Top 10 Things I wish I Knew About the Newborn Period

By: Gloria Miles

Typically, parents look forward to the birth of their child. There are apps to see how the pregnancy is developing, but also includes an air of “countdown” within its tone. At the end of the pregnancy, especially the last month, waiting can feel excruciating.

All that being said, the newborn period is wrought full of surprises. After daydreaming of tiny baby feet, little onesies, and being able to hold one’s little baby…it’s no surprise that for many there are surprising elements (and some not so pleasant ones) in the postpartum period.

Here is what I wish I knew before the birth of my first child:

  1. It’s okay to not like your baby.

    I know that sounds weird, maybe even mean. But it’s true. I think this is important to realize. Some nights, when you’re sleep deprived, baby isn’t latching well, your nipples hurt, your baby is crying, when this whole parenting gig is feeling overwhelming…it’s okay to look at that sweet baby and not like him or her. It’s okay to wonder what you were thinking. Great parents need breaks. Great parents need sleep. Great parents need to walk away from their baby for a few minutes to grab a breather.

    The newborn period is hard! This is a huge period of change. It’s important to recognize when you need help. My suggestion: hire a postpartum doula! They really are a godsend.

  2. Prepare to be late…to everything.

    Leaving the house for the first time seems overwhelming, it is overwhelming, the very first time. Suddenly, you have to remember a diaper bag, maybe bottles and formula, you have to safely strap the most floppiest, squishiest thing into a car seat. Give yourself a lot of grace and time. And just realize you’ll be late to a lot of things in the future.

  3. Get used to bodily fluids.

    Pee, poop, spit up. You’re basically a human wet wipe. …you get used to it. Somehow it’s a little less gross when it’s your own little human getting it on you. Or you’re too tired to care.

  4. Baby teepees don’t work…
    Someone gifted me these little baby teepee things that were supposed to be placed over a baby’s penis. The purpose was so there wasn’t any accidental baptism of the parent with infant urine. Those things slid off my kid’s penis almost as soon as it was placed on there. My suggestion? Use a wash cloth and place it over the area. Or just refer back to number 3. Also, change boys from the side. Then at least the changing table will get it.

  5. It’s lonely.

    It’s a little lonely, for both parents. I think it’s important to prepare the partner for the newborn period as well. Postpartum doulas can also help support him or her during this period of transition. It’s a little isolating when a partner goes back to work and suddenly there’s just you and baby. It’s also lonely for the partner in that they “lose” you for a bit. A family of two has become three, and the third requires so much time and attention. Eventually, a new normal will come, but in the beginning, partners can sometimes feel neglected.

  6. The newborn period is a season.

    This season of your life is temporary. The first month or two is usually the bumpiest.

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.

How do you recover from a long birth?

How do you recover from a long birth?

It may be your first birth. It may be your tenth. But sooner or later, you will have that marathon birth. The thirty hour birth they tell legends about, the birth that you will be processing for weeks, the birth that balances out the shorter ones. This is the beauty and the difficulty of doula support: there are no shift changes. Your continued presence is so valuable to provide continuity to a family who is working long and hard to meet their baby through a rotating cast of care providers, nurses, position changes, comfort measures, and more. The family will be blessed to have you, and you will know you made a difference. But that doesn't make it any easier to recover, especially after the birth feelings wear off, and you're at home, tired, with a crazy messy house, maybe crazy children, and there's not enough coffee in the world!

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How do you recover from a postpartum doula overnight?

How do you recover from a postpartum doula overnight?

Guest post by McRae Brittingham of Aunt McRae's New Family Support. McRae is a postpartum doula, breastfeeding peer counselor and child passenger safety technician. Read more about McRae here
With input from Amy Washington, postpartum doula of Mom4Hire, & Erica Angert, postpartum doula of Erica the Doula, LLC.

This is a two part series. This week, we'll be talking about recovering from a long night as a postpartum doula. Next week, we'll tackle recovering from a long birth. If you want to learn about a day in the life of a postpartum doula, click here. 

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What to Consider When Hiring a Doula

What to Consider When Hiring a Doula

So you're pregnant and considering hiring a doula. Maybe you knew all about doulas for months before you were expecting or maybe this is all new to you! You know that you're inviting this person into your birth space and those first few vulnerable and sweet weeks postpartum...what should you consider when hiring them?

What is more important: how many births they've attended, what kind of training and certifications they have? Or their personality and whether you vibe with them? Of course their fee has a lot to do with your decision. If you qualify for Medicaid and are located in Richmond, be sure to check out Urban Baby Beginnings to connect with a volunteer birth or postpartum doula. (You can self refer on their website).

If you're able to afford the standard birth doula fee of $500-1000 or postpartum fee of $25/hour, you can find yourself with a long list of potential available doulas! (If you have questions about the cost of a birth doula, check out this blog post where we talk about getting covered by insurance and other questions about what goes into a birth doula fees.)

We asked some of our members (many of whom entered the birth world by hiring their own doula for their pregnancies) what they think is important to consider when hiring a birth or postpartum doula. Here are their four major themes to consider.

As doulas, we consider being hired an honor, and we know that being invited into this time of your life is a very special decision!

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Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula

Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula

What do postpartum doulas do? You can read about the benefits here and if you’re interested in becoming one, there is a great training coming to Richmond in November. But what might a typical 3-4 hour shift look like?

This entry describes a typical four hour day shift in the life of a postpartum doula. Overnights are very different! Stay tuned for "Night in the Life of a Postpartum Doula."

*This is a fictional client to protect privacy.*

My client’s baby is six days old and she has two older girls, a five year old and a three year old. I met her prenatally for an hour to get to know her, to meet her girls and to get familiar with her house and where everything is. She signed up for a twenty hour package. When her new baby boy is born, she emails me a picture and I send her congratulations and a list of my availability for the coming month. She picks out five shifts of four hours each.

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Who is Richmond Doulas: Ruth Green

Who is Richmond Doulas: Ruth Green

Ruth is a source of wisdom for the birth community and the family she serves. She goes out of her way to advocate for doulas in Richmond and to mentor new doulas. In the following interview, you’ll get to learn more about this nurturing and knowledgeable woman. 

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Who is Richmond Doulas: April Titler

Who is Richmond Doulas: April Titler

Doula Spotlight
April Titler
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." -Brené Brown

 

Business Name: Encourage Doula Services
Services: Postpartum Doula (DONA)
Years in practice: 3
Families Served: 20+ 

When meeting April for the first time, I noticed her positive energy. She came to my Centering Pregnancy group to introduce us to the idea of postpartum doulas when I was pregnant with my second son, and I remember thinking how lovely it would be to have her in my home. She is a source of sunlight in a room and a lovely person to spend time with. I can imagine her bringing a sense of quiet joy to a family's postpartum period. In the following interview, you’ll get to learn more about this knowledgeable, competent and kind woman. 

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

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What to Expect at a Meet the Doulas Event

What to Expect at a Meet the Doulas Event

So maybe you've heard that Richmond Doulas is hosting our quarterly Meet the Doulas on August 31 at Richmond OB/GYN from 6:30-8:00. Maybe you are a curious expectant family, or maybe you are a doula who has never attended one of these events before. Are you wondering what to expect? This blog post will answer questions that both families and doulas may have about this fun event that RD sponsors four times a year! Maybe you'll decide to mark it down on your calendar and come on out to sit with us in person and learn

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Who is Richmond Doulas: McRae Brittingham

Who is Richmond Doulas: McRae Brittingham

When meeting McRae, you’d notice her laugh and the way she puts people at ease. She is extremely knowledgeable yet presents her wisdom in a very easy going way. In the following interview, you’ll get to learn more about this nurturing woman. In addition to working tirelessly with her postpartum clients, she advocates for postpartum doulas in Richmond and mentors those who are new to the field with enthusiasm and generous wisdom. I'd highly recommend chatting with her early on in your pregnancy to see if she has availability in her calendar for postpartum support.

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Types of Doulas and FAQ

Types of Doulas and FAQ

You're pregnant and you've just heard someone ask if you are hiring a doula. But you're sort of confused about what a doula is, what she does, and what she doesn't do. And maybe there's more than one type? Is that true? It can get confusing! Hopefully this blog post will help differentiate between the types, figure out which kind you'd like and/or need.

[Note: I use the gender pronoun "she" throughout the post, though men and/or those who do not identify as female may also become doulas and midwives. This is for simplicity's sake and not to be exclusive.]

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Who is Richmond Doulas: Jess Turner

Who is Richmond Doulas: Jess Turner

When meeting Jess, you can feel her quiet and peaceful energy. She brings calm to a room when she arrives. In the following interview, you’ll learn more about this sincere, self-reflective and knowledgeable woman. If I were to summarize Jess in one word, I’d use “reassuring.” I can only imagine what her calm presence would bring to a birth or postpartum room and recommend all families to check on her availability for birth or postpartum or check out one of yoga classes.

Jess is the second doulas featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

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What did you learn from your first few clients?

What did you learn from your first few clients?

Doula training is immersive. Usually, we attend a three day, 20+ hour training and then we learn on the job. Much like an apprenticeship, our first few clients are part of our certification process, and a new doula learns so much from each family. I heard a doula at a conference say once, “I had only attended about five births at the time, so each birth was an entire education in and of itself…” I heard another doula comment once that when you have attended twenty births, you realize again that you know nothing. 

So much of doula work is about presence. Skills like acupressure, optimal fetal positioning, rebozo, postpartum recovery and breastfeeding support—all of these skills are valuable, but what we learn in the first few births or first few postpartum clients is how to be present. I find my birth and postpartum bags getting slimmer and slimmer with each client as I learn to trust my most powerful tools: my hands, my voice, and my presence.

We polled our members to ask them what their takeaways were from their first few client experiences. What I found so amazing was that not one of them mentions a skill that you can pick up at a weekend training or by reading a birth blog. Each and every doula describes learning something about presence and emotional support.

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