Sleep and Help with Meals and Housework After Giving Birth

 Sleep and Help with Meals and Housework after Giving Birth Jax FL

Sleep and Help with Meals and Housework after Giving Birth

This week alone we’ve heard, “We should’ve hired a doula to get sleep and help with meals and housework after giving birth,” at least ten times. Ten times this week alone! That means there is a general consensus that families do want and very much need help after giving birth.

Who more deserving of sleep and help than new parents raising the future generation?

They want to get a healthy amount of sleep, not even an abundance of it. Shoot, most new parents can’t even imagine what an abundance of sleep feels like. For the majority a short 30-60 minute nap along with a minimum of 4-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day is enough to maintain mental, emotional, and physical health. Many aren’t getting that though. On average the majority of new parents are only getting three-and-a-quarter hours sleep each night for the first two years of their children’s lives. Sleep-deprivation can lead to unhealthy habits and unsafe conditions for both parents and their children. Someone’s grandchildren!

Food! I think we all speak that love language, amiright?

New parents are praying that someone, anyone will hear their stomach’s cry for a decent meal and that during their night the snack fairy will arrive and save them! After all how will they keep up with their wakeful newborns and maintain a sense of normalcy without nourishing their bodies?

The other universal love language is L-A-U-N-D-R-Y and D-I-S-H-E-S!

New parents may wear boogies as an accessory and the newest eau de spit-up fragrance, but it doesn’t mean they have to start their day that way. To see the mile high pile of laundry and dishes disappear would be like the magic of childhood again! When the subject comes up organically I tell people there are three things you need to know when visiting a home with a newborn.

  1. Bring food for the new family!
  2. Wash your hands upon arrival!
  3. A load of dishes, laundry, or both are required if you’re going to hang out for longer than 5 minutes.

Sleep and Help with Meals and Housework after Giving Birth Jax FL

A great postpartum and infant doula speaks the universal new parent language fluently!

We anticipate the needs of new parents without being asked or without asking a million questions. Many are trained to recognize early signs of baby blues, postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis. We help with the most important things: sleep, food, laundry, dishes, siblings, and hello, companionship!

Ask a mom what she needed in the first three months after giving birth and you can bet your first born that we help with it. I’m serious! From sleep to sex, and everything in between we help parents find their groove and do so with less stress and more options!

I absolutely won’t sell our agency short here folks! You want First Coast Doulas on your home team!

Hiring a postpartum doula doesn’t mean you can’t hold down the fort, you totally can! It means your fort can become an impenetrable fortress with hands on, accurate advice, support, encouragement, and help! It doesn’t make you any less of a parent or spouse to bring in a mom and baby professional. You know what it does make you? In the know, a smarty Mc Smarty Pants!

The only down side to postpartum and infant doula support is finding out too late!

However, finding out too late that postpartum doulas help with sleep and help with meals and housework after giving birth doesn’t mean you have to be sad. Okay, maybe a little wallow in the metaphorical mud is okay; after all you could have had a daily shower, food, and sleep! After that though, pick yourself up, clean yourself off and get out there and tell other expecting and new parents that they don’t have to go through this alone!

Often times the most important lessons in life are learned through our own experiences. The fact that we missed out on amazing support shouldn’t be the focus, but rather that we learned from the experience and want to share it with others!

First Coast Doulas is currently offering a few special holiday packages and our gift certificates make thoughtful and extravagant gifts!


Your Baby is Your Team Mate

 Your Baby Jax FL Doulas Birth

Your Baby is Your Team Mate

If I told you that your baby is your team mate would you believe me? Raise your hand if you just know that labor starts when your water breaks? Or raise your hand if you believe contractions start with a vengeance with no break. Or maybe you think that labor is intensely painful throughout the whole ordeal. Many people think that’s exactly how and when labor starts and how labor will be. No thanks to movies and popular TV shows, by the way!

Nod if you believe that the birthing person’s body is solely responsible for birth.

Huh? Who else would be responsible in the process? One hint: the uterine occupant. Your baby bean. It’s not all about you! (well, it is, but it isn’t). Your baby is your team mate! Yep, your baby is a team player in their pursuit to be born! This perspective can be encouraging, empowering, and even used as an affirmation in labor!

The mother and the baby have to work together.

There are various mechanisms by which the birthing person and baby work together, whether we, as a society, know it or not.  It’s probably why labor is so incredibly difficult to describe to many people or even to understand ourselves, sometimes. How cool is that? Totally rad, right?

How does this happen though?

Surfactant Release

When the baby’s lungs are fully developed, anywhere between 37 and 42 weeks, their body will release a substance called surfactants into the parent’s body. Surfactants are necessary to keep the lungs inflated. Without them, we could not breathe. Premature babies often lack the necessary volume of surfactants. When the baby is ready though, their body will produce them and the molecules will disperse throughout the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby and the mother’s uterus.  The pregnant body will miraculously recognize this compound. Then, the uterus will become agitated and begin to contract. Sometimes, the contractions will be small, light, and irregular if the cervix isn’t quite “favorable” and other times, the contractions will be full-force with the “textbook” pattern. Thus, labor begins.

Main Squeeze

During labor, the uterus contracts, or squeezes. At the same time, the baby will actively move downward and/or move into a more conducive position (face down).  Babies usually attempt to be in a positon called occiput anterior so that way they can tuck their chin and leave the pelvis rather smoothly.  They feel the uterus pushing them downwards, further into the vaginal canal. Your baby responds by using the stepping reflex they’ll will be born with that allows them to do the breast crawl. Many women can actually feel their babies subtle and not so subtle movements in labor as the twist, squirm, and step into the right position for them! Your baby is your team mate and will move until they crown and then spin to face upwards upon birth.

Fetal Ejection

As baby moves further downward and puts more pressure on the cervix, the weight of their head and body, and the amniotic sac if it hasn’t ruptured, will influence you to dilate and efface further. When the baby is as low as he/she can be, right before crowning, the pressure will activate the nerves and muscles within the pelvic floor. As your baby crowns, you and he/she will work together to push-you might even feel experience the uncontrollable ejection of your baby! This is what’s called the fetal ejection reflex; a reflex that allows your baby to be born without any active pushing Don’t worry, whether you experience that overwhelming sensation or not is irrelavant because your baby will still be born!

Knowing your baby is your team mate, you can prepare yourself and your birth team with some affirmations to share with baby in the throes of labor. It also helps to know this too, because when things seem to be taking their time or are otherwise frustrating, it can be reassuring to think about the baby also being an active participant.

If you’re curious to learn more about the labor and birth process check out The Prepared Parent Childbirth Class.

Birth is definitely a team effort, and the most important duo is you and your baby! Go team!

Is My Baby Normal?

Is my baby normal | Childbirth Classes Jax FL

Is My Baby Normal

Babies do all sorts of seemingly oddish things. Things that’ll leave you wondering, is my baby normal? Sometimes their movements and reflexes can look scary to those who haven’t been around newborns or who aren’t well-versed in their behaviors. We noticed that when we work with new parents, we almost always get asked, “my baby does ________, is my baby normal?”

Common baby behavior includes evolutionarily-base reflexes. These can seem frightening and sometimes funny too (shhhh). We delve into each of these ahead and explain why your baby isn’t an actual alien life form.

Rooting is a reflex that helps your baby, well, root.

What does that mean? It means that this adaptation allows your baby to seek out and find a nipple. They’ll turn their heads side to side, lifting their necks, with their eyes closed.  It’s actually an early indicator of hunger, shortly before they cry and scream emerge.  When they root, they’ll sniff you if you are holding them! If they are by themselves or in a bassinet, you might notice that they put their whole fist in their mouths!

Tonic Neck reflex is a much more subtle reflex.

Fencing or Tonic Neck reflex is when your little one looks like he/she is the “On guard” position when they lie on their back. Some may describe the baby as looking like a little fencer! It serves as an important clue to their neurological development.  For instance, if your baby is never or always in this position, or continues this reflex past six months, it’s important to mention it to the pediatrician.

Is My Baby Normal | Childbirth Classes Jax FL
Fencing or Tonic Neck reflex

The Startle or Moro reflex is simultaneously intriguing and funny.

When you make a loud noise or sudden movement, like unswaddling, your baby will throw his/her hands upwards and their body will jolt. Sometimes, though, it seems to happen when the house is as quiet as a library. This particular reflex is another leftover evolutionary adaptation as it helped our prehistoric ancestors respond to danger.  Notice how their hands grasp while they move their arms upwards?  Since we are primates, this ensured that the baby would hold very tightly to the mother as she escaped danger.  Speaking of grasping…

The Grasp or Palmer reflex works in conjunction with the Moro, but is important on its own.

If you put your finger on the palm of your baby’s hand, he/she will instinctively close their hand around yours. This is one of the cutest, most enjoyable reflexes a parent, family member, or caregiver can expereince. This serves to keep them safe as discussed above, but it also is the beginning of fine motor development.

is my baby normal | Childbirth Classes Jax FL
Grasp of Palmer reflex

The Plantar or Babinski reflex refers are associated with the feet of the newborn.

Just as the Palmer reflex is a reaction of the fingers curling to grab, the Plantar, or Babinski, reflex is the foot’s way of responding to stimuli and helps the body to begin developing gross motor skills. Stroke your finger along the sole of their feet, right under the toes and you’ll see some extreme monkey ability!

Sometimes, parents will notice that their baby’s eyes are rolling into the back of their head!

This is really common and completely normal. As babies come out of or are going into a deep sleep, their state of consciousness is shifting and thus, their eyes will roll under their eyelids. Sometimes, their eyelids open a little and you see all the eye movement. (Generally speaking, there is no need to worry, but like anything, if you’re concerned call a medical provider.)

While we’re on the subject of beautiful baby eyes I want to also mention that if your baby’s may appear crossed from time to time. That can be normal too. It usually always straightens out by the baby’s first birthday. Talk with your pediatrician if you are concerned, but at each well-check they will examine your baby’s eyes to make sure they are developing correctly!

Periodic Breathing

Have you ever noticed that your baby, particularly when asleep, will start breathing short, little breaths like gasps and they’ll whimper? Well, this is another scary newborn event, which is also completely normal! Babies have immature respiratory systems and this is their body’s way of strengthening and regulating oxygen intake (similar to yawning releasing carbon dioxide).  They may whimper and make sounds during this bout of Periodic Breathing, but baby should not however, appear to be struggling to breathe or stop breathing altogether.

You’ll find yourself time and time again wondering, is my baby normal? As you grow as a parent, you’ll begin to wonder, “what is normal anyway?” Then, you’ll begin to differentiate between normal and abnormal behavior. It’s always good to know that some of the strangest baby happenings are absolutely normal.  And if you are still anxious, well, your pediatrician is only a phone call away!


The Difference between a Nanny and a Postpartum Doula

nanny and postpartum doula | best doulas in Jax

The Difference between a Nanny and a Postpartum Doula

I was in the store the other day with my daughter when the conversation came up. You know, “what do you do for a living?” I actually really love talking about what I do and what First Coast Doulas brings to the shores of Jacksonville! So, I responded with a smile and an enthusiastic, “I’m a postpartum doula!” *Crickets* “A wha????” After briefly explaining what I do and how we help new parents, he nodded with an expression of understanding and said, “So, you’re a nanny!” Uh, no.“Not exactly. Not at all, really” I responded. There are actually differences between a nanny and a postpartum doula.

“What’s the difference between a nanny and a postpartum doula then?” he asked with genuine curiosity.

And I proceeded to explain while I love nannies, I and the postpartum doulas here at First Coast Doulas, are not nannies. Our services are similar for sure, but our primary functions differ tremendously. I went on to explain.

“…Elizabeth fed me and gave me a hug when I cried and never brought it back up. She understood. She helped me understand what I was going through and even helped my husband understand me a little better. I hope Elizabeth is around when I have my second baby because I don’t want to do it without her.” ~ Danielle M. Jax., FL

So, what’s the difference between a nanny and a postpartum doula?

A nanny is there solely for the baby and kids.

They are there to attend to their needs such as feeding, bathing, keeping to routines, and adhere to the daily agenda while the parents work or otherwise take a break.  They form a close relationship with the children and become a trusted adult. A nanny is a caregiver.

Things a nanny might do:

  • Keep baby or children at their home while parents go to work on a regular basis with regular hours
  • Help create, set, and stick to daily routines based on their personal knowledge and relationship with the children
  • Provide educational activities and developmentally appropriate learning experiences
  • Discipline, prepare meals, drive children to extracurricular activities, appointments, and school

A postpartum doula is there for the family.

They’re there to attend to the family’s needs, which will vary from family to family and day to day. A lot of the time the family, having a new baby, is not aware or able to articulate their needs. The postpartum doula, using their knowledge and intuition, helps them identify what those needs and goals are and helps them to navigate the terrain of adding to their family.  A bit esoteric, yes…

Things a postpartum doula might do include:

  • Listen, reassure, and offer emotional support to new parents as they recount the birth experience and navigate the days following adding a new baby to their family.
  • Educate and advise about the woman’s postpartum body/mind
  • Help with researching, purchasing, and assembling baby gear
  • Provide local resources such as playgroups, therapists, etc.
  • Help siblings adjust to a new baby
  • Encourage parents to identify how they want things to go/what they need on their own terms and then help them implement those goals into manageable routines
  • Cook and prepare light meals, lightly clean, etc.
  • Assist with infant feeding, whether at the breast or bottle or both
  • Newborn soothing and sleep
  • Help to create a relaxing environment for the parents to enjoy snuggling with their newest family member
  • Support the new parent(s) on their first ( or fifth or twenty-fifth) outing. Think; breastfeeding for the first time in public, or preparing and warming a bottle while you change a crying newborn in the backseat or vice versa.

Encouraging you along the way!

nanny and a postpartum doula | childbirth classes in Jax

“It was like having my sister take the night shift, but I didn’t have to explain my choices. I didn’t think I’d need much help after I gave birth, but we were both exhausted a week into being home. Having our postpartum doula, Liz here helped me relax and sleep better!” “P.S. My sister is little jelly though!” ~ Marcia G. Jax., FL

A postpartum doula can provide care as well, in certain circumstances, or a person can be both a postpartum doula and a nanny. Oftentimes, they are both and perform these duties in separate circumstances!

Nannies and postpartum doulas are a collaborative team in many cases.

A First Coast Doula goes one step further in providing postpartum doula care without interjecting their opinion or philosophy on parenting. Sort of like an extension of an antepartum doula. We pride ourselves on the ability to attune to our clients because we value building a strong partnership that allows our doulas to be the best doula for any and every family.

Baby Registry List for the Minimalist

 baby registry | jax fl | minimalist parents

Baby Registry for List for the Minimalist

With gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, how do you know what you really need for your baby registry? Truthfully newborns don’t “need” a lot during the first three months, they really don’t. Warmth, milk, and comfort in the arms of those who love them. First Coast Doulas loves making life easier. We’ve created a “Minimalist Checklist” printable for your baby’s first three months of life!

Baby Registry Essentials:

1. Car Seat

The first and most important item on your list should always be bought new, never used. Be sure you are following the manufacturer’s recommendation for height and weight requirements as well as usage. If you have an infant car seat from an older sibling be certain your seat isn’t expired and you are following guidelines for safety.

Generally, the law and other government organizations set minimum safety guidelines that are far below best practice. A great website to help with all things car seat and carseat safety related is They have a Facebook page too!

2. Crib & Mattress/Pack n Play

safe place for your baby to sleep is a necessity. Both the crib and the Pack n Play have pros and cons and each family will decide what fits their needs best for the first three months. If your parents saved your crib for you to use with your baby it’s a precious gift. However, if it’s a drop-side crib it’s not a safe sleep space for your infant. In 2011 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ban on the use, sale, or resale of drop-side cribs. Cribs that allow you to lower the side are responsible for infant deaths via suffocation and strangulation. Keep your baby as safe as possible and say “pass” on drop-side cribs.

Looking for some cute things you can do with your old baby crib? Give us a follow on Pinterest!

3. Bouncy Seat/Rock n Play/Swing

A place other than the crib/Pack n Play to free up your arms when you need both hands and don’t want to or aren’t able to wear your baby. Any and all of these are great options. Al have pros and cons and each family will decide what fits their needs best for the first three months.

4. Sling/Carrier

Getting things done around the house can be difficult for parents of a newborn. Babies have the biological need to be very close to their parents during the first several months. In addition, if you’re concerned with people holding or touching your baby too much in those first few months wearing your baby reduces the desire for others. Since you can’t grow two additional arms, wear your baby!

5. Reclining Stroller

The reclining feature is a must so your newborn can lie back flat. It’s also great for siblings to push or ride in. Many grandparents may be more comfortable with a stroller versus babywearing for several reasons; unbalanced footing, ease of use, etc.

6. Thermometer with Probe Covers

The first time you feel your baby and they feel “warm” or “hot” it will scare you. First baby or fourth, your heart drops to your stomach. Don’t be caught without a rectal thermometer and disposable probe covers. The recommended way to check a baby’s temperature less than six months of age is rectally. Your pediatrician is a great person to ask for guidance if you’re nervous.

7. Nasal Aspirator & Saline Solution

You’ve probably seen a bulb syringe used to suction a baby’s nose. That is a nasal aspirator. You will be given one at the hospital. They sell saline nose drops/spray over the counter and both aspirator and saline are cheap.  The Nose Frida is a nasty looking booger, but works so well and loved by many! It can be cleaned better than the bulb, and it’s used with less fuss from babies!

8. Diapering

No matter which you put on your baby registry, cloth, disposables, or a combination of both if you choose to stock up ahead of time make sure you know your store’s return and exchange policy and save those receipts! Some babies have sensitivities and some diapers work/fit differently on different babies, you really would have no way of knowing that beforehand. Pro secret; babies stay in size 3 disposable diapers the longest of all sizes.

Cloth Diapering Essentials:

35-50 diapers

8-10 waterproof covers (if not using AIO)

velcro/pins/snap closures

1 waterproof changing pad

1 tube of diaper cream (cloth diaper safe)

diaper pail

25-30 cloth wipes or terry cloth wash cloths

1-wet bag for travel

Disposable Diapering Essentials:

120 diapers

waterproof changing pad

1 tube of diaper cream

diaper pail/bags (diaper disposal)

large box of wipes (500-800 count)

9. Diaper Bag/Back Pack

Diaper bags are essential for traveling, but can double as a diaper caddy to make changing your baby upstairs, downstairs, or any room in your home easy.

10. Sun Shade for Car

Protecting your baby’s sensitive skin from sunburn is very important, especially since sun screen isn’t an option at this age. One way to do that is to put up a car window sun shade to keep those harmful UV rays out.

11. Pacifiers with Holder

If you are opting to use pacifiers straight away we suggest buying 2-3 different types of pacifiers. The hospital will provide one for your baby, but having backups is a very wise choice. Don’t forget to properly sanitize your baby’s pacifiers by boiling and cooling before use and grab a paci holder or two to keep it attached to baby and off the floor or other surfaces crawling with germs.

12. Bath Time Essentials:

1-infant tub/large dish pan (to bathe in sink)

2-4 soft infant wash cloths

1-2 soft hooded towels

1- gentle soap/wash

13. Brush

A super soft bristled brush is a must. It can be used to brush the fine hair on your baby’s head without hurting their sensitive scalp. It also helps to loosen the cradle cap that some babies experience.

14. Nail Clippers

Be sure to pick up clippers made for tiny newborn hands; some even have a magnifying glass on the end. Clipping your infant’s nails, like checking your baby’s temperature rectally is something many parents dread. No worries, you’ll be fine and so will baby!

15. Nightlight(s)

Gone for now are the nights of pitch black. You’ll need to see for night feeds, diaper changes, and maybe even pumping milk. Avoiding bright lights is a must, but complete darkness is not going to serve you well. There are all sorts of nightlights available including some motion activated ones. Buy one for each room you’ll frequent during the night.

16. Clothing

A word to the wise. Everyone adores teeny tiny baby clothes, they are so darn cute! For that reason I say wait to purchase those! You will of course come across a few of the most awesome baby digs imaginable and you’ll buy instead of adding them to your baby registry! Grab the 6-9 months or bigger, because more times than not people will gift you newborn or 3-6 months sizes. Also, consider what size the baby will be in the season your buying for!

When adding clothes to your baby registry you have no way of knowing if you’ll have a preemie baby, “newborn” size, or a newborn that is already into the 0-3 month’s size. Keep that in mind. Know your store’s exchange and refund policy and save those receipts! If you find yourself with new, unused baby things re-gifting is never a bad idea when we’re talking tiny humans who outgrow things rapidly.

Clothing Essentials:

6-8 pair of socks (they can double as scratch mittens)

2 newborn hats

8-10 onesis appropriate for temperature in the house and when going outside; short sleeve, long sleeve, or combination of both will do.

4-6 button shirts for baby while their umbilical cord heals

6-8 footed sleepers with zippers

3-6 gowns (gowns lift with no snapping or zippers required and make diaper changes simple)

4-6 pair of pants and a jacket depending on the weather.

4-6 “outing” outfits

If you live in an area where it gets brutally cold you will want to plan for that. Remember that once you put your baby into the car you will need to remove the thick winter wear in order for them to be buckled in safely. A hat, mittens, and a car seat cover/canopy or an extra blanket will do just fine.

Many people feel more comfortable pre-washing everything. Dreft and Tide Free and Clear are considered the washing soap of choice by many parents. With that said majority of babies do just fine if you wash their clothes in whatever you’re already using. My personal advice is to start with what you already use. Maybe add in an additional rinse and see how it goes.

17. Feeding Supplies

If you are breastfeeding there really isn’t much you need. Sure there are tons of fancy products out there for the breastfeeding mom, none are truly essential. I would say read and learn how to store and handle breastmilk and how to hand express for sure. It is one of the very best ways to remove milk from your breast.

Breastfeeding Essentials:

1-box of disposable nursing pads ( or 10-12 washable)

1-2 nursing bras

nursing pillow (The Boppy pillow is great, but bed or coach pillows will do)

6-8 bibs

If you’re breastfeeding this book is a pocket guide that I recommend to keep near you as you nurse your baby.

If you are expecting to pump right away for various reason one may need or want to you’ll want to invest in a good breast pump. My recommendation is a closed pump system like the Ameda or the Spectra. Breastmilk storage bags or containers will also be needed.

Bottle Feeding Essentials:

8-4oz. bottles

bottle brush

8-10 bibs

1-travel bottle warmer

1-home bottle warmer

1-thermal travel bag

1-travel formula dispenser (if you’re using formula)

1-can formula (if you’re using formula) Speak with your pediatrician to get recommendations on which formula may be best for your baby.

Know and follow the World Health Organization’s (W.H.O.) guidelines when mixing powdered formula. Powdered formula is not sterile and requires a specific preparation to avoid illness.

18. Swaddlers/Receiving Blankets

2-3 swaddlers & 6-8 receiving blankets or

8-10 receiving blankets

From birth until they begin trying to roll over, around 2-4 months swaddling your baby helps soothe them. Swaddling can be achieved using a swaddler or by using large, but thin receiving blankets. Receiving blankets also double as great burp cloths!

19. 1-2 Waterproof Mattress Pad(s)

A breathable, tight-fitting mattress pad is essential to keeping your mattress in great condition! You can buy these for full size cribs as well as the Pack n Play some are louder than others as baby moves.

20. 2-4 Fitted Crib/Pack n Play Sheets

Make sure your sheets are tight-fitting on your mattress for safer sleep!

21. 4-6 Prefold Cloth Diapers

They make excellent burp cloths and can be picked up relatively cheap. Another option is using the thinner receiving blankets as burp cloths.

22. Baby Tracker (that’s the name of the app) App

For those who love to chart, keep notes, or journal this is the app for you! If you need to keep records or just love to know what happened when it’s amazing. It also allows multiple people to track; mom, dad, and your postpartum & newborn doula! Oh and it happens to be free.

23. Baby Book/Websites/Resource List

There are some great books and websites to help you learn about your baby’s development, milestones, common concerns/aliments, and how to care for your newborn.

Creating a personalize resource list will first help you explore and learn about various options, and secondly it will be handy and available should you find your baby in a fussy mood or your breasts in a painful situation. To get you started we recommend The Baby Book, by Dr. Sears. if you are breastfeeding, and Jacksonville Pregnancy, and Parenting on Facebook.

We hope this blog has been helpful in discovering what you really need for your baby registry! Follow us to stay connected. Get your FREE shopping printable HERE, take it with you when you shop, create a baby registry, or to share with others. Here’s to a happy newborn and healthy fourth trimester!

The Beginner’s Guide to Parenting

The Beginner's Guide to Parenting | Jax FL Doulas

The Beginner’s Guide to Parenting

If you have or will be having children in the near future you’ve probably found yourself thinking, “I wish there was a how to for parenting”, or “I could sure use a manual right now”!  You’ll get a lot of advice along the way. Some well-meaning and very helpful, some unsolicited, some when you least expect it, and sometimes you’ll find yourself in complete shock about advice people give out. All will happen at some point, you can bank on it!

It possible you’ve searched “parenting” or “baby manual” and found this blog.

The Beginner’s Guide to Parenting includes 5 fundamental components:

1. There is no right or wrong way to parent your children only different ways.

Different strokes for different folks! As long as you are led with love and good intention in your heart and not fear or anger you are doing the best anyone can do with/for your child. As a childbirth educator I often hear, “I just want to make the right decisions for my baby.” Take a nice, slow, deep breath in and exhale and say, “I am enough.” Now believe that! No one loves your baby or is more capable of raising your child than Y-O-U! We are all winging it!

2. Parenting styles vary!

Sure, mom jeans are a “thing”, but we’re not talking about your wardrobe. We’re talking about your approach! As you hear others talk or your read about parenting styles know that your “style” will be what works for you, your spouse, and your baby! A style will take shape naturally [sigh of relief]. Parenting styles are usually discovered over time between you and your children. Often times we see ourselves parenting one way and even start out parenting that way. Then we end up adjusting our “style” as we go about our daily lives as parents. Each child may even require different parenting styles. After all they are different individuals with unique needs, just as you and your spouse. Think love languages.

You want to room in with your baby, great! You want to put your baby’s crib in the their own room straight away, great! Your family will have its own “fly” style that just works! Believe that!

3. Trust your instincts.

If you are like so many parents today you’re connected daily to the vast sea of information that is the internet. Trying to differentiating between interpretation and science and decide on what is “best” on topics like pregnancy, birth, and parenting can be overwhelming. My suggestion is to seek reliable sources that you connect with personally, be it a book, a pediatrician, or a friend. Be open to hearing new ideas and learning new ways of doing things. But, at the end of the day your instincts should always trump the information and advice when it comes to parenting!

4. You will make mistakes and that is more than okay.

Sometimes you will find yourself high-fiving your spouse and smiling over your parenting wins! Other times you’ll be reduced to tears, upset and even confusion. It will happen, don’t beat yourself up. Recognizing your own mistakes and learning from them only helps you be a better parent! As your children grow they will learn from you that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from ourselves. You can’t have wins without understanding loss! Every loss learned is a win!

5. Enjoy parenting your children. It is a gift some never experience.

Eighteen years can sound like a lot; some days seem much longer and harder than others. You will only have a baby for a year, a toddler for two, and a child for ten. Those are the years to create a strong foundation of love, acceptance, and whatever it is you value as a parent! After that you’re still and will always be a parent, but your role begins to shift slightly away from protector towards being a guide.

From joy to challenges, to tears of happy and sad, and every single possible emotion in between parenting is the ultimate rollercoaster ride! There are very few jobs in this World that are as important as parenting. What gifts do you want to hand down to our future scientist, parents, lawyers, bookkeepers, mechanics, doctors, teachers, doulas, writers, and pilots?

I hope The Beginner’s Guide to Parenting helped each of you feel less overwhelmed and more “ready” to step right into the role of parenting! Get your free The Beginner’s Guide to Parenting printable here.

Author~ Elizabeth Luke

Owner of First Coast Doulas, LLC



Delayed Cord Clamping Benefits; ACOG Recommendations

birth plan Jax FL | Placenta Jax FL |

Delayed Cord Clamping Benefits; ACOG Recommendations

Whether you want to use a birth plan or not you’ll want to know about these options. Most care providers aren’t going over these in prenatal visits routinely. It’s important to have an open discussion about your options. The benefits can last a minimum of six weeks for you and up to a year for you and for your baby.

That’s HUGE!

We rarely display photos of umbilical cords for the simple fact that not everyone wants to see them, we respect that! However, this blog warrants a visual that’s as amazing as the benefits this blog is about! A huge thank you to Kristyn Blocher of Doulas Northwest for granting us permission to use her original photo in our blog.

First thing to consider when preparing for birth is delayed cord clamping.

In this photo the umbilical cord on top is a great depiction of what a cord that is clamped immediately following the birth of the baby looks like. The cord is still full of nutrient-filled blood that carries oxygen from your placenta to your baby. Iron-rich blood.

The bottom cord in the photo depicts what a well-drained cord looks like. When delayed cord clamping is performed the latest ACOG results showed better establishment of red blood cell volume and less need for blood transfusions. It helps reduce the chances of brain hemorrhage. Delayed cord clamping also showed increased hemoglobin levels and it’s shown to improve iron stores for several months. It can help prevent iron deficiency during the first year of your baby’s life! It also showed some pretty cool benefits for the woman giving birth.

The second thing to consider when preparing for birth is your well-being, your healing and post-birth recovery.

After you birth you’ll be responsible for caring for your baby and you’ll want to feel the best you can. Focusing on your recovery is important, I can’t stress that enough. You can’t serve from an empty cup. Hopefully you’ll have the support of family, friends, and a doula. There really can never be too much of the right kind of support post-birth! There is something more, something wildly obvious that may help you along in those first few months post-birth.

Your placenta! Please, hear me out!

It is full of nutrients rich blood. It sustains life while your baby grows and plays a role in your hormones during pregnancy. After birth your placenta is either discarded as medical waste or you can opt to have your placenta made into a dried, powder supplement to help nourish you after birth. A simple capsule that may help boost your energy levels, replenish lost nutrients and hormones, boost your milk supply, and possibly help to ward off or decrease the incident of postpartum depression.

At minimum when handled safely it can’t hurt you, only help you! You can extend the possibilities of those benefits for up to about a year post-birth, just ask me how!

Possible benefits are only possible though when your health, the health of your family, and the health of every client your postpartum placenta specialist (PPS) works with is kept in the highest regards. First Coast Doulas never cuts corners with your safety!

When considering placenta encapsulation as an option here are the best ways to stay safe.

  1. Always select a PPS who is running a legal business (If you’re in NEFL or SEGA you can check First Coast Doulas and others here), it’s a sign that this is her career, not just a hobby service she is providing.
  2. Your PPS should be comfortable explaining their practices with you.
  3. Select a PPS who has trained, certified and who holds a current certificationfor placenta encapsulation, ask to see it!
  4. Price shouldn’t dictate every decision you make in your life it’s true, but placenta encapsulation is really not something to be looking for on the cheap.
  5. Lastly and as equally important as the others, make sure your PPS isn’t picking up and transporting your placenta. Yes, this means the PPS will come to you.

A “birth plan” isn’t for everyone, FC Doulas understands and respects that! We go over these options and many others in our Confident Birth & Parenting Class as well as the Prepared Parent Childbirth Class. The option is open for you to make a “birth plan” or just discover the options and move on.

cord clamping | Jax Placenta | Childbirth Classes

I like to look at a birth plan as being more about the journey rather than the destination.

It’s a learning opportunity for couples to discover new and exciting things together and a chance to work as a team. This will be the first of many opportunities for Team Parent!

Happy birth and parenting from First Coast Doulas!

Authored by~ Elizabeth Luke

Get answers to your most asked questions here!


Top Baby Names of 2016 and 2017

top baby names | Jax. Birth Classes | Placenta Encapsulation Jax

Top Baby Names of 2016 and 2017

If you or someone you know welcomed a baby in 2016 or are expecting in 2017 you should have fun reading and sharing this blog about top baby names. Care to make a prediction with us? Did your baby’s name make the lists? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

A lot goes into a name, especially when naming your own baby.

You want to find that balance. Something pronounced fairly easily, sounds audibly appealing, and will grow with your child. Something that embraces the future! No ex names surely. And, while kids can be mean and find a way to pick fun at any name you’re not trying to make it any easier for them either! Do you lean towards classical names or something more unique? Perhaps you have a family name that will be passed down or you would like to honor a lost loved one by naming your baby after them.

No matter how you reach your decision rest assured your baby will carry on a legacy. One that you began with a name and that is really saying something!

We have tracked down the top five baby boy and baby girl names of 2016. We also have a prediction for the top baby names for 2017. Does your baby’s name make the list? Were you considering any of these names? We want to hear from you!

In 2016 the top baby names for boys were:

  1. Jackson
  2. Aiden
  3. Lucas
  4. Liam
  5. Noah

In 2016 the top baby names for girls were:

  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Mia

The most popular boy name at First Coast Doulas for 2016 is Jackson or the variation of Jaxson! Aiden held a close second. Our most popular girl names for 2016 are Sophia and Sarah who tied for most popular!

Would you believe that according to census data, the name Mary was the most popular name for girls from 1900-1959! Incredible, 59 years. Just for fun First Coast Doulas predicts that in 2017 at least three of the following names will make the top baby names list: David, Kyle, Violet, James, Peyton or Payton, Cohen, Oscar, Nelson, Elizabeth, Zane, Carrie, and finally Cora

We skipped Mary since it seemed a tad predictable!


When and How Do We Stop

When and How Do We Stop Jax FL

When and How Do We Stop

“When and how do we stop __________?” This is a question we get asked all the time when working with families. 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 then move on to something new 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. Depending upon what it is you might benefit greatly from having a friend family member, or the support of a doula with you while you implement strategies.

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!

Happy birth and parenting! ~ Elizabeth

Pumping and Breastfeeding On The Fly

Jacksonville Pumping and Breastfeeding On The Fly
Mamava Suite Jax. FL Picture from

Pumping and Breastfeeding On The Fly

First Coast Doulas knows that pumping and breastfeeding on the fly are a necessity!

We support parents all over Jacksonville who need or choose to breastfeed and bottle feed, formula and breastmilk.

Florida law protects a mother’s right to breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Cover, no cover, it’s what the lactating woman herself feels comfortable with, no one else.

Pumping and breastfeeding on the fly just got a little cozier!

Traveling with a baby in tow is no easy feat. If you’re a breastfeeding or pumping mother you know it’s a little more challenging to be comfortable when out and about while lactating. Whether you are flying cross-country, planning a trip to the zoo, or just doing some shopping at the mall all moms deserve the right to be more comfortable while feeding or pumping milk for babies!

We have some good news for those of you flying into or out of Jax International Airport!

We are fortunate enough to have a  Mamava Suite located right here in Jacksonville. These suites are beautifully designed, totally breastfeeding and pumping friendly, and offer a quiet, private place for women to lactate, relax, and do their thing should they want another option.

Nursing during the newborn stage can sometimes feel awkward at first while mom and baby find their rhythm. Pumping can seem daunting with all the parts, pieces, and funny sounds the pump sometimes make. Let’s not forget there’s rarely an electrical outlet to plug up a pump. A woman’s body can have a difficult time with letdown if she feels unsafe or stressed out. This nursing, pumping, breastfeeding suite helps eliminate some of that stress. Older babies and toddler get easily distracted by things around them and may fight sleep or take twice as long to nurse when surrounded by stimuli. Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially a mom on a mission!

Anyone with an older toddler knows that when you’re feeding the baby the toddler makes every attempt to get away with all the things!

Bottom line, women deserve options for feeding babies and being more comfortable no matter where they are!

Complete with table, benches, plugs, and a locking door so your puppy-monkey-baby can’t escape, these suites are amazing! With 32 square foot of space the Mamava Suites are roomy enough for a stroller, luggage, and company. The Mamava Suite is first class all the way.

We have a long way to go in Jacksonville, and in the United States as a whole to make moms more comfortable breastfeeding and pumping breastmilk for babies, but this is an amazing start! These Mamava Suites are located in airports, zoos, arenas, hospitals, schools, malls, and a few other places. We desperately need better options especially in children’s hospitals like Nemours.

When I saw the Mamava Suite in Jacksonville my first thought was this isn’t about isolating breastfeeding moms or hiding what pumping looks like, it’s about families being supported in their choices for their family!

Way to go Mamava!

August is breastfeeding awareness month. Vote here for one lucky place to get a lactation suite of their very own. We voted for the Jacksonville Zoo, but you can vote for anywhere!