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.
My father wrote this essay for Father's Day in 1984. It was first published in our local newspaper, Erie Times-News, in honor of his late father, Charley J. Pittman (1922-1975).
For Mother's Day, I wrote about my mom. For Father's Day, I guess it’s only fair that I write about my dad. Besides, that’s the way Dad would have liked it.
He advocated for equal rights, especially when there was a Pittman involved. Charley James Pittman was the backbone in the Pittman family and no one ever questioned his role as leader. Dad was tough because he had to be. But he was far from being perfect - because I believe that’s the way he wanted to be.
Laying Down the Law
He set tough standards for his children and expected us to live up to them. He desperately wanted our lives to be better than the one he had to endure. Born and raised in Red Springs, NC as one of six children, he was forced to drop out of school in eighth grade to help support his family.
After becoming a Master Sergeant in the Army during World War II, he married my mom and went to work as a steelworker in Baltimore. There, he worked for 29 years before dying of cancer at the age of 53 in 1975. You see, my father was no one special. He had no degrees or titles. All he knew was what he wanted for his family -- and what he didn’t want them to be.
He knew the environment that we grew up in didn’t lend itself to producing successful people. He showed us first hand what life in the streets was all about and what heavy drinking could do to your family life.
His philosophy definitely was “Do as I say, not as I do.” He expected excellence from his children and got it. If we didn’t achieve what we were supposed to, the worst words in the world coming from Mom were, “Wait until your father comes home."
Dad was not the type who accepted excuses. I remember once how, while playing first base in a critical baseball game, I missed a low throw on the back end of a double-play that almost cost us the game. After making an excuse about missing the throw, my dad said, “Charles, the ball never gets too low to catch -- now go to bat and do something about that error.”
Wouldn’t you know it, I hit the game-winning home run in my next at bat.
Dad supported all of our sports activities and came to almost every game. He offered encouragement when times were tough. When I was a freshman at Penn State, I called home one night complaining about how tough things were at school and how the coaches were not treating me fairly. I told my mom I was coming home from school and like a caring mom, she said, “Okay.”
But Dad got on the phone and said, “NO!” - emphatically. “Do you want to work in a steel mill all your life?” he asked. “You stay there.” He went on, “If the other players can stay there, so can you.”
Thanks to Dad, I stuck it out.
A Tough Leader
His methods were different. I believe to this day that he convinced us of all the wrongs of the streets. He decided one day never to drink, smoke or gamble again. He settled down to push us all through college and encouraged us all to pursue athletics to its fullest.
Because fathers then were different from what they are now, we never really got a chance to tell Dad thanks.
It seemed, then, not to be permissible for fathers to show affection or emotion. They knew their roles as head of the household, and most of them played it well.
I’m so very thankful my dad did.
And to Tony, Kira and Mauresa - Thanks for the breakfast on Father’s Day. Don’t worry about how it looked, because it really tasted good. And Kira, thanks for your missing tooth. It was awfully big of you to give it to me for Father’s Day rather than save it for the Tooth Fairy.
Kira Kimble is a doula trainer, certified doula and doula mentor. She is the owner of MINE-R-T Doula Company in Charlotte, NC