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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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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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Breastfeeding Challenge!!

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Well, this year, one of my long-time dreams is coming true! The Quintessence Global Breastfeeding Challenge is taking place at the Mayfair Mall!

I worked on the organization of the Victoria site of the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge every year from 2001 to 2006 and each yar I would go around to the shopping malls and ask if they would host the event. Each year they would look at me with the same puzzled expression. Well, to be sure, my request was not a usual one. The Breastfeeding Challenge is an event to raise awareness of breastfeeding and to welcome and celebrate breastfeeding mothers and families. It involves gathering as many breastfeeding mothers and babies as possible into one place, and then getting all to latch-on at the same time – so that all over BC, moms and babies are latching on a participating in this event together. And all over the world (in 2014 there were 195 sites in 10 countries) moms and babies latched on at 11am local time on the first Saturday in October.

The first year Breastfeeding Matters hosted the Challenge, we did it in a high school gym. We got some media attention, but we felt hidden away. I so wanted the event to take place in public, where the visibility would be greater. But in 2002, none of the shopping malls would host us – they said we were not their “target market.” I wondered, if young women and families are not the target of shopping malls, who is? For a few years, we ran the event at the moss street Market, and then in Centennial Square. That was more visible and more public, but damp and foggy in the morning of the first Saturday of October. So we went back inside and ran the event at Silver City in a movie theater for a couple of years.

In recent years, the event has been de-centralized and run by the local libraries. And last year, we did it in an empty store-front at Uptown Mall. But this year!

This year, we are in the Centre Court of Mayfair Mall! I am so happy! And I invite all the breastfeeding mother and families and all the friends and supporters of breastfeeding to join us there on Saturday October 4 for Story Time at 10:30am and then for the Big Latch-On at 11am. See you there!

~Eva

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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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The Challenges of Motherhood

Last Friday, in the context of the "Mommy-Boost Month" organized by Elements of Health, I met with a lovely group of ten mothers and mothers-to-be to discuss "The Challenges of Motherhood".  One mother was still pregnant, most had babies under 6 months and the most experience mother there had a school-aged child and a toddler.

The Challenges of Motherhood are what I talk about with moms every week in the Mothering Touch Pregnancy and Baby Groups.  But this time, instead of just pushing the same ideas around and sharing with each other, I thought we should collect the ideas and publish them to let other parents know how we feel about this very difficult job.  So at the end of the discussion, each of the mothers wrote her biggest challenge down and I promised to collect them all and put them on my blog.  Below is the list we came up with.

I so sympathize with these feelings.  Motherhood is such a central experience in a woman’s life, we want SO badly to do an excellent job!  And yet we often feel that we are losing ourselves and our relationships in the process.

The Greatest Challenges of Motherhood

  • Staying connected with myself separate from my role as a mother.
  • LETTING GO.  Letting go of everything: ideas about time, ideas about achievement, ideas about perfection, ideas about motherhood.
  • Filling each day.  Loneliness.  Feeling like I’m doing enough to stimulate my baby.
  • Fatigue.  Not having the time and energy to care for myself.
  • Isolation.  Missing adult conversation.
  • Motherhood can be lonely and overwhelming.  There just isn’t enough support.  It’s hard not living up to expectations.
  • Knowing whose advice to take, what book to listen to.
  • Knowing what to do with my baby, making sure that I’m stimulating him enough.
  • Feeling like I’m fulfilling my duties as a Mum and staying at home: keeping the house tidy and cooking with a baby.
  • Connecting with other "like" women.  Smaller casual encounters are needed to form stronger bonds and make real friends.
  • Adjusting from being an independent professional to have a completely dependent child that I am at home with 24/7.
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My First OFFICIAL Blog Post

Well, of course, I have been blogging for years: writing short essays for my website on topics that I hoped would be useful to my clients and my colleagues.  But now Mothering Touch has an actual Official Blog.  This is a little intimidating.  And yet, so much happens here every day of the week, I should never have trouble finding something to write about.

Right now, in the big activity room, Do Stier, a Doula Trainer for Vancouver, is running our annual DONA-International Post-Partum Doula Training.  Fifteen enthusiastic and caring women are learning how to help mothers and families in the Post-partum period (the first six weeks after birth).  Last week I ran a DONA-International Birth Doula Training and twelve new birth doulas have now joined our birthing community.  One of my trainees, came from as far away as Edmonton!

A couple of moms with their babies, on a stroll downtown, have popped in to nurse on the comfy brown couches in our smaller back room.  That back room – officially called the Resource Room (now "The Nest"!) – is one of my favourite things about this place.  We planned it as a room for breastfeeding consultations and private prenatal classes.  It houses our lending library which contains books and DVD’s on pregnancy, breastfeeding and early parenting.  The room also gets used for meetings of local community organization, like the Doulas of Victoria or Breastfeeding Matters.  And on most days, a few mothers and fathers and babies find their way there for a quiet time and a peaceful breastfeeding moment.

Tonight, when we’ve tidied up from the four-day doula training, there will be a prenatal yoga class in the Activity Room.  Elke will lead the lovely round-bellied moms through invigorating and then relaxing poses.  After that, I will teach the fourth class of six-week Childbirth Preparation Class for Doctors’ Patients.  Having spent the last three weeks learning about childbirth and natural self-help and coping measures for labour, tonight we will examine pain medications and other medical interventions.  I look forward to seeing this group of excited parents-to-be, whose questions and curiosity always make the evening lively.

I hope this this blog can become an extension of our store – a place where new and expectant parents can be sure of a friendly welcome and balanced information.  We hope you’ll visit us often.

– Eva

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Breastfeeding Is Like Ballroom Dancing

Two people learning to do the same thing with their bodies at the same time. Each has to learn a set of new skills but also has to learn how the other will respond.

Stage 1 – Starting Out:

When you start out learning ballroom dancing there are tense hands and shoulders, sore feet, twisted ankles, stepped-on toes, irritation at the partner for not behaving as expected.  Nothing makes any sense, the music goes too fast and the instructor seems smug and self-satisfied.

In breastfeeding this is the stage of:  “How do I get her on if her little hands are in the way flailing about and when do I know if her mouth is open enough and as soon as I get her latched on she falls asleep and if I take her off she wakes up right away again and HOW OFTEN do I have to do this every day?  The breastfeeding counselor gives me all this advice, but SHE doesn’t have to wake up four times every night!  I bet she’s forgotten all about how hard this is.”

Stage 2 – Got a grip:
Eventually, you and your partner learn one set of steps to one piece of music and you can do that reliably, though with some false starts and a lot of effort.  You grip each others hands too hard and use up way too much energy.  You’re not really having fun yet, but you’re going to stick with it a little longer.

In breastfeeding this is the stage of:  “I can only breastfeed in one chair with exactly five pillows in precisely this position and if anyone talks to me while I’m doing it, it won’t work.  Why am I doing this again?  Oh, yeah.  It’s good for the baby.”

Stage 3 – Almost there:
At some point dancing gets to be fun, at least some of the time.  You can do more than one step and sometimes you can even have a conversation while you’re doing it.  And you realize that you really do like your partner after all, these lessons were not a terrible idea that is going to ruin your relationship.

In breastfeeding this is the stage of:  “Hey, that wasn’t so bad and it doesn’t hurt and I only had to re-latch him once!  Look at his little hand lying on my breast.  Isn’t it sweet?  Oh he’s come off the breast and he looks like he’s had enough to drink.  Hey, he smiled!  Maybe not right at me, but he smiled!”

Stage 4 – And you’re off!
A very few dancers get to the next stage where they can walk into each-other’s arms and sail off across the floor through complex figures to whatever music is playing.  They don’t even think about what their feet are doing, but rather how much they are enjoying moving to the music.

Luckily, almost every mother who breastfeeds for longer than four to six weeks gets to this stage.  “It’s 5am.  Have I fed her since midnight?  I can’t remember.  I must have, we started out with her on my left side and now she’s on my right and my bra’s unhooked.  I guess I did it in my sleep.  I can’t believe it’s become this easy to feed her!”

In some ways, breastfeeding is much more difficult than ballroom dancing because your partner doesn’t understand the instructions given by the ‘teacher’.  You can’t explain to your baby how he should open his mouth or where he should put his hand.

In other ways, breastfeeding is easier than ballroom dancing.  You’ll get way more practice, feeding your baby 10-12 times a day in the first weeks.  Also, you have hormones that are helping you to bond with your baby and make you want to feed him.

Actually, breastfeeding is really a lot simpler than ballroom dancing.  Trust me, I’ve tried both.

 

Copyright Eva Bild, 1999
You may reproduce this article if you reproduce all of it, give credit to its author, and do not make any money from it.