care provider to eliminate last minute confusion. Keep your nurse in the loop with your preferences and plans, and let your nurse know you'd appreciate the room being kept quiet and peaceful. 

7. Hire a Doula.

Many couples want an intimate experience. Some expecting parents fear that bringing a doula in will eliminate that intimate feel. In fact, quite the opposite happens.

A good doula can enhance the intimate feeling between the couple because the doula can reinforce the vital oxytocin flow--eliminating distractions, helping the couple work well together, so that the partner is his or her best self in the birth room.  Brevard Doulas strive to make sure all of the above ideas are implemented if the couple desires, and will encourage strong communication between the laboring family and the hospital staff. 

 

Staci Plonsky has been a doula since 2010. She considers a significant part of her role to enhance and protect the "oxytocin flow" during a birth. Contact her today to schedule a birth plan session or to schedule an interview. 


 


 


 

What's for Dinner?

What's for Dinner?

What's for dinner? It's my last minute "I don't know what's for dinner" meal. We typically always have marinara sauce and some type of cheese on hand, which is the basic framework for pizza. If I make the dough a day or two ahead of time, it takes about 25 minutes from pulling dough out of the fridge, throwing toppings on, and baking to serving on plates. 

Here's the recipe and my favorite kid-friendly tips. 

Read More

Hurricane Tips - Space Coast

Hurricane Tips - Space Coast

If you are home and go into labor during a hurricane, watch the roads for closures. Find the safest route and leave earlier than you may have planned if the storm has yet to hit. You may consider going to a shelter nearest your planned place of delivery. If you are in labor and need to go to the hospital when the storm hits, call the hospital to determine your best option--hospitals may have special transport vehicles for providing medical care in severe weather events. 

Read More

Pumpkin, pumpkin!

Pumpkin, pumpkin!

Fall officially opened season September 22.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes have made their annual debut. As everyone who loves pumpkin knows, this is the ultimate signal of fall's approach. 

Unfortunately, it's still hotter than an oven here in Central Florida and more humid than my pool.

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Birth Affirmations

birth affirmations for labor

birth affirmations for labor

What are Birth Affirmations?

These are words that communicate strength, positivity and encouragement to a woman as she is preparing for birth and as she is laboring.  

A laboring mother needs to feel strong and loved and safe to most effectively give birth. A partner who enhances those feelings with intentional speaking and loving touch can soothe her like no one else.

I encourage birth partners to learn to genuinely compliment and affirm their pregnant partner often, so as to become familiar with what she likes to hear and to grow their relationship before the baby comes.

Here is a list of birth affirmations:

Please note: they are most effective when used spontaneously and sincerely. Reading the list robotically does not convey the gentleness, authenticity and strength the laboring woman needs as contractions build in her body.

You are strong.

I love you.

You are safe.

Peace.

Ride the wave.

I'm proud of you.

You can do this.

You are not alone.

Your baby is worth it.

This contraction will not overcome you.

Breathe in deeply.

Send your breath all the way down to your baby.

Breathe for your baby.

Your body is working beautifully.

You're almost done.

You are relaxed.

Here is an audio recording of Staci reading the list. 

Baby Shower and Birth Blessing Ceremonies are wonderful ways to communicate love and strength to the mother-to-be.

Have guests decorate a paper with their favorite affirmation, quote, Bible verse or picture to support and encourage the woman when she is in labor.  The collection of papers are then strung together to make a birth affirmation banner. 

If you're not the creative type, here is a banner beautifully displayed and available for purchase at Coastal Cloth Baby in Indialantic, Florida. 

Birth Affirmations

Another beautiful symbol of strength and encouragement is creating a blessing bracelet or necklace. Each guest can bring a bead that represents something special for the new mother. As the guest explains her choice and strings it on the bracelet, the mother can choose to wear it in labor as a reminder of the positive, loving words and blessings spoken.

The arrival of a baby is a wonderful opportunity to bring love and joy to the mother, as well. She needs your love, patience and encouragement on this new chapter in her life. Speak positively--she will bloom with loving words.

Special note: Your doula should be a strong source of affirmation and comfort when you are having a baby. Still looking for the perfect labor doula? Check out Brevard Doulas. And the affirmation and support doesn't end after the baby is born. If you are reading this holding a brand new baby, wishing someone would offer you affirmation, guidance and some practical hands on help, check out our postpartum services.

Authored by Staci Plonsky

 

Inducing Labor with Pineapples

When you're ready to have your baby, you are probably researching the best ways to naturally induce labor.

Castor Oil? (Ugh, please don't!) Nipple stimulation? (Now you're googling that, aren't you?) Acupuncture? Acupressure? 

You are so excited to meet your baby! And ready to give birth so that perhaps you could walk without waddling and live without feeling major pressure in your bladder all.the.time. 

There are many old wives' tales about how to get labor started.

The truth is, your baby won't come until both you and your baby are ready. That means baby is hopefully positioned well, lungs are developed, and your own body has sufficient hormonal production of that special labor cocktail with relaxin, prolactin, oxytocin and many more to get this party started!

Here's an old wives tale that sounded way better than castor oil: eating pineapple to induce labor. 

Check out the video to see Staci harvest a pineapple, too. Because pineapples don't grow on trees. 

 

Ready to give birth and needing some extra support, information or guidance? Brevard Doulas are always on call, always ready to provide labor support, even last minute. 

Call 321-405-BABY today!

 

And here's the transcript if you'd rather read than watch:

"There is an old wives’ tale that drinking pineapple juice or eating pineapple can induce labor. The research shows that pineapples contain large amounts of bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that can absolutely help with cervical ripening, so there is some truth to this.

I don’t know how effective it is and if it will really push you into labor if you’re not ready to have a baby. But I do know that my family loves to eat pineapple.

We happen to have one growing in our front yard that is ready to be picked. So we’re going to do that on camera today, to show you how to select and harvest a fresh pineapple right off the plant.

Ok, so here we are with our pineapple. And I have gloves on because the leaves are very very sharp. Using a sharp knife, cut it off at the base, leaving a bit of stem still on it.

And here we have a fresh pinapple! Usually the raccoons get to them first because I’m waiting for them to ripen.

The fruit should be about 1/3 yellow. This pineapple is almost all yellow so we’re going to assume it’s ready to eat! "

 

 

Desperate New Mom

My first baby was born via Cesarean after a day of labor.

I had worked hard, coped with pain, only to end the day with surgery. Not the greatest start to fulfilling my dream of motherhood, if I can be honest. Nauseous from the medicine, learning how to breastfeed, and numb from the waist down--until I wasn't numb and then I just ached. I can't call the experience amazing.

Going home with a breastfeeding schedule of every two hours, I dutifully woke at midnight, 2 am, 4 am, 6 am, to feed my baby around the clock.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released June 21, 2003, just 3 days after my daughter was born. I came home from the hospital to find my pre-ordered book in the mailbox.

tiredparents

Late nights were characterized by stuffing a nursing pillow around my not pregnant but still non-existent "waist" (Boppy, I'm looking at you), trying to latch my baby onto my breast comfortably, and managing to hold this huge 700+ hardcover book with one hand and not dropping it onto the baby. (FYI, I found the best nursing pillow: My Brest Friend .)

In the morning, my mother would care for her first grandbaby while I slept a little more. (She said she needed sleep at night but could help during the days) My mother washed my windows, mirrors, vaccuumed, made dinner--she was fantastic.

But I felt judged. 

I told my dad, "Mom's cleaning the whole house! I just can't do it myself right now."  

And my dad replied, "Honey, she KNOWS you can't. That's why she's doing it." 

Oh. 

Perspective shift.

She was caring for me in wonderful, tangible ways.

I didn't know I needed that kind of care and didn't know how to gratefully accept it.

Brand-new "Nana" was a wonderful support. She worked so hard and encouraged me as I learned how to breastfeed my baby and as I learned how to become a mother. 

After two weeks, she went home. She hugged me, kissed her new granddaughter, the door shut, her car pulled out of the driveway, and my husband and I just looked at each other. 

"Who's in charge now?"


If you're feeling that way, we offer postpartum doula support to fill in the gaps, offer practical systems for baby care and self care, cook some meals and help parents have a better night's sleep. We've been there--that's why we have such a passion for providing this service to new families!

And here's a new flash:

You, the parent, are always in charge. 

Authored by Staci Plonsky

PS Looking for some new lullabies to sing? Check these out.

 

 

Instant Pot Awesomesauce

Amazon's best selling item on "Prime Day" was the Instant Pot. (Affiliate link, full disclosure).

I had been eyeing pressure cookers for a while now, because I love small kitchen appliances and I always forget to put food in the crock pot in the morning before leaving for the day.

Working moms have to have a plan or their family lives on Chick-Fil-A and Pizza Gallery.

Not that I would know anything about that.

I was so excited when it arrived! It was hard to decide what to make first. 

I started easy, steaming water. Then I moved on to steel cut oats. I loved putting the oats in, walking away and coming back when it was finished. No more standing over the stove, stirring oats, while the kids are looking for shoes and hairbrushes and backpacks in the mornings!

Steel Cut oats mentioned below

Steel Cut oats mentioned below

After I made a few delicious dinners in my fancy new 7-in-1 Instant Pot, I realized the potential this has to make healthy baby food. 

Here are some ideas to use the Instant Pot to make additive-free, delicious food that you AND your baby will enjoy.

I've already made everything on this list--it's legit. 

  • steel cut oats (with brown sugar, chia seeds, pecans and cinnamon)
  • hard boiled eggs (steam on high for 5 minutes, let sit for 5 minutes, Quick Release, submerge in icy water)
  • steamed vegetables
  • steamed winter squash (Haven't made this yet because it's out of season right now!)
  • applesauce (see our video below!)
  • yogurt (takes 8 hours to cure, be warned! Don't start this in the late afternoon!)
  • mashed potatoes
  • soup
  • chicken that is so tender it falls apart
  • beef roast that is so tender it falls apart. . . 
  • rice (I haven't made in the Instant Pot yet!)
  • bacon (on "sautee") Okay, maybe bacon's not for babies. .  .but how cool that the Instant Pot can even cook bacon?

Here's a video of my 6 year old and I making applesauce! The recipe is listed below.

Instant Pot Applesauce:

Ingredients:

6-8 apples, red or green
1 c. water
Cinnamon (if desired)

Instructions:


1. Core, remove stem and slice apples.
2. Place apple slices in Instant Pot liner (the big silver bowl).
3. Place liner in the Instant Pot.
4. Set on Manual high pressure for 8 minutes with the vent sealed.
5. Allow to sit for 2 more minutes ("natural release").
6. Turn the valve to "vent" until all pressure is released.
7. Remove peels if desired. Mix, mash or use a mixer to desired consistency.
8. Add cinnamon if desired. 
8. Enjoy!

Breastfeeding

Breasts.

Touching your breasts, and someone else touching them--especially with other people around--was taboo less than 24 hours ago. After having a baby, they are handled nonchalantly. Most mothers sigh in relief when a nurse comes in, and holds the mother's breast with one hand and guides the baby's open mouth to the nipple with ease. 

breastfeedingibclc

If you're a new mother who is breastfeeding your baby, you've probably touched or had your breasts touched more times in a day than you might have experienced cumulatively in your lifetime!  Something that was considered sexual is now a mechanism for feeding a baby. It's a little disconcerting to some. 

Breastfeeding sounds like a simple feat.

"How hard can breastfeeding be?", mothers wonder.

Many expecting mothers and their partners take a class. They learn about wide open "fish lips" on their baby. They hear words like colostrum, milk supply, latch. They learn different positions to hold their baby: football, clutch, cradle, cross cradle, side lying.

These topics wash over expecting first time parents with a little unease and a decision that breastfeeding is absolutely going to work for them. It's obviously the best choice: healthiest for baby, healthiest for Mom, free, simple. . . 

And then they go home from the hospital with their new baby, having navigated labor and postpartum . Many parents in Brevard are given a nipple shield by a well meaning nurse, which is carefully tucked in the diaper bag. 

The day after the family is home, usually the mother's milk comes in. Her breasts feel swollen and her baby is confused. Where is the nipple that was so easy to find just last night? The mother is uncomfortable, the baby isn't happy, and everyone is stressed and tired. 

Perhaps the mother experienced some tolerable pain while breastfeeding in the hospital. Now it's excruciating and she dreads feeding her baby.

What now? 

Convictions begin to crumble.

"Why is my baby crying all night?"

"Is my baby hungry?"

"How do I know if my baby's hungry?"

"Will breastfeeding get easier?"

"Why does it hurt to breastfeed?"

"How long should my baby stay at the breast?"

"My baby keeps falling asleep at the breast."

These are challenging situations.

Struggling to feed a baby when you're recovering from childbirth, exhausted, and in survival mode heaps stress on a family.

This is where Ruthy Wilson, ARNP, IBCLC can make a difference.

She has been helping families breastfeed for over 20 years.

Ruthy brings clinical expertise coupled with a gentleness and kindness that new mothers need. 

You will have a clear plan regarding how to hold your baby, what to look for in your baby's latch, what further steps to take if applicable, a schedule so you know exactly what to do, and the ability to text her with additional questions. 

You can book your breastfeeding evaluation and consultation with Ruthy through Brevard Doulas by clicking here

Considering the costs of formula feeding, Ruthy's expertise is worth every single penny.

Trust me--I know firsthand.

Authored by Staci Plonsky, President of Ruthy Wilson's Fan Club.

 

 

 

Summer Babies

With the dog days of summer upon us, I can't help but feel sympathy for pregnant mothers and new babies. It's so hot!!!  

For babies born in the sweltering Florida summer, here are some tips for keeping them comfortable.

In the summer time. . . how to keep your newborn cool

In the summer time. . . how to keep your newborn cool

Should my baby wear a hat? 

Have a baby at any hospital in Brevard County (Holmes Regional, Wuesthoff, Cape Canaveral, Parrish) and you'll see lots of babies wearing hats. They're cute knitted caps in pretty colors. But are they really necessary?

newborn knitted hat

newborn knitted hat

Hospitals have a/c blowing very cold. They provide a hat and will expect you to keep a hat on your newborn. 

(Interestingly, a 1979 study--that's almost 40 years old--debunked the myth that hats keep a newborn warm.) The best way to keep a baby comfortable is with skin to skin contact. 

In the summertime, when you take your baby home, ditch the hat. It can cause an overheated baby.

What should my baby wear in the summertime?

Fashion-wise, I personally prefer Janie and Jack's Pineapple Love collection. ;) Like this sleeveless 1-piece (who doesn't love baby shoulders?!) but I digress. 

A newborn should be dressed in one extra layer than adults are comfortably wearing. If you're wearing shorts and a tank, your baby can wear a onesie and a lightweight swaddle blanket. No socks required. If you're in your swimsuit, put your baby in a diaper and a light muslin blanket or a onesie like this sleeveless one from Finn and Emma

Note: It's not Halloween yet, but beware: Halloween costumes are typically VERY hot for Florida weather. (Just ask my daughter. . . who was overly warm in her first costume) #newmommistake

Can I swaddle my baby in the summer?

Yes! Keep the "one layer warmer" in mind. If you're sleeping under just a sheet, you don't want your baby to be in a heavy blanket. Dress baby lightly and use a lightweight swaddle blanket. Aden and Anais have a popular collection of swaddling and lightweight blankets that many of our clients really like. 

What's the coolest way to babywear?

Strapping a tiny human to your chest often feels like you have your own personal heater. It can be hot. Here's what to look for:

  • mesh material
  • lightweight material (yet sturdy)
  • the less fabric, the better

Top picks: 

Can I take my baby outside?

The sun is brutal on baby skin! Their skin absorbs water more easily than adult skin, and contains less melanin (which gives skin the "tan" pigmentation.) 

Most sunscreens are not to be applied to babies until they are 6 months old. If you're outside, please keep your baby in the shade. Use a lightweight blanket or cover or umbrella to keep your baby out of the direct sunlight.

(They're not ready for the swimming pool yet--wait until they're about 6 months old!)

Even a few minutes in the Florida sun can cause skin damage. 

Find a shady, bug free spot and watch your baby for signs of overheating.

Signs of Overheating include:

  • Irritability
  • Damp neck/head (they don't sweat profusely yet)
  • red/flushed face
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Rising temperature

Should I give my newborn water?

No.

If you're breastfeeding, breastfeed often. Your baby will be properly hydrated through breastmilk.

If you're formula feeding, pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, ( a contributor to the New York Times) says that parents can first provide a little extra formula. In extremely hot weather, they can offer a baby a small bottle of sterilized water (2-4oz) in between a formula feeding.

Brevard Doulas recommends that you contact your pediatrician if you feel concerned about your baby's hydration and are considering offering water.

If you're an expecting mother, check out our blog from last summer (Mama, It's Hot Outside!) for tips on managing the heat while pregnant.

Stay cool! 

Study Source:

E C Coles, H B Valman Br Med J. 1979 September 22; 2(6192): 734–735.

 

 

Is my baby getting enough milk?

making milk

making milk

This is such a common concern for breastfeeding parents.

Tip: If you give birth in the hospital, ask your nurse or lactation consultant for education and support EVERY TIME you and your baby breastfeed. This is a great opportunity for hands-on support. When you go home, you cannot take your nurse with you!

(You can, however, hire a postpartum doula. . . )

“Is my baby getting enough to eat?”

Does the parent notice the baby swallowing? If the baby is sucking and pausing to audibly gulp/swallow milk, that is a reassuring indicator that baby is indeed transferring milk.

Here's a video to demonstrate the "pause".

How do I know if I am making enough milk?

Another way to determine whether baby is getting enough milk is to track the baby's diapers. Here's a diaper tracking app: Sprout Baby Tracker.

A normal, reassuring schedule for diapers is:

  • 1 wet diaper on day 1

  • 2 wet diapers on day 2

  • 3 wet diapers on day 3

  • 4 wet diapers on day 4

  • and so on until baby is about a week old.

Babies older than 7 days old should be wetting a diaper between 8 and 12 times a day.

Stool in diapers will follow the same pattern up to 4 days old, and watching to make sure the meconium has mostly passed and has changed consistency in the diaper from black and tarry to yellow, greenish or light brown and soft.

How much weight should a baby gain?

Babies are expected to gain within the average range of ½ ounce to 2 ounces per day. For the first 5 days, some weight loss is expected. If weight loss exceeds 10% of the baby’s birth weight, the baby is at risk for underfeeding.

My baby is always hungry. I can't keep up!

Babies are hungry little people. It seems that they always need something in their mouth. Newborns are absolutely expected to spend a lot of time at the breast.

It doesn't usually mean they aren't getting enough milk--it means they are letting the mother's body know to amp up milk production for a future growth spurt. If the baby is gaining weight and has adequate stool/urination production, it is counter productive to supplement the baby with a bottle of formula. A bottle of formula satiates a newborn and prohibits the stimulation of the breast, which may lead to decreased milk production.

My baby is using me as a pacifier!

Babies are not mentally mature enough to manipulate you. Your baby is sucking appropriately in a manner called "non nutritive sucking." The contact of mouth on breast is beneficial for baby's jaw development and for immune system messages to cross between the infant and the mother. If the mother is dissatisfied with this situation, she can introduce a pacifier such as the highly recommended "Soothie"  to her baby.

Should I pump to measure my milk? 

Typically, a breast pump will not achieve the same amount of milk production as a baby’s mouth: a healthy baby’s mouth is significantly more efficient. Snuggling with the baby and enjoying the bonding and comforting moments will stimulate oxytocin, which leads to many “let downs” where with a pump, muscles and air pressure squeeze milk out of the milk ducts, and sometimes "letdown" will occur, but sometimes it won't.

A pump doesn’t offer the same level of connection, so while it’s reassuring to see a great deal of milk in a bottle, lack of pumped milk doesn’t necessarily indicate a breastfeeding or production problem. 

Should I weigh my baby before and after feeding? 

Some lactation consultants will weigh a naked baby before feeding, and again just after breast feeding to get a baseline of what the baby consumed. However, according to the National Institute of Health, "test weighing" is imprecise and unreliable. 

Who can help with breastmilk concerns?

Find a supportive and trustworthy care provider and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?

Watch your baby for consistently wet/soiled diapers, meeting normal developmental milestones, steady weight gain, and a satisfied countenance for good indicators that the mother is producing enough milk and baby is able to transfer that milk appropriately.

 

Where is the light?

I've been spending time talking with expecting moms since the Orlando tragedy occurred. Over and over, I hear them saying, "How can I bring a baby into this dark world? I feel guilty for even thinking this. But I can't bear the pain my child may experience."

Take heart. 

It does feel dark. The latest attack occurred in Orlando, a city 40 miles from me. It's my hometown. My dad works very close to this occurrence. I had just been at a birth at Winnie Palmer Hospital, which was locked down in the aftermath. I'm grateful no one I knew personally, loved personally, was killed. 

But we are all affected. Anytime innocence is murdered, we are all affected. People dancing and enjoying their time at a club did not expect or deserve to die. The fact that they were targeted because this was a popular spot for the LGBT community breaks my heart. 

Yes, our babies are going to be affected. Our babies are born into a different world than the one we knew. 

We have some choices. 

We can choose divisive hatred. We can blame politics. We can preach at the vulnerable. We can be afraid and hide.

Or we can choose love.

We can choose to immerse ourselves in the sensationalism of the media, removed by a screen. Or we can serve our communities, providing what we can to those we know who are hurting.

I've seen people in line for hours and hours to donate blood. I've heard people volunteering to foster pets who may be alone in a home, waiting for its human who will not return. I've seen people driving to blood banks, offering drinks and snacks to people waiting in line. Comfort dogs are providing hope and encouragement as I write this. I've read anecdotes as people share what they remember about the deceased. I've watched churches host blood drives and provide a place for people to grieve, pray, mourn. 

We can cry and grieve. We can bemoan the state of our country. We should. It's a sign we're human to worry about our children and the world they will inherit. 

But our babies are symbols of hope.

They provide a beautiful new twinkling light to a hurting world. We are saving the world, as we raise humans who are sensitive and kind.

We teach our children from birth that love conquers hate and fear. We teach our children the resilience that comes from adversity. Every time we use our pain to mobilize and serve others, we transform our own pain into light for all the world. 

orlandoneedslight

Adding to the light takes courage. It takes a willingness to make hard choices: about parenting and work, and how we spend our time, energy and resources. It takes a malleable spirit, seeking self-correction and reevaluating constantly.

I am convinced that there is light and hope. 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. 

Staci Plonsky

 

 

 

My Dog Ate Your Placenta

"I'm so sorry, but my dog ate your placenta." 

"I'm certain this is your placenta. But I can't prove it." 

"I may store more than one placenta in my refrigerator. But I only process one at a time."

"I label them so there isn't a mix up."

"My children were fascinated by your placenta!"

She has never had the opportunity to enjoy this delicacy.. But if she did--she would.

She has never had the opportunity to enjoy this delicacy.. But if she did--she would.

These are things I NEVER EVER want to say to a client. Ever.  

That's why I chose not to offer placenta encapsulation at all for many years, despite the overwhelming reports that suggest increased lactation, easier recovery from birth and better balance of moods and hormones.

A client's placenta is too important to take a chance on contaminating or losing it.

It's a once or twice or maybe thrice in a lifetime opportunity that if not done properly--will be a chance gone forever.  

I thought other encapsulators had access to professional kitchens, because they often refer to their "workspace". I was slightly horrified to learn that their "workspace" is usually their home kitchen counter. Where cats walk on the surface, a cookie jar sits and a sacred placenta waits to be processed.

Another thing I will never do is transport someone else's human organ in my vehicle. The only way to transport any organ, including a placenta, is to follow stringent transportation protocol including properly storing, securing and labeling the placenta, established by World Health Guidelines for Safe Transport . The placenta should go from the parent or trusted friend's vehicle straight to the home freezer or refrigerator. This method leaves you with no doubt this is your placenta. 

The placenta is an organ from a human body. This is why a rigorous disinfection process using bloodborne pathogen control standards is employed.

placenta pills

As a Postpartum Placenta Specialist, I have trained and achieved certification with ProDoula.  

I hold a certificate of completion in blood borne pathogen prevention. I've taken multiple in person trainings and am dedicated to the highest standards of disinfection and placenta preservation.

I provide clients with a travel kit for the placenta, complete with transport standards from the World Health Organization.

The client knows it is her placenta and that is has been properly cared for because she birthed it, her family or trusted friend took it to her home, and it was encapsulated in her own kitchen.

Another potential placenta thief. (The dog, not Staci) 

Another potential placenta thief. (The dog, not Staci) 

No chance of mix ups. No opportunity for my Great Pyrenees puppy--who easily reaches counters--to lick it. And no cross contamination from my home--whatever microbiology the placenta may come in contact with, the client has already been exposed to in her own home. 

 

With Brevard Doulas, clients benefit from:

  • 100% confidence of placenta's origin
  • Rigorous safety standards
  • Quality capsules with pure placenta, no additives
  • Spotlessly clean kitchen
  • Postpartum support during the process

Because I am also a postpartum doula, I am adept at helping with the baby, providing a sounding board for the family to process their birth story, helping with breastfeeding and addressing any concerns with the baby or mother during this postpartum period.

For clients who don't want to see the placenta, they don't have to. This process can be discreetly accomplished with limited use of the kitchen, and often can be scheduled even before the family comes home with their new baby.

Your health and peace of mind is worth the professional approach to placenta encapsulation.

Click here to reserve your placenta encapsulation.