Esther Wilsi attended the CAPPA Labour Doula training program in November, 2018 with our Full Circle Doula and Instructor, Sonya Duffee. She shares her personal experience of travelling to West Africa to volunteer at the local hospital maternity ward.
Google image: The maternity hospital in Sassandra, West Africa
My husband is working in Sassandra on the Ivory Coast of West Africa.
I decided to go visit him. I, fortunately took the CAPPA Labour Doula course with Sonya prior to leaving. Once I arrived in Sassandra, I went to the Hospital General De Sassandra (HGS) and asked for one month work experience as a doula in training.
Doulas roles are not known in Ivory Coast, at least not in Sassandra.
I was granted permission to help in the delivery room and to follow the midwives directions.
Esther ( far right) at Doula Training
It was hard for the midwives to grasp the idea of the role of a doula. “So you just want to spend time with the mother to be, give her relaxing massage, talk to her and hold her hands? “
Let, first of all introduce you to the delivery room.
It’s a big room divided in 3 5 feet section. There is 2 bathrooms (toilet). One is to be used by the mother to be or pregnant women and the other one has a sink where there is a basin with a bleach solution, a big garbage bin with a bleach solution where the basins used for birthing are disinfected; there is a smaller garbage bin where all placentas are put before being buried by the hospital staff.
There is only one person allowed in the birthing room, the mother to be. No other family members is allowed in, and men are strictly forbidden.
There is only one position allowed during labour, on the left side of the body facing a white tiled wall. This position is to be kept regardless of the length of the labour.
After giving birth, the mother is kept in the room for 15 to 20 minutes in order to verify that there is not unusual bleeding; if not, she is cleaned with wet rags, a traditional pads is installed, she dresses up and is moved to the pre / after birth room.
The pre / after room is a bigger room with 10 beds, 2 big doors and 2 windows. It gets quiet hot in that room by lack of fan.
Upon arrival to the delivery room, all pregnant women are given IV, regardless of how dilated they are or not.
The hospital area outside. Image Google
On busy days, if they are not enough dilated, they are sent back in the pre /after birth room until the midwife decide that they are dilated enough to be moved to the delivery room.
There are 2 birthing options given: a vaginal delivery or C-Section. Most women choose the vaginal option.
Only one woman asked for a C section when she could no longer stand the pain. She made us swear to not tell to her family that it was her choice, but instead that it was the doctor recommendation. In this culture, a woman is considered strong only when she can give birth naturally through her vagina.
My first impression was the lack of materials.
Many days, there were no gloves available in the delivery room or needle with thread to suture a woman who had an episiotomy.
Upon arrival, the midwife gives a prescription for a birth kit. The mother to be family go to the hospital pharmacy and get a free birth kit. The birth kit has 10 pairs of gloves, needle and thread, umbilical cord clamp, cotton gauge… 10 pairs of gloves are quickly used; between doing the HVI test, installing IV, taking blood sample, checking for dilation…The family need to purchase more gloves and cotton gauge. In general, there were 2 midwives, 2 LPN, 1 hygienist and 2 trainees (cleaning the room and materials used) on duty at time. The whole hospital had one gynaecologist and another doctor who was training to become one.
The gynaecologist performs the C-Section, cleaning of the uterus (after and abortion made outside of the hospital or miscarriage) and sees pregnant women or women who want to become pregnant.
After a week observing and not interfering with their practice, I was treated less like a foreigner. They still kept calling me “The Canadian girl” and no one knew my name.
When they started looking at me differently, I dared asking for some favours. Some got given to me with a “the Canadian girl you do what you want” and some other time with “we don’t do this here”. Regardless of the answer, I will thank the midwife.
Not only did they no longer interfered when I was by a mother side by making unpleasant comments, but they would even sometimes call me when a pregnant woman was hard to deal with, mostly because she was in great amount of pain and didn’t know how to cope with it.
I was able to attend to 14 pregnant women and observe the change in the way they were coping with pain when they had me by their side.
Some women came in almost fully dilated, at that moment, it became almost impossible for them to grasp anything I was telling them.
There is a huge lack of information.
Most women had no understanding of what a contraction was and the contraction phases. Most women didn’t know how to push in order to expel the fetus. Women would come in and complain of stomach ache and low back pain and be sure that the pain would never end and that the baby would kill them. I noticed it even in mothers who gave birth before.
Typical procedures, I noticed:
Episiotomies, if the pushing phase went longer than ten minutes, an episiotomy was performed. Once the baby out, the umbilical cord is cut right away and the baby is taken away and cleaned.
Fundal Massage, the midwife massages the uterus and the placenta is either expelled or pulled out.
Baby removed from mother, After birth the baby is wrapped up and placed in a heated incubator. No one informs the mother the sex of their baby or if baby is healthy or not. No one lets the family members know if all went well, while they are waiting outside.
I made sure to congratulate the mother on her new born, tell her about the baby sex and the weight. I would go out of the room and let the family members know that all went well and announce the baby sex and weight to them. After the mother was moved to the pre / post natal room, I would assist with breastfeeding.
Here are few examples or changes that took place when I was there.
3rd pregnancy, 2nd one, delivered at 8 months passed away shortly after birth
She came in just for a check-up, she was in her 8th months along. After being checked the midwife, they decided to keep her, she was dilated. The amniotic pouch could be seen at the entrance of the vagina. The mother was really scared; scared that she would lose this one too.
She kept telling me how her last born died because she was not full term and that the same was happening with this pregnancy also. I stayed by her side and reassured her that at 8 months the fetus can live on its own. At one point, I wanted to leave for a minute to check on a pregnant lady who just came to the next cubicle; she held my arms and asked me not to leave her alone. I stayed.
She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The pushing phase was quick, she didn’t even made a sound. I was by her side during the whole delivery and she did squeeze my hand pretty well. As soon as her daughter came out and the umbilical cord cut, I asked the midwife if I could put the baby on the mother breast. I was allowed to do so. The placenta came out pretty quick. When I removed her from her mum breast, she started crying, but by then I was not allowed to put her back on the mother breast.
It was great, I had more time to teach her breathing technique and do some hypnosis on her, mostly by telling her to focus on an object or just to look at me when the pain became unbearable. I taught her also how to push effectively. During the active labour, I could see her panicking, I would then look only at her and ask her to look at me, in the eyes, even though the culture here teaches us that it is rude to do so. She would and I would tell her how strong she was and that she can do it. She would then go back to her breathing. When the time came to push, baby was born in two pushes and without an episiotomy.
A young girl.. While coaching her, she kept looking at me, which meant turning on her back . All women were instructed to stay on their left side when in labour. The midwives were not happy about her not following this rule. I finally found out that she was deaf and good at lips reading. It was challenging, between having her stay on her left side and trying to pass the message through.
In order to make the delivery happen faster, the midwife placed a pill in her vagina. She was a strong young girl. In no time, quietly she pushed and the baby was out.
This one was the most challenging birth I have been part of.
A young married girl, 17 years old. It was her first pregnancy. She was circumcised, so the opening to her vagina was reduced. She couldn’t cope with any amount of pain. At each contraction, she would start crying, having big tears roll down her cheeks. I could not move an inch or leave her hand. She would just move into panic. It was really difficult. At times, I felt that she didn't understood French. I felt like she could not hear anything I was saying. I asked the midwife if the mother or auntie could be allowed in the room to translate to her what I was saying. Surprised, they allowed both.
After the visit, she was a bit more calm. She would move in the position she felt comfortable, and the midwife would not be happy. I would then ask her to be on her left side so I could massage her back; she would comply, but as soon as I would stop she would turn to another position.
During the pushing phase, she pushed hard and the baby head was at the entrance of her vagina. She refused to push because it hurt anytime she would. Then the midwife decided to perform an episiotomy.
She started kicking and screaming, asking the midwife not to cut her and that she could push. She would try again and again, but nothing would happen. Her mother was allowed again in the room, but instead of encouraging her daughter, she started yelling at her, so she was asked to leave. It was challenging, because everyone else was telling her how her baby was suffocating and would die because of her fault.
I would turn her head to me, look at her and asked her if she can push more. She started getting tired. By talking to her and explaining the reason of having an episiotomy, it was performed (according to the nurse), she calmed down a bit and was cut. She pushed hard and the baby head moved down to the vagina. The pain, “Burning sensation” made her jump and she almost sat on the baby head, the midwife reacted quickly.
Soon the baby was out and I saw her relieved from the pain.
When asked her mother how they are planning to call the new born, she said, “Do not cut me”, making fun of her daughter.
Most women would come to the hospital complaining of stomach ache, not understanding that they were having contractions.
Most women did not believe me when I told them that as soon as the baby is out, the contraction will stop.
Most women were afraid to even hold their baby once s-he was born.
One mother asked me to remove the baby from her breast; she was feeling too much pain while being sawn after an episiotomy.
When spending at least 2 hours coaching the mother to be:
A doula really does impact the delivery time and process.
Doula, Esther Wilsi with a new baby.
Recently, my husband, who is still on Ivory Coast, told me that the neighbour who owes a store said I was liked by everyone. That not matter what was going on, I made the women feel good and forget about all their worries. I am grateful I was able to make a small impact in the women of Sassandra who delivered in that hospital while I was there for a month. I would love to go back and spend a month or two volunteering in the hospital again.
"Sakina, ( an Arabic word) meaning at its root, being in an inner state of tranquility or an undisturbed feeling of being peaceful, despite the outer world". Located in Grand Prairie, Alberta, these natural skincare products are 100% toxin-free, organically made in small batches, specifically for new mamas throughout pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.
We were thrilled to have one of our collective members, McKenna Kirby test the beautifully handcrafted assortment during her pregnancy and in the postpartum period. You can sense the care and attentiveness in the development of these products, each holds a luxurious scent and are delicate in the skin.
3 Trimesters Belly Butter
A super moisturizing and absorbent butter for dry, itchy pregnant bellies, or anywhere else that needs some extra love. Formulated with shea, cocoa and mango butters, plus rosehip and argan oils to improve skin elasticity.
Sakina Birth 3 Trimesters Belly Butter comes conveniently in stick form, making it extremely easy to apply to your belly without getting it on your hands. The smell is sweet and floral, but like other Sakina Birth products I have tried, manages to not overwhelm your senses. The butter glides on easily and immediately helps soothe the itchiness that can come with pregnancy and stretching skin.
3 Trimesters Belly Serum
A super treat for tight, itchy pregnant bellies in any trimester! Specifically formulated with rosehip, raspberry seed, evening primrose and argan oils to improve skin elasticity, moisture and help refuce the appearance of dark spots.
Available in a small and easily portable glass container, this belly serum conveniently comes with a built-in drop dispenser. The smell is earthy and slightly floral, but not overwhelming, a nice change in comparison to your usual run-of-the-mill belly oil, which sometimes feels overly perfumed. Sakina Birth 3 Trimesters Belly Serum left my generally dry and itchy third trimester pregnant belly feeling moisturized and soothed, without making my skin or hands itchy or oily. My main concern when finding the perfect belly oil is finding an oil that will apply nicely to my skin without leaving oil stains on my clothing or an uncomfortable sheen across my hands, and this belly serum sure delivered. I am not over exaggerating when I say that this serum has easily surpassed any others I have tried to quickly become my favourite.
You could use each product or combine both Sakina Birth 3 Trimesters Belly Butter and Belly Serum into the ultimate pregnancy belly skin care routine. I personally prefer to use the lighter belly butter in the mornings and apply the heavier and more concentrated serum before bed as an extra boost of moisture and relief.
An emollient and extremely moisturizing oil formulated with apricot, kernel and camellia oil for dry, sensitive and mature skin. Use as a massage oil or as an after-bath moisturizer.
Sakina Massage Oil is made from a variety of luxurious oils (and made a great excuse for a lengthly massage from my husband!). The oil warms quickly and easily in the hands and feels great during a massage. My skin was left feeling moisturized and soft, and didn't feel greasy or oily, which as mentioned above are huge plusses for me when it comes to oil products. Overall, I was really pleased with the Sakina Massage Oil and it's results. My skin felt great and the massage was smooth and relaxing.
4th Trimester Perineal Spray
A soothing spray to help heal sensitive perineal tissue and ease the discomfort and post-birth swelling, bruising, tearing and haemorrhoids.
Sakina 4th Trimester Perineal Spray provided much needed soothing and cooling relief during my postpartum period. I kept the spray in my bathroom where it could be easily accessible, a staple in my postpartum recovery basket. The perineal spray was the perfect solution to some of the pains many women (myself included) experience following the birth of their baby. I highly recommend picking some up for your own postpartum recovery bin.
Baby Bum Spray
A great alternative for eco-conscious parents who want to avoid conventional baby wipes. Specifically formulated to combat diaper rash and irritation, while adding moisture back into sensitive skin. Cloth diaper safe.
Using a bum "spray" was something unfamiliar to both my husband and I, but I must say, after a few weeks of use, I'm impressed! Sakina Baby Bum Spray made cleaning newborn meconium much easier than the use of conventional wipes, helping it glide off instead of sticking as thoroughly as it generally does.. If I cloth diapered, I think I'd use this in place of generic baby wipes for sure.
Baby Bum Balm
A healing and soothing petroleum-free alternative for daily diaper changes, specifically formulated with organic calendula, chickweed, chamomille and myrrh to combat diaper rash and other skin irritations. Cloth diaper safe.
Sakina Baby Bum Balm was absolutely lovely. My eldest child has always been prone to diaper rash, and it seems my youngest is no exception. After the first crop of redness appeared, we started applying the baby bum balm quite liberally at most diaper changes, but especially after poops, and it has made quite the difference! The bum balm is easy to apply with your hands and makes a great barrier between the skin and diaper.
4th Trimester Nipple Balm
A healing balm for nursing mamas to help combat soreness, dryness and the minor cracks & discomforts that sometimes accompany breastfeeding and pumping.
4th Trimester Nipple Balm is very soothing and healing on your (possibly sore) postpartum nipples. I found the balm non-greasy and felt it soaked into the skill well, providing moisturizing relief. I particularly like to use this balm while pumping, as I am one of those people who needs to lubricate prior to pumping or else it is not a pleasant experience. A good pumping lubricant is something that not a lot of people consider for their postpartum period, and I do recommend you give the Sakina Nipple Balm a try.
Overall, I was extremely impressed and happy with all of the products sent to us by Sakina to test. I can honestly say there wasn't a single product that I wasn't pleased with. I highly recommend this brand, especially if you enjoy supporting local and natural-minded businesses. In particular, the 3 Trimester Belly Serum is by far one of the best pregnancy oriented belly oils that I have encountered so far.
Full Circle Birth Collective received these products free of charge from Sakina in exchange for a honest review. This is not a paid promotion.
For those of you who know me, you’ll know how much I talk about “rainbow pregnancy”,which is a pregnancy following the loss of a previous pregnancy or child. I have both personal and professional experience with these unique situations and they are both challenging and beautiful at the same time. In one aspect, going through a pregnancy after a loss can really highlight fears and anxieties you have around birth and around your body’s capability of birthing a healthy baby. However on the other hand, there is no more sacred and loving experience then when a new parent finally holds their rainbow baby in their arms - that feeling brings a wave of light over a darker time in their lives. Needless to say, rainbow pregnancy and birth are more complex then an average pregnancy and birth. As a loss mom with two live rainbows, and a birth doula, I want to share with you 3 tips to help get you through a rainbow pregnancy and help prepare you for an empowering birth experience
1. Be Present
After finding out about my second pregnancy (after my first loss), I visited my usual clinic to do some various routine tests and I saw this lovely nurse who will always stand out to my in my memory. She said something to me that carried me through all four of my pregnancies and this piece of advice is one I share with everyone I know who’s just found out they are pregnant after having a previous loss. This advice was to live in the moment, every moment that you are pregnant.
Try not to think about what happened in the past as what’s done is done and nothing you can do now will change that.
On the contrary, don’t obsess over the future as every embryo is different in lifespan. Some babies are meant to be birthed at term, some post and some preterm, and some are only meant to live to 6 weeks, 7 weeks, etc. You can’t ever know how long that baby that is in utero is meant to last, so don’t attempt to predict what the future will hold. Focus on just the present - soak in every pregnancy symptom, every milestone big or small, and never EVER feel bad for fully enjoying your pregnancy even if it doesn’t end the way you’d like it to. Trust me, once I heard this and began to put it into practice, it helped me not to fully get over the children I lost (because you truly never will, and that’s ok) but to process what happened to each of my babies and come to a point of understanding and acceptance
Tip. 2. Connect With Baby In Utero
Whether this is the first baby you’re expecting or your fifth, every single life you create means something. Don’t forget to honour each of those lives and hold space for them for as long as they are with you. Take some time to be alone, away from other family or friends, and allow your consciousness to speak to your unborn baby. Tell them you love them and will always love them no matter how long they stay with you.
Hold them close to your heart (emotionally) and get to know their true spirit. Embracing your time with your baby will make that time really count.
I personally found that while this didn’t take away the pain of losing a baby, this definitely made me cherish the weeks and months I had with the ones I lost. Many of us feel like we “wasted” our joy and compassionate love when we grew attached to babies we went on to lose. But if you reframe your thinking this way and honour the time they spent with you. The grieving process will be a bit more smooth and you can truly say that the short amount of time was spent with complete love.
3. Arm Yourself With Support
Pregnancy after loss almost has an unspoken “club” (and those of you who have had losses know what I’m talking about). Members of this club usually know how to navigate your heart during a rainbow pregnancy but many do not belong to this club and can be triggering in many ways (usually unintentionally, but still triggering nonetheless). Whether people say something insensitive or just simply “fall pregnant” without complication causing you a feeling of resentment, you need people around you to talk to (or vent, not all days are good days) that actually get it. There’s also that hit that a loss survivor takes to their overall confidence and trust in their body. We feel as though our body didn’t do something right or it failed us somehow, and when you’re on this level of thinking then how could your body give you an empowering pregnancy and birth experience if it didn’t do it properly the first time?
This is such a tough thing, because you NEED to trust your body and trust the process. Nothing that you did, intentionally or not, caused you to lose that baby, believe that because it is true
Better yet, have someone around to believe that for you on days when you don’t. So my best suggestion for that all-encompassing support is a doula, and particularly a doula with experience in loss and supporting loss. Hire a doula as early on as you need to instil confidence back into your mind at any stage of pregnancy. We will be there for you to call or text when you’re having a rough day, but more importantly we will be there for you when you go into labour and your moment of “I can’t do this” is enhanced by the previous trauma of pregnancy loss. A doula will remind you how capable you are of birthing this baby, just like each and every other woman with no previous trauma. We will hold your hand and lift you up so that you feel like the powerful goddess you are, and we won’t let you fall into a dark place during one of the most powerful times of your life.
Are you a loss parent?
I’d love to hear any other tips you have for moms to get through a pregnancy after loss. Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below
Have you ever googled “mommy tummy”? It’s unbelievable what comes up when you type in those two magic (awful) words.
“How to tone a mushy mommy tummy”
“Fixing mommy tummy without surgery”
“Flattening the mommy tummy with 1 exercise”
“5 steps to get rid of your mommy tummy”
See the trend?
When did having a tummy after kids, become synonymous with needing fixing? Or needing 8,246,304 way to make it better, lose it and get rid of any sign that we created life and were blessed with the most important title and role EVER? Mommy.
Do our kids think less of us because we don’t have a six pack? No.
Does having a tummy impact our ability to be a wonderful wife, partner, friend, sister, co-worker, anything? No.
Will we look back when we are old and grey and think “wow, I wish I had less of a mommy tummy. I could have done so much better.” Hell no.
When I made the (bad) decision to look up the definition of Mommy Tummy, here is what Urban Dictionary gives us (I hope you’re ready for it)
When I made the (bad) decision to look up the definition of Mommy Tummy, here is what Urban Dictionary gives us (I hope you’re ready for it)
The stomach a future mom gets when she's pregnant. Usually used when trying to decide if a woman is pregnant or not.
1. James: Hey Bill, Did You See Cathy?
Bill: Yeah She Got Big Didn't She?
James: Naw I Think That's A Mummy Tummy
2. "Excuse me, are you fat or is that just a mummy tummy?"
I warned you.
Regardless of where you look, what you read or who you ask, mommy tummy is seen as a BAD thing. It should be avoided, eliminated and feared. Societal expectations are that a woman, regardless of the fact she’s a child or multiple children, REQUIRES a flat, tight, toned midsection. It’s also a great way for fitness pros to trick moms with false promises that prey on insecurities. So.Wrong.
Here are some typical belly goings on during & after pregnancy:
No matter what our bellies look like on the outside, can we just marvel for a moment about what actually occurred on the inside?
WE GREW A HUMAN. We created life. We made magic happen.
And THAT should be the real definition of a mommy tummy. Without our mommy tummy, we would not BE mommies! Sure it’s tough being a mom sometimes, but would you give it all up for a six pack? Of course not! (Although certain days it may be tempting!)
I’m certainly not going to tell you that you can’t train for or desire a flatter stomach or smaller waistline. But let’s steer the conversation in a different direction and talk real, educated talk about what is going on with our bellies after babies.
Diastasis is a hot topic right now with a lot of poor information and advice being given.
It’s a completely normal piece of pregnancy and postpartum, and should not be feared. Instead, I want to empower you with a few knowledge bits that can help you manage your diastasis during and after pregnancy.
There is much to consider and learn about diastasis during pregnancy and postpartum, and by enlisting the support of a Womens health PT or an (educated) postnatal coach, you will see that mommy tummy is nothing to be afraid of. And the power is in your hands to not only change the aesthetics you want, but to improve your overall bodily function at the same time. And that’s what I call, #winnerwinnerchickendinner ;)
Till next time xo
For those of us who have had babies past our EDD, the struggle of waiting for our baby was REAL. I know all too well what it’s like to have a baby past the estimated due date, both of mine were over by a week or more and boy it was hard! People make comments like “you STILL haven’t had your baby yet?” and the days seem to drag on and on after that much-anticipated date. I’m with ya ladies, but today I want to talk about why going past your “guess date” (as us doulas in Edmonton like to call it), though annoying, does have it’s benefits.
Where does your estimated due date come from?
Our estimated due date, or EDD as it is referred to by many Edmonton doulas, is measured a couple of different ways. The most common way is by determining the date of your last menstrual period (LMP in cyber lingo) and counting exactly 40 weeks from this date. Technically that makes you two weeks pregnant even before you conceive… weird hey? Well because it’s virtually impossible to know exactly when a female ovulates without being closely monitored by a health professional, it’s easier to just measure the length of a pregnancy by their first day of their last period. However, there is tons of room for error in this method as women are all unique when it comes to cycle length and time of ovulation. This basically assumes that all women have identical cycles every month!
The other method of measuring your EDD, which has a bit more accuracy, is an early ultrasound in your first trimester. The ultrasound tech will measure the baby in a variety of different areas and base their age on an average of other babies at this stage. The problem with this? Humans are all different, especially in their rate of growth. A baby may be the size of an 8 week old fetus, but is actually 10 weeks old and just hasn’t hit a common growth spurt yet. Once again, not a very accurate measure of the age of a baby.
So you now can see why us doulas in Edmonton call your EDD a “guess date”. Aside from the level of accuracy of these tests, how do we know that humans gestate for exactly 40 weeks? There have actually been studies that show that 40 weeks and 5 days is a more accurate measure of gestation, but all women and babies are different.
What does your estimated due date actually do?
So if this date is such a crap shoot, why even bother with one?
Well, it is important to know approximately how old your baby is for various reasons. The first is to ensure that baby is growing and developing at a normal or average rate. Knowing how old a fetus is at the 20 week anatomy ultrasound will determine if the baby’s various parts are in a normal size range for their age.
While not all babies grow at the same rate, there shouldn't be too much difference between what one 20-week baby looks like to the other. Another reason to know the EDD is for viability purposes. If you were to come down with an illness in which it would compromise you or the baby’s health to stay pregnant, such as preeclampsia, your health care provider will want to weigh the risks of inducing or performing a cesarean at the age they are at vs. letting the baby gestate a bit longer. Generally speaking there is an age where a baby is more likely to survive outside the womb, but the longer baby an stay in utero the better (for the most part).
What happens if you go over… like, way over?
A common misconception that is out there and one that I’ve fallen for is that in a normal, low-risk pregnancy, a baby cannot stay in utero past 41 weeks. Or even worse, people really do believe that their baby does not know when they are to be born safely. If you look at the evidence-based research and information out there, this is just not true! First of all, since we haven’t determined exactly how old your baby is or how long he/she needs to gestate for, what sense would it make to cut baby off at what we think is 41 weeks? When I ask people this question, many reply with “but I can just get induced and it will be fine”. Yes this may be true for many, but inductions do carry many risks to both mom and baby. It has also been suggested with many studies that your baby is the person who decides when you will go into labour. Your baby is the one that triggers the specific hormone releases days, hours and even minutes before they are born.
Disrupting this physiological process has consequences and has been shown to increase a woman’s chance of postpartum haemorrhage, breastfeeding issues and postpartum mood disorders. It’s important to not panic when baby has not come on their guess date, as your baby knows when they are ready for life outside the womb. There are obviously cases where baby coming out before this date is best for the health and safety of you both, but for the most part it’s an instinctive response that baby should make on their own.
Is your desire to have an empowering birth experience?
How I used it
Living in an older house and with the increasingly warm summer heat. My husband and I found ourselves no longer able to sleep in our upstairs bedroom. Our in-room thermometer showed temperatures to be averaging between 27-29 degrees during the evenings, and as new parents we were constantly anxious about the possibility of overheating. Luckily for us we had access to a basement bedroom. However, due to the size of that bedroom, we were unable to bring our bassinet into the room with us. This left us with little options-either leave our daughter in her crib in the room beside us, alone, something we were not comfortable with, or have our daughter in our bed.
What is a DockAToT?
For those who are unfamiliar, the DockATot is a “multi-functional lounging, playing, chilling, resting and snuggling dock you can take anywhere.” Created in Sweden there is “simply nothing else like it on the market that allows mothers to feed, soothe and bond with baby.” The DockATot comes in two different sizes. The DockATot Deluxe (for ages 0-9 months) and the DockATot Grand (for ages 9-36 months.)
The DockATot website claims the device is perfect for numerous activities, such as lounging, tummy time, bonding, bed transitioning, playing, cuddling, resting, changing, and for use around the house.
I am a person who cannot sleep without a blanket and multitude of pillows, and after a few nights of sleeping with my daughter on my chest. We decided to, on the recommendation of a friend, transition her to sleeping in our bed, inside of the DockATot.
That being said, we were fully educated and aware of the sleep safe recommendations, and understood that technically the DockATot does not meet safe sleep recommendations as recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).
We encourage anyone who considers letting their child sleep unsupervised in the DockATot to do their research and to make their own independent decision into the best sleep situation for their family.
The Co-sleeping Controversy
The DockATot is lightweight and is easy to bring with you from place to place. I often use the DockATot for supervised naps when I need to be places other than my bedroom. If I am upstairs working at my computer, my daughter and the DockATot come with me. This allows for my daughter to be nearby at all times, even during naps and makes it easy to soothe her during wake-ups.. I find the portability of the DockATot extremely convenient, and plan to bring it with me even for long trips and camping. (Check back in September for my blog post on camping with your baby, in which I will be featuring the DockATot again!)
My daughter slept better in the DockATot than anywhere else. She cannot roll over in it, and the DockATot along with a swaddle, help reduce her moro reflex and reduce nighttime wake-ups. Our first night in the DockATot, my daughter slept six hours straight. This continued until her six week growth spurt and sleep regression, in which she is still getting three hour chunks of sleep. I sleep more soundly knowing that my daughter is beside me, but not directly in my bed.
What I Don’t Love about it
The DockATot comes with a removable cover that can be easily washed and dried when exposed to the inevitable newborn messes of breastmilk, spit up and other bodily excretions. However, the DockATot cover is extremely difficult to replace once washed. I found putting the cover back on my DockATot a two man and two hour job. Something that is even more difficult to do, when you are also trying to take care of a baby.
The DockATot makers recommend the DockATot for use as a changing station. However, at the cost and with how difficult putting a newly washed DockATot cover is. I would never use it to change my baby in. Anyone who has changed a newborn (or any baby for that matter) knows that they love to pee and poo the minute their diaper has been removed, and regardless of whether you have replaced that diaper with a new one. As well, many of the DockATot cover patterns are white, or have white designs in them. Have you ever washed newborn poop out of white fabric? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
Co-sleeping is not recommended by the Health Canada or by Alberta Health. Both organizations recommend a flat, firm surface, with no pillows or blankets, and not within an adult bed.
**Disclaimer: Be please aware that we are not promoting any specific sleep situation. I am only detailing my own personal experiences and the things that worked best for our family.
For educational purposes on why some people choose co sleeping and bed sharing, our doula team recommends:
Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears
The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin
Sweet Sleep by Theresa Pitman
Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping
by Dr. James McKenna
Three in a bed by Deborah Jackson
Further educational resources
Safe Sleep Resources from Platypus Media
Where Babies Sleep from the ISIS Infant Sleep Information Source
Guidelines to Sleeping Safe with Infants by James J. McKenna, Ph.D.
Safe Sleep 7: Is it safe to bedshare? is a free handout for parents, produced by La Leche League International
Infant Health Research: Bed Sharing, Infant Sleep and SIDS from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Attachment Parenting International – Infant Sleep Safety
Babies sharing their mothers’ beds while in hospital: a sample policy from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Guideline on Co-Sleeping and Breastfeeding, Clinical Protocol Number 6 from the Academy for Breastfeeding Medicine
AAP Policy Statement: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment (Oct. 17, 2011)
Baby care and supply are a huge market. It is very easy as an expecting parent to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of products available, and by the differing recommendations your friends and family may have provided. Then, while you and your partner are buried chest deep in the crib and dresser section of your nearest Babies R Us, you realize just how expensive all of these products can be. So, what do you do? How do you have a baby on a budget?
Having a baby on a budget is simple. But, there are two fundamental questions you need to ask yourself in order to succeed. First, what can you purchase new and what is safe to purchase second hand. And second, what do you actually need for a newborn?
Newborns are simple creatures. They don't truly require many things. However, there are a few things that they do need.
- A safe space to sleep
- A way to eat
- A way to be transported
- To be clothed
- A way to keep them clean.
In order to lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) there are recommendations and guidelines to follow as to where your infant can and should sleep.
The safest sleep space is considered one that has:
- A firm mattress
- No soft bedding, pillows, blankets or bumper pads
- Non-smoking parents.
- No drugs or alcohol.
- Breastfeeding Mother
- Baby is healthy and was born at full-term
- Baby sleeps on their back
- No swaddling
- No soft mattresses, extra pillows, toys, heavy covers
- Clear of strings, cords, cracks and crevices
If you are not comfortable bed-sharing with your baby, other options include the use of a baby box, side-car (co-sleeper), bassinet or crib. All side-cars, bassinets and cribs sold in-store in Canada today must meet safe sleep recommendations.
Baby Box University Is a non-profit organization that provides baby boxes at no cost to families and expecting parents within Alberta (and other countries and provinces). A baby box is a moderate sized rectangular box, inlayed with a thin, firm mattress that can be used as a safe sleeping space for a newborn.
In order to receive a baby box, you must visit the Baby Box University website and watch a series of educational videos on newborn care. After you have completed the videos, and downloaded and printed your own 'Baby Box University Certificate' you can schedule a pick-up time with a pick-up location near you.
Baby boxes often come with added accessories and goodies. Including diapers, wipes, clothing, muslin blankets or toys.
Health Canada and WHO (World Health Organization) recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby for a minimum of six months, but recommend the same practice for at least one year. Taking this recommendation into consideration can impact what your choices and options are, depending on your immediate budget and the space you have available in your home and bedroom.
Bassinets are similar to cribs in a sense, different mainly in that they are smaller, lighter and more portable. While cheaper in price than a standard crib, bassinets have a lower weight limit and can no longer be safely used when your infant is able to pull themselves up or roll around.
While cribs may carry a larger overhead cost, you can save money in the long run by purchasing a convertible crib which can be used for years down the road.
The main concern in buying a used crib or bassinet is that you will more than likely be unaware of the objects history. If you are unaware of the history of the sleep space, you cannot be sure that it was used in a safe manner. The crib or bassinet could have internal damages or damages that are difficult to see upon immediate inspection.
As well, there is a potential that the crib or bassinet you would be purchasing no longer meets Canada's health and safety requirements.
For example, drop side cribs are now banned for sale, import and advertisement within Canada due to injuries and death in children.
For these reasons it is recommended that you purchase your sleep space new.
Feeding your new baby can be a hot and controversial topic amongst both new and experienced parents. Some families do not have the luxury of pursuing their preferred feeding method, but because of medical or personal reasons must choose one option over another. In the end, ensuring your baby is fed and healthy and that you are healthy as well, is the most important thing.
Exclusively breastfeeding is the most inexpensive feeding option. Accessories, such as breastfeeding pillows, and nursing bras or covers, although nice to have, are not necessities. Breastfeeding can be done with only your breasts and a baby. Contrary to popular belief, a hospital grade pump is not necessary if you plan to exclusively breastfeed. If you would like to have a pump on hand for occasional use, you can save money by either purchasing a manual breast pump (available at most drug stores) or learning to hand express. Both of these options should work just as well for a person who does not plan to actively or frequently pump.
If you are planning to exclusively breastfeed, it is recommend to put aside a portion of money for the event that a lactation consult is needed following birth.
Pumping breastmilk is another way you can choose to feed your baby. This method is more expensive than exclusively breastfeeding only because it requires more supplies. If you plan to exclusively or almost-exclusively feed your baby pumped breastmilk, you will need:
- A hospital grade breast pump
- Bottles with nipples
- A way to store your pumped breastmilk
Formula feeding is another feeding option available to expecting families. Formula feeding is the most expensive feeding option. This is because you must purchase the formula as you use it. Try to keep in mind that different babies prefer different formula and have different needs. Do not be discouraged if you need to shop around to find a formula that best suits your baby. If you plan to exclusively formula feed, you will need:
- Bottles with nipples
There are numerous supplies and accessories targeted towards families who plan to use a bottle in their feedings. Objects such as bottle sterilizers, bottle drying racks and bottle brushes, while helpful, are not true necessities.
Bottles can be boiled to sterilize them instead of put into an automatic sterilizer. For most families, washing bottles rather than completely sterilizing them is a safe option as well. Bottles can be dried on a regular drying rack and cleaned by hand to save money.
There are many methods of transporting your newborn from place to place. If you own a vehicle or plan to have your baby accompany you in a vehicle at any point, you are required by law to have your infant in an appropriate car seat.
In Alberta, it is required by law to rear face any child under the age of 1. However, safe car seat practices state that in order to keep your baby as safe as possible, you should rear face for as long as your seat allows.
Infant car seats, also sometimes known as bucket seats, are rear facing only car seats which can be removed from the vehicle base and attached to a corresponding stroller for easy travel between car and foot. An infant seat may be a requirement if you are expecting a small or premature newborn, as some convertibles may not be appropriate for newborns who are under a certain weight. However, infant seats also have a lower weight limit, meaning your baby will grow out of one more quickly than a convertible seat, and require a stroller to be purchased if you wish to utilize the travel system.
Convertible car seats are car seats that can convert from rear facing to front facing as your child grows. Convertible seats also generally have a higher weight limit and therefore can be used for much longer than an infant seat.
While convertible car seats can carry a larger overheard cost, you can save money in the long run by purchasing a convertible car seat, rather than having to purchase an infant seat and then a convertible car seat as your child grows. However, keep in mind the weight limits and recommendations. If you child will be too small to fit safely within a convertible seat, an infant seat should be used.
Can I purchase my car seat used?
It is not recommended to purchase a used car seat. Many car seats are deemed unsafe for use by the manufacturer after they have been in a collision. Some car seats are still considered safe for use after minor collisions (one in which the airbags did not deploy, the vehicle was able to be driven from the scene, and nobody was injured), whereas other car seats are required to be replaced after any collision.
Even if you are aware of the car seats collision history, the car seat may not have been used appropriately or in the safest manner. Water damage, internal damage, rust, as well as expiry can all impact the safety of the seat.
If you do not plan to transport your baby in a vehicle or you wish to have another method of transportation for use on foot, you can consider purchasing either a stroller or a baby carrier.
Strollers are a great option for long walks and trips. One benefit to a stroller is that most strollers come with built in storage compartments or space, this can make trips where you need to transport other objects (such as library books or groceries) easier on you. It is generally considered safe to purchase a used stroller, as long as that stroller still meets up-to-date safety requirements. When buying a used stroller, you should take care in inspecting it for any damaged or missing parts. Used strollers can be purchased from online sites such or through social media swap groups.
Baby Carriers are another wonderful option for transporting your baby. There are numerous different types of baby carriers and each carrier has its own set of considerations. One benefit to baby carriers is that they are small and easily transportable, meaning you are not required to cart a large and heavy object around with your child. However, unlike strollers, baby carriers do not have any built in storage. Meaning, although your hands are free, this may mean carrying your groceries home rather than being able to place them in the bottom of your stroller. Used baby carriers are also generally safe to purchase. You can find them in good condition on many Facebook pages and swap sites. Be sure to inspect a used baby carrier for any damage and expiry dates.
Dressing a newborn can be tricky. If you are expecting a larger baby, you may plan to skip newborn sized clothing and move directly onto 0-3m. However, for parents expecting smaller infants, newborn clothes may be a necessity. Newborns grow quickly and many people purchase more than necessary in terms of outfits and clothing.
Baby Centre offers a helpful guide to clothing necessities from newborn to 3 months of age.
- 4-7 one piece outfits
- 2-3 stretchy pants
- 3-6 snap-crotch t-shirts
- 4-5 shirts
- 2-3 sweaters or jackets
- 5 fitted sleepers
- 2 nightgowns
- 2-3 hats
- 4-7 socks or booties
You may find that you need additional clothing depending on what season your baby is going to be born in. If you are expecting a baby in the wintertime, your child will need a winter hat, warm mittens and a car seat safe snow suit to ensure that they are comfortable. A child born in the summer may require a bathing suit and sun hats to protect them from the sun.
Buying baby clothes on a budget is extremely easy. Babies outgrow their clothing very quickly and is it generally very easy to find newborn and infant clothing in good or almost new condition in thrift shops, garage sales and online swap groups.
Cloth Diapering is, in the long run, the most inexpensive method of diapering your baby. However, cloth diapering, like almost everything else baby related, can be overwhelming in the amount of information and options available. There are many different types of cloth diapers and some are more suitable for a family on a budget than others. Pre-folds and PUL diaper covers are the most economical form of cloth diapering. Unfortunately, some day-cares will not accept children who are cloth diapered in pre-folds, and some parents may find the learning curve of folding their diapers difficult and inconvenient.
Purchasing cloth diapers can be made even more affordable by purchasing used. Cloth diapers are generally safe to buy used and can be bleached to sanitize them. Be sure to inspect used cloth diapers thoroughly before purchasing, look for signs that the elastics are worn or that PUL coating has delaminated.
Disposable diapering Is your other option for keeping your child clean. In the long run, disposable diapering tends to be more expensive. Newborns can go through as many as 8-12 diapers per day and the expense of purchasing diapers can add up quickly. However, disposable diapers can sometimes be a better option for your family.
As you can see, having a baby on a budget is entirely possible. You may need to evaluate your priorities. What is important to you? Are there certain things you can compromise on to make things easier financially, or certain things you are unwilling or unable to compromise on? In the end, the right decision is the one that works best for your family, your personal situation and your budget.
- Bed-sharing, baby box, side-car, bassinet, or crib
- Breastfeeding, pumped milk, or formula feeding
- A car seat, stroller or baby carrier (or combination)
- Cloth or disposable diapers
Other objects and accessories can helpful in making certain tasks and activities easier. However, they are generally not necessities. It may be nice to own a change table with a change pad and cover, but a family on a budget can easily change their newborn on the floor or on a portable change pad or blanket.
**Disclaimer: Bed-sharing is not recommended by Health Canada because of an increased risk of SIDS and suffocation. We at Full Circle Birth Collective do not promote one way of sleep over another. We only promote that regardless of which sleep method you choose for your family, that you follow the safe sleep recommendations to the best of your ability.
Two of My Favourite YEG Swap Groups:
Strawberries & Strollers
Natural Parents Marketplace
Now, if we've ever chatted about social media before, then you know how I wish the whole world used only instagram and that everyone was required to post twice a day... and every month, at least 3 of your posts would need to be unfiltered and real (like your kids crying or your burnt toast all scraped off because it was the last piece of bread and you didn't pick up the groceries yet). I love Instagram. My feed consists of tattoo artists, crazy hair, National Geographic and shark pictures, some celebrities, my friends, and perhaps most importantly, local mamas who reach out to other mamas in a variety of different ways.
If you're new to the Edmonton area, if you're a new parent, or if you just want some cool, inspiring, interesting new people to follow, then this is the post for you!
@edmontonmama – Lori used to be Frugal Edmonton Mama... she would clip coupons and search for deals and share her knowledge with the world. If you head over to her page (Facebook, instagram, and website), you'll see that she's not about that anymore. She's about adventure and experiences, not “stuff”. I love this. Also, her instagram stories help us all feel normal with regards to parenting... meltdowns in the car, ordering from Skip the Dishes... again, being awake at 4am with a little one who just decided to be awake.
@raisingedmonton – This is my go-to for finding out about different playgrounds, things going on around the city, new restaurants to take kids to, weekend adventure ideas, etc. Right now, these guys are posting videos of different playgrounds in and around Edmonton... such a cool idea!
@albertamamas – Alberta Mamas has just recently been launched and it is a group of local ladies who have gotten together to share their experiences and ideas for travelling... with kiddos! Great blogs so far and I'm so excited for more from these lovelies.
@edmontonschild – This is a very well know magazine that is published a few times a year but their website is always up to date with the kid-friendly goings on in Edmonton. Again, Instagram love for this one... memes and local event information.
@deanneferguson – Miss Deanne is responsible for all of those fun things you see happening in malls and sometimes at the Callingwood Farmers Market... Box Social Events are monthly pop-up activities for kids and families (and sometimes even just mamas). Her instagram profile has a link to the Box Social website where you'll find a calendar of all of her events. So fun! She also posts photos for “cocktail Monday” with her hubby and their creations always look super tasty.
@bitchinhousewife – Yoga instructor, kambutcha-makin', healthy eating mama. Jen is all kinds of inspiring and uplifting. She has made me want to eat (and even sometimes drink) green things. Now that is powerful.
Most of these I've listed are also on Facebook under the same names... some you may need to do a google search for their websites. Like I've said, big fan of Instagram so that's always my go-to, but Facebook is great for letting me know when there are new blog posts and such.
How did anyone ever know what to do before the internet?!?!
Ina May Gaskin
Trust In Your Body