Is Your Cell Phone Hurting Your Milk Supply?

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Hey new moms, if you are reading this on your cell phone in the middle of the night while nursing, here is a quick TL:DR - yes, your cell phone could be decreasing your milk supply.

There are current thoughts on prolonged exposure to the blue light your phone give off and how they can increase your sleep patterns and cortisol levels, both of which directly impact your body's ability to produce breastmilk.

When we say increased cortisol levels, that is a fancy way to say stress. Your body, even when you love what you are seeing on your phone - the memes, shows, timelines, and snaps - your body is slowly absorbing blue light and reacting to it with increased production of cortisol.

Increased cortisol is linked to challenging sleep patterns in adults. And the effects of cortisol in infants require more research, but early studies show that yes, your baby's body responds to the increased levels by making cortisol receivers in their gut with lasting effects, potentially making them more anxious, fussy, and agitated.

But it's hard to blame it all on the milk. A person's genetics can cause predisposed elevated levels of cortisol.

But what is still new, is how much we, as a society are on our screens. And especially for new moms, when holding a sleeping baby, there are very few things you can do with one hand. Between taking photos of your adorable babe, uploading those photos to Instagram, researching sites to understand all the newness of being a parent, and then connecting with other new moms so you don't feel alone - our normal lives put our eyes in front of a lot of screens!

So with all these screens with their blue lights humming along, if you have an opportunity to put your phone down while nursing your child, it could be one way to help your supply, and your stress levels, even if just for a little bit.

Ug...Sick Kids. Colds and Flu are here.

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We know you know what is happening, because it may seem you can't escape it. It's sick kid season...er...I mean winter. So here is a handy short round-up of the stuff to consider when you are trying to keep the sickness at bay!

1. Clothes

If your kid/kids are around other people for parts of the day in enclosed areas (think school, daycare, museums, public transportation, etc.) when they get home get them out of the "germy clothes" and into something clean. This paired with our next item will help with a majority of free transportation your children may be offering those little critters right under your nose!

2. For real, wash your hands, and theirs!

With little people, washing hands is a monumental task. Pulling up sleeves, using the soap, "we're not playing right now," and such. But getting you and your kids into the routine of washing your hands when you get home from being away, AND more often than normal, AND ESPECIALLY after using the bathroom will keep the germs where they belong, in a watery coffin away from your face.

To help with this feat, we suggest making your home handwashing friendly: step stools, easy to use faucet handles, and fun soap. Kids love the kind that foams! And look at this...a cool kick starter for an interesting soap kids would love!

3. Coughing Etiquette

It is never too early to teach your child to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze and cough. When tissues aren't close, and they need to forcibly explode in this way, help them learn to use their elbow/arm over their face to keep their Ewwww from flying all over the room. (And using that exact terminology can help.)


4. Fevers

Ug, fevers can be so complicated. But let's take a minute to remember that having a temperature isn't all in out a bad sign. It means your child's defense mechanism is working and they are using their own system to help fight those unwanted visitors. If your child goes to a daycare or school, follow their guidelines for when to keep your child home, but usually, anything over 99.2 degrees Fahrenheit means they need to rest and be kept apart from their classmates, AND everyone else! Yes, it can be inconvenient to keep your child home, but please do it. Please. Keep this germ ball in a place to get better, not worse while also possibly spreading it to other kiddos.

*NOTE - consult your doctor for any reason when it comes to fevers. They are the experts. This is a blog.


5. Toothbrushes, Bottles and Bottle Parts

They often get missed, but if your child has been sick, it's time to start using a new toothbrush. A toothbrush is not designed to withstand sterilization procedures, like bottles or nipples. But if your child is not using a toothbrush yet but does use a bottle, here are 7 ways to sterilize baby bottles and parts.


6. Elderberry Syrup

If you are looking for something natural that can boost immunity before getting sick, AND help after sickness arrives in your home, perhaps elderberry syrup is something you would like to look into. *NOTE: do not give to children under 1-year-old if it contains honey. If you’d like to explore making your own elderberry syrup, there are many recipes and various.

"Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat."

It can be made easily at home, but can also be purchased as a syrup or gummy!

Defining Your Family's Values: An Exercise to Start 2019

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Welcoming a new year and a new baby is a perfect time to take a look at the world you are building each day. While a new year often is a time to reflect on new goals or resolutions, why not take the energy you have to plan and put it towards connecting more fully to your partner and your purpose?

It's not a diet.
It's not an exercise plan.

However, it is not any less work.




Have you ever intentionally defined your family's values?




Perhaps you've seen wall decals on Pinterest that proclaim love, kindness, laughter, and joy. They are beautiful! But are they yours?

Family values do get talked about, but it is typically with bias from media outlets or political parties. What we are talking about is personal work you and your partner will do to give your growing family a framework — the beginning of your family's guidebook.

We mean, when you and your partner are deciding what to do with your time, money, and parenting dilemmas, these core beliefs are there to help guide you through making decisions.

For instance, perhaps you find one of your family values is respect. A way your family may try to instill self respect is to start the habit of making your bed everyday, and helping your children learn to make their beds as a part of their daily routine. Having the language about why you are doing things can relieve tension, and give a person purpose when they are feeling overwhelmed or confused. Having a framework in place allows for connection and belonging, and isn’t that one of the main reasons we are here?



Family values may or may not be the same as your personal values, and that is because a family is itself a unique entity.

If you are unsure of where to start, we like this core values tool by Carnegie Mellon University Start here and look at yourself. Then ask your partner to do the same.

Next, work together and do the exercise with your family in mind. Compare with your partner. Work together to find values that unify your future.



Download our worksheet below for defining your family’s values with a list of 230 personal values

  • Download the worksheet below

  • As you read through, underline, circle or highlight any that spark your curiosity or feel correct. Don’t limit yourself!

  • Then make a list of just those.

  • Then go through the list again. Some of the words may be similar so work to pick the word that best describes you and your core.

  • Keep working through until you come to about 5, more or less.

You Do What? Rethinking Holiday Traditions

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There was an article posted this year about how Millennials are "ruthlessly killing...Christmas traditions."

Regardless if you give any credence to this overused ploy to blame Millennials for getting people to click on an article, there is undoubtedly a reason to consider how you want to your growing family to move through life and celebrate holidays (or not) moving forward: You are going to be responsible for enacting many of these traditions! Do you want to?

One could argue that all of the things on this list in no way kill or make Christmas. But that it takes an incredible amount of energy, time, and dedication to complete all the things on that list.

(I'll make a note here there was no mention at all of who the holiday responsibility typically falls on: Moms, Aunties, Grandmas, and generally, the womenfolk. The holidays are prime "tending" time, and perhaps we should take a look at that tradition and make the holidays sustainable in a way that helps, and involves, everyone in the family. )

So, traditional holiday activities are being reevaluated on a larger cultural scale, and making room for the lives and realities of modern families with (possibly) two working parents, and fewer cravings for roasted chestnuts.

Sustainable Traditions

Traditions get carried on either because they are easy and enjoyable outright, or because someone takes on the responsibility of enacting the rituals and ensuring follow through.

  • What is important to you?

  • What is important to your partner?

  • What is important to your family?

  • Do you like making a holiday card?

  • Do you enjoy baking?

  • Do you want to wear matching pajamas?

  • How many stops do you want to make that day?

  • Do you love to host? Do you like to join in wherever the festivities may be?

  • What did you love that you want to introduce to your kids?

  • What did you tolerate because it was important to a family member?

  • What would you love to change if you had the freedom and guilt-free ability to change it?

  • Are you sustaining traditions that should be put to rest?

  • Are there traditions that could be continued but the responsibility be passed to a different person?

  • Could more people be compelled to help create the holiday spirit?

More Sustainable Traditions

When it comes to the holidays, boiling down all the decorations, gifts, songs, parties, and traditions, everything exists as a way to help us feel good. Feeling cared for, nurtured, and a sense of belonging are what we all crave, but it gets defused through photo filters, schedules, and checking items off a list.

How about these sustainable traditions?

  • Listening to what people say, and not just waiting for your turn to talk.

  • Making eye contact with the children in your life and learning about what they are excited about.

  • Finding a gift that is purposeful or meaningful, and not just filler to make it feel like "enough."

  • Realizing that your time is the most valuable thing you have, and showing love is very different than telling love.

What about your family? With the holidays fresh on our minds, what stands out to you? What do you love? What has been passed down that seems to make the season for you?

When To Work The Woo

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Pregnancy is often an eye-opening experience. So many new feelings and sensations make it an excellent time to try new comfort measures and coping methods that you may not have been interested in before now.

For instance, nausea may open your eyes to the possibility of acupuncture. Restless nights with new body discomfort may make the start of a simple yoga practice a welcome release.

As your doulas, we know your pregnancy experience is unique and special, and your birth unlike any to come before you. We also know that we carry on a tradition as wise women and respect all options for comfort through this time.

When looking in from the outside, doulas are often stereotyped as woo-woo hippy birth whisperers. While that is not a requirement of the profession, depending on your personal comfort and history with meditation and visualization, connectedness, and energy work, it may be the perfect description for us!

So today we're going to share some of the woo, and you are free to take what you need and leave the rest.

WHEN TO WORK THE WOO

Meditation

Meditation is defined as, "a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject." Meaning it is an exploration. It can be silent, or it can be spoken aloud. It can be short or long.

Meditation is a practice of training your mind to focus and redirect thoughts and to bring awareness to our surroundings and ourselves. It has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety.

When you are pregnant, you can be inundated with new worries, new sensations, and new responsibilities. Medication for even 10 minutes a day may be a simple way to explore the transition you are in and connect with the reality that you are enough, as you are, to care and nurture the human inside you.

There are recordings readily available online to begin a home meditation practice if this is appealing to you!

Mindfulness

Close to meditation, mindfulness is a "woo" practice of being aware of your body, and how you are connected to the world around you.

Grounding is an exercise often used and is very simple to start. Let's try it:

Where you are now, as you read this, notice your shoulders and back, and take a deep breath into your lungs. Notice how you settle back into your seat and the feel of the chair under you. Place your hands with palms up and feel the small tingles of the blood flowing out and back to your heart, over and over. Follow your body down and focus on your feet. Place them square with your shoulders, and feel the connectedness they have with the floor beneath them. Feel how sturdy they are, and imagine your feet being rooted into the floor beneath you. Take a deep breath and imagine a stream of energy entering into the top of your head, and flowing through you all the way down to your toes. Visualize your body filtering the energy and see the connectedness you have with the space around you.

That is one example of grounding. You can also physically connect your self with the ground, and root your feet to the closest patch of earth. But because in this weather!

Grounding is a valuable tool as it can take place in any location, at any time, silently, or vocally. It can be as simple as a deep breath. Or as a systematic check in with each part of your body.

YOGA

Yoga has become so popular and mainstream that you may not consider this "woo" at all! But just like mindfulness, yoga is the practice of connecting your mind to your body. It also has the added benefit of movement and breath focus.

Some benefits of yoga as shared by Mindbodygreen.com:

  • Develop body awareness

  • Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way

  • Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement

  • Build concentration

  • Increase their confidence and positive self-image

  • Feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group

  • Have an alternative to tuning out through constant attachment to electronic devices

Yoga can happen as a planned class in a studio, or in your home on your bedroom floor or family room. It progresses with you as you need it to, and perfection is not required or even encouraged. The joy of yoga is the practice and the experiences from each breath and focused movement.

Acupuncture

Without having tried acupuncture before pregnancy, many may be hesitant to start at this time. However, under the care of a trained professional, acupuncture may help during pregnancy with:

  • Morning sickness

  • High/low blood pressure

  • Anxiety

  • Tiredness

  • Constipation

  • Tender breasts

  • Migraine and other headaches

  • Backache

  • Pelvic pain (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)

  • Varicose veins

Acupuncture, when a part of pregnancy care, may also help reduce swelling, and aid in aligning your baby for birth. Acupressure and acupuncture have also helped with inducing contractions or boosting a person's energy who is working through labor.

Acupuncture can happen where ever the practitioner is able to join you. Most have clinics or office hours. Some may have the ability to travel to you.

MIND BODY CONNECTION

There are of course many other “woo” practices that can be discussed, but for today, we focus on the mind and body connection. Each of the items above can help one learn the landscape of a growing pregnant body. Birth, both vaginal birth and surgical, are moments that can bring you into unknown parts of yourself. Having started a practice of mental awareness can be extremely beneficial for immediate release, and as a mind strengthening tool - of which birth and parenting will continue to give you practice using.

We invite you to explore yourself and your inner thoughts, fears, and desires through your pregnancy.

What “woo woo” practice have you started to explore that was new upon becoming pregnant?

Don't Fear The 4-Month Sleep Regression!

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You may not know it, but your baby is already on a sleep schedule. That schedule is just very different than what is ideal for most adults.

You newborn is amazing, and is most likely a sleeping champ! However, she isn't a sleeping-through-the-night champ, she is a sleeping every-now-and-then-in-your-arms champ, and that is where the questions come in.

Is my baby getting enough sleep?

When should my baby be able to sleep through the night?

HOW do I get my baby to sleep through the night?

There are four stages of sleep that we pass through:

Stage 1 - As adults, we recognize this as the drifting off period where we are not asleep but could be soon.

Stage 2 - This is the first sleep, where if woken up in this stage we realize we were not drifting but sleeping.

Stage 3 - This is a deep and restorative sleep, where your body does the work to repair and restore tissue and energy, and working on growth.

Stage 4 - This stage is when your brain engages in processing, repair, and consolidating information, called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep. This stage is also usually when dreaming happens.

Newborns do not engage in stage 1 or stage 2 sleep. From the ages of 0-3 months, they go from awake to stage 3 and 4. It is part of the reason you can usually put your sleeping infant down, and they won't wake up because they are not cycling through "light" sleep stages that make it possible.

Once your baby is near four months old, they begin using all four stages of sleep, and they can feel much harder to put to sleep. But what often gets neglected when discussing babies and sleep, is that going to sleep is a skill that needs to be learned, which means it needs to be taught.

This ability to learn this new skill is also known as the "4-month sleep regression."

This new development in your baby's sleeping style can be a considerable nuisance. However, what this new skill also allows for is your child to learn the important work of how to fall asleep. Before this time, you would feed and hold your child, possibly bounce them into an adorable sleepy baby mound. Now, your baby is developmentally prepared to do things like putting herself to sleep!

However, parents are not discussing this time as a new opportunity to teach a new skill, because most parents are overtired themselves.

To take advantage of your baby's new ability, parents can encourage behavior that could lead them down the path of sleeping more soundly, or sleeping, waking, and sleeping again without the aid of a parent to sooth them back to sleep. It has to do with 1 stage of sleep.

One of the ways parents can prepare their baby for sleep and encourage healthy sleep habits is to place the baby in their sleep space when they are still awake, but drowsy. Identifying that time is hard, mainly because the window of opportunity tends to be small! But by tracking your baby's naps through the end of their 3rd month, you can get an idea of a possible grace period that would be the "drowsy" time.

One possible senario:

  • Bring your baby to her sleeping space/room

  • Feed her to full but not to asleep

  • Change if the diaper is soiled

  • If using a sleep sack or arms out swaddle, put it your baby

  • Talk to your baby and share that you are getting her ready for their nap and you are going to put her in her crib, dim lights or close curtains, and turn on white noise machine

  • Place your baby in her crib and gently rub her tummy in a clockwise motion, or softly stroke her head from back to front

  • Once you see your baby's eyes get droopy, slowly walk to the door and close it behind you

The goal of doing this routine when your baby is still awake, is they see their surroundings and recognize them, know who put them there, and feel comfortable as they are drifting off to sleep.

As you continue to use this pattern when putting your child down for naps, they learn to associate feeling rested and calm with the room and view they have. They can learn to anticipate feeling calm and relaxed, and many babies have reached out eager for the peace they associate with that space.

If you want more information about creating peaceful sleep routines Maine Doulas are happy to help you.

Personal Growth vs. Children's Needs: 4 Things Modern Moms Are Trying

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When your baby cries, there is a chemical reaction that takes place which urges most new moms to react. It has developed over our species existence, which means it is not something that can quickly be turned off! The crying is instinctual for infants, and the response is innate. Historically, a crying baby could be tended to and nurtured by many adults, and many milk-producing women. Caring for a child in the first years were collective responsibilities.

However, today, as modern women with current responsibilities, stressors, and desires, there is a new struggle that we are facing: modern families don't have enough help raising children. The person who takes the majority of the mental, emotional, and physical burden is the mom.

It is not a coincidence that #selfcare has 9.9 million posts on Instagram. We know we need to put our oxygen masks on first, but the needs of our children don't melt away with our pink fizzy bath bombs. So what is a modern woman to do?

Here are 4 things to consider if you are a woman in Portland and you are looking for help, yourself, or a better

1. Co-Working Space

May moms have decided to contribute financially to their family while also being the primary caretaker for their kids. May have said, they love being a mom but have enjoyed working and love how it helps their self-esteem, creative expression, and the family's bottom line financially. However, that can't always happen at home. Space gets overwhelmed, the distractions are endless, and the kids are still there asking for you.

Being able to do work, but not have the full weight of renting office space, allows for productivity and community building.

2. Group Classes or Outings

It may not be possible to hire a babysitter or nanny for help when you want to exercise or socialize. Yoga, music classes, or library meet-ups are opportunities to find a group of parents with similarly aged children. When kids are the same age, it is not uncommon to have the same questions, concerns, and milestones. Those outings could connect you with a network of people to lean on, share, and support, and help to create a tribe of your own for this day and age.

3. Letting go…

Letting go of things society has told us are essential...but are actually just making our stress out of control. It's being discussed more than partners probably believe: it's easier just to do the task, because when asking for help, it only means it won't get done right and only adds more work to "fix" it afterward. Sound familiar?

One of the significant stresses for women in the 21st century is the struggle to "have it all." Moreover, this lie doesn't die, and we needs to start saying the truth: we can't have it all. We can't have it all, do it all, and be it all for everyone. Not as we live and breath today. So as we are all working on bettering ourselves and overcoming life's hurdles, pause and recognize that some of the obstacles are self-imposed. Some of those hurdles are perpetuated by people or companies who have a vested interest in making you believe that is your hurdle. Also, some are heavy hypothetical pieces of baggage that were put on you when you didn't even recognize it was happening. Those last ones belong to someone else entirely, and you don't have to carry those anymore.

The next time you feel yourself getting angry because you are rushing to get it all done, check and see if you even need to do it at all.

  • Does dinner need to be ready at 6 pm?

  • Do you have to make homemade cookies for the class?

  • Why are you sending holiday cards?

  • R.S.V.P your regrets.

4. Redesign your Responsibilities

Build the framework and have hard conversations in your relationships to make caretaking, raising, and tending to a family the work of both parents.

For families with two parents, the science is in: on average a husband creates seven additional hours of housework. However, the extra work isn't one of the most significant stressors - it's the overall lack of personal attention paid to the small details that keep households running. Husbands say over and over, "just tell me what you want me to do." Without taking any time to acknowledge they have released their responsibility from "seeing." Seeing the garbage needs to go out. Seeing the forms for school. Seeing the cat or dog food is getting low. Seeing the storage bin that needs to be put away. Seeing the birthday planning and family traditions. And it just keeps going.

One of the most worthwhile investments in self-care and a child-rearing is for both partners to understand the value emotional labor has for the entire family, and start talking about how the whole family can participate in providing those skills.

A great starting point are some questions you can answer together: What are your family values? And how does everyone participate in upholding those values?