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Morning Sickness Remedies

Morning sickness is one of the most well-known early pregnancy symptoms. It’s the reason you’ve probably gotten accused of being pregnant when you were just sick, but now you are feeling queasy, nauseous, and overly sensitive to smells. While morning sickness is common, there are many things you can try to alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer; what works for you may be a bit of trial and error.  But there are some common ways people find relief.

Morning sickness making it difficult to concentrate at work?

Adjusting your eating habits may help keep nausea from happening in the first place. Eating a high protein diet can help reduce nausea. Many people also find that making sure to keep something in your stomach, often eating several small meals throughout the day, can help keep nausea from overtaking you. Many people keep a simple snack, like saltine crackers, next to their bed and eat them before moving or getting out of bed. If you are having difficulties with your appetite, try not to stress too much about what you’re eating. Focus on eating something whenever you can. You can also try taking your prenatal vitamin at night if you find it upsets your stomach. A gummy prenatal may also be gentler on the stomach and not trigger or exacerbate your nausea.

Be mindful of anything you find that triggers your nausea and do what you can to avoid it! Certain smells, even things you loved before, can become overwhelming as your sense of smell is often much stronger during pregnancy. Keeping cool can also help, as a warm humid environment can increase your tendency to nausea.

Some find lemon to help with intense

If you’re still having difficulties with nausea, there are some simple home remedies you can try. Most common things to try are peppermint and ginger. Tea and/or hard candies can be extremely helpful, just make sure anything with ginger has real ginger in it.  If that doesn’t work, some people also find more sour things like lemon or hard candies like Jolly Ranchers helpful. The great thing about these remedies is they are pretty simple to add into your life and don’t tend to garner too much suspicion if you’re trying to keep your pregnancy under wraps.

If these home-remedies don’t work, you can try buying products marketed to ease the discomfort of morning sickness. Preggy pops makes lollipops and hard candies that are made with natural ingredients that are supposed to help with morning sickness. Pink Stork makes teas and candies to combat first trimester discomfort. While created and marketed for sea sickness, Sea Bands can also combat nausea.

If you still need more help, talk with your care provider about using B6 vitamin with unisom. Most people take this at night as unisom can tend to make you sleepy, but the combination can help you feel much better. Just make sure to use unisom tablets and not gels, as the active ingredients are different.

First trimester exhaustion is no joke.

And if nothing seems to help, it can just be comforting to know that the major symptoms of morning sickness tend to subside when you enter the second trimester, around 12 or 13 weeks. However, if you have extreme morning sickness, characterized by extreme nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration, medications like Zofran may be prescribed, though benefits and risks should be weighed for each person’s individual experiences.

Did you use any of these options for morning sickness? What worked best for you. Leave a comment below!

Doulas Aren’t Canceled

Covid-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty to the world, especially to those who are pregnant and about to give birth. With ever changing protocols and hospital rules, it can add extra stress during an already vulnerable time. While support may look different during this pandemic, a doula can still be an important part of your birth team and can help you get the support and birth you are hoping for. I’ve put together some information about what doula support might look like, even during a pandemic.

Doula supports a client through a contraction

Why Hire a Doula

Doula support is valuable in many different ways, and a lot of it is even before labor begins. Hiring a doula means prenatal support, often in the form of prenatal meetings. During these meetings, I discuss the birth process, options for your birth, and help sort through what your birth preferences are, often resulting in a formal or informal birth plan. These meetings also go through individualized comfort measures and can help you and your partner better at communicating and working together during labor.

This support lasts beyond our one on one meetings too. You can contact me for any questions that come up from appointments, strange things you experience, or any ideas that occur to you. I love researching and sending on any information on procedures, birth options, or anything else you may want to learn more about but might be worried about Googling yourself. I’ve also been keeping up with the latest hospital protocols regarding COVID-19 as well as keeping up with the ACOG and other medical body’s recommendations and research regarding pregnancy and COVID.

Doula support for labor also has a myriad of benefits during labor. As your doula, I work for you and am looking out for your interests, not the doctor or hospital’s. As someone trained in common procedures that may come up during birth, I can assist you in asking questions to make informed decisions as your labor unfolds. With some technological support, I can still provide continuous support during labor, versus the changes of hospital staff and intermittent check-ins from your medical care provider.

A doula refills a drink of someone laboring in a labor pool

There is also a lot of research evidence that supports better outcomes for labors that use doula support. Some of these benefits include a dramatic decrease in c-sections, fewer medical interventions, decrease use of medications for pain relief, and better newborn APGAR scores. More importantly, doula supported births are shorter on average and have a higher percentage of satisfaction with the birthing experience. For more information about research regarding doula, check out Evidence Based Birth’s article on doula support.

Support During Covid

I have been offering virtual doula services since I began my business, so luckily a lot of this isn’t new for me. While things might not be ideal, there is still a lot I can do remotely if that is safest or necessary for your situation. Prenatals can be done via video chat and phone, text, and email help is already remote.

Labor support is highly dependent on the person, situation, and location of delivery. For local clients, I can include in person support at your home for early labor or if you are planning a homebirth. Depending on the hospital or birth center policies at the time of your delivery or your support person preference, I may be able to accompany you to your chosen place of delivery. If this is not possible, I can continue to support you and your partner via phone, video, or text support in whatever way you prefer. While this may sound inadequate, there is a lot I can tell about birth from just listening and watching. Early labor can also be a great time for me to see what you respond to in labor and help your partner in some hands on training in how best to help you. While working this partner coaching is not unique to virtual support, it is much more important during virtual labor support.

Partner holds a laboring person’s hand through a contraction

I also offer a 100% virtual support package. This package looks very similar to the in person labor support, except every part is planned to be remote, including prenatal meetings, labor support, and the postpartum meeting. Much like above, I can show and talk your labor support person through physical comfort measures and provide emotional and informational support through your labor as it unfolds. This has the advantage of me not having to drive to you or back home during your labor, so I can maintain the same support throughout your entire labor without interruptions. 

My newest package is birth preparation. This includes the prenatal meetings, unlimited phone and email support and the postpartum meeting. This package is great for people that need extra help in sorting through their birth options and would like support throughout their pregnancy and into labor but don’t necessarily want labor support or to deal with the extra technological issues that may be a part of the birth process right now. This package does not include being on call to be immediately accessible during your labor, though I will answer questions if I am available.

Virtual support is just a click away

If nothing seems to perfectly fit your birth needs, I am happy to work with you to create a unique birth package for your needs, including birth only plans, sibling doula for home and birth center births or other birth needs you may have.

You can look at the Pregnancy and Labor Support page for more information or you can contact me for questions or to schedule a free consult.

Don’t Throw Out That Breast milk

I was about six months into breastfeeding my son when I left the cooler of milk I had pumped at work on the counter all night. I usually stored it in a small cooler in the staff refrigerator and then transported it home, but for some reason I got distracted and the cooler didn’t make it into my work bag. I remember feeling so defeated as I poured out the results of my hard work. 15oz down the drain, which added even more fuel to my stress of barely keeping up with my son’s huge appetite. I was even more devastated when I learned days later that I could have kept that milk.

Breastfeeding can be a time consuming task, but dealing with pumping and storing milk for later use can add to the stress and time spent feeding your baby. It can be confusing knowing what to do and how to safely transport and store your breast milk from work, to home, and to your childcare provider. While mistakes might happen, here are some guidelines on what to do with questionable milk and pumping and storing issues! 

How long was it out?

The first thing you want to think about is how long was the milk out and under what conditions. The CDC recommendations use the most concervative numbers, suggesting to use fresh breast milk within four hours at room temperature and four days in the refrigerator. Milk leftover in a bottle from a feed can also be safely offered within two hours. Milk in an iced cooler can also still be used or moved to the refrigerator or freezer within 24 hours.

While these conservative numbers are optimal, the La Leche League states that breastmilk may still be used up to 8 hours at room temperature and five days in the refrigerator. Much like cow’s milk, breast milk tends to develop a sour taste and smell when it has gone bad. Use your best judgement.  If your milk still tastes, smells, and looks fine, it is probably fine to feed it to your baby.

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

If your milk develops a soapy smell or taste, sometimes even within an hour or two of pumping and proper storage, it could mean that your milk is high in the lipase enzyme. Some babies will continue to drink this milk without any problem, and there is nothing dangerous about this milk. Some babies, however, may refuse to drink this kind of milk. If you have a large stash of stored milk, you may be able to donate this milk to another baby that doesn’t mind the taste. For any new milk you pump, you can scald the milk to keep it from turning soapy following these instructions from KellyMom.

Unused Milk

If you find yourself with milk that you don’t feel comfortable feeding to your baby or leftover milk once you’ve completely weaned your child, you still have some options for using your milk. Milk baths are one of the most common uses for extra milk. Milk baths can soothe and moisturize skin from common issues like eczema, baby acne, or diaper rash. Some people even take this a step further and use breast milk to create breastmilk soap or breastmilk lotion, which can be used for many of the same ailments as the breast milk bath.

Many people find breast milk useful as home remedies for treating common ailments or illnesses. Some people use breast milk to treat anything from ear infections, pink eye, minor cuts or scrapes, and as an alternative to nipple cream. The idea behind these uses is that breast milk contains anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties as well as antibodies from the mother. Caution, however, should be made when using these kinds of home remedies as you may accidentally make the original problem worse if the breast milk is contaminated. Use your best judgement or talk with your healthcare provider about potential benefits or risks for each individual situation.

Milk baths can be used by anyone!

If you have extra properly frozen milk when your child no longer needs it, consider donating your extra milk to a local baby in need. Many people would prefer donor milk over formula, and you can help feed another baby in your community and potentially make a new friend. Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies have Facebook groups broken down by state to post your donation. You can also post in your local parenting groups or message a local midwife or doula who may know of someone that would greatly appreciate your extra milk. When I finished breastfeeding my daughter, I was happy to be able to donate an extra 100 oz to a local mom.

Breastmilk Jewelry

Some people have special artists make jewelry from leftover breastmilk. A breastfeeding journey can be a momentous event in a person’s life, and some people want to make a keepsake to mark this occasion. These special jewelers typically combine a small amount of milk with resin to harden and turn the milk into a shiny bead to place inside the piece of jewelry.  Common jewelry pieces include necklaces, rings, and earrings. Some can even combine other materials to create colorful truly stunning pieces.

Don’t pump and dump

Many people are concerned about breastfeeding after consuming alcohol. The old advice was dump out any milk you pump after consuming alcohol and to refrain from breastfeeding your baby for several hours (the amount depended on the amount of alcohol you consumed). Now, we know that very little alcohol reaches your breast milk, around 2% according to KellyMom and many people have adopted the stance that if you are sober enough to drive, you can safely breastfeed your baby or feed them any milk you pump during that time. The bigger concern when consuming alcohol can be safely caring for your baby. If you are not sober enough to safely pick up or hold your baby, you should not breastfeed and should have another adult take care of your child. If you’re concerned about any milk you pump during this time, you can mix it with other milk for peace of mind.

Go ahead, enjoy that glass of wine!

Baby’s New Year’s Resolutions

As we start a new year, you might be making some resolutions for the coming year. Maybe you are trying to break bad habits, improve your health, or pick up a new hobby. Your baby might also be making some of the same resolutions you are this year. Check out some of the new skills, habits, and health changes your baby is going to make this year.

Improve Sleep Habbits

As your baby grows, their need for sleep changes. When your baby goes through developmental changes (sometimes called Leaps or Wonder Weeks) you might find your baby sleeps more than usual or less than usual (mine usually would sleep less). Luckily, these sleep changes are usually short lived, and your baby will likely go back to their usual sleep patterns after a week or so.

A father cradles his sleeping infant

As your baby gets older, their sleep patterns will also change. Newborns spend most of their time sleeping, typically 16-17 hours in two to four hour spurts. This sleep tends to be lighter and more active than the way adults sleep. After about three months, most babies will develop more regular napping times (usually 3 times a day) and sleep 14 to 15 hours a day. After about six months, your baby’s sleep cycles will be more like an adults, with longer periods of deep sleep. At about a year, your baby will start to only take one nap, and usually sleep around 13 hours per day.

All babies, however, are different, and will wake up different number of times per night, and change to fewer naps at different ages. The best thing you can do is learn your child’s sleep cues like rubbing their eyes, getting fussy, or getting heavy eyes. Establish a sleep routine, but also keep in mind that you may need to tweak your routine as your baby’s sleep needs change.

Read More Books

Reading to your child is an important part of your baby’s language development. Reading to your child, even if it seems they aren’t listening, helps your child hear different sounds, words, and language patterns and has been proven to increase the amount of spoken words a child has by the age of 2.

And your baby may want to read the same new book everyday for the whole year! Babies love repetition. Repetition helps your child learn about how the world works and can be very stimulating to their developing brain, even though you might be over Brown Bear (yes, we know the red bird is looking at you!). You may notice your child becomes especially interested in a particular book because of the pictures or the word sounds, and you might even see your child pick a favorite book or character. 

A parent reads a book to a child on it’s lap.

The way you incorporate reading time to your child will likely evolve as your child gets older. Newborns tend to like simple books with bright colors and distinct patterns. You can have simple books around to pick up and read during a quick cuddle. Follow your child’s lead for how much time they remain interested. It’s ok if you only get through a page or two before your child wants to move on to another book or activity. You might think about incorporating reading time into some of your daily routines, like bed or nap time. Many libraries also have baby story times, so you can connect with other parents with similar aged babies. 

Learn a New Language

A newborn primarily communicates through nonverbal cues and crying, but they are also laying the ground work for language acquisition throughout the first year. Your baby begins listening to you and the world before they are even born and knows and prefers the voice of his mother from birth. Around four months, babies will move on from single vowel sounds (aaaa, oooo) practicing different consent/vowel combinations an eventually get to repetitive syllable babbling. While you may hear your child’s first uttering of mama or dada around six months, your baby probably won’t connect these sounds to meaning until after 10 months and tend to know (both say and understand the meaning) of 3 words by their first birthday.  This progression is the important foundation for their understanding of language for their entire life.

A mother holds her child, about to describe the world around them.

There are many things you can do to help your child with language learning. Reading to your child helps you child hear new and different words and can connect meaning with pictures. Many people constantly talk and narrate life to their infant as they are going around their day. You can also hold conversations with your child, pausing for their end of the conversation. Eventually, you child might come to babble during their part of the conversation as they learn the verbal cues for taking turns in conversation.

Eat more adventurous foods

For the first year, milk (either breastmilk or formula) is the main  form of nutrition for your child. As your child gets older, however, they’ll want to begin practicing eating other forms of foods. Look for signs your child is ready for solid foods like your child can hold their head upright, sit with minimal support, and the disappearance of the tongue-thrust reflex. These signs usually appear between four and six months.

A baby eating a slice of watermelon bigger than it’s head

There are many different ways you can begin to introduce solids. Some people begin with baby cereal mixed with breastmilk while others go straight to pureed baby foods. Other people begin directly with table foods, letting babies explore holding food and feeding themselves right from the beginning (often called baby led weaning). Whatever the method, remember that all of this is new for your baby and may take some practice to get right. Your child might spit out or refuse to eat this new food for awhile. In the case of baby led weaning, your child might play with the food more than eat it for weeks.  You may need to offer the same kind of food several times before your child decides that they like it or not. You may want to consult your child’s doctor when introducing certain kinds of foods, especially if allergies are common in your family, but the newest research suggest introducing common allergens earlier rather than later is best.

Get More Active

Many newborn milestones revolve around your child learning new ways to move around. It’s exciting watching your child grow from unable to support their own head to crawling and maybe even walking within a single year. You can expect your child to begin rolling by six months, crawling by ten months, and taking their first unassisted steps around a year old. Keep in mind, there are HUGE variations between children, so don’t worry if your child seems on the earlier end or later end of things. Crawling is an especially tricky milestone, as some children might develop their own version of crawling, like side-winding, or prefer to go backwards rather than forwards. Some children never crawl at all. Do consult your child’s care provider, though, if you are at all concerned about your child’s development.

You can support your child’s development by making sure they have ample opportunity to develop their muscles. When your child is very young, tummy time or time upright in a baby carrier helps your child develop their back and neck muscles so they can support their head. As your child grows and moves, give them time and space to explore their world and figure out their next move forward.

A child crawls around in an impressive tutu!

You’ll be amazed at the progress and changes you’ll see in your child in just a few short months with a lot of time for practice and your support cheering your baby on! If you want more ideas for how to set-up your newborn for success, contact me and we can give you and your baby all the tools they’ll need to be successful.

Hospital Checklist Part 2: The Postpartum Stay

The postpartum hospital stay can be a tricky thing to plan for as its hard to predict how many days you might need or want to stay after your baby is born. Typically, you’ll stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours after a vaginal birth and 3-4 days after a c-section. You might find it helpful to pack a light bag of items you know you’ll need or want and keep a bag with items for a longer stay at your home for someone to retrieve for you if you find you need it. You can even leave extra bags or bulkier items in your car until after the baby is born. Below are some of the more common items you’ll want for a typical stay.

For Mom

Pajamas: You’ll be staying the night, and want to be as comfortable as possible. You’ll want to make sure to bring breastfeeding friendly pajamas if you’re going that route. Depending on the length of your stay, you may want multiple outfits.

Nursing bras: If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you’ll likely want to start using your nursing bras now. Baby might want to be at the breast a lot during your stay, and the easier access you and your baby have to the breast, the better. Some people find nursing tank tops or nursing sports bras especially comfortable in the early postpartum period.

Breastfeeding pillow: While he hospital has a lot of pillows, and likely has a breastfeeding pillow you can use, some people find it helpful to start using their own breastfeeding pillow from the beginning. Stacking regular pillows can be cumbersome and each breastfeeding specific pillow is slightly different. When you bring your own, you can use your labor and delivery nurses, lactation consultant, and doula to help you use your pillow most effectively to get breastfeeding off to the best start.

Going home outfit: Remember that your body will still likely look about six months pregnant, so you don’t want to pack away your pregnancy clothing just yet. Something loose and comfortable is likely best.

Toiletries: Bring the regular things you would want to use for an overnight stay. Shower supplies, toothbrush and toothpaste, and deodorant can help you feel more yourself after the heavy work of labor. Many people find being able to use their favorite body wash or face scrub especially relaxing and helpful.

Things to consider: Some people find they sleep better if they bring their own pillow from home (make sure to put a colored pillowcase on it so it isn’t confused with the hospital pillows). Many people find bringing makeup and doing their usual pampering routine soothing and invigorating after labor. Some also want to look fresh for any pictures that might be taken in the hospital. Other people find they just want to rest as much as they can after birth and don’t even touch their makeup supplies. This is definitely a personal choice and take your usual connection to makeup into consideration when choosing whether to pack these items or leave them at home.

Things you won’t need: Hospitals tend to be able to supply any other breastfeeding supplies you might need. You can usually get samples of nipple cream, breast pads, and you can ask for a nipple shield if you find you need or want to use one. In the event that your baby can’t breastfeed right away, most hospitals have a hospital grade pump and pump supplies you can use or a tin of formula and bottles to get you started. Hospitals will also supply you with the giant sanitary pads you need postpartum. They also have the mesh panties that people tend to either love or loathe. Make sure to take any extra supplies home with you when you leave.

Mother hugging a vernix covered newborn with a lot of hair, making connection with him, just after he was born in the delivery room, being peaceful and serene, still attached with umbilical cord. New life, birth experience concept.

Things for baby

Going home outfit: Many people pick a cute or special outfit to dress their newborn in for their first trip outside and home. Some people pick cute pajamas while others prefer a daytime outfit. Either way, just be ready to snap some pictures of baby’s first day out.

Car seat: most hospitals won’t release you from the hospital without a carseat. If you have a newborn carseat, you can bring and load your baby into the seat inside your hospital room and should keep the base installed in your car. If you decided to skip the newborn seat and go straight to a convertible seat, just let your discharge nurse know, and she’ll likely head with you to your car to make sure everything is in order. No need uninstall the carseat to bring it inside the hospital.

Things to consider: a special blanket, hat, or other baby item. These can be especially memorable to have in the newborn pictures you might take while in the hospital.

Things you probably won’t need: Diapers or other baby supplies. You’ll get a package of newborn diapers and wipes to start out with and bring home. If you choose to formula feed, hospitals will provide a tin and bottles for you unless you have a particular brand you prefer. Hospitals will also have swaddling blankets, hats, burp clothes, and other supplies you might find yourself wanting.

Proud older brother holds his baby sister

Other items

If you purchased or made gifts for your partner, older child, or the hospital staff, you’ll want to pack these as well.

Find Part 1 of the hospital checklist (labor and delivery). Ready to schedule a free consult with a birth doula? Contact me here.

Download the free Hospital Checklist PDF by joining my mailinglist.