This 9 months is a time of reflection for most; a time of preparation for many, it is one of the most precious and life changing events any person will ever experience. For a lot of us though, it is a period of enhanced self and public scrutiny, self loathing, and intense insecurities.
Please understand I am aware that all women of all prenatal sizes face insecurities during pregnancy. It is an event`` that brings a lot of us to that point every once and a while. But with all due respect:
"This Isn't For You!"
This is for my "been plus" sisters. My divas with Torrid Haute Cash codes waiting on a sale. My curvy girls who finally LIVED when Lane Bryant realized we were all different and gave us different shapes for jeans. For all my NOLA loves who posted online rants when we looked up and realized the only free standing Ashley Stewart left was all the way in Gentilly!
(Was that just me? I mean come on A.S. Butterfly bras are a complete necessity man!)
To my Plus Size Darling who sits by sweetly as her usually petite friend whines about having to purchase XL pants toward the end of her pregnancy when you went to your initial screening appointment in a XL Maxi dress...
I See You and You Are Amazing!
To my Plus Size Beauties who have dealt with horrible passive aggression from coworkers when you are a full 6 months and showing and they have the nerve to look at you and say "oh girl you don't even look pregnant yet!"...
I See You and You are Glowing!
To my Plus Size Sisters who decidedly wear looser, less form fitting maternity clothes (and a belly band despite the heat) because your bump doesn't look like the ones in all the maternity shoots on social media...
I See You and You are Beautiful!
To the Plus Size beauty siting in the lab waiting area again for your now 2nd round of glucose testing because "you are at a higher risk than the normal pregnancy"...
I See You and You are Strong!
To my Plus Size Queens who dreamed of having a natural water birth in a birthing center only to learn that you are above the clinical weight and would need to re-write your birth plan to prepare for a traditional hospital birth...
I See You and Your Birth Can Still Be Beautiful!
Despite the passive and sometime direct aggression from others, the looks of doubt, or the thoughts of un-prettiness you are doing something so beautiful + amazing! You are giving of yourself to another human being who will adore you for exactly the loving, nurturing, gorgeous person you are! It is my hope and prayer that you feel comfortable, loved, capable, and courageous throughout this time...And forever!
I see you!
I love you!
I am Here For You!
As we ease into this Friday morning, I'm taking a bit of time to answer a question I hear in birth prep classes often: Can Sex Really Induce Labor? The short answer here is: "Not Really!"
Obviously, if it were that straight forward there wouldn't be a need for a blog post, right? So let's break down this old wives tale (or do you think men came up with this one? No one knows...but it is possible! lol)
Let me first say, safe sex during pregnancy is perfectly ok. The baby has ample protection in the uterus and no form of clitoral or vaginal stimulation or penetration can harm it. (Please understand that this is under normal circumstances. If your doctor restricts sex for any reasons, please adhere to their requests.)
So about that sneaky freaky you were wondering about, while it is perfectly healthy, it is unlikely to send you to labor & delivery with actual active labor contractions. But it could help if you are in early labor already. Orgasms, as awesome as they are all on their own, can help trigger contractions. You may have already felt these stomach tightening sensations by now in your pregnancy (go you!) These contractions are unlikely to continue if you haven't already experienced a sustained pattern prior to the sexual activity.
And of course, finishes are good for all (seriously)! In this case, male ejaculation can actually help soften the cervix with it's high content of prostaglandins. This can aid in the ripening, effacement, and thus dilation of the cervix. I mean, it is pretty cool that the semen that was needed to get you pregnant can help in the end game too. That stuff is quite crafty!
All in all, sex during pregnancy can be just as awesome as it was before. And being all entangled in someone you love can be a temporary escape from the changes that are soon coming. But even this can trigger oxytocin which is a powerful aid in the progression of labor.
So the next time you are staring at the circled "Due Date" on your calendar with the echos of that "you are maybe dilated 1 cm" that your doctor said earlier, and someone advises you to "get busy" to speed things up, go for it! (If you feel up to it, of course) Enjoy your time with your spouse. It is imperative that you all remain connected. Just know, babies truly do come when they are ready.
A person's voice is not something they can choose. Its steady tone and pitch...all things that come naturally. And whether the vast majority likes your voice on some whole James Earl Jones love or not, your voice is yours and most times we are stuck with it. The great thing is, there is someone who will LOVE your voice...They fall in love with it as they take in every single aspect while you love and nurture them.
My mother's voice is a smooth even toned Alto. It has very few rises and falls during normal conversation. It exudes power and strength, goofiness and sarcasm in every word she speaks. It is the first thing I remember being in love with.
My Mother's voice was the voice in my head that told me to get up when I laid there dramatically after falling off my bike. It was the voice in my head that whispered "You Can Do This" whenever I approached something challenging. It was the voice that actually hummed or sang as I lay my head on her tummy on the couch when I was feeling down. And until I gained my own voice, my mother's was the guiding presence I needed.
My Mother's voice is a constant journey back to a life that was simple. It is the ultimate comfort. It is all I have on most days to get me through. Choosing to live away from my mother meant giving up her direct touch, but I knew as long as telephones were a thing, I could still feel her though her voice. And I do, daily...most days, multiple times per day. I call my mom constantly and no matter what she is saying (because she may be fussing), I can feel her love with every word she speaks.
My Mother's Voice is definitely one of my children's top 5 sounds of all time! My girls flock to me with joy when they hear it because when Grandma is on the phone they can feel the love she has for them. And while I know she wishes she can see them more often so they can learn her touch, they already know her and her silly personality by her voice.
Being an adult means creating your own voice and learning to follow it. Being a daughter means taking your mom's voice and merging it with yours and trusting it to help you make decisions. Being a Mother means speaking to your children with poise and grace, strength and intelligence, Power and Love knowing that it will leave a huge imprint on their lives.
Lady, I know today is difficult for you, as it reminds you that you can no longer hear your mother's voice. But we both know you can. A Mother's voice never leaves. It is and always will be there. Whenever we are quiet, and we push ourselves aside, that voice speaking in those still moments...That's Love. That's Comfort. That's Mom!
So HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY LADY! Thank you for sharing your voice with me!
Preparing for your hospital stay doesn't have to be a daunting task. Actually, it is much easier when you realize that all you really NEED is yourself, your support team, and your provider. But, having "all the things" is a comfort thing that I totally understand and have subscribed to myself during my own births.
So below is a quick list to help you bring in the things from home that can bring a sense of comfort to your birthing and/or early postpartum experience. (And don't forget about your partner...there's a section for them too!)
Feel free to add to or take away things as you see fit. And should you forget to pack any of this stuff, no worries, between your Doula and the Hospital (and possible quick spousal runs back to the house after the birth...because, that happens and it's ok!) you will have everything you and your precious little one need to feel comfortable while away from home.
It is a quite unfortunate fact that fear is very much tied to the pregnancy and labor process. We, as humans, fear the unknown. And even for the 2nd and 3rd time birthing person there is still a level of fear with each birth experience. This fear comes from many factors. Some being the media, some from those we encounter during our pregnancy. Sometimes, fear can be incidentally placed by care providers. Fear is natural. But too much fear, or fear without acknowledgement, assessment, work and resolution can potentially cause problems during your birthing experience.
We may have hopes of a natural birth but fear that we may not be "strong enough". We may have seen a few labor videos and cannot imagine being in that amount of pain. We may be open to an epidural but have heard horrible tales of paralysis and forever back pain. We may be terrified of the surgery that is a cesarean delivery. Or upset and scared that we have to deliver in a hospital at all as you had always dreamed of a home birth but for whatever reason, it is no longer possible. We may even fear how our spouses will take to the entire process of birth and how our other support person will fit into the grand scheme of things. All of these fears can cloud our minds and therefore our bodies and deter us from the magnificent beauty that is childbirth.
Although uncommon, fear and birth do not favor each other. When we fear things, adrenaline is heightened in our systems. This can trigger the all effective "fight or flight" response. This can shut down the progress of labor which could lead to some of the things we were fearing to begin with. Like interventions and modifications to the original birth plan. Instead, mentally overcoming your fears can help you relax and focus through the contractions and take in the world around you. In this case, there is a higher presence of oxytocin, the hormone of love. Oxytocin is what brings on contractions and it is important to maintain high levels of oxytocin so as to maintain the progress of your labor. High levels of oxytocin bring about high levels of endorphins as well. So not only can you be relaxed, you will feel good about what you are doing. Adrenaline and Oxytocin do not mix. Adrenaline lowers the production of oxytocin and therefore can slow down or halt your labor altogether.
So, while we all know that fear is natural. We must also remember that overcoming our fears is considered healthy and progressive toward productivity. So, shoo away the naysayers when they put doubt and fear on your plate. Get out of your own head by acknowledging what it is you are fearing. Attend a childbirth education Class to become more knowledgeable about what to expect in your near future. Speak with your care provider and doula about it. They will help educate you and let you know the processes to alleviate whatever it is that you fear. In this arena, the saying can ring very true, "When you Know Better, You Do Better".
Remember, remaining calm, focused, tranquil, Informed, and overall pleased is the key to feeling satisfied with your childbirth experience, no matter what that might entail.
Music is one of the world's most powerful tools. It has the power to spark intense memories. It can make you laugh, make you cry. It can ignite revolution, and can bring about change. And coming from a long line of both musical and performance artists, music is life to me.
Growing up my mother had a song for each of her 4 children. She ensured we knew the song and her reasoning for choosing it. Even now as adults hearing "our song" on the radio almost always leads to a call to mom, who is always tearfully happy to hear us sing them to her. Seeing how powerful that connection was has lead myself and my siblings to assign songs to our children.
My eldest daughter's song came to me as I listened to the radio during a very emotional day during my second trimester. As the words flowed through me and I rubbed my growing bump tears came to my eyes..."Baby since the day you came into my life You made me realize that we were born to fly...". My baby turned and kicked as I sang...Magic was experienced in that moment.
With my 2nd and last daughter (fingers crossed people) I was very much caught up in the land of "uncomfortable, pregnant, and with toddler" and didn't have the chance to experience such magic. And unfortunately, postpartum depression and anxiety took away much of the magic in the first couple of months (yes, doulas experience these things too). So my little one's song came to me early one morning as I breastfed her while my toddler and husband provided beautiful snoring background music. She gazed up at me lovingly as babies tend to do as they feed, and the words just flowed..."the sweetest thing i've ever known was like a kiss on the collar bone. The soft caress of happiness, the way you walk your style of dress..." She smiled at me and started humming as if singing the song back at me. After crying my entire face off, it was sealed.
Both of my girls know their songs when they hear them. My oldest goes "MOMMY! That's MY song!!!" #tears
So if you haven't chosen a song for your little ones yet, maybe consider it. It can be yet another life long bond that you share with them. It does not have to happen at conception, or even in the first year. It doesn't have t be a popular song. You can make it even more special if you are, like my local Doula colleague Amy and her husband, artists and write an original song for your children.
Like all things,
it doesn't really matter how or when...
What matters is that you don't miss out on the
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Whether you are in your 1st Trimester or are counting down the final weeks until you embrace your little one, you are sure to be excited (and maybe a bit anxious). With pregnancy, for a lot of persons, comes new caution and awareness of one's surrounding. This heightened awareness can sometimes lead to keeping oneself sheltered, and let's face it, in New Orleans, that is a tough task. And unless your doctor has you on limited or full bed rest, or you have another medical or physical condition at play, missing out on things you loved previous to becoming pregnant can be a beginning step to losing yourself. (With of course the exception being drinking tequila shots at Superior Grill on Cinco de Mayo. That's understandable.)
There is a way to remain true to your love of NOLA Festival Season while keeping yourself and your baby safe.
So from Freret Street Festival to French Quarter Fest, Jazzfest all the way to Satchmo SummerFest these Top 5 Tips should be a good starting guide to enjoying the people, the weather, and well, most of all, THE FOOD!
#1. STAY HYDRATED
So, we all know what most people at the festivals are drinking...but with your new bundle of joy on the way you are rightfully planning on using different methods of hydration this year. It is great to remember that Water is always greater than juices while standing in line waiting to make your selection. And during pregnancy, it is recommended that you consume at least 8-10 glass of water per day. If it is especially hot that day, it may be greatly beneficial to squeeze in a sports drink or two to replace electrolytes lost while sweating.
#2. SHADE...PORTABLE SHADE
Speaking of New Orleans Heat, being able to hide from it is key to not overheating...and thus not becoming dehydrated. (See #1) Bringing an easy to carry umbrella that you can pop under when the sun gets too hot and shelter isn't readily accessible may be extremely helpful. Plus, um, this is New Orleans...it literally can rain at any minute! #doubleduty
#3. APPROACH FOOD WITH CAUTION
One of the best things about this great city is, of course, THE FOOD! It is what keeps NOLA so famous. It is my belief that our plethora of food is what keeps us so happy and charming to visitors. (debatable, obviously. lol) One of the main types of food that is ever present at Festivals...SEAFOOD. Followed very closely by...SPICY FOOD! Both of these <delicious> categories should be approached with caution. The FDA suggests not consuming any raw fish or shellfish throughout pregnancy due to the possible presence of bacteria. During pregnancy, your immune system is weakened so it may be harder to fight off infection. So maybe stay away from those "oysters on the halfshell". But alas, Oysters Bienville may still be at play! (This is because they are be cooked well pass the required 145 degrees before serving. This would kill off any bacteria or pathogens that could have existed.) Spicy Food? We all know the old wives tale of spicy food causing heartburn during pregnancy? Well, it is true for some women and who can truly enjoy the funk of The Rebirth Brass Band or the depth of Tank and the Bangas with a chest full of fire? Click here for a full list of foods to avoid while pregnant.
#4. IT PAYS TO PARK
Ok so here's the thing, this is New Orleans. Any time you enter the city limits to do virtually anything *Finding a Parking Spot* is a major agenda point. This is always intensified by major events such as festivals. And since you will likely be doing a ton of walking within the festival grounds, you may not wish to walk much further after a long day of dancing, mingling, shopping and doing all.the.things. It would not be ideal to have a bought of round ligament pain while walking 2 miles to your car. So you may want to scope out the areas, check the event sites, and think about investing in parking that will suit you.
#5. SCOPE OUT ALL RESTROOMS
Wow, talk about saving one of the most crucial for last, huh? Well, so you are pregnant. With that, as I am sure you are aware, comes the constant need to know where the nearest clean restrooms are located when out and about. Certain festival grounds may only have the portable restroom option available. This is good to know if you are like many persons who just cannot get with that whole situation. Fortunately, this isn't the case for all festivals. French Quarter Fest and Freret Street Festival are celebrations centered around areas full of businesses. People with hearts. People who may be willing to allow a glowing pregnant woman to use their facilities. And should that fail, hotels are almost always accommodating. Of course, purchasing something may not be required, but it is a great way to show your appreciation. I would be remiss to not mention here that should you stumble upon a clean restroom but have no immediate urge to go, even though you haven't went in a few hours while remaining adequately hydrated, you may want to attempt at it anyhow. Sometimes, especially during warmer days, pregnant bodies try to retain the water being put in it. This can cause swelling and discomfort among other things. So attempting is always good!
**Honorable Mention - HAND SANITIZER
As mentioned earlier, your immune system during pregnancy is weakened a bit. This keeps your body from fighting off your baby. This means you must take necessary outward precautions. There will be people everywhere. And with the possible frequent restroom breaks, and hopefully eating and staying hydrated in between, having a nice bottle of hand sanitizer may be an extra aid in keeping you and baby well as you enjoy yourself.
So GET UP! Dress Up! And GO OUT! Enjoy yourself! Pregnancy does not automatically beget a sheltered woman! Be safe, be cautious, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Last month, it happened. It finally happened. I finally lost my Ctrl. As a working Mother of 2 toddlers, I must say, I'm surprised it lasted this long. But man, it will be missed.
I knew it was coming. I could feel the wobble, the instability every time situations became severe enough that it was needed, it became weaker. See, the reality is, these situations were becoming more frequent. The need for Ctrl became a regular thing. Situations needed to be fixed, adjusted, redone...quickly. Shortcuts were keeping me afloat man. Being a Stay At Home Working Mom is one of the most difficult jobs on the face of the planet. It is never ending. Oh and let's not talk about the wifely duties that are ever entangled with everything else. No wonder shortcuts became more necessary. NO wonder my Ctrl jumped ship.
I remember the day my kids noticed it's instability. My oldest, who is 4 years old, looked shocked. She was used to things being orderly; things being where they are supposed to be. Her instinct lead her to want to help ME put it back. She needed to fix it. My youngest, my precious almost 2 year old (#prayforme), had a completely different approach. She saw my Ctrl preparing to pack up and leave, and after staring at it in amusement, she decided to help IT out. Her instinct lead her to pick at it until it had noting left to hold on to. She took it clean off.
I still knew where it was though...I still knew what happened. So, like any other busy mother, I put it back. I held it down and pushed it into the springy crevice it was so meant to be. Knowing it was broken, I held it there then walked away with hope that it would magically decide to rejoin the mechanical ranks that is my keyboard life. I secretly panicked. No way could I do all of what is required of me without those shortcuts Ctrl allowed me to access.
This facade remained for a few days, almost a week. Until I looked up one day and it was just...gone. I looked everywhere. Literally, everywhere! It was gone! It.Is.GONE! Life has ever been altered.
Okay, that was dramatic. I mean, it took about a half day to realize that I could still utilize Ctrl...I just didn't have the pretty outward symbol of control. From the outside view, I had completely lost it.
But Alas, Ctrl is pretty hardwired into this mommy! I shall survive! Who gives a damn what the outside world thinks! As long as I have it! (Let's not forget there's another one of the other side...I'm ashamed to admit how long it took for me to remember that though.)
But , in all seriousness, do they sell loose keys at the electronic store?
"Mom ISO Ctrl! Needed ASAP!" LOL
This time of year is filled with tons of emotions. So many are bouncing around with joy and excitement. For most of us, the memories are continuous. And nothing sparks memory and emotion like Music. And this season is full of amazing music! And whether you are a Cindy Lou Who or a true Grinch, there is a song out there for you this time of year!
One of my favorites to play on repeat this time of year is "Mary, Did You Know?" I first heard this song years ago early one morning, a full 9 months pregnant, in a car with my husband. As I listened to the words my eyes did this whole wet/rainy thing (that, at this point in the pregnancy I was completely over). And I couldn't help but think of what this song meant to me, a person carrying child.
Take a listen at the talented Pentatonix version below:
So, now, years later, I find myself surrounded by pregnancy daily. Hearing this song now, I still cry, but not just for the memories that I carry from my own pregnancies; I think about all of my past and present clients and every pregnant person ever who has laid there, one of those sleepless nights and thought "I wonder what kind of person this baby will grow to be? What wonders will he/she introduce to the world or the community around them? How can I foster this baby's amazing qualities?"
Every single mother I know or have come into contact with has these thoughts. It is one of the magical things of the pregnancy stage of motherhood. As we fall in love with this little, moving, stretching and bladder kicking being we daydream of the person they will become.
We become biochemist and dream of our unborn child having the perfect mixture of genes from their ancestors. "Our grandmother's smile, his grandfather's charming nature, my hair, his brilliance, my father's hustle, his mothers determination....and NOT my sister's temper! Lol"
It is the background music playing, sometimes ever so softly, in our day to day from the moment we are aware of the growing being within.
So as I sing this song: "Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you've delivered will soon deliver you." I can't help but think, while she might not have known the specifics, she absolutely knew he'd be great!
All Mothers Know!
If you haven't been able to tell by the increase in boobage on your social media timelines/feeds, it is World Breastfeeding Week! Hip Hip HOORAY!! The breast are out, babies are nursing...everyone is happy! Right? Well the whole reason for the week is to help normalize breastfeeding. The fact that a worldwide event exists for that reason means, well it means that there are quite a few pissed off people on social media this week. They are stomping up and down their feeds with their "report this post" fingers ready and willing to knock your beautiful pictures into Facebook timeout! I haven't posted anything yet this year, but I know it will happen. Around about the 3rd like and 2nd comment of solidarity, the picture will just fall off the face of the earth. But you know what...it is what it is!
And I am here to say: Do what you want with your boobs! Whatever that means to you!
If your baby is hungry and wants to nurse in the middle of Whole Foods, whip it on out! It is organic! 😉
If your baby says "hey lady! It's about that time!" but you are at the park and prefer to be more covered, Do whatever makes you comfortable and keeps that baby healthy and happy!
If you are like "I wish I could breastfeed more but I despise pumping. So I chose to supplement for times when I am at work." Go right ahead? Do you need me to wash some bottles?
If you said from the beginning "I am NOT Breastfeeding! Get off my back! I do not want to!" Can I pick up some formula for you?
At the end of the day moms It is YOUR Business what you do with YOUR Boobs and YOUR Baby!
I just wanted you to know that!
Now I'm off to piss off some facebook friends! Hell, it's World Breastfeeding Week...I'm not doing it right if I don't get reported at least once right? 😝
#WorldBreastfeedingWeek #Breastfeeding #FedIsBest #YourBoobs #YourBaby #VIPDoulaSupports #NoMatterYourChoice