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alaska Birth Services


Community space alaska birth services

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Need a space for your event or class? Want to visit? Contact me!

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A connecting place

I am thrilled to be moved in to our new, ground floor, much larger community space.  With a gathering room for classes and workshops, a spacious sitting room with cozy seats for a dozen and floor space for many more, it’s been a delight to see the space filled with families, children, women, and men connecting and learning together.

The space is suitable for a variety of uses:

APPOINTMENTS
BABY SHOWERS
BRIDAL SHOWERS
BIRTHDAY PARTIES
CLASSES
FITNESS
GATHERINGS
MEETINGS
THERAPIES
WORKSHOPS

Available for rent hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly! 


Central/UMED Location:

2028 East Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 102

Learn More

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Current Events & coming soon:

Moms Groups
Midwifery Care 
Music Together Classes
Doula Support
La Leche League 
Childbirth, Breastfeeding, Spinning Babies, and Preconception Classes
Prenatal Fitness Classes
PCOS Support Group 
Moms Night Out
Succulents Workshop
Home Buying Workshop


Join us!

See the events page at Alaska Birth Services on FB!

I would love to give you a tour and see if the space would be a good fit for any event you’re planning or work you do!  The space currently hosts a lovely bunch of providers offering various therapies and care.  Come visit!

XO,
Shanna

Join me!


The Baby Fair is March 23rd!

Have you heard of the Alaska Birth Collective?  We are a non-profit, volunteer-run organization dedicated to helping families get the information and support they need during pregnancy, birth, and while raising a young family.  We provide educational opportunities for parents and caregivers, and our membership consists of local providers of services and products expecting and new parents are looking for.

The Spring Baby Fair is our largest event for the community, and we are looking forward to another awesome day on Saturday, March 23rd, at the University Mall!

Join us for:

  • Awesome vendors with loads of giveaways!
  • Face Painting/Hair Color
  • Bouncy House
  • Food Trucks (Waffles and Whatnot!)
  • Enter to win a grand prize Thule Stroller ($480 value) 
  • Free parking and free admission

Planning to attend?
Let us know and SHARE!

Click going or interested below, then share to let your friends know about the Baby Fair!

Click HERE

 

Can’t wait to see you at the fair!

XO,
Shanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we grow

The Community Space at Alaska Birth Services is expanding!

I am so excited to get settled in our new, much larger space.

Who uses the space?

I operate and sublet the space independently, and love having a dedicated place to teach my Spinning Babies Parent classes and Evidence Based Birth workshops for expecting parents and birth professionals. 

My doula partnership, JMS Births, utilizes the space for our clientele.  Our non-profit organization, the Alaska Birth Collective, also uses the space for board meetings and events. 

Multiple other care givers and community groups rent the space for various purposes, including events, groups, and gatherings.  The space has Wifi, a large TV, a comfortable living area, large open classroom area, kitchenette and private bath.  

Why move?

I originally looked for a space on the ground floor, but couldn’t find one in the area I liked.  When a ground floor, much larger space in our current building opened up, I jumped at the chance!  This new classroom area will give us more room to move and spread out during classes and events, and the area is better suited to be more multipurpose.

When? 

We’ll be moving downstairs this week!

 

availability 

The new space is available hourly, daily, weekly, or ongoing for use by multiple care providers, teachers, and groups.  Keyless entry, ample parking, and easy access with front and back entry doors.

Currently and collectively, together we offer and host:

  • Support Groups
  • Midwifery Care
  • Doula Care
  • Therapies
  • Fitness
  • Classes for children and adults (Music Together with Timbre Music Studio begins 3/18!)
  • Events
  • Meetings
  • Gatherings
  • Parties
  • Coworking

JMS Births

Alaska Birth Services Shanna Switzer Doula Childbirth Classes Spinning Babies Placenta

Community Space

If you offer a class or need a space for appointments, meetings, gatherings, teaching, workshops, or events in the UMED area of Anchorage, please get in touch! I’d love to give you a personal tour.

I think you’ll find the community space at Alaska Birth Services warm, welcoming, and comfortable for your clients, students, and friends.

Keep an eye on my Facebook or Instagram for photos of the new space very soon! 

XO, Shanna

 

Evidence Based Birth Alaska Shanna Switzer

Continuing education

I am so excited for 2019! I’ll be offering a full lineup of the educational opportunities for birth professionals now available from Evidence Based Birth®:

Workshops:

Comfort Measures for Labor and Delivery Nurses (3 nursing contact hours)

February 17, 2019, 2-5 PM, April 14, 2019, 2-5 PM, August 18, 2019, 2-5 PM, October 20, 2019, 2-5 PM

By attending Comfort Measures for L&D Nurses, you will not only get hands-on practice with comfort measures skills, but you’ll also learn how you can overcome barriers to providing comfort measures on your unit! All nurses who register at the Professional level or higher will earn 3 nursing contact hours, and those who register as Super Users will receive a Comfort Measures Toolkit to take back to your unit and teach to your peers.

Savvy Birth Pro Workshop (3 nursing contact hours)

April 25, 2019, 6-9 PM, October 27, 2019. 2-5 PM

Do you have a deep desire to help all your clients get evidence based care, but wish you could build bridges with others who aren’t as open to your client’s birth plans? The Savvy Birth Pro Workshop was developed by Evidence Based Birth® to give professionals the skills you need to help your clients attain the best possible chance at evidence based care during labor.

All workshops are held at Alaska Birth Services in Anchorage. Register at alaskabirthservices.com

Evidence Based Birth® is a continuing education provider for the Kentucky Board of Nursing # 7-0081. For learning objectives, see the registration page.

 

 

 

seminars:

Due Dates and Advanced Maternal Age (1.5 nursing and ACNM contact hours)

April 3, 6-8 PM, September 12, 6-8 PM

Did you know that the number one reason for induction is “post-dates?” In this Evidence Based Birth® seminar, packed with facts, you will learn the evidence on induction for reaching the due date and for going past 41- 42 weeks. We’ll also cover a bit about “advanced maternal age,” and discuss the actual numbers of increase in stillbirth with older age.

Newborn Procedures in the Golden Hour (1.5 nursing and ACNM contact hours)

June 5, 6-8 PM, November 14, 6-8 PM

What is the evidence on the safety of Vitamin K? Does delayed cord clamping lead to jaundice? How can we help families who give birth by Cesarean get skin to skin in the operating room? In this seminar, we will take a look at the research on newborn procedures for term infants during the “golden hour.” We will cover the history and research on interventions that happen during the first hour of life—including which procedures are the “best practices,” and which procedures can be safely delayed or declined!

Home Birth Transfers (1.5 nursing and ACNM contact hours)

May 15, 6-8 PM, October 10, 6-8 PM

This workshop will challenge you to address your fears and concerns about transfers from planned home births into the hospital. What guidelines can hospital staff follow when accepting a home birth transfer? What can home birth providers do to ease the transfer? What are the basic safety statistics of home birth, and what is needed to make home birth safer?

 

2028 East Northern Lights Blvd.

Anchorage, AK 99508

alaskabirthservices@gmail.com

907-602-3799

Learn More

JMS Births Anchorage Doula Partnership

Q & A about JMS Births Anchorage Doula Partnership


I’m so excited to be transitioning my private birth doula practice into a partnership with my friends and long-time backup doulas, Jamie Scearcy and Morgan Turner.  We know this model is new to Alaska and our past and future clients and colleagues may have lots of questions about what collaborative doula care looks and feels like. 

As we explore the nuances of what will make our team approach feel fantastic for our clients, and help us to be sustainable in birth work long-term, I wanted to take some time to share more details about what this means for clients and the many benefits a partnership will provide.

JMS Births.  Who are we?

We are a team of birth workers committed to consistency in care.  Passionate about supported pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, our mission is to come alongside women and their families with education and support to guide them through their transition to parenthood, or parenting their newest child. 

 

JMS Births

  • J – Jamie
  • M – Morgan
  • S – Shanna

JMS Births


Jamie, Morgan, and I are not new to running a business together!  Several years ago we launched and continue to co-own our non-profit Alaska Birth Collective, working to connect Alaskan families with the providers of care, services, and products they need from pregnancy through raising a young family.  We share similar and complementary training, skills, and education, and we are close friends who support each other through our lives and our work.

 

Why join forces in our birth work?

 

Several reasons!

We want to provide birth support long-term.

We want to provide the best, most comprehensive care available.

We believe we are truly better together.

Did you know that the average “life-span” of a private doula is 2 years. 

2 years! 

This breaks my heart.  But I get it!  The doula life is an interesting one.  Consider this: Even with just one client, a private doula is on call, non-stop, for up to 4-5 weeks.  That means she must be willing and able to run to a birth at any time, and make arrangements in advance to be able to leave her life at a moment’s notice.  She has to have her phone at all times, and be within about an hour of her client’s birthing location. She has to commit to the possibility of missing important events in her life.  She knows that she will potentially be gone for an average of 12-24 hours or more when a client calls, supporting her continuously throughout her labor.  She has to have the stamina and the clarity of mind to support her client physically, emotionally, and informationally, no matter what direction her birth may take.

Burnout in the doula profession is very common. 

We refuse to burn out


Alaska Birth Services

By partnering our services, we can promote a healthy work/life balance for ourselves and our families.  We will support our clients with a call schedule, so that we can be fully present when we are on call and with our clients in labor, and also present for the important events in our personal lives.

Because we share call, and backup doula costs are worked into our service package, there is no hesitation in calling in one of our partners to take over during a long or difficult birth, so clients can feel comfortable and trust a seamless transfer of care to a fresh, well-rested doula that they already know.

Clients will have the opportunity to connect with the three of us regularly throughout their pregnancy and postpartum – through topical group prenatal visits and private in-home visits, we will help them determine their birth preferences, discuss and practice comfort measures and techniques, talk about postpartum plans and newborn care, and get to know each other well.  Our goal is that our clients will know all of their doulas and through our consistency and comprehensive care, clients can trust that whomever is on call when they go into labor will provide just the support they need.

Clients also benefit from our combined experience, training, education, and skills.  Our offerings include many classes and various educational opportunities for childbirth, postpartum, and newborns.  Besides birth doula support, we offer postpartum doula support, lactation support, birth and newborn photography, placenta care, and birth tub rental.  We also host free prenatal and postpartum groups and events.  We approach birth support holistically – supporting families from pre-pregnancy through raising their children in community.

We are thrilled to offer what we believe is the very best, most trusted and experienced care in doula and birth support services in South Central Alaska. 

If you’d like to learn more, please reach out! You can also check out our collaborative website at jmsbirths.com. We host free Meet the Doulas events monthly, and welcome any questions you might have.

XO,

Shanna

Have you ever witnessed *real* birth?

 

Not that Hollywood depiction of the water breaking in the restaurant, race to the hospital, “hee-hee-hoo”, some comical exchange between dad and the doctor, and then a baby born two minutes later.  Nope.  I’m talking about REAL birth.  Want to know how labor really looks, and see the unbelievable strength and power women gather as they bring their babies into the world?  The support they need, the safety and security of having their babies exactly as they wish, with providers and people around them that believe in them and tirelessly strive to protect their space and their desires?

Well.  Let me tell you about a place you can see just that – LIVE – from your own home!

I’ll get to that in just a second, but first I’m going to back up a bit — because it’s World Doula Month!

Every year in May, Doulas celebrate our mission and the work we are passionate about: touching lives, encouraging and supporting mothers and their families, and impacting birth around the world.  This May, I am DELIGHTED to have been chosen as Doula of the Month fromBirthTUBE

BIrthTUBE is a fantastic, quickly growing group on Facebook where women and their partners can share live video from their births, as they unfold.  Their website is coming soon, but for now you can follow them on FB and Insta!  What better time than #worlddoulamonth to share about #realbirth from the place where it can be witnessed, live, as it is happening, unhindered and uninterrupted!?  Join the group and share!

Thanks, BirthTUBE for the awesome work you are doing normalizing birth and showing the world that mothers are fierce, strong, capable, and wise.  As their bio on Facebook states, “When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.”

(…and thank you again and again for choosing me as your Doula of the Month!  What an honor!)  #doulasbenefiteveryone

XO,

Shanna

Anchorage Doula Shanna Alaska Birth Services

 

Anchorage Doula Shanna Switzer Birth Services

Pain relieving techniques for an easier birth

As a birth witness, supporter, and educator, I’m often asked about the most helpful tools for laboring women – which comfort techniques are best?  What about breathing?  Positions? 

I was graciously given some photos from a couple of births I supported as a doula recently, and thought I would compile those along with some others into one blog post, and a photo “series” on comfort measures on instagram and facebook.

Follow along for details about the labor support tools and comfort measures for labor that I use most often in my doula work, and model and suggest to workshop and class attendees:

 

Birth Location

You might not consider this a comfort “technique”, per se, but think about it for a minute and you’ll see what I mean.  Birthing women desire privacy, safety, and support.  When she thinks about where she wants to give birth, what option makes her feel most safe?  Most American women choose hospital birth, but does she know she has options?  Home Birth and Birth Centers offer a more cozy, relaxed atmosphere, and smaller, more intimate staff experience.  When we think about comfort, choosing a birth space is an important – if not the most important -component of birth planning.

I would love to discuss the options available to you in southcentral Alaska.  Contact me any time if you’re curious and would like to chat!

 

Freedom to move

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Laboring strongly and peacefully in a queen sized bed at a birth center, her partner close, me applying counter pressure and verbal reassurance.

  • Dim, soft lighting
  • Known by her midwife
  • She is in control
  • Her music was playing softly throughout her labor

 

birth ball/Peanut Ball

anchorage doula shanna switzer alaska birth doula

Rocking and swaying her hips, gently bouncing between contractions. Partner close, me applying counter pressure, hip squeezes and verbal affirmation.

  • Movement helps baby descend
  • Sitting on a birth ball can ease back labor
  • Being upright puts laboring mama in a position of power
  • See peanut ball being used below – peanut balls can also be used in a variety of ways to ease discomfort

 

Warm Water

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

anchorage doula shanna switzer alaska birth services

Often referred to as “nature’s epidural”, the tub or shower is a wonderful place to labor.  In the top photo, mama is listening to music and laboring with her husband while sitting in a labor tub.  In the bottom photo, I am spraying warm water on laboring mama’s back while she sways on her hands and knees in the shower.

  • Water is soothing and naturally relaxes the body
  • Being in the shower can help labor progress more quickly
  • Sinking into a tub can give a laboring mama a reprieve and ease contraction intensity

 

Body Balancing

anchorage doula shanna switzer alaska birth services

Spinning Babies Body Balancing Techniques like the side lying release shown above can help relax laboring mama, and make space in her body for the baby to get in a good position for birth.

  • Many body balancing techniques feel relaxing and soothing to laboring women.
  • We don’t move the baby, we make space for the baby to move.
  • Work with someone trained in body balancing techniques for best results

 

Hip Squeeze

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Hip squeezes – a hallmark doula “move”! 

  • Feel SO good
  • Make room for the baby to move through the pelvis
  • Help “ground” laboring mama with touch
  • Ease back labor and hip pain during and between contractions

 

Rebozo

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Rebozo Sifting (how many sweet bellies and babies has my rebozo sifted? Dozens.) 

  • Can be used to help “jiggle” a baby into a better position for birth
  • Make room for the baby to move through the pelvis
  • Lifts the weight of the baby off of mama’s back, and can relieve pressure and back pain for laboring mama

 

Anchorage Alaska Doula Services

Rebozo tied on to provide lift and support for this second-time mama’s belly, peanut ball between her back and the wall so that she could move up and down with counter pressure on her back.  Husband supporting her in front.

 

Essential Oils/Aromatheraphy

Anchorage Alaska Doula Services

Aromatherapy.  Laboring mama was smelling her favorite essential oil, wanting it held close so that she could breathe it in deeply during contractions.

  • Many studies show aromatherapy is useful for pain and nausea relief
  • As a doula, I don’t generally apply or diffuse essential oils unless a client asks, but am happy to support their use for my clients who wish to use them.

 

Supporting Client/Partner connection

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Acupressure while mama and partner are close and connected

  • Neck, shoulder, back, hip, foot, and hand massage to relieve tension
  • Mama stays connected emotionally and physically to her partner
  • As a doula, I work to enhance laboring mama’s connection to her partner, never to take their place.
  • Modeling verbal and physical support boosts partners confidence 

 

Pushing Positions

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

Using a Birthing Stool to push, partner supported

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

Using a Squat Bar to push, partner supported

  • Assisting women to find the positions that they find most comfortable and effective for the pushing phase of labor
  • Offering a mirror or reminding laboring women that they can touch their body and baby to feel progress
  • Supporting women in bed, on a birthing stool, in a tub or shower, or using a rebozo or squat bar

 Pain Medications

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

Comfort Measures for labor


Some of Doula Shanna’s favorite ways to comfort and support laboring women and their partners

 

 

“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.”

Virginia Di Orio

 

 

anchorage doula shanna alaska birth services

Nitrous Oxide is an option in two local Anchorage-area hospitals and one birth center.  Ask me for more details

  • Narcotic, Epidural, and Nitrous Oxide
  • Widely used and generally regarded as safe
  • A tool that can be useful in certain situations
  • Narcotic and Epidural are not available in birth centers or at home

Pharmaceutical pain medication is an option in hospital births.  As a doula, I support all birthing choices, and trust you to know what you need for your best birth.  I work with my clients to use all of the comfort measures and tools available to her, and sometimes an epidural or narcotic pain medication is exactly what she and her baby need.  If a non-medicated birth is her goal, I will support her in using all of the other methods first, to be certain her change of plan is what she prefers.

 

In Summary

Every birth and every laboring woman is different.  Some comfort measures that I use often can’t be depicted in photos – like verbal affirmation, meditation,  visualization, music, and  prayer, and I didn’t touch on less-used methods that are useful in certain situations, like a TENS unit or sterile water injections… 

My philosophy as an educator and doula is that you have many, many tools and options available as you prepare for your baby’s birth.  Take a comprehensive childbirth class or private birth prep session to learn more about those tools and make sure you have them available when you need them.  Or, hire a doula and be supported by a birth expert who specializes in knowing and using just the right comfort technique at just the right time!

My best wishes for your best birth,

Shanna XO

alaska birth doula services shanna switzer

***Many thanks to Nurturing Birth Photography & Blueberry Hill Photography for some of the images in this post.

10 TIPS FOR Your Best Birth

Pregnancy and birth are so full of questions.  As a doula and childbirth educator, I love to help my clients find answers and determine what is best for them and their babies.  I enjoy helping them work through the pros and cons of any particular choice or circumstance, and go through what the evidence and research shows so that they can make fully informed decisions.

I often hear things like, “What do you think about Dr. So-and-so?”  “Which hospital is the best?” “Will I be allowed to eat/drink/shower/stay home/wear my own clothes?”

In my Gentle Birth workshops and childbirth classes I go over these 10 Tips for your best birth experience:

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

1. Focus on what can go right! 

We are inundated with scary stories about pregnancy and childbirth in the media, where birth is almost always depicted as an emergency.  Sometimes our friends or family members seem to think our pregnancies are a good time to tell us their horror stories, or that of their best friend’s cousin, or delight in sharing some scary thing they “heard.”  Pregnancy is such a mystery, growing this little person we may get a rare glimpse of via sonogram, or hear their little heartbeat on occasion, feel their kicks and bumps… but otherwise we must choose to trust that all is well and growing accordingly.

We do have some power over our thoughts – we can reframe them and focus on what is going right, right now, and what can go right in the future.  We can look to the evidence that the vast majority of babies are born healthy, to healthy mothers.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

2. Choose your birth space carefully

You have a choice in where you give birth.  In Anchorage and Mat-Su, we have several hospitals,  multiple birth centers with midwives that offer birth center, home birth, and hospital delivery, and several home birth midwives.  You have options!  Your birth space and your caregiver is one of the most important choices you can make regarding your pregnancy and your birth.  Choose  wisely!

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

3. Move your body

Keeping your body moving is so beneficial for a healthy pregnancy and birth!  I love prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming.  For the most part, you can and should continue to do your usual activities and listen to your body for modifications as your baby grows and your balance changes.  I also suggest considering visiting a Chiropractor trained in the Webster Technique Trained to check for and maintain proper spinal and pelvic alignment.

4. Take an independent birth class

I know I’m biased, but I can’t stress the benefits of educating yourself about the childbirth process, comfort techniques and coping skills!  Just like choosing your birth space, finding the right class for you and your partner is important.  There are so many options!  Online, in person, private, group, Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, Bradley, GentleBirth!  Reach out to the instructor, ask questions, and determine what class seems like it would be most appropriate for you.

Or, take a couple of different classes, and benefit from the varying styles and bits of wisdom you’ll gather from several methods and philosophies.

5. Hire a doula

Again, biased!  But I have evidence to back me up! 

Doulas are proven to lower stress during pregnancy, shorten labor length, lower pharmaceutical pain medication use, decrease use of Pitocin and forceps, lower rates of cesarean birth, and increase women’s satisfaction with their birth experiences. (Journal of        Perinatal Education, Winter 2013. PMC3647727)

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

6. Avoid “Negative Nellies”

It’s perfectly okay to stop someone who has begun to relate a scary childbirth experience or story, or scorn your choice of caregiver or birth space.  I like to encourage my clients to say, “That doesn’t sound like something I want to hear right now. I’m focusing on the positive.” And simply change the subject.  Having a ready list of things to talk about instead can come in handy – like something you’ve picked out for the baby’s nursery, or a new restaurant you want to try, or the weather… anything! 

If you have someone in your life that simply won’t let up, it’s okay to avoid engaging them in conversation about your pregnancy or birth choices.  Just like a mama bear protects her cubs,  you can protect your mental and emotional health and protect your baby from negative influence in your mind and heart.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

7. Prepare your partner

Does your partner feel ready?  Perhaps a class just for them would help?  Would they like to go  to consults for potential pediatricians?  Are there books or movies that might be reassuring? Can   your doula or childbirth educator offer tips on any of these, or support for breastfeeding, swaddling, baby wearing, diapering? 

 

 

8. Write your birth preferences

I like to give my clients planning a hospital birth a one-page bullet-point template for writing up their own birth preferences.  I find that the staff in labor and delivery are generally receptive to reading and honoring these.  Calling it birth preferences rather than a “plan” allows space for things to change if need be as labor progresses.

9. Labor in water

Water is nature’s pain relief! Use the warm, soothing spray of a shower on your back or belly, or submerge in a bathtub.  Contractions are sometimes called “waves”, and working through the waves of labor in water is a soothing and relaxing way to experience birth.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

10. Build your labor toolkit

Recipe for filling your labor toolkit with the tools you’ll need for the hard work of labor:

  • Select the right caregiver and birth space.
  • Seek education for you and your partner.
  • Think and talk through your preferences for your birth.
  • Hire a caring, attentive support person to provide all of the physical, emotional, and informational support you might need during the big day.

Combine and mix well with your open heart and mind.

Now relax and prepare to experience your best, most positive birth!

XO,
Shanna

 

WORLD DOULA WEEK

 

It’s World Doula Week! Every year, from March 22nd-28th, doulas around the world celebrate the passion and privilege we have to serve women and their families during their pregnancies and postpartum, and the special, intimate experience it is to support and hold space for them as they bring their beautiful babies into the world.  Take some time this week to call, text, or meet up with and hug your favorite doula in person!

 

I thought #worlddoulaweek would be a great time to share a little more about my path to birth work, *and* encourage you to check out Moss and Myrrh Photography, owned by my sweet and talented friend, Ashton.  Need some feel-good vibes?  Just go skim through her blog, full of the beauty and love of birth, babies, and motherhood.  

IMG_6723

 

A few months ago, Ashton shared with me that she’d done a poll asking her local followers and friends to share their favorite caregivers for birth and baby related services.  I was humbled and shocked that she’d had my name mentioned more than once, and super touched when she asked if she could ask me some questions for a feature on her blog.  Much of my doula journey is there in the link, PLUS I’m in love with these pictures she caught of me and my youngest, Sebastian, click and go see!

Did you have an awesome doula that you want to tell the world about?  Shout it out in the comments, and let’s spread some doula love! #doulasbenefiteveryone

XO,

Shanna

Postpartum Prep: A PRACTICAL LIST OF ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR TENDER POST-BABY BODY

As you prepare for baby and carefully consider all that your new little one will need, don’t neglect to prepare for self-care! Consider gathering some of the following postpartum prep items to have on hand for your comfort and relief after your baby is born.

Vaginal Birth:

1. Peri Bottle

You will likely be given a peri bottle if you give birth in a hospital or with midwives in either a birth center or at home.  Filling this bottle with warm water and squirting it on your perineum while you urinate can help encourage urination and take the sting out of urine on sore tissues.  Once your bladder is empty, fill the bottle with warm water and squirt again to clean the area, and then gently pat dry.  Plan to have a peri bottle in each bathroom and bring one in your baby bag if you’ll be away from home in the early days after your baby is born.

peri-bottle

2. Sitz Bath

A sitz bath is a small plastic tub that fits into your toilet rim and you can use it as a mini bath for your bottom.  This also keeps the area clean, can encourage urination, and help with healing.  Many women find sitz baths offer much relief and comfort for sore tissues.  Your hospital may have one or you can find them at any pharmacy.  Dermaplast is an over the counter cooling, numbing spray that can ease the irritation and discomfort of a sore perineum or stitches.  Ask your caregiver for their recommendations if you still feel sore after trying these.

Vaginal or Cesarean Birth:

3. Witch Hazel or Tucks pads, Padsicles

Witch Hazel is an astringent, useful for helping to shrink hemorrhoids and soothe sore bottoms.  You can gently apply witch hazel on a cotton ball, or buy ready-made wipes or pads, like Tucks.  You can also apply witch hazel to maxi pads and freeze them to make icy cold “padsicles”.  Many women find these very soothing for swollen and sore parts.

tucks

4. Doughnut pillow

Some women experience tailbone (coccydynia) or pelvic floor pain after pregnancy and birth.  A doughnut shaped pillow can help to relieve this discomfort.  Most pharmacies have pillows, or you can try a DIY  with a pool noodle formed into a ring with duct tape.

5. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is preferred by most caregivers for pain relief, afterbirth cramping, inflammation and soreness.  800 mg every 8 hours is the typical prescription, but check with your caregiver for their recommendation if it doesn’t seem to be working well enough for you.

6. Colace (stool softener)

To ease those first few postpartum bowel movements, you may want to consider a stool softener, no matter how you delivered your baby.  Pain medications can make your bowels more sluggish, and Colace can be taken as needed to help keep things gently moving.  It does not cause intestinal cramping, is generally well tolerated, and is available over the counter.

7. Maxi Pads 

You’ll want extra-long or overnight with wings.  Initial postpartum bleeding can be very heavy, at least for the first few days.  Bleeding, called Lochia, is normal for several weeks following the birth of your baby.  It will be very heavy and red at first, tapering off to brown and then more yellowish.  During this time, you’ll need to use pads rather than tampons or cups, and not introduce anything into the vagina until the bleeding has ended.

8. Mesh (granny) panties or Depends, a belly binder

If you give birth in the hospital, you will be given mesh panties after your baby is born.  They are snug and high waisted, which many women like because they tend to hold your loose belly in.  You can tuck a pad or ice pack inside.  Some women like to wear Depends disposable undergarments for the first few days of heavy bleeding, again with a maxi pad, ice pack, or padsicle tucked in.

After your baby is born, it takes some time for your abdominal muscles to return to normal and your belly and back muscles will feel a bit loose.  Some women like the way an abdominal binder or Bengkung belly binding helps them to feel more held together as they regain core strength.

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9. Nursing pads –Disposable or reusable

When you nurse your baby, you will experience a release of milk from your breasts called a “let down.” Sometimes when you nurse from one side, the other breast will leak, and when you hear your baby cry, you may also leak milk.  Nursing pads tucked into your bra will catch the leakage and keep you from needing to change your shirt multiple times a day. (Though that will probably still happen, babies can be so messy!) You might also like to buy a couple of nursing tank tops.  These usually have a shelf bra and snap down sides for ease when nursing, they are comfortable and stretch for engorgement, and you can tuck nursing pads inside.   If you don’t plan to breastfeed, you will still need pads for a little while and you may want to buy a head of cabbage, as the leaves tucked into your bra will help with engorgement.

10. Nipple Cream

Sometimes your nursing baby will cause your nipples to become sore.  A cream like Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter, or a lanolin based ointment like Lansinoh can soothe and protect sore nipples.

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Finally, you’ll need support.  Have you made a list of friends or family you can call?  Have you connected with our local postpartum or baby groups?  Do you have your doula’s number in your phone?

Experienced parents, what would you add to the list?  

XO,

Shanna