Birth & Family Life
A blog about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding,
parenthood & everything in between...
parenthood & everything in between...
Pregnancy and exercise, the words don't really seem to fit together right?Wrong! You need to keep your body moving during your pregnancy and here are my top 4 ways to WORK IT OUT! Note: please talk to your care provider before adding or changing your exercise program.
1. Prenatal Yoga
OMG. I used to look forward to my weekly prenatal yoga sessions. Being with other women with gorgeous swelling bellies was always a way to catch up and be surrounded people who understood me. Our teacher had many great tips to share and always was helpful for adjusting us into more correct positions. Savasana was (and still is) my favourite position due to the stillness. I especially loved my prenatal yoga class when pregnant with baby number two. It was a time for me and me only. We've some listed Calgary prenatal yoga classes on our Resources page!
As the pregnancy weight increases, swimming allows your body to forget about gravity dragging down on your growing shape. Slow laps or prenatal water workouts are great for cardio. Check out the listings at the local pool to see if they have specialized prenatal classes or ask the instructors if they can modify them for you. And laps, just head to an open lap time and float away!
If you were a runner before pregnancy, you can probably be a runner for most of your pregnancy. Anyone, however, can be a walker. Head outside, count your steps, take the stairs; whatever gets you moving. My friend and I would walk the neighbourhood in the evening to catch up and focus on us. Outside, inside, up stairs or down, just do it!
4. Birth Boot Camp
I didn't have this program when I was pregnant, but lucky you!! Part of the Birth Boot Camp mandate is to help you to stay low risk and we have an exercise program within the course! Starting from week 2 and onward, you'll receive new stretches and exercises to incorporate into your daily routines straight from our advisory board! Have you heard of foam rolling? We'll show you how to massage yourself with a foam roller!
We start the second class in our series next Friday June 12 and can send you class 1 online to catch up; perfect for couples that are due in August, September or October! Can't make it? We offer private classes in your home or an online class!
What is your favourite way to exercise during pregnancy? Please share it below in the comment section!
With Love and Light,
The birth of my second child was an awesome moment; not only was she here and healthy, but she was my natural birth. I thought I had it all figured out with my first babe, but it wasn't until I met some wonderful new friends, my doula and several amazing books that I truly realized what my body was capable of doing. Birth Boot Camp is running a contest right now called Why I Loved My Natural Birth. The video with the most "thumbs up" on YouTube will win $100 towards gear, books or training.
I'd love to win and stock up on some extra prizes for my students! You can watch the video below and then make sure to give it a thumbs up!
You can view all the great entries here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWBimSYVrJcOzD8TQRYGgIJyN4wIyHOwx. Women and couples sharing why they loved their natural births with a wide variance of experiences of VBACs, HBACs, hospital births, home births, birth centre births and more! Warning, watching these videos may increase your oxytocin levels!
Your turn!! Leave a comment below about why you want a natural birth or why you loved yours!
With Love and Light,
Something happens when we see that first plus sign (or double line, depending on your test) and it seems like all our money goes to the new baby!Last post I talked about why it was important to save or set aside money to attend a childbirth class like our Birth Boot Camp. Now let's talk about HOW!
1. Stash the Cash
Before we talk about how, let's talk about where to put that extra savings! Open up a Tax-Free Savings account and call it your Baby Fund, or something a little more fun. A separate account like this will make you think twice before removing funds for something frivolous. Or go old school with a piggy bank that you need to beak open! Even a mason jar can help make it easy to keep the extra money separate.
Trade Lunch for SavingsIf you work outside of the home, it's easy to get into the habit of eating lunch or grabbing that snack or daily coffee at the place close by. Sadly, its an expensive habit! You can cut your costs by packing your lunch with leftovers or easy fixings. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your body will too as many to go type meals are high in salt and bad fats. You can increase your protein, good fats and good carbohydrates with your made at home (and with love) meals.
We love (happy) chickens in our home. In order to save money, we purchase whole chickens in bulk (10 at a time). Roasting a whole chicken is super easy and makes several meals worth of chicken all ready to go! Stir fries, sandwiches, fajitas, soups...just added the already cooked meat! Plus, make your own bone broth with the bones for extra health and savings!
2. Used is the New Cool
There are a number of items that you can pick up on the local Facebook swap groups, Kijiji or from friends that will save you big money and still be safe. Strollers, baby carriers, cloth diapers, clothing and toys can be found at great prices. Inspect EVERYTHING before you buy and be safe when meeting up with strangers. The one item I would never recommend you buy used is a car seat. But maternity clothes...head to the consignment shop! Baby & Me in Calgary has an awesome selection of consignment maternity for all sizes!
3. Less is More
There are so many cool gadgets and STUFF on the market for babies and new parents. Are these things really needed? Not really. Talk to your mommy and daddy friends about what stuff they actually used and scope out the minimal homes blogs for ideas.
4. Baby Clothing: Minimize
The strangest thing happens with baby clothing...they never wear half of what they have. Check out your local second hand kids store and see the numerous baby sets still with tags. Sure, you end up changing baby frequently (especially with poo-numis and disposable diapers), but expanding beyond the usual repertoire of a sleeper or onesie (weather dependent) is rare. Take the hand-me-downs your friends offer or hit up the second hand stores.
5. Nursery Games
Hold onto your hats, this is going to get real...what if you didn't set up a nursery? What if baby didn't have her own fancy and decorated room? What if you didn't have a change table or you set a used one up in your living area? What if there was no crib and you co-slept with baby? There are so many alternatives to the traditional and expensive baby's room. Pinterest has some amazing set-up ideas for inspiration to think outside the box.
6. Register with Meaning
Finally, take advantage of a registry for your babe, but do it with purpose. If you are going to use one, try one of the many online versions that you can input from many local stores the EXACT items you would like. Do not put silly or not truly needed stuff on it!! If you want to be taken seriously, use it properly. Direct people to use it and ask repeatedly that they do use it to select a gift if you have one. You can even add your birth class (select it early enough) to the registry for a great group purchase!
I hope these few suggestions will inspire you to save money for your new baby and ensure you are putting the cash down for the priority items. What items are a priority for you and your partner? How have you saved money creatively? Please share with us in the comments section as it may help someone!
With Love and Light,
Let's face it, during your pregnancy you will be spending money in ways that you never have before and the cost of a childbirth class may hold you back from taking one with your partner.
Prenatal Class Cost Breakdown
Our group classes cost $400 for 10 sessions in 2015, which makes for a $40 per couple date night investment. You can't go to the movies for $40. You receive a comprehensive 174+ page workbook that you as a couple use for your weekly homework and as a reference during go time. The Birth Boot Camp Chow Charts help to keep you on track with ensuring your protein, supplements, exercises and more are all kept on track to help you stay low risk during your pregnancy. The breastfeeding support video is yours to keep forever, great knowledge that you can access at anytime. Its easy to find the info you are looking for within it as well as gives loads of additional reference material and sources. Can't make it to all 10 classes? You have the option of taking up to 4 classes online including the birth videos!
You can check out the 2014 Birth Boot Camp birth information in another article; the 2013 stats on Birth Boot Camp births are pretty awesome (see image above or follow the link for details)! The World Health Organization believe the necessary cesarean birth rate to be around 10% and the actual rates are closer to 30%.
What Happens in a Class
And then there is the live class, a place to meet with other couples experiencing pregnancy at the same time, maybe the same issues or maybe completely different experiences! We share these experiences, we practice techniques from your toolbox of skills that you learn and watch a variety of births so you and your partner can see the awesome variation of normal. You get to hear and see births that happen in the hospital, at home and in birth centers. Loud and quiet women, supported and unsupported, vaginal and cesarean births, medicated and unmedicated births. Listen to a chiropractor talk about what they do and how they help, listen to a doula describe what she does for couples.
10 Weeks to Learn About Birth...More Than Just Birth
10 weeks sounds like a long time, it is. We aren't just covering birth in our classes, we are talking about taking charge of your health and your experiences. Every class involves a comfort measure, a relaxation technique, nutrition information and exercises. We talk about circumcision, babywearing, cloth diapers, what tests will be happening, the types of places you can birth and different care providers. We give you homework to discuss with your provider, help you make a birth plan that is helpful and most of all, we provide a safe space to ask questions and really talk to each other. The first year after a baby arrives is hard on the partners relationship, why not use the skills from the class then!
You can find all of our 2015 childbirth class options in Calgary here or if your interested in booking a private childbirth class, we offer that option as well.
If finding the money for the course is tricky, talk to me :) Let's find a way to get you in it. Add it to your registry, ask people to get together and purchase it for you and your partner, put your daily coffee money to better use. Our online natural childbirth option is lower price with the same great info and resources. Our next post will discuss preparing for baby and more ways to put money aside to take a childbirth class during pregnancy!
Why are you choosing to take a birth class? Please share your valuable insight in the comment sections!
With Love and Light,
Ready to talk about poop? We work really hard to take the fear out of birth, but what about the fear in the first postpartum poop? Halie Wolfe of Country Bumpkin Birth Services is a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and Doula in Abilene, Texas. She's compiled a hilarious and truthful article on postpartum poop with tips and truths from a number of Birth Boot Camp Instructors.
Why focus on postpartum poop?
Poop is a very natural part of our lives, preferably occurring on a daily basis and without and hassles. Add in a pregnancy and those poops starts changing. Due to your body working hard to grow a baby, you need to increase your water intake and make sure you're getting a good amount of fiber. Then there is the dreaded birth poop. You know, the one women are terrified of doing during pushing? Some women poop during pushing and IT'S OKAY! If anything, its helpful to show you are pushing well! After said birth, the next big poop moment is the first one. Whether vaginal or cesarean birth, stitches or not, it's a mind thing.
Warning TMI! I had an epidural with my first, in hospital for 2 days, and didn't poop for four days...I'm not sure if I was terrified (had 2nd degree tearing) about my stitches bursting or if it was the awful pain of being constipated and thinking what was to come out; probably a bit of both. I used stool softeners and it finally happened. With our second, she was non-medicated and I was home the same day with no tearing. I remember thinking if I had pushed a baby out with out medication, the pooping shouldn't be any worse. It happened much easier and faster with the use of a pooping stool (potty stool for my 2.5 year old). I was also eating my mother in law's food not hospital food...so many things made a difference.
So please, take a few minutes from your day and head over to read all the lovely information on postpartum pooping. Do you have a tip for making that poop easier and less stressful? Please leave it below in the comments!
With Love and Light,
Can I share something with you? As the New Year rolls in and 2015 begins, I want to remind you to take time for yourself. The excitement of a first time mom during her pregnancy can be contagious...and exhausting.
First Pregnancies are Special (Code for Quiet)
And not just because of the magic of growing a baby...with subsequent pregnancies you will get much, MUCH less downtime. Enjoy those quiet moments and nap chances when you are tired now! Spend quality time with your partner! Once your babe arrives, you will have an new normal that really may not leave a lot of downtime for the first few months (or years).
We tend to do things we practice really well, so why not practice self-care now? By the time baby comes along, you will be prepared to take time for self-care then...and believe me, you will need it!
Send Stress Packing
You cut back on coffee, say no to sushi and avoid deli meats, but what about stress? Are you jamming all the work you can in these last few months? Worried about all of the purchases you need for babe? Renovating the house to make the nursery perfect? STOP!
High stress can be dangerous for you and babe; take the time to relax and unwind. Take a long walk, visit your chiropractor (or massage therapist), relax in the bath, read your novel, practice yoga, meditate...whatever floats your boat and settles you down. Mindfullness (the practice of being aware of the present) has been a go-to for me in times of stress. Knowing how to de-stress yourself is powerful knowledge for you and your partner during pregnancy, in childbirth and postpartum. It will benefit you for years to come!
Eat Well....For Real
As you are reading this and gagging...I'm serious. Eating can become a nightmare in the first few months. The better health you and your gut are in before pregnancy, the better off you may be during pregnancy. Choose real food and never be hungry! Almonds, hard boiled eggs, leafy greens, bone broth, lentils, fruit and vegetables. Keep track of what you are eating so you can see if there are any patterns to your ills. Our Birth Boot Camp Field Manuals come with Chow Charts to help you make sure you are getting enough protein and the rest of your nutrients.
So please, take some time for yourself and your partner. Be okay with resting. Your world is about to turn upside down in the most amazing way, so make sure you prepare by taking "me time". If you don't learn to do it now, you really won't take the time after baby comes. I beg you, start the self-care now!
Let's share...what is your favourite way to practice self-care?? Please leave a comment below with you best tip!
With love and light,
Birth Boot Camp is a new kid on the block, especially in Canada (specifically Calgary as there is only one of us Canadian Birth Boot Camp Instructors) and I know there are questions.
Do childbirth classes even matter? Why are there so many types of childbirth classes offered? Why would I choose Birth Boot Camp?
Let's do this...let's talk about why!
Childbirth Classes ARE Important
Not only do childbirth classes give you great information and resources, they help to fill in the many gaps there are in the system. How many births have you attended prior to your pregnancy? How many positive birth stories have you heard? Do you know the history of childbirth in Canada and North America? Childbirth education is a great way to find out this history that so many of us are unsure of as well as provide a balanced viewpoint on birth.
History is important to recognize where we are coming from, but modern and up to date evidence based information is also key. Birth Boot Camp curriculum is reviewed and updated each year by their board to ensure Instructors are sharing relevant and current information with their students.
Labour skills are major sections within all childbirth classes, but there are other important topics that should be covered in detail as well. The importance of nutrition during pregnancy needs to be continued after birth to ensure momma and babe are getting their nutrient requirements. Relaxation techniques are helpful for dealing with the world of a newborn. Immediate postpartum and infant care knowledge including early parenting techniques before your babe's birth can start discussions and ease tensions.
Infant Care: What to do after baby comes!!
Cloth diapering, circumcision, babywearing and attached parenting are all topics we discuss and provide resources for you. Breastfeeding is covered in the class as well as through a 3 hour DVD that includes expert advice from an IBCLC, specific instructions on how to breastfeed, tips on how to properly latch and prevent nursing pain, how to know if your baby is getting enough milk, stories from moms, troubleshooting problems, info on returning to work and pumping your milk, ursing in public with confidence and more.
Rules? You make your own guidelines!
Many childbirth classes have rules and guidelines to follow. Birth Boot Camp is not a "method" program. We focus on comprehensive education (nutrition for staying low risk, provider and place of birth and how that affects the outcome of your birth, complete education on the risks and benefits of various interventions that may be offered to you and more). We give you many tools to cope effectively with your birth. Different things work for different women (and even the same woman in different births!), so we want you to have many tools in your toolkit to pull from if one isn't working. We show modern birth videos in each class, showcasing birth in various locations so you know what it looks like, today, wherever you choose to give birth.
Teamwork + Effort + Love = Family
Partner support is another big difference. Birth Boot Camp emphasizes partner involvement and provides direct suggestions for partners, but we don't expect or teach partners to coach a woman through her birth. A coach is an expert on something that he or she has participated in as a player. We teach couples to work as a team, and we give partners a set of comfort measures (one per class starting in class 2) that help them be actively involved in supporting the mother during birth, as she needs. We focus a great deal on relaxation as one of the most important elements in a satisfying birth and help couples learn how to do that together...these skills are helpful beyond childbirth.
A big thank you must go to Melek at birthblissfully.com for helping to provide clarity on this topic with the use of her words describing Birth Boot Camp.
Our Calgary live classes start January 9 with all Birth Boot Camp classes for 2015 posted on the Class Calendar page.
With love and light,
Breastfeeding Support & Challenges: The Milky Way Movie
UPDATE: Another screening of the movie is happening in Calgary on October 6 2015! Find out more details and purchase your ticket here: http://cbmg.ca/
Earlier this month, the Calgary Breastfeeding Matters Group screened a documentary called The Milky Way Movie. There were a collection of breastfeeding businesses and organizations on hand before the screening and a great panel discussion that followed the movie.
I was very impressed with this documentary. The last one I had seen on the topic left me saddened and unsure of how I could help the women with breastfeeding. The Milky Way left me excited to share with women that there are serious flaws in our systems and to not take the blame or feel shame if you did not breastfeed.
"Conflicting advice abounds, leaving new moms bewildered and wondering if they are doing it “right,” and often wanting to opt out entirely. Countering nearly a century of medical procedures that separated babies from their mothers and medical advice that informed women that their milk was not good enough, The Milky Way captures how mothers can access their inner knowledge and trust their own body’s wisdom, and why they should. Women’s stories, leading lactation professionals, archival footage, religious iconography, and formula advertisements, tell the story of how mothers relinquished authority to medical professionals, and succumbed to cultural pressure to forfeit their nourishing breasts in favor of a highly sexualized model." ~ The Milky Way
I found the movie inspiring. They talked about what other countries were doing, why it was working and how it could work in North America. There were discussions on root causes of why the number of women breastfeeding (in the US) was so low. Sadly, there is a lot of similarities with the US and Canada regarding breastfeeding rates. Granted we in Alberta (Alberta breastfeeding statistics) are not as low as the US, but there is much room for improvement.
The panel discussion after was so knowledgeable and covered many aspects of the population: mother, nurse, La Leche League (LLL) Leader, father, grandfather, lactation consultant...really...wow! Their thoughts on the film were aligned with many of my own as well as adding other great thoughts that my brain lacked the ability to think of on my own.
The sad part is only a handful of people got to see this great movie and experience the panel discussion. We have a big community here in Calgary, but how to bring everyone together? I've already contacted the filmmakers regarding obtaining a licenced copy to share with my Birth Boot Camp students. I want people to see this movie BEFORE baby comes along, before they experience the set backs set-up along the way so that they are prepared. Breastfeeding has become this difficult experience. Its tricky. And its not because of the parents not wanting to breastfeed.
There are many system failures in place. How can we remove them?
We need to share our stories!Here's a brief recap of my own personal experience. Both of my babies were born in Fort McMurray where there are 3 choices for birth: in hospital with a very small number of OBs, travel to Edmonton or Calgary a minimum of 1 month before the EDD for midwife care, or an unassisted home birth. Not great choices to say the least. I had a rough time with our first daughter. After a medicated birth and a terrible hospital experience, she was readmitted to the hospital on day 5 due to jaundice. She was having great difficulties eating and staying awake. The nurse in the ER took her and fed her a bottle of formula telling me that I was starving her. I was a failure as her mother by day 5 in my mind. They put her under the lights and I was told to supplement her with formula then to pump and feed her my milk through the bottle. I had a lot of milk yet I was told I could try breastfeeding her only every third feeding. I was so disappointed in myself but I didn't see how giving her formula would be helpful. If I was pumping, she'd be feeding from the same bottle, so she should be able to drink it just as easily right? Her nurse was wonderful and encouraged me to not feed formula but to breastfeed and bottle feed the breast milk I pumped. I pumped while she slept in her warm, blue bed as her numbers decreased throughout the night. After 18 hours, her bilirubin level was normal and we were released. I told the doctor what we had done and she was impressed.
Our troubles weren't over as I seemed to have an abundant supply and there was not great access to help. I used a nipple shield for several weeks and eventually she started to feed without it. She was a pro by 3 months and I have no idea what I would have done if breastfeeding hadn't work out for us. I struggled with PPD and was diagnosed around 6 months with several forms of treatment given. We chose not to cosleep for 6 months, thinking that's not what everyone else is doing. It was awful, so many nights up with a crying baby until we brought her into our bed and we could finally all sleep. I chose to stop breastfeeding at 16 months as I felt this immense pressure that she didn't need it and was too old. We were both brokenhearted for many months and I still regret it.
We do what we know and can only make changes once we know more. With knowledge comes the power to do better!
Cut to baby number 2. I had a wonderful doula and took classes from the local doula association. We had a simple and quick unmedicated birth with only a few hours in the hospital. We went home to the comfort of our bed, coslept from the start and I wore her for many hours everyday. She had breastfed within 30 minutes of her birth and we got to enjoy her company for an hour uninterrupted after the placenta was birthed. We breastfed until 24 months when I chose to stop as I needed a different medication that was not safe for breastfeeding. It was a hard choice but one I made willingly and consciously with my family doctor. Her story is so simple in comparison to her sister's story.
Birthing Magazine is an Alberta magazine that is is packed with birth stories, research articles, news and events, resource information and much more. The Winter 2015 edition has a lovely story in it this month about one woman's challenges with her milk and her struggle to love herself and her milk. Pick up a copy, read it and then share with a friend!
What was your breastfeeding experience? Positive? Negative? Sharing our stories, especially our positive ones can help those feeling left without support. Have you written your letter to your MLA? Join MCAN on Facebook or MCAN on Twitter if you haven't already to see how you can be involved!
Why is Maternity Care in Alberta in the news?
On November 5, a very important report was released by the MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta Network (MCAN). MCAN advocates for Alberta women’s rights to make informed choices and have equal access to publicly funded, quality maternity care of their choosing in their community (whether provided by midwives, physicians or obstetricians).MCAN conducted an online survey garnering over 1200 responses, organized and ran 9 focus groups as part of our listening campaign, and held our annual Face-to-Face with MCAN's Leadership and stakeholders.
What was the outcome?
The highlighted portion of report’s Executive Summary reads:
The MaternityCare Consumers of Alberta Network (MCAN) conducted a Listening Campaign from April through August, 2014, involving almost 1,400 Albertans and found that:
Alberta spoke and maternity care in Alberta is in crisis. Women are unable to choose the providers they wish as well as where they want to birth freely. Rural Albertans are much more limited services than urban although all of our systems are under stress. Without more low-risk care providers, more women are forced to see high-risk caregivers who are then carrying much fuller patient loads. Low risk pregnancies under the care of high-risk providers lead to higher numbers of interventions during pregnancy and labour.
What can you do?
Read the full report!! Respond to the report! Share your thoughts, experiences and solutions with your MLA. MCAN has done a phenomenal job making it very easy for you to do this. On their website is a template letter as well as a link to find who your MLA is if you don’t know. Send in your emails and letters now while the report is fresh. CC our Premiere, our Minster of Health and MCAN.
Join the MCAN Facebook group and follow @MCAN_Tweets #MCAN on Twitter.
Share your story!
There are many amazing care givers in all fields of maternity care as well as some that are not. I personally gave birth to both of my children in Fort McMurray. I had no choice of care provider either time and both resulted with an OBGYN for prenatal care. I spent a minimum of an hour to sometimes 3 hours waiting for my prenatal appointments. Both of my babies were delivered by wonderful nurses as the on-call OBGYNs was either not at the hospital or busy. I spent a wonderful hour with my second before any procedures on my newborn occurred. Sadly, it was spoiled somewhat by an out of town doctor yelling at my nurse because he missed the birth of the baby as I birthed the placenta. With our first baby, we had no knowledge of doulas. We took a basic Alberta Health childbirth class. I knew what an epidural was, but I had no idea about what went along with one. I struggled with breastfeeding our first. I struggled with post partum depression (PPD) for over a year. A public health nurse was helpful in identifying the PPD, but not until about 6 months. I did receive lovely treatment. Our second birth was so different as we empowered ourselves with knowledge from outside of the health system. We took back control. My only regret is not being part of a mother focused prenatal care system.
In order for change to happen, for a mother focused care system to become part of the foundation of our health care system, we need to speak out. We need to ask for change. We need to ask for help. The more support from Albertans that MCAN receives, the more powerful their voice becomes. We each have a voice, let’s use it in unison for change.
We'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you sent a letter? What was your response to the report? Please comment below and continue the conversation!
With Love and Light,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.