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Is a Prenatal Class about Childbirth or about Babies?

Prenatal Childbirth Preparation for Doctors' Patients

This term we use – Prenatal Class – is confusing, isn’t it?

Some parents-to-be are fascinated by, or worried about labour and birth and are wanting to spend a lot of time talking about it. They come to our 12-hour, six-week Childbirth Preparation classes and are happy to spend most of the time on labour and birth, and practicing comfort measures and coping skills, and find that it’s great that we also spend two entire hours talking about babies and breastfeeding.

Other parents, who are more worried about how they are going to cope with the baby once it is out, feel they would like to spend more time talking about babies and breastfeeding.

It’s for this second group of parents that we have designed the Parenting the Newborn series. It’s a three-week, six-hour series in which a postpartum doula and breastfeeding educator takes you though two hours on baby care and two hours on breastfeeding, and then a First Aid Instructor comes and teaches two hours of Infant First Aid and CPR.

Many of our parents take both sets of classes. And we encourage this by giving parents a $15 discount if they sign up for both classes at the same time. (We also acknowledge that there will be a little overlap between the classes.) Some parents take only one, or only the other.

I would say, that if you take only one, the Childbirth Preparation Class is the one to take. Experiencing childbirth in a healthy and satisfying way takes knowledge and preparation. Labour and Birth happen all at once, in a big storm. There is little time to consider, or problem solve during labour. The learning and considering and deciding needs to happen before labour starts – even though you may change your mind during labour itself – in fact you probably will.

You can learn baby care and breastfeeding over several week and months. Babies are very patient with fumbly parents, and every parent figures out their own way through the challenges of of the first weeks. In fact, the hormones you make (yes, parents of all genders make hormones when they are around babies) will help you be more attentive and respond more sensitively to your baby.

At Mothering Touch, we believe in people’s basic ability to give birth and care for their babies. We want parents to feel well-prepared and well-supported, to feel satisfied with their birth experience and to be able to enjoy the first weeks with their baby. That is the goal of all our classes and groups.

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Twelve to Sixteen Weeks Pregnant

Twelve Weeks to Sixteen Weeks Pregnant

You’ve come to the end of the First Trimester! You are now entering the Second Trimester – this is the time of the legendary glowing, energetic happy pregnant mama. Of course, that does not happen for everyone. For some, nausea and vomiting do not subside, and fatigue persists even after twelve weeks. This is very difficult.

How you might feel between twelve weeks and sixteen weeks of pregnancy:

  • Nausea and vomiting might start to get better.
  • Heartburn might start or get worse
  • Some women find their sex drive gets stronger at this time – estrogen from the placenta contributes to this.
  • Stuffy nose and nosebleeds
  • Sore back
  • Hair growth – all those growth hormones the placenta is making can make hair grow well on your head – and elsewhere.
  • Headaches. Acetaminophen may be ok (ask your care provider to make sure), but ibuprophen and aspirin are not safe for use in pregnancy. Try a cold compress on your forehead, taking a nap, or having a snack.

Things you may do between twelve weeks and sixteen weeks of pregnancy:

  • Because you are now passed the period of highest risk for miscarriage, this may be when you choose to tell friends and family about your pregnancy. This can be an exciting and happy thing. It can also create a lot of attention and make some women feel shy. Take your time, and tell your news at your own pace.
  • Pregnant women tend to spend a lot of time in the Second Trimester thinking about the baby (some call it daydreaming, or processing, or meditating), wondering what s/he will be like and how it will feel to be a parent.  Use that motivation to learn right now about baby care, and infant development. Some good books include, The Baby Book, by William & Martha Sears and Your Amazing Newborn, by Marshall and Phyllis Klaus.
  • This is alo a good time to learn more about breastfeeding. A good book would be Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Nancy Mohrbacher.
  • Consider having a doula at your birth.  A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides physical, informational and emotional support and helps parents to have an easier and more positive childbirth experience.  You can learn more by clicking here.
  • Register for Prenatal Childbirth Preparation Classes.  It’s best to take these after 28 weeks, but you have to schedule them and register for them now or the class you want may not be available. 

 Between twelve weeks and sixteen weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • be seeing you every month at this stage
  • weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain
  • palpate and measure your abdomen
  • at this stage, you and your care provider will be able to hear the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device
  • if your prenatal screening tests have shown positive results, you may be offered amniocentesis. You can read about that here.

You’re getting to know your care-provider now, and developing a relationship with him or her.  Keep a list of questions to ask at your monthly appointments.  It’s so easy to forget.

Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health:

  • As the nausea starts to go away, experiment with new, nutritious foods.  You may feel hungry in a way you have not experienced before.
  • Keep up with regular physical activity.  As you get bigger around the middle, you may feel a little awkward in your regular classes and decide to join a pregnancy yoga, fitness or aquafit class.  Or not!  The best way to get exercise is to do what you love in an environment you feel comfortable with.  Don’t let anyone else tell you where that should be.
  • If you have not yet joined the Pregnancy Happy Hour on Fridays evenings at the Mothering Touch Centre come and try it out!

Resources:

Infant development: https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/babies-physical-development-0-6-months
Breastfeeding videos: https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/topic/feeding
Doulas: http://www.doulasofvictoria.ca/
Doulas: http://doulamatch.net/
Genetic testing: 
http://www.perinatalservicesbc.ca/ScreeningPrograms/PrenatalGeneticScreening/family-resources/default.htm

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When should I take Prenatal Classes?

 

I’ve been teaching Childbirth preparation Classes since 1992 and my feeling is that it is best to take classes in the third trimester of pregnancy.  That means AFTER 28 weeks.

Before 28 weeks, women tend to be focused on other tasks of pregnancy (See The Second Trimester for more info about this).  Women tend to become MUCH more interested in the process of labour and birth once their bellies get bigger and they get closer to their due date.  Also, you want to have the information fresh in your mind when you go into labour.  It doesn’t make much sense to learn it months before you need it.

You also want to choose a class that will end by the time you get to 38 or 39 weeks.  This is not really because you are likely to have the baby early, first-time moms are more likely to have their babies late than early.  But by 38 or 39 weeks, women tend to be quite uncomfortable and tired and coming to class in the evening or for a whole day on the weekend is not so much fun.

When you choose to do your class depends also on which format you take.  If you are doing a two-Saturday class, the best time might be in your 35th and 36th weeks.  If you are going to take a 4-week series of Sunday afternoons, you probably want to start by week 33 or 34.  And if you are going to take a 6-week series of weekday evenings, you should probably start in week 31 or 32.

Is it okay to take the classes starting as early as 28 weeks or ending as late as 39 weeks??  Well, of course if scheduling is difficult, it’s better to do them early or late than never at all.  But remember that the other mothers in your class will all be due around the same time and if you are due much before or much after them, you miss out on the mutual support and the companionship through those last weeks of pregnancy and first weeks of being new parents together.  We had one mom who started her classes when she was only 26 weeks phone and ask us to move her into a later series because she felt “not really pregnant” when she compared herself to the others in her class.

Please feel free to call us and have a chat if you are finding it difficult to choose the rights dates.  We are here to help!

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Keeping the Love Alive: When Partners Become Parents

Randy and Eva

My husband Randy and I have been together for almost 35 years now. We were together for seven years before having our first child. In that time we completed a total of 5 post-secondary degrees, got married (and organized a wedding with 120 guests), moved three times (including one move abroad), spent several long periods living apart because of school and work, lived with my parents (for a year) and renovated a 1500 square-foot apartment. We had lots of stress. And lots of arguments. We also had lots of opportunities to grow as a couple and as a team.

But it wasn’t until Daniel was born that we realized how important it was for us to be a team. Because now, we were not the only ones who would be made unhappy if our team did not succeed; our son would be made unhappy too. We were really stuck now!

Not only did we suddenly recognize the permanence of this team, but we also were suddenly aware of all sorts of issues we had each taken for granted. We had never thought to discuss questions like:

Who will get up in the night with the baby?
Whose paid work is more important?
Who decides how often we bathe the baby, or change his sheets, or wipe his nose?
Who makes sure there will be food in the fridge, clean clothes, toilet paper?

Continue reading Keeping the Love Alive: When Partners Become Parents

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Thirty-Six to Forty Weeks Pregnant

 

Thirty-Six to Forty weeks Pregnant

This is the last full month of your pregnancy. You may be winding up at work, finishing up projects at home. The baby is coming soon!

Although the baby is getting bigger and is almost ready to be born, it is not full term until 40 weeks. Although it is safe for a baby to be born at 37 week, most first babies are born after 40 weeks. And 40-week babies are bigger and stronger and often breastfeed better. Don’t start expecting the baby too early – it makes for a long wait!

 

How you might feel between thirty-six and forty weeks of pregnancy:

  • Your growing baby is using up almost all your resources. You may be feeling very tired at the end of the day.
  • Back pain, caused by the increasing weight of the baby and softening joints, may slow you down too.
  • Baby’s movements are not just kicks anymore, but feel more like stretches and rolls. Baby’s hiccups – a little, slow, pulse-like feeling, deep inside you – can feel odd.
  • You may find it difficult to sleep through the night, waking frequently to pee or to roll over. Try to take the sleep interruptions lightly. Stay relaxed. Sleep will come again soon.
  • Heartburn becomes (or is still) a problem.
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions, also called pregnancy contractions, may start to become more intense. Remember your uterus contracts more if you are dehydated or over-active. Take it easy and have a glass of water if the tightenings start to bother you.
  • Feet and ankles may be swollen by the end of the day, or if the weather is warm.

Things you may do between thirty-six and forty weeks weeks of pregnancy:

  • Getting ready for your baby to come home. Washing clothes, tidying, installing car seat.
  • Cooking and freezing meals for after the baby comes.
  • Enjoy time alone with your partner! Go out for some meals, to the movies.
  • Buy nursing bras around 37-38 weeks. An experienced fitter can help you find a bra that will fit as your breasts get bigger when your milk “come in” around day 3 of your baby’s life.
  • Think about daycare? It sounds ridiculous, but if you are planning to go back to work outside the home after your maternity leave is over, you need to think ahead.
  • Think about the Fourth Trimester  (first three months of baby’s life) … Who will be available for physical support right after the baby is born? Partner? Birth-helper? Family? Friends? Post-partum Doula? All of the above?

 Between thirty-six and forty weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • Be seeing you once a week at this stage.
  • Weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain.
  • Check your blood pressure.
  • Check your urine for protein and infection.
  • Palpate and measure your abdomen.
  • Listen to the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device.
  • Review test results.
  • Discuss breastfeeding, the importance of feeding early and often.
  • Newborn care in the hospital, including eye ointment, Vitamin K and newborn screening tests.
  • Infant sleep and safety
  • Postpartum moods and support
  • Options if pregnancy is prolonged – monitoring and induction.

Your care provider is one of your best sources of information.  Keep a list of questions to ask at your monthly appointments.

Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health:

  • Might be a good time for a pedicure! Very relaxing, and totally justified when you can’t reach your feet!
  • Aquafit classes really help with swollen feet and legs, and backache. Or just go for a gentle evening swim.
  • Be aware of your baby’s movements. Although babies slow down in the last few weeks, they still move a lot! Keep track of times when you expect your baby to move. Note your baby’s daily patterns.
  • Keep working on perineal massage to increase health of perineal tissues and give you practice relaxing as perineum stretches.
  • Learn about Postpartum Mood Disorders.  What might it feel like?  Where can you find help if you need it?  20-40% of women are diagnosed with some mood disorder (anxiety or depression) after giving birth.  We’re pretty sure other women have the same feelings but never seek help.  Support makes it all easier to deal with.
  • Ask friends to throw you a shower where they all bring casseroles for the freezer or tell a friend about MealTrain (I think this is really cool!) and get them to set up a meal rotation for you after the baby comes.

Resources:

Finding a Doula in Victoria, BC: Greater Victoria Doula Directory

What to pack in your hospital bag: Packing for the Hospital.

Home Birth Supplies – an example: Access Midwifery, Victoria

Instructions for Perineal Massage: Perineal Massage in Pregnancy

Organizing friends and family to help with meals: Mealtrain.com

Learning about postpartum emotions: Pacific Postpartum Support Society

Coping with postpartum depression and anxiety: Healthy Families BC

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We have a new floor!

2015-10-31 18.12.27

On the morning of October 31, Victoria had a record-breaking rainfall. More rain feel within a six-hour period than has ever been recorded since we started recording such things. And some of that rain leaked through the roof of our building at 975 Fort Street and seeped down the inside of the wall and flooded the floor of our Activity Room and The Nest at the back of Mothering Touch.

2015-10-31 18.12.38

The laminate flooring had to be ripped up and discarded, and big fans had to be brought in to dry up the walls and the concrete floor. The Saturday Childbirth Class still ran, on a slightly soppy floor. The Sunday and Monday classes ran at alternate locations (our house and that of my parents-in-law – Thank You Murray and Eleanor!) By Tuesday we had the foamy floor we use for the Baby Fair set up in the Activity Room, and we brought some of the large rugs from our house to make the room seem a little less cavernous. Childbirth Preparation Classes and Parenting the Newborn kept running, but Yoga and other activities and the Baby Groups could not run in the room as it was.

2015-11-13 16.28.32

Yesterday and today, a new vinyl-plank floor was installed. We still have to do some work on the walls and the baseboards, but the Activity Room and The Nest are functional again! I am so grateful for insurance and for restoration professionals, and for our lovely landlord who is being very supportive. I am grateful also to our customers and clients who have been understanding and patient with us as we went through this ordeal.

I look forward to seeing you all at Baby Groups next week. Yoga classes will begin again on Sunday morning. Dads’ Group is back on too. Life will be so much more fun and animated around here!

Have a good weekend! ~ Eva

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Twenty-Eight to Thirty-Two Weeks Pregnant

Twenty-Eight to Thirty-Two Weeks Pregnant

Twenty-Eight to Thirty Two Weeks Pregnant

You are officially in the Third Trimester now. The baby is bigger and movements are stronger. You may be starting to think of this baby as a separate person from you.

How you might feel between twenty-eight weeks and thirty-two weeks of pregnancy:

  • The baby is bigger and movements are stronger. You may be starting to think of this baby as a separate person from you. Some mothers find that they like this feeling of always having a loved one close, inside. Some mothers start to feel a little crowded.
  • Your softening ligaments and growing belly may cause sciatic pain which starts in your low back and goes down the back of one leg. Mention this to your care-provider who may recommend seeing a chiropractor or physiotherapist.
  • As you body slows down, your brain may feel like ti’s slowing down too, because the higher levels of endorphins you are producing. You may experience some absentmindedness or “baby brain.” Carry a notebook, make a to-do list.
  • Heartburn may become more severe. Small meals, pineapple, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut are some remedies women have tried. Ask your care provider about what antacids you an safely use.

Things you may do between twenty-eight weeks and thirty-two weeks of pregnancy:

  • This is when you may start to attend childbirth classes. Make sure you talk to the other parents and make connections. This is the beginning of creating your group of mommy-friends.
  • You are probably thinking about getting your home ready for baby. Setting up the nursery, shopping, gathering hand-me-downs.
  • Where will your baby sleep? Have you thought about room-sharing? Bed-sharing? Bassinet? Crib?
  • Get your pets ready for baby. If you have not done obedience training, it miht be time. Expose them to other babies, decide where they will sleep when baby comes, take them to the vet for a check-up.

 Between twenty-eight weeks and thirty-two weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • Be seeing you every two-three weeks at this stage.
  • Weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain.
  • Check your blood pressure.
  • Check your urine for protein and infection.
  • Palpate and measure your abdomen.
  • Listen to the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device.
  • Discuss your emotional health and adaptation to your pregnancy.
  • Discuss postpartum depression and preparations for postpartum support.
  • Review test results.

Your care provider is one of your best sources of information.  Keep a list of questions to ask at your monthly appointments.

Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health:

  • Arrange to have a dental checkup – it will be more difficult to find time after baby comes and healthy teeth mean healthy mom.
  • Make sure you include lots of fiber in your diet to help with constipation, which gets worse as pregnancy continues.
  • Take an evening walk after supper. It can help with morning blood-sugar levels.
  • Essential fatty acids (Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil) can help with depression and general health. Ask you care provider whether they are appropriate for you.
  • Start attending your childbirth preparation classes (prenatal classes).
  • Consider taking Baby Care classes.

Resources:

Depression in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period: Here to Help BC

Eating Fish in Pregnancy: Health Canada

Dental Care in pregnancy: HealthLink BC

Pets and Babies: HealthLinkBC

Heartburn: HealthLinkBC

Childbirth Classes: Mothering Touch

Baby Care Classes: Parenting the Newborn

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Breastfeeding Counts!

Breastfeeding Counts! is the BC-wide annual celebration of National Breastfeeding Week. It gathers groups of mothers, some tiny groups of 2-3 in someone’s living room, some larger groups in meetings rooms and libraries, and some really big groups in rec centres and shopping malls. What all the groups have in common is that they have come together to celebrate breastfeeding and support each other in mothering their children.

BF counts


Here in Victoria, we will be meeting at Uptown. Arrive at 10am to register and enjoy the pre-count Story Time. At 11, all the moms latch their babies on simultaneously and there is an official count.

It’s such a joyful event! I look forward to seeing you there.

~ Eva

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Parenting the Newborn

shutterstock_3618417

In the good old days (she reminisces, her voice cracking with age,) I used to teach a prenatal class series that went on for nine weeks! Sometime towards the turn of the millennium, folks just got too too busy to spend nine weeks coming to childbirth classes when they were expecting a baby. So we moved to a six-week series, which has become the standard all over North America.

But we had so much less time, so we had to drop some content, and one of the things we had to do was spend less time on The Newborn and Baby Care. And we always felt sad about that. Parents felt they needed more information and we felt that they could use the boost of confidence that comes from having taken a course and having had time to ask questions before they have to jump in to taking care of their very own baby.

So we designed a course specifically for parents-to-be to prepare for caring for their newborn baby. We called it Parenting the Newborn and we included in it the standard things: How to Bathe and Diaper and Swaddle and Soothe your baby. We also included a two-hour in-depth Breastfeeding Workshop and a two-hour Infant First Aid course. But we wanted the course to be about more than just the mechanics of baby care. We have also included opportunities for parents to examine their values where parenting their baby is concerned. We spend a lot of time discussing what babies’ needs are in the three months after birth. And we talk a lot about the importance of physical contact, cuddling and holding for babies. It’s a great course, designed and taught by childbirth and breastfeeding educators who are also trained postpartum doulas.

Parenting The Newborn is an excellent complement to our Childbirth Preparation Class. We encourage new parents to take it at any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

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DadsDadsDads

Lucas myers

At Mothering Touch we spend a lot of time talking about Fathers. Expectant fathers, new fathers, fathers’ roles, fathers’ pride, fathers’ responsibilities, fathers’ anxiety, fathers’ identity, fathers’ joys. What do fathers need? What support? What information? What books? What equipment? And it’s hard to find answers to those questions.

But this weekend, Theatre Skam and Lucas Myers are going to answer those questions for us in Hello baby! And maybe one answer is: Fathers need a good laugh!

Matthew Payne, the Artistic Director at Theatre Skam and one of our Mothering Touch Dads, approached me to make sure I knew about this great show. It’s framed as an Instructional Lecture for new fathers. It poses (and I hope, answers) burning questions like:

“Is your life as you know it really over?”

“Can you safely operate a fax machine/belt sander/breast pump on two hours sleep?”

“Is it really possible to become so obsessed with bowel movements and nipples that you a make up little nicknames for them? Like ‘Jerome’? Or ‘Kathy?’”

I gather there are songs too. The one I am most looking forward to hearing is Yes-Honey-I’d-Be-More-Than-Happy-To-Make-Dinner-And-Hand-Wash-All-These-Cloth-Diapers-As-Soon-As-I-Finish-Giving-You-A-Back-Rub-And-Vacuuming-The-Floor-Again-Because-You-Are-Hyper-Paranoid-About-Germs,-Really-I-Would,-No,-I’m-Not-Just-Saying-That-Because-I-Think-It’s-What-You-Want-to-Hear,-I-Want-to-Do-It,-Look,-I’m-Doing-It-Right-Now,-See?

I invite Dads and Moms and all those who love them and support them (like Grandmas and Grandpas and Aunties and doulas) to come on this field trip to the land of New Dads. I’m looking forward to a good laugh!

Hello baby! at the Metro Studio – February 22 and 23 – Single Tickets for Hello Baby! along with season tickets are available in advance at Ticket Rocket or 250.590.6291 – Advance Tickets: $18 for Adults, $15 for Students and seniors At the Door: $23 for Adults, $20 for Students and seniors

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Knowing What’s Important

"I really want to thank you for teaching us about having a birth plan and being open and ready for change.  Our plan went from a natural water birth at home to finding out baby had flipped into a frank breach position at 38 weeks then going into labour on Christmas Eve and having to have an emergency C-section.  I guess we got all of our cards flipped except the most important one, Healthy Baby!" Having that plan and knowing what was most important really helped us get though all of the surprise twists and turns."

~ Rachael