Posted on

Sing! Sing! Sing!

These days, with the Christmas season approaching, it feels that all I do all day is singing and babies, babies and singing. Of course, babies and families are my work-work, but singing is my play-work and it takes over my life at this time of year. I sing in a choir and I am cast in a musical, and I will be singing for a few church services.

I sing because I love it, but also because I must. I must sing for my mental health, for my creative spirit, but also for my physical well-being. And I believe that singing to your babies is good for their mental health, their creative spirit and their physical well-being. And for yours too.

When you sing to your babies, you tell them that there is nothing to worry about (or why would you waste energy on song?). You master and regulate your breath and this relaxes your body and theirs. You share your feelings with them, joy or sadness.

When you sing to your babies, you expose them to long, often rhyming, rhythmic segments of language. This is such valuable input to someone who is trying to learn to speak! And the abstract words are combined with musical information about the emotions associated with those words. We know about the value of talking to your babies, but when that one-sided conversation starts to be difficult to maintain, sing!

When you sing to your babies, you give them information about their day. In the morning you sing getting-up-and-washing-your-face songs. When it’s time to go out you sing getting-into-your-car-seat songs. At changing times you sing diaper-changing-songs. And at bedtime you sing lullabies. Those musical snippets (Wagner called them leitmotifs) announce change, activities, moods, useful information for a baby who has no control over their day. It’s so much easier for them to go along with what you planned if you give them a little advance warning!

When you sing to your babies, don’t worry about how well you sing. Your enjoyment of and emotional commitment to the song is much more important that your vocal technique. Don’t pass a fear of singing on to your babies. As the days get shorter, and the winter cold keeps us indoors, pull out some old songbooks or cd’s from your childhood. Remind yourself of the lyrics you love and pass on a love of song!

~Eva

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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:

Posted on

My Baby Hates the Car Seat! – Guest post by Aliya Khan

“My baby hates the car seat!” Such a common complaint from new parents in our Baby Groups. Recently, Aliya Khan, a regular in our baby groups, offered to write a blog post for us on her experiences with her daughter. As you will see, she has TONS of ideas!
________________________

Caring for an infant can be hard. And having an infant that hates the car definitely doesn’t make things any easier. (I’ll just say it: Having an infant that hates the carseat sucks.)

So what are you to do when your baby gets upset every time you place them the car seat?

For one thing it forces you to reevaluate your priorities:

‘Do I really need to leave the house?’
‘Is that appointment really that important?’
‘Do we really NEED groceries?’
‘Do I HAVE to take auntie Kelly to the airport?’

The answer can’t always be no, and eventually you’re going to have to put your baby in her car seat.
So do you just put up with the screaming? If you’ve ever driven in your car with a screaming baby you know just how insurmountable this task can be.

I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the whole spectrum of feelings from hopeful, to anxious, to enraged and finally defeated (mixed in with some guilt over the rage). Before I had a baby I thought if you couldn’t get your baby to settle down at home then that’s what you did; go for a drive and let the car lull them to sleep. I was led to believe it was the go-to, fail-safe, do-this-when-all-else-fails, sanity-saving method for us new parents. But our baby quickly let us (and the whole neighbourhood) know how she felt about being in her car seat. So I had to either get creative or spend the first few months of her life staying home or going no further than my feet could take us.

I soon discovered, through the ‘new mommy’ circles I ran with, that this is actually very common among infants. And that I wasn’t the only (by far!) that was struggling with this issue. Nor was I the only one who experienced the emotional roller coaster that each trip manifested. Thankfully she outgrew this around her 5th or 6th month and she’s developed into a delightful young traveler, but I could have used this list in those bleary-eyed early days.

First- is your baby comfortable: are the straps twisted, is she too hot or too cold, hungry, does she have a soupy diaper, etc…the usual checklist. Rule out any medical conditions by talking to your baby’s pediatrician. If everything seems good and they’re still upset give any or all of the following a try:

  1. Find two or three radio stations that play mainly static and save them to your presets in your car.
  2. Pulse the static radio stations to mimic a heartbeat.
  3. Attach a ribbon to your baby’s window your baby can entertain herself by watching the ribbon flutter in the breeze.
  4. Leave the house at a predictable naptime or just make short trip between naptimes.
  5. This one worked for me the most: the sneaky side boob feeding. Nurse your baby to sleep with they’re clicked into the car while casually, awkwardly leaning into her seat, boob at mouth level. (Please note that this is not comfortable for you in ANY way. This method may not work for all boob shapes. If you bottle feed this will probably be way more comfortable. And it will only work if someone else is driving, of course.) (Mothering Touch Comment: Make sure your own seatbelt is fastened!)
  6. Sing. Sing the whole time. Sing so your baby doesn’t have a chance to start crying. They’ll be busy listening to you sing your butt off (don’t be shy here, it doesn’t matter what you sound like, your baby just loves to hear your voice).
  7. Place a mirror on the back of the head rest so your baby can see themselves and reflections. Maybe they’re lonely back there.
  8. Crack the window slightly. A cool breeze, the sound of the wind, the sudden pressure change in the car might be enough to grab her attention and stop her from crying.
  9. Open and close her window over and over. (Please note this only works if you have power windows.)
  10. Attach something to the car seat bar. In my case it was a luggage tag but a soft toy or something similar would work too. I kept it close enough for her to touch but far enough away so she couldn’t put it in her mouth.
  11. Talk. Talk about anything and everything. Talk about what street you’re on, what colour the car is in front of you, how many trees there are on the road where you’re going, what you’re going to do when you get there. Talk so much that your baby won’t have time to think about crying.
  12. Put up a sun shade over her window. There’s nothing worse than finally getting her to calm down only to get stuck at a stoplight with the sun shining right in her eye and getting her all upset again.
  13. Change, Feed and burp right before strapping her in. An uncomfortable diaper, being hungry or a gas bubble can quickly escalate to screaming when strapped in tight.
  14. Pacifier. My daughter Never really took to a pacifier unless it was in my mouth first and then she’d try to grab it. Then she would either play with it or chew on it. Warning: if the pacifier falls out you may be stopping the car to put it back in.
  15. If all else fails strap her into your carrier and take the bus (or walk if that’s an option.)

These are some ideas that help me 75% of the time. All these tricks can be helpful but if you’re too distracted by your unhappy passenger, pull over.

Posted on

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

Posted on

Diaper Rental Kits

Cloth Diaper Maintenance Kit

We know that you are going to love using cloth diapers with your new baby – there are so many benefits to your baby, and the environment – but with so many different types of cloth diapers available today, figuring out where to start can seem overwhelming!

Now you can test out a variety of our most popular cloth diapers for a month to help you choose the best solution for you and your baby. Mothering Touch is pleased to introduce you to our Cloth Diaper Sampler Rental Kit Service!

Click here to learn more!

Cloth Diaper Maintenance KitMothering Touch Cloth Diaper Rental Kit

Posted on

Sleep Progress

“Eva, I think we’re making great progress! A. is going down for bed in under 10 min now… Her naps have lengthened a lot too. She’s even eating better! This has brought us together as parents and as a family! So far it’s been a great experience with amazing results. We’re excited to keep going and see where it gets us.” ~ Lauren

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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