A labour and birth story in the time of a pandemic, written by his mother, Pamela Sims.
The pregnancy was full of anxiety with little reason. I was sure that since we got pregnant quickly that it would end just as quickly. I was sure that because I was pregnant I would lose my chance at a contract. I was sure that I would get Covid and it would hurt the fetus. I was anxious. But all of the anxiety was misplaced energy.
As we got closer to my due date I began to worry that COVID rules were going to prevent my doula, or worse Mike, from being there. The day before my water broke, I cried telling Mike that I was worried about us seeing people because if he got sick, he wouldn’t be able to be with me. I already knew that if I was induced that he wouldn’t be able to be with me until I was moved into labour and delivery. I wanted to make sure that he could be with me for as much of the experience as possible.
I was 39 weeks pregnant on a Sunday morning around 8am when I noticed that there was a bit of fluid in my underwear. I was starting to wonder if it could be my water breaking so I googled “how to tell if my water broke or if I peed my pants.” I was mortified.
When Mike came into the bedroom to get ready I said, “I just want to give you a heads up about where I am” as I showed him what I had searched. He laughed; so, I laughed. Fluid was definitely coming out! I burst into tears! I was immediately overwhelmed. Mike suggested we call Sonya, our doula. Sonya quickly confirmed that it was most likely my water. I laugh-cried. I couldn’t believe that I had just called another adult to ask if I peed my pants.
We made our way to the hospital. Because of Covid Mike had to leave me at the front door and I was brought up by a porter. Earlier in the pregnancy being separated was my worst fear. I was so grateful for Sonya because she had prepared me for having to go up on my own.
They checked both me and the baby’s vitals and did a swab of the fluid. I was one centimetre dilated. While I waited for the results, I put my hair into French braids. Having my hair in French braids felt like it was going to be a difference-maker in my labour experience. The doctor came in and explained that my water had indeed broken, but with no contractions. I had to decide if I wanted to wait to see if they would start or if I wanted to be induced right away.
I called Mike and then we conference called Sonya. We discussed the options and Sonya explained the process. I decided to go home and see if the contractions would start on their own. I really wanted to avoid being induced. I knew that typically contractions from an induction hurt more and that increased the use of an epidural. I wasn’t against pain medication, but I wanted to limit what was used and how much if possible. I knew the induction would make those choices harder. I also knew that if I was induced that Mike wouldn’t be able to join me until I was in active labour. That could be hours. I didn’t want to be separated from him.
We went home and finished getting ready for baby. Mike had some work he had to get done that week so he also made good use of that time. We ordered dinner and mom came over to rebraid my hair. Again, this was an essential part of my birth plan.
At 8 pm we made our way back to the hospital. Mike took me to the door and then went back to the car. I went up to be assessed. I was still one centimetre dilated with no contractions so the doctor and nurses began preparing for me to be induced.
We were very fortunate. Good timing in a pandemic. It was a slow day in labour and delivery so I was moved to labour and delivery right away. Normally, they don’t move you until you are in active labour. I was terrified that Mike wouldn’t be able to support me through this time and he would be in the car for hours. Because they were able to move me in right away, he was able to support me through the whole experience.
Contractions did not start right away. All night the nurses checked on me and the baby every 30 minutes because I was on the highest dose of oxytocin they can give. Around 8 the next morning I stated to feel minor contractions.
They escalated quickly. Mike texted Sonya to ask her to join us. By then the contractions felt like my pelvis was splitting in two. I decided that they could “cut the baby out” if they wanted to. I just needed the pain to stop.
I waited to make any decisions about pain management until Sonya arrived. Once she was there we discussed comfort measures and pain medication. I decided to try fentanyl.
They didn’t want to give me morphine incase
I wanted an epidural later and the morphine could still be in my system. The nurse was really concerned that I would need an epidural and would not be able to have one.
I felt strongly about starting with a smaller type of pain medication before going all in.
I’m so happy I did. The fentanyl work perfectly for me. I dozed between contractions and no longer wanted them to cut the baby out.
As the contractions became more frequent and intense I needed Mike beside me. Sonya supported us in this need as well. She made sure he had everything he needed so he didn’t have to leave me. Mike supported me by doing double hip squeezes, swaying with me, and anything else I asked.
I wasn’t allowed to eat but I snuck some orange slices anyways. I thought I was sneaky, but then I threw up. It was very apparent I had eaten more than just “clear foods”. I threw up one more time during labour. When I felt the need to vomit coming on, I yelled for something to throw up into. The small kidney bowl was not enough. Mike ended up covered in vomit. As the nurses tracked him down a new pair of pants, I laughed and asked Mike to text my dad because he would be able to relate because my Mom threw up on him when she was in labour with me! I found out later that my dad immediately called my mom to discuss how similar their experiences were.
The contractions progressed and I started to feel a urge to push. Sonya caught that one as well. I kept going to the bathroom, with Mike in tow. She asked if I was feeling the urge to push and I admitted I was. They told me I couldn’t. Not pushing when your body wants nothing more than to push was torture. A nurse suggested that I push against Mike when I felt the urge. So while he ate his lunch I pushed against his back with both feet.
We cycled through multiple positions and comfort measures. Not pushing continued to be the worst part. All I wanted to do was push. They checked my cervix and I was 9 cm dilated and fully effaced on one side. By the time
I was fully dilated but the one side had not changed. I was prepared to beg for them to let me push.
I asked Sonya to explain to me why I could not push. I reluctantly accepted her answer and continued to wait. And wait.
When they finally told me I could push I was elated. I realized for the first time I had not even considered asking for an epidural. I wondered briefly if they would give me one at that point. I was just so relieved that I could push. Sonya explained what pushing would be like and how the baby needs to travel. They explained that there would be additional doctors in the room in case the baby needs support because of the fentanyl.
I pushed on my back and then on my side. I moved to my back again. I could feel my body getting tired. My arms were beginning to ache and feel weak from using them to leverage. I was no longer able to use the handles to help me push. I had Mike on my right side and our nurse on my left. As the baby got close to crowning Sonya helped me reach down and feel his head.
As the baby crowned, my contraction ended. I yelled, “I want another contraction!” The nurses and doctors laughed. When the contraction finally came, they talked me through the push. I was ready for the sensation of his head leaving my body but the rest of the birth surprised me. I panicked and asked for someone to explain what I was feeling. Sonya quickly explained that what I was feeling was his shoulders, followed by his torso, and then his feet. And he was born. They placed Oliver on my stomach. I could feel him but could not see him clearly. I was immediately in awe of the small human laying on my stomach.
Everything slowed down. There was plenty of movement and I am sure that the doctors and nurses where moving quickly but all I could focus on was that the human I have been waiting to see was here and Mike. We had made this tiny human. Mike cut the umbilical cord and they moved the baby up to my chest. I still couldn’t see him clearly but I could feel and hold him. I was in awe.
We tried to get him to latch to start breastfeeding but my nipple wouldn’t cooperate. Sonya encouraged us and made suggestions but when it wasn’t working she made sure I felt that it was okay to stop and try again later.
I was so full of questions. Did I tear? (Yes, first degree with a small second degree tear) Did I poop? (“I normally don’t tell but no.” However it is possible she was lying) Does he have two eyes? I have only seen one! (Yes) Does he look like he had Down syndrome? (He had markers for Down syndrome at our anatomy scan. No).
We all guessed his weight. Sonya, the doctors and the nurses all guessed around 7lbs. I guessed 3. He was so tiny. How could he be any bigger than that? 7 lbs 10 ounces.
We moved into the recovery room. We started making our phone calls to let our family know he was born. Because of Covid we knew no one would be able to meet him until we got home. Little did we know, the government would be prohibiting all gatherings the next day. While we broke the rules for our parents, his aunts and uncles still haven’t met him at 7 weeks old.
The rest of our visit was a blur. We had a great experience at the Grey Nuns. I was extremely proud of myself for asking for help with nursing each time. We stayed an extra night to get more support with Oliver’s latch. The paediatrician had no concerns but the nurse that was discharging us seemed concerned about his colour.
We went home. We were so excited to settle into our new life! We had a lot of support lined up. Our doula was going to be there the next morning and my mom and stepdad were next door. I felt confident.
The next day we had our appointment with the public health nurse. The nurse was concerned about jaundice and sent off a blood sample. She explained that if the numbers were as high as she thought they might be, he would need to be rehospitalized. I cried. We went home and waited to hear back.
About 4:00 she called and said he needed to be admitted back into the hospital. She said only one parent could stay with him and that since I am breastfeeding it would be ideal if it is me. I have been a mom for less than 72 hours and I am going to be alone in the hospital. I know many women experience this but it wasn’t what I had thought my experience was going to be. My heart was breaking and I was terrified. When we arrived at the hospital we were pleasantly surprised to find that Mike could stay with us. We weren’t in the NICU like I imagined but a postpartum room. We were together in a comfortable space. They even had dinner for one of us.
Breastfeeding while Oliver was treated for jaundice was different. I was told to time my breastfeeding and then pump after. Oliver was to eat formula. I felt like I had failed him. I couldn’t be enough. This started a whole new set of feelings and challenges.
We spent two more nights at the hospital until his numbers were in the clear. While the doctor said he was healthy and in the clear, my confidence was shaken. The following week we saw a paediatrician and a lactation consultant. Both were not concerned about Oliver and I felt like we were ready to settle in. The lactation consultant suggested we get him weighed around two weeks.
When Oliver was weighed at two weeks, he was not back up to his birth weight. At his three week checkup he was still not there. He was not gaining weight as fast as he should be. I was devastated. I failed him yet again. We started combo feeding. It has been an adjustment that is stressful and disappointing but he is growing and healthy. I’m starting to trust my instincts again but it’s hard after feeling like I’ve dropped the ball so many times. After feeling like I have failed him so early on. I’m trying to settle in. I’m starting to trust myself. I’m starting to trust him to tell me what he needs. It was a bumpy start but we are okay. We are healthy. We are happy.
Seven Sisters for Seven Days
Thank you Praeclarus Press for sharing this book with us, we will gladly be adding it to our client lending library.
Praeclarus Press, LLC is a new small press owned by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FAPA, a health psychologist and board certified lactation consultant. Dr. Kendall-Tackett has been an author and editor in women’s health for more than 20 years. To purchase this book, click here.
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? “
“Yes,” I would reply. They will laugh and say, “wait and see, these women are not grateful at all, they will abuse you”.
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
There are 2 birthing options given: a vaginal delivery or C-Section. Most women choose the vaginal option.
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.
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.
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:
- The only time episiotomies were performed were either the mother couldn’t push properly (lot of women were ashamed of having stool come out) or the midwife wasn’t patient.
- The delivery time was less: after couple of pushes the baby was delivered
- It seems easier for them to cope with the pain
- She still had enough energy to push
- She was less tired after the delivery
A doula really does impact the delivery time and process.
Doula, Esther Wilsi with a new baby.
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.
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.
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.
1. Be Present
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
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
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.
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
“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)
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:
- An average mom will gain approx. 30-40lbs in only 9 months. That is just related to the baby, fluids, tissue, etc. Then you have one two many grilled peanut butter sandwiches in those 9 months (which is totally worth it BTW) and now it’s closer to 50lbs. That’s a lot of grow in a short amount of time! And it’s almost all in the tummy area.
- The tissue down the centre of the abdominals (linea alba) stretches and thins to allow room for the growing baby. After delivery, it requires time to heal, regain strength & tension just like any other muscle or tissue in the body. Without the proper attention to detail, this can cause a doming/tenting/bulging appearance in the belly.
- Much of the weight is lost rapidly after pregnancy (many will experience a 15-20# loss in the first week) These rapid changes can leave us with the appearance of sagging skin, which will usually decrease when given time.
- The uterus does not return to normal size for at least 2 months postpartum (which can feel like forever to a new mom)
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.
- Diastasis can be and is typically exasperated by unmanaged intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)
- You can learn to manage and control this pressure by learning the piston breath technique found in my free Moms Return To Training playbook HERE
- Much of the healing in the linea alba is done in the first 8 weeks postpartum, so you want to maximize that time by resting and practicing this breathing technique and avoiding strenuous lifting, etc.
- If your children are older and you are still struggling with diastasis, there IS hope! You can improve it and live a perfectly wonderful life with a “functional” diastasis. (Meaning you can have a gap, but manage and control how the tissue responds)
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?
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?
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?
Start with these three “doula approved” books.
If you are giving birth in 2018, why not set an intention to empower yourself with all of the knowledge you can.
1. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
2. Birthing from Within, Pam England
3. The Birth Partner, Penny Simkin
I began using the Ubbi when my daughter was only one week old. I had it conveniently stationed directly beside my bed for easy diaper disposal and nighttime changes. My daughter is now four months old, and we still use our Ubbi every single day.
Ubbi claims to have created a diaper pail which will seal the smell inside and prevent the heinous odors of three day old baby diapers from permeating your home. I attest that their statement holds true — despite our Ubbi diaper pail's close proximity to our bed, we have never been assailed by any odours when the pail was closed.
Clean, compact and sleek-looking — this diaper pail is everything anyone could and would possibly want in a diaper pail. It holds its own compared to other pails on the market and is well worth every cent. The structure is sturdy and well designed, this product does not scream cheap.
The diaper pail came with a few garbage bags to get us started and can be used with disposable or cloth diapers. We love the fact we can purchase a reusable and washable one to be throwing in with the rest of our washing.
The powder-coated steel that comes in loads of colours to choose from coordinating with any decor and room.
It has been an essential item in our daily life with baby.
Check out the great selection of diaper pails here.
*Disclaimer — Our collective was provided with the diaper pail for free for the purpose of a review, however, my thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are solely my own and were not influenced by the company or its affiliates in anyway. This is not a paid endorsement.*
My husband and I are six weeks in to our lifetime journey of having a child. While preparing for our daughter’s arrival, we purchased a number of sleep options. We had heard from many of our parent friends and family members that their child would refuse to sleep in their crib, or bassinet, and knowing how important sleep is, we decided to be prepared, and have a number of accessible options. One of the items we decided to try was the DockATot Deluxe.
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)
Trust In Your Body