4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had Kids

 

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had Kids | Childbirth Classes Jax, FL

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had Kids

I can’t tell you how many times over the last two decades that I’ve spent raising children and in my career that I’ve thought and heard: there are some things I wish I knew before I had kids. Definitely way more than I ever thought or dreamed I would.  I think most of us would agree that with experience comes at least some knowledge and insight. A mechanic knows vehicles and a doctor knows the ins and outs of medicine! As a seasoned parent, doula, and caregiver I’m often asked about my experience: what I would do in a specific situation and if I have any advice for others. So, I’ve compile a list of 4 things I wish I knew before I had kids to share with all of you and they aren’t about breast or bottlefeeding, spanking, spoiling, or sleep training.

These are things all parents and families can benefit from!

1. It’s imperative that you do you for them!

Don’t underestimate what me time can do for your entire family! Sure, in the beginning it’s tough. The first six weeks is about survival. But after you begin getting back into the swing of things at your own speed, making time for you is imperative!

Parents make sacrifices all the time for their kids and each other, but you don’t have to sacrifice all the time. You don’t have to have an answer for everything or extra set of arms to get it all done, although you give it a good go! We’re simply not designed to multitask and be great at all things. So while balancing, juggling, and living life do not forget to take care of you! Teach your children to love themselves and take time for self-care! A healthy mind, body, and spirit benefits everyone!

2. Your children are modeling for you what unconditional love is!

It’s true, let’s face it! Your finicky three year old doesn’t care if you feed them organic or fast food, they will just pick and poke anyway. Said toddler also give no cares if you leave the house to get the darn french fries without your bra or wearing two different shoes by mistake, they just want the fry fries and love you for getting them. Your little monkey will happily climb you like a tree to breastfeed while you’re squeezing in a 5 minute poop break or share the last few licks of their slobbery lollipop with you! Our children happily love us just the same!

We can learn a lot from our tiny humans. They expect nothing, they have no ideas about how it “should” be, what is “best”, and they simply love and adore us!

3. You can say no without apology or reason!

Not only can you say no because you can’t, but you can also say no when you don’t want to. You don’t have to come up with an excuse and you don’t have to have a reason. Your friend wants to drop by this evening on the way home to go through swatches for her new sofa and paint colors for her living room. You’ve had a long work week and you’re feeling tapped out. You just wanted to sit around in your underwear, have a glass of wine and watch an episode on Netflix. It’s ok to just say no. You don’t have to say why or apologize. You don’t have to feel be sorry, you can just say no, it’s healthy to say no (and yes for that matter) sometimes See #1 again!

This means strangers, friends, even family. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s healthy. This leaves more time and emotional and physical energy to say yes when you want to!

Hint: The more you practice saying no the easier it gets, the better it feels!

4. It’s normal and healthy to make mistakes.

As a mom with three adult children and one whose ten years behind her siblings I often reflect on our journey as a family. I also think back on the choices we made as parents. Boy have we made some mistakes along the way. You will too! We’ve laughed, cried, yelled, and fell upon silence. You will too… and it’s okay! In fact it’s more than ok, it’s completely “normal”. Mistakes means we’re human, mistakes let our children see we are not perfect and that is good!

Before you know it, believe it or not they will be flying the nest! Acknowledging our own mistakes, apologize, and working to learn from our mistakes will help our children not only understand that mistakes are okay, but it also models for them healthy life lessons and strategies they will take with them.

There are a few more things I wish I knew before having kids, but there’s something so freeing about not knowing all things and just winging it! I hope you find these 4 things helpful. What things do you wish you knew before having kids? We want to hear from you in the comment section below!

Here’s to happy birth and parenting!

~Elizabeth Luke, author and owner at FCDoulas

Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting Affirmations

Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting Affirmations jax placenta

Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting Affirmations

Pregnancy, birth, and parenting affirmations are one way to stay positive and feel more grounded and centered. October is the perfect month to begin a daily affirmation routine and we are going to help you get started!

The best news is you’ve already seen and used some affirmations in your everyday life. Think about those positive memes you read on social media sites and posters you see in the conference rooms, those are affirmations!

Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting Jacksonville, Placenta

Pregnancy will test your limits in every way.

In fact, pregnancy is a really great time to start a daily affirmations routine because it helps you become more positive-minded and relaxed before your upcoming birth! Being the best parent for your child begins with feeling good each day. Starting now in pregnancy will give you more time to practice before your baby is born and improves your chances of continuing your practice once your baby has made their arrival.

The last few weeks of pregnancy presents with its own set of unique challenges.

Your belly seems to bump into everything, you have to pee at least a hundred times a day, and two-hundred times at night. You’re not sleeping well and your feet hurt. It seems likely your baby can’t get here fast enough and you know this because every single person keeps asking, “Have you had that baby yet?”

During labor and birth you will do best of you are relaxed and at peace.

Affirmations are designed to do just that! There are very few times in your life when you’ll birth a baby. No matter how or where you are choosing or need to birth you’ll look back and remember the details of the day for the rest of your life. How you felt and how you were treated will matter. Creating a set of personalized affirmation cards that you really connect with to use through labor and birth is on my list of “Top 3 Must Haves For Birth”. Following right behind hiring a great doula, and taking an excellent birthing class! You, your partner, and your doula can utilize these cards in labor. Not only to help you directly, but to help yhem feel more grounded, confident, and calm indirectly influencing all who are in your birth space!

There is no harder or more rewarding job in the World than parenting!

Being a parent is not for the faint, you will be tested on every level and pushed beyond what you ever thought possible. From day #1 your life is turned upside down in a good, but crazy way. From one age and stage to the next, children change so quickly.

Affirmations help you connect with your inner self. They can help ground you and refocus you in times of stress. Taking time to practice and repeat affirmations will help you be the very best you can be for yourself and your family!

Be The Best You Can Be in Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting With Two Rules for Daily Practice:

Intention

  • Set a reminder on your phone.
  • Practice daily for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Make the most of your time. It allows you to be the best you that you can be.
  • Create a space as a visual commitment.
  • You have to believe what you want to achieve. When beginning your practice choose affirmations that you connect with and believe in.

Attention

  • Silence your phone
  • Set an alarm for 20 minutes and do not think about the time while practicing.
  • Practice in a way that allows you to get the most of your time. You may only use one affirmation for 20 minutes or you may focus on several.
  • Completely submerge yourself while you’re practicing.

Each day in the month of October First Coast Doulas is sharing affirmations to our Instagram account making it easy for our followers to begin or add to their daily practice! Begin today with the affirmations in the attached picture, “I am stronger than my fears!” Follow us on Instagram @ fcdoulas

When and How Do We Stop

When and How Do We Stop

When and How Do We Stop Jax FL

When and How Do We Stop

As postpartum doulas, families ask us all the time, “When and how do we stop __________”? You can fill in the blank with rocking them to sleep, nursing them to sleep, singing them to sleep, giving them a bottle, letting them sleep in our room, etc.

As parents we all want the change to be painless for our children and ourselves.

For some families that means taking as much time as needed to transition, for others it means they draw their line hard and fast.

So the answer to when and how starts with who and what.

Who you, your partner, and your children are and of course what you want for your family; what are your goals. Once we know this we can help you find solutions!

Here are some questions to help you find an approach that works for you and your family!

Find which of these sounds most like you and go with it, but keep in mind your baby/toddler/child may be the opposite of you. You’ll need to find a balance, after all it needs to be what is best for the family unit, but making it best for baby may mean smoother for all!

Do you normally try things expecting quick results and move on to something new fairly quickly if what you tried didn’t work the first time? Are you direct or blunt? Do you normally trust your gut or intuition?

Yes! Then my suggestions would be to trust your gut, try several things and see what seems to get better results than others. Once you’ve narrowed your options down the real work begins. It will require patience, sensitivity, and consistency for a set time. If after a set time no progress is being made move on to the next thing your gut tells you may work.

Do you find yourself asking friends or people within your social circle what works for them? When you succeed do you love to shout it from the roof tops and want recognition?

Yes! Then my suggestions are to do some research by way of socializing with friends about what worked for them and just get started. Stay focused on the results you want to see. Keep with one way for a given time and seek support of your closest friends to hold you accountable.

Do you look to your significant other for their acceptance or for new ideas? Do you prefer your partner make most of decisions regarding places to go eat or a paint color for the house? Do you value friendships and stability?

Yes! Then I would suggest making a list of the ways this transition will benefit your family. Then with your partner’s suggestions follow their lead and follow through. Be the kind, compassionate person you are, but remain steady. If what you’re doing isn’t working after a given time seek guidance from your partner again.

Do you value systems? Are you analytical and seek out facts and evidence? Do you find you are skeptical of things more times than not?

Yes! Then you’ve probably already sought out your options and compiled a detailed list to help you reach your goals.  If you haven’t already, list them in order of which you would like to try each one. The list could include the idea or concept, the number of times each week/day you want to try said idea, and the duration for which you will try each. Step out of your comfort zone and be prepared to change plans quickly when plan A and B aren’t getting it. Your plan C is to think quickly. You may need to delegate. Make your lists easy for others to understand so they can help you implement the ideas. You will need to let go of some responsibility and allow others to step up.

Ultimately my suggestion to a wider audience would be to stop when your heart or gut tells you it’s time! Re-direction, positive reinforcement, and consistency are usually the key to change.

That can mean stopping when your child makes it clear they are ready or you are sure you are ready. There are several approaches. You could do it all at once and go cold turkey or take it nice and slow through the transition.

I think the best way to go about it is to trust yourself as a parent and do what feels right for your family. There will, without a doubt, come a time when your baby just won’t “need” you to _____________ anymore.

They’re only little once!

Taking Your First Dump After Birth Part 2

Taking Your First Dump After Birth Part 2

Taking Your First Dump After Birth acksonville postpartum

So, I know most of you were thinking this blog would be about the first bowel movement after giving birth. Women can relate to that nervous feeling about the perineum sensitivity and the insane possibility in our minds that stitches may come loose with that first bowel movement. So, I chose that play on words, and it’s spot on. You have to admit the title, “Taking Your First Dump After Birth”, while not attractive is pretty catchy.

You can find Part 1 here!

Let’s get right back at it, shall we?

Birth brings about a multitude of feelings and thoughts. Some of which are the highest of all highs and other’s that are the lowest of all lows. That hormonal dump after birth is no joke ladies!

There is some evidence that shows that if you’ve experienced anxiety, or any type of mood disorders before pregnancy or after the birth of a previous baby that you may be more susceptible to postpartum mood disorders and conditions. The real kicker; those who haven’t ever experienced any issues can still experience postpartum issues.

There’s no way to be 100% sure that a woman will or will not experience some type of postpartum mood issues.

There is one thing for sure, even the happiest postpartum presents with its own challenges. Women can experience at best minimal weepy moments. They can also experience baby blues, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

SAY WHAT?!?! Yeah, intense stuff!

Women who experience birth trauma, can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The thing about PTSD is that what one person may see as a beautiful, perfect birth, another may see as traumatic, again that’s another blog!

First Coast Doulas knows that mothers can experience feelings of bliss, fullness, complete, joy, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, and sadness. Moms can be laughing one minute and crying the next. They may also feel overwhelmed or experience loss of appetite, have a hard time bonding with their baby, feel guilty or inadequate. Sadly there are women who experience confusion, paranoia, and can become delusional. They can begin displaying obsessive behaviors, start having nightmares, and may fear being alone with their baby.

Experiencing any of these is not a character flaw or weakness!

Postpartum Doulas can’t diagnose or treat any illness, but we are trained to recognize when things may be off and know exactly who to recommend to you for trustworthy, reliable help if and when you are ready to seek it!

Everyone wants to know, what are the two ways you can combat and ease the discomforts of the hormonal postpartum dump that happens in some degree inside every woman who births a baby.

#1 Combat & Ease Discomforts Of the Hormonal Dump with Placenta Encapsulation

Yep, many women who consume their placenta report overall feelings of well-being! “YUCK” you say. Don’t knock it till you try it I say! First Coast Doulas provides the safest, personalized service and support in and around Jacksonville Florida.

They also report-

  • having more energy
  • feeling happier
  • increased breastmilk production
  • faster healing with minimal pain
  • warding off feelings of postpartum depression

Another thing almost all women share with us is that they notice when they forget to take their capsules and their significant others seem to notice as well. Many refer to them as their happy pills!

#2 Combat & Ease Discomforts Of the Hormonal Dump with a Professional Postpartum Doula

A professional postpartum Doula is a ticket to your happiest postpartum possible! I say that with confidence! With all the buildup and prep work for birth most of the time our beautifully unique postpartum is forgotten. Our country just doesn’t put value in caring for the mother, baby, and the family as a whole unit after birth. While many other countries do value postpartum. Neglecting to plan for that fourth trimester can cause undue stress and regret to a new family. Women and families who hire First Coast Doulas are supported, pampered and well-cared for.

Families hiring First Coast Doulas enjoy-

  • help recovering after birth
  • help with newborn care
  • more rest and sleep
  • bonding in a meaningful and unique way
  • getting back into the lifestyle they love faster
  • showering daily (don’t laugh if you don’t have a baby yet the struggle is real)
  • being able to rehash their birth story free from judgement or criticism
  • more time for self-care like massage, manicures, and pedicures
  • date nights or ladies nights more frequently
  • 1 on 1 breastfeeding and formula feeding support
  • enjoying snacks and meals prepped
  • enjoy outings with support and encouragement
  • being connected to someone who is in the know within the community
  • having the newest information on products and guidelines

Ladies, and gentlemen I say to you, don’t neglect to plan for your best postpartum possible! It’s as unique and beautiful as your baby! After all it’s the time when you will actually have your baby here to hold, caress, and start your life together!

Why not make it your best postpartum possible? Get in touch today!

 

All You Need To Breastfeed Your Baby

All You Need To Breastfeed Your Baby

First Coast Doulas knows that all you need to breastfeed your baby begins with you!

all you need to breastfeed your baby labor coach Jacksonville

I see it literally every day. Well-meaning people giving bad advice on breastfeeding that leads to mothers spending unnecessary money and time on “things” to help them breastfeed their babies. These ideas are well meaning, but bad.  They also create a false hope that if they buy and do all these things they will be able to breastfeed. Sometimes mothers choose to switch to formula when they could have otherwise accomplished their goals of breastfeeding their infant.

That’s not to say choosing formula is a bad thing. It isn’t. There’s no right or wrong way to feed your baby, just different ways. We all feed with loving intention and to me that’s a win. As a postpartum Doula if it appears our clients are struggling with breastfeeding, I always ask first, “Do you want to continue to breastfeed?” There is a fine line between encouraging and pushing, and we always remain supportive!

So here is a quick list of bad, but well-meaning advice along with a list of good ideas, links, videos, and resources.

Well-Meaning, Bad Advice;

  • Buy a breast pump to see how much milk you’re making. Pumping, while helpful in some situations, is not a good indicator of how much milk your baby is getting while nursing. Your baby transfers milk much more effectively than any pump. A better indicator is wet and dirty diapers and just being in tune with your baby.
  • Feed your baby as soon as they cry. Nope. You want to avoid waiting until they cry when possible. Crying is the last cue that your baby wants to breastfeed. Look for other cues, like, smacking their lips, putting their hand to their mouth, and opening their mouth and moving their head back and forth. Most of the time if you baby is awake in those first couple of weeks they will want to suckle at the breast. This is your baby’s genius way of ensuring he has a milk supply to nourish him.
  • Feed you baby for ___ minutes on each side every ____ hours. Wrong! Feed your baby for as long as your baby is suckling on the breast. When they stop, stroke their cheek and if they start to suckle again keep them there until they no longer respond to the stroking. Then offer the other side if they show cues again. Many of our clients breathe a sigh of relief when we tell them, you don’t have to focus on the clock, focus on your baby. Babies need to suckle at the breast a lot in those early weeks to establish their supply. It’s a supply and demand concept, the more your baby demands by sucking, the more your breast supplies the milk needed.
  • Buy nipple shields and cream now because breastfeeding hurts. WOAH! No way, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be painful. If it is it’s most likely because baby doesn’t have a correct/deep latch. Knowing how to get a good latch is key. There is an excellent video below that demonstrates breastfeeding, what a proper latch looks like, how to get that latch, and also shows a variety of cultures and different size breasts and nipples, all perfect for breastfeeding.
  • In addition to the things I already listed I can’t leave out special teas, supplements, cookies, etc. As a rule you don’t NEED any of these things to breastfeed your baby. There are exceptions to all rules, but as a rule you don’t need to run out and stock up on these things. They can be costly and create doubt.

Good Advice to Consider;

  • Familiarize yourself with what breastfeeding looks like. Watch other moms breastfeed their babies. Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker you know who breastfeeds if they would let you sit with them while they feed their baby. The United States has gotten so far away from feeding babies from the breasts that many people have never seen this done. That is changing, but it’s still stigmatized or seen as taboo. Don’t be afraid, many are more than happy to help out another woman who wants to feed her baby with her breasts.
  • Find a breastfeeding support group in your area, like La Leche League, there may be more than one, Jacksonville has several.
  • Stay skin to skin with your baby as much as possible in the first six weeks of life, NOT just when feeding your baby. This may mean that some visitors may need to postpone their visits or expect to see your breasts. Here’s some science behind skin to skin.
  • Get the contact information to one or two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants in the area that come recommended. If you need that recommendation don’t hesitate to contact us! Contact them and ask questions like, Are you available around my due date? Do you make house calls? How do you feel about x, y, and z?

First Coast Doulas wants you to know that you’re equipped with exactly what you need to feed your baby without any equipment to buy or books to read, period. That’s the bottom line. Women have been feeding their babies from their breasts since the beginning of time.

Remember breastfeeding is more than just a way to feed your baby. It’s bonding, comfort, nourishment, and so much more!

Reading To My Children

Reading to my children is one of the things that I love and they love equally as much. It allows us time to engage with one another, time to sit together, take a break, snuggle, and share the same space. All in the world can be yuck, but when I sit down and start reading to my children everything else seems to fade away, if even for a few short minutes.

I began reading to my babies at various ages, when my oldest was a baby I didn’t read to him until he was about four or five months old, but the first time I did his face light up with excitement! That single moment fueled my passion for reading to them.

When I became pregnant with our second baby I started reading to him in utero. I also put headphones on my belly and played classical music and books on tape. I thought why not! I am glad I did it because as a new mom with two kids it was harder to find time to read to them as much as I would have liked to so I felt a bit of guilt for not reading as I did when my first was an infant.

There is a ten year gap between our second and third baby and during that time we read a lot of classic stories, funny things the kids picked up along the way and a few sad ones like Old Yeller.

When our third baby was born I was excited to get back to reading some of these books so I started much sooner, around eight weeks old. She loved it, probably more than I did! She would calm down and though she couldn’t speak yet, it was like she understood every word I said to her. We primarily looked and talked (I talked, she babbled) about picture books with just a few words, but occasionally we would read a longer book with more words.

Reading is something that is great for children’s development, and their coordination, and imagination flourish when they are read to. I am guilty of not reading to my kids as often as I probably should, but that time is spent doing other things with them so that guilt is short-lived.

I am including a link for each of the books from my list below. We would love to hear from you. What are your favorite books to read to your children?

Books make a great baby shower gift instead of a card, they also make great first birthday gifts and Christmas gifts as well. Many older children really enjoy listening to books on tape in the car.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Chicka Chicka ABC, Charlotte’s Web, The Giving Tree, Where The Wild Things Are

doulas in jacksonville florida

Don’t Bite The Breast That Feeds You!

Don’t Bite The Breast That Feeds You!

Oh sweet baby, I remember a time when you were all snuggles, snorts, grunts, and smiles. A time when you nursed at my breast and looked up at me with comfort, peace, and love in your eyes. My little milk drunk monkey. Where have those sweet breastfeeding sessions gone?

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It seems lately all you want to do it stretch my nipple like it’s a piece of elastic, scratch like a cat being bathed, or bite me. Why?!

The days of newborn challenges have ended and a new day has dawned.

This new biting while breastfeeding stage happens to most, but not all moms who nurse their babies. The good news is that more times than not, babies respond well to positive reinforcement.

So, my #1 suggestion to get baby to stop this biting the breast behavior, is to immediately remove him from your breast, let him know that hurts by saying “ouch”, or “that hurts”, and firmly, but gently telling him “no, no”. Give him a few moments and then tell him “you don’t bite mommy, if you bite mommy we stop nursing”, then try again and remind him no biting.

This takes time, be consistent, don’t give up!

Avoid laughing or yelling. Laughing will likely encourage this behavior, not break him of it. Yelling, if it can be helped, should be avoided because it scares baby and is not positive reinforcement.

There are a few known reasons for why babies bite the breast that feeds them and none include training to be an Olympic gold medalist for longest bite held! I compiled a list of the top 3 reasons why babies do this and some things you can try that have been effective for myself and other moms.

Reason #1:  Your baby could be teething.

If your baby is teething, he/she is likely biting to deal with discomfort. You can try giving teething tablets or using oragel, and also giving a cold teething toy or frozen breastmilk pop before your nursing session so baby’s discomfort is lowered before you begin.

Reason #2: Your baby could be doing it for attention.

If so, it’s important to focus your attention on your baby; don’t get distracted. Talk, sing , or just look at him. This time is not only for nourishing his body, but also a time to bond, to connect with him emotionally. If he continues, remove him from the breast, tell him “biting hurts”, and end the nursing session for a short time. This should get your point across. Consistency matters, repeat and it’s likely your baby will get the idea!

Reason #3: Your baby might be distracted.

Awe yes-he’s tired, cranky, clingy, and appears to want to breastfeed, but as soon as you have him in your arms he wants to look everywhere else and then the ‘bite the nipple’ fest begins. If this happens, it’s likely your little one is nursing for comfort.  Remove him from your breast and tell him firmly “NO biting mama!” Then take your baby to a distraction free zone if you think he’d still like to nurse. A quiet room lying down or rocking will likely do the trick. If he continues, remember consistently remove him, “tell him no, no, that hurts,” and repeat!

These last few tips comes from years of combined breastfeeding experience from moms all over the world.

If you have ever had your nipple bitten down so hard that you thought your were nursing an alligator snapping turtle, then you will understand how one could use these tips. If you’ve never experienced this horrific sensation, I hope you never do! If you ever find yourself doing battle with an alligator snapper baby who is surely trying to remove your nipple from your breast you can;

  • place your finger in between your baby’s gums to make space to squeeze your nipple out in one piece.
  • blow in your baby’s face. Sometimes that is just enough to get them to release.
  • push your baby’s face momentarily into your breast just long enough so that he or she has to release your nipple in order to breath.

Remember, positive and consistent. Breastfeeding benefits both you and your baby and you do not have to be a chew toy. This is a stage and this stage shall pass too, just as the newborn stage has come and gone.

Hang in there ladies-you are amazing!

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