The breast crawl is an amazing way to “reboot” a baby’s systems if early breastfeeding is interrupted or delayed. Place the baby skin to skin on mama’s chest and allow them to find the nipple themselves. This works best if baby doesn’t have any drugs or anesthesia still remaining in their system from labor/birth. It can also be used with older infants to correct a problematic latch. Enjoy!
I found this interesting article in the Denver 7 News channel. Apparantly studies have shown that breast-feeding reduces asthma, but those benefits were reversed if the children had more than a minimal intake of fast food. Check out the article!
I stumbled upon a wonderful Canadian artist, Amanda Greavette, who does lots of paintings depicting beautiful scenes of birth. *Sigh* if I only had time or a place to paint! *sniff!*
In lieu of traditional baby showers, more and more women are planning Mother Blessings or Blessingways for the mother-to-be. Unlike a baby shower, where the focus is on the baby, Mother Blessings celebrate the upcoming birth of woman into motherhood! Birth is a rite of passage for many women and it’s great to show our support of her in her journey. I also have two books, Mother Rising and Blessingways, in my library.
Here are some ideas of things you can do pamper the mother-to-be in your life.
- Start by naming the mothers in your lineage (children, mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers). If you want you can link all of your wrists together with yarn or ribbon. After everyone shares their lineage the ribbon is cut to make bracelets. If you like, you can keep the ribbon on until the woman goes into labor to keep her in mind and support her.
- Cleanse the air with a sage smudge stick or salt lamp.
- Give the mom a relaxing foot soak or massage.
- Make the pregnant woman’s favorite food.
- Bring a “Bead and Seed.” Everyone brings a special bead and something from nature to symbolize the life growing inside her. The beads are made into a bracelet that the mother wears until labor is over.
- Henna, of course, is my favorite addition to this! It’s particularly fun when the stain is still visible when the mother goes into labor.
- Think about hiring a belly dancer or take a belly dance class with friends. Belly dancing was originally only for women dancing for women during labor, to show them how to use their abdominal muscles to move the baby out.
- Do some sort of fire/water/sand ceremony where each guest either lights a candle, pours a cup of scented water into a bowl, or layers colored sand in a glass while sharing a bit of advice or well-wishing (you can also do this with presenting your bead). You can pour the water into a special vial and keep it as a reminder of the support of your friends.
- If your friends have had children already, share a birth experience of your own.
- Instead of decorating onesies like so many baby showers do these days, have your guests decorate a square of fabric to be sewn into a blanket.
- You can even send the fabric out with the invitations. If you have the party early enough, you can finish the blanket or pillow case by the time the mother starts labor to remind her of the women who stand behind her. A less time intensive option is to decorate a pillow case with positive birth phrases, encouragement, and quotes.
- Do a belly cast to preserve her shapeshift into motherhood. You can purchase kits online and decorate them after they harden. Some people put the baby’s hand prints on the belly after the baby is born or paint them with an image that is meaningful to them. You can also have guests at the Mother Blessing decorate the belly themselves. Another option is to hire a professional lifecaster to do the cast for you. Unlike do-it-yourself kits where the finished product is the strips of plaster and gauze, lifecasting creates an exact replica of yourself by creating a cast and pouring medium into it (see right). It’s definitely the more beautiful option, but also more expensive (around $150-300). Some lifecasters in Denver are Chris Guarino, or to find other artists you can visit the Association of Lifecasters.
- Make a “Help” list where the guests can sign up to do chores or bring meals after the baby is born.
- Make a “Belly Bowl.” Some casting studios in your area may have the option to make a cast from the mom’s belly and turn it into either a bronze or ceramic bowl. With the ceramic bowls you can decorate them yourself before firing. With the bronze bowls you can choose different patinas (bronze finishes) and it “rings” when struck to the individual tone of mom and baby.
Here are some tips for gaining the advantage in successful breastfeeding:
- Get baby to breast immediately! – The time right after your baby is born is precious. Babies are often alert right after birth (especially if the birth was unmedicated) and will usually latch on. However after an hour or so baby falls into a deep sleep (being born is hard work!) and may not wake to breastfeed again for a while. Also it’s important that baby recognize and bond with mom as well as imprint on the breast at the start.
- Room in with Baby – Keeping the baby with you (rooming in) and not in the nursery allows you to feed entirely on demand and helps you and your baby get to know each other. Babies who room in lose much less birth weight than babies in the nursery.
- Only Mama – Make sure your baby gets nothing but you to eat! Supplementing with formula can lead to a decrease in milk supply. If a baby gets a pacifier or bottle this can lead to nipple confusion. A baby actually has to work to get milk out of a breast by actively sucking. With a bottle, all baby has to do is stop the flow with his/her tongue. This can spoil and confuse babies and they might refuse the breast.
- Natural Childbirth – Studies have shown that some babies who received drugs during labor (via IV, mouth, or epidural) can be sleepy or have trouble latching on. This can be because the drugs make their lips numb and they have more difficulty with their rooting reflex. If you can, try and get the hands-on support you need during labor so you don’t have to take medication unless it’s necessary.
- Get Support – Attend a La Leche League Series Meeting for mother-to-mother support, join a breastfeeding moms group, or consult a lactation expert. I even recommend that women planning to breastfeed attend a La Leche League Series (4 meetings in a row) while they are pregnant. Each meeting has a different topic and you can get a great base of knowledge before the baby is even born! Visit this site to find a meeting near you.
We women could talk about birth for forever, but we rarely get to talk to dads about their experiences. Birth can be just as powerful an experience for partners and I would love to hear from them.
Share what birth means to you!
Here is a place where you can post comments about what you wish you had known going into birth.
The biggest things I learned about birth were:
- Know your care provider and think deeply about what you want in a birth beforehand. Also know that it’s never too late to switch providers if something comes up that you don’t agree with! This is your body, your birth, and your baby and you deserve to make educated decisions about that fact. For more information go to Interviewing Your OB, Midwife, and Place of Birth.
- Don’t be intimidated by family who may not approve of choices if they are out of the ordinary (ie water birth, home birth, etc). Do your homework and know your position.
- DON’T WATCH THE CLOCK!!!!! Just get into your birthing body, move with your contractions, get in the zone, don’t be distracted. Watching the clock can make labor seem like it’s taking forever and frustrate any expectations you may have.
- Be careful of having specific expectations of how labor will go. Personally, I had the expectation that my second birth would be much shorter than my first since that’s statistically what happens. When it was just about as long, I got immensely frustrated with my body and got very upset. If I had gone into labor thinking, “This is my baby’s birth, it is what it is and I will make the best of it” I could have really enjoyed a slower, steadier labor instead of a fast, intense one.