What Every Dad Needs To Know Before Labor Starts

For years  my husband shared our childbirth story with laughter, positivity, and pretty much sugar coated the part about me digging my nails into his arms for hours at a time! Years later I asked him how did he really feel watching me go through labor. What was going through his head at that time? First, he shared that he was so scared and two, his heart was in pieces while he watched me go through so much pain for so long. He even wished that labor was like wrestling and he could tap in whenever I needed a break. He felt helpless, not knowing what to do or what to say.

But let me tell you, I was so glad to have the man that I made this baby with share in this sacred moment with me. He squeezed my hand when I needed a reminder of his presence, he held me up when my legs wanted to give out. He wiped my forehead when I was hot. He echoed my wishes and made sure they were met in the delivery room. He was there through every contraction and every push and ultimately catch his baby.  As a first time mom, witnessing him become a father was so beautiful and fulfilling to watch this man naturally without fail protect his newborn baby.

So to my father’s to be, the very first thing you can do for your partners is to be present during labor. Secondly, you ask your partner before labor starts ( doula’s make sure this conversation happens long before) what does support from you look like for them.

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You know your partners better than anyone. You know what she needs (and if you don’t ask her doula :0) But seriously as much as may want to prepare, or call family and do this and that, she needs you to focus on her and her alone.

And here’s a free tip! It’s not about you partners. That beautiful woman just carried a whole human in her womb and she’s about to push a baby out of her vagina, so  please save all negative commentary, disagreements and impartial feelings till after the baby comes. You’ll thank me later. 

Five Secrets Every Black Woman Should Know Before They Give Birth

        So today, we're discussing what you should know before you get pregnant or what you wish you knew before you got pregnant! Pregnancy lasts only about nine months and during this time our bodies are physically preparing to give birth. But my goodness those nine months are a whirlwind of symptoms. The number of changes and symptoms we feel and don't feel are countless. And then we are expected to learn and retain everything about birth in such a short amount time. We learn so much to achieve a favorable childbirth experience and more. Well, these five secrets are definitely where you should start on your childbirth journey. 

1. Know Your Rights! 
        In NYS hospitals, patients need to know they have the Bill Of Rights. It’s a list of laws that all hospital must abide by as it relates to all its patients and their care.  So much can happen while you labor and have your baby while at the hospital. Lines may get crossed when mothers are in pain and are vulnerable.  Some of my faves on the list are making sure to receive all the information you need to give informed consent. Did you just ask what you need to know to make an informed consent. You need to be informed of all the risks and benefits of all procedures. You want to make sure you ask questions like what exactly is the problem? Can this be normal? Is this procedure truly necessary?  You also have the right to complain without fear of reprisal about the care and service you are receiving. 

2. Trust Your Body
    On your journey to pregnancy and beyond, if you didn't know your body before, you will get to know your body through this experience. Take this time to listen and reflect. Take heed to how your body moves and how it reacts to everything. During labor, you will witness what your body is capable of. Fully trust your instincts. Ladies, only you know your body, so when something doesn't feel right say something and then say it again!. And when you know your body is fully capable to push your baby out, believe it, then do it!

3. Squad Up! 
    This one’s my favorite! Like I always say we weren’t meant to go through life alone. We thrive on trusting relationships. The same thing goes for us childbearers! Choose a provider that’s on the same page as you. That believes in the birth you want to have. A doula is a birth professional that is very knowledgeable about birth and their primary goal is to fully support you and your partner. So you know we got your back. Start thinking about who you want around you. Who will be helpful, and not a hindrance after you give birth. 

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4. Cuddle Time
 Yes! The time has come. Your precious baby has made their grand entrance. Then someone says put your baby down, don't spoil them. "They won’t ever let you get anything done" or "no don’t let them fall asleep at your breast". I’m not so sure where this mentality stems from but know that it’s completely OK to bond with your baby. Enjoy your baby and all that comes with it. If she wants to fall asleep at your breast let her. There will be a time for when she’ll fall asleep on her own. For now, your baby spent the past nine months knowing only you and your partner, so all he needs and wants is his mom and dad.  

5. You always have options…….unless you don’t!
    Before the baby comes, labor could go many different ways. Knowing what foods to eat or the dozens of labor positions, the right timing and a myriad of other things may help move things along. Maybe laying on your back during the pushing phase may not be comfortable and you’d prefer to stand. Or a hands and knees position to relieve some of the pressure on your back. You have options!  But it takes trusting your instincts, knowing your body and trusting in the team you designed to know when something feels wrong and knowing when to let the medical professionals take over if a dire situation were to arise. 

         So do yourselves a favor and prepare, prepare prepare. We put way to much trust in a system that doesn't have our best interest in mind.  If you don't remember every tip in this article, please remember this; TRUST YOURSELF. Our bodies are designed to carry a baby, give birth and provide sustenance for that baby thereafter.  So believe in the power that is you and do it! 

  
 

How To Support Mom's Struggling With Postpartum Depression

It’s been a few days since Mother’s Day, but I believe us mommas deserve some love and support every day. Mother’s day was extra special for new mothers (or maybe it wasn’t) this year. So many mothers are suffering from Postpartum depression.  Many of us are unsure of what Postpartum Depression looks like, families are still struggling with how to deal with it. So many mothers are suffering and also suffering in silence. And in the case of black mothers, less are likely to seek professional treatment or support from loved ones. So how do we help them? First, we must educate ourselves on the signs and symptoms of PPD. Mommies if you are feeling overwhelmed consistently, or you feel like you can't be a good mom repeatedly, or you're unusually tired. Maybe you feel resentment towards yourself or the baby, or maybe you are extremely sad, or numb.  Whatever you are experiencing, you have to seek help.
As a friend, it's important to share how and when you can support the mom. Gather your other girlfriends and start a support system. PPD or not, new mothers can use all the help they can get. One new system that I'm loving right now is called Meal Train.  This website allows you to simplify the organization of meal giving around significant life events. This way you and your girlfriends could organize a rotating schedule for dropping off meals (or cleaning, or laundry or watching her other children;  and the new mom gets to do some “adulting” on a weekly basis.  
For the fathers! Fathers, your number one job - much like the job of mommy friends - is to get educated on PPD and find ways to uniquely support your partner. It may feel frustrating when nothing seems to work but your presence and understanding means a whole lot and doesn’t go unnoticed. Encourage your partner to seek professional assistance and let her know and see that you are willing to stick by her side through this.
Friends and family the best thing you can do for the mothers in your life that are dealing with PPD is to listen. Don’t try to minimize their problems or even make them better. Just lend them a loving ear. Sometimes all we need is to talk it out and we will figure it out, but it starts with someone genuinely asking how are you feeling today?

The Top Three Challenges of Your Third Trimester and How to Overcome Them

So here it is,  you’re getting ready to enter the last leg of this pregnancy marathon! You are ecstatic and can’t wait to meet your bundle of joy.  But things are moving slowly and you are only getting bigger and bigger. The first trimester was full of joy, excitement and not to mention nausea. During the second trimester, you got a boost of energy, you’re glowing and maybe took the cutest maternity shoot ever. But then the third trimester is here and you can’t see your feet, you aren’t comfortable in any position and you just want your baby out already!
During the third trimester, your body is starting to expand and it gives way to the itchy irritated skin. This is a great reason to delve into self-care.  To soothe your itchy skin, fill your tub with water and add drops of lavender oil and flowers and rose water. Light up some candles and chill.  Put some oatmeal in a cheesecloth and use it to wash up.  Use fresh, organic moisturizers to hydrate your skin. I prefer to make mine at home. I use shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil and 1-2 drops of any essential oil. Blend them all together and use daily.
Do you feel like a robot mosquito bit you and your legs are ridiculously swollen? That's because it’s taking a longer time for the blood circulating through your legs to make it’s way back around, so fluid from your veins enter the tissues of your ankles and feet. It helps to keep your legs elevated when you can throughout the day.  Whether you are on your feet or your booty all day, remember to change it up and take a walk every few hours to keep the blood circulating.  While you're shaking it up, be sure to stay hydrated. When your body is dehydrated it retains water, hence your swelling torpedoes!  Indulge yourself in a variety of fruits and leafy green veggies.
Not using the bathroom to the best of your ability? It's pretty normal during pregnancy.  The hormones in your body have actually relaxed your smooth muscles including your digestive tract.  Constipation happens, so the first line of defense is to drink a lot of water. Start your day off with a full glass of water with lemon. Eat lots of fruits in the morning and leafy greens all day.  Pears are a good fruit to go with and for some reason Asian pears really get things moving down there.  Exercise also helps, so don't be afraid to sweat a little.
Now, this isn’t really a challenge but nesting can only be described as a sudden urge to clean and organize before the arrival of your newborn. Listen, if you get the urge to clean your whole house and yada yada yada, by all means, do it! But enlist others in your quest to prepare.  You don’t have to do it all alone. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Whether this is your 1st pregnancy or your 4th, your life is about to change, so use your time wisely and enjoy it with your loved ones.
I’d love to hear more about the challenges you are having with your pregnancies! Please send an email or comment below.
 

4 Ways To Treat The Common Cold While Pregnant

I absolutely hate catching colds from kids! When they sneeze, they barely catch their boogers. They cough without covering their mouths properly and touch everything within a 3-mile radius!!! When you're pregnant your immune system is working so hard that it becomes a bit more sensitive to germs and so you have a higher chance of getting sick. Flu season is almost out the door but it’s still lingering and today we are talking about ways to help you feel better and prevent it all together. 

The best medicine for a cold is to consistently prevent it. Stop looking for a miracle cure that promises to wipe away all your symptoms.  The best way to heal is to embrace a healthy lifestyle and choose to do right by your body every single day. 

The first thing you must do is make sure that you are getting as much rest as possible. Your body is working overtime and the only way for it to get stronger is to let your body rest. So enjoy the rest now, because it will be hard to come by later. 

Leafy green vegetables are filled with calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and so much more. Leafy greens are nutritionally dense and will help build an immune system that's been sorta compromised.  Keep eating your greens and pregnancy won’t be the only reason why you're glowing. You can incorporate leafy greens into your diet via salads, smoothies and sauteeing them as a great side dish. 

 Staying hydrated is crucial to all your bodily functions. During this time your body is producing a lot of extra fluids so you need to replenish consistently. Water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated ladies! Fruits and vegetables like watermelon, celery, watercress, and cucumber have a high water content. So eat up!

The symptoms of stress tend to silently creep up on us and do major damage. And when we’re pregnant it’s something that we would rather not deal with. It has a way of suppressing our immune system, cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and digestive issues. I dealt with a lot of stress while pregnant and it caused me to have severe migraines! Once I decided to let go of the stress my migraines went away and I could better focus on myself and my baby. 

Feeling your best during your pregnancy can sometimes be a challenge. Remember to listen to your body as it changes and take care of it.  Nourish yourself with great foods and do what you feel is best for you. 

Let me know what else your struggling with your pregnancy!