Babywearing: The Holiday Helper

With the holiday season in full-tilt, those of you with new babies may be feeling a bit hesitant about taking your little ones to holiday gatherings or to community events. Concerns range from not wanting Aunt Susan to sneak your baby a taste of that pumpkin pie to trying to avoid kisses from every well-meaning friend and family member.

Prevent the Pass-Around
Of course you want to show off your little bundle, but you want to do it on your terms. It feels uncomfortable to have baby being passed around from person-to-person. Cue babywearing! People are far less likely to reach out for baby when baby is snugly wrapped or strapped to Mom or Dad. It offers an unspoken barrier stopping people from requesting a chance to hold baby since it’s clear that baby is very comfortable and secure. This gives the caregiver the ability to offer baby up for a snuggle if one so desires rather than having to refuse the request or even worse, oblige the request even though it’s not what you want to do.

Don’t Miss Feedings
With the hustle and bustle of holiday events, it’s far easier to accidentally skip a feeding. As babies get a bit older and more easily distracted, all the noise and goings-on of a holiday celebration could result in baby bypassing her typical feeding cues. While baby might not even fuss at the missed feeding, a nursing mom may experience engorged breasts and even risk mastitis. With baby held closely in a wrap, sling, or carrier, the physical proximity helps keep caregiver and baby attuned to feeding needs.

Do Miss Unwanted Feedings
There’s always that one relative who feels it necessary to give baby “just a little taste” of the whipped cream or “just a pinch” of Grandma’s beloved holiday cookie. It’s frustrating to find out, after-the-fact, that your baby has been given something that his sensitive gut might not be ready for yet. Thankfully, with baby comfortably enjoying the party secured to your chest, no one can sneak an unwanted taste to your baby.

Avoid Overstimulation
Babywearing provides a grounding experience for baby: the rhythmic sound of the wearer’s breathing, the steady heartbeat, and the gentle movement. All these things offer baby a familiar, safe, and comfortable environment even when the surroundings may be totally unfamiliar. It even allows baby to snuggle in for a much-needed nap with music and laughter and chatting in the background.

Babywearing is the ultimate holiday helper. You can attend your holiday event with the peace of mind knowing baby is cozy, comfortable, and insulated from unwelcomed circumstances. Even better, you can keep baby close with your hands totally free. That means more trips through the buffet line for you. That alone is a reason to celebrate! Happy holidays!

What Is A Postpartum Doula?

Short answer; a postpartum doula is a cross between your mythical, awesomely helpful mother-in-law, and an expert baby whisperer! But seriously, a postpartum doula is a trained parenting, infant, and postnatal support professional. She provides education and assistance to families during the newborn period. This type of postpartum practitioner has a wealth of specialized experience and education, to help you adjust to parenthood. Think of a postpartum doula as your personalized parenting coach. Her goal is to help your family learn about normal newborn behavior, baby care techniques, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, breast and infant feeding techniques. There are really two avenues of support, a postpartum doula will provide. In the most traditional sense, a postpartum doula will help with a family-centered approach, or she can care for a growing family, by providing infant-focused care.

With a family-centered approach, a postpartum doula can guide, educate, and assist you through the parenting process. She may help you learn how to breastfeed with ease and confidence, answer questions you may have about feeding, diapering, bathing, grooming, and calming baby, and assist you with babywearing tips and techniques. Additionally, she may help you with meal planning and preparation, household organization, and give you access to trusted parenting and infant resources and referrals.  

A postpartum doula can also help your family with infant-focused care. Within this framework, your doula serves as a newborn specialist. She will be attentive to all of your baby’s needs, so you can properly rest and recover, after birth. Infant-focused care is particularly helpful to parents who are wanting assistance during the evening and overnight hours. Your postpartum doula will provide dedicated newborn care, so you can have the most restorative sleep, knowing a skilled professional is attending to all of your baby’s desires.

If you want personalized support, guidance, and resources to help you make the best decisions for your new family, consider hiring a postpartum doula! To learn more about how a postpartum doula provides practical support to families during the transition to parenthood, read this article.  Also check out The Relievery’s practitioner resource directory, or Doula Match, to find a postpartum professional in your area.

*This post was first published on THE RELIEVERY*

The Nurturing Root is honored to support and educate Northeast Ohio families. We provide Birth Boot Camp childbirth education, holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation services, and family-centered postpartum doula support. If you are looking to have a healthy pregnancy, amazing birth, and gentle postpartum recovery experience, contact us! We also welcome you to join our FREE Facebook community, Cleveland Holistic Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting. This is a great space for families and professionals interested in a variety of natural birth and parenting topics

Breastfeeding While Back to Work

Written by Katy Linda, IBCLC

Breastfeeding while back to work. It's one of those things so many parents worry about. How do you manage it all?

You figure out what works best for you. Just like nearly every other facet of parenting, there is no one size fits all approach to returning to work and managing milk supply.

When you are confident that breastfeeding is going well, you can start pumping and adding a bottle feeding every few days to your feeding times. You don't need to give your baby a bottle every day, just every few days to keep your baby familiar with the bottle. When you're ready, here are some resources for choosing a good bottle for your baby.

The other thing you will need is a good breast pump. A double electric pump should be covered by your insurance company under the Affordable Care Act. Having extra membranes, valves, and tubing is generally recommended just in case your parts wear out. Changing the small rubber pieces is recommended every 90 days.

Having flanges that fit well will help you pump without discomfort as well as maximize your pump output. Your pump manufacturer should have options on sizes and there are other options, such as Freemies or Pumpin Pal Flanges to give you a variety of options to find the right fit. In a proper fitting flange, the breast should fit tight against the funnel part of the flange, and the tunnel should allow for the nipple and a little bit of areola to enter. You should not have rubbing on the side, and there shouldn't be a large amount of space for nipple to swell.

You'll want to start pumping around the same time you start introducing a bottle. Pumping after you feed your baby means you won't get a whole bottle's worth of milk, but it also means you are not taking the easy-to-get milk from a breast your baby is ready to feed from. If you can pump 2 or 3 times, you should have a bottle worth of milk. This can be collected over 2 - 3 days if needed.

Many moms feel most comfortable with a freezer stash of milk. You don't need to have hundreds of ounces taking up the entire freezer. Having a day or two worth of milk to be a back-up plan, just in case something happens is plenty.

When you return to work you will want to pump around the times your baby would typically eat. This may or may not work with your work schedule, so do your best. Ideally pumping every 2 - 3 hours will help maintain supply and get you the milk your baby will need while you were away.

Typical intake for a baby is 1 - 1.5 ounces per hour, so you will want to try to keep this in mind as your overall output. There are many techniques that can be useful to help maximize output, depending upon your situation. For some moms, having a photo of their baby or something that smells like their baby can help with output. For others, distraction from the task at hand is much more effective. Music, reading, or working on emails are all options for some women. Employing hands on pumping techniques, where you use your hands to provide massage and help move milk can also be useful in maximizing your pumping efforts.

In order to make the process faster, as long as you don't have any nipple damage, cracks, cuts, etc, you can store your pump parts in the refrigerator and just clean them daily. Washing parts can be time consuming, this can make the process faster so that you are missing less working time. Parts can be washed with soap and water, or even with sterilizing steam bags in the microwave.

Breastmilk is good for 7 days in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer compartment of the fridge, and 12 months in a chest freezer. There are many methods to store breastmilk. Typically feeding your baby the freshest milk possible is recommended. You can feed them the milk you have pumped the previous day, and a few times a week take a bag of milk to put in the freezer and take the oldest bag out of the freezer to feed your baby. This keeps your freezer stash as fresh as possible, while giving your baby mostly fresh milk.

Balancing the hurdles of leaving work to pump with the desire to provide the very best for your baby can be challenging. Know that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Every drop of breastmilk you provide for your baby matters and makes a difference.

 

Katy Linda, is an IBCLC and owner of The BF Den.  She serves Central Maryland and lives in Baltimore with her husband and 4 children. 

5 Ways Partners Can Bond With Their Breastfed Baby

By Alayna Spratley

During this first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. This global awareness initiative is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an international network of organizations working to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.  Learn about World Breastfeeding Week 2016 here.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week here are five ways fathers and non-nursing parents can bond with their breastfed babies:

  1. Skin To Skin Contact

Holding a newborn baby on your bare chest has so many benefits beyond the obvious snuggles. Skin to skin contact helps normalize baby’s body temperature and glucose levels; heart and respiratory rates also stabilize.

  1. Babywearing

Successfully carrying an infant in a sling, wrap, or a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is life changing! Most babies love to nestle on mom or dad’s chest. Wearing baby provides the physical closeness infants need while freeing a caregiver’s hands to participate in daily activities. It is so empowering to accomplish any task while babywearing.

  1. Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a superb way to feel deeply connected to baby, while getting a more restful night’s sleep.

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  1. Movement

Inside mom, babies spend approximately nine months in motion.  So it is no surprise that they crave similar movement once born. Rock, sway, or bounce (I suggest using a Pilates ball) that baby! You will help soothe, calm, and lull your infant to sleep.

  1. Rituals

When baby starts having a more predictable rhythm, have dad start a short daily routine. A morning ritual could include taking baby upon waking, changing a diaper and clothes, and wearing her while making breakfast. An evening routine, that implements several bonding strategies, could include a taking a bath, enjoying some skin to skin time, and having a cuddle in the rocking chair.  

Supporting breastfeeding is a cultural responsibility that begins in the home.

We want all families committed to breastfeeding to succeed. If you reside in the Baltimore area, we offer postpartum services to help all family members be included, confident, and supported throughout the nursing journey.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Breast+Skin+Sling: An interview with Austin Rees

My guest on the blog today is Austin Rees. Austin is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Babywearing Consultant through the Center for Babywearing Studies. She is the owner of Breast+Skin+Sling, and the co-founder of Sacred Milk. Austin prepares mothers prenatally with the foundations of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and babywearing. She facilitates personalized ceremonies to celebrate life’s transitions. Austin also provides one-on-one babywearing consultations in our community. (featured image credit: Kate’s Takes)

It is common today for parents to take a birthing class. Why should parents seek out a breastfeeding and babywearing class before the baby arrives?

An out of hospital birth class is essential to gaining the information on how to facilitate the process of birth and know your choices in birth. Skin-to-skin, and the breast crawl (infant independently moves to the breast to nurse) occurs immediately after birth. Understanding how to facilitate this instinctual experience before the birth is beneficial. I find mothers profit from the knowledge and foundations of how Milk works, the importance of skin-to-skin, along with an understanding of the normal newborn before the baby arrives. With this knowledge I have witnessed mothers step into motherhood trusting their bodies, their babies, and their Milk. I help mothers discover their innate instincts and wisdom so they enter their unique Milk relationship secure, confident, supported, and connected to their baby. Armed with the knowledge of how to initiate a good start is key to avoiding difficulties. I observed working with mothers postpartum that a majority of the issues they experienced could have been prevented if they had the proper information before the baby arrived. Babywearing can also start immediately, and knowing how to comfortably and confidently use a carrier can be a valuable tool.

Babywearing is commonly seen around the city. How would you react if you see someone wearing a baby improperly while at the store?

I am always excited to see another parent or caregiver wearing their baby while I am out. I usually try to make eye contact or say, “It’s great to see you wearing your baby.” If I notice someone wearing their baby and the straps are twisted, or it does not look to the carrier direction guidelines I may observe to see if they are interested in striking up a conversation. When I engage with someone who is wearing I ask how they feel. If they are happy and comfortable, I praise their excitement. If they say this is great, but xyz, I will share some babywearing tips that may help that situation.
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On your website it lists you offer facilitating ceremonies for families in the DC/MD/VA area. What are some reasons for someone to reach out to you to create a ceremony for themselves or someone else?

I enjoy designing personalized ceremonies to create a circle of support for someone. I have been facilitating Mother Blessings for pregnant or adopting women for 10 years. In place of a traditional baby shower, a Mother Blessing is a special ceremony designed to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate a woman’s journey into Motherhood. Family, friends, and mothers contact me to create a ceremony and provide a loving place where the honored mother can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches childbirth or adoption, and mothering her first or multiple children.

I also facilitate Birth Story Ceremonies; a place where a mother can experience deep listening, and allow the power of sharing her story to heal, celebrate, grieve, release, process and acknowledge her experience, her journey. These are designed to make way for the mother to experience her birth story. We open our heart and commit our undivided attention to her. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

A Weaning Ceremony is a time we can come together to honor a Mother’s Milk relationship. We make way for the mother to experience her Milk story by opening our heart and committing our undivided attention. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

I also create customized ceremonies. Recently I designed one for a special woman who was about to undergo radiation for breast cancer. We designed activities that supported releasing fears, created personal power, and we weaved a web of support, pledging our assistance throughout her treatment and beyond.

Sacred Milk is a sister program under the Sacred Living Movement. Can you share what is the Sacred Living Movement, and more about your involvement with Sacred Milk and Sacred Pregnancy?
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Photo credit: Kalimana Birth Films

The Sacred Living Movement acknowledges all aspects of our life’s journey need to be honored, and embraced with reverence and respect. The Sacred Living Movement was designed to bring back the age-old tradition of women sitting with one another during a time of transition, witnessing each other’s process and BEING there for one another. We have a local, active Sacred Living Movement Maryland group.

Sara Goff and I created Sacred Milk after attending a Sacred Pregnancy retreat. Sacred Milk is a movement inspiring women to trust their bodies, their baby’s and their Milk. Our mission is to nourish the wholeness of each mother’s journey and shift our culture to see Milk as a holistic practice, rather than simply a feeding choice. In the last century our culture has been saturated by marketing that has conditioned us to see breasts as sexual, and human milk as just a food source. The Journey to Milk program is focused on opening space for women to remember their innate wisdom and then surround themselves with a supportive community. Milk is instinctual, natural, normal, and necessary. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or filled with bliss. Milk is not something that can be fully learned from a book or taught on the internet. Milk cannot be told. Milk must be modeled, supported and nourished in community because it is a way of living not a way of feeding.

I recently co-hosted a Sacred Pregnancy + Sacred Milk 2-day mini retreat for pregnant mothers in our community. It was a gorgeous event full of women showing up and witnessing to each other. In September I will be facilitating a retreat to certify Sacred Pregnancy instructors in Nashville, TN. I am excited for more women to have the option to attend these classes or retreats prenatally.

Austin is such wonderful resource for mothers and families in our area and has such a beautiful way of bringing our community together. If you are looking for breastfeeding or babywearing education in the Baltimore or surrounding area, you can contact Austin here.

Finding Your Village

You’ve had your baby, welcomed all of the visitors and friends who want to meet the newest addition, and eaten all of the food you’d prepared and stored in the freezer. You have survived the first week or two of motherhood, cried countless tears as your hormones regulate, and said goodbye to your significant other as they rejoin the work force. Now, you find yourself alone (well, sort of) on the couch, in a quiet house, with the tiniest little thing that has ever ruled your world. Now what?

It can be quite daunting, those first moments when you realize it’s really up to you (and whatever support person or network you have in place) to care for this little being. You may be having some existential moments, asking yourself, who am I now? I know I did. I remember just sitting there, staring at this little person who wouldn’t leave my breast, and thinking just that. I certainly didn’t feel like the same person, who just two weeks ago, was (very) pregnant, and now, I’m someone’s mom. Someone’s whole world. It’s really, and truly, a baffling experience. If you haven’t had that feeling yet, you’re likely reading this because you’re expecting and soon will.

Now that you’ve questioned your entire meaning and purpose in life, where do you go from there? Well, you just go. Really, it’s that simple. Just go. I read COUNTLESS new parenting blogs, articles on the best latch, what creams to use on baby (or not to use), how to hold her, how to make sure she fell asleep at the breast or bottle, how to make sure she didn’t, when to wake her, when to put her down (and many that boasted the importance of putting her down often; this was especially frustrating since she understandably didn’t seem to like it much).  I read about how much sleep to expect from her, and on and on and on. It was maddening, really.

The amount of information available to new parents can be completely overwhelming and it certainly baffles our grandparents who had nothing to go on other than instinct. You’re surrounded by all of this information at your fingertips, yet potentially feel more alone than you ever imagined. This is where I suggest to you forego the books, the articles, and the blogs. They aren’t what you need right now. There’s time in the future for that (a tip: don’t read the sleep stuff until way into the second half of the first year. It all changes too rapidly to worry about right now. Sleep will come eventually, I promise.).

What you should do is work on finding your village. Find the other parents who are in the thick of it just like you. CONNECT. Really connect. Identify your community, or create it if it doesn’t exist yet, and make plans. Spend real-life time with others who can relate to exactly where you are and what you’re doing in this very specific time in your life. Facebook has become an amazing networking locale for meeting and establishing some amazing friendships for new parents. When I was a first-time mom, sitting on my couch, nursing for most of my day, I made some of my closest friends. Remember the joke, “there’s an app for that?” Well, I’ve realized the latest phenomenon is that “there’s a group for that!” Literally, almost every topic has plenty of group options for you to find and connect with others in a virtual reality. But, that’s just the first step, it’s imperative that once we make these connections virtually, we follow through with the relationships in real life, especially as new parents. It can be quite lonely otherwise. There are plenty of local meet-ups happening in almost every neighborhood, and on that note, almost every neighborhood has its own Facebook page (or Meetup group etc.). These can happen during the week or weekend, for stay-at-home moms and working moms alike, so seek out the local community and meet like-minded parents. Then make plans in person.

It’s this community that I now go to on a regular basis to check in on what’s normal, rant when my days are just tougher than I imagined, cry to when I just need someone to hear me, and make plans with when I need to spend some time with other people who just get it. They’re in the thick of it, just like me, and we can commiserate, or boast, or cry or do whatever we feel like together. I once read an article about how the women you meet at your first moms’ group are unforgettable. Even if you all grow apart, you’ll never forget the times you spent doing all of what I just mentioned, together with your newest little people. And, it’s worth noting that maybe you don’t find your people right away, but keep reaching out and you will. Finding a group of moms (or dads because there are groups for you, too) who you can count on to be there is priceless. Trust me, when you’re up for what seems like the 18th time in the middle of the night and just need to know you’re not alone, you’ll be grateful you have your community. Some might even become like family. That’s exactly how we were meant to parent because it takes a village.

 

If you are looking to connect with other moms and families in the Baltimore community, here are some links to get you started:

Search Meetup.com for your neighborhood and you’re likely to find many other parents.

Looking for a group just for dads? This is a new local group that is growing.

Mother Goose on the Loose is a great, free early literacy program that happens at libraries all around the country. Click the link to find the closest weekly group to you.

And of course, there’s Facebook. Most of us have already succumb to this, but if you haven’t, it definitely provides an easy way to make connections. Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding is a diverse group of moms and dads supporting each other in a nonjudgmental community.  Join, ask questions, and connect. We’d love to have you.

 

 

Babywearing: Some Unexpected Lessons

Today’s guest blog post comes to your from Paige Barocca of Baltimore Birth Services.  Paige serves the families in our community as a birth doula and a babywearing advocate. 

I’ve been an avid babywearer since the birth of my son in 2012. Like choosing the breastfeed, babywearing was just something that I knew I would do from the start. There were many reasons why I knew I would be wearing my baby. After wearing one baby into toddlerhood and starting all over again with my baby girl, I have come to realize that being a babywearing mama has taught me some unexpected lessons. First, I want to share three of my initial intentions when wrapping that first baby to my chest.

Babywearing deepens the bond between parent and baby.

Wearing your baby can be as calming and blissful as a good swaddle, with the added benefit of being snug right up to your chest. Sometimes I would even wear my baby skin to skin, under a robe or open sweater. To your baby, nothing beats that familiar smell and unmatchable warmth of a mother. Recreating the close quarters of a womb and combining that with human touch (dads too!) really is the perfect recipe to keeping that baby calm. This is especially helpful for breastfeeding moms, babies love the smell of mama’s milk, and what better way to encourage breastfeeding than resting near the source? Not to mention that fathers who may be wanting to connect with their newborns (and give mom a break!) can also do so through babywearing between feeding and during naps.

Babywearing meets your baby’s needs while allowing you to meet yours.

While your baby is cozy in the nest you made them on your chest, your hands can be free. I certainly don’t recommend doing housework immediately postpartum, but eating a meal (that someone else prepared you) is a lot easier with two hands! I’ve found this to be particularly helpful the second time around, while chasing around big brother. Speaking of toddlers, I can’t think of a better way to keep a busy babe happy and out of trouble in a grocery store- my son stayed strapped on my back every trip until the next was born! From doing your nails to walking the dogs, wearing your baby can give you that freedom that many new mothers feel they have lost.

Babywearing brings baby to the action.

Newborns sleep a lot, and usually at odd times! Getting in the habit of putting them down or tucking them away removes them from social situations. More so, if you have a baby that likes to be held, and very few don’t, you may find yourself removed from social situations as your arms become an immovable bed for your sleeping beauty. When you wear your baby, your baby goes with you, typically undisturbed by movement or change in environment. If your baby is awake, being worn can give baby a chance to see people interact at eye level, providing more social perks than being on the ground with a bunch of toys. I have worn my baby to busy restaurants, parties, meetings, you name it and we’ve been there.

Now for the juicy part. What are the life lessons that await any future babywearers? Spoiler Alert! Here are my surprise extras that I gained just for being a mama with a wrap.

Babywearing gave me confidence!

Babywearing is not totally difficult, you can choose to strap a baby in a backpack and call it a day. I really never loved the fit of a backpack on my petite body, or a sling on one shoulder, so my go-to style has always been a wrap. Choosing to wrap was easy, learning to wrap was tougher, and being confident in my skills, as well as my maternal instincts, took time! It was a while before I would use my wrap in a parking lot, or wrap without a mirror. As with every skill, I began to take pride in myself and this special talent that I could share with my babies.

Babywearing builds a village!

I have met so many wonderful friends through my love of babywearing and the style of parenting it represents. When wrapping, I often have strangers encouraging me, asking if I need any assistance. More than once I’ve had someone literally ask if they could just stand and watch me do it. (Again, talk about confidence boosting!) I’m often met with questions from new mothers about how I do it and where can they learn? Just today at the park I sparked a conversation with another mom as she asked, “How do you get her down from there?” I’ve become a teacher and supporter of my community simply by going outside with my baby! Babywearing has opened to doors to so many new adventures and introduced me to a number of beautiful people who now remain a big part of my life.

Babywearing does not look the same on everyone!

When I first set out to babywear, I went out and bought some fabric and sewed it all together. I came to realize there is a whole community of babywearers who do things all sorts of ways. This can be intimidating because some serious wrappers will spend oodles of money on one hand-woven, “dear-in-search-of”. Yes, that is a term!  Although they are beautiful, and I have a few moderately priced wraps, the wrap I tend to reach for the most is an Ikea sheet that I chopped in half. The response I get when I wear my sheet is just as grand (if not more!) then when I wear my Girasol Amitola Azafaran weft. Furthermore, there are so many different carriers! There are slings, and buckles, and mei tais, oh my! There are as many ways to wear your baby as there are reasons to wear them. Just like everything else in parenting, no single one is better than the rest, you just have to pick what works best for you!