7 Things I Did (or Wish I Did!) to Make Life Easier After Baby

By Kasey Hock

Those first few weeks after your baby arrives are hard. There is so much to learn and so many adjustments to make, and although there is no way to be truly prepared, there are a few practical things that helped me adjust to motherhood. I’m 18 months out of this stage (now it’s all about sharing toys and toddler discipline) but I still felt the need to share the things I did, or wish I did, to help prepare for one of the biggest transitions I ever faced.

1. Buy the Clothes

This sounds simple, but having clothes that fit and feel okay (let’s be honest, nothing feels “great” those first few weeks) is almost profound! Pre-baby clothes aren’t going to fit as you leave the hospital and nobody wants to spend the next few months rocking their maternity-wear. I found that high-waisted yoga/running pants were my best friend, especially those with the thigh pocket for your phone. We use our phones for everything (tracking breastfeeding, setting alarms, entertaining our fried brains) that it only makes sense to have clothes that easily keep them by our sides. Those pants will also accommodate your giant maternity pads and sexy hospital undies while holding everything in tight!

If you’re planning to breastfeed, consider breastfeeding access as you choose clothing. I loved maternity tanks with a fleece zip-up over the top. If you’re not into the tank, go for a maternity bra and shirts or sleepwear that button down. Shirt-dresses that button were my favorite in the first few months when I needed to look put together and still breastfeed/pump. Either way, stock up on those nursing tanks and maternity bras, because the idea of running to Target two days after baby arrives when the two you bought are covered in milk, sweat, and spit-up, is really daunting (take it from a mom who made that mistake!)

2. Ask for Help

You need to be your own advocate here. Help comes in many forms and it often comes with extra emotional burdens if the people you ask are not prepared to help in the way you need. My best advice would be to set up a plan with your partner before the baby arrives so they have things they are in charge of without having to ask. For the first two weeks Ben changed every diaper and did all the laundry. It was his domain. I was learning to breastfeed and healing from a difficult labor, and having those things entirely off my plate helped me make it through that time.

I know we were lucky to have flexible paternity leave, and that’s not the case for everyone. If your spouse will only be home for a few days, consider extra help in a different form –whether that’s a family member coming to stay for a few days, or hiring a post-pardum doula. Help also comes in the way of seeing experts. I struggled SO hard trying to produce milk and ended up seeing multiple lactation consultants to get me on the right track. Never be too proud to ask for extra help whether that’s seeking lactation resources, counseling for postpartum depression/anxiety, or something else.

3. Set the Boundaries

This is your little family and your rules apply. Don’t want visitors in the hospital? Tell your family and the hospital staff. Need time at home before you’re ready to see people? Make that known. Whatever your needs are, don’t be afraid to speak up! Most importantly, don’t find yourself playing hostess to people who “drop in”. If someone walks through the threshold of your home those first two weeks they better be picking up a broom, folding a load of laundry, making a meal, or holding a baby… and you should be napping.

You may also find yourself needing to set emotional boundaries. Motherhood comes with a lot of unsolicited advice, which usually comes down to “you’re doing it wrong”. As a first time parent, we know we’ve got stuff to learn, but that doesn’t mean that someone else’s way of doing something is better than what you’re trying. Tell people to back off or give you space if they’re crossing a line (yes, even if they’re family!) Oftentimes the people giving advice are years (even decades) away from the stage you’re in and they’ve forgotten what those dark, early days feel like.

4. Invent a Routine

I wish someone had told me this from the beginning. Those first few weeks are chaos; nobody is sleeping, everything is a learning experience, and cluster-feeding is rough! Chances are you’re awake and feeding a baby every few hours so it doesn’t really matter when it’s morning or when it’s night. But for the sake of your sanity, invent a bedtime and do your routine.

We decided the first “break” we got after 7:30 pm was “bedtime” and that’s when we would wash our faces, change into fresh clothes, brush our teeth and go to bed. Was that “bedtime” any longer than an hour or two of sleep? No. But the routine helped us separate our days, brush our teeth, wash our bodies, and feel a little more human. And that’s everything.

5. Take the Photos

Have I mentioned the first two weeks are hard? lol They are, but they are also really brief. When your baby is crying in your sleep-deprived face, the time is going to feel long, but trust me, it goes fast and you will want to have photos of your tiny newborn. That said, days after a baby is born is no time to be shopping for clothes or booking a session (take it from a mom whose first outing with baby was a TJ Maxx run for photo session clothes!) Do your best to take care of all that prepping before your little one’s arrival, so all you have to do is send your photographer a message saying “baby’s here!” and slap on a ton of under-eye concealer.

Just like every mom, we took a hundred photos on our iPhones (and even some on our real cameras) but even as trained photographers we knew better than to try to take our own newborn photos, partly because we knew how exhausted we would be and how unappealing DIY-ing our photos would be, and also because we knew we needed to be in the pictures. Every baby deserves to have those first family photos to look back on as they grow up. No matter how tired, fat, puffy, and gross you feel, be in the photos.

6. Outsource the Food

You’re a mom now — yay! That’s exciting and wonderful, but it also means your needs may often get pushed to the back-burner (even physical survival needs like eating). Give your future mom-self a helping hand by doing a little meal-prepping in the last month before your baby’s arrival. Choose meals that require no more prep than a preheated oven or turning a dial on a crockpot and store them up for later.

To supplement this, you’ll probably need regular groceries (you know, bread, milk, eggs — the staples). For this, I cannot recommend a grocery pickup service enough! Woodman’s pickup service was seriously life-changing for us; we just purchase our groceries in the app and pickup the next day. You don’t even have to get out of the car (which also means you don’t have to take your baby out of the carseat.) Need a little extra help? Consider a meal delivery service like Nourish out of De Pere which delivers healthy meals full prepared straight to your door! Everything they post on Instagram has my mouth watering.

7. Give Yourself Grace

This momming thing is hard and hormones are no joke. Also, did you know that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture? Just keep that in mind when you’re wondering if you’re ever going to feel like yourself again. The truth is, you will come out slightly changed on the other side, but you will be you again.

It will get better, you will feel normal, your body will heal, and your baby will thrive. Then one day you will see a newborn in someone’s arms and realize how big your own baby has grown and how fast it all went. This stage is temporary and you will make it through.

In the meantime, give yourself grace for the days you feel too tired to stimulate your baby’s brain, or go on the outing you committed to, or clean up your disaster of a house. When you’ve eaten a handful of puffs for dinner and can’t remember your last shower, let grace swoop in and comfort you. You are doing great because you’re doing your best. You’ve got this.

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Kasey Hock is an artist and photographer in Green Bay, and part of the husband and wife team Kasey and Ben Photography. She writes about motherhood and real life on her blog at www.kaseyandben.com/blog .

Baby Registry Basics

Overwhelmed by the samples different stores give you about baby registry items? All the things doesn’t actually mean to register for everything! We had a client who wanted the bare minimum. What were our must haves as doulas for our clients to have. We created this list for you to know the basics and anything added on from there is simply nice to have.

I Don’t Want A Doula

Things I hear on a daily basis: “I don’t want someone else in the room with my partner and I” “I just can’t afford a doula, maybe next baby we can plan better” “I really wish I would have hired you, even just to have that support before I had the baby.” and  “I don’t want a doula, I’m getting an epidural” 

 

This got me thinking about how our role as doulas is to offer our clients options. Options in hospitals, doctors, laboring techniques, and inductions. Options in pain management from hydrotherapy to epidurals, options in navigating vaginal birth after surgical birth and even surgical birth itself. Options in community resources from photographers to chiropractic care, massage to hair dressers, and even dog trainers!

 

SO WHY NOT OFFER AN OPTION IN THE LEVEL OF SUPPORT MANY WISH TO RECEIVE?

 

One of the cornerstones that Green Bay Doulas was built on is to listen to the birthing community, and be and bring the change that they long to see.

 

We listened to the desires of our community, and we are excited to announce Everything But the Birth: Your personal concierge through pregnancy. You are matched with your perfect doula who will become your best friend and confidant for your pregnancy. She will help you navigate questions, comments, she will celebrate with you, and lift you up when needed. She will help you navigate your options with her insider knowledge. She will provide a prenatal planning session where you discuss what to expect, help you build your birth plan, and teach your partner or friend/family member some hands on approaches to help support you during labor. She will also provide a postpartum visit once you are home and settled with the new baby.

 

So how is this different from a labor doula?

 

We don’t attend your birth.

 

This option will bring the support you desire throughout pregnancy, without the larger investment. But what happens if along the way you decide you’d like birth doula support during your birth? You’d just need to make that decision by 34 weeks, and your initial payment is applied to your remaining balance. We work in teams of two when supporting laboring clients so we want to make sure your entire team is at your prenatal.

 

Photo: Timeless Touch Photography

Our goal is to make doula support accessible to every laboring family, surrogate, and individual. We want you to have access to the knowledge we have and feel supported, secure, and empowered to make the best choices for your family. This is the very heart of Green Bay Doulas, to give our clients options to decide what support option works best for their family.

 

Contact us today to get started!

Plane Ticket For One Please!

I took a vacation this summer and I didn’t take my family. Having young children is hard and you start to lose your identity between all the drop offs, pick ups, activities, kids birthday parties, doctors appointments, household chores and juggling a career. Not to mention growing with your partner through all of these changes as well. I needed a break. I needed some respite. I needed to reconnect with me. Who am I? Who have I grown into as I settle into my 30’s?  I heard everything from: “How will your husband survive?”, to “You must not breastfeed if you aren’t taking your baby!”, and “You’re leaving your children?!”

Yes, I took a 4 day trip out the country to have some me time. This is the hardest (and most rewarding) time in our lives with young children, being an entrepreneur, a wife, maybe in that 

order sometimes… In 10 years when I look back, it will just be a skid mark in my life’s story… but how many of us feel like we are drowning at times? How many of us take the time for self-care? In the last 5 years of my life, I’ve gotten married, moved back into my childhood home,  I’ve carried two humans over 40 weeks each time, I’ve had a cesarean, a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), I’ve breastfed a total of 3 years and counting. My body has new curves, my clothes fit differently, my taste in food has only gotten spicier, my circle of friends has shifted and evolved, and who have I become in all of this?

I took a trip to Canada, to the land of nice people. True story, my friend literally got into a “you go first, no you go first” match with a pedestrian who was in the middle of the street, while trying we were waiting to make a right turn! Her husband took their children up to their cabin for the time I was there. Two mothers, with a total of 4 kids under the age of 6, without children or husbands for 4 days…. what do you do?! You go to the movies!  You get your nails done! You spend over 2 hours eating at an all you can eat brunch buffet with live jazz music and chat with other adults! You stand in line for almost 2 hours just to get on the elevations at the CN Tower, in Toronto.  You go to Niagra falls and eat a fancy dinner, 77 floors above the falls in a revolving dining room, where your waiter is French and you can order escargot, and drink wine. You sleep in. You sleep without having anyone waking you up. You take long showers, and sit on the patio for hours talking, without worry, without judgment, and reconnect with yourself.

One thing doula work has taught me is the art of unbiased support. Imagine if we all lived our lives with non-judgmental mindsets. There would be no more ‘mommy wars”. Instead, when I got on that plane I would have heard: “Good for you taking some time for yourself.”, “Enjoy your vacation!”, and “Send lots of pictures!”

As mothers with young children I want to give you permission to enjoy life, don’t get caught up in the judgment. Take time for you and forget the double standards. Taking a break from all the responsibility is healthy, it’s normal, and we need to do it more often!

When I touched back down in Green Bay I was refreshed. I was reconnected, but who am I kidding– my checked luggage was filled with souvenirs for my kids, 100 oz of pumped breastmilk, and Kinder Eggs. Take time for you, get to know yourself again, and enjoy the chaos that is having young children.

 

Emily Jacobson is a certified doula and owner of Green Bay Doulas. Her certifications include; Labor Doula, Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, Certified Newborn Care Solutions, and Certified Postpartum Placenta Specialist.

 

 

Adoption: Answering Common Questions

November is National Adoption Month, which is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I was adopted at just 9 weeks old from the Milwaukee area. Growing up I actually had a lot of friends who were also adopted.  Believe it or not, we were often asked the same common questions and I thought I would share those in hopes of bringing awareness throughout the month to many of our readers.

What are the different types of adoption?

There are actually three different forms of adoptions!

Open Adoption:This is where your family may have access to the biological families information or even remain in contact with them.

Closed Adoption: In this case, records are sealed about personal information on the biological family. Once you reach adulthood you can do a records request to see if the biological family would be interested in meeting. Sometimes this information is available and sometimes it’s not. In my case my request was denied, but I was able to get a ton of paperwork about my biological family and medical history. That was informative, but what was most significant and even more special were the papers my parents filled out as they waited for my adoption to be finalized, what they did with me, my milestones, things I never knew existed on paper.

Domestic vs International- Simply means were you born in the USA or adopted from overseas?

Was it difficult to family trees or family related school projects and activities?

Sometimes yes, and others no. My family was my family. I tailored all of my presentations to my family. My grandpa was of syrian descent and my grandmother german. I knew I was german and hungarian, but that’s about it.  When you don’t have the information it’s hard to go off of, but I did my best with the info at hand.

And of course, my friends always wanted to know…

Do we really have two birthdays?

Sorta! We celebrate our birthdays and also my “gotcha day” growing up. I called this my special birthday, but others call it a Gotcha Day. Gotcha Day is the day we came home with our parents.

How do you explain adoption to children?

My mother always said it best. “You grew in my heart not my belly.” My outlook on being adopted is different then others may feel. I’m a firm believer that I was meant to be with my family and just needed a way to get there. So, yes, I grew in my mothers heart.

What local support is out there for children who are adopted?

The Post Adoption Resource Center of Brown County is a great place to start! 

Also having playdates with other children and classmates who were adopted as well was probably the most beneficial part to me as a child.

So on this national adoption month do you know someone who’s adopting, was adopting or has adopted? Reach out, let them know you are glad they are in your lives!

So the all important question,

How do we, as doulas, support adoption?

Before Baby: We are available before baby is welcomed as Antepartum Support Doulas. We can help create an amazing space in the home of the family adopting the newest addition by setting up furniture, the nursery and helping you talk through feelings and emotions. We can also provide support to the biological mother or surrogate by talking through or going with her to doctor appointments and supporting her emotionally.

Throughout Labor: We support the biological mother or surrogate on her journey to birth in whatever capacity she may need, whether that’s physically or emotionally.

Once Baby Is Born And The Postpartum Period : We help with the transition when parents bring home baby with the use of postpartum care. Working with them to set up a routine or settle into their new parenting roles. We can also aide in the support of the biological mother or surrogate once home helping them with self care for healing both physically and emotionally. We can assist with general recovery, lactation support to either stop or pump, an ear to listen, and our extensive list of referrals. We have even encapsulated for a surrogate who was planning on pumping for the baby.

If you would like to hear more about the support doulas can provide during the adoption process I would be more than happy to answer questions! Feel free to contact us at info@greenbaydoulas.com

Understanding Postpartum Doulas VS Night Nurse

If you are a Shameless fan like we are, you saw in the season 7 premiere that Debbie hired a night nurse so she can get some sleep. Typically a night nurse or night nanny is someone who takes care of the baby in the evening so the parents can get some sleep. But, what if I told you there was such a profession where a trained professional came into your house who

1- Was an expert in newborn care,

2- Knew how to support a mother in recovery from childbirth,

AND

3- Took care of the family as a WHOLE!

 

Enter the Postpartum Doula!

 

A normal daytime shift (averaging 4-8 hours) can look like a number of things, but is not limited to:

An unbiased ear to listen to concerns

Meal prep

Sibling support

Nap for mother

Self care for mother

Breast/bottle feeding, formula feeding, basic lactation support

Light housework

Extra hands for errands or doctors appointments

Cesarean support

Newborn and baby care

Just to name a few!

 

And the support of overnights (10 hour shift) while parents rest:

Breastfeeding support

Bottle feeding support

Meal prep

Light housework

Baby care

And sleep for both parents!

 

What you can expect with a Postpartum Doula? Personalized care! Families often seek support for high needs babies such as colic or silent reflux, special needs, support during teething, transitioning back to work, sleep regressions and sickness, and adjusting to adoption and multiples! The goal of a Postpartum Doula is to support the parenting approach that fits your lifestyle best. Every family’s needs are different which is why we have a postpartum planning session with each family to learn about the family dynamics, feeding style, parenting style and how best to support your family during the first year of a new addition.The beauty of a Postpartum Doula is that they help the family as a whole offering their expertise by lending a hand and helping a family transition into their new roles as parents, siblings and even furbabies!

While postpartum care is typically seen as a luxury item for many families, it’s simply about having a plan and making a budget. You may consider sitting down and discussing a postpartum plan even before your beautiful bundle arrives so that you can be as prepared as possible entering into this new chapter! Everyone plans for the arrival, but what about the weeks and months after your little one is here, Postpartum Doulas are happy to help!

Why make the investment? One of our clients explains it best so we’ll share his quote with you, “My wife is home all day with the baby and when she’s well rested she’s a better mother and wife and that’s what is important to me!” Utilizing a postpartum doula can be different for each family.  Whether it’s full time, part time or as needed; we want you to thrive during this time, not just survive.

If you are interested in more information about Postpartum Support please contact us today at information@greenbaydoulas.com or (920)246-0200

Green Bay’s Fitness Secret

 

Health clubs, fitness centers, machines, dance classes, yoga, where do you start?

How do you stay fit?

What if the workout you’re doing in your first trimester isn’t as doable during your third trimester?
There’s no need to feel defeated if you aren’t able to be as active as you were pre-pregnancy, or even a month ago because we have a secret and we are so excited to share it with you!

 

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Brooke McMillan is the owner of Pure Barre – Green Bay, which is one of over 350 locations in the USA & Canada, the website states thatEach Pure Barre class is 55 minutes and begins with a warm-up in the center of the room, on the floor, and then standing with light weights to work those arm muscles. We’ll then move to the barre to work your thighs and your seat. After the seat work, you’ll do a series of ab exercises, followed by a cool down. While the flow of class is always the same, we are always changing the music and exercises, so you never experience the same class twice!

 

“I took a class a few weeks ago at 18 weeks along, and I was impressed with how fast the class went, how low impact it is but man could I feel it the next day. Yes did I feel like a fish out of water sometimes? Sure, but that’s where it makes you want to come again, learn the technique and keep going. I had to modify a few things but I was able to complete the class, and if I can do it, you can do it. Great music, great atmosphere and it’s ok to look at the gal next to you with this look of ‘How did I get myself into this?’ because we are all in it together, you feel the burn, you push yourself and you keep at it.” – Emily J.

 

They have packages for new clients, teachers, monthly and yearly packages and even a class on just learning the technique. Here are some great blogs from the Pure Barre blog so check them out.


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Now that we got this HUGE secret off our chests, we are excited to invite you to experience it first-hand!

On May 2nd, at 7:00pm we are having a Pure Barre class with the Green Bay Doulas. This is the perfect opportunity for you to come and experience the class, meet your doulas, and ask any questions you have!

This class is open to all mothers, expecting mothers, new mothers, and those who just want to come and join us.
***Space is extremely limited so please email greenbay@purebarre.com to sign up.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK EVENT

Date Nite with the (4)

Check out Emily and Brooke talk about Pure Barre: YouTube Link HERE 

We are excited to let you in on the secret and hope to see you May 2nd. As always we are here to help you find the secrets of Green Bay that support you during your pregnancy and after so please reach out and we hope to hear from you soon!

-The Green Bay Doulas

 

Photo Credit: http://hauteofftherack.com/10-reasons-to-try-pure-barre/