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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hiring a Doula

The first thing I did immediately after finding out I was pregnant was hire a doula. I knew I didn't have family out here in L.A. and I really wanted to create a good support system for myself and Kyle. After rave reviews, Kyle and I met with Katie Hamilton of Mama Nuture who is a certified doula, childbirth educator, and lactation consultant. We immediately knew she was going to be the right person to help us through this new, yet overwhelming ride we were about to embark on!

Now you may be asking yourself, what is a doula? Are they necessary? Do I really need one? Everyone is different. But Katie has so kindly answered some questions for our I Guess I'm Due readers to find out if hiring one is right for you!

1. Many of my friends have no clue what a 'doula' is when I say the word. The only reason I do is because I was told to watch The Business of Being Born. So first things first, what exactly is a doula? 

Women have been supporting women in pregnancy and birth long before modern hospital births. Today, this integral role of a compassionate, trained, professional by the mother's side is becoming increasingly popular. Birth doulas attend home, birth center, or hospital births and stay by the laboring couple's side during the most intense parts of labor and birth. Postpartum doulas support families in pregnancy and postpartum periods as they transition into their new roles. A doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support, in varying degrees, tailored to the individual family's needs. Many doulas are childbirth educators, some have additional skills that they bring to their craft such as lactation support, placenta encapsulation and birth photography. Simply put, doulas help protect their client's birth vision. 

2. Now is a doula covered by insurance or how does the pricing work? 

Katie: A doula's fees vary depending on their level of experience. Some of a doula's fee covers the time spent in labor, correspondence throughout pregnancy, and the commitment to always being on call during the "due" month. There are insurance companies that have now began to cover doulas. For the past 20 years, studies have cited that doula care can reduce the need for c-sections by up to 80%. A doula can provide women a shorter labor with fewer complications, reduced need for pitocin, less use of forceps, less use of epidural anesthesia and fewer cesarean births. Doulas benefit maternal and infant health and overall insurance costs. As this research becomes more widely accepted, we are likely to see an increase in insurance coverage. 

3. I've been strangely calm about this whole thing with no anxiety, which I think is in part to our visits where you make me feel educated and not alone. Would you say this investment is more like an investment in peace of mind? 

Katie: Yes! Peace of mind is a huge benefit of the doula investment. Being educated and gathering the right team is invaluable in helping the laboring woman let go and surrender. It's vital that she and her partner feel safe and supported. Research shows that fear leads to longer labors. Mental stress is associated with a heightened physiological state. High levels of stress hormones may also weaken uterine contractility, thereby prolonging labor.

4. So of course you provide services to the mother, but how does this help dad out too? 

Katie: Partners love doulas. A common myth is that the doula could take over the role of the partner. Especially in the hospital setting, the laboring woman often desires advocacy, emotional support, physical support, and sometimes even a bouncer at the door! Much of what a doula does is normalize birth through all it's various stages. This can be incredibly comforting for the partner. The support persons feel like they can participate at their own pace and in their own way. They know what to expect ahead of time, they have tools, and they can take a quick nap without feeling guilty. They can be present without taking on all the responsibility for labor support. Birth is a transformative experience for the partner as well as the mother, and the doula helps protect that experience. I've received some of my most grateful yelp reviews from Dads and partners. 

5. When it comes to "labor day", can you paint a picture of what that will look like for us and when you services are complete?

I attend home births, birth center births, and hospital births. While I have supported cesareans, inductions, preterm labor, most of my clients having hospital births have the opportunity to stay home as long as they like. In our prenatal meetings, I give my clients tools for early labor. The media depicts labor coming on painfully, and hard and fast. While this is a possibility, most first time mothers have a long early labor, and lots of warm up labor that can go on for days or even weeks. 

A big part of my role is teaching that labor is a process. If you can time your contractions yourself, you don't need to be timing them. Instead, sleep, nap, eat, walk, play, get intimate! It might be early labor, and it might not. Take each surge one at time. Trust the are not sick, you are having a baby. I come to the house when needed, which is most often a 3am phone call. Sometimes the family needs a pep talk, some massage or a game plan and then I come earlier in labor. Most of the time I arrive in active labor. I have a Mary Poppins sort of "bag of tricks". Sometimes I use them all, other times I'm just holding space as the mother labors silently or her partner sways with her. There are plenty of signposts in labor that help us understand that labor is progressing. Many of my clients arrive at the hospital between 6 and 10cm dilated. Of course L.A traffic plays a sometimes we leave early. Environment is so key to to maintaining peace. I like to make the transition from home to hospital as seamless as possible. What's been working at home we bring with us. 

Labor can change from minute to minute. What is supportive to a woman one minute isn't the next minute and so there is lots of intuition involved as we navigate the labor dance together. Along with the birth plan, I bring a birth ball, massage techniques, position suggestions, aromatherapy, and plenty of evidence-based information to the table. Having a doula is like having a "secret menu" in the hospital. After the birth, I stay until the family is settled for the night or day ahead. In the days postpartum I am available to answer any breastfeeding questions or concerns and I follow up with a postpartum visit. I have clients that still reach out in the months and even years after their birth. This year is in fact my year of repeat clients, and I'm loving it!

 Thanks for sharing Katie! Be sure to show her some love on Facebook as well! 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Big 7

Last night I couldn't help myself...I became that sappy mama! I pulled out the old pictures, grabbed a handful of tissues, and re-lived the last seven years with my little man. Can my sweet, squishy, love-able, little muscle man really be turning seven?! I know the phrase "time flies by" is such a cliche, but really, how have seven years happened so fast? So today as I celebrate Jakson turning seven I'm left with these amazing memories and the excitement knowing this amazing journey still isn't over...Happy 7th Birthday Jakson!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fiesta Time

When your Tex-Mex Papi turns 70, theres nothing left to do but to throw a party fit for even the littlest of cowboys! My sisters and I combined forces and created a fiesta filled with all sorts of fun...yee-haw!
The Set-Up
The tables were set in my backyard, under the shade of the trees. Instead of plates our cowboys used tin bowls and sipped their drinks from a fun mason jar {or a margarita glass for our older cowboys}. Mason jars filled with bright colored flowers lined the checkered tables. We added some pizazz with black and white picture place mats going down the center of the tables. 
Our spread included: 
Tex-Mex Margarita, Jarritos, Tea, Corona's

Shelled peanuts, 7 Layer dip, Cowboy Cavillar, Chips and Salsa

Main Dishes:
Cabrito {goat}, grilled chicken, Tex-Mex beans, Mexican Rice, tortillas

Ice Cream, Carmel-Sea Salted Peanut Brittle, and German Chocolate Cake

The Flare

The Fun
A party wouldn't be complete with games. With pin the mustache on Papi, a piƱata, cruzin in our mini pick-up truck, a photo booth, and pony rides, the fun lasted all night!

The Photo Booth
No description needed...just a lot cuteness going on here.

The Pony Experience:
A true cowboy party wouldn't be complete without horses, right?!

Wrangling Up All The Cowboys
Planning this party for such a special person was so much fun. Seeing my dad enjoy the games, the food, and the atmosphere was well worth it. But I think what meant the most, was wrangling up the whole family. Being together to celebrate our Papi, the amazing man he was and the amazing man he is today was unforgettable. Feliz Cumpleanos Papi, te quieremos mucho! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Registry Overload

As I approached the halfway point in my pregnancy, I started work on the daunting task of the baby registry. I basically surveyed all of my mom friends and bugged them until they just told me exactly what to register for. I had been doing everything online, until one night when I decided to drag Kyle to Buy Buy Baby. 

For those of you who have never been, it's Bed Bath & Beyond's baby store, so the same floor to ceiling crap everywhere effect. My minimalist self should have known better...

The workers must have known by the look on my face that I was completely overwhelmed. Their greetings seemed more like ones of concern, "Uh, is everything okay? Need help?" Yes! I am stuck an episode of baby hoarders and I need to get out!

Just like weddings, this was really my first experience with the baby industry. Yes it is a complete industry and you have to sift through all of the random gadgets to figure out what really is a necessary. 

But don't worry, as we checked out, Kyle bought me a bag of Flipz. (Those white chocolate pretzels I haven't had since like fourth grade.) And just a like a little kid, it made the entire trip worth it...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I'll Have Seconds...

Here is our next Question & Answer session between your editor Ester and I because thankfully I have made it to the second trimester!

Enjoy another one of our candid conversations between a mom-of-three and a struggling mom-to-be!

R: Okay, so you were totally right. When my second trimester started at 14 weeks, my nauseousness and fatigue started wearing off. By the time I returned back from Ohio and week 15 started, I felt like a completely different person, more like myself again. Are you psychic?

E: Yes. (okay, okay, maybe not, but I convince my kids I am all the time.)

R: Now that my palette has returned back to normal and I'm not eating like a fourth grader, I'm loving getting back into my routine of green smoothies and salads. Any other foods I should try out this semester now that I can stomach them again? 

E: Shrimp, lots of shrimp! They say it's brain food for the baby!  

R: Uh, should I have been taking child classes already? When do I start that kind of thing? 

E: Now is a great time to start. I'd check your delivering hospital and with your Doula for classes that they offer. I'd recommend an infant First Aid/CPR class, breastfeeding class, and a 'taking care of baby class' to start off.  

R: Oh yeah! And those things called nurseries and baby registries, when in the hell should that fun begin? 

E: I wouldn't wait to much longer. Registeries can be overwhelming so I'd suggest by making notes of specific things your mommy friends love. Then, plan to start your registery once you have a list started of some must haves.   

R: I know you recommended the book Baby Wise. Are there any other books or DVD's I should check out? 

E: 'Happiest Baby on the Block' DVD is great resource too. 

R: Now lastly, be straight up with me. I know this euphoria has to end at some point. What can I expect from the third trimester?

E: The third trimester is the 'Oompa Loompa Season.' Sleep will become even more uncomfortable, walking will become a waddle, bathroom breaks will increase ten fold, sitting for more than ten minutes will not be an option, and foot and back rubs will be mandatory.