Why You Need a Birth Plan

Image via Flickr by Jason Lander used under a creative Commons Lisence
Image via Flickr by Jason Lander used under a Creative Commons License

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birth Plan, or Birth Preferences, originally seen as an important tool for families to communicate their ideas about birth, often comes under fire from the nurses, OBs, and midwives who end up having to read them.  Parents tell me all the time that they get told specifically NOT to write a birth plan. I say that’s crazy and horrible advice.  Birth plans are useful for everyone.  A well-written and well thought-out plan can serve many purposes. Granted, they can be very poorly done as well. So before I explain why birth plans are a crucial part of planning for birth, let me first explain why they can be so hated, too.

First, I don’t think parents truly expect that they can dictate things like how long their labor will last, how long they plan on pushing, the size of the baby, or any of those things that clearly can’t be changed by anyone.  Secondly, I do realize that a lot of families will go online and find some of the “Birth Plan Generators” where they can just check off a bunch of things without giving much thought to whether or not those things even apply to the place where they are planning to give birth. Finally, some birth plans can end up being really long and full of useless information.  The worst birth plan I ever saw was about 11 pages long, filled with information such as the names, ages and personalities of the mom’s 3 dogs, complete with pictures of the dogs and her entire family.  The irony with this was that the only actual mention of birth was one line:”I want an epidural.” As anyone who has taken a good childbirth class knows, an epidural doesn’t mean you don;t have to think about your birth.

So then, what are the good reasons to write a birth plan?

The process of writing a birth plan can help families frame their expectations for how they’d like others to respect their personal birth experience.  Things like the lighting, what mom would like to wear, perhaps certain religious preferences, and music all are appropriate to list. No matter what happens, if interventions are used, ALL of these preferences can and should be respected. If a caregiver balks at any of them, I’d suggest that the family consider finding a more respectful place in which to give birth.

Also, the process of actually writing a birth plan can be a great exercise for the families to start thinking more about the actual day of birth.  Thinking through all of the choices and options is a wonderful way to actually focus on birth, and not just the baby.  I’ve found that the process of writing a birth plan helps parents mentally place themselves at the birth place, imagining who will be there, and even thinking about certain logistics, like what to bring and who to notify.  Many families (especially if they haven’t taken any childbirth classes, or took really awful scary ones) find that they’d rather avoid the birth plan process so they don’t have to start thinking about the actual birth. The answer then is to find some help- hire a doula, take classes, or seek out a therapist to get good, confidence-building information, get support, or to get to the root of any fears.

If there are special religious preferences that your families has and there are specific traditions or rituals that are very important to you, a birth plans can be the way these are explained to and communicated to everyone involved in the birth.  Hospitals are required by law to respect and make allowances for cultural and religious preferences. And while I’d usually say that birth plans should be one page maximum, if there are extensive rituals and traditions that need to be explained, then the birth plan should be as long as it needs to be.

Finally, a well-written birth plan is just a great tool for setting a tone, expectations on the level of respect, and for explaining any specific details that may be pertinent to an individual’s situation.  Things like previous births, who is allowed into the birth room, and any medical conditions should go in the introduction.  These details paint picture of who you are and will help good staff do a better job of taking care of you. If you have a care provider who talks you out of even the most reasonable requests, then you really need to rethink your choice of a care provider.

At BabyLove, we have a workshop to help you write a good birth plan. Held every other month, it’s time to learn what can go into a plan, and we give families to to work on crafting and refining a helpful, positive birth plan with our help. Find out more about the class and register for workshop by visiting our website.

Have you found a birth plan to be useful? Share in the comments below!

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.

Buying Baby Items at Garage Sales

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Image credit: Mark Turnauckas via Flickr (used under Creative Commons)

Update 5/15/14: This is from last year, and I’ve already seen more used car seats that I would like to see. Why, people?!??!? 

One other disturbing trend I’ve found out about is that some kids’ consignment sales are claiming that the used car seats that they sell are “certified” to be safe. There is no such legitimate designation. PLEASE don’t think that those seats are a good choice. OK. So read on:

Now that the sun is out, the snow is mostly melted, temps are rising, it’s finally time for garage sale season.  Garage sales are a great way to save money on items for you baby or child, for sure!  There are some things you should keep in mind when out shopping to make sure that you’re saving money, not wasting it.

  • Don’t buy car seats at garage sales- I don’t know what else to say.  It’s pretty straightforward.  This is the ONE absolutely, completely necessary baby item you’ll need, but also the most critical to your child’s life.  Save money on everything else, but not this.
  • Make sure the item you’re buying wasn’t recalled- When you are out and about, it’s impossible to keep in mind all of the strollers, high chairs, and other baby items that have been recalled over the years.  There are a couple of ways to check on the status of an item if you have your smart phone with you.  Recall.gov keeps track of every recall issued.  They have a mobile app that you can download (though it looks like it’s only for Android phones), but they also have a mobile site that you can access easily on the go. Find more info on their website.
  • Be realistic on your ability to properly clean a product- I’ve been a mom for almost 8 years, and some things are just really hard to clean.  If it’s fabric, make sure that you can remove it completely, otherwise you’re just stuck spot-treating any dirt.  And plastic seems like it would be easy to clean, but some things have too many corners to clean. If it’s totally grungy, just pass on it.
  • Avoid drop-side cribs- Drop side cribs have (mostly) been illegal to sell or resell for a little while.  If they have been repaired and the drop side is in a locked, fixed position, then they are fine (because the recall has been fixed). Again, check out the info above to make sure the recall has been repaired.
  • Avoid stains- Is this obvious? Maybe.  I’ve seen so many pins, been told so many things to try on stubborn stains, but the truth is, baby stains are hard to get out.  There will be more onesies. Pass on stained clothes, no matter how cute.
  • Make sure the cloth diapers will work- Before buying used cloth diapers, ask if they used diaper cream, what kind of detergent they used, and, perhaps most importantly, why they stopped using them.  If their baby just grew out of them, that’s fine.  But if they stopped using them because the diapers leaked, you might want to pass.  You can try stripping the diapers, but that’s not guaranteed to work.

Happy spring and enjoy the garage sale hunt!

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.

Self-care is just REALLY hard

Last week, while chatting with a newly-made friend on twitter, she admitted that she’s starting to get a little burned out as a mother.  I asked her about what she’s doing for self-care, and she gave the usual answer we all probably would give if asked: Not enough.  The barriers for not taking the time to take care of ourselves as mothers are universal: the kids come first, not enough time, not enough family members to assist with child care, not enough money, not enough energy…..

Ugh.

I’m right there with all of you, completely.  I’m awful at self-care.  My stress level is always high, I’ve always got more to do than hours in the day, and juggling the kids and their activities and needs during their waking hours is about as much as I can manage.  Right now, though I have two saving graces: First, I’ve started working with a health coach to bring down my stress level, and she keeps me accountable.  Second, I am blessed with a husband who is supportive of me taking the time I need (when I can find it) to take care of myself.  But even with that, it’s still hard.  Here are some things I can suggest to help with it:

1) Start small- My one goal is to read a novel for 20-30 minutes every day.  I can manage that. To make it even more stress-free, I found some books in the dollar section at the local thrift store. The sad truth is, I can not be trusted with library books.  I always end up with fines. So, rather than stress about fines, cheap books I can keep are my best option.

2) Make it part of the routine-  I am a person who thinks that having a routine is essential for my sanity and the kids’ sanity.  It was essential when I was a working mom because without it, it would have been to easy to always be late for work.  Now that both kids are in some amount of school, it’s essential to make sure they are on time and I keep my sanity. Sneaking in that small block of decompression is critical.  And, just like everything else, repetition is the key to creating a habit.  The tricky part, though, is avoiding the temptation to stray from the commitment   Like right now?  I should be doing my “me-time”; instead, I’m blogging about it.

3) Connecting with others- Networking has become my main source of social interaction outside of classes.  That can be fine, but sometimes it ends up being 2 hours of behaving like a walking, talking commercial. (Not always, but sometimes.) Finding other women to connect with is a goal in 2013.  More specifically, women who have other interests outside of mine–because being in the echo chamber of the birth world has it’s limits.  But, mamas? Be brave. Branch out. You’ll be surprised how so many other moms are aching for that connection.

4) Slow down- There are a million things to do on any given day.  There are events, concerts, sporting events, museums to visit, so many play groups and events, TWO zoos–and oh my goodness it’s just too much.  Yes, there are a lot of things you COULD do, but there has to be a risk/benefit calculation.  There’s a fine line between doing stuff just for the sake of being busy and doing, and doing so much that it becomes stressful for you, for your kids, and it becomes draining, not invigorating.   And you know what?  You don’t suck as a parent if you can’t make it to everything or be everywhere.  Slow down. Just let your kids have some down time, too.  You will all feel better.  It will involve saying no, which I get is hard to say, but being a parent means drawing lines sometimes. But sometimes…

5) Say Yes- And here, I am calling all fellow introverts.  If you are like me and just would rather stay home rather than accept an invitation where you might not know everyone else there, it’s totally OK to have those feelings.  Maybe the last thing you went to was no fun.  But you know what?  If you can, be brave and accept that invite.  You might still want to hide in the bathroom some of all of the time, but even that tiny bit of effort is you trying to take care of you.  For that, you get a gold star.

So, BabyLove families– any of this ring true? Thoughts? Need a place for that self- care? Come hang with me on April 27th for our Craft Night. It’s looking like it’ll be loads of fun!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

 

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.

Introducing: The Birth Communication Workshop

Birth Communication Workshop

Earlier last week, we sent out a survey asking families who had taken our classes for their opinions on various aspects of our classes.  We did allow room for them to tell us what other classes they wished we had.  Some of the suggestions are still being considered, but one suggestion we thought was so fantastic that we got it on the schedule right away.  So, we are pleased to announce that we will now be holding a Birth Communications Workshop on Saturday afternoons, held every other month on the same days as our Labor Skills Intensive Workshop.

The class description reads:

Filling out a birth plan online isn’t the the only thing you need to do to get the birth you want. So, although you can’t plan exactly how your birth will go, you can be prepared to communicate effectively and respectfully with your care provider. We will have time during this workshop to start on a well-written, clear, and effective birth plan. We will also discuss the variety of scenarios that might require extra communication, such as preterm birth, NICU stays, planned cesareans, and hospital transfers for home births. We will also talk about what to do if your care provider is not open to your specific birth preferences.  Class fee includes all materials and handouts and covers the attendance of the mother and one support person (which can be a husband, partner, family member, or friend). If you wish to bring a laptop with you to write your birth plan on, that is encouraged as well.

While it’s true that we do cover birth plans and Informed Consent/ Refusal in our Lamaze classes, we recognize that there are families who wish to have more help in getting prepared to communicate with the doctors or midwives, and get more understanding on how best to communicate with their various caregivers.  Our goal is to help families get the information they need to make decisions and to find their own voices, not to tell them what they should do (which is true of all of our classes).  And when very unexpected circumstances arise, they will be prepared to work with professionals and be involved in the decision-making process, which is a good life skill in general.

 

We’ve decided to go ahead and launch the first date on April 20th.  For the full list of dates and to register, visit the registration section of our website.  Sign up soon!

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.

Resources to pick a care provder

If you are newly pregnant or pregnant and still mulling over your options for birth place and care providers, there are some resources you can use to help think about where you will have your baby (or babies) and who will be there.

For the kind of care provider:

Choosing a Caregiver from Childbirth Connection – discusses the different types of providers and what questions to ask when finding a provider

Questions to Ask Your Care Provider from Lamaze

Changing your Care Provider from Mother’s Advocate

Minnesota OB Clinic Cesarean Rates- scroll to page 192 for the list of clinics and their rates

The Midwives Model of Care

For the place of birth:

Choosing a Place of Birth from Childbirth Connection- Discusses the different options and things to consider

Minnesota Hospital Cesarean Rate from Cesereanrates.com

Choosing a place of birth for a VBAC – The NIH statement and availability of emergency care

 

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.

Small Talk– The easiest way to learn about sign language for your baby and toddler

I signed with both of my children from about the age of 6 months on.  I had learned about infant and toddler signing when I was an assistant teacher in a toddler room 10 years ago, and I loved using it as a communication tool with both of my kids.  Both of them were able to communicate with me before they had the vocal ability to do so, and I will still sign with my oldest if we need to communicate discretely.

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We were very excited to have the chance to bring Susan C. Hagel, MS, CTRS (above) and creator of Small Talk to our space for classes.  She has been teaching for over 30 years and has offered Small Talk baby sign language classes for the last 12 years. The class in January was the first time she had taught in the South metro ever, so we were excited to have her.  I attended the class, and was surprised at what I learned. Some major take aways:

  • The parents need to be the primary teacher of signs: Some parents are starting to rely on DVDs to teach their children signs.  However, signing is a communication tool, and if a baby or toddler is going to learn how to use the signs to convey ideas and feelings with a caregiver, they need to learn and practice with their caregiver.
  • Susan did a great job of helping tell the parents how to best start signing with their babies based on their ages.  This underscores how very helpful in-person classes can be; the information can be tailored to everyone’s needs and everyone has a chance to ask the questions that apply to their own situation.
  • Some of those signs are confusing, and it’s immensely helpful to have an expert show the sign, explain how it’s done and even explain how you can remember what the sign is.  Even a month later, I still remember the sign for grape, something I did not know before!
  • The book Susan gives with her class has around 60 signs; one of the most important things I learned what how to introduce signing, with what sign, and when to introduce more signs.  I know looking at books with a bunch of signs can be overwhelming, so getting expert advice on starting off hopefully will make the process easier and less frustrating for everyone involved.

The next Small Talk class at BabyLove is next month.  For more information and to register, check out the class page on our website.

Happy signing!

 

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.

5 Breastfeeding Issues Your Care Provider Might Miss

Class at BabyLoveI’m always saddened and amazed how many moms didn’t met their breastfeeding goals because the people they trusted to help them didn’t have the knowledge or skills to actually help solve breastfeeding problems.  Breastfeeding is an interesting thing; there are factors for both mom and baby that can make breastfeeding a challenge, and some of the things that come up are not known about by the doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and even lactation consultants that mothers rely on in the early days of breastfeeding.  The impulse is usually to treat the symptoms, but not the underlying cause.

If you think that you or your baby might be dealing with one of these issues, please find a provider who is familiar with the problem and discuss it with him or her.  I’m writing this for educational purposes only, and it is not meant to replace medical advice.

1) Tongue tie and lip tie

OK. This is one thing that we know happens, but there’s still way too many car providers TOTALLY in the dark about the condition.  With tongue time, the latch can look perfect, but the frenulum (the piece of skin under baby’s tongue) is too tight or too ling and does not allow baby to stick out his or her tongue all the way, making breastfeeding difficult for baby and painful for mom. Left untreated, a tongue tie can lead to many issues in adults, including speech impediments, migraines, and, this doctor thinks there might be a link to sleep apnea.  If I can get on my soapbox for a second, assessment for tongue and lip tie needs to be a part of the normal newborn assessment RIGHT AFTER BIRTH; if there’s a problem, it can be corrected swiftly and everyone will be happy.  You can find more information and resources here, but by FAR the best thing that I’ve found for parents (and care providers who aren’t in the know) is this fun little e-book. It has pictures and talks about why and how to have tongue and lip ties addressed.

2) Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)

When we talk to moms about breastfeeding, we talk about the Oxytocin and the Prolactin that is produced and the feeling of love and bonding that happen as a result of  these hormones.  For some moms, though, the act of breastfeeding can lead to feeling of sadness, anxiety, or other negative emotions during the milk ejection (aka “letdown”) part of the breastfeeding process. So while the breastfeeding is supposed to be a positive experience, moms with D-MER have a negative experience every time they feed their babies.  Fortunately, there are treatments for D-MER.  One of my favorite resources for information on D-MER and treatments is D-MER.org.  They have treatments, resources, and even links to Facebook groups for mothers who are looking for information and support.

3) Thyroid Problems

Thyroid and other endocrine issues can cause a whole list of issues, but they also can lead to low supply.  My copy of The Breastfeeding Answer Book states that about 17% of mothers have a thyroid issue that affects supply (p.567) They can even arise after birth in moms who don’t have a history of thyroid issues.  Whenever a mom is facing a true, persistent low supply issue, it can be a good idea for her to visit an endocrinologist for tests of all her hormone levels. With proper treatment and on going monitoring, mothers often experience a rapid improvement in milk supply. For more information, check out the information listed on Kelly Mom.

4)Over supply/ Overactive Letdown

While low supply is a well-known issue, over supply can also create issues for a motherbaby pair.  It can result in baby refusing to feed, excessive spitting up, or pain for mom with letdown.  Some mothers just naturally have a large supply or forceful letdowns, other can fall into the issue by taking galactogogues (herbs and medications meant to increase supply) when no real need exists or by pumping unnecessarily.  In my opinion, we are no so over-fixated on low supply (for better or worse) that mothers are told to try to up supply unnecessarily, leading to too much milk for some moms. And for other moms, they start pumping too much, and up supply so much that it can lead to too much milk (basically, their body almost thinks that there are two babies to feed– the real baby and the pump baby.)  To solve this issue, we usually have mom stop taking the galactogogues right away, or start to cut back on pumping to see if supply moderates and baby is doing better. The other half of the solution is to help baby feed in a more upright position and to place baby is such a way that he or she can better control the force of the flow.  Usually laid-back breastfeeding can make it easier for both mom and baby.

5) Vasospasm

Sometimes nipples can turn white as a result of an incorrect latch.  Sometimes, though, the nipple can turn white as a result of vasospasm.  This can lead to pain, tingling, and blue or bring red nipples as the blood flow returns to the nipple.  This doesn’t make breastfeeding impossible, but it is a condition that can be managed by the application of dry heat, keeping the nipple warm right after baby unlatches, and by reducing the amount of caffeine and alcohol mom ingests.  More information on vasospasm and Raunaud’s Phenomenom can be found on this great Kelly Mom article.

Hopefully all of these things are helpful.  Did you have one of these breastfeeding issues go undiagnosed for a long time?  How did it affect your breastfeeding relationship? Sound off below!

Let me know if you have questions!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
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.