Mya is a sweet friend of mine and I love how she takes what could have been a fearful, scary situation and is able to give birth without fear!
My first birth was in the hospital and was considered low risk and thankfully there were no complications. Since the first went well, when we got pregnant for the second time and it was also low risk, we planned for a birth center delivery then decided shortly after that to have a home birth. We were so excited and prepared as best we could be. We bought all the supplies we needed, showed baby animals being born to our preschooler to help her understand birth a little more and felt good about it all.
Soon you’ll learn that being prepared is a false sense of security. One can never be completely and fully prepared because life is unpredictable, especially in regards to birth. Now hold on! Don’t let that scare you or put more fear into you! Let it be empowering. First, let go of any anxiety now. Let go of your worries, your ‘what if’s’, let go of your preconceived expectation of others. This will make more room for YOU in your own mind, body and spirit to focus on YOU and your sweet little one. I encourage you to learn more about the amazing power of your body and that you CAN do it no matter what happens at the time of birth! Fear is simply a perception we create from experiences that either we have personally had or that others have had and we indirectly place our perception on it. Fear is completely self-made. It doesn’t actually exist.
This was a HUGE first step for me to learn in order to truly empower myself. By educating myself on natural ways to give birth, how the body works and then incorporating my birth goals and talking to my husband and daughter about it helped give me a peace of mind and pushed out a lot of “fears”.
So let’s fast forward to my due date. Nothin! Yup. The day came and went and I was bummed. My oldest came on her due date, so I was convinced both of my kids would come on their due dates, which I realize is extremely rare, but I can wish can’t I?!? Have I mentioned that things never truly go as expected, so I had to let that go! Okay. So I woke up the next day, the day after my due date and felt fine. I had to take my oldest to preschool and did some work from home. I ate lunch around 2:15pm and noticed that while eating my stomach started hurting. Didn’t connect the dots because it simply felt like cramps you get when you eat something that doesn’t settle well and you need to go to the bathroom afterwards (Sorry, TMI? Oh, just wait!) and I was eating a jalapeno topped pizza, so I excused it to that. I went to the bathroom (ended in bm’s), went and picked up my daughter, still cramping, went to Wal*Mart, still cramping, another bathroom trip, and then finally went home, still cramping. I warmed up a corn bag to lay across my lower pelvic area (under my belly) to relieve some of the discomfort and after an hour decided to text my husband. I told him I was cramping and imagined it would continue progressing into contractions at some point, so to finish up what he needed because I didn’t think he would be going to work the next day. You guys! I was still only cramping, but it was now accompanied by pressure in my lower back. I had been sitting on the couch this whole time while my preschooler was asking me to play with her. She was entertaining herself for the most part, but still asked me to play. I explained to her how I was feeling, why I couldn’t get up and play at the time.
Within an hour or so of calling my husband walked and thank goodness! In my mind, I was glad he didn’t stay very long at work. I asked him to rub my lower back while I got on all fours. Only after a few minutes I realized I needed to get up to go to the bathroom to release my bowels. AGAIN! Remember, the TMI thing? Sorry. I’m an open book. I wasn’t feeling anxious or worried, but knew this was going to help relieve some discomfort. I truly went with my body the best I could. I was in the moment, breathing through the cramps, relaxing my muscles with each breath I took. I walked to the bathroom, sat on the toilet and went for the third time that afternoon. Still breathing with my hands on my knees as I sat, I felt a gush come out into the toilet. Not sure what it was at first (I had not experienced my water breaking with my oldest because the hospital broke it-which was completely unnecessary, but that’s another story), so I didn’t realize what was happening. Still hands on knees, feeling like this is hurting more now, but still not worried or anxious. Simply trying my best to relax with each breath during the discomfort from cramping. Until. Until! Not thirty seconds after that gush came a big, very tight contraction. That’s when it got real! I tensed up so much because it caught me completely off guard. I was almost forced to hunch over while sitting on the toilet because it came so fast and was so intense. I knew at that moment that it was a contraction and IT was happening. I called for my husband who was in the kitchen and I could barely catch my breath as the contractions were coming closer and closer together. I still attempted to breath through these intense contractions by relaxing my shoulder and neck muscles as best I could while breathing as natural as I could.
My husband ran upstairs to grab a few of our home-birth supplies. One thing I will tell you is that I didn’t want to tear. I did with my first and that was THE one thing I wanted to avoid. I knew it was possible and that may have caused some very small amount of worry. So I turned that small worry into focus. It kept me focused on breathing and relaxing. My husband had come back downstairs and began to massage me down there as we had previously discussed and he mentioned I needed to get off the toilet because he was massaging her head (we were having another girl). I knew and he knew I wanted to give birth in a squat if possible, so it truly worked out perfectly. Mind you, this was a mere 10 minutes after I had my first contraction. I stood up and stepped out to the right of the toilet, so I could lean on the lid with my left arm and went down straight into a squat. I went down and her head immediately popped out! My preschooler said, “There’s Makayla”! I am literally in birthing mode and talking to my preschooler about birth and how she’s (the baby) coming while I lean against the toilet. No other thoughts running through my head, except we’re having a baby. My husband moves the cord (he still can’t tell me why he did, he doesn’t know) and my body contracted one last time that made her literally slide out and into my arms. There she was. Just like that. My thoughts were on me and baby. Not if I tore or how bummed I was that I couldn’t use the birthing tub. None of that bothered me. Are you kidding me? We just had a baby together as a family. She came so fast that there was literally no time to be worried, scared or anxious! It was WONDERFUL!!!
So many times we let the anticipation get into our heads and work us up, but if we stay in the moment and focus on our muscles and breathing then the timeline doesn’t matter anymore. Yes, my birth was fast, but I believe that even in the stages before contracting, I could have started worrying and playing scenarios in my head of ‘what if’s’, but I didn’t. I went with it and did what I had been practicing during my pregnancy, so that when the time came, I didn’t feel lost. My mindset was right and my body was already being prepared in a variety of ways prior to this day. Stretches, healthy foods, water, supplements, and personal birth education, everything together helped me feel empowered and ABLE! You’ve probably realized by now that we had our baby in the bathroom with no professional there with us. Well. You’re right. It was just us. And it was AMAZING!!!
After the baby came, my husband went to get his phone and called the midwife. I was sitting on the floor with the baby and asked my husband to take some pictures, after thought ya know, so it could be somewhat documented, haha. And there we sat waiting for our midwife. I had the baby on my stomach doing skin to skin with shirt pulled up because I was clothed still (minus my shorts) and we bonded. Although this birth was nothing that I expected or anticipated, I would do it all over again. It was beautiful to have a child at home with my family. Just us. We didn’t plan to have an unassisted home birth, but now I wonder why people don’t do it! It was an experience that’s often too hard to truly explain. Taking care of my mind, my body and being open to what life throws at me, I believe is what made this such a wonderful experience. So I encourage you. Focus on YOU, because darling, you are more capable than you even know!
Hi there! I hope you enjoyed my story! It’s always so much fun to tell. I wanted to mention a little more about who I am. I currently live and have lived in Utah since 2012 with my husband and two girls, but grew up in Southern California. By trade, I am a special education teacher, but have been home ever since having our youngest, our home baby. Now my passion is for my current job working from home. I share health, hope and happiness with a company called Plexus. It has been a blessing to have these products during my pregnancy and afterwards. It made a world of difference in many ways. I also enjoy learning, teaching, Disneyland, snow on Christmas day, and meeting new people. If you’re curious about the products that made my second pregnancy and recovery so much better or maybe you have questions about something else in my story then please reach out. I’d love to help and share whatever I can.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As I look back on both my pregnancies, I see so many differences. With my first, I craved carbs, religiously ate at least one bagel with cream cheese daily, worked at a desk all day and subsequently gained a good 60 pounds. For those who know me, I’m a fairly petite person so gaining half my body weight in 9 months probably wasn’t the best idea. My joints felt heavy and stiff; labor was also long and arduous clocking in at 40 something hours.
In contrast with my second, this time around I was chasing a rambunctious toddler, still craved carbs but chose whole grains, ate more veggies and fruits and made an effort to exercise and gained an appropriate 35 pounds. My labor was also much shorter with only 3 hours of active labor until I was holding my baby in my arms.
We may not be able to change genetics but there are things we can do before, during and after pregnancy to help facilitate an easier and more positive birth experience.
Now is the time to look at your lifestyle and nutrition goals! Maybe it’s losing weight or building muscle tone to help your body be in its optimal health before carrying a growing baby for 9 months. Women with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 have the best success at fertility with an underweight or overweight woman more likely to have conception difficulties. If the thought of this is overwhelming, you are most definitely not alone. Chatting with a health coach or nutritionist is a great place to start. Find friends who will hold you accountable as you reach your goals. Salt Lake City Midwife Adrienne Brown, CPM, LDEM and founder of Wasatch Midwifery & Wellness offers a preconception visit to establish a baseline health assessment, discuss family medical history, fertility resources and share ways to prevent miscarriage. As a Doula, I love cheering and supporting my clients in their health journeys.
During the first trimester the life-giving placenta forms. This incredible organ provides all of the necessary nutrients and oxygen for the growing baby as well as a way to dispose of waste. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps prevent placental insufficiency and the complications it can cause to Mom or baby. Most providers agree Moms should increase their calories by 300-500 per day. As delicious as a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream may sound, choose to nourish your baby and body with wholesome nutrient dense calories. Your baby and body will thank you :)
Eating well can be easier said than done, especially during the first trimester.
One of my finest moments during my first pregnancy was secretly fishing out empty yogurt containers left in the trash by my coworkers because I couldn’t stand the smell and tossed them in the garbage faaaar away from me in an effort to prevent throwing up at my desk. Good memories right???
A recent study published by NCBI in 2014 found that the inhalation of lemon essential oil significantly reduced nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Another suggestion to combat nausea is to eat small protein-rich snacks throughout the day as a way to help balance blood sugars and reduce nausea.
Use this time during pregnancy to focus on nutrient dense foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains, bone broth, protein and good fats (avocado is one of my favorites).
What About Exercise?
I know you're tired and the last thing you’re thinking is, “I should go really go workout today.” or “Does it really make a difference?” During my first pregnancy, I had this almost this fear of exercise, or I would go to bed with grand plans of doing zoomba, prenatal yoga or taking a long walk only to wake up, go to work and sit all day only. When I came home, I’d make a half-hearted effort only to spend the majority of the evening lounging on the couch. And I felt it, I was out of breath, tired and lacked stamina. According to research exercise during pregnancy helps increase energy, prevent gestational diabetes, reduce back pain and can even help moms have a shorter labor!
Ask the Expert
Nutritionist Lauren Rodas, MS and founder of YIN Wellness in Sandy, Utah writes,
Research has shown that the lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition choices made by women during their pregnancy have a direct, and often long-lasting, impact on the health of both mother and baby. Additionally, babies whose mothers take good care of themselves while pregnant are more likely to have a positive pregnancy experience, an easier delivery faster recovery and better overall health.
Poor eating habits by moms during pregnancy have been shown to slow the growth of the fetus as well as contribute to the development of long-term and often irreversible health issues for the child including obesity raised levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. A recent study by the Harvard Institute of Public Health found that 95 percent of women who consumed a nutritious diet had healthy babies. In contrast, 65 percent women who ate mainly junk food had premature, malnourished, functionally immature, or stillborn babies. Research also supports that what women eat while they are pregnant helps shape their babies taste buds to crave those specific foods throughout life.
Forget the pressure to “jump” right back into life after having a baby. You don’t need to be superwoman, and it’s okay to ask for help. Take these moments to simply breathe and enjoy bonding with your baby. For breastfeeding moms continue eating an additional 500 wholesome calories each day and talk to your provider on when resuming exercise is okay. Postpartum “exercise” might look at simple as soaking in some vitamin D on your porch or taking a short walk around your block.
I would love to hear your thoughts on nutrition and lifestyle during pregnancy! What things helped you? For Mom’s expecting their second, third or fourth child, what changes did you make between pregnancies?
Alyssa Moulton is a Certified Hypno-doula who loves supporting her clients from pregnancy through the postpartum time. If you were to describe her in three words she would say calm, empowering and authentic. She is passionate about helping each client feel empowered and supported in their birthing decisions. When not serving as a Doula, Alyssa loves teaching youth and adult cooking classes from Healthy eating and meal planning to homemade pastries and baking themed birthday parties and loves seeing her student's learn new skills and feel empowered in the kitchen! She also hosts a bi-monthly Mom's Circle in Herriman as a way for Mom's to connect, grow and live in community with each other. Interested in learning more? Contact Alyssa for a free consultation. ~
I recently had an opportunity to hear from a lovely group of women on breastfeeding. They shared their struggles, myths they had been taught and told positive, beautiful stories of love and life. Every journey looks different, some of us breastfeed, pump exclusively, use formula, receive donor milk or use a mix of formula and breast-milk and that’s okay! But rather than split hairs, now, is the time to come and support and empower each other as we find common ground as parents in this journey of love.
This blog post is just a small taste of the many myth and facts surrounding breastfeeding and I would be honored to hear YOUR thoughts in the comments below!
“Honestly the most frustrating misconception to me was, "he'll eat if he's hungry". Our loved one did not eat actually because he had a tongue tie which made it really hard for him to get enough so he wouldn't wake to eat and wasn't gaining weight for weeks so I woke him every 3 hours to eat. People said that to me over and over, so I felt crazy thinking he wasn't getting enough and for being so regimented, and hurt because that statement just isn't supportive at all.” W.E
“That it's easy. That the baby just knows how to latch, that you will automatically have enough milk always, that it won't ever hurt” MA
“The weight will just melt off . . . Not true for everyone!” J.L
“I'm nursing twins and there still isn't anything melting off!” B.B
“My weight melted off from postpartum thyroiditis and then as soon as it was diagnosed and corrected, weight came right back: despite very successful breastfeeding and a great supply!” K.Y
“I thought that the first two months was going to be the way it was forever. If I deviated from my routine of feeding from both breasts, the last one, first etc, it was going to be horrible. Now, I honestly just do a quick feel and feed from the fullest side, keeping in mind to make sure I'm feeding from both sides throughout the day, but not always so regimented.”
Painful Nursing & Pumping
“That it would be very painful. It wasn't for me!!” L.B
“I think I'm one of the lucky ones, baby boy and I figured out how to latch within a few days, and once my nipples healed from the initial cracking we've not had any pain.” J.C
“That everyone gets cracked and bleeding nipples and that it hurts and that is normal. Also that I would feel a certain feeling when my milk came in (I didn't feel anything besides them getting huge and was told my milk wasn't in until the Dr. said it definitely was)” H.U
“It's natural, and it won't hurt if you're doing it right. False. It will likely, at some point, be mildly excruciating, because your nipples have never had this much undivided attention (most likely, ahem). This, to me, is the absolute worst one because it leaves so many of us expecting virtually NO pain (or at worst, mild discomfort) and results in feelings of failure before we've hardly begun!” C.T
“While I'm not breastfeeding yet, just pumping for my little NICU preemie, my nipples have *definitely* had some "wait, what the heck are you doing to us" moments.” R.W
Myth “One that really scared me was that it could increase your risks of getting breast cancer. So happy I did research when I had children so I could breastfeed!” H.I
Fact “[Breastfeeding reduces risk of cancer] It's like hearing exercise will make you fat. Ha.” L.Z
Myth“That breastfeeding will interfere with the father's ability to bond with the baby” L.A
“If you try X it will make your milk production go up. Nope, you can do ALL THE THINGS and still not make enough.” S.B
“Ugh. So many. Here are my top 3:
Never wake a sleeping baby, he'll eat when he's hungry.
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world - this one is very false and makes you feel like a true failure (especially with those postpartum hormones).
You don't have to/shouldn't pump in the beginning, just nurse, nurse, nurse and your supply will regulate appropriately- not for me and now I'm dealing with low supply issues.” C.D
“I started pumping on day 3 with a hospital grade pump. Still never made enough. Don't beat yourself up. It can make you crazy. My baby thrived once we started supplementing properly.” S.B
“That you are in control. After hitting our one year goal I realized it wasn't going to be up to me when we stopped!” N.P
“To chafe my nipples at the end of pregnancy to get them "toughened up" for nursing.” B.B
“That i wouldn't be able to nurse with my inverted nipples.” B.B
“That you don't have to burp baby when breastfeeding” D.A
For those looking for peer or professional breastfeeding, pumping or supplementing support visit come of our great local resources!
La Leche League of Salt Lake County
La Leche League of Utah County
La Leche League of Weber/Davis County
Motherfed: International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) located in Salt Lake City
Birth Journey Midwifery: Certified Midwife and IBCLC throughout the Salt Lake areas
Meghan’s Lactation Consulting: IBCLC serving the Salt Lake and Park City areas
~Alyssa Moulton is a Certified Hypno-doula who loves supporting her clients from pregnancy through the postpartum time. If you were to describe her in three words she would say calm, empowering and authentic. She is passionate about helping each client feel empowered and supported in their birthing decisions. When not serving as a Doula, Alyssa loves teaching youth and adult cooking classes from Healthy eating and meal planning to homemade pastries and baking themed birthday parties and loves seeing her student's learn new skills and feel empowered in the kitchen! She also hosts a bi-monthly Mom's Circle in Herriman as a way for Mom's to connect, grow and live in community with each other. Interested in learning more? Contact Alyssa for a free consultation. ~
So much thanks to my friend Emily Smith for sharing her thoughts on Motherhood and life with a newborn.
I am at my best as a mom when I am free to be me. "
Do you know someone who seems to be "super-mom"? That person who leaves you in awe of their boundless energy and creativity? Or the instagram-mom whose life (and kids) looks perfect in each photo? Or ever wonder how the mom with nine kids still seems perfectly sane and even happy? Do you, like me, struggle with wondering if you should be doing more or doing differently to be a better mom?
Today I am going to share the secret I am learning about being the best mom for Henry, my five month old son.
Transitioning to motherhood has been unexpectedly challenging. I've wanted to be a mom since I learned what babies were as a little girl, and I love this new role as much as I thought I would. But it is also hard. In addition to the physical exhaustion and trauma my body went through during birth, there are the mental and emotional aspects to recovery as well, which often take far longer than the body to recover. Much has been said elsewhere about "mom guilt"; our tendency to compare ourselves relentlessly and judge others based on our own beliefs or experiences.
Have you experienced this in your mothering journey yet? I often see someone and immediately think "I wish I was more like her", or "wow, she seems to have it all together", or "her life looks so pretty and perfect in her photos", or "I would be a better mom if only..." and on and on it goes. It gets exhausting if we listen to that train of thought long enough, leaving us feeling inadequate and weary.
Do you want to know the secret I'm learning?
I am at my best as a mom when I am free to be me.
When I was younger, people told me all the time how much I was like my mom. It was a compliment then, and it still is today. She is amazing - an extrovert with energy for days, is a wonderful mom and grandma, loves to be around people (and the more the merrier), throws the best parties, is creative and artistic, has the capacity to thrive with a full time job and something going on every night of the week, is generous with her time, constantly has people over, and loves to give gifts.
All of that is wonderful, but little of that describes who I am. Thus, as I grew up, I started to think there was something wrong with me. I love people, but as an introvert need alone time to recharge. I much prefer small groups to big crowds. I am terrible at gift giving (Amazon gift cards for the win!). I burn out quickly if I don't have a couple nights at home each week with nothing on the schedule. My creativity skills are slim. Our alikeness comes in that we share a passion for hosting people in our homes, a love of laughter, cooking and baking, and we happen to look and talk alike.
I know another mom who is a super-mom. She had four boys in under six years (the youngest two are twins), and is like a machine. Motherhood seems effortless for her. Super creative birthday parties, stylish clothes for the boys and herself, beautiful hair and makeup, gorgeous home, model-worthy photos, always out doing things with the kids, seemingly endless energy and life. She is amazing, really and truly!
But here is the truth: trying to be like my mom or like my super-mom friend will not make me a better mom for Henry. It will only wear me out and leave me empty because that is not who I am or how I am wired. What he needs is for me to be exactly who I am. The one who sings oldies and dances with him around the kitchen. The one who prioritizes a shower almost every day, because it helps me feel more human. The one who loves to be outside in the sunshine, but also thinks the library makes the best outing. The one who loves babywearing and breastfeeding and going to a midwife. The one who is terrible at gift giving, but great at quality time. The one who looks forward to nap time so I can recharge for a few minutes.
Does that mean we should never strive to improve? No, not at all. There is a major difference between striving to be a better you, and striving to be a different person all-together. As we continue to grow as mamas, let's remember that our kids will have the best moms when we embrace who we are rather than trying to be who we are not.
About Emily Smith
Hello, my name is Emily! I am married to Christian, new mom to our five month old son Henry and blogger over at amosaiclife.wordpress.com. Alyssa invited me to write a guest post after my recent blog on how having a newborn is like going to Panera. You can read that post here. It is all about the transition to life with an infant, learning to go slow and accept your limits in the healing process.
Before Alyssa and I had any kids of our own, I was skeptical of anything medical outside of a physician's advice and avoided blood and body fluid, even in conversation. Yet, when my wife was going to give birth with our first child, I wanted to be somewhat involved--but I did not know how.
I was one of those guys who really looked forward to having kids. Kids are fun, unique, and together with you and your spouse can form a loving and warm family. Sounds great, right? But at the time I didn't think about the journey my future wife would embark on in order to get the little one out of the womb and onto dry land.
With our first child, Wesley, we took a birthing class, practiced breathing, and even used visualizations to walk though possible childbirth scenarios. I'll be honest, it was REALLY boring, like using every excuse possible to get out of coming to the classes with her--until I realized how helpful it was for me to understand all about what Alyssa and our growing baby were going through, medically and emotionally. It helped create a connection between Alyssa and I that was not there before. I learned a ton through the class and became much more capable at supporting Alyssa, but we both wanted a doula for the birth.
When my wife first approached me about hiring a doula it honestly felt like an unnecessary expense and something I could take care of myself. When the intensity of labor began all of the things we learned in birth class kind of fell by the wayside. Our doula stepped in and gently reminded me of all the ways I could support my wife through labor. Because of our doula I had confidence in my ability to serve my wife effectively during the birth experience. If we have another, it's pretty obvious that a doula is a must. " Rivera
Husband + Doula?
I'm a hardworking and determined person, but when I thought about the fast approaching moment in which my wife was soon to give birth, I was SO relieved to know we had a doula that we BOTH trusted very much! Having a doula at our son's birth allowed me to focus on Alyssa's needs every moment. The doula acted as a massage guru, advocate of my wife, and overall catalyst to ensure that Alyssa's (and mine) wishes were met. Best of all the doula was able to help us stay calm whenever we'd get worried or anxious. I felt like I could be as directly or indirectly involved as I wanted, and that our doula would help us regardless.
In our case, I wanted to be involved more hands-on and our doula focused on answering questions, relaying options, suggesting labor positions, and communicating knowledgeably with medical staff together with us. In the distractions of the moments surrounding the birth, I felt like I forgot about 60% of everything I had learned about childbirth from our class. Yet, with the help of our doula I was empowered to be even more helpful to Alyssa in an environment of decisions, contractions, waiting, and uncertainty. Doulas help women have their very best birth possible while not getting in the way, and as a husband, I want nothing less for my own wife.
I originally thought that having a doula would mean that I was second-place and the doula was the real supporter of my wife. Exactly the opposite was true. Doulas believe (as does my wife, Alyssa) that first-string support is the partner's role. And even in cases where the husband or partner is a bit weary of getting hands-on with the birthing process, doula's are there to empower husbands to do their very best in supporting their wife in ways they already feel equipped to do so.
And by the way, Dads or Dads-to-be, there is nothing like seeing your own child be born!
"We've had a doula at all 3 of our births, and I would never consider not having a doula there. Having a doula makes me to look like Superdad to my wife, and lets me focus on what really matters...HER. " Lawrence Hauptly, D.C.
So much thanks to Lindsey Rrivera at Born Photography for sharing these stunning images of Guy's supporting their partners!
~Colin Moulton is Dad of two adventure loving kids and husband to the love of life, Alyssa. By day he is a software and program manager junkie and when not working you'll find him blending up a mean smoothie in the kitchen, biking with his family and dreaming up new business ideas. ~
I absolutely love watching a guy whisper sweet affirmations to his partner, sensing the strong bond of their relationship drawing them together and the positive grounding he continually provides . If this describes the relationship with your spouse or partner you might be thinking I really don't need a doula on my birth team...RIGHT???
The truth is...
A doula is never there to take the place of your husband or partner, but rather to enhance and compliment the birth experience. Some have described their husband as their left hand and their doula as their right, working together to support you. Doulas can suggest and provide comfort measures to help relieve tension and labor discomfort, are trained in light touch massage and acupressure points and have the experience of supporting many birthing Mother's. Having a doula on your birth team allows your partner to participate emotionally without having to remember everything from your childbirth preparation class.
During prenatal appointments with my couples we spend time discussing expectations for the spouses involvement during the birth and ways they can be involved if desired. I've spoken with guys who insist they really don't want an active role in their partner's labor but when the time comes they are right there, helping me with counter pressure and empowering their partner through every contraction or birthing surge. Other times, I've talked with guys who want the option to take a more hands-on role but when the moment comes their spouse needs them in a more emotional and less hands- on physical support role than what they first anticipated.
My desire is to support and equip partner's in however they feel most comfortable, sensing the needs of both Mom and Dad and meeting their goals and desires in a gentle and empowering manner.
~Alyssa Moulton is a Certified Hypnodoula who loves supporting her clients from pregnancy through the postpartum time. Her goal is to help each client feel empowered and supported in their birthing decisions. When not serving as a Doula, Alyssa loves teaching youth and adult cooking classes! From Healthy eating and meal planning to homemade pastries and baking themed birthday parties, she loves seeing her student's learn new skills and feel empowered in the kitchen! Interested in learning more? Contact Alyssa for a free consultation. ~
I've been debating writing this article and posting a picture for a loooooooooong time...so here it goes!
For months, I thought my postpartum body would one day would be smooth, wrinkle-free and no stretch marks. I told myself over and over, "once you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight" or "when your baby turns a year old" or even "maybe you just need to try harder and really push yourself and workout more".
Two babies, a lot of weight gained and lost and then gained and lost and now 21 months after my second child and I sit here finally, slowly building confidence in my post-baby body. Those stretch marks represent 18th months of pregnancy between my two children, 18 MONTHS is a crazy long time friends! 18 months of loving and cherishing my growing belly and babies inside.
My wrinkly belly skin still looks like thin crepe paper from a smashed pinata but that's okay. My ab muscles never came all the way back together after a 9 pound baby and that's okay too. The skin above my belly button hangs over a bit and even that's okay. The point is, I could stand and look at myself in the mirror everyday and body shame those "faults" or "imperfections" or I could accept them...but even more than accept I could grow to love them!
Instead of stretch marks I call them love marks. That saggy belly? For my 21 month old it's the perfect platform for blowing raspberries. And for those split abs? While they may never look like the royal Kate Middleton after her mid-drift was seen playing volleyball shortly after the birth of her son, I'm grateful that God has given me two wonderful, sweet and rambunctious fun-loving children who I get to call my own.
Being fit and desiring to be strong for our children are wonderful goals! The problem comes when we lose sight of the bigger picture and obsess ourselves into insanity over a "photoshopped" celebrity picture we see in the grocery store checkout. My kids already see enough of the body perfection craze in our culture and the last thing they need to see is that message coming from their Mom.
All that to say, thanks for letting me share a little bit of my own journey with you. Hugs!
Curious why I love supporting families as a Birth & Postpartum Doula? Visit Doula...What? You can also follow along on Instagram #DaybreakDoula or Facebook
Alyssa Moulton is a Certified Hypnodoula who loves supporting her clients from pregnancy through the postpartum time. Her goal is to help each client feel empowered and supported in their birthing decisions. When not serving as a Doula, Alyssa loves teaching youth and adult cooking classes! From Healthy eating and meal planning to homemade pastries and baking themed birthday parties, she loves seeing her student's learn new skills and feel empowered in the kitchen! Interested in learning more? Contact Alyssa for a free consultation.
Thank you Hannah for your vulnerability, wisdom and joy in sharing your postpartum story. Settling for "OKAY" isn't a solution. Getting a second opinion and pushing or answers doesn't make you weak. Follow your gut feeling ladies.
“I am going to get better!” My eyes flooded with tears as I spoke these words of hope, just a few hours after surgery, on this day last year.
The day Vivian was born, almost four months earlier, had been so joyful! Ian and I were filled with gratitude and thrilled to be starting the sweet journey of parenting, but the months that followed were not at all what we had anticipated.
Three days after my sweet baby was born, I broke out in hives all over my body... neck to ankles. My doctor let me know it could last up to three weeks -- it actually lasted for 13 weeks, and increased in severity until a couple weeks before it went away.
Along with this complication, I developed postpartum anxiety that made even routine activities feel overwhelming, impossible. I kept thinking, “I just need the hives to go away, then I'll be myself."
It was at day 5 of Vivian's life that my family realized that I was sinking into postpartum depression, and they began helping us daily in whatever ways were needed, calmly assuring me and just loving me and my little family.
I had other postpartum symptoms that are normal for the early weeks, but, instead of easing as they should have, they lasted for months. During this time, I continued going to the doctor... first for my 6 week check (where I was assured that everything was fine) and then again at 10 weeks and beyond.
For nearly four months I continued sinking deeper, with several more doctor appointments in between, getting no answers and losing hope that I would ever feel myself again.
I began researching more, and had known of one other person who had experienced similar symptoms, and hers had been retained placenta. So I went, once again, to the doctor and shared this with him and asked if I could please have an ultrasound. When the screen revealed what I had suspected, he said, "Yes, that is what it is." Many pieces of placenta which had started to calcify. Wow! I was so relieved and thankful to finally have an answer.
At 16 weeks and 1 day, I had an early morning surgery. I was so thankful to have my amazing, supportive husband by my side! Into the hospital attire, and an iv put in, they wheeled me down the hall and through the doors. Asleep and awake again in just an hour and a half. I felt groggy but comfortable, and returned home to such a great support group. I took a nap and relaxed.
Within a few hours I felt something was changing. My mind. The fog was lifting. I felt bits of joy, which I hadn't experienced in months. I had hope. “I am going to get better!” This was the start to me becoming myself again, but it wasn't overnight. It would be months before I could with confidence say that I was truly myself again, but instead of the daily decline, I sensed daily improvement. I cannot express what an amazing feeling this was!
Today I am reflecting on this with so much gratitude to God, to my sweet Ian for his unconditional love and support throughout, and to my family who poured themselves out for us during those difficult months, on a daily basis... thank you for loving us, lifting us, and helping us through the day-to-day. For cleaning our house, making meals, loving on our baby while I rested, for having faith that I would come through this and for building me up in my new mommy role -- giving me much-needed confidence. I am so grateful for all of your hours of care, your prayers and for your love!
One of the hardest parts of this struggle was feeling incapable of sharing this struggle with those outside my family. Also, the expectation I sensed that I should be "back into the swing of things", to be able to participate in outings and events, or even maintain any real level of friendship that others might hope for. Unfortunately, I know that I wasn't able to meet the expectations of some. It was work to just wake up each day and try to put one foot in front of the other.
I am so thankful for my dear friends who gave me love, grace and compassion; I will always be thankful for you! Even when I didn't have the words to express what I was feeling, you gave me care without judgment and your words of kindness and your patience were a vital part of my recovery, even when you didn't know what I was going through!
I felt like the anniversary of my surgery was a good day to reflect and share. To express gratitude to all who helped me walk this road. To give voice to the reality of postpartum depression, from my own experience.
“Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is facing some kind of battle.”
Think back to that moment when you first found out you were expecting! Maybe you just had "that feeling", had been trying for years, or perhaps this baby came as a complete surprise and you took 18 different pregnancy tests just to be sure (trust me Dollar store pregnancy tests are perfect for this lol). You then spend months decorating the nursery, picking out the latest in baby fashion and accessories, read all the right books, enroll in the best childbirth classes, interview different OB’s or midwives until your find your favorite, pick out the perfect baby name and then suddenly you're home from the hospital, have this adorable little human and you're alone and it’s that “oh crap” moment, “now what???” Maybe it's that feeling of I have this adorable cute little human but I'm not bonding with by baby, or I've had a traumatic birth, the sleepless nights are kicking in, the baby blues have hit and you might as well feel as though you have hit a brick wall. I just want to say it's going to be okay. I write this not as a Doctor or clinical therapist but as a Mom who has been there and struggled and as a Doula who loves supporting her postpartum clients and hopefully can share some things that can help in those early few weeks after having a baby!
Communicate Postpartum Expectations
One of the most important things in my opinion is communicating your postpartum expectations with your Spouse/Partner and other close Family and Friends! During pregnancy (not when the sleep deprivation and postpartum nerves are running high) is the time to talk about your vision for the postpartum time! Do you envision this time filled with family and friends or do you desire quiet and only a couple close connections. Are you expecting your spouse to be able to take off a set amount of time off from work or are they needed back soon after delivery. Do you envision breastfeeding or formula feeding? How do see yourself being supported both physically and emotionally? What are your expectations for household chores, meals and care for other children? Take some time to have you and your spouse each write down your own list of postpartum expectations. Now share them and work through any differences, striving to have unity. Doing this in advance will save you a lot of headache and frustration later on.
Setup Your Emotional & Physical Support System
Now that you and your partner are on the same page about expectations talk about your support system. Do you have friends or family willing to help with meals and keeping the house clean or do you plan to hire support? Most of the time friends and family are more than willing to help, but we Mom's like to be superhero's and don't want the vulnerability of asking for help! Believe me I was there! With the birth of my first friends had asked my husband if we wanted meals after the birth of our baby and my husband misunderstood what I wanted and told our friends we didn't want any help! This couldn't have been further from the truth and I am so grateful for the couple friends who looked past this and brought meals anyway! (Another reason to clearly communicate your postpartum expectations with your spouse or partner).
Baby Blues VS Postpartum Depression & Anxiety
The final thing is understanding the difference between baby blues vs postpartum depression & anxiety. If it's any consolation, baby blues affects approximately 70- 80 percent of all women. “Feelings of unexplained sadness and lethargy are quite normal, especially during the early weeks. That's because levels of estrogen and progesterone drop”, says Psychologist and Clinical Director Dr. Margaret Howard. She continues "At the same time, there is a rapid increase in the levels of prolactin, which enables milk production. Until these hormones balance out, new moms can expect to feel down from time to time." In addition to hormones trying to balance out, you're not thinking well from the lack of sleep, you are periodically stressed, plus balancing other kids with new baby bonding...the list goes on and on! The good news is: it's just the baby blues! You can expect to be feeling much better within a few weeks.
In contrast postpartum depression & anxiety affects 11-20 percent of women, is more extreme and persists beyond a couple of weeks after delivery. Warning signs include: feeling detached from baby, not enjoying the things that normally bring you joy, feelings of self harm or harm to others and feelings of anger. This is the time to talk to your care provider about these feelings, seek treatment and begin feeling well!
Postpartum Tips, Tricks & Other Resources
1. Continue taking prenatal vitamins & omega supplements while breastfeeding. Look for quality Omega-3'S with DHA. Garden of Life, New Chapter, Nordic Naturals are all great choices!
2. Make sure you are getting an adequate amount of vitamin D ~ Most new research suggests consuming 4,000IU-6,000IU but talk to your provider for an exact amount needed. High levels of vitamin help have been shown to reduce postpartum depression
3. Sleep! I know we think we're superhuman sometimes but our bodies really do need sleep and especially REM sleep the kind where we dream and our bodies repair our cells so we walk up refreshed and energized!
4. Connect with other Mom's! Facebook is great for finding support. Seek support from the Mom's who have been there before! And it's okay to vent and sympathize with each other too!
5. Exercise--talk a walk, get some sunshine, meditate, practice yoga, deep breathing, etc. Physical exercise releases endorphins (that happy hormone we all love). Some research has suggested that exercise both during pregnancy and continuing afterward reduces postpartum depression.
6. Make time to connect with your spouse/partner. Most likely they were pretty involved with the creation of this baby so be sure you don't leave them out!
7. Seek professional help if needed! It's always okay to seek help. When the feelings of depression persist or become more intense reach out to those professionals and begin healing.
Looking back on my two pregnancies I can see soooooo many differences. With my first, I was working a desk job, craved carbs constantly, did limited exercise and subsequently gained 60 lbs. If you know me, I'm a fairly petite person so gaining half of my body weight in 9 month was definitely not the best choice. My labor was also long, clocking in at 40 something hours.
Contrast with my second pregnancy, I was running running around chasing a toddler, still craved carbs but this time choose whole grain nutrient dense carbs, exercised regularly and gained a more reasonable 35 lbs. And my 2nd birth was powerful and fast with only 3 hours of active labor. With my first, I felt more lethargic, lacked stamina and could tell my heart was working harder than it should have been. With my second, I had way more energy, better muscle tone and mentally in a positive place!
While we may be unable to change our genetics there are a host of healthy choices we can make to increase our health before, during and after pregnancy.
Take inventory of the foods that you are using to fuel your body. What beverages are you consuming? Are you exercising regularly? Now is the time to make those needed changes! Providers like Midwife, Adrienne Brown, LDEM founder of Wasatch Midwifery & Wellness offer a preconception check to assess your medical history, discuss nutrition, track your fertility and ways you can prevent loss. If you have a goal to loss weight before your next pregnancy start now! If you are underweight talk to a Nutritionist about healthy ways to increase your weight and set goals for yourself. Find friends who will hold you accountable. Eat nutrient dense whole foods! Green leafy veggies, bone broth, plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, fruits, whole grains and seeds like brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, legumes and whole grains are all great choices! Protein from and omegas from wild caught salmon is another excellent choice providing immune boosting, bone building and heart supporting nutrients.
During early pregnancy the placenta forms where the fertilized eggs attaches to the uterine wall. The placenta is a vital organ providing increased oxygen to the baby, nutrients, a way to dispose waste and carries carbon dioxide away from baby. This necessary, life providing organ needs healthy nutrients from Mom to ensure baby grows and develops well.
Most providers agree Moms should eat an additional 300-350 calories each day during pregnancy. For some Moms, ice cream, frozen pizza and fast food may seem like a easy fast fix yet choosing nutrient dense foods help baby and her or her's placenta to grow properly and ensure the needed vitamins and minerals are not pulled from the Mom's own body. Talking to a health coach or Nutritionist is a great place start and I love cheering on my clients as they make healthy choices for themselves and baby!
During the first trimester, sometimes it's hard enough just to keep down foods let alone choose the right foods (hugs readers, I've been there ) One of my finest memories during my 1st pregnancy was discretely sneaking out my co-worker's empty yogurt containers from the mini garbage can by my desk because I couldn't stand the smell of yogurt and tossing them in a trash can faaaaarrr from my desk. (great memories....right???) In 2014 a study was published in NCBI showing how the inhalation of lemon essential oil significantly reduced nausea during pregnancy. You can also try eating small, protein rich foods snacks throughout the day to help balance blood sugars and keep the nausea in check.
Mom's who exercise regularly during pregnancy enjoy a host of benefits from reducing the need for a c-section, are less likely to develop gestational diabetes, experience a shorter labor, less prone to morning sickness lower risk of preclampsia and may even sleep better! Visit Fit Pregnancy if you need more reasons to keep up the workouts.
Ask the Expert?
Nutritionist and yoga instructor and founder of YIN Wellness Lauren Rodas, MS writes the following:
Research has shown that the lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition choices made by women during their pregnancy have a direct, and often long lasting, impact on the health of both mother and baby. Additionally, babies whose mothers take good care of themselves while pregnant are more likely to have a positive pregnancy experience, an easier delivery, faster recovery and better overall health.
Poor eating habits by moms during pregnancy have been shown to slow the growth of the fetus as well as contribute to the development of long term and often irreversible health issues for the child including obesity, raised levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. A recent study by the Harvard Institute of Public Health found that 95 percent of women who consumed a nutritious diet had healthy babies. In contrast, 65 percent women who ate mainly junk food had premature, malnourished, functionally immature, or stillborn babies. Research also supports that what women eat while they are pregnant helps shape their babies taste buds to crave those specific foods throughout life.
Be kind to your body, now isn't the time to be super woman! Continue eating nourishing foods and if breastfeeding consume an additional 500 calories (choose well). Talk to your provider on appropriate exercises and when it is safe to resume them after baby is born. Enjoy this time as you bond with baby. Don't hesitate to ask for help or consider hiring a postpartum doula to support you during this time.
Regardless of where you are in your health or pregnancy journey we all have to start somewhere. Join an exercise class, find a friend who will hold you accountable in your health and fitness goals , connect with health coach or talk to your OB or midwife about ways you can improve your health and well-being.
~Alyssa Moulton is a Certified Hypno-doula who loves supporting her clients from pregnancy through the postpartum time. If you were to describe her in three words she would say calm, empowering and authentic. She is passionate about helping each client feel empowered and supported in their birthing decisions. When not serving as a Doula, Alyssa loves teaching youth and adult cooking classes from Healthy eating and meal planning to homemade pastries and loves seeing her student's learn new skills and feel empowered in the kitchen! She also hosts a bi-monthly Mom's Circle in Herriman as a way for Mom's to connect, grow and live in community with each other. Interested in learning more? Contact Alyssa for a free consultation. ~
Autumn Alyssa, CHD is a Birth and Postpartum Doula serving women and families from Bountiful to Provo in Davis, Salt Lake & Utah Counties