Monday, November 30, 2009

Doulas Birth Partner

Ever since I was young I have planned on having only my husband in the delivery room with me. Not only are we quiet people, but I feel that this will be another great time for the two of us to bond as I rely on him for so much.My plans changed last week when I was looking at our hospital website (Lexington Medical Center) and found that they offer doulas for all of the laboring moms. I had only heard of doulas once before, when I was in college a professor had told us her daughter-in-law used one; I assumed this was something that only wealthy people used. Knowing that the hospital offers these for all women and for free I decided to do some research.
The word doula come from ancient Greek and means 'women helping women'. According to the brochure from the hospital, "these women have been trained to help guide you through the pain and stress that accompanies labor and delivery by providing emotional support, physical comfort measures and informational support. They are skilled in working with you, your physician/midwife and your nurse to provide support during the journey of birth, helping to create the birthing team. If you elect to use a doula in your birthing experience, she can suggest ways for family members to be involved in childbirth and help new dads ease into their roles of coach and father. Her presence does not take the place of family involvement but rather complements it. She will be as involved as you want or need her to be. Your doula will remain with you throughout labor and delivery, regardless of time or shift changes, caring for you with everything from soothing tired muscles to helping you breastfeed your baby. The doula will also visit you the next day, providing additional support, breastfeeding assistance and information."
You typically meet with a doula a couple of times before elivery to go over your birthing plans and meet a week or so after the baby is born. However, since these are provided by the hospital, you only see them during your time there.
So far this sounds great to me!! To have one consistent person, besides my husband, with me thoughout labor and to have them focus on us. Many times the people in the room are excited about seeing the baby and not about making sure mom and dad are content, this is what I really need. I will take a cpoy of my birth plan for her to review and will be comfortable knowing that she will communicate all of my requests to the doctors and nurses. For example, I want a medication free delivery, want my husband to stay with the baby when it leaves the room after birth, and do not want the little one to have a pacifier - the doula will make sure all of this is taken care of while I am exhausted and cannot yet get off the delivery bed.

Benefits of Doula Services
National studies have shown:

~reduce cesarean deliveries
~reduce the need for medication
~shorten the length of labor
~fewer forcep deliveries
~reduced use of vacuum extraction
~reduced maternal bleeding following birth
~enhance self confidence of the mother-to-be
~mothers have higher regard and increased sensitivity toward babies
~reduced incidence of post-partum depression
~fathers report greaeter satisfaction with the birth and more comfort with supporting their wives appropriately

Education of a Doula
While trying to find what a doula needs to do for certification, I was amazed to see that there are no set requirements!!! If you want to be certified through Doulas of North America you need to attend a workshop, read 5 books from a required reading last, purchase a birth doula certification packet, attend a childbirth education class, and provide a series of paperwork. After 3 years a doula needs to recertify. To be certified through Childbirth International you need to read a comprehensive set of study guides, support 2 women through lobor, read 3 books, complete a survey, and complete 2 assignments. After this you are certified for life. Surprising, yes!! But keep in mind that these ladies are not doing anything medical, they are simply a support system.
With all of this information I definitely plan on having a doula present at my first birth. I like that I choose how much they help, but know they will support me in my choices.
All information comes from Lexington Medical Center,,,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Leg Cramps

As we entered week 19 I got my normal pregnancy update and this time it focused on leg cramps. My first thoughts were, "I got them about a week ago, I didn't realize they went along with the baby!"
Although they do not know for sure what causes these leg cramps, there are several theories:
  • fatigue from carrying around extra weight
  • blood vessels in the legs being compressed
  • excess of phosphorus or shortage of calcium or magnesium in your diet
  • dehydration
  • hormones!!!!

At first I didn't think too much of it as I have had them in the past. I made sure to drink a lot of water and bought bananas; I had always been told leg cramps were caused by a lack of potassium. After that one night and my 'solution' the cramps didn't come back. A few weeks later I had them again but I also realized that I had run out of bananas so I went back to my cure and didn't have them again.

Now, I am not saying that bananas are the cure, here are some suggestions that I found online:

  • straighten your leg and flex your ankle toward your nose (I usually forget which way I should flex and go the wrong way causing even more pain)
  • stretch your legs before going to bed
  • put your legs up as often as you can during the day
  • avoid standing or sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time
  • stand on a cold surface
  • drink enough during the day
  • exercise each day
  • gently massage your legs during the cramp
  • take a warm bath before bedtime
  • avoid getting too tired
  • sleep on your left side

I was talking to a friend and she had also heard about putting a bar of soap under your bed sheet; my first thought was "That sounds crazy!" Thank goodness I hadn't needed to go that far, if I ate a banana a day I wasn't having a problem.

I did look the tip up though as I was curious to know more. Sure enough, most websites that talk about leg cramps suggested the bar of soap trick. I decided to keep this information the the back of my head as I just might need it one day. Go figure, 4 nights ago I had leg cramps again and I had been consistent with the bananas!! After 2 nights with no relief I decided to put a bar of soap under the fitted bed sheet, if nothing else the bed would smell clean!! I woke up the next morning and was amazed that I hadn't had a cramp!! I tried it again last night; I have a head cold and was up most of the night, if I felt soreness in my leg I would locate the bar of soap and lay my leg on it for immediate relief!!

I am very amazed by all of this, who would think soap would take the serious cramp away?

Still curious, I looked up the reasons for soap relieving cramps, here is what I found: "Most leg cramp maladies can be associated with dehydration and depletion of potassium. Gator-ade has sodium chloride, which replenishes lost potassium, as well as rehydrates. Amazingly enough, most bar soaps also contain sodium chloride. During sleep, it is absorbed through the skin from the bar of soap."

So, I am here to tell you it works but I have found a difficulty with it. The bar of soap moves around under the sheets and I have to locate it as I need it. Also, one bar of soap isn't big enough for 2 legs!! I have thought about cutting an ace bandage in 2 and wrapping a bar of soap on each leg; I I continue to have problems I just might!!

I am curious if anybody else has had a problem with leg cramps during pregnancy and what you found to be helpful.

Help with information for this blog comes from,,, and

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Giveaways

I finally feel like my hard work is paying off!! Starting in early December I will be posting reviews on baby items that have been sent to me. I have a discount code and should have a couple of giveaways by that point. There are some WONDERFUL people out there who have offered to send items and are also willing to send an extra item for a giveaway.
I am so excited to share these items with you and have some really great people to brag about. Grab the 'Welcome Baby, Shower!' button by the beginning of December and you'll have an extra entry in each of the giveaways.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leapstart Learning Gym Review

I am a big fan of the Leapstart / Leap Frog family of products as everything is geared toward educating our children. Being a teacher, this is a big concern of mine!! Babysitting most of my highschool/college life I was able to play with many of these toys myself and feel that most of them are worth their money and can truly help a child get a headstart.
My husband and I recently purchased the Leapstart Learning Gym for our little one to use once he/she is born. This gym plays music, has lights, and speaks foreign languages to the child. This is not tacky like so many of the sound/light toys that are on the market today, in fact I actually enjoyed the music. The foreign language is not overpowering either; there are just a few words and it gives your child a chance to hear the different phonemes used around the world.

The activities help develop fine motor skills and encourage baby to bat, reach and explore. For the youngest child you have the mobile in primary colors which easily attract the child's eye.

For the lie-down infant, the gym is truly a multi-sensory learning experience, with twinkling lights, 10 minutes of instrumental melodies from around the world, and a colorful, motorized mobile to fascinate baby.

As your baby grows, the gym transforms to a sit-up activity center that introduces animal names, colors, numbers 1-5 and opposites. Activities also introduce "hello" and counting 1-5 in five languages (English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese).

On the back of the toy the parent has the option to set it for lay down or sit up, this will then set the sounds to be used in that mode. You also have the option to change the volume - if the baby is falling asleep you can walk over and turn it down without turning it off and completely startling the little one.
We recently had some friends over so I got this toy out and their 9-month old completely enjoyed playing with and reaching for everything!!
I cannot wait for our little one to come along; I know the Leapstart Learning Gym will provide us with hours of quality time...