Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth


Just Tell Me

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 9:39 AM Comments comments (62)

I was reminded again yesterday how prevalent the stigma still is around the struggle after a baby is born: baby blues, postpartum depression, onset of anxiety in the postpartum period...

The transition into motherhood is hard.  The first child is pretty shocking, even if you have a good support system. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming emotion and experience of holding a helpless newborn, the blood that is dripping out of you for the next few weeks, and then learning to breastfeed on top of all that.  It is doable, and people have been doing it for generations, so you know in your head it's possible...but your body is screaming WTF just happened here.

On top of all this, is the pressure from society to pretend that nothing happened. Bounce out of bed with full make-up, pose for some pictures, host everyone who wants to come meet the baby, and fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes by the time the six-week check up comes around or you are a slug who just can't get it together.

As you add Sweet Peas to your family, there is still an adjustment period. The love happens - you will have enough.  The adjustment for me was learning how to manage the time and the house with 2+ children.  A wise woman once told me, "Lower your expectations every time and you will do great."  Another wise woman reminded me, "They are not all two at the same time."  More on those topics another day...back to the topic at hand.

An older woman asked me why I write about postpartum so much...her generation just got on with it. She asked me why this was such "a thing" for women of this day and age.

My answer is I DON'T KNOW. Is it the food we are eating that doesn't support the hormonal shift as well as it used to? Is it that we know now that drinking and smoking are not the best stress relievers for mothers of newborns?Is it the pressure of  social media to "fakebook" and we are speaking up to say, "not today"? Is is the age of the internet that allows us to gather information and know that we are not alone? 

I have no idea.  My point today is, it is okay to ask for help if you need it.  Maybe you don't need help.  Maybe you had a satisfactory birth experience and your support network is amazing and enlightened and you are doing great.  Yeah!! Bonus points for you. (and I don't believe you)

There are also GOLD STARS waiting for you if you are able to say two of the hardest words, HELP ME.  I just read an affirmation today that really sparked me along with running into some friends who reminded me just how important postpartum care is to families who are struggling:

"It is healthy for me to say what I need and accept help".

When your childbirth educator, doula, midwife or anyone else in your life you cares about you calls you and asks how you are doing, for your own sake, tell us the truth!! 

We expect to hear, "I'm fine!" "Things are great!" "All good!"

What we are listening for are the in-betweens: the pauses, the crack in your voice, the tiredness as you speak.  We have been there - we know it is hard - we know it's an adjustment, and we want to help you. We will try to find a way to see you if we are concerned. So just make it easier for us to help you - tell us without shame, because we have been there, too.

Please tell the people who ask you and want to be there for you what you need.  We will show up and we will support you in any way we can as you make the transition from maiden to mother.  It is okay - you are still a great mom.

3 BIG Postpartum Secrets Exposed

Posted on May 13, 2016 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (94)
I wish someone had told me just how leaky postpartum was.  Now, I know we talk about this in the Bradley™ classes we teach because it was such a shock to me after the birth of our first Sweet Pea. 

Quite frankly, I don’t remember hearing about all the different ways things drip out of you after you birth your baby when we were Bradley™ students (and, twice!! Two teachers and no mention of this).  I wonder if you, like me, just think that postpartum is going to be sparkly and magical because the pregnancy is over and you are holding your baby.
Well, I'll admit, there is some magic - I don't want to be a complete Sour Susie.  Here is the Reality Check, though: along with the magical parts, postpartum is *really* drippy.  Think leaky faucets on steroids...

First of all, you are holding this beautiful, squishy baby that is too cute for words.  For me, every time I locked eyes with them, my heart melted. It made me cry every.single.time.  Add in the roller coaster of postpartum hormones and you might be crying at just about everything else, too.
You aren’t feeling in love with your baby?  That is okay.  You are still a good mom.  Keep reading. Especially the part at the end of this post.
Secondly, did anyone tell you that your breasts might look like shiny hard melons ready to pop? No, seriously…"hard, shiny, so taut you can bounce a quarter off of them" uncomfortable.  My husband could always tell when my milk came in.  Even if you are not going to breastfeed, you may want to have a strategy because the body will keep making milk until it gets the message that no one is emptying the breast.  Now, if you are going to breastfeed, rest assured that for most women, once the body figures out the supply and demand cycle, the engorgement goes away (check out THIS tip to help with engorgement).  While you will feel full-ish when your breasts produce milk between feedings, the bursting sensation eases off and you find a “new normal”, and probably some new nursing bras that are 1 to 2 sizes bigger than your pre-pregnancy size.
The third faucet that turns on and doesn’t turn off for a few weeks is the one connected to your uterus.  The joy you had about being excused from a monthly cycle for ten months comes raging back for typically 4-6 weeks postpartum.  I was so irritated that no one thought to mention this to me back when I was pregnant the first time.  Literally NO ONE told me that I was going to have a menstrual-like flow for six weeks.  Don’t you think that would be kind of important to mention to first time moms????
So here it is – laid out for you – the BIG secrets that should not *EVER* be secrets, because becoming a mother is a big enough adjustment to make without the leaky surprises.  Now, there are things you can do to mitigate all this leakage.  Here are some ideas for you in regards to those three secrets that I just busted open for you.  (For more of my postpartum tips, see the links listed at the end of the post)
Get lots of rest.  Literally stay in bed for three days, skin-to-skin with your baby and let everyone else treat you like the Queen of Sheba.  If someone can’t handle seeing you (almost) naked, then they shouldn’t be coming over to visit.  After that, continue to sleep – our workbook says that you should take three 1-hour naps every day.  When you are rested, everything takes on a different meaning than when you are exhausted and sleep-deprived.  Keep taking naps until you are feeling more like “you” and less like this crazy person who showed up with the postpartum hormones.  You might also consider a postpartum doula to help with the basics so you can rest.
Get yourself some amazing nursing pads.  My favorites are the reusable pads that my friend Shannon makes (click HERE to see them).  You can also purchase some neat products from maternity and mommy stores.  HERE is my friend Talisha, owner of Modern Mommy Boutique, sharing some of the different products on the market that are designed to ease engorgement and pamper your hard-working breasts.
The Flow:
The best remedy I know of is to take your placenta pills.  WHAT? Did you just retch a little?  That’s okay – I did, too, the first time I heard someone talk about it.  Seriously, though, in my control group of four term pregnancies, the best recovery and the shortest lochia (fancy technical name for the bloody mess) was with Otter, because I had her placenta encapsulated.  I was done with the bleeding by four weeks postpartum, and the flow was significantly lower while it lasted.  A.Ma.Zing.  It was so nice not to feel like Carrie every time I moved.
Again, I have to recommend my friend Shannon – she also makes amazing postpartum pads.  You can see them HERE.  If you are going to be bleeding like crazy, then you might as well be as comfortable as possible.
Now, back to that item of,  “What if I am not feeling in love with my baby?”  Sometimes, things happen that have no bearing on you as a person or a mother.  It is a fact that some women will experience some degree of postpartum mood disorder.  It could be the blues that last for a couple of weeks, maybe you are experiencing depression, or maybe you are tumbling into postpartum psychosis.  You can answer THESE questions and talk to your care provider about the results.  Also at that page is a link to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) – you can print, complete and take with you when you see your care provider.
Wherever you fall on the scale, help is out there and it is available.  Please do not hide in shame from your family and friends.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  YOU ARE STILL A GOOD PERSON.  You are a good person who is having an adjustment; still a good person nonetheless.  This having a baby and becoming a mother thing is an initiation…and we are just not prepared for it in our culture anymore.
Talk therapy is the least invasive and the least likely to affect your milk supply if you are breastfeeding.  Here are some resources if you are local to the Chandler, AZ area where we teach.  If you are not local, scroll down for some online resources and a link to support group listings in the USA and Canada.
Blossoming Moms Breastfeeding + Postpartum Support Group • Every Wednesday morning  • Time: 11:00 AM
Pregnant moms are welcome too!
Blossom Birth and Wellness Center
2928 N 16th Place, Phoenix, AZ 85016 
Facilitator: Michelle Hottya818-606-5687
Dignity Health Postpartum Adjustment Support Group Wednesdays • Time: 1:00 - 2:30 pm
For pregnant and new mothers who are experiencing depression and adjustment challenges, the number one complication of childbirth. Come learn coping mechanisms and how to ask for help in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.
Registration is not required. Childcare is provided during the group sessions for for babies and toddlers. You are welcome to bring your significant other or support person. Support group does not meet the week of July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s
Meeting Location:
Rome Towers: 1760 E Pecos Rd., Ste. 235, Gilbert, AZ 85295 

Postpartum Progress Group Therapy • Wednesdays • Time: 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Supporting moms from bump to breast & beyond. All meetings led by Dr. Cara English, MA, LAC, DBH. Group therapy may not be the best option for all moms. Dr. English will administer a brief phone assessment to determine if group therapy will be helpful for you, or if other types of treatment would be more beneficial.  The assessment will be scheduled prior to your first group. Cost: $30/session   Call (480) 442-8491 for more info.  AZ Breastfeeding Center, 4703 S. Lakeshore Dr, Tempe, 85282. 
Do you need support outside of the Phoenix, Arizona area?  

Check out these options, and remember, you do not have to suffer alone.  Reach out – I hope you will be overwhelmed by the compassion and acceptance of the women who have gone before you and are living testimonies to the fact that there is a “Climb Out Of The Darkness”.
Postpartum Progress – Online Support Forum
Postpartum Support – Resource list for USA and Canada
About ##PPD Chat on Twitter
My Postpartum Voice

Is there something you discovered on your own about postpartum that you wish someone had told you?? What was that?
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 


Postpartum Ideas to manage sleep, feeding, feelings about your birth, siblings, and pets

Postpartum Strategies - adjusting to life with a newborn

Postpartum Doulas - what they do and how to hire one

Postpartum Kit - essentials for a more pleasant postpartum experience

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Birth News Roundup

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 12:18 PM Comments comments (390)

I hope you enjoyed our Mommy Con recap in lieu of a "Birth News" installment last week.  Here are the articles I have collected that I thought would be of interest to those of you TTC, currently pregnant, or getting close to welcoming your babies.  

This week was also Remembrance Day for families that have experienced the grief of loss.  I open this post with an event to honor their brief passage through our lives.

Remembrance Service for Miscarriage, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss
Memorial service for those lost through miscarriage, still birth or neonatal complications.
The Bereavement Support Teams at Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert medical centers, invite you to a service in memory of those little ones lost through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal complications. Join us in love, support and comfort, as we mourn and remember these babies.
The memorial service will occur on Friday Oct. 18 at 5:00 PM.  Mercy Gilbert Medical Center’s Healing Garden, 3555 S. Val Vista Drive.
To learn more, visit MercyGilbert.org 
Source: AFN http://bit.ly/1hHSVdt

New Test May Spot Which Embryos Stand Greatest Chance of Survival
“Doctors have unveiled a new test for determining which embryos have the best chance of survival.

The amount of mitochondria found in the cells of an embryo appeared to be a marker of its health, doctors reported Monday at the International Federation of Fertility Societies and American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in Boston. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Higher levels of mitochondria -- the "powerhouses" of cells -- seemed to indicate an embryo was under stress and less likely to successfully implant in a woman's uterus, said study co-author Dr. Dagan Wells, a scientific leadership fellow at Oxford University in England.”
Source: US News and World Report http://bit.ly/GX1A0z

Increase seen in donor eggs for in vitro fertilization, with improved outcomes
“Between 2000 and 2010 in the United States the number of donor eggs used for in vitro fertilization increased, and outcomes for births from those donor eggs improved, according to a study published by JAMA. The study is being released early online to coincide with its presentation at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the International Federation of Fertility Societies joint annual meeting.”
Source: Science Codex http://bit.ly/16i1SFf

BPA exposure may increase miscarriage risk in pregnant women
“A new study presented Oct. 14 at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's (ASRM) annual meeting in Boston found women with the highest levels of BPA, or bisphenol A, in their blood were significantly more likely to miscarry than women with the lowest levels of the ubiquitous chemical.

"Many studies on environmental contaminants' impact on reproductive capacity have been focused on infertility patients and it is clear that high levels of exposure affect them negatively," Dr. Linda Giudice, president of ASRM, said in a statement. "These studies extend our observations to the general population and show that these chemicals are a cause for concern to all of us."
Source: CBS News http://cbsn.ws/16iirkz

Air pollution tied to high blood pressure in pregnancy
“Pregnant women who live in neighbourhoods with lots of air pollution may be slightly more likely to develop high blood pressure, a new study says.”

“Abbott, who was not involved in the research, said it had some key limitations. For example, some factors that affect a woman's risk of getting high blood pressure, such as her weight, were not taken into account. In addition, the study did not look at whether any women moved to a different neighbourhood while pregnant or spent most of their time away from home, where pollution was measured.

For those reasons, Abbott told Reuters Health, more research is needed to determine whether there are any blood pressure-related benefits to moving to an area with less pollution, or to staying indoors on high-pollution days while pregnant. "I would not make any recommendations to my patients based on this research," she said. The author is a student at the Boston University School of Medicine, and Abbott is a former professor of hers.”
Source: Health24 http://bit.ly/17p8qlI

Babies can be born dependent on drugs, even prescription medicine
"Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a medical condition that occurs when a baby has been exposed during pregnancy to opiates," Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Carla Saunders explained.
In Jason's case, his mother took a specific prescription medicine for chronic migraine headaches, one she was told was safe for her unborn child.”
Source: WBIR.com http://on.wbir.com/16i1Ddk

Maternal cardiac function may predict outcomes in preeclampsia 
“Women at high risk of early preeclampsia who show signs of abnormal hemodynamic function earlier in pregnancy may be more likely to have adverse pregnancy outcomes, new data suggest.”
My note: this is a very small study – only 36 women in sample size
Source: OBGYN News http://bit.ly/16iiVXU

Using Prenatal Corticosteroids does not Increase Children’s Death Rate
“Even though the majority of pregnancies result in healthy live births, pregnant women still have to take some measures to prevent complications from arising. For some women, taking prenatal corticosteroids is necessary to curb preterm births, which increase the infant's and mother's risks of having potentially life threatening problems during and post birth. Women who are at high risk of giving birth prematurely are usually recommended to receive one dosage of this type of therapy. According to a new study, receiving multiple courses of prenatal corticosteroids does not appear to increase or decrease the risk of death or disability for children.”
Source: Counsel & Heal http://bit.ly/GY1gP9

Birth gets the brain ready to sense the world
"Our results clearly demonstrate that birth has active roles in brain formation and maturation," says senior study author Hiroshi Kawasaki of Kanazawa University in Japan. "We found that birth regulates neuronal circuit formation not only in the somatosensory system but also in the visual system. Therefore, it seems reasonable to speculate that birth actually plays a wider role in various brain regions."
Source: Medical Xpress http://bit.ly/16iftMK

Birth Prepares the Newborn Brain to Sense the World with Sensory Maps
“A lot of things happen during birth. Chemical processes change in the brain as children travel through the birth canal. Now, scientists have discovered that the actual act of birth in mice causes a reduction in a brain chemical called serotonin. This triggers sensory maps to form, which prepares the mice to sense the world and prepares mice for survival outside the womb.”
Source: Science World Report http://bit.ly/1by6YAE

Searching for the secrets behind anesthesia 
"Surprisingly, even though we use these drugs in easily 250 million patients every year across the world, and have been using them since about 1850, we don't know how they work," said Roderic Eckenhoff, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

"There is concern right now, for example, that these drugs could have a durable cognitive effect, in other words, they might not leave the brain entirely unchanged," he explained."
My note: If this doesn't make people question epidural drugs, I do not know what will.  There is an appropriate use for them, however wholesale acceptance looks to be irresponsible.
Source: NewsWorks http://bit.ly/1fUyGgZ

My note: So between messing with birth and introducing drugs...we have to wonder if we are changing the incidence of depression by continuing to question the idea that Birth Matters:
Oxytocin Dysfunction Seen in Both Depressed Moms and Kids
"A dysfunctional oxytocin system may underpin the long-term harmful effects of maternal depression on child development, suggesting a potential for oxytocin-based interventions, researchers say.

"Infants of depressed mothers have long-lasting difficulties both in general and specifically in social and emotional outcomes, such as social engagement with others, the capacity for empathy, which underpin the capacity for intimacy," Ruth Feldman, PhD, psychology professor at Ban-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, who worked on the study, told Medscape Medical News." 
Source: Medscape http://bit.ly/16icnbN

Seattle Children’s researcher finds a clue to the mystery of SIDS
“A physician and researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital made another breakthrough in his research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a mysterious disease that leaves grieving parents looking for answers that science has yet to provide.

The latest finding supports his earlier work, which indicates that SIDS babies don’t necessarily have a problem with their brain. Instead, Dr. Daniel Rubens’ research has indicated that problems with hearing and the inner ear may be linked to SIDS.”
Read the full article at http://bit.ly/GRzYdi

Screening for newborns a lifesaver
“Today every state tests babies at birth for PKU — but not just that. There are now more than 50 disorders that can be picked up through screening, 31 of which comprise the "core conditions" of the government's Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. Other conditions are likely to be added to the panel. All but two of them — hearing loss and critical congenital heart disease — can be detected by automated analysis of a few drops of dried blood from a heel stick done within a few days of birth." 
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette http://bit.ly/GY2YzP

This Is Breastfeeding In Real Life
“Turner started taking pictures of nursing moms around five years ago. Her shots were posed and “idealized,” she told HuffPost Parents over e-mail. But she wasn't interested in the improbable scenes of women on mountaintops in flowy clothing with happy and cooperative babies one sometimes sees: she wanted to represent real moms’ experiences. Gradually, she started to take her camera out into the world, where babies actually eat. “Most women I know are breastfeeding one child while sitting on a bench in the park or the mall and trying to fish crackers out of a diaper bag for another kid all while wearing an old t-shirt with a spit up stain on it,” Turner said.”
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson Source: HuffPost OnLine http://huff.to/GX1ZQA

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Mommy Con: January from Birth Without Fear

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 6:33 AM Comments comments (3)
Cassandra and I were part of the "media" contingent at MommyCon LA Babywearing World Record Event on Sunday, October 6, 2013.  We had such a wonderful time walking the floor, meeting vendors and being inspired by the wonderful speakers as we looked and listened to bring all the happenings back to you.  See the bottom of this posts for links to more of the activity! 

At 2:00 pm, the third person to take the stage on Sunday was January Harshe, founder of Birth Without Fear, sponsored by Nüroo.  She started a facebook page with a simple message - that birth does not have to be scary, and that we have choices.  That message has resonated and grown into an incredible community that is active on-line 24/7.

Here are the notes I took as she delivered her message on Sunday:

You are judged for your choices no matter what you make.  Life is hard – we are all doing our best.  The last thing we need to do is judge others – be kind to one another.

Choices – you do have a choice when it comes to birth.

With her fourth child, she decided to have complete faith in her body.  We are indoctrinated with unrealistic images of birth in the media – either it’s completely zen calm and peaceful (my note: and in the middle of nowhere somewhere beautiful), or it’s a major emergency when mother and baby need to have a life-saving operation.

There is a choice not to cut – you can choose to birth via cesarean or vaginally – you can choose to breastfeed or pump or to give formula.

The days when the OB told a mom what to do and how it’s going to go – that is changing.  She's striving to make them numbered.

January wants to tell as many women as possible that they have a choice:
My body
It’s up to me how I birth

What is another mom going through?  How does she need to heal?  “This is my vagina – if I want to have a baby out of it – it’s my choice.”

If you can’t find someone to support your choice – do more than sit online and complain.  Start acting as a consumer – demand change.

I heard a paradigm shift in her presentation:
You hire your care provider to do a service.  Find someone to do the job you want them to do.  If they don’t listen, respect your choice, then you know it’s time to hire someone else.

The last thing you want is to go home with a new baby and the trauma from a bad birth experience.  Your care provider doesn’t have to live with your birth – you do.

If there were no moms birthing in the hospitals any more, they would be quick to change their policies!

We need to take the power back for ourselves – our daughters – our granddaughters.

The feeling of “I rocked this birth – I can do anything” should not be rare and exclusive.

We need to go into birth feeling supported and empowered.

How we birth affects our postpartum experience.

If you have postpartum depression, and you always feel like you are going to cry – Cry.  It’s okay – you are still a good mom. (melt – I love this woman’s message!!)

After a VBAC with her third child, within 15 minutes her care provider started tearing apart her birth and her choices and deflated her "VBAC high".  The care provider was callous and careless, and her postpartum experience left her questioning herself.

With her fourth child, she decided to get “in the zone”.  She and her husband made their choice about how they were going to birth.  If anyone came into “the zone” with negative energy, she punched them out (jabs at the air with a couple of side punches to the great delight of the audience) and went back into her “zone”.

She birthed her baby without any drama, complications, and she had her family around her after the baby was born.  They welcomed their new child together.  Her postpartum experience was very different – down to the breastfeeding relationship.

In talking with midwives at The Farm, they do not have any incidence of postpartum depression.  One of the midwives stated that she thinks PPD is a symptom of nuclear family living in isolation.  In communal living, women support and help each other; when they see a need, they take care of it.  In nuclear family living, women are isolated and alone.  It is seen as weakness to need help.

January believes that we need other women.  We need to cry and celebrate together, be okay with doing each other’s dishes, bringing meals, letting mamas take a shower.  We need to support each other with no judgement and help each other with love.

Empower birth.
Support the postpartum period.

My note…even more kudos to this woman for being there for the mamas at Mommy Con.  She has her own conference coming up this weekend – not even a mention or a peep about it when she had the perfect platform for self-promotion.  Truly she is a woman who is changing the world, one interaction at a time.

Want more Mommy Con scoop??
HEREare my notes from Dr. Robert Sears - He talked about vaccinations during pregnancy, postpartum, and for infants.
HERE are the notes from Jessica Martin-Weber of The Leaky [email protected]@b - Her talk was about parenting and being confident in our choices.
HERE are the notes from Abby Theuring of The Badass Breastfeeder - Her talk was about empowering breastfeeding as a society

HERE is a link to our tour of the convention floor.

HERE is a link to the Babywearing Fashion Show.

HERE is a link to pictures of the Babywearing World Record.

Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 
 Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Rally to Improve Birth 2013

Posted on July 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM Comments comments (0)
Did you know that there is a national organization advocating evidence-based care and humanity in childbirth? 

I first became aware of ImprovingBirth.org when they held their first rally last year.  In order to bring awareness to the maternity health care crisis in our country, the organizers chose the date of Labor Day for the national event.  This year, they are truly nation-wide – there is at least one rally planned in all 50 states, and as of today, it looks like they are up to eight international locations.

What maternity health care crisis in the United States, you ask?  Here is a look at the numbers.  In the world:
  • We are 34th in maternal mortality rates:  33 countries have lower maternal mortality than we do.
  • We are 38th in neonatal mortality rates: 37 countries have lower neonatal mortality rates than we do.
  • We are 41st in infant mortality rates: 40 countries do a better job at keeping newborns alive than we do.
  • We are 66th in birth weight: 65 countries do better than us when it comes to birthing babies at healthy birth weights.
  • We are 33rd in the breastfeeding: 32 countries had higher rates of exclusively breastfeeding at six months.

So do you know why I find this so infuriating?
“ Despite the poor international ranking, the International Federation of Health Plans recently reported that average U.S. payments for vaginal birth were far higher than all other countries reported, including Canada, France, and Australia (7).”

Are you motivated to stand with women, children and coaches to rally for change? 
On September 2, 2013, from 10 a.m. – 12 noon local time, cities across the states are going to host a Rally to Improve Birth.  The rally is not to promote one kind of birth over other kinds of births.  It is not about bashing care providers and birthing facilities.

“It’s about women being capable of making safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of their babies, when they are given full and accurate information about their care options, including the potential harms, benefits, and alternatives.  It’s about respect for women and their decisions in childbirth, including how, where, and with whom they give birth; and the right to be treated with dignity and compassion.”
-Rally To Improve Birth

What is the message that Improving Birth is striving for?  Here are some of the messages they hope to get across that day (hint...ideas for rally signs):
  • Lower the C-Section Rate
  • Respectful Maternity Care 
  • Question Your Induction
  • Informed Consent is My Right 
  • Evidence-Based Birth

You can click HERE to find your local rally (readers in the Phoenix, AZ area - local info at the bottom of this post):

If you can’t stand side-by-side with the families attending the rally, you can still participate.  All the rallies are 100% volunteer organized – even a donation of $10.00 can help buy water to hydrate all the mamas, babies, coaches and care providers standing under the hot sun on Labor Day to bring awareness and change to the maternal healthcare system.
Donate HERE to the national organization:

Donate HERE to the local Phoenix Rally:

HERE is a story from an "eye-roller" at last year’s rally, to a supporter at this year’s rally.  I would like to think that these stories are few and far between.  Unfortunately, I know they are not.  Due to my involvement in the birth community at large, I have personally heard stories from several women who felt completely violated by their care providers and the current standard of care.  We can make a difference.  We can stand together and insist that it is time to humanize birth again, to use evidence-based care, and to involve the birthing family as partners in their birth story. For more information, please visit their main website:

Readers in the Phoenix, AZ area
Here is the info on our local event:
September 2, 2013
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Tempe Beach Park
54 West Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, Arizona 85281

To stay up-to-date on the local event, visit the Facebook Page.

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

In Their Own Words: Shara

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 3:02 PM Comments comments (31)
This post was written as part of Sweet Pea Birth’s "In Their Own Words" series. For more info on the ITOW or if you want to participate, contact Krystyna Bowman: krystyna{at} sweetpeabirths {dot} com. Today's post is about breastfeeding after a cesarean.  The breastfeeding ITOW series runs through the month of August.    

Shara Cohen-Sandhu is fun-loving, red-headed mama to two lovely girls and wife to one busy Coach.  She is an advocate of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and attachment parenting, and she is active in the Phoenix-area ICAN chapter.   

 There's something magical about looking into your baby's eyes for the first time while nursing.  Nursing my second little girl shortly after having her was amazing.  It came so naturally, like we had shared years of experience, but it was also so new and exciting.     

 Leila was my second baby and second cesarean section.  She was my second attempt at a natural labor; this time I thought I was so much more prepared.  The hurt of still not being able to bring my baby into the world the way I was made to was lingering.     

 However, nursing my little Leila was so very healing.  Looking into her big brown eyes helps to heal my disappointment even today because I know that regardless of how she came out of my body, her body is beautiful and healthy thanks to the breastmilk I provide for her.  Other than healing emotionally, the beauty of breastfeeding is that it helped to heal my body faster by shrinking the uterus naturally.   

 After having both babies via cesarean births, there were some things that I had to take into consideration while nursing.  Here are the lessons I learned with Jasmin, my first baby, that I was able to use again with Leila: 

POSITIONING:  I learned quickly that nursing while lying down was extremely beneficial since I had to let my body rest.  So I propped her up on a pillow parallel to me and had my head on the same pillow, so my top breast was at her level.  I curled my body around her, which prevented her from moving, and had a pillow between my legs and one behind me, which prevented me from rolling either way.  I would let the baby nurse for a long time on the one side, then I'd have my husband help me switch the pillow to the other side.     

 Not only did this allow my body to heal, it also encouraged our bonding and eventually led to co-sleeping, which I did not think I'd do prior to having kids.  I learned that it is the best way for everyone in our family to get rest and also helps the children learn how to sleep.     

BABY CARRIER: With my second, I didn't have much down time because my first needed my attention, too.  So I found a baby carrier that I could nurse in easily.  This allowed me to be able to still have the same interaction with my first, while having the same bonding with my second.  It also was a lot easier on my body because I didn’t have to carry the heavy and clunky car seat.     

SUPPORT GROUPS: With my first, nursing didn't come so easily.  I found a breastfeeding support group and it made the difference for us.  I was determined, yet I needed help and encouragement. At the weekly meeting I learned that I could share my accomplishments and struggles with other moms and learn from them as well; all while watching our babies grow, and become playmates.    

 I decided to attend the same support group with our second baby.  Today Leila is 5 months old.  Nursing couldn't be better.  We nurse on demand and she is happy and healthy, and so am I.   

 I also had the aid of my encapsulated placenta after my second cesarean.  I noticed it helped bring my milk in faster, helped with postpartum weepies, and the lochia (postpartum “menstruation”) stopped after only 3 weeks. 

Parting thoughts:  There are so many beneficial things about breastfeeding.  Regardless of what struggles a mom has, if there is a will there is a way.  I've learned through trial and error while having wonderful support.  I have to say there is nothing in the world as rewarding as giving my babies what they need: love, nourishment, and security in mom's arms.         

Find a list of breastfeeding support groups click here

Read more about placenta encapsulation here and here

Visit the ICAN-Phoenix Chapter website   

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

In Their Own Words: Katie

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 8:16 AM Comments comments (210)
Kandid Katie perseveres through breastfeeding challenges to nurse her baby This post was written as part of Sweet Pea Birth’s "In Their Own Words" series. For more info on the ITOW or if you want to participate, contact Krystyna Bowman: krystyna{at} sweetpeabirths {dot} com. Today's post is about persevering through breastfeeding challenges.  The breastfeeding ITOW series runs through the month of August. 

Katie Newton is an alumni mom from our Fall 2011 Class.  She and her husband have three children.  See more of Katie's "random thoughts and mutterings" by visiting her blog, http://kandidkatie.blogspot.com/

When Ellie was born, I was going to breastfeed.  There were no caveats, like "if we can."  There wasn't even "I'll try" in front of it.  That's just what you do, and I was going to do it.  She came out and latched like a leech.  She was a champion feeder.  By her third day, however, she started getting fussy at the breast.  She'd eat for 5 or 10 minutes and then start crying and wagging her head.  I was so tired and emotional that I reluctantly said "yes" when Mike asked if I wanted him to go buy a pacifier.  She happily took the pacifier after every feed and often in between feeds.  (I'm blessed with an overabundant supply, so this did not affect our breastfeeding relationship to my knowledge at the time.)   

 Things were not all sunshine and lollipops, though.  Ellie screamed.  Not every-baby-cries screams.  Blood-curdling screams.  Any of the twenty-four hours of the day were game.  Her skin was burned with eczema.  This was not colic.  This was suffering.  It was not until weeks later, under the guidance of a very knowledgeable lactation consultant, Debbie, that I learned about food sensitivities and that Ellie had some bad ones.  I found this out by doing the elimination diet which, while restrictive enough, is almost unbearable as a vegetarian.  I ended up going wheat free and dairy free for over a year, also not a picnic as a vegetarian, for the sake of my daughter.   

 Around two weeks after Ellie's birth, breastfeeding suddenly became excruciating.  When she latched, I felt paralyzing electricity throughout my torso.  It got so bad that I would crumple into a crying, hysterical mess of a panic attack in the ANTICIPATION of her need to eat.  After discussing the issue at length with my first lactation consultant, Mary, she thought I had an intraductal yeast infection.  I did two or three rounds of antifungal medication (under the care of my OB) with no improvement.  I also pumped exclusively during this time but for one breastfeeding session to make sure Ellie was still willing and able.  She was.  After three weeks of no relief, Mary directed me to her associate, Debbie.   

 Debbie felt like the cause was Raynaud's Phenomenon.  She was right.  Not only was Ellie's breastfeeding triggering the "attacks," as I call them, because that's how they feel, but my pump flanges were way too small and basically ripping off my nipples a little bit every time I pumped.  Additionally, Ellie had a tongue-tie, but it never got fixed because the go-to doctor had apparently lost his mind (a story for another day).  Thankfully, it stretched on its own over time.  (Interested side note: I discovered only recently, with Ellie almost 4.5 years old, that she also had a lip tie.  We never looked for it, so we never saw it.  She ripped it by accident one day.  Problem solved.)   

 Now that I had the causes uprooted, I started the healing process.  I kept my nipples warm and covered (which really complicates showering, by the way...I've since gotten a Shower Hug, which helps immensely).  I did salt water soaks, which is no dignified practice.  Most of all, I waited.  By the time Ellie was seven weeks old, I felt brave enough to give breastfeeding a go.  Ellie latched on like we never had a break, and it didn't hurt.  I was flooded with relief.  But then I started seeing the symptoms of food sensitivities again, big time.  The screaming and gas and fussiness at the breast were back.   

 Once again, Debbie came to rescue.  She recognized I had oversupply.  She educated me about block feeding, which is feeding on one side exclusively for a number of hours instead of counting feeds.  (There's more to it than that.  Please consult a lactation consultant.)  I had to go to the maximum recommended block before I saw an improvement.  I did this for a number of weeks before it stopped working.  No, my supply didn't go crazy.  Ellie turned four months old and suddenly had an opinion.  She decided she only wanted my fast-flowing side during feeds in public.  (Yes, sides can differ greatly from one another.) She was always a down-to-business eater, and this way she could maximize her time observing the world outside her home.  I had to plan ahead, feeding the right side at home and remembering to feed the left at home if we weren't going anywhere...it was like learning to breastfeed all over again.  Thankfully my supply was pretty stable at this point.  The pacifier also helped us deal with the oversupply, but I still wish we hadn't used it.   

 Ellie was still nursing at least 8 times a day at 14 months old, when I found out we were expecting Mikey.  I dreamed of tandem nursing the two.  I daydreamed, planned, read up on how to handle the challenges.  I was partway through Adventures in Tandem Nursing when Ellie's nursing dropped by half.  Instead of 8-12 times a day at 14 months, she was now nursing 4-6 times a day at 15 months.  Then 2-3 times a day at 16 months.  Then, one weekend, she nursed once on Saturday, once on Sunday morning, May 31st, and she was done at only 16.5 months old.  For a week I offered the breast, but that made her angry, even if she willingly got in position first.  I was DEVASTATED.  I blamed - and still blame - the pacifier.  I blamed myself for letting her have the pacifier.  My head was spinning with confusion and disbelief and outright denial.  I was a complete mess.  For a month, my husband could only rub my back while I cried.  I felt like my child had died.  My response was primal...   .

..and compounded by my knowledge that I would not get to tandem nurse my two children.   

 After that first month that felt like the end of the world, I focused on thoughts of nursing my new baby and the possibility that Ellie would be interested again when she saw Mikey nursing.  He came almost exactly four months later.  He was a little reluctant to nurse after delivery, but gentle determination on my part got him going, and he ate a good first meal.  We spent the next 36 hours in the hospital thanks to the unnecessary use of antibiotics (another story for another day).  In that time, Mikey nursed once or twice.  (In case you have any questions, that is NOT acceptable for a newborn, and no, we did not have him circumcised.)  The lactation consultant was so backed up that she didn't get to us until the end of that time.  She watched him think about latching and said he was doing everything right.  I argued that he wouldn't nurse.  She shrugged and said he'd get it.  My gut said no, but my heart wanted so badly to believe she was right.   

 On the third day, I changed his diaper and saw red.  Literally.  Red "brick dust," a sign of dehydration.  My heart broke.  Not only was I not getting the breastfeeding relationship I dreamed of, I was hurting my child through delusion and hope.  I started to pump.  For ten months, I tried everything to get him to breastfeed.  (He was also tongue tied, severely, but the repair - by a wonderful, not-crazy doctor - did not help.)  This was stressful enough without the additional medical sucker punches that just kept flying.  He was aspirating, so he had a feeding tube for ten weeks, from five to seven months old.  Breastfeeding dreams quickly fading.  He had feeding therapy with professionals who had no intention of getting him on the breast.  Breastfeeding dreams circling the drain.   

 He had 3-5 doctor visits and 3-4 therapy appointments a week, leaving little to no time to pump, let alone work on breastfeeding.  Before he even got the tube, we were supplementing with formula because I couldn't produce enough even with the hospital-grade pump I was now renting.  Me, with my oversupply, and I couldn't extract enough milk for my child.  By ten months, he was lucky to get an ounce of my milk.  I gave up.  I still pumped for four more months, but I was only getting a half ounce a day at the end.  There just wasn't time during the day, and I had to choose sleep at nights.  I returned the pump when he was 14 months old.  (He also had food sensitivities, so I was dairy free for the 14 months I pumped.)   

 I continued to produce milk for about seven more months, and my hope held out for that long.  It wasn't positive hope.  It was desperate, painful hope.  I longed for another baby so that Mikey might become interested through example.  Don't get me wrong; I wanted another baby just because I was ready for another baby, but that nagging hope was like an accelerant.  When Mikey was 18 months old, we got pregnant on our first try.  As was God's will, I miscarried right at five weeks.  We tried again the next month and succeeded again.  I focused my thoughts on having the birth I wanted and declared, regularly, that this baby WOULD breastfeed like a pro.  I prayed every night that she, Angela, would be normal and healthy and a breastfeeding champ.   

 Angela was born on Monday night in a tub at a birth center.  No drugs.  Delayed cord clamping.  Uninterrupted bonding.  At first she fussed at the breast.  I started to panic but had the clarity to recognize a stuffy nose.  Once she was lovingly suctioned, she latched right on and nursed for two hours straight.  I thanked God and tried to ignore her clicking sounds and the familiar electricity feeling.  We went to my parents' house that night, and I slept upright in a chair and fed her on demand.  The pain and clicking got worse with each feed.  She started to struggle to get enough.  I got in ASAP to see Debbie.  Angela had a terrible posterior tongue tie and a lip tie.  I called the wonderful doctor, but he couldn't get me in for over a week.  I couldn't bear the pain, so I started finger feeding.  This was all on the Thursday after she was born.   

 Saturday night around 9pm, when I realized it would be hours more before I got to eat dinner, I let Mike give her a bottle.  This crushed me.  I saw my breastfeeding dreams once again circling the drain.  I kept reminding myself about Ellie's success after the bottle and focused on the next week's appointment.  That would fix everything.  Finally the big day came.  I excitedly handed her over to the doctor, waited for him to confirm the diagnosis and prepared myself to witness the procedure, just as I did with Mikey.  He confirmed the diagnosis and then instructed me to schedule the procedure.  Wait, what?  It would be another week before he could do it, as he changed his policy about doing it at the first appointment.  I bawled.  I'd given one child to him before, and even though it didn't help, here I was, fully trusting him again, and he was treating me like a first timer.  I was furious.  I understood his position, but my dreams were fading with each passing day.  Plus, Angela was starting to refuse the bottle, and feeding was becoming a concern.   

 We managed to keep her fed until the procedure.  I wasn't allowed to watch this time, but it was over very quickly.  When i went back in the room, the wonderful doctor was cuddling and rocking my baby and chattering on excitedly about how successful it had been and how deep he'd had to go.  But there was little improvement.  I gave it time, a week, but it seemed to get worse instead of better.  Debbie said that there was still more tie there.  I scheduled another appointment.  Another week of waiting.   

 During this time, I put Angela on the breast almost daily since a feed or two a day didn't cause too much damage.  Finally we went to the appointment.  The doctor agreed there was more or it had reattached.  He agreed to try again.  At his other office.  The next week.  I didn't cry this time.  Crying didn't help.   

 We went in for our fourth appointment.  Angela was six weeks old.  Everything went as before.  The doctor went as deep as he could but still couldn't get all of the tie.  I didn't care.  I knew this was it.  I knew he "fixed" her.  She started breastfeeding perfectly that afternoon.  She still clicked because her palate was - and is - still high, but there was no pain.  She was able to eat her fill.  God had worked a miracle.   

 Angela is now 19 weeks old and eats like a horse.  I struggled with oversupply and finding my block feeding balance for a couple of weeks and even battled postpartum depression for a spell as my hormones worked themselves out.  She has food sensitivities, too, so I've had to do the restriction dance again.  I haven't been a vegetarian since the day Mikey was born, so the diet is more forgiving.  I've learned to take tons of pictures of my nursling because I am so awed and grateful to have this relationship.  I'm still sad that I haven't had my tandem experience, but I hold out hope for another baby.  I also tell Angela that she'd better nurse until she's four or five, but I'm just happy to know there is nothing standing in the way of her deciding when she's ready to wean.   

 I make milk.  What's YOUR superpower?    

For the pre-quel to this post, visit Katie's blog:  http://kandidkatie.blogspot.com/2011/02/it-may-not-be-loss-in-your-eyes-but-im.html    

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  
This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

Postpartum Ideas

Posted on March 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM Comments comments (0)
Bradley Method® classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleIt breaks my heart to hear desperation in a new mama’s voice, or to read that they are struggling with breastfeeding, or to know that they are not getting enough sleep.  It’s a harsh reality check after the first few hours of euphoria after the baby is born.
After a baby is born and the female body is flooded with endorphins, a mama who has had minimal interference with the natural process will be completely alert, awake and responsive to the needs of her newborn child.  Hopefully she gets some sleep after the endorphins wear off.  Next starts the babymoon and the parade of people – family and friends coming by to help the new family, well-wishers bringing gifts of food.  Mama is supported and loved and maybe she gets some sleep as others ease her burden.  Then life happens…and mama and baby are left to fend for themselves while everyone who was supporting the motherbaby gets on with their life:  Coach goes back to work, friends stop bringing food, or maybe after a visit the clean-up duties are left to the mama. 
The stress in this situation can be compounded by other dynamics.  When a mama has not had a natural-ish birth she wanted, or maybe she is healing from the physical and/or emotional experience of a cesarean birth, she might be stressed.  Maybe there are feeding issues due to the learning curve or a physical limitation to the nursing relationship.  Maybe there are siblings in the family who are also adjusting to the new family member.  Maybe there are pets acting out as they try to figure out the new family dynamic.  All these stressors start to affect a mama’s well-being.
As a mama starts to lose sleep and add stress, the concern I have is two-fold:  First of all, she may affect her milk supply.  The second concern is that she will experience more than just the baby blues as her body re-adjusts hormone levels after pregnancy.  Without adequate sleep, she could easily escalate to post-partum depression.  The condition has many symptoms; the one that concerns me the most is when women think about or actually do bodily harm to themselves and/or their children.
Sleep:  Find help after the babymoon is over.   Will your life-house-sibling parenting be perfect right after baby arrives?  No way, no how.  The important thing is to be aware that the situation is temporary.  If you allow yourself some breathing room, you can recover from birth and get back into your “normal” sooner than later.
Coach has to go back to work?  Beg, borrow or steal time when you can.  Be okay with letting things go around the house.  Pick one room to keep clean if that is important to you, maybe the one where you spend the most time.  The rest can wait until you have recovered from your birth.  Coach gets home from work – pass him the baby and go take a nap. 
Have other kiddos?  Set up a “meal train” and let other people help with feeding your family.  Let them know about your food restrictions.  Our friends introduced us to some new gluten-free foods after Angelika was born – it was awesome.
No support from family or friends?  Hire a postpartum doula to help care for baby or your housework so you can sleep.  Many of these women are willing to barter if needed – most of us in the birth business are more concerned about the mother/baby than we are about getting paid in money. 
Another obvious yet harder-to-do as we are more technology dependent, is to turn off the gadgets.  Put away your phone; turn off your computer.  The world revolved long before there was app for it.  If you are tired, don’t allow yourself the distraction.  It’s amazingly freeing to go a few “wireless” days.  Trust me when I tell you that you can always catch up later.  There is no one more important than you and baby in the first days of recovery, or if your baby blues are getting worse instead of better.
Birth experience:  There are many support groups to help a mama process her birth, as will as books and classes.  In the Phoenix area, birth mentor Alejandrina Vostreja has a class for moms/coaches who want to process their birth experience. You can talk to your doula or assistant coaches to put together any missing pieces you and your coach don’t remember or didn’t notice due to being in the moment.  You can attend a birth circle (click here and scroll down for AZ groups) to share your story in a non-judgmental and supportive setting.  If you had a cesarean, you can attend an ICAN meeting, another non-judgmental and supportive setting.
Feeding Issues:  After being around the birth world for a few years, I would definitely recommend finding the help that is appropriate for the situation.  Peer-to-peer help, i.e., La Leche League, is good for a painful latch or general adjusting to motherhood.  A certified breastfeeding counselor (they have completed a course to help mothers) is the next step if peer counseling doesn’t answer your concerns.  If you have issues such as a baby who is losing weight or continued fussiness at the breast, then go straight to finding and making arrangements to meet with an IBCLC.  They have completed a rigorous training program and they are internationally certified to be the gold-standard – they are the real deal when it comes to calling themselves a Lactation Consultant.
Feeding issues can be heart-breaking if you are committed to breastfeeding.  It helps to keep the big picture in mind…this is a bump in the road.  Learning to breastfeed takes at least four to six weeks, especially if this is your first time breastfeeding, if your baby is  a preemie, or if your baby has “technical” issues like a tongue-tie  that need to be addressed, and baby essentially has to gain strength or re-learn how to suckle at the breast.
My friend Debbie Gillespie, IBCLC, RLC, taught me that the most important to-do is to feed the baby.  Pick the one thing that you are willing to do this time – and just deal with one feeding at a time.  As in labor, it’s hard to deal with the emotions and discomfort if you think about how long it’s going to go on… by addressing the feeding right now, and only the one right now, you can ease the stress that will affect your milk supply if it rises unchecked.
It is also important to remember that breastfeeding is much more than breastmilk.  By putting your baby to the breast, even if it’s just suckling, that’s a start.  You are bonding skin-to-skin, you are letting your baby “talk” to your body, it is giving your body the message to keep making milk because there is a human baby to feed.  It is your baby transferring it’s needs to your body so your body can make the quality of milk your baby needs for that time window (antibodies, vitamins, minerals, lactose*, protein, fat).   Hopefully your unique “formula” is already made and transferred into the storage containers you are using.
Siblings: Ask a babysitter to come play with the older children while you and baby nap.  Plan unique activities for them to do with the kiddos.  Another option is to bring out special toys that only come out when a new baby is born so that they look forward to the arrival of the new sibling.
You can also make a twist in the “family bed” concept. Have your child(ren) bring you books or toy sets to play with on the bed so that you can be comfortable, be skin-to-skin with baby and still pay attention to older siblings.  It’s great for baby to hear language, whether it’s reading aloud or playing with the other children.  It’s great for the other children to share time with baby and still get your attention.
If family is in town after baby arrives to help, be clear about who needs help and what you want done.  As much as they may want to hold the new baby, the baby is your responsibility.  Utilize their time to do special activities with the older siblings – they can hold the baby when you siblings are napping or in school.  It’s nice for the kiddos to have someone they feel is dedicated to them while mom takes care of baby.
Pets:  The best first job we ever provided a neighbor was after we had Ysabella.  Our dogs had been used to walking twice a day – and that just wasn’t possible as I was healing from my episiotomy.  We hired a neighborhood kiddo to come by after school to walk our dogs – they were happy and I healed.  After everything was better, I started walking them in the mornings again, and our neighbor kept up the afternoon walks.  I had time with baby, the dogs got their walks – life was good!  I can’t speak for cats – maybe someone else can do that in the comments.
We have also had students give away pets to a loving home before baby arrives.  Recently, some students found a home for their pets in their neighborhood.  They will still get to see their pets on occasion.  They also offered to pet-sit when their new owners go out of town.  It is one of the best solutions we have heard of through our time teaching Bradley Method® classes.
If you are going to change any rules, it’s a good idea to do that before baby comes, so that pets don’t necessarily associate a change they don’t like with the new family member.  Another great tool we used to acclimate our pets was the Preparing Fido CD.  I imagine it could work to acclimate a variety of animals to baby sounds – again, trying to ease the transition before baby arrives.
This is just a short list of possible fixes to help alleviate postpartum stress.  The most important thing to remember as you make and execute your postpartum plan is to take care of mom and baby first.  Everything else is secondary.
I will close by saying that encapsulating our placenta made the biggest difference in our postpartum experience for our last baby.  I did not experience postpartum depression this time; my milk supply was and remains awesome; it was our best postpartum ever.  Here is some basic information on it – I will be writing up more detail about our experience in a future post.  I encourage you to look into it and ask more questions to see if it might be right for you.
*A lactose-intolerant baby is not allergic to your milk.  The intolerance is for the dairy products made by a cow for their baby. Click here to read more about one mom’s journey through lactose-intolerance.
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
More on Postpartum Plans:

Links list:
Post partum depression
Birthin’ Again Mentor
International Cesarean Awareness Network

Tongue Tie
Preparing Fido

Energy for Pregnancy and Labor

Posted on January 10, 2012 at 9:37 AM Comments comments (0)

Energy in pregnancy and energy for labor I made the mistake of serving sweet gooey treats for snack in class tonight.  It got really quiet after we did our labor rehearsal – oops.

So what are ways of increasing your energy during pregnancy, or additionally, your labor, if you are feeling low energy?   

Abdominal Breathing 
 We talk about it often in class – deep abdominal breathing is one of the best ways to increase oxygen in your body while still maintaining a deep level of relaxation.   

 Chest breathing wastes a tremendous amount of energy.  
 “Chest breathing is inefficient because the greatest amount of blood flow occurs in the lower lobes of the lungs, areas that have limited air expansion in chest breathers. Rapid, shallow, chest breathing results in less oxygen transfer to the blood and subsequent poor delivery of nutrients to the tissues.”  
  - From http://www.amsa.org/healingthehealer/breathing.cfm  

 Abdominal breathing can also eliminate the vicious circle of the fear-tension-pain cycle.  By relaxing, you can stop the chest breathing that causes tension that causes pain; the pain causes fear; fear causes more chest breathing that winds up until mom and/or baby are showing signs of distress that leads to more intervention.   

Trace Minerals 
 Birth is an athletic event, whether you have a sprint, marathon or something in between.  The more vigorous your labor is, the more important it is to restore your body’s supply of minerals. Exercise and stress, both of which may be present during labor, can drain the body of electrolytes and trace minerals, elements needed to maintain proper fluid balance and recharge energy levels.   

 In addition, energy is passed through the body via electrical charges.  In order to work well, properly functioning electrical cellular communication is essential.  Minerals act as catalysts for the biological processes in the body, including muscle response, the transmission of messages through the nervous system, and the utilization of nutrients in food.  All of these are essential if you want the most efficient labor possible.   

 Strive to find a trace mineral supplement with a flavor you can tolerate.  At the very least look for an electrolyte drink that will help replenish the minerals you need and might be using up through the course of late pregnancy and delivery.   

Take a Nap 
 Whether you are tired during the day when you are pregnant, or feeling exhaustion set in during labor, a nap is a great solution to help mom and dad face their labor with renewed energy and confidence.  A twenty-minute nap is a very effective tool for increasing alertness.  If you can get a 30-60 minute nap it helps with decision-making skills.  Both of those would be beneficial in labor.   

 I wonder what students picture as the length of nap when we encourage them to sleep during their labor. I think most of them must imagine a 2-3 hour nap, think it is impossible and cross it off the list since so few of them have been able to nap in their labor.  We know from experience that sleeping can be incredibly restorative during labor.  If Coach can convince Mom that just twenty minutes will do her well, remind Mom she doesn’t have to hunker down for a long time.  Mom will not miss out on anything by sleeping just twenty minutes; in fact, you can drastically change your outcome by being rested.   

 So turn off the lights, wrap her in a comforting blanket and stroke or talk her to sleep with your soothing voice.  If Mom responds to music, find some relaxation tunes to play for her.  Maybe use an eye mask to block out light – it seems to be easier to fall asleep when it is dark.  

Go for a Walk 
 We encourage all our students to be walking at least twenty minutes per day from the first day of class until the day they have their baby.  Regular physical exercise not only increases stamina, it also helps energize the body.  During the day or during a low-energy point in labor, a walk might be in order.   

 A change in pace or scenery can help restore energy.  I am not talking about constant walking to speed labor, especially if you start with contractions that are more than ten minutes apart.  If your contractions start that far apart, a good meal and rest are in order to conserve energy.   

 My first question to a tired couple is, “Can you get mom to sleep?”  If that doesn’t work, it is possible that a walk around the building or around the block doing abdominal breathing will oxygenate and wake up your body when you need to restore energy.   

Eat protein-rich snacks 
 Click here to read my list of good choices for labor snacks.  They are high in protein and complex carbs.  I try to avoid processed sugars or starches that rapidly convert to sugar – no need to repeat the effects of a quick sugar up and down that we saw in class tonight!   

Drink water 
 If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated and it’s time to get mom some plain water to get her fluid level back up.  In labor, the body is working in ways that you cannot measure.  Water is crucial to get the hormones that stimulate and regulate labor circulating effectively throughout the body.   

 Early signs of dehydration include thirst, loss of appetite, dry mouth and head rushes.  If Mom has a desire to eat, she needs to be eating to store energy for the point in labor when she is no longer hungry.  If this suppressed due to dehydration, she will miss out on her opportunity to store energy.  Head rushes can lead to an untimely fall, which could potentially change the course of your labor depending on the severity of the fall.   

 Continued dehydration can lead to increased heart rate, increased temperature, fatigue and headaches…which could also be construed as the mother going into distress.  You can absolutely head off a false distress warning in labor by making sure Mom is drinking eight ounces of water per hour, or chewing on ice if that is what she prefers.  If Mom is hydrated and this happens, then you know it’s time to pay attention and alert your care provider.   

 A side note on hydration: if Coach is good about getting Mom the necessary water, Coach also needs to be good about getting her to the bathroom.  A full bladder can lead to unnecessary pain in labor if the baby’s head is pushing against a full bladder.  It might also impede the progress of labor if the baby’s head is blocked from entering the vaginal canal by a full bladder.   

Figure out what works for you. 
 Conserving energy is extremely important because you don’t know how long you will be in labor.  There isn’t much we can control about labor if you follow the course for a natural birth.  You can influence how rested you feel.  It would be unfortunate to end up with medication, an episiotomy or a cesarean if the only factor for that choice is being too tired to make it through with the energy you needed to meet your baby.   

What are the energy saving or energy restoring methods that you use?  

 Would you like to read more about today’s suggestions?   

 For information on the minerals you need and how your body uses them: 

 Start a Walking Program While you are pregnant, focus on walking for energy and stamina.  After your baby is born you can consider the suggestions on walking for weight loss. 

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.  

We are now enrolling for our Spring Series 
March 5, 2012 to 
May 21, 2012   

For more information or to register, 
please call us at 
or email us at 

Some Postpartum Strategies

Posted on November 18, 2011 at 3:09 PM Comments comments (316)
On Tuesday I posted some ideas to avoid birth trauma, mental anguish and physical distress during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.  It is by no means a complete list, however it’s a good starting point for thought and action. 
As a general rule, the fewer interventions you have during your birth, the easier your breastfeeding relationship will be to establish.  This leads to a mom who recovers from her birth experience feeling competent in her abilities to nourish her child.  If mom is physically well and mentally well after her birth experience, she is less likely to have postpartum depression, which has been known for years as the “baby blues”. 
So what do you do after baby arrives and you are adjusting to life with a newborn? 

The best way to figure out what works for you is to embrace two ideas:
1.  Baby has three needs that need to be met: (s)he wants to be fed, clean & dry and loved.
2.  Mom has three needs, too: she needs to be rested, fed and loved.
Ask yourself what has to happen so your needs can be met, and make you fully available to meet the needs of your baby.  As adults, we all have different ideas of what being loved means.  Can you write a postpartum plan that makes you feel loved and nurtured?
Here are some ideas that I have learned, heard shared at Birth Circle and from moms in our classes. 
Encapsulate your placenta
This is at the top of my list because we just had the easiest postpartum ever.  If you are feeling well emotionally, everything else that comes with the postpartum period is so much easier to handle.
We had our placenta encapsulated using the traditional Chinese method.  The theory is that the body is in a warm state when a woman is pregnant, and cold when she is not.  By taking the placenta pills on a daily basis and weaning yourself down over the weeks following the baby’s birth-day, the body gently transitions back to a cold state. 
I will write more about our experience is another post.  For your info today, here are the benefits listed on our encapsulator’s website: increase a mother’s energy levels postpartum, help to regulate hormones (especially thyroid), increase milk supply, reduce pain and expedite healing.  Who wouldn’t want these benefits?  My only regret is that we don’t have more of these “happy pills”.  I wish we had done this with our other births.
Ask for help
This is a hard one for many of us.  We take pride in being self-sufficient and getting things done, so “admitting” that we can’t do it all is a big step on our journey.  How big is your list of things you get done every day and/or week?  Evaluate it with the “Drop-Delegate-Do” approach.  What are the things that you can let go for a few weeks?  What are things that you can delegate?  What is left that you need to do?
Once you have that list pared down to what you need to do, look at it again.  Who can do that list for you for at least the first week, if not two, after your baby is born?  As I mentioned earlier, sleep and rest are the two biggest gifts you can give yourself after your baby is born.  Your body heals when you are sleeping.  Your mind resets when you are sleeping.  All your systems function better when you allow yourself to recover, and birth is an athletic event – for some of us, the most demanding event in which we will ever participate.
This idea is much harder to grasp with your first child.  It’s hard to believe that having a baby is going to have as big an impact on our bodies and our lives as we hear it will.  There is so much unknown: what will I feel, how tired can I really be, will I be in pain, will I be a good mother? These anxieties, on top of feeling immensely uncomfortable at the end of pregnancy, may lead to sleepless nights even before baby arrives.  As I hope you can see, making sleep a priority after baby arrives is a key to setting yourself up for a better postpartum period.
Here is the advice I share with our students who are neat-freaks like me.  I suggest that they figure out which one room their well-being rests with – which dirty room sends you “over the edge”?  Make keeping that room clean the priority.  My husband and my mom were great at keeping our kitchen clean, and that made it easier for me to let go of the mess in the rest of the house.  After a couple of weeks, you can start keeping your house again with some of your pre-pregnancy vigor without sacrificing sleep and your sanity.

Another area in which you should ask for help is with any breastfeeding concerns or challenges.  Unless you saw someone breastfeeding on a regular basis and learned how they did it, there is a low probability that a breastfeeding class here or there, or reading online or a book will give you the answers you need.  Peer-to-peer help or paid help are both available.  Get help!  Debbie Gillespie, IBCLC, RLC has some very informative posts on our blog - but your best bet is to see her or another warm, informed body in person!!
A postpartum doula is a great option if you don’t have family or friends available to help you rest and recover after the baby arrives.  The ideal situation would allow both mom and dad time to sleep and enjoy their new baby while other people take care of them.  Your baby is only a newborn once!
Food glorious food
Food is paramount on the list of things that make postpartum easier.  Mom needs to eat to recover and to nourish baby, Dad needs to eat to stay happy and have the energy to take care of mom and baby, and if there are other children in the family, they need to be fed, too.
(1) Consider making double portions of your meals when you are two weeks out from your estimated due date.  Freeze the extras – make sure you date and label the food because it looks different when it’s frozen!  You can also have a cooking day and make big batches of one-dish meals to be frozen.  It is easier to defrost if you freeze it in portion size and/or prepare it in containers that can go from freezer to oven (conventional or microwave might make a difference as you do you planning).

(2)  Meals make great baby gifts!  You can have a sign up sheet at your baby shower, or maybe your church or a dear friend will organize meals after the baby arrives.  The folks who sign up can be organized via on-line methods these days.  This was one of the most cherished gifts we received as we adjusted to being and feeding a family of six.

(3)  Prepare a list of your favorite take out places and make sure you have extra copies.  One of our moms shared this idea in class – she gave a copy to her husband and he would call orders in for dinner on the way home from work.  If you don’t think your partner knows what you would like, also include your order next to the name, address and phone number for your favorite take-out restaurants.  Some of them even deliver – score!
Bradley Method® students who keep up with their nutrition tracking are very aware of what they eat on a daily basis.  We suggest that our students keep on tracking, or at least stay aware of their intake for a minimum of four weeks after baby arrives.  If the baby is going to have any reaction to what you eat, it’s easier to figure out what to take out if you are keeping track.  One of our moms offered this information:  If it’s an allergy, it takes time for the body to show signs since it’s an immune response.  It it’s a reaction, its usually immediate and you’ll know within 24 hours if your baby’s gut didn’t like what you ate. 
An allergy to a food is something you would have to cut out of your diet long-term – baby’s skin can be an indicator if there is a rash or irritation that doesn’t go away, another sign I have heard anecdotally is blood and/or mucus in the stool.  A reaction indicates food you need to take out for a little while and try again later when you are willing to risk the side effects: vomiting, fussiness, more gas than normal are signs that your baby wasn’t ready for what you ate and you can try again later.
Another breastfeeding or feeding older sibling tip is to have snack food readily available and packed in serving sizes.  Carrot sticks, cheese sticks, nuts, granola, protein snack bars are all good ideas for food that will nourish without sending your sugar (or your children’s) spiking before a crash.  For a more complete list, check out my post on labor food ideas – the same foods will work postpartum.
My crunchy friends are really good about packing these snacks in reusable containers.  Personally, I sacrifice a little environment during the postpartum period to save time and water doing dishes, and we pack food in snack size bags so that the kids can throw the bag out when they are done.  Dad can spend about an hour once a week stocking the snack shelf and once you are feeling up to it, you can take over and do it as long as you feel a need for nursing snacks.
The underlying idea is to make them grab-and-go so that you can eat a little something every time you nurse to keep your nutrition where it needs to be to nourish your growing child.  Nursing is a great appetite builder, as hunger is a great mood downer – so do what you can to stay fed between meals.
I am going to have to wrap up here today.  Part of my postpartum plan is to sleep at night so that I am “Happy Mommy” during the day – none of us like seeing “Cranky Mommy” – she is no fun!!  Which means that I am no longer carving writing time out of my sleeping hours and I have four kiddos clamoring for attention at lunchtime.  I have left lots of idea room for our readers – please fill in the rest of this list:
If you are a new mommy, what are the questions you have that I didn’t address in todays or Tuesdays post?
If you are already a mommy, what are postpartum tips do you have to share?

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.