May 24, 2016

Sibling Transition Tips from a Postpartum Doula

Many people say that the transition from one child to two is much harder than going from zero to one, but have you ever thought about how hard it can be for the sibling? For the new big brother or sister, especially toddlers, it can be a huge adjustment. For the longest time, they have been the sole recipient of all of their parents love and attention and now, they have to share that. The first few weeks especially can be trying as newborns do need lots of attention.



Here are some ways to make that transition easier for the newly promoted sibling.

During Labour:

If you are having a hospital birth, chances are that your little one will be spending some time with a relative (possibly having their very first sleepover!) Consider packing a photo album that they can take with them so they can see you if and when they start to ask for you. If your labour isn’t intense and you are having longer breaks between contractions, try and squeeze in a quick phone call or Facetime to let them know you’re thinking of them.
After the baby is born, have big brother come visit at the hospital. An excellent way to transition at this time is to have the baby in the bassinette at first so mom can get a proper cuddle in before introducing the new baby. This helps them to see that even though there is a new baby, there will still be one on one time. Once your child feels comfortable, have someone bring baby over and let them see. I suggest even letting them hold the baby (with help of course!) and letting them touch and hug. They are going to be curious and restricting that first interaction with lots of no’s or scolding could make them resent baby. Another popular idea is to have a small gift for them “from the baby.”

If you are having a home birth, and don’t feel it would be a distraction, it is completely acceptable to have your older child present at the birth. They can even be a mini doula, helping get you a drink or towels! This makes them feel like they are part of bringing baby into the world and would be an amazing experience for all. I would recommend having another adult present, such as a relative, that could be there just to watch over them though, in case they need to be put down for a nap, or fed lunch for example.

The first few weeks:

Once you’re back home and start to settle into a routine, big sister may start to act out a little. This is completely normal and shouldn’t last too long. Be sure to include them in as much as possible when it comes to baby. Some children love having jobs, so having them grab the diapers and wipes at changing time, or if baby is bottle fed, helping to hold the bottle, that can be great, but don’t try and force it. If they don’t want to, making them do it can only make them feel like they are only being used to take care of baby.

The one thing I found to be most important was setting aside time that was just me and my oldest child. My youngest baby was breastfed and refused to take a bottle, so our time was short, but even just popping out to the coffee shop for a special treat or going grocery shopping with just the older child, is huge in their eyes. It shows that mommy (and daddy!) will still be there for them and life doesn’t revolve around the new tiny human.

There will be times when you absolutely cannot tend to the needs of both children and that is totally okay. When this happens, having a basket of toy, books, or crafts that your child can use independently can work wonders when you need to tend to the baby. By only pulling this out at certain times and changing up what’s inside, it keeps your child’s interest and they will start to look forward to it! There is also nothing wrong with having movie days or turning on the t.v. when needed.
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There is absolutely going to be an adjustment period when you go from having one child to two (or more) but hopefully by keeping these tips in mind, it will be a little bit smoother for everyone. 

xoxo
Lisa

May 18, 2016

The Grief of Infertility

Infertility is a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one passes they are not coming back and you know that they are not going to rise from the dead. You must process their death and go through all the appropriate stages to overcome the grief and move on with your life. This can also be quite painful, don’t get me wrong.



The grief of infertility is quite different. Infertile couples are grieving the loss of a baby that they may never know. They think about the baby that could have mommy’s eyes or daddy’s dimples. And each and every month they have hope that that baby might be conceived and that they may actually get to meet that baby. No matter how many times you tell yourself that it will be ok if you’re not pregnant or try to prepare yourself for the bad news, there is still hope that this month could be the month. Then the dreaded news comes, and the grief comes back. And this process is repeated each and every month, year after year. It is like having a deep wound that keeps reopening just as it is starting to heal.

As the couple’s journey evolves they will start infertility treatments. The testing is quite invasive and can be embarrassing for both parties. You start to feel like a pin cushion and a science experiment, and to top it off you pay a lot of money to feel this way.

Infertility will eventually end in one of three ways:
  1. The couple will finally conceive that baby
  2. The couple will stop infertility treatments and choose to live without children
  3. The couple will find another way to parent (fostering or adoption)

It can take years for couples to get to the final stage of infertility. This is why it is so important for infertile couples to have emotional support during their journey. A lot of people don’t know what to say and often end up saying the wrong thing which ends up making the journey that much harder for the couple. Knowing what not to say is very important if you want to be supportive. Here are some things to consider:

Don’t tell them to relax
If a couple has reached the stage that they are classified as an infertile couple then that means they have been trying for at least a year. The purpose of this one year mark is to filter out the couples who just needed to “relax” and find the couples that are in fact infertile. Making comments like “you just need to relax” will actually create more stress for the couple, especially the woman. The woman already feels like she is broken or like she is doing something wrong when there is most likely a physical problem that is preventing them from conceiving. Infertility is a diagnosed medical condition that must be treated by a doctor. Even with treatment there will be some couples that will never be able to successfully conceive. Relaxation is not a cure for infertility.

Don’t complain about your pregnancy
Seriously, being around pregnant women is hard enough when you are infertile. Seeing your growing belly is another constant reminder of what they don’t have. That being said, pregnancy is not always easy either. And you have every right to vent about it but maybe consider who you are venting to. Your infertile friend would do anything to be in your shoes and would tolerate the discomfort and pain because it would mean that they finally got what they have been yearning for. Every couple will be different, and some couples will be able to tolerate more than others. Be sensitive to what your friend is going through. Allow her to be happy for you while she is grieving herself.

Don’t minimize their situation
As I said previously, infertility is very painful. In most cases infertile couples are surrounded by families that have children. These couples will watch their friends and families announce pregnancies, watch them throughout those pregnancies, watch those children grow and all the while going home to the stillness of a vacant house. These couples will see the joy of parenthood and feel the void in their hearts when they don’t get to experience the same joy. Making comments like “You don’t know how hard it is to never sleep” are not supportive. These kinds of comments will make the couple feel as though you are minimizing their situation. Would you tell someone that just lost their parent “At least you don’t have to buy birthday presents anymore”? The person that just lost their parent would wish that they could buy their parent another birthday present since it would mean that they were still alive. Just like an infertile couple would stay awake all night long if it meant that they had a child.

Don’t treat them like they are uninformed
For some unknown reason, some people think that if you don’t have kids you have no idea what the responsibilities of parenthood entail. Making comments like “Take my children for the day, you won’t want kids anymore” are not comforting. Sure, you can’t truly understand the responsibilities of parenthood until you are parents. However, if you have been trying for years to conceive then you have also been thinking about the responsibilities of parenthood at the same time. Infertile couples most likely have also been around their fair share of babies.

Don’t say they are not meant to be parents
This is quite possibly the meanest thing you could say to an infertile couple and a slap in the face if you ask me. “Maybe God’s plan for you is to not be a mother”. In my opinion, you cannot get more insensitive than that! You are basically implying that God felt the need to sterilize me? If that is the case then why isn’t he preventing the pregnancies that end in abortion or child abuse? Even if you are not religious the “maybe it’s not meant to be” comments are just as hurtful. Infertility is not a punishment, whether you believe that to be God or Mother Nature.

Don’t push adoption
Adoption is a great option for infertile couples. My husband was adopted so we definitely understand. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that we want biological children. There are many issues that infertile couples need to work through before they can make the decision to adopt. In order to come to the decision to love a “stranger’s baby” they need to grieve the loss of the biological child that never was. Fortunately, social workers understand the importance of this grieving process. The social worker that I saw told me that you must shut one door before you can open another and that helped me a lot. The adoption process is quite intensive, so if you have not grieved the loss of your biological child and the hope of a biological child then the adoption process is going to be harder for you. Not only do you have to give up hope of a biological child you also have to be able to love a child that is not your “own”. Some couples are never able to fathom the idea of loving a child that is not their “own” and if that is the case then adoption will never happen. Some couples may not open up about this either, so by pushing adoption you are reopening their infertility wound without even realizing it. If your friend is open about adoption she will talk about it and raise the issue herself. Just wait for her to come to you.

So what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you are saying “Here, have my baby”, there is nothing that you can say that is going to rid their pain. However, there are some things that you can do to ease their pain.

Do show them you care
Let them know you are there if they need a shoulder to cry on or want to chat. If they are religious, tell them that they are in your thoughts and prayers. Offer similar support that you would give a friend that lost a loved one. By showing them you care you are showing them support and letting them know that they are not alone in their journey.

Do support their decisions
Support them if they decide to stop infertility treatments. This decision is very hard and involves even more grief. Even if the couple decides to adopt they could still be going through the grieving process for a while before they will be at the point that they are ready to begin the adoption process. No matter what their decisions may be, support them. Don’t encourage them to try again and don’t discourage them from adoption. Hear what they have to say, listen to their decision and support that decision not matter what it is. Once an infertile couple resolves their infertility they can finally put that chapter behind them and move on. Do not try to open that chapter again. 

Support them gently, and be there for them. They need you.

xoxo
Stephanie

May 9, 2016

Why You Need a Postpartum Doula

If someone asked you what a Postpartum Doula does, would you know what to say? Here are 5 reasons why every mom needs to have a Postpartum Doula on her support team for the first 6 weeks postpartum.



You need sleep

The old sleep when the baby sleeps saying is true, but how are you supposed to truly turn off your mom-brain and not tend to the mounds of laundry, the dirty dishes in the sink, and oh yeah...there's dinner to prep and kids to pick up at the bus stop. A Postpartum Doula can do all of those things...while you have a nap.

Your hormones, and emotions, are raging

Sometimes, you need someone to vent to who isn't so close to the situation (ie: your best friend, sister, mom, or spouse). Someone who can give an unbiased ear, and provide you with the emotional support you need. Our team of doulas have taken additional training in postpartum support, and we have a vast network of resources for women who struggle with postpartum mood disorders. Support is there and you don't have to deal with your hormones and emotions alone.

Sometimes your partner needs support, too

This is one that I can speak to from personal experience. I wish we had of hired (or even knew what one was!) a Postpartum Doula for our first baby when I had pretty severe Postpartum Depression. My husband was run ragged, up all night with the baby and had to deal with my emotions. Sometimes, your partner needs support too and a Postpartum Doula can do that.

When was the last time you ate?

Your Postpartum Doula can ensure that you are well hydrated and fed, and ours will bring you yummy snacks, fresh juice, baked goods and more. Sometimes we drop a delivery at your door, and send you a quick text message to let you know that it's there. Other times, we swoop in and do some baking in your home...while you have a nap or hot shower!

Self care is essential to your postpartum recovery

What good are we mothers to the rest of our family if we are completely drained and burnt out? Self care is something that we really encourage our clients to take part in after they have their baby. Once a week, treat yourself to a solo date night out. A quiet coffee. Shopping. A movie...all by yourself, while your babe is at home being taken care of by your Postpartum Doula. Matinees run during the week, so there's no need to put yourself on the back burner until the weekend when your Self Care Day fits with everyone elses schedule.


The first 6 weeks postpartum are about survival, and a Postpartum Doula can ease that transition, making your survival and snuggles with your newborn that much smoother and sweeter.

xoxo
Shannon

May 4, 2016

New Summer Programs!

We are absolutely pleased-as-punch with our new programs, which are kicking off this Sunday at North Yoga & Wellness!


Focusing on harnessing your breath, stacking your posture in various poses to experiment and find some discomfort and inquiry, and extended silent pauses, Shannon will be guiding another round of Vipasana Meditation. Let the meditation be the teacher, and she will be the guide...showing you a wonderful world of mindfulness, present moment awareness and heightened consciousness. 


Merging her training in Vipasana and Hypnobirth through The Calm Birth School,  Shannon leads this fantastic four week course that will mentally prepare you for the big day...birth-day! Find comfort in the yoga mats, bolsters, blocks, and blankets. Yoga balls and chairs are available for seated comfort, as well.


Stephanie, Postpartum Doula Extraordinaire, leads this four week Self Care Sunday's session which brings with it amazing weekly activities and accountability. Start with creating your own DIY coconut oil sugar scrub with the essential oils of your choice, learn the importance of self care and quiet, let go of guilt and find accountability throughout the week with our consistent and compassionate communication.

There's truly something for everyone coming in May and June...and extending throughout the summer!

Register today at info@sweetstellas.com

May 2, 2016

Love Created Love

This month in Mindful Motherhood we take a moment of pause to open our hearts and remember what started our journey in motherhood.

Love.


Two people, hearts entwined, so completely in love with one another that they wanted to use that love to create even more love.

How incredible of a thought is that?

As parents, we often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of parenting that we forget what took place for us to become parents. I'm not talking about the actual deed (dirty birds!) but the emotions behind it.

The ooey gooey, googley-eyed love.
The butterflies.
The dates.
The stolen kisses.

Love created love, and truly, love is all. At the very end of the day, after you lay those weary heads to bed and give them one extra last snuggle, what is left is an intense amount of love.

Love for your babies, love for your partner and love for yourself.

This month when you are faced with rushing around as a mom, times of stress and moments of impatience, take pause and remember what started your journey.

Love.

I have a funny feeling that even the most difficult of situations this month will be a little bit more bearable and a smile will cross your lips at the simple thought of love.

xoxo
Shannon
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