Last week, the CDC released a very sad report of a premature infant who developed sepsis and meningitis from milk contamination. Because we understand that this is a potentially scary and confusing topic, and you may have questions about this case and how it may impact your pumping routine, our IBCLC, Victoria Facelli, offers her insight on safe pump and bottle washing, today on the blog.Read More
We're still within the season when everyone is pulling out the luggage and getting ready for summer vacation. Some of you may also be planning for a trip for the first time with your newborn and... you're realizing that packing just got a lot more complicated.
Today, our in-house, traveling-with-kids expert and Postpartum Doula, Suzanne Lee shares her tips to help (and if you really need to pack that second bouncy seat):Read More
Having a baby, and being pregnant, during the summer in North Carolina is serious business. Okay, yes, during the earlier parts of the season, it’s all outdoor picnics, park playdates, and maybe, mocktails on the porch.
But during these later weeks of summer, y’all. It’s hot. It’s humid. In the afternoons, it's hard to want to leave the cool, dark, dens of our homes. And if you’re pregnant or have a newborn in your home AND you have older child, it’s hard to find things to do to that burn off extra energy and don’t burn you out.
So today, we’re sharing our list of favorite Bull City spots that are perfect for the Dog Days of Summer, and for families with young children who are also balancing life while pregnant or with a newborn.Read More
Happy (early) Father's Day!
The Emerald Doulas know this can be a tricky set of holidays for some families. Whether you are grieving a parent, have a complicated relationship with your own parents, or don’t "fit" into these parenting holidays, it can be a challenging season.
In hopes of breaking through some of that isolation, this seemed like a good time to talk about how we, at EmDo, gender support. We are delighted to offer spaces that fit all kind of families; those that have fathers in them, those that don’t, and those that are in the middle.
Are you a parenting beyond or between the pink and blue greeting card aisles?
We see you. We love you. We want you to be part of our community.Read More
Editor's Note: Today's post is a reflection from Emerald Doulas client and community member, Emily Gelblum, on the birth of her son, Arlo. Emily and Meghan were supported by doulas Kallyn Boerner and Ashley Collins throughout their pregnancy, and in birth, by Kallyn.
Our kid finally came to us after three years of discussion, one year of donor hunting, two years of IUIs, and one miscarriage. The night before I got the positive pregnancy test, I had a dream. It was set in our house. There were no dirty dishes. No dogs running around.
Just a little boy with brown hair standing by our coffee table, waiting calmly.
My estimated due date was December 22nd so on December 21st, I tried everything I thought might kick-start labor. I ate spicy food, used a little extra evening primrose oil, chugged red raspberry leaf tea, and walked down the street with one foot on the curb and one on the road.
Yes, it looked as odd as it sounds.
That night we went to dinner at our friend’s house. I told them that I’d dreamt about my water breaking in their dining room on their beautifully upholstered chairs. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but my contractions totally kicked off during dinner!
I texted both Ashley and Kallyn, our doula team, to let them know what was happening. Kallyn was the doula on call the next day, which I was excited about because she’s pretty much equal parts comfort and magic. After telling her that contractions had started, but that nothing felt urgent, I fell into bed and crashed.
At 1:30 a.m., a contraction woke me up. It felt different than the ones I’d felt before – it was much more intense. All I wanted was our bathtub. The water felt incredible but it wasn’t enough to keep my mind away from the panicky “oh crap” thoughts that, I’m assuming, most women have as they’re faced with birthing a small human. Meghan heard me crying around 2:00am and came in to check on me, contraction timer in hand.
In 30-minutes, my contractions jumped from 10-minutes apart to 4-minutes apart. Yowza! Meghan anxiously texted Kallyn as we officially exited our “making decisions” comfort zone. We had an hour ETA for the arrival of doula magic and a go-ahead from Carey, the midwife on call at Women’s Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, to come in whenever we felt like it was time.
While we waited, contractions began to feel like waves that took my breath away. During every contraction, I scrambled to all fours, took a ridiculously deep breath, and chanted “ohhhhhhhhhhhhh” as long as my breath would last. It was the most primitive thing I’ve ever experienced. In the middle of everything, I remembered my therapist telling me that pregnancy and birth are the ultimate acts of surrender.
So I surrendered.
My body took over completely and I did what it told me to do.
Timing was perfect. Kallyn showed up just as I’d gotten to our bed, post shower, post vomit, and post pajamas. I remember hearing her come into the house and up the stairs, then pause outside our bedroom door, allowing me to finish one of my “ohhhhhhs.” I learned later that, just from hearing my voice, she knew it was time to go to the birth center and encouraged Meghan to pack the car. She came into our bedroom, squeezed my hips, and rocked with me through the next contraction. I knew we probably could have gone to the birth center earlier, but mentally, I needed Kallyn to confirm that it was really time. It didn’t take her long to do so and she slowly helped me off the bed, into my warm socks, down the stairs, and into the car.
It was 4:00am and the only place I wanted to be was on all fours in a bath tub, but, unfortunately for us, we skimped and didn’t get the Prius with the passenger-side bathtub option. During the 20-minute car ride to the birth center, we narrowly avoided hitting a family of deer and Meghan’s arm became my seatbelt while I was on my knees facing backward, “ohhhhhing” and clutching the reclined passenger seat as if my life depended on it.
We pulled into the Birth Center lot at 4:20 am and Carey and Tianna (our nurse) had already arrived. We were the only family there, so while Kallyn helped me to the door, Meghan chose the room our son would be born into: our favorite – The Blue Room.
At intake, I was 5 cm, and headed straight into the tub. One of the things I love most about the Birth Center is how hands off they are. In our birth plan, I asked that there be as few people in our room as possible, so for the next 3ish hours, it was just me, Meghan, and Kallyn in the room, with standard heart rate checks every 30-minutes. I labored from 5 to 9.5 cm in the tub with Kallyn’s hands on my back and Meghan on water bottle duty and cheering me on.
With Carey’s guidance, I chose to get out of the water after a slight heart rate elevation was detected in our son. Transitioning to the bed at the exact time my body wanted to push was mentally rough for me. I’d told myself that the bed was the last place I wanted to give birth - that it was uncomfortable and unproductive. However, I also wanted to make a decision that was best for both of us. It wasn’t an emergency, but an elevated heart rate wasn’t good for anyone, so I reluctantly got out of the tub and set up shop in bed, anticipating that leaving the warm water would help his heart rate slow down (which it did).
At some point in the midst of this unwanted transition, I remember watching Kallyn open the blinds and let in the winter morning light. We all knew he was almost here and that this sunrise would be the one that saw him into his first day with us.
In the middle of all the intensity, it was a small and beautiful moment of peace.
After pushing for 45 minutes in various positions on the bed (and hating every second of it) Tianna suggested that we let gravity help and offered me the birth stool - a horseshoe like perch with handles that gave me an assisted squatting position. Sure enough, three ridiculously intense pushes later, I heard Carey say to me “reach down and pick up your baby.” At 8:13am, after roughly seven hours of labor, I caught our son.
Our totally and completely perfect little brown-haired boy.
Are you ready to share your baby's birth story, and how your doula made the difference? Email Ashley today to have your family's journey featured on our blog, and our newsletter.
Mother's Day is just around the corner, and for a lot of our clients, this will be their first as a family! If you're still looking for the perfect gift, we've got a few suggestions that are great for any special mama in your life! Plus, these gift ideas are from Bull City and woman-owned small businesses, which make them even more special.Read More
Labor and Delivery nurses are hands-down some of the hardest working, most caring people we interact with in our roles as doulas. Years from now, when clients recall their birth stories, sharing them to friends or family or perhaps, even to the child which you helped safely usher Earthside; I promise, these parents will remember you.Read More
It's International Day of the Midwife, and it's no secret that the Emerald Doulas are BIG fans of our area midwives. In fact, the Triangle region is home to a beautiful, diverse midwifery community; one which serves families birthing at home, or in hospitals and birth centers.
Doulas and midwives work together to support birthing families. In fact, Emerald Doulas have had the honor of working alongside of every hospital and birth center midwifery practice in the Triangle!
But how do doulas and midwives differ in our roles? Should you hire a doula if you are already under the care of a midwife?
We say, "YES! Absolutely."Read More
Editor's Note: Our final post this week, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, is from another member of our Emerald Doulas Parents Community. However, she's asked to remain anonoymous. As she says, "So much about infertility is about a complete lack of control. Deciding who knows and how much they know helps give me a sense of control in a situation that makes me feel so out of control." We will gladly honor her request, but are thankful for her words just the same.
I have been successfully pregnant twice. The first time, I conceived fairly quickly, and without intervention. The second viable pregnancy was conceived after cycle, after cycle of failure, doctors, treatments, and several early losses.
Once a viable pregnancy is achieved after infertility, a woman is dumped in the OB world. Having two completely different experiences entering to that obstetrics world, I naively expected my OB experience would be different too.
After all, I am different.
But it wasn’t. My concerns and needs, vastly different the second time, were treated identically to the first time I was pregnant.
They shouldn’t have been.
So, this is what I would recommend OB-GYN and Midwifery practices do when a women is pregnant after dealing with infertility:
Ask about her infertility journey
A woman who is pregnant immediately after beginning treatment is going to be a different patient than one who went through 5 failed IVF attempts before finally conceiving. A woman who had difficulty conceiving will be different than one who could get pregnant, but who repeatedly miscarried. Get to know her story, and where she was in the infertility process when she did conceive this pregnancy.
Ask how she is feeling about this pregnancy
Give her an opportunity to express her fears. After fighting for such a long time to become pregnant, it feels like you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Expressing concerns about miscarriage helps. It’s even better if you validate those concerns and address them.
Make sure she knows what her options are if something isn’t quite right.
All practices have an “emergency” line. But what is an “emergency?” And what do I do when what I am dealing with isn’t an emergency, but is causing me a great deal of concern? Should I call the nurse line? Make an appointment for the next day? There is plenty that is “normal” in pregnancy that has caused me to panic- light spotting, mild cramping, a day without morning sickness, etc. Giving a woman who has dealt with infertility security in knowing any concern will be dealt with goes a long way to easing this process for her.
When there is a moment in which a miscarriage may happen, please, please, don’t say the following:
“You are young and healthy, so if you lose this one, you have plenty of time.” So much about this. First, with a history of infertility, this pregnancy was not easy to achieve. Don’t make it sound like it will be easy to achieve again. Also, I am connected to THIS pregnancy. THIS child. And, “plenty of time” ignores my fertility issue, and my family planning goals which may involve child spacing or career planning.
Also, never say this:
“If you do have a miscarriage, there isn’t anything we can do anyway.” No. No. No. First, there is plenty you can do. You can provide information. You can provide support. You can provide options. Also, it will NEVER help to remind me that a miscarriage may be inevitable regardless of how hard I fought to conceive this child.
Provide a familiar face (and a consistent one) during office visits:
OB practices in this area are large, and it is common to rotate a woman through the different doctors or midwives, so she will get to know all of them to ensure she knows the person who ends up delivering her baby. While this makes sense, it is something that has caused a lot of anxiety after infertility. It would be best to see if it would be possible for someone to be a constant point of contact for a woman who has dealt with infertility- the same nurse each time, for example. A familiar face is very reassuring. I know it is hard to do this at a large practice where it is important to move patients through quickly. But it would provide so much support to women who need it.
Recognize a woman who has been through the infertility experience will have different worries, different fears, and different needs at every single point in her pregnancy. Infertility is surprisingly common considering the little it is talked about. OBs see women all the time who have been through infertility, which may skew their perspective some.
Every woman’s experience and reaction will be different, and she needs to be treated as an individual.
Editor's Note: We're continuing our focus on National Infertility Awareness Week, today with a guest post by Emerald Doulas Community Member, Mary Conrad. Mary kindly offered to share her experiences of being pregnant following infertility.
My son’s conception was anything but conventional.
The room in which he was conceived, a lab in New Jersey, was just about as sterile as it gets. Contaminants in our everyday air disrupts the growth of embryos, so air in the lab is filtered and replaced 30 times per hour. Just to give you an idea of how clean that is, air outside has over 35,000,000 particles per cubic meter. A typical embryology lab has around 1,000 particles per cubic meter.
Also unconventional, was the number of people in attendance while I was getting “knocked up.” There were five individuals; my husband was not one of them!
I watched the embryo transfer unfold on a large monitor on the wall: the embryologist sent the little embryo along his way with a puff of air pushing him through the catheter and into my uterus. He (our son) was just a microscopic speck; it was crazy.
Also crazy, and surreal, was the doctor performing the procedure. He was a devout Jew, kippah and all, blessing that Little Speck, over and over, throughout his journey from one end of the catheter to the other. Afterwards, instead of indulging in snuggles or falling fast asleep in the arms of my significant other, I got in my car and drove.
I drove home to North Carolina, which was a 10 hour drive, and just about the entire time, I wondered what that Little Speck was up to.
Well, that Little Speck decided to stick around and we were pregnant! But, worry set in immediately.
I tried to be "in the moment" and let the good news soak in, but I was obsessed with staying pregnant. And, the fact that I had weekly doctor appointments for bloodwork and an ultrasound didn’t help. For reference: Typically you only go to the doctor once or twice in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Checking on the status once a week was killer for my psyche. Each visit was a buildup of anxiety and as soon as we saw that the fetus was developing properly, my restless mind began worrying about the next week.
There were breaks in my worry and anxiety. There was the thrill of finally experiencing morning sickness. When we were trying to conceive, every month was the same waiting to see if my period would come. I was overly tuned into my body. So much so, that I was like a kid trying to move a Ouija board with their mind.
“Did I just feel nausea...omg, I’m nauseous! Oh wait, no, I’m not feeling it anymore...wait…”
It was relentless.
Also, it didn’t help that you can google just about any body part, along with a verb, and the phrase “pregnancy symptom”, and something will pop up. I swear, it gets weird.
Try “pinkie numb,” “eyes watering,” or “tongue bleeding,” - some pregnant lady has experienced and written about all of these! Anyway, when “morning” sickness set in, I began to feel joyful and started thinking for the first time maybe this could really happen.
The next few months were an emotional rollercoaster that I would not have survived had it not been for women around me who were also pregnant after infertility. Slowly but surely many of the women in our infertility support group became pregnant after years of trying. The joy I felt for these friends was just about as strong as the joy I felt for my own pregnancy.
I knew exactly how they felt. I had seen the same despair in their eyes that I had felt myself. I knew bits and pieces of their stories - frequent disappointments and the endless struggles. I also felt incredibly guilty for the women still struggling.
After our first doctor told us it was time to figure out another way to become parents, I thought that carrying a baby was out of the question. Going to New Jersey, to try a new clinic, was literally a last ditch effort. I wasn’t doing it because I thought it would lead to a pregnancy, but because I didn’t want to look back later in life and wonder “what if?”
I knew some of the women struggling felt that same level of despair. Like it was impossible.
I wished I could communicate to them that it was possible. The “1 in every 7 couples experience infertility” statistic haunted me. I knew my fat stomach was a potential trigger for many of the women with which I crossed paths. I wanted to wear a sign that explaining how it didn’t come easy for me.
I think there is a moment of realization in which pregnant women who've dealt with infertility have, that their pain doesn’t just disappear. We all have our stories of being surprised that our triggers are still in fact triggers. We try to rationalize the pain away, because after all, if not having a baby was the cause of our pain then the opposite of that should be true! That would be too easy.
At first I was very hard on myself for the difficulty I “allowed” infertility to cause me both pre- and post-baby. I criticized and judged myself for having such strong feelings and fears. I thought that I should have the strength to overcome the sadness and anger, and live my life basically as a robot.
But I’ve softened up some, and have learned to have some self-compassion. Having friends who have gone through the exact same thing has definitely helped. Sometimes it’s easier to have compassion for friends than for yourself.
I think that many times when we are cheering each other on, we are also cheering on ourselves.
We're continuing our focus, on National Infertility Awareness Week, today with a post from guest blogger Angie VanEpps. Angie shares her journey to parenthood, through utilizing the Creighton Method of family planning...Read More
Normal language has become booby trapped with emotional bombs.
For National Infertility Awareness Week, here’s a non-exhaustive list of “Just Do’s” I suggest you just don’t say to your loved one/co-worker/random stranger. (For a fuller version of this idea, visit Resolve’s wonderful resources for family and friends):
It’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). I lived infertility for more than five, heart-rending years but this is the first time I’m marking it publicly. While a handful of people bravely share their struggles in real time, I was like what I think the majority of us 15% of infertile couples are like.
Which is to say I felt isolated and cast out from the human condition...Read More
As a postpartum doula, I am frequently asked two questions somewhere in the first few weeks of working with our clients.
When we will finally get some sleep?
How do I know if I’m making enough milk?.
I'll completely leave Question 2 to our IBCLC and Infant Feeding Specialist, Victoria Facelli, to field during her consultations. However, sleep is something I talk about with all of our parents.Read More
Exclusively pumping? Going back to work? Handbag person who happens to be pumping? Yesterday, on our Facebook page, we had a blast unboxing the Sarah Wells Pumping Bag with amazing co-host and EmDo Mom, Nancy.
But, what's the ideal packing list for your pumping bag? Here is our master list, courtesy of IBCLC, Victoria Facelli.Read More
Is it just us, or does it seem possible that newborns never sleep and yet sleep all. the. time.? It’s so true! Today, those of you with a semi-permanent place on #TeamNoSleep may want to stick around and read on because, we’re reviewing one of our postpartum doulas’ absolute most favorite tools for helping babies and their parents get as much rest as possible.
Why are our postpartum doulas so in love with this Made-In-NC machine? Here are our top reasons...Read More
Typically, even before a new baby arrives, your closest friends and family have started the conversations on when they’d like to visit following birth, and how long they’d like to stay. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of planning for all those visitors and before long, you’ve got a calendar of postpartum “helpful help” all planned out… in your mind.
And maybe, your partner is also talking to their family and friends during this same time, making plans for their own visits.
So that's why we’re offering a tool we encourage all pregnant people to utilize before a baby is born, to plan out your postpartum help (and, to give you the chance write it down while the plans are being made).Read More
If you’re newly pregnant, or expecting a baby to join your family soon, you may be considering hiring a birth doula. Maybe you’re wondering if you’re even the kind of family who hires a doula to begin with.
So, who hires a birth doula? We have some thoughts...Read More
In those early days, the little, house chores tasks can grind. you. down. and take precious moments away from bonding with your newborn. Those same "small" tasks quickly snowball into a TON of housework, when you've got more important things to focus on (like your own recovery, or learning to breastfeed, or getting to know your new baby).
Why not take advantage of all those postpartum visitors, stopping by with a meal or to see the baby, asking "Can I do anything to help?"!
Today, we've got a FREE PRINTABLE, full of 5-Minute Task ideas to help put those postpartum visits to good use!Read More
Sometimes babies need a little encouragement to come Earthside. Whether that’s because they’ve overstayed their welcome (Hello, 42 weekers), or because medically, your baby is safer on the outside than in, or because it’s your choice; inductions are often a reality of the birth world.
If you’re facing an induction soon, here are Five Things you should consider doing to make the experience a little less stressful...Read More