Rainy days like today make me think of when my kids were little. They would wait until the rain was steady and then run outside to splash in puddles, make mud pies and catch raindrops on their tongues. When they came in, I would wrap them in towels. Then we would proceed to the kitchen for a fun treat. This was my way of creating a tradition of nutrition and fun.
We would use cookie cutters to cut shapes into toasted bread. Then we would spread peanut butter on the stars, hearts, squares and circles, talking about all the fun designs we could create. Finally, the kids would decorate the shapes with dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins, cherries or apricots.
Heading into the kitchen was always an adventure and my kids enjoyed discovering new foods and flavors that I hope will last a lifetime. The creations weren’t always perfect, but there were plenty of perfect moments along the way.
Shortly after an egg is fertilized, the placenta begins to grow and attach to the uterine wall. It delivers nutrients, elminates waste and sustains your baby's life until your baby is safely delivered into your arms. It is truly an incredible organ! Some cultures even consider this organ to be sacred.
During the birth planning process, our doulas discuss your options and preferences for your placenta. One option is to consume your placenta after delivery. There are many ways for ingesting the placenta. Some practitioners mix frozen pieces into a smoothie for consumption. Some people cook and ingest their placentas. Our placenta encapsulation specialists prepare and encapsulate the placenta into pills. There is not enough science to support or oppose the consumption of the placenta. We have anecdotal evidence that reports some of the benefits of placenta consumption include: stabilization of mood and anxiety during the initial postpartum period, increased energy, lactation promotion, increased iron absorption, improved sleep, decrease postpartum hair loss, improved overall mood. Like most supplements, results will vary among individuals. Our placenta encapsulation specialists will pick up your placenta, prepare it, and deliver it to you in pill form.
If consuming your placenta is not your cup of tea, there are other options for your placenta as well. Some cultures believe that the placenta is a gift that should be returned to the earth after delivery. Life is intertwined with death. As your baby is born, the placenta begins to die. Its job is complete. Our doula will help you honor your placenta by assisting with finding a suitable burial location. You can learn what I did with my baby's placenta here.
Placenta art, lotus birth, and allowing the birth facility to incinerate and dispose of the placenta with other medical waste are also options. Our team does not judge your choices. Our goal is to make sure you understand all of your options so that you are capable of making informed decisions about your care.
I thought I would share my personal adventure in tandem nursing during Black Breastfeeding Week 2020. Tandem nursing is when you breastfeed siblings of two different ages. It started when I found myself pregnant with my second child while still nursing my 2-year-old. What?!?! Breastfeeding a toddler? With teeth? Yes, extended breastfeeding is common and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are many benefits to breastfeeding beyond 12 months: increased immune system function, added nutritional benefits, improved brain development, and lower anxiety. Additionally, nothing heals a boo-boo or stops a temper tantrum in its tracks like a mouthful of boob! Also, keep in mind that toddlers don’t nurse nearly as often as infants. Our nursing sessions were primarily before naps and before bedtime, about 3-4 times a day.
When I found myself pregnant while my not-quite-2-year-old was still breastfeeding, neither of us were ready to discontinue our breastfeeding relationship. I continued to safely breastfeed throughout pregnancy. What was that like?
Oftentimes, nurslings are the first to know when you are pregnant. The taste of your milk changes, becoming slightly salty. Some toddlers do not like the new flavor and will refuse to nurse. My toddler did not let a little funny-tasting milk stop her. She continued to nurse throughout my first trimester. As we approached my second trimester, my milk production began to decrease and eventually disappeared altogether. This is common during pregnancy. About 70% of women report decreased milk production during pregnancy. Still, my toddler persisted. This was the most difficult part for me. Dry nursing felt like nails on a chalkboard. Sometimes it was painful. But my toddler strongly desired to soothe herself with suckling, and breastfeeding interaction was still cordial. We worked through this challenge together. I agreed to allow her to continue to breastfeed but in limited increments. I would set a timer for 3 minutes. I would explain that she can have some milk but only for a little while because it hurt Mommy. She was very careful. Sometimes she was upset when the timer beeped and I would cuddle her instead of nursing for a few minutes. Then allow her to nurse again if she was still awake in 10 minutes. It was difficult for both of us.
During the third trimester, my daughter would nurse and feel her sister moving in my growing belly. She would smile and rub my belly while nursing. We would talk about how when the baby came, she would need to share milk with her new sister. When the baby was born, they both nursed together in the hospital bed with me. I was amazed at how big my toddler looked compared to my 6-pound newborn! My toddler was so happy to meet her new sister. Even better, my milk was back! It was like a kid on Christmas Morning when she latched on and milk came out again! She was so happy to have the gift of her mother’s milk! The oldest stroked the baby’s head as they nursed together. As months passed, they would hold hands and exchange glances. They shared this experience for a while until one day, my milk tasted salty again!
When my children were small, I introduced a chore chart. Foolishly, I thought it would lighten my workload. I thought by sharing household tasks with my four children, I wouldn't be so exhausted or stressed out by day's end. I was sorely mistaken.
You see, the purpose of the chore chart is NOT to make life easier or expedite the completion of daily tasks. It is actually easier to wash the dishes myself rather than repeatedly remind my daughter to do her chores. The purpose is not to reduce stress. Seriously, have you ever watched a five-year-old fold clothes? It takes FOREVER. The purpose of the chore chart is to teach teamwork, build confidence, and set expectations.
So, how does it work? I list age-appropriate tasks and assign children to each task. Some chores like dusting, polishing and taking out the trash rotate on a weekly basis. Other jobs are assigned to all of the children, such as putting the laundry away. The chore chart has gimme tasks such as, brushing teeth and drinking water because I don't want every task to be hard.
It is my hope that the time invested in teaching my children how to maintain a home and work as a team will pay off.
The Plus Mommy Podcast launched in May of 2018. It is hosted by Jen McClellan, the founder of PlusSizeBirth.com
In this episode, Jen interviews a midwife who beautifully describes the midwifery model of care and how it differs from the obstetric model of care. She clears up common misconceptions like midwives only attend home births, that they are only for pregnancy, and they aren't for people choosing an epidural. Please enjoy this episode of the Plus Mommy Podcast!
"Do midwives have BMI restrictions? Can a midwife care for me if I decide I want an epidural? If you’re considering working with a midwife, Certified Nurse Midwife and author Aubre Tompkins answers these questions and so much more about the midwifery model of care." https://plusmommy.com/working-with-a-midwife/
I stumbled upon this book one day while visiting the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. The cute cornrows and afro puffs immediately caught my eye. What a great find! Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival is about a little girl who is weighed down by big feelings that she does not understand. She is unable to ignore them or shake them off no matter how hard she tries. Worry and anxiety follow her to school and prevent her from enjoying the activities that she used to enjoy. Ruby discovers that other people also feel these feelings and it helps to talk about them. This is a great tool to begin a discussion with a young one who may be struggling with similar feelings.
When my children were little, I often encouraged them to play with their food! We would make faces, animals, and beautiful landscapes. Then we would make up stories while we consumed them. It was a fun way for them to try new foods, become familiar with different tastes and textures, and develop story-telling skills. There are lessons in everything!
Our bodies are amazing. They stretch and grow to accommodate the life growing within. Our bodies nourish and protect our babies. When we forget our belly has grown in size and misjudge the width of a doorway, we have lots of fluids and tissue to protect our babies from those minor bumps. (I know I'm not the only one who has forgotten the belly and walked into a door frame or two!) If the baby needs more room, our stomach and kidneys will scoot over a little bit and our diaphragm squishes up a little higher. Everything makes room for baby!
After our babies are born, we are left with an empty womb, a mushy space. Our organs will eventually return to their pre-pregnancy positions, and we will regain our sense of balance. But what happens until then? How can we honor the empty space where our babies once grew?
Postpartum belly binding provides 360 degrees of support while our bodies heal. Binding supports the back and abdominal muscles while preventing slouching. This ancient art is practiced in a variety of ways throughout the world. Many cultures use fabric to support the midsection and assist with postpartum recovery.
MINE-R-T Doulas are trained in Bengkung Belly Binding, commonly practiced in Malaysia. Using cotton, muslin, or batik fabric, our doulas wrap your midsection and tie a series of knots to assist with postpartum healing. Binding helps the muscles to heal together rather than apart, reducing diastasis recti. Belly binding may improve posture and provide additional support to loosened ligaments as they regain their strength following pregnancy.
Kira Kimble is a doula trainer, certified doula and doula mentor. She is the owner of MINE-R-T Doula Company in Charlotte, NC