August 18, 2016

The Fast and Furious: Precipitous Birth

Every one has a birth story...maybe it's theirs and maybe it's just one that they've heard once upon a time. Or maybe it's a video of a baby being born in a car on the way to the hospital.

That's right. I'm talking about faster than fast, precipitous birth.

So what does the term precipitous actually mean? Well in physical terms it means up on a precipice, extremely steep, and dangerous. As it relates to labour and birth, it means any type of leading to labour that may be considered exceptionally rapid or dangerous where there isn't enough time (technically, 3hrs from commencement of regular contractions) for things like comfort measures, changing positions or much else other than birthing your baby.

Sounds scary, right?

Well it can be, but with the right support and open communication with your care team, it doesn't have to be.

The best thing that you can do, since precipitous birth is completely unknown until it's happening, is to be an active participant in your care. Inform yourself of what birth and emergencies surrounding birth are so you're not caught off guard by medical terminology or chaos in your birth room.

If you feel like things are happening during labour maybe faster than you are prepared for, speak up. This is your body, birth and baby, so speak up and ask questions.

And have a backup plan. In the event that you're overwhelmed by what is going on in the birthing room, have someone there to ask you questions  and say things like ....

Are you ok?
Did you want to talk about our options?
Take a minute to breathe, and let's talk.
Let's find out more information.

Support from your partner during a precipitous birth is key, and know that they may be feeling overwhelmed as well. Having a doula present may take the load off both of you, allowing for calm and quiet to settle in amongst the chaos. A gentle hand on both mom's shoulder and partner's arm may be all that is needed to get through what is going on.

Open communication
Active participant in your care


August 11, 2016

Common Breastfeeding Challenges

A lot of moms think breast feeding is easy and comes naturally, when in reality sometimes that isn’t the case. Breastfeeding is something that your body learns to do and your baby needs to learn how to do it as well. Sometimes it takes awhile for everyone to learn but remember that you are not alone during this time. There are many resources available to you, you just have to look for them or know the right people to ask. 

Here is my list of top breastfeeding challenges and, of course, some tips to those struggles. 

Latch Pain – It is quite common to have sore nipples when you first start breastfeeding. Your body needs to adjust to the new situation. If your baby has latched and the pain is lasting longer than a minute into the feed then you should double check on the positioning of the latch. The best latch is an asymmetrical latch where the mouth covers more of the lower nipple. If you need to reposition the baby put your finger inside their mouth in order to break the latch. Tickle your baby’s chin or feet so their mouth is open wide and position your breast again. If the baby’s chin and nose touch your breast and their lips are spread out around your nipple (so you cannot see your nipple) then you have a good latch. If you have a good latch and are still in pain, your nipples may be dry. Try using a nipple cream like Lansinoh in between feedings. Also try to avoid washing with soap as that tends to dry out your skin. 
Cracked/Bleeding Nipples – There are many different reasons why your nipples could crack or bleed, again this is quite common. It could be caused by dry skin, pumping issues, latch problems or thrush (see below). During your first week of breastfeeding you may have bloody discharge which is caused by baby learning what they are doing and your body adjusting to it, this is not harmful for your baby. Ensure you have a good latch or try feeding more regularly and in shorter periods. If your baby isn’t as hungry they tend to suckle softer. As stated above, try using a nipple cream to soothe your nipples. Leaving some milk on your nipples to air dry will sooth them as well, plus the milk has natural antibiotics to help healing. 
Blocked Ducts – If your ducts are blocked it is because your milk isn’t coming out properly. You may even notice hard lumps, redness or tender spots on your breasts. If you start to get a fever or feel achy that could be a sign of infection and you should see your doctor. Try not to go too long in between feedings as milk needs to be expressed often. A tight nursing bra may also cause your ducts to become blocked and of course, stress can also be a factor. Applying a warm compress to your breasts and massaging them will promote milk movement. 
Engorgement – This makes it hard for baby to latch properly since your breast is hard and it is uncomfortable in their mouth. If you hand express a little before you try to feed then your breast will be softer and it will be easier for baby to latch properly. Engorgement is due to high milk supply so the more you feed (or express) the less likely your breast will become engorged. Try using cabbage leaves or watermelon rinds to sooth your breasts if they become painful due to engorgement. 
Mastitis – This is a bacterial infection in your breasts. It is painful and usually is accompanied by flu-like symptoms. This is also quite common during the first few weeks after birth (but can also happen when you wean) and is caused by dry/cracked skin, blocked ducts or engorgement. The best way to treat mastitis is with antibiotics, hot compresses and frequent expressing. It is actually recommended that you continue to breastfeed when you have mastitis since breast milk has antibiotics in it. 
Thrush – This is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth that can spread to your breasts. It is very itchy, sore and sometimes is accompanied by a rash. The best way to treat thrush is with antifungal medication. It is important to remember to treat baby and you at the same time or you can prolong the healing by continuing to pass it along to each other. You can also use coconut oil, tea tree oil and garlic to treat thrush and watermelon rinds or cabbage leaves to soothe your breast. 
Inverted Nipples – There is a simple test that you can do to see if you have inverted nipples. Softly pinch your areola with your thumb and index finger, if your nipple goes in instead of going out then you have inverted nipples. It is important to remember that this doesn’t mean you cannot breastfeed. However, it will be more of a struggle for you. Try using a pump or hand expressing to get your milk flowing before you try to latch your baby. If your baby is still having latch problems after you have a good supply try using nipple shields.

As always, if you feel like something is wrong and are struggling, please seek the knowledgeable support of a certified lactation consultant or your doctor! The information above are merely suggestions and should not be taken as medical advice, in any capacity.


August 4, 2016

birthPrep: Pregnancy and Birth!

Did you know that you can take the full birthPrep: Pregnancy and Birth Education course from the comfort of you own home??

What can you expect from the online course? This course was created from a love of supporting and empowering women and their families throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Be gentle and kind with yourself. No two pregnancies are the same, and no two families are the same. We encourage you to make the decisions that work best for you in this moment, knowing that it is perfectly ok for those decisions to change later on.

birthPrep will take you through....

  • What to Expect During the Final Stages of Pregnancy
  • Signs of Labour and the various Stages of Labour
  • Comfort Measures for Labour and Birth
  • Labour Positions and Why They Matter
  • Your Options During Birth
  • Standard Hospital Procedures
  • Interventions and Why They May Happen
and so much more!

What are you waiting for? Register today and work through this conversational, compassionate and research based prenatal education course at your own pace! Our team is here to help and support you along the way!


August 3, 2016

World Breastfeeding Week: One Doulas Story

`Are you going to breastfeed?` asked the nurse during my intake at the hospital after my water broke at 41+1. Being a first time mom, who did all the reading but never asked questions, I thought this question was a no brainer and an overwhelming YES! Who would not want perfect temperature food available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, exclusively for the first six months and then with complimentary foods until a year (that is what the book said).

Amanda Kopcic Photography

No one told me it even COULD be hard but when it was hard (or so I thought) when my milk did not come in until day 5. I was a hormonal mess, my mom was helping as much as she knew how, I couldn’t figure out a hand pump and had a breakdown where I begged my partner to run to the store to buy bottles and premade formula. Which is something I should have prepared for but I thought breastfeeding would be easy.

Every mom does it. This is what my body is meant to do. This is what breasts are for! My thoughts about breastfeeding were na├»ve and I wish someone would have been there to tell me that it is normal for milk to not come in until then, that I WOULD be a hormonal mess and that breastfeeding helps your uterus shrink back to its normal size (which in some women, me included, could be just as painful as contractions). 

During all this chaos of just becoming a mom, learning all about this new tiny human, the dreaded lack of sleep and the parade of family members and friends visiting with their well wishes and to meet our new addition... I didn’t think that this itching was odd, or this small rash under my still existing baby belly was a concern.

Within a few weeks the itching got out of control, I was in tears in the bath tub between feedings, it was the only thing that was taking the edge of pain away and not making me scratch my skin off. I tried everything I had in the house to cover my skin to help, I even covered myself in Pentene cream and calamine lotion. I was beginning to worry and went to a walk in clinic after googling some rashes in pre and postnatal and coming to the conclusion of PUPPs (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy). Walking away in tears to been given hope with some topical steroids, but that didn’t help either, I could have used the entire tube within the next few days. 

Two weeks went by and still no relief after doing a large online order of items that women said helped them deal with PUPPs and still no luck, still crying and working through this new mom and baby routine. A trip to the emergency room had a doctor tell me I couldn’t take Benadryl because I was breastfeeding and offered more topical steroids. With no answers and getting to the point of losing my sanity I looked for alternative options with a Naturopath. I finally came across someone to feel for my sanity, see my pain, wanting me to heal, show me compassion. She validated my raw emotions and allowed me to break down, and we got to talking about how your body heals from birth. Her conclusion was that my body was not filtering the drugs of the epidural through my liver efficiently, and planned on doing a very intense liver cleanse to rid my body of these foreign chemicals. 

That same week was my 6 week check up with my family doctor, the rash had got out of hand and ONTO my hands. It spread across my belly, onto my lower back, buttocks, thighs, chest, upper arms and creeping onto my lower arms and hands. I would NEVER wish this pain on my worst enemy. I was lucky enough to have a baby who was sleeping long stretches at night, an amazing latch and my supply was abundant. That was easy. This rash was overtaking my life!

My family doctor had no choice at this point to put me on oral steroids to get rid of the hives on my body, which may or may not transfer through my milk, but on first attempt I could tell her tummy was not agreeing with the drugs… And began my journey to keep up my supply, pumping and dumping for three weeks and formula feeding.

IT WAS GRUELLING! Pumping every three hours, making bottles, sterilizing pump and bottle parts, those times in the middle of the night where my daughter was not waking but I did so my supply wouldn’t decrease. I was so determined in the first few days, trying to be a supermom, proving my mom wrong who told me just to give up. No. This was supposed to be easy.

Three weeks went by and off the medication I went, within a day this rash came back with a vengeance. All I wanted to do is comfort my daughter when she cried, I hated having to make a bottle while holding a screaming child, and I wanted this `easy breastfeeding experience ` I read about. However, the hives spread to my face and back to the doctor and on the steroids I went.

LoraLayne Photography
 SIX WEEKS. The most trying six weeks of my life with the entire time being terrified of postpartum depression because it was right there, waiting for me to give up hope, waiting for that moment in the middle of night where I was falling asleep pumping, waiting until my partner left for work and I was alone, just me, a hungry child and a shadow trying to overtake me.

These six weeks shaped me as a mom. I am proud to breastfeed and would do it whenever, wherever my daughter needed. I was adamant about breastfeeding as long as my daughter wanted, which would still be happening if I did not dry up at the beginning of my second trimester with our next child. It was a sad time to me even after 2 years because I worked so hard and was determined to breastfeed. And we did. Since she had her first birthday I was bombarded by family and friends with the question about weaning, I knew I wasn’t ready and she for sure was not. 

Through our breastfeeding journey I encountered the struggle of formula feeding, exclusively pumping, low supply and eating everything suggested just to get those few extra ounces. There were many times I wanted to just give up but then I remembered those long nights, how hard I worked and how dedicated I was during those six weeks to be able to breastfeed. I made those sacrifices for my daughter but in turn have given myself an amazing gift of understanding. I have so much respect for every mom, whatever their choice of feeding may be, these tiny humans do not come with manuals and we need our village, we need support. If you are ever in need of support postpartum, whether it just be an ear to listen or help with breastfeeding you know who that here at Sweet Stella`s we can be just that for you.

Amanda Kopcic Photography
Thank you to my family and naturopathic doctors who validated that what I was going through was not normal. Thank you to my partner who stood by my side throughout our breastfeeding journey, even when he did not know how to help but his presence was all that was needed. Thank you to my mom who was there those first few days to help calm my hormones, hold my space (literally) and to support our journey however long that may have been. Thank you to the friends who listened to me complain, who were also up during those wee hours to keep me company and those who made me lactation cookies. Thank you to the many friends who have captured our journey for me to always enjoy and to share with my daughter. Thanks to you, the reader, for taking your time to share my story with, it is healing my soul sharing this journey.


August 1, 2016

There is Always Time for Stories and Snuggles

In our fast paced world, it's so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of to-do lists, errands that need to be run and feeling exhausted at the end of the day.

Slow down, mama!

There is always time for an extra story (especially with the older kids!), and to-do lists should always be plentiful in snuggles!

Take time this month to think about what is really important. The bills will always get paid, the car will always get to the dealership for service, the groceries will always get done and the pantry will be restocked.

But those snuggles? Those stories?

Those moments with your kiddos?

Make time. The other things, the errands and whatnot...they can wait.

Spend time with those that matter most, and I promise you, you won't regret it!

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