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Step 1 – Decide on the type of birth that you’d like and then interview and select your ultimate health care team to support your choices for pregnancy, labour and birth.
Step 2 – Use the planner section to make note of your body changes and your questions so that you are well prepared for your appointments with your caregiver and support professionals.
Step 3 – Organize your homes and your lives to make a smooth transition to becoming a family.
Step 4 – Prepare for labour and birth spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Step 5 – Plan ahead to make life easier during those energy-charged first weeks after your baby is born.
One of the best websites that I've found that talks about babywearing is by Dr. Maria Blois (pictured above). If you are at all interested in learning about the benefits of wearing your baby, please check out her website and her blog in particular.
I've emailed her a few questions that many of my patients wanted to know and she was gracious enough to respond. These questions are about the basics of babywearing: , and we encourage all of our patients to learn more.
1. Dr. Blois, what is babywearing, anyway?
Babywearing is the simply the practice of holding your baby close in a soft carrier while you go about the daily business of life.
2. What makes it so special?
Well, first of all, it is wonderfully convenient for parents! Holding our baby in a soft carrier means that our hands are free to do other things. Baby is comfortable and content and we get to focus on something else besides baby care. Babywearing meets the needs of parents to "get something done" while also meeting baby's needs for warmth, movement and security.
3. What are the top three benefits of babywearing?
As it turns out, babies are some kind of clever creatures. Yes, babies want to be held, but it goes deeper than that. Studies show that biologically, babies need to be held in order to thrive. A review of current randomized controlled trials suggest that the benefits of holding for preterm babies include shortened hospital stay, decreased illness, higher exclusive breastfeeding rates/longer breastfeeding duration, increased weight gain, improved temperature regulation, and improved maternal sense of competence. Evidence-based benefits for full term babies include improved state organization and motor system modulation; improved temperature regulation; and an analgesic effect, reduced crying, improved maternal responsiveness, and babies who were more securely attached. Good stuff, all around!
4. Is a sling or a baby carrier better?
Any soft carrier that properly supports and aligns the head and neck of a young infant and that is comfortable for the caregiver is fine.
5. Is there anything else that you'd like us to know?
I am often asked about the dangers of "spoiling" a baby by holding them "too much." The thinking goes like this: If I hold my baby too much, then she will grow to expect to be held and then I will be stuck holding her all the time. In my humble opinion, this is a moot point. In our arrogance, we assume that we have created the need to be held by holding our babies, when in fact babies are born hardwired to seek out that which they need to thrive: food, warmth and human touch. Whether we hold our babies or not, they will still biologically need to be held. We cannot spoil a baby by meeting their basic needs.
6. If you had one thing that you'd like new mothers to know, what would it be?
Hold your baby, nurse your baby, love your baby, get to know your baby. Let the rest of the world move on by and take this time to focus on you and your baby. After mothering four of my own babies, I can say without hesitation that you will never regret the investment you have made in your children. They are worth it.
Thanks, Dr. Blois for taking the time for us!
You can find out more about babywearing at Dr. Maria's website
As new parents, it can be overwhelming tosoothe a baby when they fuss and cry. Here are some ideas that might help you to calm a fussy baby, they have certainly worked for us!
1. Dance together. Gentle music soothes babies rather than fast music with a lively beat. By swaying and humming to the music, you can entertain a baby enough to help him relax and stop crying. If you can, make a tape or CD of your favourite slow songs and enjoy some bonding time.
2. Carry your baby with you wherever you go. Babies calm down when they feel you close and hear your heartbeat; a baby sling or a baby carrier will support your back and make it easier to do this. Newborn babies aren’t able to support their own body weight, so a baby sling works best for the first few months. Once your baby is able to sit up on his own, a baby carrier is a great choice as it allows him to face outward and see the world.
3. Swaddle your baby before you rock him to sleep. New babies like to feel snug and cosy, and swaddling can create that feeling for them. If you would like more information on how to swaddle a baby please visit www.drmelaniebee.org, click on the Pregnancy and Breastfeeding button, and look for Simple Ways to Calm a Baby on the left side of the web page.
4. Skin-to-skin contact helps. One of the nicest ways to accomplish this, especially in the evening, is to run a warm bath, light a few candles and turn off the lights. Sit in the tub, place your baby on your chest, and cover his back and legs with a warm facecloth. Babies like the feel of the close contact, the warm water, and the pretty lights. Bath time is an excellent way for dad to have special bonding time and it gives mom a bit of a break.
5. Infant massage provides great relief for babies, as it helps to promote bonding, relaxation and brain stimulation. It also helps to improve digestion and results in a deeper sleep for your baby. For more information about infant massage, please visit www.iaim.net.
6. Wrap up your baby warmly in your baby stroller and go for a walk. Especially if you walk on a sidewalk, the rhythmic bumping movement can soothe a baby quickly. You both get some fresh air and you benefit from adding exercise to your day.
7. Go for an evening drive. Some babies like the hum of a running engine. I found that if I placed two rolled up burp cloths on either side of my baby’s head and then tucked a blanket firmly around him as he sat in his car seat, it helped him to feel more comfortable and secure in the car.
8. Rock your baby to sleep. Rocking provides gentle movement that can calm a fussy baby. Either hold your baby in the crook of your arm with pillows for support, or hold your baby on your chest as you rock back and forth.
9. Vacuum the floors of your house. Some babies find the hum of a vacuum to be calming. Place your baby in a sling or a baby carrier and start vacuuming. If your baby does calm down with vacuuming, you benefit in two ways: you end up with a calm baby and a clean floor.
As I talk with pregnant women throughout my community, I can constantly surprised that many women do not know that chiropractic adjustments can help them to have an easier pregnancy and quite likely, an easier birth. The truth is that chiropractic care facilitates a more comfortable transition from early to late term pregnancy and through to postpartum recovery.
As Chiropractors, we assess your spine and pelvic joints to see if there are certain areas that are not moving as easily as they could. We perform many of the same tests that your physician does to determine that you are in perfect health: a complete history, orthopedic exam, neurological exam, and a postural exam to see how your body is adapting to your pregnancy. If we find that you have areas in your spine or pelvic joints are not moving properly, we usually adjust them. The choice is yours as to whether we adjust or not. What is important to remember is that a chiropractic adjustment will allow the areas of your spine that are stuck to move again, which will relieve your discomfort.
The pelvis is of great concern to Chiropractors. The pelvis is essentially a ring made up of four bones: the sacrum, which is the triangular bone at the base of your spine, the tailbone that is attached to your sacrum, and the two hipbones of your pelvis. These four bones are held together by many ligaments and connective tissue. Relaxin, the hormone of pregnancy, is released in the body from early on in the pregnancy to soften these ligaments to allow better passage of the baby during labour and birth. What can happen later on in the pregnancy is that the ligaments stretch quite a bit, to the point of overstretching. The sacroiliac joints (where the sacrum meets the pelvis) can become quite moveable and walking can become a challenge. The “pregnant waddle” can be noticeable as a woman walks because, at this point, the sacroiliac joints move too much and the body locks the sacrum into place by causing the woman’s feet to turn out and for her to lock her knees. With a Chiropractic adjustment, the sacroiliac joints are able to move in a more normal position and the woman is able to walk more easily.
The goals of Chiropractic care during pregnancy are to ease the pregnant woman’s areas of discomfort and to help promote a more stable pelvis. A study done in 1990 showed that women who were under Chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies had reduced labour times. First time moms experienced 25% less time in labour and birth and moms with previous babies averaged 31% shorter labour times. Also, another study done in 1991 showed that women who experienced back pain during their pregnancies had a 72% chance of having back labour during labour and birth. Back labour isn’t pleasant and Chiropractic care can help ease back pain.
Chiropractors are interested in relieving your aches and pains throughout your pregnancy and during your postpartum period. Immediately after birth, your body experiences another great posture change and your back needs to adapt to not having a pregnant belly anymore. The posture of breastfeeding can cause great discomfort in the midback, especially between the shoulder blades. There is the constant lifting, bending, stooping, carrying the car seat about, rocking, walking and so on. Life with a new baby is definitely another time where chiropractic care can help your body more easily. Once again, we keep the fixed or subluxated areas of your spine moving smoothly.
After birthing a baby, your body continues to produce relaxin for approximately the next four months, but in a gradually decreasing amounts. This process helps the ligaments to slowly tighten back around the spine and the rest of the joints in the body. Chiropractic care can keep the joints in your spine and pelvis in optimal alignment as your ligaments pull back into place around the joints of your spine.
To find a chiropractor near you, Canadians can visit www.ccachiro.org or www.icpa4kids.org.
Americans can visit www.amerchiro.org or www.icpa4kids.org.
For More Information on pregnancy and breastfeeding please visit Dr. Melanie's pregnancy and breastfeeding pages.
After a baby is born, her brain and her nervous system get to work learning about how her body works and the world that she lives in. Despite the fact that a newborn sleeps most of her day, her brain and nervous system are incredibly busy. If fact, from birth to 2½ years old, a baby’s brain is the busiest that it will ever be in her entire lifetime as it learns to process information and to develop new skills. A baby learns that this is mom and that’s dad and how to move her body in space. She learns how to recognize important people in her life and what certain words mean.
From the age 2 ½ to 5, to improve efficiency, a child’s brain starts to prune down connections (the technical term is synapses) that aren’t used as often as others. If parents play and engage with their babies, they help to strengthen synapses within the brain, and reduce the pruning process.
In summary, from birth to 5 years old, parents have a great opportunity to stimulate their child’s brain to ensure that its connections within the brain and to the body are strong. Here are some easy things that you can do to stimulate your child’s brain:
The underlying principle is that the more time you spend with your baby in play and one-on-one interactions, the more you stimulate your baby’s brain. Add some of the above suggestions to your day and everyone benefits from time spent together because it’s just plain fun!
Excerpted from Getting Ready for Baby
It is extremely helpful in during your pregnancy to eliminate the clutter in your mind and in your life so you can focus on family bonding once your baby is born. Tto start, brainstorm all the tasks that need to be completed. Take a large piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Designate one side for home tasks and the other for work tasks and then inventory your home and work life and list everything you find that needs completing, no matter how large or how small.
Here’s an example to get you started:
Unfinished Things to Do
· Take back library books
· Take in the van for an oil change
· Clean out room for baby
· Plan for maternity leave
· Clean out closets
· Buy nursing bras
Once you have made a list of all the tasks that you can think of, take three highlighter markers and go over your list again.
Color in yellow all of the things that are important for you to finish before your baby is born, such as special projects at work, choosing the paint color for your baby’s room, buying those nursing bras.
Color in pink all of the things that need to be done but aren’t important for you to do them. For example, could you have someone else take your car in for an oil change, and the library books back? Could you get a local charity to come and cart away the junk you’ve been saving for the garage sale that you’ve never got around to?
Color in green all of the things that really aren’t important for you to do anymore. Do you have unfinished projects that are taking up space in your closets and are no longer interesting? Do you have obligations at work that aren’t really necessary, or you can pass on to someone else?
Once you have finished highlighting your tasks, you’ll find that it now becomes much easier.
Yellow items are top priority for you.
These are things that you need to finish before your baby is born. Or, at least, these things would free up time and emotional involvement so that you can relax and enjoy bonding time with your baby. Number the yellow items in order of priority and give yourself a reasonable deadline to get them done.
Pink items are tasks that you can delegate to your partner, family members or friends.
Make a list of these items in order of importance. When anyone asks if there is anything they could do to help, simply pull out your list and find a job that they would be able to do for you.
Green items are projects and commitments that you need to purge from your life.
Get rid of that needlework that you’ve been pecking away at for the last six years and now decide that you don’t like very much. Throw away or recycle your unwanted items, you’ll feel light and free once you give up old obligations to tasks that no longer work for you.
If you take the time to organize the clutter in your life, you will find that once your baby is born, you will be able to relax and enjoy your time together. Taking the time you need to bond with your baby is quite simply one of the best gifts that you can give yourself.
In our latest book, Getting Ready for Baby, we recommend that pregnant women read Creating Your Birth Plan by Dr. Marsden Wagner. Well, luckily enough for us, Dr. Marsden Wagner, author of Creating Your Birth Plan, has graciously given his time to answer a few of my questions on advice that he would give to pregnant women.Dr. Wagner is an independent consultant on maternity care and has been featured in US News and World Report, Health, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on Dateline and Good Morning America. He is a former director of Women’s and Children’s Health for the World Health Organization, and the author/editor of eight books including Creating Your Birth Plan: The Definitive Guide to a Safe and Empowering Birth.
The first time I was present at a natural, unmedicated birth a transformation took place near the end of the woman’s labor. Her face began to glow and she shouted her feelings of determination to everyone within earshot. She was going to do this! The moment she pushed the baby out of her body, she triumphantly yelled, “I did it!” Then she leaned over, took her newborn infant in her arms, and looked around the room proudly, wearing an angelic expression that would have put Michelangelo to shame. It was awe inspiring. Every woman should feel as much pride and euphoria at her labor’s end.
As for me, at that moment my understanding of childbirth would never be the same. Even with all my experience as a physician, it was surprising for me to see a woman give birth in her full power and autonomy: making strange sounds, moving however she wanted to make herself comfortable, and clearly demanding her needs be met—and having her birth attendants support all her choices. It was unlike most hospital births. I had been trained to take charge of birth and use my medical skills to make sure that women in labor wouldn’t be harmed, to arrange the risks with technology and action. I had been trained to believe that I “delivered” a baby, even though healthy women push out their babies. Before that day it never occurred to me that a healthy woman having a normal labor wouldn’t need my services, that there would be nothing to do— except give her room and stand by. But on that day my medical approach was superfluous. This event helped me understand that there needed to be a better balance of medicine and nature.
There is a biological as well as a psychological explanation for what I had just witnessed. The birthing woman’s amazing transformation—her clarity of purpose and strength—was the result of the release of endorphins (naturally occurring hormones in the body that relieve pain and enhance the sense of overall well-being), basically acting like an internal dose of morphine without any of the risks or side effects. Athletes call the painkilling and euphoric effects of endorphins the “second wind” or “runner’s high.” It was the powerful sensations of childbirth itself that triggered her rush of endorphins. Her pride of achievement was also based in knowing that she was a capable woman. She had risen to the occasion, handled the physical challenges, and brought forth a new life.
More than four million American women give birth each year, with more than 95% of them in hospitals. They choose hospitals for a variety of reasons having to do with the incorrect idea that hospitals can provide the safest births. Although women sometimes choose to labor in hospitals because they have no access to a home-birth midwife, or because an insurance company mandates the decision, often it’s because they believe that a doctor can guarantee their safety in case of an emergency. While midwives oversee some hospital births, obstetricians and labour-and-delivery nurses manage the majority. Another reason women choose hospitals is to have access to strong pain medication—epidurals.
As a result of our reliance on hospitals and doctors, birth in America has come to be perceived as a medical event rather than a natural one—we literally view it through the eyes of doctors. We spend twice as much as any other country in the world per birth, because medical technology and drugs are highly esteemed and widely available, and we want to purchase the best care. Even in normal pregnancies, our rate for interventions, like electronic fetal monitoring, labor induction and augmentation, and cesarean section is skyrocketing. Nonetheless, many other countries get better results than we do using less technology and fewer medications. What are the pregnant women and the maternity caregivers in those countries doing or not doing that would benefit you?
Creating Your Birth Plan will explore the standards of care in hospitals, out-of-hospital birth centers, and at-home births. According to scientific evidence, do hospitals and doctors adhere to the best and safest practices? Do midwives adhere to the best and safest practices? Under what types of emergency conditions is it important to be under the care of an obstetrician? What factors are valuable for you to take into consideration before giving birth in a hospital is an independent birth center, or at home? What would a truly natural birth, one without any interventions and medications, be like?
As an expectant mother you need to be an active participant in your own care. You need to know how to recognize excellent professional caregivers as well as how to protect yourself from the less-scrupulous type of practitioners who allow fear of litigation to influence their decision-making about childbirth and outweigh research studies.
As a physician and scientist, and a former director of Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization (WHO), I headed a team for fifteen years that gathered scientific data on different forms of maternity care throughout the worlds’ industrialized nations. We investigated everything from labouring postures and whether or not a woman should eat, drink, and move around, to the efficacy of electronic fetal monitoring, ultrasound, intravenous drips, anesthesia, episiotomies, forceps and vacuum extraction, and cesarian section. Creating Your Birth Plan incorporates those findings.
In North America today, there is often profound misunderstanding and mistrust of the midwifery model of care that other highly industrialized countries worldwide embrace and find essential for the management of normal, healthy labor. Statistics have shown that home birth and hospital birth managed by midwives tend to be safest for women and their babies, as well as most fulfilling. Hopefully this book can help you understand midwives, so that you can carefully evaluate the services they provide based on facts, not myths.
Producing a healthy baby is a major goal of birth. But a successful birth outcome involves so much more than mere survival. We should not disregard the human impact of childbirth. Positive laboring experiences set women up to become good mothers and more confident people. Some people climb mountains or run marathons to find out what they are capable of. Giving birth presents a comparable opportunity for the woman who decides to become a mother. It can reveal her to herself and transform her self-image.
My questions for Dr. Wagner were asked specifically for pregnant women who need to know about birth plans, what they do and what they should consider when they write theirs.
1. What would you say are simple things a pregnant woman could do to positively influence her birth?
Choose a midwife to be your primary birth attendant. Choose a free-standing birth center for your birth or choose a home birth.
2. If your daughter was having a baby, what would you like her to know?
Obstetricians are surgeons who have never seen a normal birth and don’t know what it is so they medicalize all births they attend. A hospital is for sick people so a birthing woman who is not sick should not go there any more than she should go there to have sexual intercourse. A Cesarean section is major abdominal surgery with serious risks for both woman and baby.
3. What do you wish that medical doctors would do differently with respect to birth?
I wish that medical doctors should stop being responsible for normal, low risk birth and focus strictly on high risk pregnant and birthing women who have serious medical problems.
4. What could a labouring couple do in a hospital setting to reduce their levels of anxiety?
A laboring couple in a hospital should bring along their doula and put a door stop under the door to their room so that anyone wishing to come in must knock first and ask permission to come in.
5. Do you have any advice for a newly pregnant mom with regards to her birth plan?
Pregnant women should read my book Creating Your Birth Plan early in their pregnancy.
We recommend Dr. Wagner’s Creating Your Birth Plan in our clinic for new moms and we urge all pregnant women to get a copy and read it from cover to cover. You will be better informed to make the choices that only you can make when it comes to birthing your baby.
Regarding birth plans, I'd also like to add a quick plug for our latest book, Getting Ready for Baby, which helps pregnant women everywhere have a healthier pregnancy AND organize their homes and their lives to make a smoother transition to motherhood.
For more information about Getting Ready for Baby, The Calm Baby Cookbook or information on pregancy or breastfeeding, please visit Dr. Melanie's website.
Last week, my family was dining at a fast food restaurant, and during a conversation with my 5 year old, we began to talk about her life when she grew up. When she mentioned having babies, I was surprised, but I played along.
"When you have a baby, you'll be the mom and I'll be the grandma," I said. And then my beautiful girl looked and me and said, "but mom, I'm never having a baby."
"Why not?" I asked.
Amanda then (in the middle of a crowded restaurant) lifted up her shirt to expose her chest. "BECAUSE THE BABY IS GOING TO CHEW ON THESE!!!"
Once I had gained control, I tried to explain that it really does feel nice... and then I laughed for days.
We have had so many questions about Getting Ready for Baby, that I thought I'd tell you about it in this blog and refer interested people here.
Just after having my first baby, I had a chance to chat with someone who had children that were older than mine. We were living in Vancouver at the time and my husband was traveling a lot because of his job. I was overwhelmed with learning to care for a baby and starting a practice and one day, over coffee, I just looked at my friend and asked, "Benita, do you ever feel..."
And she cut me off with a twinkle in her eye, "you feel tired all the time and lonely with Bruce gone so much. There is so much to do and you just can't keep up. You sometimes want to scream because there is no time for you, and you wonder if you're doing everything wrong." Well, in thirty seconds she had summed up my life. "How did you know?" I asked, thinking that I must be pathetic if it was that obvious.
"We all feel that way." And those words changed my life. I was NOT alone, and I was NOT a failure as a mother if everyone else felt the same. To my relief, I realized that I was doing just fine.
Life was more manageable after that day. Once Cody was older, and I was working, I noticed that the pregnant mothers in my clinic were experiencing the same doubts and fears that I did. They weren't sure of their options for birth or what to do next, they were given all sorts of conflicting advice and they always wondered if they were missing something important.
One day, inspiration struck: there was a way to help. Pregnant women needed a guide- something to help them organize their lives so that they could find their way to becoming mothers easier. As a journal and a weekly planner combined, it could serve to improve communication with their health professionals and include advice from moms with hard-earned experience.
What a great concept! Ideas just flowed onto the page. But, a few months later, we moved back home to Calgary...and along came Kayla, our girl with the wild hair and the sweet smile. Then Amanda, our little miss sunshine, and even though I was busy at home and at work, throughout this incredible journey, the pregnancy journal was always in the back of my mind, simmering away.
So now, after ten years and three kids, the pregnancy journal that I had the idea to write is now complete... and it is more beautiful than I ever imagined. This is thanks to many wonderful women in my life who have read the book and offered their ideas about what they needed to hear during their pregnancies.
The book's beauty is all due to the incredible talent of Cheryl Peddie, her artwork and book design. It could never have happened without her, and I am grateful to call her my friend.
As for the rest, time will tell. People are very interested in the book and we are selling them over the Internet from our Heartlights Publishing website. The Dr. Melanie Bee website offers information about Getting Ready for Baby and The Calm Baby Cookbook (Dr. Melanie's first book for breastfeeding moms) and many articles about pregnancy, breastfeeding and general health questions. Both websites offer more in depth information about the books and sample pages for you to see how wonderful they are. We welcome you to visit our websites to take a look!
Thoroughly “user friendly,” The Calm Baby Cookbook will prove a simple godsend for parents driven to distraction by a cranky, screaming, crying, distressed newborn during those critically important first few months of life.
The book is awesome! I have given copies to several patients who run lactation departments at the local hospitals -- they are forwarding your website to many patients as they want copies for themselves! Way to go!!! We save copies of your book for our midwives and also in our lending library.
Dr. Amber Gardiner
The reason I want your cookbook is because all four of us in the family (husband, 5 yr, 10 mos and me) all have sensitivities to dairy, wheat and sugar. Your cookbook has recipes that don't include those items. It will be nice to choose from one source, instead of poring through all my books at home to find acceptable recipes.
A friend of mine bought your book and recommended it. Word of mouth is still the best!
I really appreciate your email and look forward to using your book.
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