Recently we shared our recommended list of professionals to consider when building your pregnancy support team for success! Below we’ve broken down information about two of the professionals on our list: a Birth Doula and Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and/or Feeding Expert. In addition to discussing their role in your pregnancy and beyond, we’ve included expert tips from them both!
We asked birth doula, Emily Heymann of Hey Mother Birth to share more about what a birth doula is and why to hire one:
A birth doula is a trained professional who provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, and evidenced-based birth support to expecting mothers and families during pregnancy, labor and during the fourth trimester. A doula’s passion and purpose is to help women have a safe, beautiful and powerful birth experience.
A doula can suggest position ideas for comfort and labor progression. By guiding the woman to find optimal positions during labor they can assist in guiding a poorly positioned baby to find its way through the birth canal and safely into its mother’s arms. Doulas support unmedicated, medicated and surgical birth with the same level of attentiveness and love.
A doula does not provide medical advice or perform clinical tasks but they can provide support and confidence to bridge the gap between the mother and their medical provider to help them find their voice and advocate for themselves to receive the best possible care.
Emily’s Tips for expecting moms:
- Remember, self care is not selfish.
- Pregnancy, labor and birth can feel like an out of body experience when it is actually the most human experience one can have.
- Honing in on what made you feel like the best version of yourself before your pregnancy and continuing those forms of self care and mindfulness during and after your pregnancy can make for a more seamless transition to this new season of life. For example, making time for friendships, travel, exercise or hobbies does not need to vanish once one becomes a mother. Mothers can find new ways to continue to nourish those needs while bonding with their baby!
- As a pregnant body is rapidly changing, it’s beneficial to source providers for services such as massage, acupuncture, pelvic floor therapy and chiropractic care to keep one’s body feeling well.
- You hold the keys to building your optimal birth experience. If you need help making thoughtful informed decisions and guidance in asking the right questions to your medical providers the support of a birth doula can be incredibly helpful.
Interested in working with Emily? You can reach her at www.heymotherbirth.com or on Instagram @heymotherbirth.
Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or Feeding Specialist:
Did you know you should start working with a lactation consultant before birth, if you plan on breastfeeding? Most first-time moms often believe breastfeeding comes effortlessly. And while some have an easier journey than others – it’s crazy hard work and SUPER unexpected! If breastfeeding is important to you, we highly recommend working with an IBCLC in your 3rd trimester and taking a prenatal Breastfeeding Prep Class like the one we offer every other month.
You’ll learn the ins and outs of a good latch and positioning, how to establish and build your milk supply, tips for breast comfort and care, and how to use your pump correctly. Our resident IBCLC, Shelly Jacobs, is a ray of sunshine and we can’t recommend her highly enough.
If you’re planning to formula feed, combo feed, or even just want to know your options, it helps to work with a feeding consultant (who may even already be a lactation consultant) that can teach you everything you need to know. Learning how to choose the right formula for your baby, correctly bottle feed (an art and a science), prep/store breastmilk or formula are all things a feeding consultant can provide pointers on.
We asked our resident Occupational Therapist and feeding specialist, Liz Koren of Pure Pediatric Therapy, her top tips for preparing to feed your baby.
Liz’s Tips for feeding:
- Knowing your plan after the baby arrives is essential to a positive bottle feeding experience. If you plan on going back to work and/or having your baby take a bottle it is key that the skill is practiced early on, ideally between 3-6 weeks postpartum after a good latch is established if you are breastfeeding and no later than 8-10 weeks after birth.
- Babies feed best in a side lying position due to the flow of milk going into their cheeks first and then being swallowed intentionally. When babies are fed in a cradle-hold position, the milk can overwhelm them if the flow is too fast.
- Feeding therapists can help with latch, suck coordination, oral motor strength, positioning, and schedule of feeds. We can also help identify red flags and ensure referral to the necessary specialists should concerns arise.
Have a question for Liz? You can reach her at www.purepeds.com.
Keep an eye out for our next blog in this series, Beyond Your OB: Building Your Best Pregnancy Support Team, when we chat with a Chiropractor and Acupuncturist who both specialize in supporting pregnant and postpartum moms.