As her last latch comes near

Breathe in and out, breathe in and out, snuggle, kiss, grimace, distract myself, kisses, breath, relax, relax, get off, get off, get off.

These are my thoughts in my final days of breastfeeding my final baby. My day is a constant struggle of to hold onto this time. Of just getting through one more day, one more nursing session, and at the same time wanting so badly to be done.

As this chapter is coming to a close I’m having some very real reactions to it. I am processing, I am celebrating, I am grieving. When this last baby takes her last drink of milk there will be no one to take her place. This feeling has come as a surprise for me. I felt complete the moment I saw two pink lines with her. I’ve watched her go through milestones and have jokingly said that I don’t want her to grow up, while also happy to see what’s next. This milestone, this end has brought me to tears more than I expected. Maybe it’s because this is so far from how I imagined the end of my breastfeeding journey, so far sooner.

My goal was to nurse her until 2 and beyond, my goal was to let her self wean. It wasn’t even a goal so much as something that I was just going to do, I mean I have nursed two children before. I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I won’t reach either goal. Her latch is terrible, she moves constantly as most toddlers do and accidentally bites me almost daily. She grabs at my top and screams in my face for “mine boobies”, she twiddles my nipples and demands, demands, demands  and I simply can’t do it anymore. I’ve tried to wean her as gently as possible, slowly reducing how often and how much, singing songs to signal the end. Giving more snuggles. Still she is having a hard time with this and it breaks my heart. Distracting her is hit and miss. Her screams are more intense, her grabbing more insistent and her biting intentional each time I tell her no, each time I say “all done boobies.”  It makes me wonder if I am making the right decision, and then she nurses and I feel anxious, I’m doing all I can not to push her off and I remember this has to work for me to. Truth is it’s not.

My body has been shared with another person for 90 months. For approximatly 2,750 days I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding with no breaks. I have had the joys of knowing my children from the inside, of feeling their kicks and tumbles, I have watched my belly jump in awe. My body has brought them earthside, where they have snuggled in and suckled at my breast. They have been nursed to sleep. They have been breastfeed through growth spurts, colds and scraped knees. My body has been a place where three children have been nourished and comforted. What will it be now? 

I’m  trying to find the silver lining to this end. To see my new beginning. Of not having to plan outfits around access to my breasts, of being able to go out of town and not pack my pump, of my first week long kid free vacation, of having some freedom. I’m moving into a new phase of motherhood and I’m embracing it as best as I know how, with some tears, apprehension and the possibility of what’s next. 

Collaboration you Say!?

One of the reasons I LOVE my job is that I get to meet so many other people who also get excited about supporting families through their birth journeys. As I started setting up my Instagram account I got caught up in all the beautiful maternity, birth and newborn photography out there. Then I was hit by how much local talent I have access to!

This lead me to Katie, I reached out to her and the first thing I was caught by was her enthusiasm. Since then I have had the chance to hear her talk about her work, gotten feedback from those who she has worked with (always glowing) and watched her work. Katie is warm, kind, talented and I am so excited to get this opportunity to work with her. We are joining forces to bring the Sunshine Coast even more options as they add new members to their family. I will be here as always to support and guide, and Katie will be here to capture your most sacred moments.

Contact us for a Free Consultation and see all the Packages we offer.

 

Oh and don’t forget to check out Katies work here!

What is a Doula?

I get this question lot when people find out what I do. The question after is almost always “what is a doula?

If you look it up a doula it comes up on wikipedia as

A doula (/ˈduːlə/), also known as a birth companion or post-birth supporter, is a nonmedical person who assists a person before, during, or after childbirth, as well as their spouse and family, by providing physical assistance and emotional support.

 

When you read the definition it seems so bland. Isn’t a spouse someone providing support? What about a midwife? Or Nurse? It’s hard to sum up in one sentence what a doula really does and how a birth or postnatal period may be different with a doula.

Even as a doula, there have been times that I have asked myself the question, “What do I do?” Every family, and every birth has left me with different answers. These are a few of them.

I am a sounding board and knowledge base for all things pregnancy, birth and baby. I am here for the “Is this normal?” or “Can you look into this for me” and “Can you find me resources for that?”

I am an guide in trust. Guiding you to trust yourself, your body and your baby.

I am a shoulder to cry on when plans change.

I am your cheerleader, reminding you how amazing you are.

I am a calm voice, reassuring you every step of the way.

I am in the background getting cold cloths, glasses of water and tidying up, so that all focus can be placed where it should be, on the birth.

I am a hip squeezer and  head massager.

I am a big sister and best friend.

I am love and respect for your choices.

I am an information centre, ensuring you know all your choices.

My families have welcomed me into one of the most intimate, vulnerable times of their lives. From the prenatal visits, the text messages and emails, on through birth and postpartum I feel I  become part of the family. I get to know pets and siblings. I become comfortable in their homes sometimes cooking and folding laundry.

I have become a part of these babies birth stories and I could not be more grateful or honoured for being invited in.

 

 

What does Breastfeeding look like?

It’s world breastfeeding week and social media is exploding with pictures of moms and babies nursing. When people talk about breastfeeding it’s a vision of a mom and baby gazing into each others eyes in love, while baby nurses calmly away. It’s the picture we see on pamphlets and advertising. In actuality breastfeeding can and does look very different. Are there moments of serene calm? Sure, but all relationships are different and so will yours with our baby. As well as babies get older and more mobile calm, serene nursing sessions become less and less of a reality.  Lets take a look at all the different ways babies drink momma milk. .

 

The exclusive on the breast-breastfeeder. These nursing duos don’t use pumps or bottles. Baby gets every session straight from the source, either by their choice or moms. Some babies refuse to take any sort of bottle, some moms just don’t want to wash extra pump and bottle parts. Some of these moms cover up and some simply pull their tops out of the way to accommodate baby.

The exclusive pumpers. Opposite to those that only drink from a breast, these moms pumps every single bottle. These moms are some of my superhero. The time commitment to pump, wash bottle and pump parts and feed babies boggles my mind.  Moms that exclusively pump are usually working, so taking her breaks to make a meal for baby in sometimes less then ideal environments, it’s nothing short of amazing.

The combo feeders. Combo feeders get just that a combination of breastmilk and artificial milk. This can looks so many different ways, whether it’s a split combination of both, whether baby gets both types of milking bottles, or drinking from bottles some times and from the breast at others.  This type of feeding really shows that breastfeeding is not all or nothing and can be changed as what works best for your family and situation.

The SNS feeder. An SNS or supplemental nursing system is a small tube that mom can place on her breast and baby gets milk from both the breast and the syringe attached to the tube. This is a great option for babies that need more milk but still want to be on the breast. It’s also a great alternative for moms that simply don’t have milk from either previous surgery or other reasons.

Donor Milk.  A lot of babies don’t drink their own moms breastmilk. There are so many women who are able to pump more than their own babies need and donate this milk to other families.

This week lets all celebrate all the types of ways babies get breastmilk. Celebrate wether your baby feeds from breast or bottle. Celebrate wether you nursed for 1 session or until self weaning.

 

The start of something new!!

There are so many exciting things happening over at Tree of Life Doula. Check out the video to find out the first of many announcements. I only start this business 7 months ago and to say that I am farther ahead then where I thought I would be is an understatement. All of the opportunities that I’ve had were my 5 yr plan, not my 1 year plan. But here I am hanging on and embracing the ride, even if I am nervous at times.

 

Doubt kills dreams more than failure ever will

-source unknown

The Power of Positive Thinking

Birth Affirmations-2

When I was growing up my dad had these quotes on our fridge. You couldn’t grab an apple for ice cream without constantly being reminded about the power of positivity.

” If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t you’re right” 

and

“A positive attitude isn’t a 100% way to success, but a negative attitude is a 100% way to failure.”

As a teenager when I was having a hard time and wanted to give up sometimes I would look at those words and get angry. How could just thinking positively change anything? What did my dad know?

Those words challenged me. They were in a place where I saw them everyday, read them every day and soon when all I could think was negative thoughts and I wasn’t getting anywhere (surprise, surprise) I was challenged to change my mind-set.  Sometimes thinking positive thoughts wasn’t enough though so I started I writing them down. When writing them wasn’t enough I said them out loud. I shifted my thinking from I can’t to watch me!

It’s been a valubale lesson that has  continued to served me well as an adult. When someone tells me I can’t I see it as an opportunity to try, even when the person telling me I can’t is me.

The most life changing use of positive thinking was during my third and last pregnancy.  I knew what I wanted from that birth and yet I was challenged mentally in a way I hadn’t expected. So I did what I learned to do,  I spent a LOT of my last few weeks of pregnancy surrounding myself with things that would bring me up. I had a beautiful note a friend wrote me on my refrigerator door. I had a birth affirmation banner my friends made with me hanging in my dining room. I had sticky notes with empowering words on my bathroom mirror. I had a rock with the word TRUST made for me. When reading these wasn’t enough, I said them out loud over and over. This kept me going, not just through my pregnancy but my birth. Over and over during waves I kept saying ” You can do this, you ARE doing this.” And when I couldn’t say these things to myself anymore the people supporting me at my birth said them. When I hit a very hard moment in my birth I started saying “no” over and over. Someone told me “yes, you’re doing it, yes” the second I started saying yes, my baby dropped into the birth canal. Moments later she was in my arms. It was an intensely powerful moment. I will never doubt the power of positive thinking ever again.

 

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Here is a list of my favourite birth affirmations and words. What affirmations are your favourite?

Open, open, open

My baby knows how to be born

My baby is smart

Just like my body knew how to grow this baby, my body knows how to birth this baby

I trust my body

Each wave brings me closer to my baby

I am doing this

I am strong

I can do anything for 1 minute

I am strong, I am supported, I am  loved

I am safe

I belive in birth

Vaginas do open, babies do come out

I am going to meet my baby

Relax

Surrender

Let it go

You’re going to get HUGE

Let your body shine

You are powerful, you are enough,  you are beautiful

What you really need for life with a baby

What you really need for baby

 

The baby item industry can make it seem like you need everything under the sun to care for your baby. That their product with make life with a newborn just a little bit easier, a little more manageable.

The truth is the list of what a baby needs is actually very small. Of course there are some items that are essential, but a lot can be purchased later when you’ve settled into motherhood and gotten to know what items will work best for you and your baby.

So what do you need right away? What are some things that are nice to have? What can wait?

Essentials before baby comes:

  • A safe place for baby to sleep. This can range to anything from a  crib to a bassinet to bed sharing ( a post on safe bed sharing is coming soon!). It’s currently recommend that babies sleep in their parents room for the first 6 months.
  • Infant or convertible car seat
  • Diapers
  • Some newborn and 0-3 months onesies and sleepers
  • Feeding items. If you plan to breastfeed it’s great to have lanolin on hand. If you’re formula feeding have ready-made formula and bottles.
  • Baby Blankets
  • Burp Cloths
  • Healthy Snacks

Nice to haves before but can be bought after baby is here:

I found a lot of items below vary by family (for example my babies took baths with me) If you have friends with babies you can always ask to borrow some items to make sure babies likes it before investing. What one baby loves another may hate.

  • A stroller or baby carrier.
  • Swing or bouncy chair
  • Breast Pump
  • Pacifiers
  • Rocking Chair
  • Bath Items
  • Baby Monitor
  • Change Table

What you don’t need:

  • Wipe warmer
  • Fancy breastfeeding pillows
  • Crib bumper and quilt
  • Nursing Cover
  • Bottle sterilizer
  • Bottle warmer

 

Is there anything you couldn’t live without when you had your baby?  What do you think all new families should have on hand when they welcome a baby?