Who is Richmond Doulas: Heydi Marshall

Doula Spotlight
Heydi Marshall
"Keep going. Try whatever works for you and baby."

Services Offered:
Postpartum Doula (CAPPA), Baby Care Specialist
DoulaMatch
Years in Business: 1
Clients served: 2 (and growing!)

Heydi is the fifteenth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

What do you love most about doula work?
I love coming along side of parents, especially moms, to encourage and educate them in their roles. And of course I love loving on the babies!

What is your least favorite aspect about doula work?:
Wanting to spread myself too thin and say yes to every job opportunity.

Favorite thing to do when you are not on call?:
When I’m not working I most enjoy taking care of my family and home! Other things I enjoy doing are reading, walking & checking in with my parents & friends.

What does your partner think about your doula work/job?:
My husband is very proud of me for doing something that I enjoy and that is so natural to me. I love hearing him explain to people what I do.

Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?:
It’s absolutely important! Because I know my husband is 100% supportive of me and my career I can go about my days and nights with higher levels of confidence in myself.

How many children do you have?:
Three children; a 13 year old daughter and 2 sons ages 4 & 2.

What is the most difficult part of parenting regarding being a doula?
I’ve discovered that being a doula means having my phone on me a lot more than normal and being on my phone or computer more often. I’m learning to balance that while giving my kids my full attention & eye contact during our times together. 

Do you have any certifications or degrees?:
Not yet but definitely working on certification. I look forward to the process and the wealth of information I’ll learn.

What drew you to doula work?:
My desire to help women be the best moms they can be. I love encouraging women. I love serving them and providing support to whatever needs they have. To me it’s very meaningful and rewarding work that doesn’t feel like work!

Do you feel that your own births colored your doula experience?
Most certainly! From the support that I lacked but also and most importantly, the support that I received during all my children’s births encourage and bring meaning to my role as a doula.

What are you future goals with doula work?:
I plan on getting certified and grow in experience. I would also love to work with young, single and/or minority moms.

Do you do anything besides doula work?:
I provide childcare to several of my friends’ children. Another way I enjoy helping moms.

Birth hero:
All moms are heroes! But I do have to highlight my own mom who had a prolapsed uterus and other complications almost taking her life with her first child. She then went on to have a total of 9 children (one C-Section). She is definitely my birth hero!

If you could have one super power, what would it be?:
To teleport! It would be the best way to travel!

When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?:
For many years I wanted to be an astronaut or scientist.

Chocolate or Vanilla?:
Vanilla

Dogs or Cats?:
Both but dogs if I had to choose.

Favorite season and why:
I love them all! Fall I enjoy because I love the beautiful colors of leaves especially in the mountains.

What’s in your doula bag?:
Calendar/planner, books, snacks and a lot of other little things that I think I need but don’t use…yet.

Number one book moms should read before giving birth:
Oh goodness, I don’t have a book to recommend yet! Is there one such book that can prepare a woman…?

Best breastfeeding advice you offer:
Keep going. Try whatever works for you and baby.

Best labor advice you offer:
It’s a mind game; tell your body what you need it to do and be amazed.


Who is Richmond Doulas: Amber Brook Pearson

Doula Spotlight
Amber Brook Pearson
"My body is strong and capable. My body and baby know exactly what to do."

Business Name: Amber Brook Doula Services, LLC
Facebook, DoulaMatch
Services Offered: Birth and Postpartum (DONA)
Number of births attended: 4

Amber is the thirteenth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

If you have a partner, what does he/she think about your doula work/job?
I’ve been happily married for 7 yrs, been together for 10 years. My husband has been very supportive and proud of the work I do.

Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?
Having my husband support me and seeing a smile on his face when I come home from work is priceless. It’s always important to support your partner in life; having a personal cheerleader is the best!

Do you have children?
2 step children, boys, 17 and 19

Do you have any certifications or degrees? Former Certified Nursing Assistant and former Certified Patient Care Technician (dialysis).  

What drew you to doula work?
I have always had a passion for babies and caring for others. When I heard about doula work, I just knew in my heart that this was my calling.

What are your future goals with doula work?
Besides being a birth & postpartum doula, I would love to add on being a Lamaze teacher and a lactation counselor. Trainings are lined up in my future!

Do you have any advice for women who are just starting out in birth work?
Take one step at a time and don’t get overwhelmed.

Do you have a favorite birth you attended? What made it special?
My favorite birth was the birth of my niece, Morgan Lucia. It is my brother’s first child. He is 45 years old, and watching his emotions was the best feeling a sister/doula could experience, a bond that was very special to me. It was a fairly easy labor too; one push and she was ready!

Have you had a very difficult birth? What made it difficult?
Supporting one of my best friend’s labor and birth. It was an unexpected stillborn baby.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
The power of healing.

When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
L&D Nurse

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla

Dogs or cats?
Cats. I have 3. But I love dogs. One day I’ll have one!

Favorite seasons and why:
Fall! I love the weather, crisp air. I love wearing jeans and a cozy sweatshirt. I love watching football with my husband and I love everything pumpkin! Also, my wedding anniversary is in October!

Ideally, you’d love to do doula work until:
Until I retire! I am finally able to fulfill my passion and I want to do nothing else!

What is the most difficult part of being a doula?
Holding my emotions in. If I see someone crying, I tend to feel deeply and tear up as well.

What is the best part of being a doula?
Having unlimited time spent with clients. Of course, adoring their precious baby! Being my own boss has been a dream as well!

What’s in your doula bag?
Rebozo, flameless candles, oils, hand stress ball, hard candy, heating bean pad, birth affirmations, notes, snacks for myself and my love…etc.

Hobbies:
Gardening, cooking, traveling, music (concerts), reading, working out, decorating and I love to organize   

Favorite pastimes:
Going to the movie theater once a week. When I was younger and single, this was my favorite Friday night event!

Labor doulas-do you join mom at home to labor with her? Or meet at the hospital? And why?
I want to support my clients in any way I’m able to. So if she wants to do most of her laboring at home, then I am right there beside her.

Postpartum doulas-do you do daytime or nighttime support? Or both?
I am able to work both shifts. My boys are grown, so I have more flexibility.

How do you avoid burn out?
I believe in self love. So I enjoy massages, pedicures, chiropractic adjustments. Treat myself to a new outfit, etc…I haven’t felt burn out yet. This is only my first year!


The Breast Milk Donor (An Open Letter)

By: Gloria Miles

To the Women Who Donate Milk,

This first started as a blog post about my experience and then I became a little emotional, so I decided to write more of an open letter to you all. 

First of all, thank you. Thank you so much for taking extra time, perhaps money with all those extra milk bags, and effort just to help other babies get fed. Pumping is never really fun, as any mother who has had to pump (myself included) can attest to. 

My first breastfeeding experience was difficult. He was a slow gainer, he was a sleepy baby, and he was an all around difficult baby. My how the first newborn is always the hardest it seems! What an adjustment! It didn't help that I had no friends or family around and that at six weeks postpartum I went back to the Navy (I was active duty at the time). I cried every day for a month after returning to work. I found out that my body didn't like the pump. I struggled to get enough milk for him at daycare. At home, we breastfed fine, but I did have to give formula every now and again at daycare. Through many hardships, I breastfed for over 2 years!

My second was much easier. I was higher in rank, Navy policies changed, and I was experienced. I breastfed him for over a year, but it was cut short when I started getting ready for a deployment. 

Imagine my surprise when my third baby--a home birth and without needing to go back to work--came out with basically a really crappy latch. I had sore, chapped, cracked nipples that hurt so much! My milk took far too long to come in and my baby lost a good amount of weight. Then, she barely gained. And barely gained. And... you get the idea. 

I reached out to fellow mamas and three women came to my rescue. You've never met my baby, but your milk fattened her up. Your milk was the reason I didn't have to give any formula to my daughter as I pumped and fed and took supplements and pumped some more. 

I cried the first day I fed my daughter supplemental mama's milk, because I felt like I had failed her, like I had been starving her. She seemed so much happier and content with the extra milk. After a while, I knew I had to be kinder to myself. I was doing the best that I could and I knew that being postpartum wasn't helping my emotional response.

I do think that the supplemental milk not only gave my daughter much needed calories, but a peace of mind for me as well. I didn't have to worry if she was getting enough. I wasn't stressing about her eating. I could nurse her, feed her milk, pump, and repeat. Though it was time consuming, it was worth it, and it was working. As the days progressed, she needed less and less supplemental milk. 

So thank you again. And thank you on behalf of every mom who needs milk, whether just for a short while (like myself) or for their first year. It means so much to us. And it means so much to our babies. There's so much love in this community and it's shared! 

 

Did you donate breast milk? Use donor breast milk? Tell us your experience! Comment below and share the post. Let us know what you think!

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

 

Cayden's Birth: Unmedicated Birth in a Hospital

By: Gloria Miles

I did not have a traumatic first birth experience.  My switch from a medicated birth to an unmedicated birth (what I dubbed as "natural" at the time) was mainly from the thought that it couldn't take all of those interventions just to have a baby.  The attending staff was lovely.  The nurses were sweet and the obstetrician was kind.  I expressed disappointment after consenting to the epidural (which was ah-mazing at the time, by the way).  The obstetrician had laughed, not unkindly.  "You wouldn't get a tooth pulled without anesthesia, right?"  

Except, I didn't have a tooth extracted.  I had a baby.  A physiological event.  My labor was augmented with pitocin.  Then augmented again with artificially ruptured water.  The pain hit two contractions after that lovely cushion of water was relieved.  An hour later, I was crying, asking for an epidural.  

I read the book, Birthing From Within, when I was pregnant with my second and immediately fell in love with the idea of surrendering myself to the process.  I tried to persuade my husband into a home birth, but he was terrified of the idea.  I relented.  However, I decided to hire a doula and really educate myself on all my options.  My husband was supportive.  My friends were skeptical.  Everyone else had a million things to say, all negative. 

Still, I knew what I wanted and I knew that I would do it.  

Feb. 17, 39.6 weeks. 1:30 p.m.

I arrived at my prenatal appointment and my vitals were taken.  I was escorted into a room and instructed to undress from the waist down.  I smiled and watched the nurse leave.  The provider, a nurse practitioner, arrived and blinked in surprise but then began to speak.  I was fully dressed, the drape for my lap politely lying on the chair.  A few standard questions were asked, fetal heart tones were heard, and she measured my belly.  She was about to leave and then glanced at my chart.  She looked up, surprised. 

"Have you had a cervical check this pregnancy?" she asked. I confirmed that I had not. 

"Oh. Uh, do you mind undressing so I can check you?" she asked. I confirmed that I did. 

"I'm okay," I said. 

She hesitated. "Well, we like to at least have a few on file, just to see how you're doing." 

I shrugged. "I think I'll be okay. Labor will come regardless." She said nothing, so I continued. "Plus, with my first I was four centimeters for two weeks, so I don't think it'll tell us much anyway." 

Her eyebrows raised. "Oh! Well, if you were four centimeters today, we could start you on pitocin and you could have a baby today!"

I had already explained my desire for a "natural" process. "No, that's okay, but thank you." 

She left the room and said she'd be back.  She'd go back and forth (probably to the actual physician/obstetrician) a few times.  

"I don't think I'd feel comfortable letting you leave if you were five centimeters," she finally explained.  "There's reasons we like the checks. I promise it's not for nothing." 

"Well, that's more a reason not to get checked. Let's pretend I'm not five centimeters. I'll be alright," I said.  

In the end, we came to a compromise. I agreed to let her schedule me for a NST (non-stress test) that Friday. 

I'll call tomorrow and cancel, I thought.

10:05 p.m. 

Though I didn't want to be induced, I was ready to not be pregnant. I had heard that sex was a great way to help soften the cervix and I wanted all the help I could get. Afterwards, I'd always get mild contractions with cramps that made me irritable. We found, though, that if we had sex before bed, I could fall asleep before they really started to get uncomfortable.  And so, this night, bedtime was about ten p.m. 

Feb. 18, 40.0 weeks. 12:31 a.m. 

I looked at the clock and groaned.  Contractions, check. Cramps, check. I also needed to pee, so that meant that I was going to be awake enough not to be able to fall asleep.  After I used the restroom, I noted pink spotting in my underwear and more when I wiped. I shrugged it off.  Every now and again sex would induce some spotting.  I assumed this was the same thing. 

I waddled back to the bed and laid on my side. 

1:40 a.m. 

I gave up trying to sleep and started pacing.  I realized that the intensity had grown and the contractions had spaced out to time-able intervals rather than quick, short bursts.  

I woke my husband. "I think I'm in labor." 

He stretched and smiled. "Okay." 

We went into the baby's room and he turned on his laptop. My contractions were still mild and he decided we should watch a movie.  I made it halfway and decided to get something to eat. I ate an apple and toast with peanut butter. I also called my doula. She asked if I needed her and I stated that I felt okay laboring by myself.  She told me she was going to go back to sleep and to call her when things amped up. 

3:00 a.m. 

I felt like I was peeing every five minutes. Contractions were bearable when I was pacing but much more uncomfortable on the toilet. 

"I'm taking a shower," I announced. 

My husband checked on me ten minutes later.  At this point I didn't want to talk during contractions.  He called the doula and then our friends so they would come pick up our son. 

4:10 a.m. 

A little over an hour later, our son had been whisked away and my doula had arrived.  She and my husband chatted while I walked around the living room and the kitchen.  The talking ceased every contraction and then continue once it was over.  I was annoyed with the chatter, so I stayed mostly clear from the dining room.  

5:25 a.m. 

My doula looked at the clock and then asked if I wanted to head to the hospital.  "Rush hour traffic to the base is going to start soon and I'd hate it if you were stuck in the tunnel because of traffic." 

I didn't want to head in yet because I felt like it was still early.  I was waiting for the level of pain I had when my water was ruptured with my first.  I was afraid that the hospital wouldn't find my contractions strong enough and that I'd be given pitocin.  However, she had a great point because tunnel traffic tends to crawl once rush hour hits. 

I nodded. "Yeah," I said, "that's probably a good idea."

5:50 a.m. 

The car was packed with the necessities and I finally was ready to go.  I had always heard of the terrible trip to the hospital.  You know the ones: "The car ride to the hospital was the worst! It was so much more painful!" 

I sat in the passenger seat and buckled in. The trip took twenty minutes.  I had one exceptionally mild contraction.

Halfway to the hospital I looked over at my husband and had a horrible though. Oh, no, I thought. What if I'm not even in labor? 

"What?" he asked. 

I shook my head. "Nothing." 

6:10 a.m. 

After I was out of the car, the contractions seemed to pick up.  They came every few minutes and I had to lean over.  My doula walked with me, letting me lean on her every contraction.  The walk up to L&D seemed to take forever. 

We finally reached reception.  The nurse looked up.  "Can I help you?" 

Everyone paused. "I'm in labor," I announced. 

"Okay. Can you tell me more about that?" she asked, unimpressed.  I didn't know how to explain labor and no one else spoke.  A contraction hit me.  "When you're finished with that contraction, just let me know how far apart they are and how long you've been having them." 

"I don't know," I said. "Every few minutes. Since midnight or one." 

"So every three minutes, every six minutes?" she fished. 

"About every five minutes. She's been having them since midnight," my husband snapped, annoyed.  

She asked for our ID's and we were ushered to triage, the doula was instructed to sit in the waiting room. 

In triage, my husband helped me undress.  I laid back on the table and was checked.  The vaginal exam was painful and the first time I needed to vocalize my discomfort.  The nurse's eyes widened. "You're about nine centimeters with a bulging bag! Do you want us to break your water?"  That was the first of many requests to rupture my water.  

I thought back to the last labor and shook my head. No. 

They started getting ready to set up an IV and my husband walked in front of them. "She doesn't want an IV." 

They paused, unsure.  "She needs an IV."  He shook his head.  "It's in her plan.  She doesn't want it." 

The head nurse mulled his comments over.  "Is a heplock okay? Then, if we need to get her fluids, it'll already be set up but she won't be hooked up to a bag." I nodded my consent. 

6:40 a.m. 

I was admitted and sent to a room.  My doula joined us.  

The two standard belts were strapped to my belly.  One for the fetal heart rate, one to measure contractions.  "The doctor would like you to be on the monitor for twenty minutes.  Then, you can take it off and walk around if you'd like," the nurse explained. 

The wait felt eternal and ended up being thirty minutes.  I told my husband to go tell them I was going to take the straps off because I was in too much pain on the bed.  He almost left the room but a nurse came in and told us that she was going to remove the monitors.  She apologized for the extra time.  The doctors had been changing shifts and didn't want me off monitoring until the switch had been made.  

I should have taken them off at the twenty minute mark, I thought. 

Gratefully, I left the bed and wandered the room.  After a while, though, I hovered nearby, using it as a prop.  It felt good to lean over it during contractions rather than standing straight up.  

8:10 a.m. 

At about eight that morning, I was asked if I wanted to be checked.  I consented.  As always, the check hurt more than I felt it should.  I was fully dilated but the baby was high in the pelvis.  

"Do you want us to break your water? You could probably have a baby in two minutes if we did that," asked a nurse. No. 

She left and returned with the doctor and two other nurses. 

He smiled and introduced himself.  He told me he was going to check me.  At this point, I was just going with the flow, so I consented.  He confirmed what the nurse had stated. 

She asked me if I wanted my water broken.  I shook my head.  The doctor nodded and informed us that he was going to go check on another patient. 

"You're fully dilated but baby is pretty high.  I think you just need to labor a little longer," he said and left the room. 

"Are you sure you don't want your water broken? Might speed things up," the same nurse said. 

"Fine, that's fine," I said. I didn't even care anymore.  

"Are you sure?" asked my husband.  "You really didn't want that." 

The nurse had already left the room to grab an amniohook.   

I opened my mouth to tell him that I didn't care.  "I...I'm nauseous."  My doula quickly tossed over an emesis bag.  A contraction hit me and I threw up all at the same time.  I felt the baby shift and suddenly there was an insane amount of pressure in my pelvis.  As I threw up, the urge to bear down took over.  

My water burst immediately and the force propelled it across the room.  It hit my doula on her way to grab me a cool washcloth.  When I stopped pushing, I saw her surprised face and the water that was on the wall.  

Another pushing contraction came and I was bearing down before I knew it.  The nurses all began yelling.  "Doctor!" they shouted and started running out of the room.  A nurse returned with the amniohook.  "What happened?" she asked. "Her water broke!" they shouted. 

The obstetrician walked into the room a minute after having left it.  "Okay, okay," he said.  He positioned himself at the base of the bed.  I was in a semi-sitting position since I had just been checked.  I always envisioned a different pushing position but once it began I didn't want to move.  His eyebrows raised slightly, "Oh! Wow! Good progress!  Two pushes and you'll have a baby!" 

I didn't know what he was talking about. The baby was stuck.  I just knew it.  Everyone had told me that relief came with pushing and this was the opposite.  Labor had been so easy, but this...this was something else.  I wanted to tell him he was crazy.  I was going to break apart.  I wasn't built like this.  All that came out was, "No!!!" 

He kept encouraging me to push.  "Noooo!" I'd yell and then I'd bear down.  

I didn't feel anymore progress. 

My doula leaned in and gave me the best advice in the world.  I have realized that I don't need as much physical support during labor but this was exactly what I need to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it.  "Hey, it's okay. You're doing amazing.  Reach down and touch the baby's head." 

Head? The head was in my pelvis, not budging, not moving.  I shook my head.  

"Reach down," she coaxed. 

I reached down and I was surprised at what I felt.  I was crowning.  I felt the smooth skin, the softest hair.  I was actually doing it!  This was my baby!  Why had I been so afraid?  I was safe.  I wasn't going to break.  I was going to meet my baby.  I looked at her and smiled broadly. 

I cooperated with my next contraction and didn't fight it.  The doctor was right.  A few pushes with my cooperation and the head was out.  The body slid out as an afterthought.  

8:20 a.m. 

I relaxed into the bed.  I was finished.  A little baby was placed onto my chest and roughly toweled.  I didn't want him just yet but I was afraid they were going to push him off of me, so I held onto his body.  After a minute or so, I was finally ready to meet him.  He cried out a few times but was mostly just resting.  I touched his soft, dark hair.  I looked over his purple-red body, the funny coloring of a fresh newborn.  

"Cayden," I whispered.  "I love you."  What a journey. 


 

 christian meeting his brother, cayden, for the first time. 

christian meeting his brother, cayden, for the first time. 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

A Breastfeeding Veteran: This Should Be Simple...Right?

By: Gloria Miles

As the days ticked down to D-Day, I was slightly apprehensive of how breastfeeding would go.  My worries were more about going back to work.  My mother had nursed her children, a lot of my family had done it, though only for a few months.  I read all the recommended books.  I watched the videos.  I thought I was set. 

Yet, I looked at the free formula samples that came in the mail and from the hospital and wondered if I should just supplement. Just in case. I'd worry and fret over my petite newborn. I'd have little support. I was dual-military, meaning both my husband and I were active duty.  I had to learn how to nurse my son, establish a supply, and pump enough for the first days of daycare. 

Those early days were hard. My son was a sleepy baby, something I blamed on the epidural after the fact. I remember crying, wondering how I was going to get enough milk for him when I returned to work.   

But I made it. I was determined and I did it! I had to change my goals and supplemented with formula and donor breast milk for daycare (I could really only pump about half of what he needed on the average day).  But at home, he was exclusively fed from the breast and I was very happy with that.  He'd nurse for two years.  

Then, baby number two came along and breastfeeding was a breeze! It was so easy! His latch was amazing. I was more experienced, I thought. He gained weight easily, was content and efficient. I was a pro!

No pain. No discomfort. No worry. Just a chunky baby. 

 The author nursing her son, Cayden, to sleep. 

The author nursing her son, Cayden, to sleep. 

 

Fast forward several years, a job change (I'm now a doula and student midwife!), and lots of experience, and you'd find me sitting with a very heavy pregnant belly. I wasn't going to go back to work right away. I DEFINITELY wasn't going to be going back at 6 weeks postpartum to 12+ hour days. 

Breastfeeding was going to be easy. In fact, that was one of the only things I didn't worry about at all. (Being pregnant at 30 vs 21 is hard, y'all....)

I was even going to have my fiancee home for 2 weeks. 

Easy peasy. 

But then I had her. 

She latched on fairly quickly after birth. We were set up the "right" way. I was at home, undisturbed, naked baby on naked mama...and her latch was awful. And continued to be awful.

Oh, my goodness, in all of my presumptions, I never thought I'd have to fight to breastfeed her. 

My nipples hurt, the after pains were incredibly uncomfortable (I would probably even throw in painful), and she wasn't gaining like she should have been. 

One would assume a birth worker and experienced mother wouldn't have as many missteps as I did, but one would be wrong. 

Eventually, at three weeks old, I reached out to my community and found some amazing donor mamas who helped me give my daughter enough milk to finally have her gain weight. There were many signs that she was having trouble and it took me a while to figure it out. I should have reached out to my midwife more, I should have asked for extra help earlier. Maybe my supply would have been better.

What I learned, though, was that every baby is different. Something that I tell every mom, and something I had to "discover" myself.

So, as a first time mother or veteran mama, here is what you can do if your breastfeeding journey isn't going as planned:

1. Every. Baby. Is. Different.

Yeah, I know. I'm saying it again. But it's so true! One baby may refuse the breast after being offered a bottle. Another might be a champ at going back and forth between bottle, breast, and pacifier. Some babies might come out with amazing latches. Others need to work on it. Or are sleepy babies. Or you had a cesarean and that interfered with breastfeeding. Or it didn't. Or you had an epidural. Or none. Or. Or. Or. So many factors go into it. Sometimes it makes a difference. Sometimes it does not.

2. Tongue or lip ties.

If you suspect a tie, ask a professional. Get your baby seen by an IBCLC, not just your pediatrician. And remember that there are exercises that need to happen with baby's tongue after a clipping.

3. Be gentle with yourself.

When I was nursing and supplementing with donor milk, I had just finished giving her a bottle. I felt so defeated and like my body was failing my baby. I knew every ounce I was giving her was an ounce my body didn't need to make. She was asleep and content, but I had to lay her somewhere in order to go pump and "stimulate" my breasts to make more milk. Instead, I held her and cried.

Remember that it's not all or nothing. Whether you're supplementing with donor milk or formula, you are still providing baby with nourishment and love. Love yourself as well.

4. Go back to the basics.

I don't care if you're an IBCLC with 30 years experience (hyperbole, I know), if you are postpartum, your job is basically to rest, nurse, be pampered, and that's it. Take care of yourself, take care of baby. You don't need to remember years worth of schooling or experience. Don't be too proud to pull up a YouTube video on how to latch a newborn. It's okay. It's totally allowed. Plus, no one will know. ;)

5. Find out what your resources are: online and out in your own town. 

Save this blog post! Below you'll find a lot of online resources and hopefully they'll be a great starting point. 

How to latch on a newborn: YouTube Video

Kellymom.com

LaLeche League

***The La Leche League also usually has local chapters.  You can easily Google ones in your area.  Sometimes just having peer support is a game changer. 

There are amazing videos on Dr. Jack Newman's website on newborn latch to pumping to building supply. Click here to see more. 

Don't be afraid to reach out to your midwife or ask about a local IBCLC. Some may even visit you at home! 

Additionally, most birth and postpartum doulas have basic breastfeeding education and training and can assist with common problems.  Ask your doula (or potential doula) how she can help with any problems (or just helping you start out well) after the birth.  Some may even be Certified Breastfeeding Counselors.  Also, all doulas will refer you out to someone who will be able to help with more complicated issues (like a suspected tongue tie).  

If you prefer to talk to someone: 

1-800-994-WOMAN

La Leche League: (650) 363-1470

Nursing Mother's Council: (650) 327-6455

You can also visit your local WIC office for more help. 

And now it's time to chime in. Any additional tips and tricks you've learned along the way with your breastfeeding journey? Or do you have questions you'd like to ask? Comment below and don't forget to share this post! 

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Should Children Attend the Birth?

By: Gloria Miles

There's probably nothing sweeter than a newborn photo aside from a sibling holding their newborn for the first time. The excitement of a new baby, the awe of what just happened, and the bonding that occurs whether a few minutes or a few days after the birth.

 The author's middle child, Cayden, meeting his sister Thalia for the first time.

The author's middle child, Cayden, meeting his sister Thalia for the first time.

When I was pregnant with Thalia, my boys were 7 and 9 years old. They were so excited and were hoping for a sister. How lucky they were that she ended up being a girl! Initially, they both wanted to attend the labor and delivery. I was okay with that decision. Little by little, however, they changed their minds. First, my oldest decided he wanted to be invited into the room when "all the hard stuff" was over. And my second eventually decided he'd play video games until I started pushing. Knowing that I do best with very few people in the room and knowing that lots of noise bothered me, I decided against having them there. What also cinched the deal was that I had weeks of prodromal labor before the birth of Thalia. In essence, we were given a few "practice" labor trials with them in attendance and I found that they really did not like seeing me uncomfortable. More than that, they would try to "help" and I found it almost intolerable. I would assure them I was okay and go hide so they wouldn't see me until after the contractions would stop. The day (well, night) of the birth, my oldest was invited to a sleep over and my second was picked up by the babysitter after I told him I was in labor. The very next morning, they both arrived and were pleasantly surprised.

What was initially planned was not at all what happened. So how do you decide whether to let your little ones attend or not?

Things to Consider:

1. Location

Will you be delivering in a hospital, birth center, or home? Obviously a home birth means that you are 100% in charge with who can attend, but hospitals and birth centers may be a bit more strict. Ask your provider about the policies. How many people can attend? Are there age limits? Sometimes staff can be a bit wary of very young children. Other times there can be limits of how many people there may be in the room at any given time. 

2. Number of People in the Room

The number of people in the room when someone is laboring can affect her very much! Most women do best with minimal participants. I even know a few people who say that every person adds an extra hour to the labor. How high will the body count be within that room when children are added?

3. Yourself

Going off of point number 2, how well do you do with extra people? Will you do well having your children in the room with you? Will you worry about them when transition comes around? Will you worry about what they will think or feel when they see you in discomfort or pushing? Conversely, perhaps having them around you will make you feel like all your loved ones are safe and accounted for. Do you feel energized when the room energy is high?

4. Your Children

Their age and maturity level are both things to consider. The most important part is: Do they want to be included?

A two-year-old will act a lot differently than a 12-year-old. Consider how they normally act when you are in pain, uncomfortable, or need time alone.

The exciting part of labor is the "pushing" part. Other than that, the rest is--to be quite frank--boring. Will your child (or children) want to watch TV or play games while you are laboring?

Do they want to be a part of the labor process? How will they do in a 4 hour or labor or a 20 hour labor? Will they likely nap during? What if a nap is skipped (for your smaller children)? What about snacks and other meals? What if they change their mind about attending after labor has already started? Do they have a place they can "escape" to?

5. Emergencies

Even if you are planning a home birth, things can go way off plan. Suppose you are transferred to a hospital? Or, suppose a cesarean is deemed necessary some time during your labor? Do you have a back up plan for the children? It is highly recommended to have a babysitter who is ready for a phone call saying that child care is needed, even at 2 in the morning.

 

In a home birth, having someone who can stay with the children in the event of a transfer is important. This may or may not be their other parent. However, keep in mind, that if you want your partner with you during a transfer, they cannot be the caregiver of the children during labor. Remember that midwives, doulas (unless otherwise asked and agreed to), nurses, doctors, and other attendants cannot keep an eye on your little ones.

6. Caregiver for the Children

Aside from the small possibility of a transfer or emergency, children should have a caregiver present whose sole job is caring for them. First, should your child change his or her mind about attending, now they have someone who can either bring them to a different part of the house or who can take them home. Second, this person is the one who can deal with any potty breaks, food, or drinks your child may need or want.

Having a dedicated caregiver for your child or children ensures that you will not have a support person (like your partner or doula) deciding between helping your child or assisting you. It allows everyone to be able to focus on their job and to feel calm.

Ultimately, the decision is between you and your children (with the caveat that a hospital may not allow children under a certain age or may ban children altogether). There is no right or wrong way to birth. It is just important that you feel safe, loved, and respected.

 The author's oldest son, Christian, meeting his sister Thalia the next morning. 

The author's oldest son, Christian, meeting his sister Thalia the next morning. 

For my family, it turned out that sleepovers while I was laboring was the best thing. They didn't feel they missed anything, because they were able to see me after I was comfortable in bed and their sister was just a few hours old. They do not regret deciding against attending. I also felt calmer being with just my partner, my midwife, and her assistant. It was much more intimate for me and I didn't have to worry about them, either.

However, I have attended births where siblings attended and it was beautiful. Brothers were able to cut cords, sisters were able to dress and weigh the newborn. In every way they were invited to participate, there was excitement.

Like anything else with labor and birth, having plans and back ups are important. I hope this helps you choose the best fit for your family! Did you have your children present at the birth? How was the experience? Any tips you would recommend for others who want their children present? Comment below!

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Meconium: Tips and Tricks for the First Few Days of Baby Poop

By: Gloria Miles

Everybody poops. They even wrote a book about it! Clearly, this part is not a shocker. What can be a shocker are those first few days of baby poop.

It's baby poop. Newborn poop at that. How bad can it be?

First, let's talk about what it is: meconium is the baby's first stools. It's made up of amniotic fluid (your baby was swallowing amniotic fluid for weeks before he was born), lanugo (fine hair that used to cover your baby...the earlier your baby was born, the more he still has on him), mucus, bile, and other cells that were shed. Basically, it comes from everything that was swallowed prior to baby's birth.

It's black (well, really it's greenish-black), sticky, tar that will not scrub out of anything. Okay, it does scrub out, but it takes a little bit of elbow grease. And I'm not talking about some meconium (mec for short!) not scrubbing out of a receiving blanket. That stuff holds tight to that sweet little baby bum as well.

Do you know how many wipes I wasted the first few days of my first child's life? My wallet still weeps at the memory.

Okay, so what can you do to make this little chore a little easier?

  • Oil your baby's bum!

    Seriously. Slick that little baby booty down with any oil you have handy: olive oil, baby oil, coconut oil (though that might not be as convenient as a liquid oil), whatever is easiest. What this does is create a slippery barrier so that poop slides right off with one wipe.

    You can carry oil easily in a spray bottle or a little tupperware container in your diaper bag (not that you should be traveling much those first few days). Easy peasy!
     

  • Use wash cloths, not baby wipes.

    Some people find it easier to wipe with a soft wash cloth and warm soapy water, rather than a baby wipe (or wipes). This is a great tip for when you forget to oil your baby down.
     

  • Skip the cloth diapers for a few days.

    Use regular disposable diapers until baby's bowels start processing the food he is eating. In a few days, you'll find that your baby's stools start changing color. Breastfed babies will have stools that start getting greener and eventually will turn  yellowish-orange seedy mixture that is super easy to wipe up and wash off of cloth diapers.

    Note: I realize that some women actually use cloth from day 1 and have no problems with it. However, these women use sorcery and probably fold fitted sheets like champs. If you're like me, don't feel guilty about skipping the early days of cloth diapers.
     

  • Don't change diapers.

    You're bleeding, leaking breast milk, a little sore, and trying to sleep when you can. Delegate diaper changes to your partner, family members, and/or friends. (Or a postpartum doula!!)

    This is probably the best "hack." I highly recommend this one. You'll get your chance to change a thousand diapers eventually. Pawning off a few changes won't hurt anyone.

I hope these tips make diaper changes a bit more convenient. Parenthood, especially the newborn period, is all about finding short cuts where possible! Let me know if you used any of these tips and how they went for you! Or add your own short cuts to the list down in the comment section. 

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Pregnancy

By: Gloria Miles

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Whether you planned this pregnancy or it was a surprise...you're going to be surprised by something. Every pregnancy is different, so your experience will be different than mine. Heck, my experiences were different each and every single time! Still, there are certain truths that happen to a majority of women. For example: stretch marks! Yes, there are some lucky women who get away unscathed, but for the most part you should expect them.

During your pregnancy, you will be seen by your healthcare provider, an obstetrician or midwife. Their concern is a healthy mama, a healthy baby. And yet, there are definitely some normal, yet somewhat weird, things that can happen throughout your pregnancy.

Keep in mind that not all women experience the following examples. However, many do and if you are experiencing any of what is listed, remember that you are in good company!

  1. Beautiful, thick hair.

    Everywhere...and I mean everywhere. See those few extra strands on your chin? Or maybe you found that your belly has a little bit of a fuzzy layer on it now that you're pregnant. In a nutshell, changing hormonal levels lengthens the resting phase of the hair follicles (meaning they don't fall out) and increase how quickly hair grows.

    Sometimes hair changes texture or even color! Craziness, I know.

    What not to do: Don't use bleach or harsh waxes to get rid of unwanted hair. These can deposit some unwanted things into the bloodstream which can affect baby.

    The Good News: All the excess hair will eventually go away in the postpartum period.

  2. Constipation is an issue.

    This is something that you should report to your healthcare provider. However, rest assured that it's a fairly normal annoyance. It first occurs in the first trimester because of fluctuating hormones (yay).

    What to do: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It helps in any situation. Eat things high in fiber and stay away from foods that cause more constipation (sodas, pasta, etc). Don't strain if you can help it when having a bowel movement.

    What not to do: Don't take any OTC (over the counter) stool softeners without the approval of your healthcare provider.
     

  3. Hemorrhoids. *Cue horrified expressions*

    I know that hemorrhoids are more common in women who are in subsequent pregnancies, but first-time moms can definitely have these little nuisances flare up. Most of the time, even if you get hemorrhoids, they're not too bothersome. However, some women can get them so bad that they are painful and/or need surgery. (Don't freak out. That's an extreme case.)

    Hemorrhoids can also cause bleeding after bowel movements, so if you wipe and see pink or red tinged toilet paper, don't immediately freak out, either.

    ***Any blood should be reported to your healthcare provider with amount and where it is coming from (vaginal or anal).

    What to do: Basically, you should do what is recommended for constipation issues. Additionally, try not to strain when using the bathroom. Also, if they are external, you can apply pressure or push them back up. (I know that sounds horrifying, but it's not as bad as you think.) Don't be too shy during your prenatal visits, either. Your healthcare provider may suggest better remedies.
     

  4. Pregnancy Brain is real!!

    Okay, don't laugh too hard, but I have searched for my glasses while wearing them. I have looked for my keys while holding them in my hand. I have told someone I have to find my phone before leaving my house while talking to them on the phone.

    But don't worry. It goes away after pregnancy. Then comes mom brain...which is worse...
     

  5. You break out like a teenager.

    Some women have glowing faces, less break outs, and beautiful skin during pregnancy. I was like that my first two pregnancies. Then, my third came around and I felt like I was going through my awkward teenage phase again.

    Also, I think that hormones are permission to smack anyone who tells you this lovely tidbit of info: "You can tell you're having a girl, because girls rob you of your beauty."  What a lovely way of telling me I look like sh**. A-hole.
     

  6. Charlie horse cramps.

    There is nothing worse than those calf muscle charlie horse cramps that make you want to stab your peacefully snoozing hubby for daring to sleep so comfortably while you're in agony. Seriously, those things are brutal.

    What to do: I wish someone had told me this my first two pregnancies!!! Typically, cramps are from a magnesium deficiency. Pick up some cal-mag supplements from Vitamin-Shoppe or Amazon. Those things made the biggest differences between my first pregnancies and my third.

    ***Discuss any supplementation with your healthcare provider prior to taking them.
     

  7. Pregnancy insomnia.

    Sometimes your brain is on overload and you can't sleep. The worst is looking over at your partner and wanting to smother him or her for being so blissful. Why the anger? Probably hormones. Doesn't matter. It just matters that even the most serene woman can contemplate murder at 3 a.m. when their significant other is fast asleep.


    What to do: Cut caffeine in the afternoon. Exercise! Hydrate. Eat well. And try to form a bedtime routine that you do in order to "prep" for going to sleep. Cut out screen time (including your phone!) for a few hours prior to bedtime, if possible.
     

  8. Crotch Lightning.

    Sometimes you get stabbing or shooting pains that seem to shoot down your vagina or even anus. It's always abrupt and can make you jump. I don't even know how to explain it better than that. It's common, but also hard to explain to the people you just scared by being pregnant and startling.
     

  9. A Colorful Vulva.

    Yes, you read that right. Everything on your body is changing in color and looks. Increased blood volume and swelling of certain regions means that your vulva may end up with a redder, bluer, or purple tinge to it. It may also look and feel more swollen.
     

  10. Increased Discharge

    Every woman has to deal with discharge. The vagina is self-cleansing and you have things like cervical mucus, etc, that leads to discharge. This discharge can range from watery, to creamy, to sticky. Cervical mucus changes based on your hormones, too, so you don't have to be pregnant in order to see these changes. If you pay attention, you'll notice thicker or thinner (or barely any) discharge throughout your cycle month.

    During pregnancy, discharge usually only increases in amount and viscosity. (Woo.) Some women wear panty liners, because they dislike the feeling. However, be careful with wearing liners for too long. What I did was change my underwear throughout the day.

    Note: Make sure to report any changes in discharge to healthcare provider, especially if it is accompanied by a foul odor, itchiness, burning, has a different consistency (like cottage cheese), or is a different color. These can be signs of an infection.

    Have anything that you wish you knew before becoming pregnant that you'd like to add to the list? Please share!

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

 

The Last Days of Pregnancy

By: Gloria Miles

 Photo by Halfpoint/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Halfpoint/iStock / Getty Images

The last days, maybe even weeks, of pregnancy could span a century.  Nine months of growing, changing, slams to a halt; time passes differently.  The discomforts of pregnancy are now highlighted with every step.  Every day crawls, every night is long. 

The Virginia air had been thick as syrup with heat and humidity.  The air stirred itself around, lazily passing by people who braved a walk.  The heat felt stifling for this pregnant woman.  

Eventually, dark clouds rolled into the area, the sky crackling with anticipation of relief.  The sky opened; the rain poured. The relief was felt in a dramatic drop in temperature.  The wind had picked up and the trees chattered in excitement.  

The past days for me have been filled with the sort of anxiousness and discomfort that one only feels when in the last few weeks of pregnancy.  It's amazing how quickly nine months can pass.  And yet, the hours slip by slow as molasses. 

"You look tired," my husband said.  He stood behind the kitchen island, prepping items for breakfast.

"I woke up to pee last night six times. And this morning, my hips feel like they're on fire from that hard bed," I replied.  

He laughed. "Maybe a week left for you. You're so close!" 

I knew he was right.  "That makes me want to strangle you."

"What?" he asked. "Why?" 

"You might as well have said another year." 

"Is it that bad?"

I gave him a look. 

"Maybe...I'll just keep making breakfast," he said. Then added, "I'll rub your back before bed."  

The evening is cool and windy.  I want to walk outside in the coolness.  I let my husband know so that he keeps an eye on our toddler.  

"Walking the baby out?" he asked. 

Most days I wake up wondering if this is the last day I'll be pregnant.  Each evening I hope that real contractions will begin.  Every new morning I'm disappointed at the lack of labor, of no newborn.  

This evening, however, I just want to reside in the moment.  I want to walk and feel the muscles in my legs work.  I want to listen to the trees rustle and speak among themselves.  I want the cool air to play with my hair.  

"Just walk," I answered. 

The family joined me and we walked around our property, through the trees, and down a short patch of our country road.  I breathed deeply and was purely in the moment.  I didn't worry about labor.  I felt the small braxton-hicks contractions intermittently but I paid them no mind.  Fetal kicks and punches marked the time between them.  I smiled and rubbed my belly.  

Most days I'm cranky and irritated.  I sleep too little, I feel too irritable, and I walk the way one does when there's a fetal head slowly entering the pelvis.  I know that labor is on the horizon.  I know that pregnancy doesn't last forever.  One day or evening or night the familiar rushes of labor will begin.  And yet, it feels so distant.  

I think, though, that sometimes it is necessary to get to this climax of pregnancy, similar to the climax before birth.  There is a time within labor that most suddenly feel overwhelmed.  Cries of not being able to cope or continue are normal.  Sometimes there is a moment of panic.  The contractions are no longer surges but just a state of being.  Labor seems to take over one's body.  There is doubt, maybe fear.  And then the peak is reached and all doubt is removed.  Birth is imminent and then there it is: pressure, pain, power.  The pelvis is filled and then it shifts.  Crowning, then a head, then a body.  Then: I did it!

Pregnancy is similar.  It is uncomfortable and not everything is exciting, but it's tolerable.  Suddenly, it's overwhelming, it's miserable, it's never-ending.  But one day, like in labor, like the storm that's on the horizon, relief will be felt.  The first surges will start and excitement will replace it.  

Labor will start.  Everyone is right.  It's so close.  It feels as distant and as close as mountains on a horizon.  But it will start, it will finish.  A new life will be born.  A lifetime will begin. 

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Making The Most of the Day: Fun, Educational, Indoor Activities for Kids

By: Jenny Wise

 Photo by Voyagerix/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Voyagerix/iStock / Getty Images

Bad weather can have a major effect on kids who would rather play outside. It can also leave
parents at a loss on how to entertain their children in a fun and educational way.  Whether from heavy summer rainstorms or winter snowstorms, a child stuck indoors can mean boredom and frustration for everyone in the household, especially if school is called off for a day or two.

Fortunately, there are several places you can look for fun activities no matter your child's age or interests.

Search the Net
Technology has certainly gifted us with the ability to make life easier. The internet offers tons of ideas when it comes to helping kids find something to do when the weather gets rough.  Look up nearby museums or indoor play areas.  Or search for drawing tutorials. There are options for every grade level.  

Find a New Instrument
Learning to play an instrument can have numerous benefits for kids:  improved math and reasoning skills, boosted social skills, and focus. Many schools offer music classes where kids can choose an instrument to play, but if your child’s school isn’t one of these, look for an online class that will teach the basics. You can buy or rent your own instruments online at a good price. Talk to your child about what his interests are and look for the right piece. Saxophone, clarinets, trumpets, and flutes are all great places to start.

Learning Sites
There are several websites that are tailored specifically to a child’s learning and organized by age and grade level. Use these sites to keep your child occupied with fun games.  Watch him learn about spelling, math, science, and more while playing games. Consider what he’s already interested in before you suggest a specific site. Look for one that will give him more information on the things he enjoys, such as dinosaurs or cars.

Create some Art
Most kids have a creative side to them, and it’s important to foster that creativity so your child
can rise to his true potential. Look for drawing tutorials and provide him with paper and various
forms of media so he can experiment. Crayons, watercolors, finger paints, and colored pencils
are the most popular tools for young children. You might also want to create a place for him to
work, such as a space in his bedroom with room to keep all his tools.

Get Them Moving
Since many kids burn off energy running around outside, it can be hard for them to sit indoors
with no way to release it. Look for ways to get them moving, such as a dance tutorial on
YouTube. Push back the living room furniture to give them room to get active. Not only will
this help your child burn off excess energy, it will also keep him healthy.

Get Experimental
Science is one of the most popular subjects for kids these days, in part because there are so many fun experiments you can perform at home with ordinary household products. Look for some online and help your child learn about chemical reactions, like this one, which will allow you to create your own lava!

Making the most of any day is important, as it teaches your child how to look for fun even when
their plans don’t work out. Look for the best sites and apps that will help your child get through a bad-weather day without complaint -- and bookmark them for next time.

 Jenny Wise is a homeschooling mom to four children. She created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families.

If you have any contributions that you would like to submit to the website, please email rdoulas@gmail.com. 

Marianna's Birth Story: An Out of Body Experience

Edited by: Gloria Miles

Shared with permission of the mother, though anonymously. Names changed*

I didn't have the best pregnancy.  I think pregnancy is supposed to look better than it did on me.  I had hyperemesis and if anyone knows that is, it's morning sickness on crack.  I lost weight all the way until seven months pregnant.  I couldn't even keep down water.  I was admitted into the hospital to rehydrate and nourish my body several times throughout the pregnancy.  It was almost a miracle when it finally stopped.  When it did, I gained twenty pounds that first month.  I gained twenty-five overall.  

I remember the doctor weighed me and said, "I know we said we wanted you to gain weight, but we didn't exactly mean to gain twenty in just one month.  That's a lot."

I was 41 weeks pregnant when they said I needed to be induced, so I went into the hospital.  I wanted it completely natural, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.  I managed the labor pain well until my water broke.  I asked for an epidural, but they said the baby's head was visible.  

When the water burst, the urge to push came quickly and violently.  A few pushes later and Marianna, cord wrapped around her neck, came out limp and not breathing.  

I know I sound crazy, but when they pulled her out, cut the cord, and put her over to the warmer, I felt like I died.  I think I died.  I remember seeing my baby being worked on.  I remember seeing the top of the heads of the doctor, my mom, the nurses...everyone.  It was a crazy out of body experience.  

They eventually got her breathing and I felt normal again.  They handed me the bundle and I remember looking down wondering who she was.  I didn't feel like she was my baby, I didn't feel that instant bond with my baby like I think you're supposed to.  It made me so sad.  Now she's older and I love her more than anything, but immediately...I didn't feel that connection.  I don't know why, but I know I didn't.  It took time to love my daughter like a mom is supposed to.  There was a disconnect.  I wish I knew why.  

Note from the editor:

There are many other mothers who have shared having an out of body experience during their labor and birth, whether it was a "traumatizing" event or not. I encourage you to speak out about it. Every birth story matters and counts.

Also, the immediate bonding and "love at first sight" feeling happens to many women. And, on the other end of this spectrum, there is no bonding or "love" feeling that occurs for many other women. It is not a shameful secret. It may indicate a problem with possible postpartum depression, but sometimes love grows slowly. Keep your friends and family in the loop. Let others know how you are feeling and doing. Never be afraid to ask for help whether it's doing small chores or needing to talk to a professional.

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Best Advice from Richmond Doulas: When Babies are Over Five Years Apart!

Written by: Gloria Miles
Contributions by: Richmond Doulas Members

So you're expecting! Congratulations!  Except this kind of feels like starting over because the age gap is a little more extreme than most.   So what does Richmond Doulas advise regarding this type of age gap? 

Cristina Evans:  I have a twelve year age gap between my youngest and oldest children! I think that an age gap can be both fantastic and a challenge. I love watching my kids with my one year old. I loved that they got to see me pregnant and talk about things regarding pregnancy and childbirth in a positive way. I love that they get to watch her grow and will remember her being little and will be able to teach her things as well.

They were incredibly helpful during postpartum. The gap and this work allowed me to think of all the things I wanted to do differently or try that was new (or more available) since they were born.

It’s also challenging at times. The family dynamic totally shifts. Your sense of independence that you start to regain as your children get older is gone again for awhile (man, oh man, do I miss not needing a sitter!). You have to adjust to the new pace of things. Your baby gets dragged along to everything because you’re a busy family now.

Eventually she will be the only child in the house (in only 5 years!). She may not have a close relationship with her siblings because they’ll be gone already and basically a whole different generation from her. Most people aren’t going to have such a big gap but these are just some of the things from my view of life at the moment.

Erica Angert: My two older kids were 6 and 8 when we had our third, and it's been kind of magical for me. A lot of that is that I've raised two kids past baby, toddler, and preschool age so I really had a chance to think about what would work best the third time around.

The things that used to make my husband and me really anxious or angry or worried when our other kids were little seem so simple and normal now. It all just rolls off our backs and we're much calmer about dealing with the tough milestones and behavior things.

It has also been beautiful to watch my oldest have such a sweet relationship with his baby sister from day one. He was old enough to really understand how to treat babies and has been very responsible and helpful. Both older kids definitely notice the change in lifestyle, though, like having to be quiet during her nap time, not being able to play a family board game or watch a whole movie or ride roller coasters all together, but I have felt like those things are temporary and it's already starting to get better now that she's 2.

Gloria Miles: One of the best things regarding an age gap this big is that the older children are much more able to help.  My children are 11, 9, and 1.5 years old.  It's nice to having older children that can watch a toddler while I wash dishes.  Or having a child who--sometimes--will change a wet diaper.  Plus, it's beautiful to see them playing together and trying to teach her things.  

Some people have asked if it feels like starting over...and it doesn't.  It feels like starting with experience this time around, rather than with a million questions.  

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs. 

I Hope You Don't Remember Me

By: Gloria Miles

An essay. 

I hope you don't remember me. I hope that when you think of your birth, I am not part of what happened. Or if I am, that I am part of the wallpaper that surrounded your room. 

I hope that if you do have memories of me, they are from prenatal visits, from social visits, from discussions, swapping jokes, and stories. I hope that if I cross your mind, you think back of the laughter shared and the deep conversations we have had. 

As a doula, midwife's assistant, midwife's apprentice, (and one day just midwife), I hope you do not have a place for me in the memories of your birth. I hope that you realize that all of the strength that was within you during those difficult hours was yours alone. I hope you never think to utter the words, "I couldn't have done it without you." I hope you never want to thank me for being your strength or for giving you something that you didn't already have. 

You conceived and grew a human being all by yourself. You're amazing. You gave birth to this child. You did. Even if it was assisted with medication or surgery, you are still the one who underwent all of that. I hope you know how bad ass you really are. (Excuse the language, but there's not much else that conveys how amazing you are.)

I'm honored to attend every birth I'm invited to join. I'm privileged in that I get to assist you while you give life to the newest soul on the planet. However, I do nothing more than fan more air onto the fire that is a woman birthing. If nothing else, I provide some comfort, some encouragement, and sometimes some assistance. However, I am dispensable. I will not make or break your experience, because you are the one who does it all. 

I hope what you do remember is your strength. I hope you remember your triumph. I hope you remember what you did. I hope you remember that YOU did everything. I did not push you along. I walked alongside you. 

 

 Photo by RyanKing999/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by RyanKing999/iStock / Getty Images

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Navigating the First Trimester

By: Gloria Miles

Congratulations! You were either trying or surprised, but you've tested and came back with a BFP (big fat positive).

BFP!

Due 2019!!

You're pregnant! You have so much to look forward to in the next nine months! I'm assuming that you are in your very first trimester (and that's why you've clicked on the blog post).

Sometimes women don't realize they are pregnant until much later. Very rarely women show up in the emergency room with intestinal distress only to find out they're actually in labor. (We've all heard the stories!)

Either way, we'll assume the first trimester. 

Now what?

The very first step (aside from figuring out how to announce it your partner, friends and family) is setting up your first prenatal appointment. Most providers advise starting care between 8-12 weeks of pregnancy.

Whether you are birthing in a hospital and wanting an epidural as soon as the party starts or wanting a hospital birth completely sans medications, have your heart set on a birth center birth, or at home with a midwife, prenatal care is very important. It all looks fairly similar and the standard of care will include blood work and an early dating ultrasound unless your health care provider states otherwise. 

Appointments in the beginning are generally set for every four weeks. After your 28th week it'll increase to every two weeks, and after your 36th week, it'll increase to weekly visits until your delivery. Of course, if issues arise during the pregnancy, extra visits may be necessary.

And so you're pregnant and have your first appointment set...and....you look about the same. Everyone is asking about due dates and looking forward to the end, even now, but life goes on about the same. Or does it??

What is going on with you right now?

Nausea/Vomiting

Not everyone will become nauseous during their first trimester, but morning sickness is a fairly common complaint. Really, it should be called all day sickness, because it can strike at any time. 

What can you do about it? Well, eating smaller, more frequent meals can help. My general rule of thumb is: if it smells questionable to you, even if it smells great to everyone else, stay away from it. Drink plenty of water and fluids with electrolytes, especially if you're vomiting. Eating blander foods may help: toast, peanut butter, salted or unsalted eggs, crackers, oatmeal, etc. 

Prenatal vitamins may contribute to the nausea. Check out reviews for ones that don't mess with women's tummies and ask your health care provider for recommendations. 

Sometimes morning sickness is bothersome enough that medication might be advisable.  Your health care provider may suggest over-the-counter supplements or prescribe something like Zofran to help combat the nausea and vomiting. 

The good news is that this typically passes by the 13th week of pregnancy. 

Note: Sometimes, but not as commonly, women will suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. If you are throwing up everything and not able to keep fluids down, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. 

Constipation

This one is super fun, especially in combination with feeling bloated. Changes in hormones can cause changes in regularity. As with morning sickness, your body will adjust and you will go back to your normal schedule. 

What can you do about it? Taking a probiotic can help. Remember to take a probiotic with a prebiotic in it. If you do not, then the probiotic will not help, regardless of how many billions of strains it has. Most of the time, the ones who have both are in the refrigerated section of your health food store. 

Foods with natural probiotics are: yogurt, greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, dark chocolate (heck yeah!), pickles , honey, bananas, artichokes, and more. 

Eating food high in fiber can also help with regularity: lentils, almonds, broccoli, cabbage, kidney beans, wheat bran, oat bran, just to name a few. 

And, of course, like most things: water helps. Hydrate!

Bloating

You're pregnant, but you feel more fat than anything. That's pretty normal. Constipation can contribute to bloating.

Making sure to drink plenty of water and have an adequate intake of salt will help. It'll pass.  As always, if you feel something is off, contact your health care provider.  

Fatigue

Any pregnant mother can attest, the early weeks are brutal when it comes to fatigue. It's hard work making a baby! You may not look pregnant, but this first trimester is when the most work happens! You're busy creating a complex organism from two little gametes (sex cells). You're creating a heart, a spinal cord, lungs, a nervous system, eyes, skin...a whole being! Of course you're going to be tired! 

What can you do? SLEEP! I hear all you moms with littles laughing. I know how hard it can be to sneak naps in, but whenever you are able to: sleep. Tap in your partner whenever you can. Let housework slide a little. Be kind and gentle with yourself. It's just a season that'll pass by about the 13th week.  However, it can also reappear in the last trimester.

Besides sleeping you can also check your iron. This will be in your first prenatal blood panel. If you are anemic, this will also contribute to your sleepiness. You may be told to take an iron supplement. Ask your doctor or midwife for recommendations. Foods may also help keep your iron at a good level, such as dark leafy greens and legumes. Again, speak with your health care provider regarding their recommendations for your diet and/or iron supplements they may want you to take. 

Exercising During First Trimester

Exercise will help with energy. You can continue with the exercise routine you've already been following for the most part. High intensity workouts or heavy lifting may have to be cut back. Most importantly, follow what your body is telling you. 

If you are new to exercising, don't worry, you can start. Plus, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy are plentiful! It cuts down on fatigue, limits excessive weight gain, leads to a healthy pregnancy, helps with labor, gives you strong abs and back which will cut down on back and pelvic pain, and boosts your mood.

Unless a medical reason is given, most women can exercise during pregnancy. 

Great exercises, especially for beginners, are walking, swimming, and yoga. Running is fine and can be continued for as long as it's comfortable. Weight lifting can be continued by most, but just remember that relaxin, a hormone that relaxes tendons, will begin flowing through your body.  Lowering the weight and paying attention to good form is important.  Additionally, center of gravity will be shifting as your uterus expands which may mean avoiding certain movements. Also, some movements (such as planks) may have to be modified or avoided, because of your growing abdomen. 

As always, consult your health care provider.

Cramps

Some women experience cramps in early pregnancy. These aren't necessarily a symptom, but they're common enough and not generally a worry. Some women fear this means they may miscarry, but cramps on their own can be normal. 

The uterus is a muscle and every time it is messed with, so to speak, it'll contract. Sometimes these contractions will cause cramping. Reasons you may be cramping: you just had sex, you have a full bladder, or your uterus is growing. 

Note: If you are experiencing cramping and bright red bleeding or spotting, call your health care provider or go into the ER. 

This blog post should not serve as a substitute for medical advice and is purely for informational purposes. Every pregnancy is different. Trust your instincts and always check in with your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have, even if they are listed as "normal."

So congratulations and hopefully the first trimester treats your kindly! 

Remember, this will pass and the second trimester will be here before you know it. Comment below with anything you felt helped you get through the first few months. 

Hope's Story: Sometimes Love Takes a While

Edited by: Gloria Miles
Shared anonymously by the mother. Permission received to share. *Names edited.*

Hope is my second daughter.  My pregnancy with her was great.  I could eat and drink and keep it down.  After a pregnancy with hyperemesis up until the eighth month, it was a welcome relief.

I was at home with my mother when I went into labor.  I told her and she immediately freaked out because her van was broken and we had no working vehicle at her house.  Since the hospital was only half a mile away, I decided we could just walk.  I think that's why the birth went so quickly.  

We walked block after block very slowly since we had to stop during my contractions.  I got half way through a cross walk at a very busy intersection and had one.  The light turned green and traffic had to wait for me to finish the contraction and then waddle to the other side.  Fun.

When we reached the hospital and I was admitted, my mom said she'd be right back, she was going to call my ex-boyfriend, Mark, the father of my first and second.  "Don't push yet!" she cried out.

I was on the bed, waiting for the nurses to get organized and start an IV line.  "Sure," I told her.

She left.

My water burst and like my first, the pushing contractions came violently.  The nurses abandoned their IV equipment and ran about me frantically.  I'm sure they were following some sort of protocol and paging the doctor and all of that, but from my vantage point, they were running around like crazed chickens.  

I cried out for an epidural, but the baby was born instead.  

I held her, pissed off.  I had walked half a mile to get here, just so I could birth the baby, essentially by myself.  I could have probably stayed home and been more comfortable.  Start to finish this was a 35-minute labor.  

I waited for an instant bond to come with this birth, but it didn't.  Like my first, there was a disconnect.  I held her.  My baby.  She didn't feel like my baby.  I didn't feel like she had came from me.  I guess I was still processing or something.  I don't know why this happens to me, but I wish it wouldn't. 

My mom and ex arrived about thirty minutes after the baby was born.  "I thought you said you wouldn't push!" my mom accused. 

I shrugged and she laughed.  She looked at her new grandbaby and cooed at her.  She held her a little while and showed Mark.  Marianna had been a copy of him.  I thought that Hope looked like my sister.  He'd tell me later that she didn't look like his baby.  It was a bit of a fight, but when we got the paternity result, he found out that she was his, through and through.  

She's much bigger than a newborn now and I love her like crazy, but it definitely took a little time to get that "motherly" love, rather than just this feeling of obligation to care for her because I knew I had to.  I really wish I knew why I can't be like other moms who just get that instant "love at first sight" feeling.  My sister did tell me that it's more common than I think, but I don't know.  At least I'm lucky, though.  I love them with all my heart and they drive me crazy, so at least the feeling of disconnect doesn't last. 

Let's Talk Kick Counts

By: Gloria Miles

 The author's daughter, in utero. 

The author's daughter, in utero. 

A fetus has sleeping and waking cycles.  One of the most exciting parts of pregnancy (for most), is feeling those little tiny movements and kicks.  They are very reassuring for the expectant mother and elicit a range of emotions for both those expecting and those allowed to feel the movements.  

I know that for my husband and children, it's a bit of bonding that occurs before the birth.  My sons love to hold their hand on my growing abdomen and feel the little rolls, elbows, and kicks. "I felt the baby!" they'll squeal. And, for myself, I'm always reassured to feel this little life growing and moving about. 

Okay, so what are kick counts? 

Kick counts are sort of what they sound like: counting baby's kicks.  Though, of course, it's not exclusive to kicks. Rolls, stretches, punches, and any type of movement counts as a "kick." 

I'm not feeling movement yet. When do I start? 

For most people, movement is felt starting between 18 to 26 weeks.  It really depends what number pregnancy it is, the lie of the baby, and where the placenta is located.  If the placenta is anterior (meaning against the uterine wall that is against the abdomen), movement may not be felt until later in pregnancy and with less frequency.  

Most providers advise to begin kick counts around 28 weeks.  However, ask yours for specific timelines and guidelines. 

How are the kicks counted? 

Choose a time a day that you know baby is most active.  Lie down on your left side and start counting movements.  You're hoping to feel ten movements within two hours.  Most likely, you'll feel that long before the two hour mark.  

Keep a journal or log.  You can write it down on a paper, use an app, or simply mark it on the calendar.  This also helps you see a pattern in fetal movement.

I didn't get ten kicks/I don't feel movement/I feel decreased movement.

First, don't panic.  Try eating a snack or drinking juice (though, ask for advice from your provider if your diet has restrictions in place) and try again. 

If you still do not get ten movements within two hours, if you think there's a significant decrease in movement, or if you have any concerns regarding fetal movement, call your provider for advice.  

 

Chime in! Did you or are you counting kick counts?  Did your provider recommend this practice?  How did you fit it into your routine? 

Note: This blog post is purely informational and not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or attention.  Please direct any questions or concerns to your own medical provider.  Whenever there is a question about fetal movement, a licensed health care professional should be consulted.  

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs. 

Staying Hydrated Even When Water isn't Appetizing

By: Gloria Miles

The hot, muggy days of summer are here.  While hydration is very important to anyone, it's especially important during pregnancy! Good hydration can keep individuals healthy and happy.  

During pregnancy, blood volume expands to about twice its normal volume.  Water is a crucial part of this equation.  Dehydration can cause a whole host of problems during pregnancy. 

 The author at about 7 months pregnant. 

The author at about 7 months pregnant. 

The impact of dehydration

Dehydration can lead to: 

The benefits of hydrating well

Adequate fluid consumption helps:

I understand that I need hydrate, but I can't really stand the taste of water!

Some people have no problems drinking water, but others may struggle to get the appropriate amount of glasses down.  There are many ways to help with this.  Sometimes it's as simple as making the water very cold or adding ice.  But for some, the taste (or lack of taste) really bothers them. 

Tips to Increase Water Intake

  • Add some fruit or veggies! Add some lime or lemon juice, dilute a little bit of juice to add a splash of flavor, or stick some cucumber wedges into a pitcher of cold water. 
  • Use sparkling water to satisfy a carbonation craving without dealing with all the sugar of sodas. Add a splash of fruit juice if you need a little extra flavor.
  • Eat your veggies and fruit! Watery fruits and vegetables also count towards the day's water consumption.  Cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, celery, and grapes all have a lot of water content. 
    Note: Careful with fruit consumption if you have gestational diabetes or other complications that warrant counting sugars.  Always follow provider recommendations.
  • Carry a water bottle around with you.  Sometimes access is the best way to increase your consumption.
  • In a similar vein, leave water bottles around your home so that whatever room you're in, there's always some water available. 

I can't keep water down!

If you are someone who has a hard time keeping anything down, including water, please seek medical attention.  Similarly, if you have any signs of sever dehydration like dark yellow urine, very little urine output, signs of an infection, or any other concerning symptoms, please call your provider or seek medical attention.  Some women can suffer from conditions like hyperemesis which severely limits the amount of things, including fluids, that they can keep down.  This is much different than normal morning sickness and needs the oversight of a medical professional.  

 

 Photo by orinoco-art/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by orinoco-art/iStock / Getty Images

What are your best tips and tricks? 

And now it's your turn: What are your best tips and tricks for upping water consumption?  For myself, I love icy cold water.  I tend to drink that a lot more consistently than room temperature water.  I also really love watermelon and cucumbers, which I feel helps me hydrate as well.  During my winter pregnancies, I added soup to my list of ways to get water, but I shy away from this during summer months. 

Comment below with what helped you during pregnancy or just any other time in life! 

The Importance of Birth Stories

By: Gloria Miles

 

 Photo by michaklootwijk/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by michaklootwijk/iStock / Getty Images

It's so important to me to remember the stories of my births.  The details may be a little fuzzy after some time, the events might not be recollected in exact sequence, but the important parts are all there.  I do enjoy sharing them, especially with my children.  

I believe that everyone who has given birth should share, in part, their stories.  At the very least, to those who are important to them: their partners, their close friends, children.  This benefits the listener but also the person telling the story.

Before we had textbooks, before we had blogs and seminars and classrooms, we taught each other by storytelling; sometimes by songs.  This act of passing along wisdom and lessons through storytelling has been going on since we could speak and across cultures.  

Why share birth stories? 

Birth stories are part of this culture, believe it or not.  However, most are in the form of fictional stories spread through television or movies that are erroneously displayed as this terrible event that must be endured in order to meet one's baby.  Others are more dramatic and shown on the evening news as an event that could have gone so wrong! And yet, miraculously, everyone is somehow fine. Learn more at eight!

Birth stories from real individuals, shared in a safe space, can be a way to educate everyone who may give birth in the future to their first or even fifth child.  Every birth is different. Every story is different. Every experience is different. Sharing birth stories adds to the normalcy of this biological act.  Most birth stories are lovely but uneventful.  When pregnant, it's important to be reaffirmed that this is a normal, biological experience that one is equipped to handle. Normalizing labor and birth is important. 

Some people want to give birth in a manner that is very different from their mothers, from their friends, or from the disapproving individual on social media.  If this happens, it's even more important for that person to hear of labors that went along the lines of what that individual was planning.  For instance, if one chooses water birth, it's awesome to hear all of the water birth stories.  If one chooses to give birth in a birth center, then hearing all of the birth center experiences can be affirming and uplifting. 

Of course, this is also true for those who need a cesarean or who may be higher risk.  Sometimes fear comes from simply not understanding or knowing what is to come.  Anxiety and fear can be eased what will happen is explained. 

Not every birth story is bright and happy. 

Sometimes labor or the birth or both ends up being scary, traumatic, or simply traumatizing.  Perhaps the epidural didn't take and the experience was not what was planned.  Perhaps the birth center water birth ended up being a hospital transfer.  Nothing "terrible" has to happen in order for the individual to feel disappointed in the experience.  

And yes, sometimes terrible events do transpire during the labor or birth or both.  We've all heard the stories of a patient being abused by the hands of those who are supposed to be helping this laboring individual.  Sometimes a birth does not have a happy ending.  These births, while very difficult to share, should still be allowed to be shared with whomever the individual wishes and in a safe environment.  This can serve as a way to process what happened.  It can help heal.  Bottling these stories up within oneself in order not to scare or offend can be very harmful.  

I sometimes feel as though these birth experiences are muted and not allowed to be shared within the same walls of others and I wish that would stop.  I left a Facebook group once that was supposed to be a safe and open place to share experiences of "natural" births and the owner would chastise anyone who used words like "painful" or "scary" or the like.  A birth story was shared that ended with, "I think any mother will understand. Birth is the best and worst experience ever [because it hurts]."  The group owner congratulated her and asked she refrain from discussing the pain more or to edit her story. 

Validation and processing

I think it's important to validate every feeling.  My second labor felt uncomfortable but I was surprised at how little it really seemed to hurt.  I remember walking into the hospital and hoping I was actually in labor.  When I was admitted, I was nine centimeters with a bulging bag.  With my third, she was a whirlwind of a birth and labor was so intense--and yes, painful--that pushing was a relief, an experience I hadn't felt before. These are my experiences.  As I sit writing all of this, about eight months pregnant, I wonder how my fourth experience will transpire.  And yes, even with the variety of discomforts, pain, and elated emotions, I am planning another home birth.  

It's important for us to process our experiences.  This is how we learn from ourselves, this is how we heal, this is how we grow.  

The good of it all. 

However, as birth stories are spread, as people share, and as others listen, it will become obvious that for the majority, labor and birth is simply part of life.  Most are satisfied with their experiences, most are proud of what they accomplished, and most will remember these events for the rest of their lives.  This means that sharing these stories, all stories, will show a pattern of how normal this is, of how it's okay to daydream about the day, of how there's not really much to fear.  And for some, sharing their stories will be part of the healing process that's crucial and necessary for their own mental and emotional health.  

Before childbirth education classes, before doulas, before books and websites with advice, there were just stories passed from one generation to the next.  This is how childbirth education was taught.  This is how support began.  

Want to contribute? 

Please email your story to rdoulas@gmail.com if you would like to share.  You can share with your name and pictures, with no pictures, or even anonymously.  

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs. 

Rainy Day Fun

By: Gloria Miles

Rain seems to be in the forecast until about 2050.  Okay, so perhaps not that far out, but Richmond, VA may be competing with Seattle, WA.  Our current season is Wet.  First there's clouds, then lightning, then pouring down rain.  Rain trickles to a stop, puddles start to dry up, and a light shower to make sure no one is complacent with their umbrellas. 

Farmers must be rejoicing. 

Parents may be feeling a little stir-crazy. 

Not to worry, though, below is a list of things to do around the Richmond area, your home, or even just the backyard. 

 Photo by g-stockstudio/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by g-stockstudio/iStock / Getty Images

*ANY AGE/ANY TIME. Sometimes indoor play is the best kind of play.  This is mostly free except for material costs: Get construction paper or large sheets of paper that will allow you to trace the upper body or entire body of your child. Let your child color it as he or she wishes. Cut out the profile and post it up as wall decorations. 

*ANY AGE/ ANY TIME. Window paint is super fun for children of most ages. Write messages to the rain or sun on the windows. Enhance the gray clouds with some bright images courtesy of your 4-year-old. It's all up to you!

*Toddlers/Monday, June 4th: Yoga with the Tots! at My Birth. 

*11 and under/ Mondays: Children Museum of Richmond: the CMoR will offer FREE admission to military, first responders, veterans, law enforcement, and their families. 

*3-5 YEARS OLD/ Monday, June 4thHenrico Public Library will be making sassy summer snakes. FREE. 

*Tuesday, June 5th: 11am.  Pottery Barn Kids, Short Pump Mall.  Kids can enjoy some of their favorite books read aloud. FREE.

*May 25th through Labor Day, admission to the Mariner's Museum and Park will be reduced to $1 per person to engage as many people as possible because through the world’s waters, through our shared maritime heritage, we are all mariners.

*ALL AGES/TUESDAYS: Every Tuesday, during the months of June, July and August, children ages 16 and under are admitted free with paying adult. Learn 18th-century history, explore the gardens and grounds, see our ninth president’s birthplace and walk the same floors as our founding fathers. Children’s activities included. Adult admission is $12.

*ALL AGES/ANY TIME: Host a movie night at your house for you and some friends. Rewatch a classic or pick up a new one from Redbox. Pop some popcorn, let the kids help with snacks, and enjoy!

*ALL AGES/ANY TIME: Provided there is no lightening outside, put on some rain boots and go splashing in the puddles! I feel like too few people take advantage of all the fun that is right at their fingertips. Afterward, warm up with some dry clothes and board games. 

Great indoor places to visit (costs vary) for when the kids are stir-crazy and you need some inspiration: 

Children's Museum of Richmond

Science Museum

Jumpology

Peak Experiences: A Rock Climbing Gym for all ages (recommended for 7 and older)

Monkey Joe's

And now your turn: What are your favorite go-to activities or places during the wetter summer days? 

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.