It’s World Doula Week! Ok, so maybe Ritchie Valens wasn't singing about Doulas, but now I am!
Doulas are a vital resource for families before, during, and after birth. When my own clients are working with Doulas, I know they will get the extra care and support they need as they navigate parenthood and breastfeeding. To celebrate World Doula Week I’ve invited Danielle and Megan, of Chesapeake Birth and Baby, to share about the work they do as postpartum doulas...
Much like the work Cynthia does, the doulas at Chesapeake Birth and Baby are there to help new families find their way. During those first weeks and months with a new baby, many parents feel unsure of their decisions- they’re acclimating to a new tiny human, new routines, unfamiliar equipment, and exhaustion- and facing so many outside opinions leaves these new families feeling confused. Our doulas are there to help parents navigate their way with their new baby to reach their goals for their family.
The doulas at Chesapeake Birth and Baby will help tend to the parents’ and baby’s physical and emotional needs, and offer researched-based support. We help the new family weed out all of the suggestions and judgments from the outside world, creating a space that feels right for them. There are ample opinions coming from almost everyone once a baby is born, but our doulas will help figure out what is best for the family, speaking to their values, wants, and needs.
The doulas are also there to help with light housework, so the piles of neglected dishes and laundry will get washed and put away. If nourishment looks more like a cold slice of turkey meat and some crackers between diaper changes than healthy balanced meals, we’re happy to prepare wholesome home-cooked meals. Because getting out of the house with an infant can seem like a monumental task, our doulas are available to run errands, or travel with the family to various appointments. We’ll even help pack the diaper bag so that nothing gets left behind!
Often when a family with more than one child hires a doula, it’s because they need to feel balance between the new baby and their first baby. Our doulas are just as comfortable with an infant as they are with an energetic four year old. Alternatively, we’re happy to tend to the baby’s needs so that the parents can spend special time with the older child(ren).
Essentially, whatever the needs of the new family are, we’re there to support. We know each family has different, ever evolving demands and desires, and so our doulas are trained to meet the individuals and help them work towards their goals. We’re there to help families thrive!
Here’s what a day with a doula may look like-
7:55am- Arrived early, let myself in the door, and said hello to the family upstairs
8:00am- Made breakfast for the children, and packed lunches for the day
8:25am- Helped the children get dressed for school
8:35am- Took the baby from the client, burped, changed, rocked her, and put her in her bed
9:15am- Collected the dirty laundry and threw it in the machine, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher,
9:45am- Put tea pot on to boil, watered houseplants while it heated
9:55am- Brought client a nutritious snack and tea, and sat with the client to chat about how she’s feeling emotionally, and addressed her concerns about her postpartum life adjustment
10:45am- Switched laundry
10:50am- Meal planned for the week with the client
11:38am- Brought crying baby and a glass of water to the client
11:45am- Folded laundry and put away laundry
12:05pm- Burped, changed, and rocked the baby while the client took a shower
12:25pm- Went to grocery store to get items needed for the week’s meals
1:45pm- Returned to the house, put away the groceries
1:55pm- Brought the baby downstairs with me so that the client could nap
2:00pm- Played with older children while baby and client slept
2:25pm- Gave art supplies to older children to create with, began meal preparations for freezer meals and dinner,
3:40pm- Took crying baby to client for feeding
4:30pm- Cleaned up kitchen, put dinner in the oven
5:00pm- Said goodbye to client for the evening
Thank you, Danielle and Megan, for your continued support for my clients, and all the families you continue to support!
Even if you didn't use a doula for your birth, Danielle and Megan are available to support you in this transition. Visit their website at https://www.chesapeakebirthandbaby.com/.
How did your doula help you navigate this new life we call Parenthood?
We’ve all done it - we look to google for answers and information. The internet has provided us with the ability to access information more than any other generation. We have information and knowledge at our fingertips. But what if that information is incorrect? What if that information sends us down the wrong rabbit hole?
Breastfeeding used to be a normal part of everyday life in a community; grandmothers, mothers, aunts, friends, all breasted around each other and learned from each other. We are physically more separated now, but the internet does provide a place we can ask questions and find answers. So where do we find accurate and helpful information?
I’ve gathered just a few of the websites where you can find helpful, trusted information about lactation and breastfeeding.
Kellymom.com - Kellymom is one of the top sites for evidence-based information. Kelly Bonyata, owner and creator of Kellymom, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Her articles help many families navigate issues and concerns and provide further references for follow through.
LactMed - Did you ever want to know how a certain medication might affect your milk supply or baby? From the National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health, you can search for both prescribed medications and over-the-counter products to determine whether or not they are safe to use while lactating.
CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) - While the CDC is not a support website, if you are looking for the latest official regulations and recommendations, it is worth visiting.
AskDrSears.com - Dr. Sears and his team are well respected pediatric practitioners. Visit his site for understanding normal infant behavior and common issues associated with breastfeeding and parenting.
La Leche League International - La Leche League has been providing peer-to-peer support for over 60 years. Along with their in-person meetings, they have forums and online groups for breastfeeding information and support.
Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio - This organization provides in-person appointments and support, but they also have online information and resources from experienced IBCLCs. They are well-known and respected for their therapeutic breast massage and hand expression.
Information garnered online can be helpful in handling minor issues, or even reassuring yourself everything is going well. Online education is not a substitute for an in-person consultation with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Please reach out to an IBCLC in your community for assessment, evaluation, and care.
What online resources do you find most helpful for lactation and breastfeeding?
Ohhhh, We’ve Got Trouble, My Friends, right here in River City!
...With a capital T and that rhymes with B and that stands for Bottle!
You’ve gotten breastfeeding off to a great start; baby is happy, healthy, and gaining well. You’re feeling great about your breastfeeding relationship and that awesome milk you provide. A couple months down the road you decide to give baby and bottle, and she refuses!
For some families, bottles are essential for when the nursing parent goes back to work. For others, it may not be needed every day, but parents want to have some time to run errands, go to appointments, spend time with friends, and be able to leave baby at home. So what do you if baby won’t take a bottle?
Bottles & Milk
Alternatives to Bottles
Offering the Bottle
Some babies choose not to take a bottle. For short periods of time, they may not need to have milk. For extended time, they may choose to go without milk when away from the breast, and get all their milk in the evening and overnight. This situation may not be ideal, and may be more tiring for the nursing parent, but fortunately baby is still getting all his nutrients and is happy during the day.
Take your time
Your baby cannot be forced into taking a bottle through hunger and persuasion. You may have to work on it over time. It’s ok to let baby play with the bottle and nipple in her mouth, getting used to the idea.
All of these tips are for babies refusing the bottle out of preference for feeding at the breast. If it seems your baby is struggling with a bottle for other reasons, please speak with an IBCLC or your pediatrician to rule out anatomical concerns. Some IBCLCs (including myself) do bottle consults to work with your baby and help you develop a plan for guiding your baby towards taking a bottle. Bottle refusal is yet another time you are not alone. Always reach out for help.
I’ve also included this information in the attached PDF for easy printing and reference.
Silver Bells, Silver Bells, It’s Breastfeeding time at the Holidays
In the end, the most important tip is to treasure the holidays and this time with your little one. I know it can feel overwhelming, especially if you are struggling with breastfeeding or the postpartum period. Take a moment to breathe and know you have created this little being, or you brought him/her into your home to love. Through breastfeeding, you are sustaining your baby’s life and giving him/her all s/he needs. That is something to celebrate!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
I am thrilled to share that I am now an in-network provider with Aetna and its subsidiaries. Aetna members are eligible for up to six lactation consults, with no out-of-pocket costs.
While I am happy to be park of the insurance network, I know many of my clients, and many of you out there, are members of other insurance providers. So what does that mean for you? Can you get your lactation consult covered by insurance?
For many new parents, having access to a consult with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is a crucial step in continuing their breastfeeding journey. Several years ago, breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling were added to the Affordable Care Act. This change in insurance law has made it possible for more parents to get the care they need, however, there are some bumps in the road and coverage is not always available. Understanding how lactation care and insurance intertwine can be confusing, so hopefully I can shed some light on the issues and provide not only resources for getting your consult covered, but also an inside look into the issues facing IBCLCs.
As previously mentioned, if you are unsure of the coverage extended to you, call your insurance company, and reach out to a local IBCLC for guidance. The insurance market is ever-changing. While we don’t know what changes will unfold in the next few years, IBCLCs will continue to promote lactation coverage for all families to ensure equitable care for everyone.
Cynthia Bischoff, IBCLC, is the owner and provider at Lactation Life, offering lactation consults in Maryland.