What your baby wants you to know…

what a baby needs

Dear parents of mine,

Thanks to brainwave to text technology, I’ve been give a chance to write down some of the things babies like myself really want you to know.

First of all, we have no idea what year it is or where we are. That comes later. To us, at the time of birth we only know a few things–we need mommy there or we could die, we need to stay warm, we need to start nursing really soon, and we can manage to find the breast on our own, if we have to.

Second, despite many years of people saying otherwise, we’re a lot like adults in many ways–only, we’re BETTER. We don’t lie. We don’t cheat. We can’t manipulate (no matter what anyone says). Our brains, for most of the first year, are designed to make sure we live. and as babies, survival means being around mom, it means being fed when we are hungry AND thirsty, and it means sleeping close to mom help us learn healthy sleep habits.

And you know all of those things you had people buy you before I was born? The ones that are still piled up in the living room? I really hate the ones meant to keep me away from you, my parents or other caregivers, for a really long time. I am a carry mammal. I need to be carried to make sure my brain develops correctly. I need to be carried because, unlike horse babies, I can’t walk right after birth.  So all those “must have” baby items are a scam. They aren’t for me. They make millions of dollars for multinational corporations. (Look at my awesome vocab. Ivy League, here I come!)

Then, we need to talk about eating. I mean, come ON! Do you like to have to swallow your entire cup of coffee while lying perfectly horizontal? Do YOU like it  if someone tickles your lips with a sandwich and then shoves it in to you mouth? Or, let’s say you’re thirsty, you ask for a drink of water, and you boss tells you to wait another two hours. Not cool, right? Then why are these things OK for me? I’m going to do the best when I’m comfortable. relaxed, and it’s on my own time. Hey, you get to eat or drink when you want! Just because I can’t walk to the fridge doesn’t mean I don’t have needs.

And, finally, some times I have bad days. Some times, when I just start to crawl, I may fall down. You’ll laugh, but my shoulder will stay sore for awhile. Or sometimes I have a headache, which can lead to sleeping and breastfeeding issues. I can feel pain, and it affects everything I do. Please, I need you to pay attention to me when I’m having an off day. Help me fix it. I promise, I’m not trying to piss you off.

You are good parents, really. There are a lot of people who have made millions and millions of dollars on manipulating parents and preying on their fear. But if you just think for a moment how YOU would react if you were in my onesie–my cries may make more sense.

I love you. <BURP>

-Your baby

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Childbirth Education: Is it still relevant?

Childbirth classes Twin Cities
Wisdom from a dad about vaginal exams. He’s so right!

It’s no secret childbirth education class attendance has gone down in the last decade. The reasons are a combination of many things:

  • Hospitals cutting back on options for families as cost controls put pressure on small departments
  • Reliance on online resources by families
  • Doctors and Midwives actively discouraging patients from taking classes
  • The rapid inflation of class prices
  • Too many years of big, impersonal, boring classes that leave parents unlikely to recommend childbirth classes to others
  • The resurgence of named “method” classes

Again, as one of the few area independent educators (only?) who started my career teaching for hospital programs, I’ve had a very different experience with the role of childbirth education in the community. I’ve watched the attitudes flip, where moms are scared to take classes, or think the information is so obvious that they don’t need to spend any time in a classroom. And as much as I love doulas and I know they are evidence-based, there is a limitation to both the training and scope of practice that means that doulas aren’t meant to take the place of education. Once parents actually GET into my classes, there are a few things they are all pleasantly surprised about:

First, the ability to ASK questions and discuss a wide spectrum of topics with an educator who is neutral and can address things like evidence-based care and best practices. Asking those questions on social media and message boards don’t help parents get facts….just a lot of opinions, which can make it all seem relative, useless, and a waste of time to figure out. Instead, I find that when classes are run in a way that allows for conversation about topics between parents, with the guide of an educator, help parents sort through the opinions, and put other ideas and experiences into context.

Second, good classes are structured in a way that leads to many “AHA!” moments for parents that can’t happen when trying to get information from a book or online. Those moments are what then spurs other questions, helps pull together the larger picture, and inspires confidence. Part of what I LOVE as an educator is when I hear parents coming up with gems of wisdom that prove to me that the process of sitting through 8, 12, or 15 hours of classes is valuable, helpful, and worthwhile.

Third, and I’ve had this conversation with educators who have been teaching longer than I have– what we’re missing in the Twin Cities is the importance of having families from all walks of life and circumstances sitting in the same room. As is the case with so many things, the “boutiquification” of pregnancy and birth in everything from strollers to childbirth education is further separating us from each other, leading to a more fractured, less inclusive, less diverse experience. That leads to an echo chamber of sorts, and parents don’t have a chance to hear that there are other ways to see things, and other families might be facing different situations.

Finally, I want to point out that every doctor and midwife SHOULD be supporting the process of evidence-based childbirth education. Evidence-based. NOT outcome-based. If we are going to reverse current trends in the US of poorer outcomes for mothers and babies over the last 10 years, we can ONLY do that by bringing childbirth education attendance rates back up. It’s so very hard to put into words, but I’ll try: Even with the best care providers, there’s a limitation to the amount of time they can put into educating and giving resources to families. As a childbirth educator, my role in the community isn’t just to educate, but to help encourage families to have healthier pregnancies, find providers appropriate to their situations, and catching a myriad of things that otherwise fall through the cracks. It might not make sense, but I know my BabyLove families get it.

I’ll be headed to Kansas City next month to be inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators. I’m honored to join a group of smart, caring, passionate women (maybe men? Hmmm…) who feel as strongly about the importance of childbirth education as I do. It’s not flashy, it’s not trendy, but I know that childbirth education is as vital in 2014 as it was when Elizabeth Bing first started teaching in the 1950s. And hopefully, class attendance will reverse trends.

That’s what I have today.

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

The real co-sleeping dangers

dangerous baby sleep

Today is Friday. I don’t usually blog on a Friday, but I saw something this morning on social media that was so blatantly dangerous and disturbing, I needed to speak up.

If I had dug around my box of old family pictures for awhile, I could have posted, for #ThrowbackThursday, one picture that still upsets me to this day: it’s a picture of my dad, sleeping on the couch, with me as a teeny tiny baby on his chest. It’s not like he knew it was dangerous, but as I always tell parents a) He did the best he could with the information he had and b) Now we know better, so we do better.

So, here’s the thing: While maybe their message is well meaning, when the “never sleep with your baby”, “back to sleep”, and “don’t breastfeed while drunk” messages get pushed and pushed and pushed by the powers that be, it discourages and blurs the lines about what is safe and what really isn’t. If you pay attention to the headlines, you’ll notice that two things ARE truly leading to the deaths of babies: Parents sleeping with babies in couches and chairs, and parents falling asleep on a couches or chairs while drunk or on drugs (legal or not).

What, really then, is dangerous?

Never fall asleep with your baby while on a couch or in a chair

Never share bed space with your baby if you smoke

Do not fall asleep with your baby if you’ve been drinking

Do not share sleep space with your baby if you are on any kind of sleep medication

Waterbeds and sagging mattresses are very dangerous sleep spaces for babies

Do not share sleep space with your baby on a bed that is pushed up against a wall

Do not allow pets or older children to share the same sleep space with you and your baby

If you want a good handout to share with patients or family members, the always-amazing Kathleen Kendall-Tackett has a PDF on her website on safe sleep. She also has this really great video you can watch:

The reality is, it’s not uncommon for mothers to fall asleep while breastfeeding at 3am. They are exhausted, eyelids droop shut, and….zzzzzzzzz.  It happens. BUT…if you’re going to fall asleep while nursing, make sure that if it does happen it’s in the safest situation possible: On a firm mattress without heavy blankets, no pets, that your hair is tied back, and you are not under the influence of anything.

Listen, accidents can and do happen. It’s imperative that parents make safe choices for their kids. While so much of parenting seems like you can just make whatever choice you want, there are a few things that are not negotiable:

Always use properly-installed car seats and seat belts for your child, and make sure whatever method of child restraint you are using is appropriate for his or her age, height, and developmental stage.

Lock up your guns if you have young children. (Yeah, I went there. I don’t care.)

Don’t leave a baby or toddler unattended in the bathtub or around pools, lakes, or rivers.

Don’t put infant car seats on top of shopping carts, restaurant high chairs, chairs, tables, or anything else that’s not the car seat base in the car or compatible stroller.

Don’t parent while very intoxicated.

Don’t sleep with your baby on the couch.

Don’t sleep with your baby while sitting in the chair.

OK. Sorry. Soapbox done. Carry on, and make safe choices. Your child’s life depends on it.

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

BabyLove Featured Family, Part 2: Heather, Brandon, Baby F, and Brother B

Johnson FF

Today we bring you the second half of this family’s thoughts on adding baby number 2 into the mix.  Brandon was so kind to share his thoughts; if you missed Heather’s thoughts on Monday, make sure to check them out here.  

  • So far, what has been your biggest joy in becoming a father again?

It has been a lot of fun to see our 2 year old son interact with his new sister and watch him embrace the big brother role. It was really exciting and surprising for Heather and I to find out that it was a girl this time around!

  • What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your baby was born?

Sleep:) It has been challenging to adjust to two little ones who don’t always want to sleep. In addition, I try to help out Heather during the nightly feedings/changes and still get enough sleep to make it through the workday at the office. Our main focus is to maintain our son’s nightly routine and so far that has been a success.

  • How has your relationship with your wife changed since the birth of your 2nd child?

Our daughter’s birth has helped us communicate better and has helped us to cherish all these moments – our son is 2 already and the past few years can seem like a blur at times… We try to spend as much family time (reading books, playing with toys, going for a walk, etc.) as possible on weekends and after work on weekdays. We have found that Boston seems to have adjusted well to his new sister and I think a big part of that came from Heather and I continuing our family meals (when possible) and him seeing us both interacting with him similarly to when it was only the three of us.

  • Did you feel that your childbirth classes prepared you for this birth? How so?

Absolutely, the classes were a great refresher for us. In addition, we learned a lot about water birth – something that we had planned to do for the second birth but had not done for the first. The classes also helped us realize the things that happened at our first birth that we really wanted or really didn’t want to happen at the second.

  • What is one thing you think all parents should know before the birth of their baby?

Everyone will give you advice or use the ‘we did it this way and it worked out ok’ lines, but trust your instincts. We have done things (elimination communication, water birth, co-sleeping, etc.) that our parents, family, and/or friends have disagreed with or questioned us about, but having done a lot of research and seeing the positive results with Boston we feel confident that we are doing what’s best for our family. Knowledge is key, so research and don’t just assume that a ‘fact’ is accurate – there are many different parenting styles and a lot of ‘misinformation’ online and in the media. Lastly, remember at the end of the day that you and your spouse are on the ‘same team’ and striving for the same goal(s) – lack of sleep and other stressors can cause frustration between you and your spouse, but keep your focus on what’s really important and how you can communicate and work together to be the best parents that you can be!

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

BabyLove’s Featured Family: Donncuan, Kelsey and Charles (Part Two)

On Monday, we kicked off our new blog feature where we highlight various BabyLove families with an interview with new mom Kelsey.  Today we get a dad’s perspective from Donncuan!

So, far, what has been your biggest joy in becoming a father?

Watching my son grow and develop. I never thought that seeing him hold his head up on his own, or hearing him make all those funny baby squeals would make me so proud. It is a joy just to see him smile every day.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your baby was born?

Learning what cry means what was quite a challenge. He would cry, and I would get so frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Of course, it was always the last thing I had done. If I had just fed him, he needed to be fed again. If I had just changed him, he needed to be changed again. Now I can tell what is bothering him, and he hardly ever cries any more. I suppose that means he finally has me trained J

How has your relationship with your partner changed since the birth of your baby?

I think we are more loving to each other now than before, in some ways. We both understand that it is a challenge to take care of our boy, so we both try extra hard to show our love and appreciation of the other. Whether it’s taking turns making dinner, or just holding him so the other can take a shower.

Did you feel that your childbirth classes prepared you for birth? How so?

In some ways, yes. Having a general overview of what was going to happen was very helpful, as well as having some tools and tricks to try to help my wife with labor. In the end, the best thing I could do to help my wife was just being there and focusing on her and the baby. However, I don’t think that if I had 10 years of training that I would be totally “prepared”. In my experience, our son’s birth was both scary and exciting, but I was never afraid for his, or my wife’s, health, and I credit that to our child birth classes and our midwife.

What is one thing you think all parents should know before the birth of their baby?

Don’t make any other plans for a few weeks! I thought that we would have our baby, and that I would go stir crazy sitting around the house watching him. It’s not like that at all. You’ll find yourself staring at him, feeding him, changing him, and when you look at the clock next, its 11:30 at night. Have a good support structure “just in case” you need a few hours break. Also, for the Mom’s, you are not a bad mother if your baby cries, or you get angry, or frustrated. You will spend days second guessing your decisions, from immunizations, to feeding times, to what kind of diapers to buy. Make a decision and go with it, the only thing that really matters is the love you have for your child. Babies don’t hold grudges. They aren’t going to hate you later in life because you accidentally nick them when you are trimming their toenails. Fill your baby’s heart with love and the little stuff will work itself out.

IMG_5907

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.