Tag Archive for: maternal health

The 3 Ways Doulas Nurture Families

When I told people I was pregnant, one of the questions they asked was whether I was going through the public or private system. I explained that I was going public and that I had a doula.

The next question I got asked was “What’s a doula?”

Jake Peralta from NBC’s Brooklyn Nine Nine describes a doula as a “Vaginal Gandalf”. The term is funny, and true.  The role of a doula is to provide practical and emotional support for the mother and father and to guide and coach them through the process of childbirth and parenthood.

I know that my pregnancy and parenthood journey would not be the same without the support from Beth McDonald from Popbellies Doula Services. In this blog, I share my experience and the ways that Beth supported my pregnancy and transition to motherhood

The Pregnancy:

During my pregnancy, Beth helped Tim and I to manage our expectations and understand more about the process of childbirth. Beth has an incredible amount if knowledge. And we really needed the support. Yes, we had done a childbirth preparation course, but this was months earlier and we had forgotten a lot of the things we were taught about the stages of labour, the hospital system and how to advocate for the type of care we wanted to receive. Beth helped us to feel more confident is saying “No” should a situation arise in hospital that did not sit right with us. Beth helped us develop of birth preferences. And in the lead up to my induction, she provided us both with a bit of TLC. For me this was in the form of a spicy, decadent hot chocolate to sip on to support a natural induction.

The Birth:

Due to COVID restrictions, Beth was unable to come into the hospital to physically support us during the birth, she was still involved every step of the way. From the moment my waters broke, to getting an epidural, to the time we made the decision to have a cesarean, Beth was there to help us work through the big decisions that come with childbirth. Tim says that the birth “did not go to plan”. My perspective is quite different. It is because of the support from Beth that I felt empowered with our decision making during the birth. Yes, I had planned on an active labour. I planned for massages and hot showers and heat packs. My labour was different to what I expected. And I believe that Beth’s support in helping me to advocate for myself and my birth helped me to feel good about the outcome of my birth experience.

The Post-Partum:

It is safe to say that describing post-partum as a roller coaster of emotions is a severe understatement. Nothing could have ever prepared for the emotions, physical pain from my abdominal surgery and sleep deprivation that comes with parenthood. I have Beth to thank for supporting me through some of the big emotions that come along with the transition of Matrescence. During this stage, Beth was able to provide practical support in the context of light cleaning duties, which as we all know, cleaning goes out the window when a little one arrives. But for me, I just needed someone to talk to. I called Beth at all hours when Remy just would not settle, and I was at my wits ends as to what to do and I just needed to sleep. The non-judgmental support of an impartial third party was so important for me as I let the freedom to truly express how I felt about the jarring transition to motherhood.

For my family, I know that I could not have had this done this pregnancy without the support of a doula. I would encourage all new and expanding families to engage with a doula for non-judgmental, emotional, and physical support. I truly feel that I would not have the positive experience of birth (despite it not going to “plan”) and motherhood if I did not have Beth with me every step of the way.

If you are pregnant and think that the care and support of a doula could help your family, I highly recommend Beth McDonald. For more information about Beth and how she can help your family, visit her website: http://popbellies.com.au/

My Top 5 Breastfeeding Game-Changers

As I embark upon my mumma journey, I am battling with my internal and societal expectations about “breast vs. bottle”.

During pregnancy, my mindset was “if I can breast feed, I’ll breastfeed, If I can’t, I can’t.” I thought I would avoid any sense of mumma guilt or shame if this was my approach.

And I can feel this mindset shifting as the weight of mumma-guilt (self-imposed?) pressed down on me.

In the hospital, I was overwhelmed with the different opinions and methods from the midwives as to how best to breastfeed, from latching technique, to babies’ position to pillow placement. I was so confused, and I did not know who to listen to. My confidence in my ability to feed Remy myself was extremely low and I thought bottle feeding would be easier as there are “less rules”.

But I was not ready to give up just yet. I knew my supply wasn’t “in” yet, and I logic brain reminded me that this is a new skill that both Remy and I need to learn, so while I feel like giving up, I wanted to persist.

Below I share the strategies that have helped me as I embark upon this chapter of my mumma journey.

  • Lactation Consultants are Actual Life Savers

The day we brought Remy home, I booked in a lactation consultant to help me with understanding how to breastfeed comfortably. And I have to say, it was a literal godsend! Please do yourself a favour and contact Tanya Maschio at Thrive Lactation and Parenting Support if breastfeeding is a challenge for you and your baby.

The support that Tanya provided was exceptional. She was non-judgemental and help me to really understand why Remy needed to latch in a certain way, how to avoid nipple trauma and how to make sure I enjoyed feeding just as much as Remy enjoyed being fed.

After a few consultations and numerous support phone calls and text, my confidence in being able to successfully feed Remy has increased tremendously. Of all the things Tanya taught me, the side lying feeding position has been an amazing skill to master for those middle of the night feeds, when I feel too tired to sit up. I lay on a comfy mat with my little one and rest my eyes gently as he fills his tummy.

To find out more about the services Tanya provide, visit her website: https://www.thrivelactationandparentingsupport.com.au

  • Galactagogue Goodness

Almost every mum that I speak to swears by Lactation Cookies. There are a lot on the market now. And I do not think it matters what brand you buy. The common ingredients in these cookies seem to be brewer’s yeast, oats, and flaxseeds. These ingredients are galactagogues, known food and herbs that can help to increase milk supply. I have tried a few different brands of cookies and they seem to help me, when I feel my supply is low.

I have also experimented with a few different brands of lactation teas. Infused with fennel and aniseed, these ingredients have also been known to boost milk supply. Whether it does or not, sipping these herbal teas are quite relaxing for a sleep deprived mumma!

I am also taking domperidone, a medication originally used for gastrointestinal disorders, which has also been shown to boost milk supply. I am tackling the challenge of boosting my supply from all angles from natural remedies to Western medication

  • Get a Postpartum Cheerleader

I will dedicate a whole blog post to Beth of Popbellies Doula, but I must mention her here and now. For those that don’t know, a doula is kind of like a pregnancy, birth and postpartum cheerleader. Providing non-judgmental emotional and practical support during pregnancy and postpartum, Beth has provided me with invaluable support during the first few weeks of mumma-hood.

Beth has a wealth of knowledge, experience and reminds me that whatever parenting choices I make for me, my family, and my baby, it is the right choice. I do not know how I would have managed the early stages of postpartum without her support. Even with a supportive family, it is nice to have a conversation with someone who can give non-biased opinion.  

To find out more about the services that Beth provides, visit her website: http://popbellies.com.au/

  • Develop Realistic Family Expectations

Some say “Fed Is Best”. I know this term gets used a lot. For me and my family, it rings true. After a particularly rough night of feeding and waking and settling a cranky Remy, my partner and I had a frank and honest conversation about our expectations for our family. At the end of the day, for us, we wanted to ensure that Remy was getting enough food and was happy. We decided that if this meant “topping up” with formula then so be it. Removing the expectation that our baby needed to be breastfed 100% of the time has reduced my “milk supply” anxiety and it means that Dad can take over for a night feed when I am too exhausted to function.  I am grateful for a supportive partner and that we have taken the time to curve our expectations, ensuring that they are realistic and will work “for us”, rather than against us.

  • Strong Independent Women Ask for Help… And Accept the help that is Given

Elicia, my business coach, told me this a few years ago when I was trying to overcome a challenge in my business. I have applying this saying to many life circumstances and is now my mantra.

Motherhood is something I could never have planned and prepared for, even if I tried. There is a roller-coaster of emotions, hormones and sleep deprivation so exquisite it is something unlike In have ever experienced.

As a new mother, asking for help is the #1 thing that has helped me. Whether it is calling my mum at 2am because Remy has been inconsolable for 5 hours and I am losing my mind; asking my partner to take over “the night shift” (as we call it) so I can seep; or contacting the Maternal and Child Health Line at all hours just to “ask a quick question”, asking for when you need it the most means that you can avoid big emotions like guilt and shame about your parenting style and easily manage the new responsibilities of motherhood.

At the end of the day, mums will do what is best for their family. As I continue my breastfeeding journey, I know I will gain more confidence in my skills and a mother and further develop my relationship with my baby. And if I need some help along the way, then I know that I have a network of family, and services that I can call on for help.