But, my hands are full!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Boston, MA, USA


10 one-handed, low-prep, go-to snacks for new moms

So often new moms are stuck wondering if they will ever find the time to sit down and eat a full meal ever again. Between feedings, diaper changes, doctors appointments, play dates, and household chores, it can be challenging to find time to prepare food let alone eat. Here is a list that requires little prep and can be easily taken on-the-go. 

Apples
Whole apples or apples slices are a wonderful go-to snack. Green apples specifically hold a lot of nutritional value such as fiber which improves digestion, protein, and Vitamin A, B6, and C. It helps with liver function as well as helps keep your skin radiant and healthy. Plus, apples are low in calories. 

String Cheese 
Cheese is such a delicious snack. String cheese, cheese squares, cheese crisps, and cheese wheels are fail proof. They are tiny, transportable, and easily consumed! For moms who have removed dairy from their diet, there are dairy-free cheeses such as Kite Hill, Teese Vegan Cheese, and Follow Your Heart brand.

Nuts
Nuts are easy to take on-the-go in cups or plastic baggies. They contain healthy fats that are supportive of breastmilk production as well as protein and fiber. Walnuts are packed with powerful antioxidants. A single serving of Hazelnuts has the recommended daily amount of Vitamin E and half the daily dose of Magnesium.  Macadamia nuts can modify the lipids in your bloodstream reducing cholesterol. Grab a handful of nuts and go!

Blueberries/Grapes 
Blueberries and grapes are so convenient! Blueberries have anti-aging properties that prevent wrinkles which can be helpful with a new babe around. They also activate fat-burning cells in the gut as well as contain Ellagic Acid which has been noted to prevent cancer. Grapes contain a nutrient call resveratrol which helps improve the dilation of blood vessels. This can be helpful for moms with perineum healing or healing after a cesarean birth.

Pretzels and Hummus
Who doesn't love a salty snack like pretzels? Be sure to off-set the salt intake with increasing your water intake and limiting the amount of pretzels you eat in one sitting. Hummus comes in so many flavors and is easy to make yourself if you find you have the time.

Yogurt
To-go tubes of yogurt can be so handy for a mom always on the go. Greek yogurt specifically has protein, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D which help with bone growth. Yogurt also contains live cultures which helps with gut health and can act as a treatment or prevention of thrush for breastfeeding moms.

Hard Boiled Eggs 
Eggs contain a nutrient called Choline which plays an essential role in brain development in infants. For pregnant and nursing mothers, eggs can be an easy snack with many added benefits. Choline also helps brain health in adults.

Celery/Carrot Sticks
Have you ever been told "you burn more calories chewing celery than you get from eating it?" Well, it's true! Celery can be a wonderful food for moms who are focused on healthy eating and weight loss after baby. Celery has been noted to reduce blood pressure because it contains phthalides and also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is very rich in vitamin C which helps boost your immune system.

Granola/Protein Bars 
Granola bars and fig bars are easy to grab and go. They are snacks of substance and will prevent you feeling hungry a mere 30 minutes after your last snack. However, for breastfeeding and pumping moms, several snacks throughout the day will help keep your body healthy, strong, and energized.

Dried Fruit 
You can find almost any fruit of choice in dried form--cherries, apricots, peaches, bananas, apples, figs, cranberries, prunes, raisins, pears. You name it, it comes dried. Adding dried fruit with the mixture of nuts mentioned above can be a lovely home-made trail mix to grab when you're headed out the door!

Bonus: Popsicles!! 
Who doesn't love popsicles?! There are several organic brands that are sweet treats! You can also make your own! 

Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts

"We can't wait to pamper you."

Wanna know a secret? This is YOUR birth.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Boston, MA, USA

Bless Your Heart
I recently did virtual support for a mom down south. When she was 2 days past her due date, she was so calm and completely relaxed. Yep...you read that right. She was relaxed. She was confident in her body and the process. She trusted her healthcare provider and she found comfort in her baby's ability to start labor when he was ready. She knew when her little boy was ready to make his grand entrance, he would. She knew her healthcare provider would let her know if anything was wrong and if not, she was going to keep herself busy until the time came. And she did.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. A mother, down south, with such a......crunchy outlook on birth. Her confidence in her own choices was overwhelming (and inspiring). It brought me to tears. It made me realize that the birth world is changing for the better and it's reaching places like rural, southern towns. I was beaming with pride. I was so proud of this mom, I wanted to stand on the rooftops and yell at the city of Boston about her strength and beauty. I was so proud that she was strong enough to face the cultural norms of the south and take control of her birth.

What Does Your Voice Sound Like?
Society has a funny way of putting guidelines and suggestions on every aspect of life. Every mom has an opinion. Every dad knows best. The teachers are the experts on every child--even when they don't have any of their own. Doctors are the end all, be all with everything medically related. Grandparents struggle with aligning their beliefs and attitudes with changing times. Organizations are responsible for making rules and regulations for everyday functioning that they are so far removed from. Big donors have more say that the little people actually affected by each decision. This is the society we've allowed to cultivate. Now, we must un-cultivate it. We must exercise our right to make choices for our own bodies and adopt a gentle, yet "to hell with everybody else" attitude. It's okay to respectfully disagree with someone on whether or not breastfeeding is right. It's perfectly acceptable to make the choice to have an all natural birth, even though everyone around you had an epidural and promises birth will be the most grueling task you ever go through. It's alright to tell someone that you have chosen to not be induced even though you EDD was 4 days ago. Finding your voice can be hard (and scary!). Having a doula can make this easier. When you have a doula, you know you always have at least one person in your corner who supports your choice and understands why you've chosen this route. You have someone to turn to for reassurance, but to also gently remind you that this is your birth. You have someone to explore options that may not be common in your area or among your closest friends or relatives. The even better news is that your closest friends and relative don't have to birth your baby; you do. You get to bring your baby into this world and why shouldn't you have choices about how that is done?

Imagine if....
When you stop and think about your wedding day (whether you've been married for 30 years or are single and ready to mingle), think about all the preparation that went into or will go into your wedding day; photographers, venue, food, guests, invites, diets/workouts, attire, music, and flowers. I haven't planned a wedding and that is just what came to the top of my mind. I can't imagine the list of things I have forgotten. Imagine if we put this much effort into our expectant moms. Imagine, for one second, if we provided all moms with unbiased education, a safe space to explore options, an ear to discuss fears and worries, a neck to hug when accomplishments happen, a calm voice to talk her through each contraction, a hand to provide gentle, but deep touches to relieve pain, and arms to hold her baby in those first few weeks of postpartum so she can eat, shower, and take a short snooze. Imagine. What would our birth world look like? What would our real world look like?

When you find your voice, you don't have to yell. We will hear you. 
The most defining part of my job as a doula is to provide mothers will a safe space to peacefully say their thoughts and wishes and to know they will be supported. You should choose your healthcare provider based on a similar beliefs about births. These beliefs include the use of medication and intervention, c-section rates, what to do if you go past your due date, immediate skin to skin contact, breastfeeding support, how soon you should start birth control after your delivery, etc. The list could go on and on. When choosing a healthcare provider, make sure to ask the questions that address topics that are important to you. A healthcare provider that listens and understands shared-decision making will have no problem honoring your wishes. You never want to be in a "yelling match" (hypothetical, metaphorical, or real) over your body, your baby, your birth, and your choices. 

"Build your birth team with like-minded people who support you and your choices, who understand this isn't about them, and who will help you have the birth you've always dreamed of being able to have. Fill your delivery room with people who will help you dig deep and become the warrior princess you are. Choose people who will breathe deeply with you through each surge of contractions. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging personalities who will remind you of your strength, your beauty, and your power as a mom." 
XoXo, HeHe
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Congratulations to Grace and Hunter on the birth of your beautiful baby boy! You guys are already wonderful parents and you had such a lovely birth. I couldn't be more honored to have been given the chance to support you in this journey. Thank you for sharing your inspirational energy and your birth experience with me. Love always, HeHe

Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts

"We can't wait to pamper you."

Why do I {Doula} what I do?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Boston, MA, USA

One of my favorite questions to be asked is, "What is a doula?" One of my least favorite responses is the rushed, elevator speech because it was the cashier at Target that asked the question and there's 10 (already agitated) people behind me in line. I wish for everyone who asked me what it is a doula actually does, there was a button I could press to pause time; just stop life right where it was. This would allow me to explain just what it is that keeps me coming back to the L&D over and over again. This would allow everyone who ever ventured to ask me "What do you do?" to see the radiating passion for birth, parents, and babies pour out of me; heart and soul.

"Gross...so you watch babies actually come out?"
Simple answer, yes. Deeper answer, no. "Watching babies come out" is a very small part of what I do as a doula. The shortest description I can give someone to describe what I do is "I empower birthing parents to have the birth experience they want and deserve." This doesn't even scrape the surface. When I first meet an expectant parent, I listen; intently, intentionally, and without judgement. I ask questions to understand why and to understand what experiences brought an expectant parent to the decision or thought they hold. I listen so deeply. After listening to birthing parents describe what they envision as their perfect birth, I begin to explore options with them. It is amazing (and a little bit startling) how many birthing parents feel strongly one way or the other, yet end up choosing something completely different because they didn't know that was an option. It is mind-blowing the number of parents who are uncomfortable asking their doctor for alternatives or questioning the reasoning behind a procedure or hospital protocol. This is another part of what I do. I help birthing parents find their voice to ask questions and advocate for themselves. I help them understand how to communicate with their healthcare providers in a way that fosters shared decision making rather than a dominant-submissive relationship. Finally, I help birthing parents (and their partners, if applicable) realize their potential. I help them understand that if you trust your body, trust your baby, and trust the process-- you are able. You are strong. You are capable. You were meant to walk this journey and I'm honored to be walking beside you. I won't let you forget how strong you are.

"Do you have children of your own?"
Unbiased support is one of the hardest thing to, not only find, but also provide. Having someone judge you when you are trying to make the best decisions for your body, your baby, and your family while wading through unfamiliar waters can be detrimental to your birth experience. Not having kids myself is one of the most powerful intricacies of my practice as a doula. I pull from this part of myself on a daily basis when supporting expectant families. I am able come to the table with knowledge that is set in facts and research, but zero preconceived notions created from personal experience. I am able to support birthing parents and families without having an emotional connection to one choice over another. All decisions really do lie in your hands. Doulas who have children are able to bring personal experience and a level of resonance that I can not yet provide--and there is something special about that level of connection between an already-mother helping an expectant parent. It is inspiring to me to have the opportunity to witness births who are as unique as the families I am serving. Your birth experience should represent what is important to you and your partner, what you believe is best for your body and your baby, and what you feel is the best way to bring your child into this world. I will stand behind you in whatever you choose. I hope to one day collaborate all of my birth stories into one that I can call my own and pull wisdom from all the women I have served.

Because the birth of your baby isn't about anyone, but you.
The birth of a baby can be so overwhelming. It can overwhelm your "audience," too. All of those family members and friends who are anxiously awaiting the birth of your baby can be so consumed in the arrival of your tiny human that they forget the endless hours you just worked so hard to make this moment possible. They don't realize the depth of support your partner just provided you. They don't even think about how tired you and your partner might be. They want to cuddle, kiss, hug, hold, and take pictures of your new baby. One of the topics I help expectant parents explore is the period following birth. This could look like anything; from no visitors to opening the flood gates. The restriction of visitors lies solely in your hands. I always suggest a "lying-in" period and the importance of considering restricted visitors for the first few days to the first few weeks. This doesn't mean no visitors, but might look like only immediate family for the first week and then only extended family for the next two weeks. Then after the first month, you can invite co-workers, members of your book club, and fellow parents at the country club to come get baby snuggles and selfies. The birth of your child is about you, your partner and your baby. As for everyone else, they will adhere to the suggested space and respect your idea of family time.... or they will busy themselves being huffy and puffy and you'll never know because you will be too busy loving on your new babe.

So, why do I do it?
To serve and empower birthing parents. To help expectant parents learn what options they have in controlling their own birth experience. To help all parents feel comfortable branching out from culturally derived social norms and "what is expected" from expectant parents. To be inspirational to and inspired by parents finding their own voice. To have a positive impact on Women's Health and improving the lives of women (and Fem-Identifying people) all over our nation (and hopefully our world, one day). To provide each and every postpartum parent with a village to turn to when s/he has fears, doubts, worries, concerns, but also to celebrate their achievements and accomplishments in plenty. To help families in this transitional time. I do what I do so that bringing your baby earth-side is the magnificent and breath-taking event that I know it can be, yet so many birthing parents don't get this opportunity. I doula to give hope. 

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
-Mahatma Gandhi


Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
"We can't wait to pamper you."

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