How To Prevent Growing Apart in Your Relationship Once Baby Arrives

Having a baby is such an exciting time in our lives. We have so many hopes, dreams and wishes for our expanding family. We buy the stroller, rig out the nursery, get our mat leave papers in order. We may prep our house by cooking and freezing meals, getting in extra stock supplies and look into the first boot camp that we can get into to get back in shape.

What we don’t take into account is how our relationship with our partner changes. Most of us think that we will be immune to the changes a baby brings. Most of us think that our relationship will also be immune to the expansion of our family. You won’t be, and your relationship won’t be.

If we have not been emotionally relating with our partner in our relationship, communication is often the first thing to go down the toilet when our new life emerges. The first few months of new parenthood is sheer survival for most of us. As time moves on, we feel like we are in the groove, but rarely do we check in with how we are feeling, coping or if we are relating well.

It is natural in all relationships to come together, grow apart and then grow together. What we don’t understand is that if we are unaware of how we relate to each other emotionally and we haven’t unpacked or even acknowledged our own gender based biases or roles, our ways of relating to each other change and can at times feel hard to come back from.

Non emotional relating becomes a slippery slope to not growing together. If we can’t unpack helpful and unhelpful expectations around what being a family looks like and feels like, we cannot emotionally relate to our partner. We all crave living a relational life. We are born to connect deeply with those we love. When we don’t understand this and the biological importance of being in a related, connected relationship, our physical and emotional health suffer.

Relationality is the cure to what ails us. Authentic intimacy with our partners is what we all need. The quality of our life depends on the quality of our relationships. The way we parent is affected by the depth of the relationship with our partners. We need to place the same emphasis on our relationships as we do on the preparation for a new baby.

We are forever changed by birth. Mothers and Fathers are also born with the arrival of a baby. We occupy a different space as a new parent. Our roles change in relation to our baby and to our partner. We need our partner more than ever when we become a family and in the absence of the village, it becomes far too easy to place all of our needs, expectations and wants on our partner. And that is not fair. We all need support in our new roles and to understand that relationship changes can be so very hard. Learning how to relate as new parents takes time, understanding and patience.

Reach out to us if you need help. Both Carol and Shannon are Certified Relationship Coaches with decades of help for families in this transition into parenthood. We are also Doulas and understand the walk through the changes that families experience in the journey to parenthood.

Shannon can be reached at shannon.stark@sympatico.ca

Carol can be reached at kilty67@sympatico.ca

Why Informed and Not Implied Consent In Birth Means So Much

There is a meme going around on social media about consent and how it should be stated. There have been rebuttals to it stating:

“When you are having a baby you have to expect that you will have things done to you. It is expected.”

“This meme is disgusting. Women do not need to have vaginal exams at all. Stop vaginal exams all together. Stop this disgusting meme.”

“I am grateful for this meme because of what was done to me in my labour. I asked my Doctor to stop because she was hurting me and she didn’t listen. It really traumatized me.”

Consent is imperative in all aspects of our daily life. Consent is incredibly important when it comes to birth, and there are so many reasons why.

We, in Western culture cross many blurred lines when it comes to consent. We can see at the world level right now that lack of consent is incredibly damaging, traumatizing and terrifying for many individuals. We all have evidence in our daily lives of what our lived experiences are when we feel like boundaries have been crossed and informed consent has not been our reality. Each person’s lived experience will be different and we need to be completely trauma informed around the topic of consent.

If a birthing individual has a trauma history, re victimization can happen frequently in the birthing process with the policies and procedures that are community standard. A birthing individual needs to feel emotionally and physically safe during the whole process of the birth. Each step of the process must be met with permission for each procedure, each intervention, each attempt to examine the birthing individual’s body. Body autonomy is crucial for each individual because if the primary care providers do not have knowledge of a trauma history, vicarious trauma can often be the birther’s lived experience of birth. Compassionate care and including the birthing individual in every situation every step of the way needs to be the norm. Birth has to include the person giving birth, it is not to happen “to them.”

Implied consent is often the belief system of institutions and hospitals, and when forms are signed, many people believe that they are handing their well being over to those in charge of their care. It is not true and does not have to be this way. Many of our clients tell us about their birth experiences and the trauma they suffered and did not know they could advocate for themselves, and also were unaware that their partners could advocate. Many clients tell us that they did not even know how to discuss advocacy with their partners. Clients may not disclose their trauma history to their partners, may not be fully aware of their trauma themselves, and trauma may in fact surface during birth. We must be aware of this and know how to provide the right support to traumatized individuals and how to provide informed consent so that clients are not traumatized by their experiences.

As doulas, we are trauma informed. We do our very best to understand how birth can impact each individual and help provide support to make sure that trauma informed care is carried out. We are there to advocate, support and work with our clients and their health care providers around informed consent.

Birth shouldn’t be scary. Birth should be on your terms. Care provided in birth needs to ensure the birthing individual has the felt experience of being safe, seen, secure and soothed. Every step of the way.

How Having A Doula Can Mean A Better Birth Outcome

Many people do not understand what a birth doula is or what a birth doula does. Every day in our breastfeeding support clinic or in our support services practice, we hear people tell us that they have no idea what a doula is or does.

Doulas are support people. We are there to accompany you in the perinatal period- throughout your pregnancy, for the duration of your labour and delivery and in the transition to parenting in the postpartum period. We also support you through fertility issues, through termination and through loss. We are non judgemental about your choices, and help you understand informed choice.

Many studies have been done on the impact a doula can have in attendance at a birth. What we know in a nutshell is that C-sections rates are lower, epidural use is lower and there are more favourable outcomes for both the birthing individual and the newborn when a doula is part of the birthing team.

What a lot of people don’t know about doulas is that they are trained in how to listen, how to hold space for what you are feeling and are active in helping the birthing individual and their partner deconstruct what medical terms mean. Doulas also have an understanding of community standards, hospital policies and procedures and help you understand technocratic and physiologic methods of care.

Doulas support you in midwifery, obstetrical and family physician supported births. We attend clients at home, in birthing centres and in the hospital. Doulas are trauma informed and understand that trauma is relative to the individual and their lived experiences.

Having a doula at your birth means that you are cared for from an emotional and physical perspective. A doula will take care to ask you how you are feeling: from the way that you physically feel, how your are dealing mentally and emotionally throughout your journey and how you are feeling about everything that is going on around you.

At Babies Naturally we understand that birth can be scary and for some birthers very traumatic. We have training in nervous system regulation techniques and work hard to ensure that you feel safe, seen, secure and soothed. We take care of both you and your partner to ensure that you both feel fully involved as each of you want to be in the whole journey to parenthood. For some families, certain aspects of birth care can be very triggering and we work to make sure that we have a full understanding of this in order to help you have a felt sense of being safe, seen, secure and soothed.

Your birth can be filled with many unexpected experiences. Many of our clients are surprised to hear that the obstetrician they have been in the care of may not actually be in attendance at their birth. There is no guarantee that any primary care provider from obstetrician to midwifery and family physician care will attend you. You may have a care provider that you have not met before from your primary care provider’s team. This is a concern for some of our clients and we fully understand that.

Most hospital deliveries will mean nursing shift changes and scheduled nursing breaks. For many birthers, this may be a concern as having a consistent person with them throughout birth is important. As your doula, we do not leave you throughout your journey. From the time you go into labour, until delivery and in our organization we ensure that feeding of your infant is completed and that you are comfortable before we leave. We check in with you a few hours after birth and attend you at home or in the hospital to help you with feeding and the big transition to parenting those first few weeks.

As your doula we support your birth choices, embrace your vision for your birth and ensure that your wishes are respected. We advocate for you, remind you that you are so very capable and are one more person in the room loving you. We never take the place of a partner- in fact, we are frequently thanked for helping support people feel that they are more involved and are more helpful than they ever thought they could be.

As doulas we SEE- support, educate and encourage you - to have the birth that only you know will be best for you. We do it in a non judgemental, trauma informed, inclusive supportive manner because we know how important birth is. We have been through it ourselves at Babies Naturally and understand birth’s impact in the transition to parenting. We want the best for you and your family and believe that your deserve supportive care in your childbearing years.

If you have any questions at all about our services, please reach out to Carol Peat at kilty67@sympatico.ca

and Shannon Stark at Shannon.stark@sympatico.ca

We would love to speak with you!

With much love,

Carol

How Doulas Hold Space

It is World Doula Week and we are busy on call, meeting new doula clients and planning dates for our "Do You Need A Doula?" program for the rest of the year. We are birth doulas and also postpartum and family doulas. We support you physically and emotionally. We advocate for you, we educate you, help you understand community standards, policies and procedures and how to understand what changes are happening to your body and with your baby in labour and birth. We support all of your choices, make sure you have informed choice and we hold space. For everything. 

When we hold space for you, we are protecting your innate power as a birthing human. We never empower you- you are so innately powerful, and we protect your birthing power by  watching the minutia of your body and listening to the journey of you and your tiny human as you get closer to birth. We have spent many many hours watching birthers and we have come to know the outward signs of inward sensations, how pressure affects the body, how the 4 bones of the pelvis move and what to do to help you feel more comfortable through labour. We focus a lot on creating an environment of safety for you- and we oscillate through the dance of labour with you- showing your partner how to place their hands for relief of pressure, dancing with you in hallways, reminding you to keep your knees bent so you can relax your bum.  We hear you when you tell us "I can't do this anymore" and we tell you "I hear you, this is so much right now. You are doing beautifully and you are so strong." We offer you ice water, place a cold washcloth on the back of your neck, hold styrofoam cups for you to vomit into and tell you that you are really bringing your baby down when you dry heave. We sing to you and do horse lips with you, we massage your back, your shoulders, your arms. We hug you and you press back into our knees as you do do hip circles on the physio ball. 

When your partner needs to nap we bring them a warm blanket. We keep Intended Parents in the waiting room aware of everything you need us to when you are giving your baby up for adoption. We help you partner gown up and wait with them while you are prepped for a c-section. Once your partner is situated, we wait for staff to bring us into the OR and remind staff of your wishes for immediate skin to skin because we have covered all of the possibilities of birth with you in our prenatal meetings. We help get your tiny human latched onto your breast. 

We support you from the time we agree to work together until you decide you are comfortable with your day to day in the postpartum. If you want support in attending your prenatal meetings we go with you. We help you decide on birth pools, stools, peanut balls, breast pumps, styles of bottles and how to tell the difference between visitors and helpers. We are on call for you in your last month and are always just a text or phone call away. We talk frequently in the last month and ask lots of questions about your prenatal meetings with your primary care provider. GBS, prophylactic Pen-G, encapsulation, delayed cord clamping, transition, lightening, kick counts, GD, stages of labour, dilation, effacement, stretch and sweeps and induction are all part of our every day vocabulary. We walk you through NSTs, BPPs, foley catheters and ARM as well as what PROM means. When we don't have an answer, we try our hardest to find out for you. 

We are, in essence, one more person in the room loving you. We have an emotional connection with each one of our families and provide full spectrum care. Our spectrum includes support through loss, termination and fertility treatments. We hold space for each and every individual and family experience and are so fortunate to be able to do work that we love every day. 

Life With A Newborn- Ways to Make it Easier

I have worked with new Mums for more than half of my life and as a Mum of three myself, I wish I had known what I now help new Mums understand. 

Life with a newborn tiny human is unpredictable. Let's face it- we leak from many orifices at one time, sleep is staggered, time takes on a whole new meaning, and we occupy a new space. In that new space, we struggle. Here are the top seven topics that we tend to struggle with:

1.) Not getting anything done. Wear your baby in a sling, a wrap, a carrier as you wash dishes, dust, make the bed or do laundry. Including your baby in tasks will allow you to relax (I didn't say sleep!) when your babe does. Then have something to eat or go pee on your own.

2.) Getting enough to eat or finding time to eat it. Have your partner put your lunch together before heading to work, make some overnight oats for the whole week, eat calorie dense foods, make muffins and freeze them. Look into an Instant Pot- game changer for so many families! Cook dinner together with you partner with the baby in a wrap or carrier. Feeding your baby can also be challenging- are they getting enough, are you feeding long enough, how often should you breastfeed? How do you deal with sore nipples and breast pain? We provide in home visits and breastfeeding clinics every Friday from 9:30-11:30 as well as Coffee Talk support every other Monday from 10-11:30. Each is a $10 drop in fee. 

3.) Having a shower- Bring your baby into the bathroom with you! Pop them in a bouncy chair, portable swing or bassinet. Then get in the shower and sing! Singing helps calm your nervous system, your baby will love it and combined with the sound of the running water and steam, your babe will probably love it or grow to love it! 

4.) Lack of sleep- Sleep is a struggle for so many of us. Napping during the day is something a lot of us are not really good at so at the very least try to rest. Netflix and snuggle on the couch, babe on your chest or close by. If you can nap during the day, consider asking a friend or relative to come and stay with your babe when you nap. Also consider hiring a postpartum doula. We come over and stay with your baby while you nap during the day and will also provide over night care. Sleep is crucial to our mental and emotional health. We have a great sleep foundations class to help you understand sleep from a biological, psychological, sociological perspective- not crying it out at all. You can reach Shannon at shannon.stark@sympatico.ca if you have questions about sleep or a postpartum doula. 

5.) Not able to share how you are feeling- You need to talk. To process your birth, to share your fears, to normalize your experiences. A safe person, who you can trust and will not offer unsolicited advice is golden. There are many great professionals services available to help you too. Email us here if you would like a referral.

6.) Afraid to ask your partner for help- Again, parenting is new territory! Oftentimes, the territory looks very different than the map! Unpacking helpful expectations will help you navigate this new journey, together with your partner. We have certified Becoming Us Family Professionals and Certified Relationship Coaches on staff to help you. Email us at kilty67@sympatico.ca for more information. 

7.) Having really high expectations for what life will look like postpartum- Be gentle with yourself. Nothing ever looks like we think it will. With the added pressures of social media we can feel even more isolated. We need each other in the postpartum maybe more than ever. What's really important is to focus on how you are FEELING in postpartum- and being able to share that. We have amazing Mom and Baby groups with Karen that deal with the realities and truths of parenting and our emotional health. You can reach her at gkruby@isp.ca for more info on the classes. 

We are here to help you through the whole journey. You are not alone. Reach out.