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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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Sixteen to Twenty Weeks Pregnant

 

Sixteen Weeks to Twenty Weeks Pregnant

This is the best part of pregnancy for most women. The nausea and fatigue of the First Trimester are over. You may have gotten used to the idea that a baby is growing inside. You’ve made a few – maybe a very few – lifestyle changes and you feel good about that. You may have told others about the pregnancy and this helps you to adjust to this new identity.

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

  • You may be “showing” now. A little baby “bump” may be a source of pride. Some women feel it says “I’m pregnant – I’m not just gaining weight.” Other women feel shy about the pregnancy becoming obvious.
  • Most women start to feel the baby moving sometime in this period. At first you may just wonder if those are bubbles in your gut. Soon, you will recognize those flutters are the movements of your baby.
  • Some women may feel short of breath at this time. Your lungs are increasing in capacity, but your baby is also growing and taking up space. Shortness of breath and dizziness may also be caused by low blood pressure. These are a normal part of pregnancy, but if they distress you or prevent you from functioning well, do talk to you care provider about them.

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

  • Plan for your maternity leave. You will also want to look into Employment Insurance coverage for your maternity and parental leave.
  • Buy some maternity clothes. Your pre-pregnancy clothes may have reached the limit. And you may want something new that says “I’m pregnant.”
  • You may find yourself thinking about what kind of a parent you want to be. This is a good time to talk with your partner (if you have one) and or your friends and family about parenting styles and philosophies. Some good books include: Becoming The Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook Of Strategies For The First Five Years, by Laura Davis and Parenting From The Inside Out, by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell.
  • You may find yourself having very vivid (sometime scary) dreams. As your sleep is disrupted by the discomfort caused by your growing belly and your (seemingly) shrinking bladder, you are waking more often in the night and recalling more vividly, dreams which you might otherwise have forgotten. These dreams are common to pregnant women and reflect how seriously we take the changes that are coming in our lives.
  • Mood disorders – depression and anxiety – are just as common in pregnancy as in the postpartum period. Some sadness about the changes in your life, some sense of loss or anxiety about the future, these are normal feelings for this time in your life. If these feelings distress you or prevent you from functioning, do talk to your doctor or midwife about them. It is best to get help and support early.

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

  • be seeing you every month
  • weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain
  • palpate and measure your abdomen
  • listen to the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device
  • offer you the option of having an ultrasound scan around 18-20 weeks.
  • In BC, ultrasound technicians are forbidden by law to identify the baby’s sex. If the baby’s genitals were visible, the sex will have been included in the report sent to your doctor or midwife. If you want to know, you can ask your care provider.

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

  • Continue to stay active. As you get bigger, take care of yourself before and during your workout.
  • Eat a small snack about an hour before your workout. The calorie boost will increase your energy.
  • Sip water throughout your workout. It’s especially important to stay hydrated while you’re pregnant.
  • Take extra care with exercises that require balance. Your body is changing rapidly, and you can feel especially off-kilter while running or doing step-aerobics.
  • Continue to experiment with nutritious food. As you become a family, you will find that cooking and eating together is an important part of taking care of the whole family. When you and your partner shop and cook together, you are practicing making a home for your baby.

Resources:

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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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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-Four to Twenty-Eight Weeks Pregnant

Twenty-Four to Twenty-Eight Weeks PregnantTwenty-Four to Twenty-Eight Weeks Pregnant

You are coming to the end of the Second Trimester. Almost two-thirds of the way through your pregnancy!

How you might feel between Twenty-Four and Twenty-Eight Weeks of pregnancy:

  • The hormones of pregnancy soften everything up, your ligaments as well as your emotions. You may find that you are much more tender-hearted. You may feel weepier and more sensitive to negative events in your life. But you may also find that you feel much more loving and attached to your partner and your baby.
  • The softness in your joints may lead to increasing clumsiness. You may find yourself bumping into things as your tummy grows, and your extra weight shift you off balance.
  • Loosening ligaments may also cause you to experience a sharp pain in the middle of your pubic bone when you get in or out of bed, or the car, or when you are walking or rolling over.  This may be Pelvic Girdle Pain or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Mention it to your care-provider. Keep your knees together when rolling over or getting out of bed or the car. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. Things that may help: warm bath. ice pack on pubis, acupuncture, physiotherapy.

Things you may do between Twenty-Four and Twenty-Eight Weeks of pregnancy:

 Between Twenty-Four and Twenty-Eight Weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • be seeing you every four weeks at this stage
  • weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain
  • 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
  • offer you RhoGAM at 28 weeks if your blood is rhesus negative
  • offer screening for gestational diabetes

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:

  • Rub your tummy with coconut oil or a lovely-smelling lotion to relieve the itchiness caused the the stretching of your skin. Lotions of oils can feel nice, but they will not prevent stretch marks. Some kinds of skin just get them. It’s a genetic tendency. There are no miracle cures. Gaining weight more slowly and gradually may help lessen the effect. Remember, the marks start out purplish, but will fade with time to be much less noticeable.
  • Take care of your legs before bedtime to prevent cramps in your calves at night.  Stay hydrated, warm legs up before bed with a bath or heating pad, do stretches and ankle circles, massage calf muscles. If you get a cramp anyway, flex your foot in response, breathe out, stand up and walk around. Ask your care-provider about taking extra calcium and magnesium. If your leg is swollen, please tell your care-provider. It could be a blood clot.
  • Focus on sources of iron in your diet: red meat, eggs, leafy greens, legumes, beans and nuts. Remember that combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C helps absorption.
  • Keep up with regular physical activity. Prenatal yoga or exercise classes will take the needs of your growing and changing body into account. And they are a great place to meet other pregnant women.

Resources:

Rhesus Negative: Healthy Families BC and HealthLink BC

Pelvic Girdle Pain: HealthLink BC,  BC Women’s Hospital, www.nhs.uk

Leg Cramps: HealthLink BC

Symptoms in Third Trimester: Health Families BC

Stretch Marks: www.nhs.uk

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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

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Pregnancy Happy Hour – Happy Feet!

reflexology

Pregnancy Happy Hour – our drop-in group for pregnant women on Friday evenings from 5-6:30 – is one of my favourite times of the week. I love sitting with the moms-to-be and chatting about how they are feeling, how their lives are changing through the pregnancy. I love hearing their questions and helping them to find answers. I love how the moms bond with each other and form friendships which see them not only through the pregnancy, but on into motherhood. We talk about the joys and challenges of pregnancy, their concerns and plans about labour and birth and their dreams for motherhood.

One of the things I think helps the group work really well, it that it’s just for women. Groups of women often achieve intimacy very quickly, and Pregnancy Happy Hour is no exception. But I am often asked by the women and their partners, if the partners couldn’t be invited along to the group sometimes, as a special event. And I though Valentine’s Day was a good time for that to happen.

So on Friday February 15, we are inviting the partners to come to Pregnancy Happy Hour and we are going to have a special guest. Michele Mork of West Coast Reflexology will be coming to teach us all some fabulous foot massage techniques. And lest you think this is just a sneaky way to get our partners to rub our feet, I assure you, the partners will get their feet rubbed too. After all Valentine’s is about spreading the love to ALL.

Pregnancy Happy Hour costs $2, and we will put out a donation jar for contributions to Michele’s fee. A $5 contribution (per couple) is suggested.

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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