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My Cheerleader Across the Country

Everyone has a cheerleader.

You may or may not know it. Someone is following your journey on facebook or instagram. They want you to succeed at life in general, and in your professional ventures. 

I met my personal cheerleader in Kansas City October 2016.

She’s a subtle cheerleader, she doesn’t carry pom poms or chants, but she does carry a smile, confidence, and incredible hair. Her name is Randy Patterson. She is a doula, she owns Northwest Doulas, and founded ProDoula.

When Randy looks at me, or speaks on stage to a group, I know her words are so carefully chosen, and their impact is powerful. When Randy posts on facebook “I love you, yes you.” I feel as if she’s speaking directly to me. Even commanding a room, she speaks straight into the heart of those listening.

The way Randy goes above and beyond in her work is special. She established a fantastic training organization, but didn’t stop there. You’ll see someone post online looking for guidance, and Randy will say “Call the office, I’d love to talk to you about that!” She will be your personal business coach if that’s what you want. The way she wants you to be successful is inspiring. It makes you want to do better, set goals, reach those goals, obtain your dreams. Knowing that someone is in your court is sometimes all it takes.

Guess what?

You get the chance to have a weekend of magic with Randy. Join a group of dedicated, excited, old and new professional doulas for a up to 4 days of training. You can sharpen your doula skills, add to your knowledge of comfort measures, labor coping strategies, newborn swaddling techniques, and all of the other hands on technical skills it takes to jump straight into the birth world! In addition to on the job skills, you’ll have Randy as your mentor. You’ll gain wisdom from a very accomplished doula. You’ll learn some of her personal tricks, and she’ll reach into your soul. She’ll dig deep into why you’re a doula, and leave you ready for any doula job.

So please, join us in San Diego August 24&25 for a labor doula training, and stay August 26&27 for a postpartum and infant care doula training. You’ll leave with so much more than knowledge, you’ll leave with your own cheerleader too!

Register for the Labor doula training here.

Register for the Postpartum and Infant Doula training here.

Did I mention that San Diego is the perfect destination for a long weekend work trip?
If you need assistance arranging hotel and airfare accommodations don’t hesitate to call! (858) 336-9394 

5 Simple Steps to a Happier Pregnancy

It is so easy to be caught up in life and forget about the simple joys. With all the worries and stress of pregnancy it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything there is to do. Here’s a few steps you can take to have a happier pregnancy.

 

Step 1: Leave the Facebook Groups

You know the groups who jump down your throat with their mission. A lot of them mean well, and intend to save babies, but the message gets a little lost in translation. If a group is giving you anxiety about carseats, sleep, or any other aspect of pregnancy, ask yourself “Does this group and the time I spend on it add value to my life?” If the answer is anything but yes- leave it!

 

Step 2: Tell the Haters What’s Up

If every time you see a certain friend they want to tell you how much pushing your baby out hurts- tell them “Positive visions are important for my delivery. I don’t want to talk about the pain of childbirth anymore.” If you believe in yourself without question your friends should respect that. Often times people think it is okay to joke about calling you fat, or how you are never going to sleep again. It is totally fine to blame not wanting to discuss those thought on pregnancy hormones.

 

Step 3: Bond With Your Baby

Remember the end goal- it’s having a baby! Spend some time during these months to focus on building a connection with your baby. Take bump shots if that’s what you like. Find a yoga teacher- we love Nature’s Whisper. Find a chiropractor- we love Dr Kayla.  Read stories to your baby, or play music for them. Sit in nature and do kick counts. Whatever it is that makes you feel connected- do it!

 

Step 4: Find Supportive Care Providers

Figure out your birth options. Do you want to deliver with a midwife? Or with an Obstetrician? The care provider doesn’t matter as much as believing that they believe in you. Having a doctor or midwife who you can speak openly with about your hopes, wishes, and fears is important. Here in San Diego it can be hard to find a provider or hospital your insurance covers, but you still have options.

 

Step 5: Find Your Support

Finding people you can talk to on hard days can be a huge weight lifted off your chest. Someone who you can text asking “Is this normal?” Someone who you can call crying when someone’s comment makes you question “I am too big?” We hope your support includes a southern pacific doula- because you deserve the best support.

Thankful For Cesareans

Chances are you have a plan for the birth of your baby. Maybe you’ve been religious about your diet and exercise while pregnant. You’ve been doing all the yoga, Pilates, and chiropractic work to make your body ready to bring your baby into the world.

Even the best laid plans can change. Your plans can change. You can change your plan, or maybe your baby has a plan of their own. After all, the baby holds all the power.

It seems as though people are quick to judge cesarean birth, and I think there is so much misunderstanding about it. This misunderstanding leads some parents to feeling disappointing in themselves, or their ability to birth their baby.

Did you know that not everyone’s body is made for making babies. Your body may be perfect for it, but others have minor problems that make birthing a baby vaginally near impossible.

Some people need cesareans. Some people don’t need a cesarean every time they birth their baby, but some do. Some women need cesareans regardless of their body’s ability to birth vaginally. Some women chose cesarean for a variety of reasons, and none of those reasons are wrong.

Some people question the ‘olden days’ saying “What about in caveman times when they couldn’t have cesareans, or epidurals, or gas, or therapeutic rest! People just listened to their body, and pushed out their baby! Why are we sectioning all these women?” First of all it is demeaning to compare cesarean to any cutting, slicing, or sectioning. It is the way these mothers or babies are choosing to bring life into the world, and it is awe inspiring. Many people did birth vaginally with no problems, but many did have problems. But childbirth wasn’t as safe then as it is now. In fact it was quite dangerous. It wasn’t uncommon for mom, baby, or both to be lost during birth.

You know what makes birth safer now? It’s medical intervention. It’s inductions, and steroids. It’s testing, and regular doctor appointments to make sure everyone is healthy and on track. It’s also cesarean. Because if your baby isn’t tolerating labor well, they need to be born.

So that’s why I am so thankful cesareans exist. It is amazing that we have this option. Instead of losing your life, or the life of your baby, you can have a cesarean. If your baby’s heart rate drops, you can go into the OR and meet your baby safely. Because who doesn’t want a safe option to bring your baby into the world? 

If You Don’t Hire a Doula

If you decide you don’t want a doula to attend your birth, you will still have a baby, and hopefully a positive birth story. You should still feel respected in the delivery room, and your birth team should still support you. However, if you don’t have a doula on your team you will miss out on a few things.

If you don’t hire a doula, you don’t have an expert available to answer all your questions 24/7.

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t get cheerful emails about the amazing work you’re doing for your baby already.

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t have an expert on comfort at your labor.

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t have someone to call and ask “Am I actually in labor?” or “Does this seem normal?” or “Was that my mucus plug?” or “Can I have sex yet?”

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t have her there to keep you grounded and under control.

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t have her assistance making a birth plan.

If you don’t hire a doula, you could be alone for portions of your delivery.

If you don’t hire a doula, you could be alone when you bring your baby home.

If you don’t hire a doula, you could forget your plan, or what questions to ask.

If you don’t hire a doula, you could doubt yourself in the moment.

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t have someone to interpret your subtle cues.

If you don’t hire a doula, you will have to find the latest and greatest research all by yourself.

If you don’t hire a doula, you might not have someone to remind you the process.

If you don’t have a doula, your partner may not be confident in supporting you.

If you don’t have a doula, your partner won’t have someone there to support them too.

If you don’t hire a doula, you won’t have her hand the hold when you need it.

If you don’t hire a doula, you may regret not having them at your birth.

So your birth experience could be perfect without a doula. You could easily rock pregnancy and birth with just your partner, but we believe the individual, and intimate, touch a doula adds is something worth investing in.

A Labor Lovey

When you were a child did you have a lovey? Maybe a blankie, stuffed animal, or teddy bear? Maybe you sucked on your fingers instead.

I had a bunny named “Foo-foo”, and he went everywhere with me. He had silky ears, and smelled cozy. I can vividly remember how Foo-foo made me feel. I would suck my thumb, an rub his silky ears, while I breathed in his sweet stuffed-bunny smell. He helped me fall asleep, and cope with the dramatic changes that come during early childhood.

A lovey is anything that gives you comfort, makes you feel safe, and helps you cope during difficult times.

The majority of children have some type of lovey, even sucking their fingers and toes counts. As we become adults we no longer need to seek comfort from our lovey. Eventually most children will trade their blankie and bear for more ‘mature’ sources of comfort. Maybe your new lovey is ice cream, maybe it’s binge watching shows from under the blankets, maybe it’s running your troubles away.

We find new sources of comfort, and ways to cope with life’s challenges. 

Maybe those loveys find their way to a box under your bed, or were loved so much they fell apart completely. Sometimes, when life gets too hard you might go back to that lovey. You might remember how it felt, soft, silky, or fluffy. You might remember the way it smells. Most importantly you remember the immense comfort and safety your lovey made you feel. 

When things gets hard we seek the same comfort we found from our lovey, we just find new sources of comfort. 

It’s undeniable that labor is hard. I mean it’s called labor after all. It’s uncomfortable, and you might want a lovey. Since your lovey can’t make it to the labor room, I know of a great substitute.

It’s a doula.

A doula makes you feel safe. She grounds you to the moment, and reminds you that you have all the power, and the control. She reminds you that you’ve chosen your entire birth team to support you. These reminders are important when you feel things happening out of your control. Remembering your options, and having someone to be your guide through those options makes you feel safe.

A doula gives you comfort. She is an expert on comforting your emotional and physical needs. This comfort looks like head squeezes that make your whole body relax. Comfort can mean hip squeezes that make contractions a little less hard. If you don’t want to be touched it can be a doula encouraging you to breathe, and normalizing the songs of your birth that bring you closer to your baby.

A doula makes you comfortable during an uncomfortable time.

So you can’t have your bear, or blankie in the delivery room with you. But having a doula is even better. A doula fits all the criteria of a lovey. Making you feel safe, comfortable, helping you cope through challenging parts of life, and so much more.

Breastfeeding Q&A

Breastfeeding is a relationship, and can be a full time job. There is a tremendous range of normal so finding your own version of normal can be challenging. These are the most common questions our clients ask.

“Why doesn’t my breast pump work?”
A: You have good milk supply, but milk won’t come out when you pump. There are so many hormones associated with let down, the breast pump doesn’t typically inspire those feelings. Many women just don’t respond to the pump. You can try more pumps, you can try looking at pictures of your baby, and if you are very concerned about your milk supply you can talk to an IBCLC.

“How do I make more breast milk?”
A: If you are facing supply issues, it is important to see an IBCLC. Often you will think you have low milk supply, but that may not be the case. If you do have low milk supply, you can take a weekend and nurse at least every 2 hours, and pump in between. Or you can pump on one breast, while nursing on the other. Breast milk is about supply and demand. Typically, if you demand more, your body will produce more milk.

“Why does breastfeeding make me sad?”
A: Some parents don’t have the happy loving feelings associated with breastfeeding. If breastfeeding gives you intense feelings of sadness you may have D-MER, or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. The most important way to aid anyone experiencing D-MER is to validate their feelings. Studies have shown that anything that increases dopamine levels can help.

“Am I bad mom for not breastfeeding?”
A: Absolutely not. In every situation in life, we are faced with pros and cons. It is your job as a parent to weigh out those pros and cons to make the best choices for your family. At Southern Pacific Doulas we strongly believe that fed is best, and we encourage you to feed your baby in the way you are most comfortable with.

“Am I making enough milk?”
A: The best measure for if you’re making enough milk, is if your baby is gaining weight. As long as your baby is gaining enough weight, you are making enough milk.

“How can I stop my milk from drying up?”
A: It is very important to establish milk supply in the first 6 weeks. That is a critical time, as certain receivers are opened, and after 6 weeks they close. So the best way to keep your milk from drying up, is to find support, and solve any problems, during those first few weeks. After those 6 weeks, it’s supply and demand. Continue nursing, and/or pumping, as long as you want to.

“When should I stop nursing?”
A: This answer is very simple, whenever you and your baby no longer want to nurse. Regardless of your baby’s age, the right time to stop is when either of you are ready to stop nursing.

Why am I Hearing my Baby Cry?

Standing above her crib, you hold your baby who is peacefully asleep. Finally. Snuggled up in her cuddly little swaddle blanket, you know she’s safe and comfortable. So you gently lay her down into her little bed. Eww what’s that smell? Oh. It’s you. It’s ok, mommy funk is totally acceptable, especially with such a fresh little baby. You decide it’s the perfect time for some self care, as she sleeps.

A shower sounds nearly divine. You put your spit-upy shirt in the laundry, turn on the hot water, and climb in. It feels amazing. You close your eyes, letting the water fall onto your hair, and down your face. Suddenly you hear her. Your baby is SCREAMING. The water shuts off. You hastily wrap yourself in a towel, and rush down the hall, dripping water the whole way. You push past her door and find, she’s still asleep. What was that? You could have sworn she was crying.

That was a phantom cry. And although the crying isn’t happening, phantom crying is real.

Some parents, or caregivers of small babies, will hear a baby cry when there is no actual crying happening. Phantom crying happens at the most unfortunate times. Usually when you know your baby is safe and doesn’t need you, so you attempt to care for yourself. While your showering, catching a quick wink of sleep, or cooking, just to name a few. This phantom crying can make you feel like you are going crazy. But you’re not. It is a real experience, with a few possible solutions.

If you’re feeling especially frustrated, you may consider a video baby monitor, so you can see if your baby is crying before you end your task. You may be over tired, and need to enlist the help of a friend, family member, or postpartum doula so you can get real sleep. If it’s affecting your daily life or giving you anxiety, you should talk to your doctor.

Early parenting will probably be stressful, but you should be able to enjoy parts of it. If you’re struggling to adjust to life after a new baby, find your village, talk to your doctor, and get on track to enjoy your postpartum experience.

When it Rains in San Diego

The blue skies above San Diego turn to grey clouds. The smell of musty sulfur hangs heavy in the air. Then without warning the misty rain drops fall to the ground. There are two type of San Diegans, those that love our rainy days, and those who believe it’s a true sign of impending doom.

For those San Diegans who love the rain, they believe it is beautiful and magnificent. They wake in the night to the light pitter-patter of rain hitting their roof, or rain drops falling against their window. Their slumber is only briefly disturbed, they smile, and roll over swiftly back to sleep. When they wake the blue skies are out again. The whole world looks clean, bathed, serene. The birds chirp a little louder, the grass stands a little taller, the leaves on our trees are even greener. Maybe these San Diegans enjoy their cup of coffee outside on these mornings. The world keeps turning.

For the other San Diegans, the rain can be scary. They wake to the thunderous roar pounding on their rooftop. Was the house even built for this storm?” They spend the night gathering up their animals. They check on their children, who are safely and soundly sleeping. These San Diegans do not drift back to sleep, their mind is wandering. “Will the traffic be bad on the 5?” “I hope the rain doesn’t cause any car accidents out there.” Then the rain stops. They pull back their curtains and see out. The clouds part ways, the ground is still glistening with rain. Suddenly a rainbow appears. The world keeps turning.

We often take for-granted just how novel it is to have a rainy day in San Diego. If you don’t live here it can be hard to understand a San Diegan’s relationship to the rain. No reaction is right or wrong- it simply is. Life is about balance. The variety of people in San Diego provide the balance we need. One of the most beautiful part of our city is the diverse group of people who call San Diego home.

Celebrate Yourself

As members of the human race, we put so much pressure on ourselves. We pressure ourselves to look a certain way, feel a certain way, dress a certain way, all of this pressure! This pressure that makes us have regrets, or find disappointment in ourselves. But it’s not fair, and it doesn’t improve your life.

Being a child care and birth professional (preschool teacher and doula agency owner), I see so many parents putting pressure and labels upon themselves. I see it in person when a parent struggles with a choice. “Should I start feeding her puree, or should I do infant lead weaning? My mom says I should start with rice cereal.”

I see physical struggles when newly postpartum moms feel like they are supposed to bounce back instantly. Celebrate your body, it just created a new life. You may never do something that awe inspiring and amazing ever again.

I read it online. So many facebook pages have women labeling themselves “I’m a regret momma, I didn’t know better!” or “I’m a loss mom.” or “I’m a bad dad today, I let my toddler eat a bowl full of chocolate.”

Just like that postpartum mom, let’s be gentle on ourselves. I believe that language is so powerful. Instead of giving yourself a negative title, give that title to the moment, and let that moment pass.

Sometimes we regret, sometimes we struggle, but we always do our best. Seeing where are, and moving past that moment is worth celebrating. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate that you left the house for the first time, with your new baby. Celebrate that you will be able to laugh about your toddlers candy meal years from now. Celebrate the challenging moments that you have overcome. Spend your life celebrating your triumphs instead of focusing on your failures.

My Heart Based Business

My job as a doula and owner of Southern Pacific Doulas here in San Diego, is a heart based business.

It’s so clear for me, that to be a great doula your heart must be in the right place.

My job and passion is to be empathetic and make a genuine connection with people. The relationship I have with my clients is incredibly close. People will talk to me as their doula about deeply emotional topics, things they don’t want to say to their mother, bff, or even their husband. They are comfortable confiding in me, because they know I won’t judge them. They know I will validate their feelings, no matter what the rest of their community or circle of friends may think of that choice.

Not only am I easy to connect with, but I can become a rock for parents during a turbulent time of life.

Not many life changes are both permanent and every changing, but having children is both.

Some people see a doula as their guide during this new chapter. Some people look back at their birth, and wonder how much more challenging it may have been without the presence of their doula.

So with the nature of supporting parents through this intimate time of life, being a doula is heart work.

Being a doula fills your heart.

Seeing parents become strong fills my heart. Seeing women do something they didn’t think that they could fills my heart. Seeing a dad realize his baby is really coming home with them is amazing. There are so many parts of my job that truly fill my heart.

With all of this heart filling I receive, some people think I’m willing to work for free. I can’t offer free work. My time is valuable, and people are valuable too.

My clients deserve a highly qualified doula, I don’t know anyone who deserves anything but the best.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be fair to offer a discount to some clients, while charging full price to others. I understand life happens, and some people are left in situations that they never expected. I also understand that professional support is expensive, but I’m never going to assume that anyone can’t manage their own finances.

This doesn’t mean I’m heartless or uncaring. I recently offered to host a community event benefiting a family who experienced an incredibly painful loss.

One of the reasons I opened Southern Pacific Doulas was to support the community of San Diego.

Supporting the community through strong business ethics, fair practices, and engaging San Diegans in supporting each other. These pillars of my business are so important to me.

So when you ask me to work for free, understand that I am not being insensitive or greedy. I’m being fair.

I’m eager to utilize my business to support families, especially those who truly need my support the most.

But instead of asking me to work for free, ask how can San Diego support this person? How can Southern Pacific Doulas rally other San Diegans into supporting them? And, how can we elevate this family, without degrading them?

After all, even in a heart based business “We need to fill our own cup first and allow the world to benefit from our overflow.” -Steve Maraboli