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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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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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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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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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Chef Laura to Visit Pregnancy Happy Hour – January 24 – 5pm

Chef Laura MooreNothing focuses our attention on nutrition quite like being pregnant: we now have the growth and development of another brand new human being to think about, not just our own health! Join whole food personal chef and caterer, Chef Laura Moore of the Good For You Gourmet, for a 20 minute presentation on Whole Foods Nutrition and Snack Ideas for Pregnant Moms. A mother herself to a thriving, home-birthed 8 year old boy, Chef Laura will cover:

1) Maximize Nutrition during different stages of pregnancy: now more than ever, the nutrition that we take in and absorb is important for the development of our baby. Yet there are times when nausea makes eating difficult: hear some fresh ideas for how to cope. Make a point of picking highly nutritious foods, with the best possible nutrient density.

2) Non-nauseating Snack Ideas that offer maximum nutrition: minimize strong flavoured and greasy foods such as onions, garlic, sausage, fish especially salmon, possibly cruciferous vegetables, fermented foods and stinky cheeses. Everyone is unique: these are guidelines. See ‘Simple Snacks’ list, plus snack platter.

3) Coping With Cravings: what can we do instead of reaching for the nitrate loaded pepperoni when we are craving protein? great ideas for healthy options presented, using Macrobiotic balance chart as a guideline.

In addition to trying out some great snacks in class, participants will receive a handout ‘5 Great Snack Tips for Pregnant Moms’ together with ‘Simple Snacks’ to take home with them.

Find out more about the personal chef and catering services offered by Chef Laura, plus FREE cooking classes at Planet Organic each month, online at www.gfyg.ca

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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

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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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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!

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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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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