Part 2: Steps for Choosing the Right Care Provider

Part 2: Steps for Choosing the Right Care Provider

Step 2: Reflect on Your Experiences so Far, Watch Out for Red Flags and Trust Your Instincts

As we discussed in Part 1, your care provider’s philosophy can have a tremendous influence on your birth. Not only will the provider you choose be influential during the course of labor, but can influence your confidence, level of preparation and attitude toward birth. After you completed Step 1 and gotten to know your care provider a bit more (see Steps for Choosing the Right Care Provider - Part 1), spend some time reflecting on your experiences so far with your care provider and consider how your care provider makes you feel. Your treatment during your prenatal visits can help you better understand what might occur during your birth. Carve out a few minutes to honestly answer these questions: 

    1. When I ask my care provider questions, he/she answers them:
      1. completely, using plain language and spending as much time as necessary to help me feel informed.
      2. for the most part, though I occasionally still want more information.
      3. vaguely, leaving me confused or unsure.
    2. At my appointments, I feel the amount of time spent with my care provider is:
      1. more than enough to discuss questions, be reassured, and allow us to get to know each other.
      2. about average, allowing for some discussion, but the conversation is usually brief.
      3. very brief. He/she is in and out of the room in a matter of minutes and I leave feeling like I didn’t get what I needed out of the appointment.
    3. When I have brought up a concern, my care provider:
      1. has asked me questions to better understand my concern and talked with me or given me additional resources to help relieve my concern.
      2. has spent some time discussing it and told me not to worry.
      3. has said “just let me worry about that” or some other response that made me feel dismissed. 
    4. When we talk about my birth preferences, my care provider: 
      1. is encouraging and seems excited for me. He/She does many of the things I desire as part of routine care.
      2. says “we’ll see” or stated that I can have what I want if all goes well. 
      3. states that there are many things that are “non-negotiable” or can only be done a certain way. 
    5. When we have discussed childbirth education, my care provider:
      1. encouraged me to learn as much as possible and referred me to independent classes.
      2. gave me some handouts, book recommendations and referred me to a brief hospital class.
      3. seemed somewhat indifferent and said he/she and the nurses would tell me everything I need to know during my labor and birth.
    6. When I leave an appointment with my care provider, I usually feel:
      1. happy, excited and confident that I made the right choice for my care provider.
      2. mixed emotions, nagging doubts and a little unsure of my choice of care provider.
      3. upset, unsupported and regret of my choice of my care provider.
    7. The three words that best describe my care provider are:
      1. compassionate, patient and warm.
      2. knowledgeable, confident and flexible.
      3. cautious, thorough, and smart.
    8. I wish my care provider was more:
      1. caring
      2. direct
      3. flexible
    9. My care provider has helped me _________________________________.
    10. I disagree with my care provider about _____________________________.
    11. For my birth, I am concerned that my care provider _____________________________.
    12. For my birth, I am pleased to know that my care provider ________________________.

Your instincts and impressions of your care provider are usually very accurate and trustworthy. Learning to trust your instincts is actually an important part of giving birth. 

Consider your answers to the previous statements carefully. For statements 1-6, are your answers mostly a’s, b’s or c’s? While there are no right answers, “c” answers contain words like “confused, dismissed, unsupported and regret.” Are these answers you are comfortable with if they describe your emotional state during birth or after your birth when you look back on the experience? Compare these to the “a” answers: “informed, reassured, encouraged, excited and confident.” Do these answers seem more positive and describe your ideal experience? Consider the “b” answers: “I... want more, average, ‘we’ll see’, mixed emotions, unsure and doubts.” If you answered mostly “b’s,” perhaps you need more time to get to know your provider or perhaps these are doubts that should spur you to find someone new as most of the time, uncertainty before hand may lead to unwanted results during the birth. 

Consider your responses to statements 7-12. Are your answers mostly reassuring or do they bring up doubts? Did any of your answers surprise you? Based on your responses, would you say you have complete confidence in your care provider, have some doubts or feel regret for your choice?

When you consider your choice of care provider, do you make statements like “As long as x,y,or z doesn’t happen, I’ll be fine” or “My doula will help us get what we want even though...” or “I think I can convince him/her to do...” Sometimes parents rationalize their choice or believe that they will be the exception to the norm, but the fact is that care providers get into a routine; they have a particular way of doing things, and asking someone to do their job in an opposite fashion than they’re used to is setting yourself up for disappointment, and is not entirely fair to him or her. There is a difference between a care provider who will “go along with” what you’re asking versus one who fully embraces your goals and practices them routinely. You will likely have a much better experience with the latter. You would not hire a plumber to repair your car, or a computer tech to do your plumbing. Your care provider needs to know how to do the job you are asking him or her to do for it to be a smooth experience for all involved.

If you have doubts or there are some red flags in your responses, consider looking at alternatives, interviewing other care providers and/or switching care providers at any time during your pregnancy. You are the consumer of a service and you have the right to hire the best person for the job. 

Step 3: Ask Around and Compare Your Options

It doesn't hurt to explore your options. When searching for a care provider, there are many resources that can help you find what you are looking for.

  1. Ask your childbirth educator, doula, chiropractor, massage therapist or anyone else who regularly interacts with pregnant clients for care provider recommendations. Explain what you are looking for and/or ask why they recommend a specific care provider or medical group.
  2. Ask friends who have recently given birth about their experiences and what they liked and didn't like about their birth place and care provider. If you are comfortable, ask them specific questions about their experience.
  3. Search message boards (local community groups or the local groups on national boards like Mothering.com or BabyCenter.com) for local recommendations or post a request for referrals.
  4. Read reviews of care providers on City SearchInsider Pages or other sites.
  5. Consider all of your options, including using an Obstetrician, Family Physician or Midwife.

The time you spend exploring your options will be well worth it in the end, when you can fondly look back at your pregnancy, birth and the first weeks with your newborn and know that you did your best and had the support you needed.

If this is helpful, be sure to pin this for later. Also, check out our Thoughtful Decisions booklet for more information on care providers and for help with creating a birth plan. 

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Part 1: Steps for Choosing the Right Care Provider

Part 1: Steps for Choosing the Right Care Provider

With many years of experience as birth professionals, we have come to understand how critical the choice of care provider is to the family’s birth experience. Often, parents spend a lot of time preparing and educating themselves for birth and may even hire a doula to help them through the process; however, these steps may not be enough for them to achieve their birth goals if their doctor or midwife is not also on the same page. Whether you are thinking of becoming pregnant or nearing the end of your pregnancy, it is never too early or too late to ask questions, consider your options or find someone (new) who will support your desires for birth. Follow these steps to evaluate your current care provider or when choosing a new care provider for your pregnancy. 

Step 1: Understand Your Provider’s Philosophy (and Make Sure it Matches Yours)

There is a wide spectrum of attitudes and beliefs about birth. Your care provider's perspective of the birth process can have a HUGE impact on your birth. Is your care provider supportive and encouraging of the natural process or does he/she prefer the medical approach of a "managed" birth? (For more about these differing approaches see Childbirth Connection.) How can you determine your care provider’s philosophy and be confident in your choice?

Ask questions. Some examples are listed below with an explanation of what your care provider’s answers may mean. Please note, that the medical degree your care provider holds and their specialty (i.e. Obstetrician, Family Practice, or Midwife) should not be used to assume their perspective on birth. Some midwives practice "managed" care, while some physicians practice "midwifery-like" care and are very trusting of the natural process. It is up to you to find out what your care provider believes and how he or she typically practices. You don't want to be in a position to have to fight for your preferences, be surprised by your provider’s actions or try to change his or her mind during your labor or birth. You want someone you trust, who is on the same page and will openly support your choices during your birth. (Please note that these questions are best used to have an open and mutually respectful dialogue, not to grill your care provider. You may wish to choose one or two that are the most meaningful to you to start, and ask for a longer appointment time to discuss your goals and desires for birth.

  • Tell me about a “typical” birth that you attend. (This open-ended question will shed a lot of light on the provider’s perspectives, philosophies and standards of practice.)
  • What is your standard practice for women who go “past due?” (A provider who routinely induces labor at 40 or 41 weeks in the absence of medical indications may not be a good fit for a mother who wishes to avoid induction.)
  • What is your rate of induction? What is the most common reason for induction? (Induction introduces risks and can increase your chance of a cesarean due to fetal distress or failure to progress. Care providers can differ in the frequency of and reasons for an induction.)
  • What percentage of your patients have natural, spontaneous childbirth (labor that starts and continues without interventions)? (A provider with a high percentage most likely has a philosophy of trusting birth, knows how to support natural birth and will be more comfortable doing so.)
  • What is your after-hours procedure? (Will you be able to talk to your personal doctor/midwife or just the person on call?)
  • What percentage of your patients’ births do you attend? (How individual is the care they offer? Do they make an attempt to attend most of their patients’ births themselves, or do you end up with whomever happens to be on call?)
  • How many partners are in your practice? (If there are 10 doctors who rotate call then you’re not likely to know the person attending your birth. This also means that you are more likely to encounter someone who does not have the same philosophy about birth.)
  • What percentage of patients have a cesarean section in your practice? (This doesn't tell you the whole story, but it can help you better understand your risk of having a cesarean. Read more about C-section rates on childbirthconnection.org)
  • What percentage of patients have episiotomies? What is your suture rate? How do you help women avoid tearing? (Again, this can help you better understand your risks. You can learn how likely they are to provide perineal support, to assist you in finding the best position to avoid an episiotomy and to avoid interventions that increase the chance of having an episiotomy [such as epidurals, forceps or vacuum extraction]).
  • What is the most common choice for pain relief among your patients? (If you desire a natural birth, be concerned if your care provider encourages pain medication or even chastises you for not planning on having pain medication. Though the choice for pain relief is always yours, your care provider’s attitude can influence you during labor. If desired, there are many alternatives to anesthesia or narcotics to help a woman cope with labor and your care provider should discuss these with you.) 
  • How quickly do you clamp and cut the umbilical cord? How do you feel about delayed clamping? How much time is allowed for the spontaneous delivery of the placenta? What do you do if this limit has expired? (What approach is used during 3rd stage for a natural birth or for a medically managed birth? Is the natural process respected or is there a standard protocol? Does your care provider encourage you to nurse and release you own naturally occurring hormones to help expel the placenta?)
  • Will I be given immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with my new baby after birth?(This is quickly becoming recognized as critically beneficial to both mother and baby and should be standard practice. Be concerned if the provider insists on immediate separation of baby and mother.)

There are many other questions you may wish to ask your care provider or anyone you are interviewing for your birth. Take notes to better remember the information discussed and ask follow-up questions at a future appointment. When you have gathered enough information, read Steps for Choosing the Right Care Provider Part 2 for information on how to evaluate your options (step 2) and if necessary, how to find a new care provider (step 3).

 

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Five things Childbirth Educators want parents to know

parents need to know about childbirth education birth classesMost people who teach childbirth education do so because they have a passion for helping mothers and families become informed and empowered through the pregnancy and birth process. We have worked with many different types of families with many different goals and desires for birth. We know that each family is unique and will make their own unique choices, but there are a few things we have learned from our experience that may benefit all families.

1. Any education about birth will help...

We have seen parents who became frightened during their birth because they had no idea what to expect and were caught off guard by the process. We know that a little education can go a long way and that the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be, and the greater the chance that you will have a smooth and healthy birth experience. If you don’t know where to start, check out books from your local library, read websites like babycenter.com or childbirthconnection.org and research local resources. Ask friends or your care provider for recommendations for childbirth classes and choose the one that is the best fit for you. Anything you do to prepare will be better than nothing at all.

2. ….but be conscious of the source of your information. 

Having affirmed that any amount of education is better than none, it is also important to consider the source. With so much content at our fingertips online, it is easy to get lost in a sea of information. It is usually best to navigate towards websites which offer factual information written by knowledgeable professionals and be cautious when using online message boards or social networking sites which can be filled with personal accounts, opinions and sometimes, inaccuracies. A friend, family member, or television show may or may not provide helpful or accurate information and may instead be “venting” or sensationalizing birth. Remember that these one-sided stories can affect your confidence, increase your fears and are not likely to be similar to your story. This is not to say that you should dismiss what you read online or what your friends and family tell you (sometimes you can hear encouraging, inspiring and amazing stories), just be cautious. If the information is not helpful, incites fear or feels incomplete, move on to another source.

3. Childbirth Education is about more than pain management.

We have sometimes heard mothers say,“Why would I need to take a childbirth class? I’m planning to have an epidural.” We want you to know that classes are helpful for any plan, and do more than teach you about pain management. Classes often provide education on all kinds of topics, such as pregnancy wellness, the typical course of events for birth, your choices, what to expect after the birth and often newborn care and breastfeeding. This information can relieve fears and help you enjoy your pregnancy, birth or postpartum time more than if you go through it blindly. You also have a chance to connect with other expectant parents, learn you are not alone in this journey and maybe even meet couples who turn into lifelong friends.

4. This is a day you’ll remember forever, so put some thought into how you would like it to go.

It is extremely important to keep an open mind during pregnancy, labor and delivery, because things can happen that are outside of anyone’s control. Labor can be unpredictable and you may encounter surprises. However, it is important to realize that the day your child is born is a day you’ll remember forever, and it warrants some degree of planning. It is a good idea to give thoughtful consideration to your options ahead of time and establish your preferences, then be sure to communicate those preferences to your care provider and to the people who will be supporting and surrounding you during your birth. We believe this will help you have a happier and more empowered experience and be able to look back on your experience with fond memories. 

5. Your care provider can’t do this for you.

While in some ways it might seem easier to turn over decision-making to another person and be free from responsibility, there is no one else as invested in your birth experience or its outcome as you are. No one else knows your goals and desires, your likes and dislikes, your history or your plans for the future. No one else will be taking your child home and raising him/her and no one else will feel the emotional impacts of the birth like you and your partner. Some decisions made for you by your care provider may not make a difference to you or may be beneficial, while others may leave you with doubt, regret or even trauma. You may look back at your experience and wonder if that intervention or medication was necessary or ask yourself “what if...” questions. You may make major future decisions based on your birth experience, such limiting how many children you have or resigning yourself to a similar birth with your next child. As childbirth educators, we know that your involvement in the decision-making, regardless of the birth experience or outcome, can have huge benefits to you for years to come. You have the right to make decisions for your care after receiving all of the important information about your choices, such as the advantages, drawbacks, and alternatives, and you always have the right to say no. Childbirth Connection has produced an excellent compilation of your rights that might be beneficial to read.  

Every woman is different, every baby is different and every labor is different. Even in our own classes, we want to make sure parents know that there are no absolutes, no hard and fast rules that are one hundred percent sure to apply to every couple or mother. Education can’t guarantee a particular outcome or ensure that your birth is all that you desire, but it can help you feel respected and empowered - and all families benefit from that.

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I'm not sure... do I need a doula?

I'm not sure... do I need a doula?

Parents who consider hiring a doula often ask some of the following questions. In response, we are exploring and clarifying the doula role and some of the reasons for hiring one. 

1. What exactly does a doula do? 

The “textbook” answer – that many of you have probably already heard – is that a doula provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a laboring mother and her partner throughout the labor and birth process.

But what this looks like in practice spans a very wide spectrum of scenarios. Since a mother doesn’t often know ahead of time exactly what will be most helpful to her in labor, probably the most important trait that a doula brings is the ability to be adaptable and adjust her style according to the individual needs of the mother and of the moment; to read the situation and act appropriately.

Sometimes, a mother needs to be left completely alone to feel safe and secure – any noise or touch creates more stimulation than she can handle in addition to her labor. Sometimes, a mother needs to have continuous eye contact with her partner. Sometimes the couple is doing well on their own and the doula can help carry bags, fetch water, and take care of other errands so that the parents never need to be separated for a moment. Sometimes a mother needs to be held, massaged, loved and encouraged by another woman who understands what she is going through. At times, labor support requires some trial and error for the doula to figure out what is most effective and as labor progresses, the doula may need to adjust her role, style or technique based on the mother’s changing needs.

2. Why would I need a doula when my partner/husband is prepared and wants to support me?

This can be a tough question to answer. It is true that the partner knows the mother well and has a very intimate connection with her and the baby; however the partner is also very emotionally involved, most likely not an experienced birth attendant and may benefit from some support, reassurance and guidance him/herself. Many parents have expressed concern that a doula will take away from the partner's role or experience. On the contrary, doulas want the partner to be intimately involved and work to keep the couple connected throughout the labor. Ideally, the partner and doula working together create the ultimate support team.

It is also important to realize that there are some unique elements that a doula can bring to the birth that may be difficult for a husband or partner:

    1. Experience. A seasoned doula has usually attended dozens, sometimes hundreds of births and can draw upon those experiences to guide her support. A newer doula has read countless books and websites, attended a training(s), and/or watched birth films and is knowledgeable and eager to help. For the partner, the birth is likely the first or one of a small number, so it may be difficult for him/her to establish a helpful frame of reference. Situations such as a baby in an awkward position, a mother battling nausea, a mother who panics, or other unexpected events, are likely situations that the doula has seen in the past and has learned various methods that can help.

    2. Instinct. Many doulas have had children of their own and have a love and passion for birth and helping other women have a positive experience. Attending many births and/or having given birth to her own children gives a doula a powerful personal experience from which to draw ideas and tools for support. Often, though not always, it is easier for women, especially those who have gone through it, to instinctively know how to support a laboring woman than it is for men.

    3. Objectivity. A doula will be able to maintain a bit more emotional distance in the midst of the passion and intensity of labor than a husband or partner. It’s not that she doesn’t care about the laboring mother, but rather that she is able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, keeping a more objective viewpoint. This will help her provide the information that parents need to make a decision based on evidence and experience rather than out of emotions or fear. Parents who are given tools to be at the center of the decision-making at every step of the labor and birth process are more likely to come out on the other side feeling respected and cared for. This will create a joyful and positive experience and get the family off to a healthy start. 

If a mother does not have a partner or other support person, the doula’s role possibly becomes even more critical, ensuring that the laboring mother will never have a moment when she will face her labor alone.

3. I get the idea of labor support, but won’t my midwife or nurse do that?

Maybe. Some labor and delivery nurses and midwives provide wonderful labor support, while others do not consider that to be part of their role at all or are too busy to have much time with the mother in that capacity. The problem with counting on the nurse or midwife for labor support is that no matter how wonderful she may be and no matter how much she may want to support her patient or client, that cannot be her primary concern. She has a job to do that includes monitoring, paperwork, and protocol. Ultimately, ensuring baby and mother’s health and safety is her primary focus, not providing comfort, support and encouragement to the laboring mother.

4. I’m not sure about having some stranger at my birth; wouldn’t it be better to have someone I’m already close to for support? Like my mom or sister?

Friends, moms, sisters, aunts, cousins and many other possibilities can make great labor support people. Anyone a mother chooses to invite to the birth that is going to enhance her experience, create a safe and secure space for her, and support her goals can make a great asset to the birth team. Doulas often work with family members to enhance their support or step in when they need a break. For a mother who finds companionship comforting, it is terrific to have a number of people nearby. With friends and family, it is important to keep in mind that some of the same limitations exist as with partners; it can be challenging for them to maintain objectivity, and without having attended many (or any) births, they may lack experience. In addition, your doula should not be a “stranger” by the time labor comes around. By then, she should have a well-established understanding of your goals, perspectives and personality, and the parents should be completely comfortable with her.

5. I plan to have an epidural or I may need a cesarean; is a doula still necessary?

No matter what your plans are for labor and delivery, it can be very beneficial to have an experienced, professional person with you whose primary task is to provide you with information and support. Sometimes suggestions, positions changes or a comforting face can make all the difference. 

These questions are great starting points for conversations that can help you decide what is best for your birth experience. If you agree, please share this with your friends! 

 Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Parents: Six Things Your Doula Wants You to Know

To the expectant parents out there considering hiring a doula, there are a few things that we as experienced doulas think you should know.

1. Our job begins long before labor does.

When people think “doula” they think support during labor. We will certainly be with you for labor, but a huge part of our role is to be available to you in the weeks and sometimes even months before labor. We will answer questions, lend support, encourage you, give you information and offer suggestions to help you become ready for labor. You should never hesitate to contact us with your concerns and questions, day or night, nor should you ever apologize for doing so. We juggle a lot of different things in our lives and we may not be as good as we should be about touching base with you, but we always want you to contact us whenever you feel the need. Having a baby is a big deal, and especially if you haven’t done it before, it’s hard to know where to turn for guidance. We love being involved in your journey leading up to labor, so please, use us!

2. This is about you. Not us.

We are here to support your birth experience and your choices. We want your family unit to be strengthened and bonded through our presence, and it is always our goal to be in the background making things better for your experience, not in the center or forefront. We are aware of your goals and choices and we are going to be there to remind you of them and help you achieve them. But if circumstances prevent this, or if you choose something different during your labor than you had originally planned on, our support for you will not waver. For example, if you wanted an intervention-free birth, but you change your mind and ask for an epidural during your labor, please don’t apologize to us or feel guilty. It’s not about us and we are going to be there for you with 100% of our love and support. No matter what.

3. Please understand our position.

You have hired us and we have no obligation, loyalty, or responsibility to anyone else. You’re our client and you’re the boss. We do not work for the nurses, the midwife, the doctor or the hospital. We work for you. However, please realize that we are professional labor support people, not bodyguards, decision-makers or medical care providers. We are there to support you, not protect you. Therefore, we cannot throw ourselves between you and your care providers, interfere with anyone trying to do his or her job, or speak to medical staff on your behalf. If we did, we would not be welcomed back to support the next laboring mother and long-term consequences would impact many more women, as well as the doula community. We need you to take responsibility for knowing the policies and procedures in the birth place you have chosen, and understand that some things come with the territory (and we will discuss these topics at length in our prenatal meetings so you are prepared). If there are things about the hospital that you do not want (i.e. continuous monitoring, mandatory IV, confined to bed), please do not expect our presence to “protect” you from these things. We can discuss your options privately, remind you of your preferences, and suggest alternatives, but it is up to you to refuse or accept these things.

4. Align your goals and choices.

It is challenging to serve clients who have certain goals and desires for their birth, then proceed to choose a hospital and/or care provider who do not support those goals and desires. If, for example, you want an intervention-free, mother-centered birth with the option of a water birth, choosing to go to the biggest, most impersonal hospital with a 60% cesarean rate that doesn’t have birth or bath tubs and hiring the doctor with the highest epidural rate, may lead to disappointment, since these choices do not necessarily set the stage for the most effective support for your goals. If, on the other hand, you are not all that concerned with rates of intervention or plan on an epidural in labor, this setting and care provider may be perfectly appropriate, especially if this is the choice you are most comfortable with and we completely support your choice. Just be aware that you will be better off if you align your goals and your choices.

5. We cannot do this for you, but we can help.

Having a doula with you for your birth will help you be encouraged, empowered and will ensure that you have continuous support at every moment. We will make sure you are well cared for and that you have the information you need to make the best choices for yourself and your baby. But having a doula in no way guarantees you a birth without complications, and we cannot do the work for you. Labor is hard with or without a doula. We will do everything we can to keep you as comfortable as possible. We will suggest positions, use massage, heat, encourage you to use the shower and the tub, employ counter-pressure, squeeze your hips, have lip balm ready, keep cool washcloths on your forehead, and remind you that you are strong and capable. All of these things will not necessarily make your birth pain-free or easy. They will help, but ultimately, this is your body, your baby, your experience, and your mountain to climb and you can do it! You will look back on this experienced and be amazed by your ability. This is a gift that we want for you so much.

6. Our relationship is for a defined set of time.

It is not unusual for us to form strong bonds with our clients. By the time baby arrives we have a solid relationship and care deeply for one another. But please understand that we serve a lot of clients and it is very difficult to maintain a long-standing relationship with each one. Sometimes our good friends develop out of a doula-client relationship, but please don't take it personally if we neglect to stay in touch or cannot make it to a birthday party that you invite us to. We care deeply about you and your family, but this is a result of the time constraints of our line of work and the nature of the job.

Finally, we are honored to be with you for your birth and have a deep respect for the work you will do to bring your little one safely into this world. There is nothing more sacred and special than witnessing the birth of a child and we thank you for trusting us and hiring us. Happy birthing!

If you agree, please pin this image on Pinterest and share it with other.

Updated 9/6/12

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved 

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Offbeat Parenting Milestones

Offbeat Parenting Milestones

We cover a variety of serious topics on our blog, but every once in a while it is nice to lighten the mood. Today we are exploring the humorous and real side of parenting. It is wonderful when you hear your baby giggle for the first time, when she takes her first step, or utters her first words, but here are 12 milestones that you never knew you would LOVE: 

  1. When he wipes his own bottom. Sure, it is exciting when your little guy shows interest in the potty, and even better when he starts using it consistently, but did you realize you’d continue to accompany him on those trips for a long time to come? The day he can successfully tackle that task independently from start to finish is party-worthy.
  2. When she learns to pump on the swing. When this clicks for your little one, you get to say goodbye to hours of standing there pushing her back and forth, over and over and over. You just may hear music from the heavens and feel like jumping onto your own swing beside her to celebrate.
  3. When he can buckle and unbuckle his own seat belt. You’ll recall how fun it is to mess with straps and buckles (sometimes for two or three kids) every single time you stop to run into the store, or post office, or library. And then do it all over again when you get back out. Well, no more! He’s got this now! Your errand-running just became a thousand times easier.
  4. When she can get her own breakfast without waking you. Even though you are thrilled to wake up to: “Moooom! Daaaaaad! I’m huuuuuungry!” the day will come when you’ll wake up all on your own, rub your eyes, and wonder why she is sleeping in, only to find her happily munching on breakfast that she got all by herself. Yes, there may be some cereal scattered on the floor or some milk on the counter, but you’ll still want to do a cartwheel.
  5. When he can get across the monkey bars all by himself. No more holding his weight as he struggles, trying not to get kicked in the stomach. Your little monkey is growing up!
  6. When life no longer depends on the blankie. Or pacifier, or beloved stuffed animal. She has that one thing that is her lifeline, and if you’ve ever misplaced it, you know you’re in a world of trouble, and there will be no peace until it is found. The day will come when it is still loved, but it’s not critical.
  7. When she can handle her own bath or shower, and actually get clean, including washing her hair. Yes, she may flood the bathroom for the first little while, but eventually, she’ll be able to get the water started, suds up, rinse off, get a towel and dry off without any help from anyone. Oh the rejoicing!
  8. When he gets up in the middle of the night to go potty without waking you. The night will come when you’ll half-way wake up and think you hear feet, then hear a flush and little steps heading back to bed. In the morning, when the fog clears and you realize what happened, give that kid a high-five and some stickers.  
  9. kid painting self portrait messTheir first self portrait. You have never seen a more perfect and beautiful stick figure in your life. Your heart will melt when you see her fingers are as long as their arms, her smiling face has no nose and her spaghetti string hair looks almost like hers does when she wakes up on the morning.
  10. When he realizes the toilet is not a garbage can or useful for storing toys. It’ll suddenly dawn on you one day that you haven’t fished anything out of there for some time. At last, the phase has passed. Breathe easier.
  11. When she names her first boyfriend. There are fewer things cuter than a 3-year-old preschooler letting you know she has a boyfriend, or better yet, pointing out the boy she plans to marry (in about 30 years, your brain will add). Of course, the next day she may want to marry her grandpa, but it’s still a fun day. 
  12. When he shows you that he is clearly growing up. This can come in many forms: his first basket, goal, cartwheel, the first time he sounds out a word, or the first time he writes his complete name and it is readable. Perhaps he will reach out to a friend who is hurting, or stand up for someone at school who is being picked on. He may show you that he can be trusted alone for a while, or get up and let the dog out without being asked. Whatever this looks like, you’ll have a moment when you realize your baby isn’t a baby any more. When that happens, cry, laugh, and give him a big hug (while he will still let you).

We could go on and on, but you get the idea. Now it is your turn: what are some of your favorite parenting milestones?

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Why do I even need to take a Childbirth class? I’m just going to get an epidural...

Why do I even need to take a Childbirth class? I’m just going to get an epidural...

do i need a childbirth class plan epidural birthWe know that the majority of parents do not take a childbirth preparation course and there are many possible reasons for this (too costly, too time-consuming), but overall, the general consensus is that mothers-to-be are just planning to check into the hospital, let their doctor or midwife “get them through it” and to have an anesthesiologist at the ready to ensure a pain-free birthing experience. With this being a common view on birth, why even bother with a childbirth education class?

Well, we can suggest several reasons that pregnant women and their partners should take a childbirth preparation course.

  1. To become aware of the processes, whether medicated or not, that a woman’s body will go through in the course of labor and birth. Learning about the anatomy and physiology of birth makes a woman more aware, and thus more in-tune, with what her body is doing and how she may feel while her labor starts and progresses. Her understanding will help her feel calmer, more in control and less frightened.
  2. A woman that spontaneously goes into labor is going to have to manage her labor, at the very least, until she can get to the hospital, get through triage, be admitted, be examined and then have the anesthesiologist called (which can take 30-60 minutes or more depending on the time of day and how busy the labor and delivery ward is). She may also be advised to wait to get an epidural until her labor has progressed further. A mother (and her support partner) who has no idea of what is occurring in her body or how to cope with and mentally process her sensations is likely to experience a heightened sense of fear, tension and pain. This is something that is rarely discussed during the course of prenatal visits with care providers and can often come as a shock to mothers when labor begins and they find themselves without resources or coping techniques.
  3. Pain levels have little to do with a woman’s satisfaction with her birth! As stated in this article, “Remember that labor pain is more than a physiological process; coping with labor pain is emotional and complex and results in feelings of fulfillment and achievement for women. Therefore, satisfaction with labor is not necessarily related to the efficacy of pain relief.” A woman is more likely to feel satisfied with her labor if she is supported, feels “in control,” respected and cared for, regardless of the pain she may experience during the process.
  4. To understand what interventions may be suggested or administered and to become aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each one. Even if a woman fully intends to have an epidural, it (as with all other interventions) does not happen in a bubble. There are IV’s to be administered, continuous fetal monitoring for the remainder of labor, the loss of mobility, an injection into the spine to be considered, and several side effects that could, and commonly do, occur. It is not simply the skilled anesthesiologist that will breeze into the room to rescue a woman from her discomfort, or the possibility of experiencing it.

We don’t expect that all women who take a childbirth course and learn about their options will choose to have an unmedicated, natural birth, but we do believe that helping them become aware and informed, will help them feel powerful and more satisfied with their birth experience regardless of their choice of pain management. And we know that this information, and so much more, can be conveyed and discussed during thoughtful, evidence-based childbirth education classes.

Now it’s your turn...

Should expectant women and their partners take a childbirth preparation course? If no, why not? What are the benefits of a childbirth class? Share your comments below and if you would like to share this article with parents, pin the image about on Pinterest.

Copyright 2011 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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