Category Archives for Pregnancy

Emotions & Covid-19

It’s been a few months now and we’re still all cooped up. Maybe you’ve gone for some walks and done some social distance dates with friends… but I’m guessing this was NOT what you were planning for when you found out you were pregnant. Whether you’re awaiting your baby’s arrival, or you’re already spending their first days of life at home… no-one expected this to be our reality.

The doctors don’t know much about the coronavirus and pregnancy yet. That makes it extra hard to deal with. Of course they tell us the basics: wash your hands, wear a face mask, don’t touch your face. But with a little one on the way, it’s hard not to let anxiety runneth over.

Fret not, my friend.

If you will, to the best of your ability today, do an exercise with me. Close your eyes. Imagine a time when you thought things wouldn’t work out (seriously, close your eyes and try).

… Now close your eyes again and remember back to the details of that crazy time somehow working out anyway. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. Maybe it wasn’t pretty. Maybe there are still residual pieces of it affecting your life today. But you’re in a better place now than back then. You’ve adapted. You’ve grown.

There aren’t answers.

There aren’t solutions. And in all honesty, life probably will never go back to the ‘normal’ we knew before. But try to remember. Dig deep to remember. Isn’t this unexpectedness of life, actually the most predictable thing? Isn’t it so typical for life to throw us curveballs?

Pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and parenting are no different. Each in their own way are filled with AFGO’s (another freakin’ growth opportunity). In almost every birth I’ve supported there has been a moment where mom and I lock eyes and without saying any words we say to each other, “well we didn’t exactly plan for this”. You can prepare to the best of your ability, but until you’re in the thick of it, you won’t know what you need to do. Usually, you don’t even realize the gravity of what you accomplished until it’s all over.

So right now – if you feel like you’re in the thick of it… it’s okay. You are. Just like in childbirth, there is a difference between pain and suffering. If you are in pain, you can typically continue to press on and manage on your own accord. If you are suffering, that is when extra support is usually needed. So do a little check in today. Are you in emotional pain or emotional suffering right now? Are you completely losing your mind and just need a friend to talk to? Call me. Text me. I’m here for you.

The most beautiful stories are written about great trials faced by normal people, who chose to step into courage and walk forward anyway…

Click HERE to read the latest CDC info on pregnancy and Covid-19.

Bringing Baby Home

So you’ve been pregnant for 9 months. You made it through birth (well done). And now you’re getting settled at home with your brand new baby.

Of course this was part of the plan the whole time, but it’s a little crazy and the reality is sinking in. This baby is a new member of the family, and is going to be sticking around. And they need a lot from you – everything, actually… they can’t even lift their little heads yet!

Luckily, you will get a chance to gradually figure all this parenting stuff out. The first few days will consist of lots of sleeping, snuggling, looking at all your baby’s little features, and feeding and cleaning poop.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE POOP!

Within the first day or two, your baby’s poop will be tar-like, black and sticky. This is called meconium.

By day 3-4 poops will become yellowish and potentially seedy in texture.

After that, depending on what baby is eating, their poops will differ.

Breastfed: yellowy, watery poop

Bottlefed: yellow-brownish, or green-brownish and buttery in texture.

Expect to be changing about 4 diapers per day by day 4.

SLEEP

You may have been told you won’t get any sleep once your baby arrives. This is half true!

Newborn babies actually sleep about 16-17 hours PER DAY! So that’s a lot. You will get a chance to sleep in this first brand-new-baby stage. The weird part is the schedule. Your baby might be sleeping a lot, but this means they’re waking up at random times for a feeding or in need of a changed diaper. But mostly, this stage isn’t too rough, and you should focus on your own body’s recovery while you can!

FEELINGS

Let’s talk about our feelings shall we?

Sometimes we feel good, sometimes we feel bad and sometimes we feel nothing at all. Please don’t pressure yourself to feel a certain way when you bring your baby home. It is a BIG change and can cause a lot of different emotions to be happening all at once. Expect a variety, and be open-minded to whatever may come your way!

OTHER PEOPLE

A lot of other people might be expecting to come and see your little baby since you’re home now! Remember that you should do what’s best for you. If you still need a little space, let your people know that. Maybe even leave a sign on the door for those guests who might just “pop on over for a minute”…

Hopefully you have people in your life who would love nothing more than to drop you off a meal, do your dishes, or even clean your house for you while you get settled in. But sometimes, people can be overwhelming and expect too much from new families. Listen to your mind and your body, and don’t be afraid to say no!

Overall…

Bringing baby home is a little wild, but it’s going to be great. You can do this – and if you need help, it’s there for you. Your provider, doula, partner, family and friends all want to see you succeed, and you can and should reach out for whatever you need.

Introducing Me

Photo by Sam Bryant Photography

Find me on instagram to keep up with all things birth in Bellingham.

Hi, I’m Veronica! I own Branches and Roots doula services and work locally in Bellingham, WA. I love all things pregnancy, birth and postpartum… and I love seeing families enjoy their birth experience.

Education brings POWER to people and people who are empowered do GOOD for themselves and those around them. That’s why I teach Childbirth Education courses. Taking a Bellingham birth class is so helpful. Preparation is important, and a childbirth class is the best place to start.
☀️
I am getting so excited for this summer full of babies coming into the world and new families being formed. This is the type of work that deepens your soul and fills your heart. I love what I do and can’t wait to work with you!

Sign up today for Childbirth Classes! To do so, fill out an inquiry here.

Photo by Sam Bryant Photography.

PREGNANCY MYTHS!

There are a lot of myths around what you can and can’t do during pregnancy. And if you’re pregnant right now, you already probably know how many voices are suddenly chirping in to your personal life… (if not, you’re just lucky!)

Here’s a small list of myths that I hope I can debunk for you and encourage you with!

  • “You’re pregnant now… you really should take it slow with the exercising, don’t you think?”

Well… yes and no. It’s actually fantastic for you and for the baby if you can stay active during pregnancy! If you are having regular check ups with your provider and they are confirming that you are developing normally and healthily… keep at it! Of course, you DO want to avoid heights, chances of falling, exercising while on your back, and contact sports… but mostly other than that, feel free to move how you please!

  • “Eating for two?”

Girl… you know your relationship with food better than anyone. Choose what is going to ultimately make YOU happy. But this one counts as a “myth” because, no, you’re not “eating for two”. Yes you should up your intake of a few key nutrients (iron, protein, calcium, folic acid, omega-3, etc.)… but you don’t need to try and literally eat for two humans at every sit down meal. Your baby is growing, yes. But your baby is TINY! They don’t quite need as much nutrients as you do as a full grown adult!

  • “Wow, that pregnancy GLOW! You look great. You must feel great.”

Ha. ha.

No, you won’t always feel like you are “glowing”. A lot of the time you will feel tired and nauseous and in pain and grumpy. That’s OKAY. Give yourself the time and freedom to rest and remember that the “instagram pregnancy” isn’t real. Real life is morning sickness, evening sickness, pelvic pain, back pain, overheating, moving slowly… the list goes on. You’re not doing anything wrong by not living up to this MYTH.

  • “NO COFFEE!! IS THAT DECAF? YOU’RE PREGNANT COME ON!”

Again… a bit of a myth. YES, you should cut your caffeine intake. Depending on how much you currently drink coffee or tea, the cut back may FEEL like you’re completely cutting it out of your life (sorry, friends). In reality, it’s advised that you just don’t have more than 200mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy. This is about one 12oz. cup of coffee!

  • “You know eating peanuts and dairy will give your kids allergies to them.”

Unless YOU are allergic to something, or your doctor advises you not to eat something, it’s safe to eat!

  • “It doesn’t really matter what goes on out here because the baby is safe away inside the womb!”

Here’s the truth: There is potential for everything the pregnant mother encounters to have an affect on the fetus. Because the baby is receiving nutrients and life from the placenta, and the placenta is directly connected to the mother’s blood stream… it is actually pretty easy for things from the outside world to travel into the growing space of the baby.

There are many more myths, and an endless amount of old-wives tales. Some are worth listening to… but some just aren’t. That’s why it’s so important to have a doula on your side who can help guide you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What is birth really going to be like?

Well, that’s a big question isn’t it?

Unfortunately and beautifully, the only thing predictable about birth is that it’s unpredictable… However, there is a general flow and order to how labor starts, progresses and finishes.

Everyone is different, and no two births are identical, but today we will unpack the stages of labor to give you an idea about what’s to come!

WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN?

When you reach 37 weeks gestation, you are considered to have reached “full term”. In 2017 about 10% of babies in the U.S. were born pre-maturely (before 37 weeks in the womb).

IT DOESN’T ALWAYS START WITH YOUR WATER BREAKING!

Although the rupturing of membranes can be a sign of Early Labor – it’s definitely not the only indicator, and it also doesn’t necessarily mean labor will begin right away.

THE STAGES OF LABOR

There are 3 stages of labor, and within them there are phases too.

It all starts with Early Labor.

Early labor is considered the onset of labor until your cervix is dilated to about 3cm and some effacement has taken place. During this time you should expect mild contractions with large gaps in between. My advice to you during this phase is to try and relax. If it starts during the day, go about your normal day as best as you can. If it starts during the night, try your best to sleep through as much of it as you can!

Early labor can last anywhere from 8-12+ hours! So seriously, rest while you can.

**Partner / birth team supporters: during early labor you can practice timing contractions for the laboring woman, and practice support methods as she desires them!**

Now is a good time to call your doula and your provider just to let them know that you are showing signs of labor starting soon! Yay!

Next, you’ll come into a time of Active Labor.

Active labor typically lasts about 3-5 hours. This is the phase you are going to want to get to your final destination. Whether that is the hospital, the birth center, or your living room… when active labor starts, you’re heading there now!

Contractions are going to last 45-60 seconds long now and will be stronger than before. They will also come and go closer together (usually every 3-5 minutes).

This is a great time for your partner / support team to really focus in and give you their full attention. You will have a harder time talking through your contractions now and will begin to really depend on the support around you. Massage, position changing, drinking water, providing extra pillows or warm blankets are all things she may want during this time.

Your cervix will dilate from 3-7 cm during this stage!

Moving on to Transition Labor!

Transition is no joke. The mother will be completely unable to be distracted here as this may be the most intense part of labor. Thankfully, transition is also the shortest phase lasting anywhere from 30 minutes – 2 hours. Your cervix will dilate now from 8-10 cm preparing for baby’s appearance!

Contractions during transition get longer, stronger, and can sometimes even overlap one another. Your body is working so hard together with your baby so that you can finally meet one another face-to-face… so keep remembering the prize at the end of this race!

You may experience hot flashes, cold flashes, nausea, etc. as this phase carries on.

Next comes pushing and delivering your baby.

You might push for 20 minutes, or you might push for 3 hours.

Contractions continue to help push the baby out and you will most likely “feel when to push”… although, a lot of women prefer to be coached by their doctor, midwife or doula on how and when to push.

Your baby will eventually “crown” or begin to show their head at the vaginal opening and stop slipping back. Surprisingly, at this time, you’re going to be asked to stop pushing and relax for a moment before you continue.

Just remember during this time of pushing, it’s a game of 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Baby is a human too, and they are doing some of the work of getting out into this world! Let it take it’s course and trust your instinct!

The final stage of labor is the Delivery of the Placenta.

Guess what? Contractions aren’t over yet even though your baby is now delivered. Nope, you still have a little ways to go. But, this stage is drastically easier than pushing because your placenta is kind of a mushy sac, rather than a boney, structured human who has a skull!

You may get some chills or become a little shaky as the placenta is delivered – this is completely normal and not a reason for concern.

And that’s it! Congratulations. You made it through all the stages and phases of labor.

Pregnant Through The Summer & How to Survive

Last summer was a SCORCHER… and this one is predicted to be the same, if not hotter. So… you’re counting the months on your fingers you’re realizing your tummy is going to be really big when the weather is really hot… don’t stress… here are some tips on how to make it through.

No. 1
Dehydration is a big no-no when you’re pregnant and your chances of becoming dehydrated in the summer are even higher, so tip #1 is to DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Start your day off every morning with a nice tall glass of water and carry a water bottle around, too!

No. 2
Your body is amazing and is working very hard through this pregnancy to grow a little baby! Allow yourself permission to take it slow and REST when you need to. Over-exhausting yourself (especially in the heat) is just a recipe for disaster.

No. 3
Wear clothes that are actually comfortable. Us women are notorious for clinging to “fashion over comfort”… but, in the dead of summer when you’re 7-9 months pregnant, just throw that little phrase out the window. Choose lots of loose cotton, linen, and even hemp clothing because they will help prevent you from over-heating and sweating so much.

No. 4
You know those little hand-held fans that they sell at the dollar store or in the dollar section at Target? Invest in a few of those. Or the legit old school ones as shown in the picture above. Just like chapstick, keep one for your purse, one for your car, and one for your house. Honestly, this tool will become your new best friend through your pregnant summer.

No. 5
WEAR SUNSCREEN!
Of course, I would advise this to anyone… but could you imagine having a terrible sunburn and trying to fall asleep at night WHILE being pregnant? Gosh, that just sounds awful. Save yourself the trauma and buy some sunscreen now.

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