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Joyful Affirmations for Labor

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Babies bring so much joy. Their smell, their sweet faces, their little sounds, kissable toes. But when society as a whole discusses the process of bringing them from womb to earthside there are very mixed reactions and many of them negative.

Particularly now in this time of a pandemic I felt it was important to focus on fostering a sense of joy for labor and birth and appreciation of how our body and our baby work together in order for baby to be born.

Birth is work! My work as a hypnodoula has brought me the mindset to view it as hard work but a work that can be enjoyable. Just as someone puts for the effort to accomplish any great feat or hard work, like running a marathon or climbing a mountain, or finishing a degree, there is work involved but also a sense of joy and accomplishment.

“It’s hard to describe if you’ve never been there, but to watch a woman access her full power as a woman to give birth is awe-inspiring, and I never get tired of being witness to it. It’s an honor to watch that transformation take place.” Julie Bates, CNM

What are some ways to increase a sense of joy leading up to the time of birth? Acknowledge there will be work involved, the very word labor is defined as productive work from Vocabulary.com. What could be more productive than toiling to birth your baby? Your work has a purpose and that work will end with your baby being in your arms.

I will welcome my baby in peace and joy.

We are designed to give birth to babies. About 360,000 babies are born every day in the world. You can do this. You will do it. You are not alone.

Countless women have given birth before me. Their courage and strength are with me.

What about during the birth process itself?

Stay in the moment. Take each phase as it comes. Welcome each surge, each contraction. Some of you might think this sounds a little far fetched but really try to embrace the process. It has to do with that retraining of the mind. With every squeezing of your uterus you are getting closer to your baby being born. Your baby is working with you also, moving into certain positions, feeling the contractions too.

Good strong contractions will help me meet my baby.
“Remember that each labor contraction is caused by a wave of oxytocin coursing through your body. So, very literally, each birthing surge is a surge of love. Allow yourself to meet each surge with the same warmth, intimacy and acceptance that you would experience during a kiss or a loving embrace.” Lauralyn Curtis

What about people who require a cesarean or have their birth plan change? You too can receive your baby with joy. Joy that we have the medical technology to keep you and your baby safe. Joy that in most cases partners are able to be in the operating room for support and to see their baby be born. Joy that you are a strong and wonderful mother.

“The strength that is displayed in labor and birth is something that no one can EVER take from you in your life. Elixir of courage.” –Desirre Andrews

May you find joy during your pregnancy and during your birth! If you would like more information please look into Hypnobabies a complete childbirth course focused on a peaceful joyful birth.

*A caveat- Birth trauma is real. This blog is not intended to discuss or diminish birth trauma. Its intent and purpose is to foster a sense of joy and share birth affirmations. Should you or someone you know be struggling with birth trauma please reach out to a professional.

Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula
All Rights Reserved 2020

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Isolation Postpartum Prep

Pregnancy A-Z Series — I had planned to interrupt my A-Z Series to focus on some blogs pertinent to the covid-19 pandemic but then I realized I was to the letter I. The information I wanted to get out was how to help families prepare for a postpartum reality in times of Isolation. 

We spend months preparing for birth and sometimes forget to prepare for postpartum

Before this time of social distancing most of us could at least partially rely on family, friend, and community to help us out postpartum. Some of us hired help in the form of postpartum doulas or night nurses.  Now we may be on our own or the help may be significantly lessened.  Let’s create a plan to make the postpartum period smoother.

  • Nutrition! You will need good nutrition to heal and have energy to care for yourself and your newborn. Prepare some meals ahead of time. For those of us who are daunted by the idea of spending days in the grocery store (not even a wise idea at this point) searching down ingredients and hours in the kitchen creating freezer meals, try this instead: every time you cook a meal that can be frozen, double the recipe and freeze it. Have someone create a Meal Train for you — people can drop off food for you or add in restaurant delivery with no contact options. Once baby is here, if you make a protein shake or fruit smoothie, make double to have for the next day, same with oatmeal, etc.
  • Postpartum Healing. Begin collecting items you will need such as postpartum pads, hemorrhoid cream, etc. This previous blog offers tips for some of the items you may need. Frida Baby offers a collection of postpartum recovery kits for vaginal or cesarean birth. Some ob/gyn providers are opting for telehealth postpartum visits at this time. If this isn’t answering your questions — reach out to them.
  • Rest. The postpartum period is a time to heal after pregnancy and birth and to get to know your baby. While some household tasks are a must, let the others go. They can be caught up later. At the same time when you feel like it try to get some gentle movements in like a walk with baby in pretty weather. It will get you some fresh air and vitamin D.
  • Baby Items. Again, Frida Baby offers great collections of needed baby items like nail clippers (my favorite clippers!). Newborns don’t require much — food, clothing, diapers, a place to sleep, a few blankets. This is a reasonable article explaining the basics but every family is different and some items do make life easier! Ask your seasoned mom friends for their suggestions, or consult with a Newborn Care Specialist or Postpartum Doula if you have questions.
  • Breastfeeding/Feeding Support. IBCLC’s — International Board Certified Lactation Consultant’s are worth their weight in gold. Most hospitals have them on staff so ask to see one when you are in the hospital. In our area in East TN we have several who are offering virtual consults and advice. My go to recommendation is Candy Scarborough, IBCLC She can work with you for all feeding issues and advice in a non-judgmental and supportive manner and offers breastfeeding classes regularly, which I recommend you take prior to birth.  We do have others in the area as well so every family can have the support they need.
  • Online Classes. It may feel scary to have hospitals and local childbirth educators canceling classes right when you need them the most but there are online options. As a postpartum doula I offer virtual support. Tinyhood and Lamaze are  offering free classes for breastfeeding and new parents (time relevant so check to make sure the offer is still valid). Tinyhood also offers an infant CPR class for a very reasonable fee. Remember that you aren’t alone! If you need someone to Zoom you through that first newborn bath or fingernail clipping or just have general newborn care questions, please contact me to see how we can work together.
  • Support. If you haven’t already, consider joining a good online support group. If you are in the East TN area we have so many! On Facebook:

While giving birth during this pandemic and the surrounding isolation may be a challenge, we have some wonderful supportive tools to support you. Please don’t feel alone or unsupported. These suggestions are just the most basic, this blog could be much longer with suggestions like hiring an occasional housekeeper, sending laundry out, creating activity baskets for older siblings, etc, so there are still other creative suggestions! May you enjoy your baby and your time with your sweet new family. You’ve got this!

Green Leaves Grocery List

Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula, 2020
All Rights Reserved

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum -A-Z Blog Series

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“Morning sickness” or periods of nausea and vomiting is a well known factor in the first trimester of pregnancy. Hyperemesis Gravidarum, however, is defined at American Pregnancy Association as: 

“a condition characterized by severe nauseavomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance. “

How can you tell the difference? Upwards of 50-70% of pregnant people experience some “morning sickness” which typically includes:

  • Nausea sometimes with vomiting
  • Nausea and some vomiting that goes away around 12 weeks
  • Vomiting that does not cause severe dehydration/electrolyte imbalance
  • Nausea/vomiting that allows you to take in nutrition/keep some food down

Hyperemesis Gravidarum complication typically includes:

  • Severe vomiting
  • Nausea/vomiting (severe) throughout the pregnancy
  • Vomiting that causes severe dehydration/electrolyte imbalance
  • Vomiting that may keep you from keeping any food down, preventing nutrition

Additional Symptoms of HG: headache, confusion, decreased urine output, fainting, extreme fatigue, weight loss of 5% more of pre-pregnancy weight, anxiety/depression, rapid pulse, and more.

While some milder versions of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) can be treated at home with dietary changes, antacids, rest, and prescribed medications, some cases require hospitalization. When someone is hospitalized with HG they can receive IV fluids, nutrition, and medication.

Why does this happen? No one is 100% certain. It is suspected that it is related to the rise of hormone levels. There is no known way to prevent it but there are ways to manage it. If you have HG it is imperative you speak to your pregnancy provider. Because every person who has HG will need a plan from their provider and potentially medication, along with the risks/benefits of such medication, this blog will not offer suggestions on self management.  For more information and resources, please visit Help HER.

HG is difficult to experience. You may have expected to send your partner out for late night runs for cravings instead of feeling sick. You may feel depressed and anxious, worried about you and the baby’s health. You may feel stuck in your house or at the hospital. Ask for help from your circle of support in the form of visitors, housekeeping, other sibling care if applicable — reach out! Rest as much as you can. Speak to your provider about any options available to you for relief. As hard as it may be to believe while going through it, HG will not last forever.

Kimberly Sebeck, HCHD, Knoxville Doula,
All Rights Reserved 2020

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Grandparent Tips -A-Z Series

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Congratulations, Grandma and Grandpa! Or Mimi and Papa! Or Mamaw and Papaw!
No matter what name you choose to go by you are about to enjoy the wonders of a grandchild. Snuggles, sweet smiles, coos, and then giving the baby back while you get to enjoy a full night’s sleep.

A recent study said that somewhere around 81% of grandparents today are engaged with their grandchildren and that is wonderful news. Studies have also shown that has benefits for everyone — grandparents tend to live longer, children have a wider family circle and tired parents have a support system.

How best to support, though? Read on for some tips!

  1. Times have changed! The “rules” regarding feeding babies, safe sleep practices, feeding methods, and much more are likely different than when your “baby” was a baby. Read up on these changes at American Academy of Pediatrics or take a grandparents class in your area! In East TN Area: 
  2. Car Seat Safety. So much has changed even in recent years concerning the safety and laws surrounding car seats. Be sure to check your state laws and make sure a car seat is installed properly. In Knoxville there is a monthly Child Safety Seat Checkpoint Schedule . Car seats expire and break down, too, Never buy a used/second hand seat — they could have been in an accident and even a minor fender bender can render them ineffective.
  3. Helping the new family adjust. This is not the time to simply be a guest in their home. Offer to do the dishes, bring dinner, or start some laundry while mom rests. Good rest and nutrition help make happy and healthy parents. Speaking of…
  4. Postpartum Mood Disorders. You can help watch for any signs of postpartum mood disorders in the new mom. If you are unfamiliar with the signs or symptoms or concerns you can read about it at Postpartum Support International. 
  5. Listening to and honoring the parents methods. Yes, things are different. No, you are not ancient and obsolete. Things change quickly in the world of babies! As a postpartum doula I am continually updating my information — something I would have recommended five years ago is no longer recommended as new information comes out or a recall is issued. You have the loving touch and heart of a grandparent and the means to bond as no other person can with your grandchild.

Enjoy that grandbaby!

Kimberly Sebeck, HCHD, Knoxville Doula,2010
All Rights Reserved

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Finding — A-Z Series

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It seems to me that becoming a parent is a lot about Finding.

Finding out you’re pregnant. Finding a childbirth provider. Finding a childbirth education model that appeals to you. Finding how overwhelming the choices are when it comes to breast pumps, pacifiers, bottles, even swaddling blankets– and then making choices. Finding out where every bathroom is when your bladder is full, or if you have to vomit (thanks, “morning” sickness). Finding you cry at the drop of a hat. Finding out every bit of it was worth it when you saw your baby for the first time. Finding out you can go with less sleep than you imagined possible. Finding your village. Finding your rhythm through those first nights, weeks, months.

The Free Dictionary defines the word “finding” as “something that has been found”

You have been found as a mother, a new experience but something that was already in you waiting to come forth. What a beautiful thought.

Underneath it though is this description for the word “findings”:

“Small tools and materials used by an artisan”

You, my dear, are an artisan. You have the tools and materials to create works of art. And as any artist, your skills grow as you use them. Believe in your abilities and capabilities.

Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula 2020
All Rights Reserved
www.knoxvilledoula.com

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Expectations – A-Z Series

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Expectations — we have many months to build up in our heads the “perfect” birth scenario, the “perfect” baby, the “perfect” postpartum experience. Some of us try to conceive for some time, too, and imagine/long for a “perfect” pregnancy as well. And really there is a benefit to visualizing things going in a positive way. Imagining worst case scenarios isn’t the best way to spend our time or energy while growing our babies and preparing to add to our family.

So how do we balance optimistic expectations with reality?

  • Education — whether that be by experience, classes, reading books or online material, etc. Seek reputable sources.
  • Set yourself up for success for your desires — if you are wanting a natural unmedicated birth, for instance, seek out a provider and birthing facility in line with that goal. Consider hiring a doula. Take a natural childbirth class. Practice any techniques you learn and are taught.
  • Realize that pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are times of great changes and can be unpredictable. Some flexibility may be required. A change in your plans does not equate to failure. Take the time to acknowledge there may be some disappointment at the change without attaching judgment. *
  • All babies are good babies. Some are low key and some are more needing of attention. Some come out with perfect scores and take to feeding immediately and others have multiple doctor visits and require more of a learning curve in their transition to the outside world. All of this falls into a spectrum and you will get the swing of things very soon!
  • Having a new baby, juggling your own healing, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, a different body, can all make us feel like a different person.  This is ok! This is a period of adjustment. Perhaps you aren’t feeling the rush of love for This is othe baby you thought you were or you are just really tired. Again, all of this is new to your new family and give yourself some time and grace.
  • Having flexibility, a plan for some help after baby comes, giving yourself grace/being non judgmental, and injecting some humor when possible are all ways to balance those first few weeks. You’re a new parent! That’s amazing! You’re doing hard work– pat yourself on the back, give yourself some time — oh and take a nap if you can.

 

*If you find yourself traumatized by an experience, please reach out to someone to talk to, such as an experienced counselor or physician, or even a friend if you are unable to speak to a professional in a timely manner.

 

Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula 2020
All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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Due “Date” A-Z Series

Continuing in the A-Z Pregnancy Blog Series we come to the letter D. I bet you thought I was going to write about doulas, didn’t you? Well, I have written previously quite a lot about doulas. Here a few links if you want to read about:

https://knoxvilledoula.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/reasons-to-hire-a-doula-for-cesarean-birth/  Reasons to hire a doula for a Cesarean Birth

https://knoxvilledoula.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/doula-musings-today/ What I can and cannot do as a doula

https://knoxvilledoula.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/hiring-a-postpartum-doula/  Hiring a postpartum doula

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So for D I thought I would write about the “due date” or EDD, estimated due date. It is an estimate and some feel it should be more of an estimated due month rather than a date. After you see how it is calculated perhaps you will also feel the same.

In order to calculate your due date, add 7 days to the date of your last period and then add nine months, with the assumption of a 28 day cycle.  But remember that babies don’t know anything about this estimated calendar date and a full term pregnancy is considered anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks.

Due dates are usually calculated on your last period instead of the date of conception because of a number of reasons.

  • Although the average woman ovulates (releases an egg) approximately 2 weeks after her period, the exact time is not always known.
  • Once an egg has been released, it can remain fertile for up to 24 hours.
  • Sperm can last for up to 7 days after intercourse to fertilise an egg.

Nowadays an ultrasound is frequently used for dating but the date can be off by a week or more. Depending on which study/evidence is cited, approximately only 5% of women give birth on their estimated due date. But it’s fun when it happens! Only 35% of women go into labor the week of their EDD.

Keep your due date in mind, absolutely, but don’t panic if baby ends up surprising you. Parenthood is all about surprises! You will soon be holding your baby in your arms.

All Rights Reserved, 2019
Kimberly Sebeck, CLD, CCCE, HCHD
Knoxville Doula

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Cravings in Pregnancy

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Yes, they’re real. Sometimes they can be fairly tame, like extra pickles on a sandwich or very odd like pickles mixed with ice cream. Yes, some women really do mix some weird combinations. I myself craved artichokes early in my pregnancy in an almost indescribable way. I’ve always wondered if it was because of the vitamin C content. Most of the time, however, women find themselves craving “comfort food” or foods that are a combination of salty and sweet and/or with a higher fat content.

The one caveat would be when someone craves non food items like dirt or clay. This is called pica and is a medical condition and needs to be addressed with your medical provider.  Also an extreme craving for ice could be a sign of anemia so mention that to your medical provider, although they usually check your bloodwork for signs of anemia.

Why do cravings happen? No one is 100% certain of the answer although it seems to be related to hormones. One solid theory is that as hormones shift, dopamine levels can lower which can lead to cravings. Another theory or one that may also work in tandem is that our body is craving certain nutrients. Now ice cream wouldn’t be what anyone would consider a nutrient, however, craving dairy could mean someone is needing more calcium. Salt could mean a need for more magnesium, fatty foods could mean a need for more essential fatty acids, and so the theory goes. Yet another theory is that the baby itself is putting on fat and needs fat to shape and grow its brain.

When you think about food as a source for growing your baby it can help you to think of healthier ways to satiate those cravings. Having smaller meals broken up during the day  can help digestion.  Occasional ice cream or french fries (maybe mixed!) isn’t going to hurt you but having them all the time isn’t the best nutritional choice. Maybe having food with a higher calcium content and magnesium content most of the time followed by a little bit of ice cream sometimes would be better. But I’ve been pregnant, too, and I know Baskin Robbins saw more of me during the last couple months of my pregnancy than they have seen me since!

So yes pregnancy cravings are real. Moderation is the key. And one day you can tell your child how you dipped bananas in ketchup or ordered a salad with triple amounts of artichokes or put hot sauce on absolutely everything.

All Rights Reserved, 2019
Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula
This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice

 

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Body Changes in Pregnancy & How to Love It

I know, I know. You were promised a “glow”. Instead you can barely roll over in bed, coffee makes you nauseated, it’s been days since you pooped, and what is going on with your skin?!

This blog isn’t going to minimize the fact that some aspects of pregnancy are really really hard. Hopefully some of the suggestions will give you a deep breath and a reminder that the hard time won’t last forever.

  1. The first and most obvious change is you are growing another human! Whoa! That’s almost mind boggling. Another person (or persons) are taking up residence inside your body. Of course there will be some uncomfortable changes! Yet you are entrusted with this life giving task. Your body was made for it. It’s up to the challenge. You have a mission to grow this other being.
  2. Feel all that stretching? Stretching of the skin, stretching of your breasts, stretching of maybe some inner organs you never thought about before? You are expansive, and in a monumentally good way. You can use this time to think about and practice these stretching sensations as how you will stretch as a mother. Your body, mind, and heart are stretching in ways they didn’t before you were pregnant and the pay off is oh so sweet.
  3. Speaking of your mind and heart, this is a great time to really get deeply in touch with what your body needs. Many jokes are made about cravings but go deeply into what your body is telling you. Are you bone weary today? Your body is telling you to carve out some rest. Are you having trouble settling down to sleep? Is your body telling you to meditate before bed? Cut back on caffeine? Are you feeling anxious? Do you need to reach out to your partner for some cuddles or more help around the house? Begin tuning in to what your body is telling you and make adjustments accordingly.
  4. Constantly peeing. Like.. constantly. Being hungry but only being able to eat a tiny bit. Pregnant bodies do that because the bladder has pressure on it but because your kidney volume can increase by 60%. Your colon is also compressed and your GI system is retaining more water and the whole system is slowed down. That’s the bad news of it but the good news is it’s supposed to work that way. These processes allow for room for your growing baby and uterus, as well as prepare for increased blood volume and retaining nutrients, etc. This allows us to trust that our bodies are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Trust that your body is housing and growing your baby.
  5. While we are talking about nutrients, take this time to nourish yourself! You’ll need some extra calories each day when pregnant — make those delicious, healthy, and nutritious calories! Eat a rainbow of colors, plate your food in an appealing manner, pour yourself a non alcoholic mocktail. You are nourishing and nurturing yourself and your baby, enjoy it! Banish society’s obsession with thin from your mind. Your mission right now is to house, nourish, and nurture yourself and your baby and it can be glamorous, beautiful, creative, anything you want it to be.
  6. Pamper yourself if and when possible. Get a pedicure, get a prenatal massage. Buy some whipped lotion and have your partner rub your feet at night. Have a girlfriend style your hair.  Use a facial scrub. Wear silky robes or sarongs if you love them. Really the options are endless.
  7. Remember to exercise! It is great for you, your body, your mind. Always check with your doctor first but walking is almost always a safe outlet for pregnancy as well as water aerobics. Sometimes feeling how strong and capable our bodies are can make us appreciate and love it more.
  8. Intimacy can be tricky. Sometimes during pregnancy your hormones can make you feel more intimate and sometimes it can make intimacy seem far far away. Talk to your partner about it. Maybe cuddling and massages with each other will fill the space for now. Either way, having an honest conversation and reassuring each other of your love and affection will help your relationship. Your body is going through a lot of changes after all. The changes will be temporary but you want your relationship to last.
  9. As a doula I think pregnant bodies are gorgeous but I do remember having fleeting moments when I myself was pregnant. Worrying if I would lose all the weight or if I was still attractive. It seems so superficial now and yet those are very real concerns for most of us! Try this mantra: My body’s purpose is twofold now – to care for my own health and well-being and to grow and nurture my baby. 

All Rights Reserved, 2019
Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula

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Advocacy and Doulas

 

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Advocate is a big buzz word in the birth world. There is no wonder there is some confusion when it comes to the role a doula has concerning advocacy regarding clients and at a birth.

The definition of advocacy as a noun is “someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy”. Merriam Webster defines it further as someone who “pleads the cause of another”, often specifically before a tribunal or judicial court.

A court case isn’t something we would expect or hope a doula would need to be involved in at all. In fact, doulas do not speak for a client because doulas do not have a legal right to make medical decisions for clients. So what do most people mean when they use the word advocate when speaking about the role of a doula?

Most of the time when a client is interested in having a doula present they are interested in having their voice and preferences be heard. This is why hiring a doula well before birth and working with one prenatally is so important. Professional doulas who stay within their scope of practice are well versed and trained in helping their clients learn how to advocate for themselves! Prenatal meetings to go over different options, childbirth preparation, birth option plans, ways to discuss important topics with providers, and navigate twists and turns as they come up during pregnancy is vital to empowering pregnant people to speak up and be heard. Preparing your partner to answer questions and ask for time to make informed decisions is part of the process as well. As a doula I am not going to make a decision concerning the welfare of your baby and yourself. I will give you unbiased information and remind you to ask informed consent questions, just like we have practiced in prenatal sessions. I can reference your written birth plan as well. Most of this work is done prior to labor so it is familiar and second nature.

Doulas are often advocates for evidenced based birth practices as a whole, in society. We form support groups and are members of national organizations. But if it seems like you are gearing up for a fight for evidence based birth practices with your birth provider, we would encourage you to look up ACOG’s recommendations and see if those recommendations are being followed. Honest communication between yourself and your provider is extremely important — expecting anyone — a doula, your partner, a sister to “protect” you from your provider may signal that this is not a good working relationship with this particular provider or perhaps there needs to be an open communication about the disagreement in care and expectation.

So while it can be a little confusing to answer outright if a doula is an “advocate” (in some ways we are and in some ways we are not), the main answer is we teach our clients to advocate for themselves and we are there to remind them how if necessary.

All Rights Reserved, 2019
Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula