Category Archives: Baby care

Covid 19 and A Shift in Support

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So beautiful yet capable of causing havoc in the human body. The SARS-CoV-2, or SARS Coronavirus -2.

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We are currently in a state of emergency in Ontario in response to the Covid 19 worldwide pandemic. Many countries are on lockdown, with their borders closed in an effort to control the pandemic. This has been in effect since the beginning of March, and Ontario announced these measures on March 13th, 2020.  Luckily for me, it was a week after I had returned from Malaysia, and it did not affect my return much apart from my flights being rescheduled, route changed and delays at Vancouver airport on my last leg home to Toronto.

My father passed away on February 19th, 2020 and I had to return to Malaysia at short notice, as the funeral was arranged for the 22nd of February. I had 4 days to get home, well actually 3 as Malaysia is ahead by 13 hours. It takes about 2.5 days to fly home, due to the time difference. To my amazement, I was able to get a flight on the same day that I heard about my dad’s passing. My mum called at 3am, crying on the phone, and my mind just went into autopilot. My dad’s death was unexpected and sudden. Yes, he was ill with dementia that had progressed to dysphagia and he had to be tube fed, but I was planning on visiting them in June, 2020.  Anyway, I had booked my ticket at the normal price by 5am. I was pleasantly shocked. By 12 pm, I was at Pearson International and my flight for Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong was at 2pm. The airport was quiet, almost deserted. At the boarding gate there appeared to be only a handful of passengers waiting. We boarded quickly, the plane was virtually empty- 2 passengers in business class and another 20 something in coach! We all had 3 seats to ourselves to stretch out on.  It was a weird experience and an omen about what was about to transpire.

Moving on to the present, I am providing doula and sleep coaching  support virtually, as the government of Ontario could not say if we were essential workers in view of the lockdown. I am supporting one family in person in a “nanny” capacity at the moment. I have been supporting them since January, and both my clients and I are practising strict social distancing, with minimal outings for essentials that we cannot get on line or delivered to out front doors. We have masks and gloves for when we do have to go out.  I do not use PPE when supporting them. I do wash my hands a lot, and my phone gets zapped in the phone soap (https://www.phonesoap.com/products/phonesoap-3-phone-uv-sanitizer) to kill off any bugs when I enter their home.

How does virtual postpartum doula support work? Usually being present physically to help out new parents with breastfeeding support, meal prep and light housework, reassurance, maintaining the calm, I now had to do this virtually. Of course, the meal prep, housekeeping and other chores could not be fulfilled and went out the window. Technology has definitely helped with the other roles, having me at the end of the phone when clients needed questions answered was vital. I am also able to observe breastfeeds via video calls ie face time, messenger to WhatsApp calls.

Here is what I offer virtually   https://www.cherryblossomdoulas.ca/virtual-postpartum-services/

I am hoping to be able to train postpartum doulas again later in the year, when the government tells me I can resume training. In the meantime, there are quite a few CAPPA faculty members who are offering virtual trainings, mostly in the US. I have decided not to carry out any virtual trainings at the present time as the Association of Ontario Doulas will only accept doulas who attended an in person training as members. Membership with the AOD is vital for a newly trained doula, it connects the new doulas with other doulas, and crucially, gives them the opportunity to purchase liability and general commercial liability insurance at a discounted price. They have also secured a group pricing for medical insurance if members need it.  CAPPA has been in touch with the AOD and we are waiting for their reply as to whether they will approve our virtual training platform for getting membership for new doulas trained this way.

I currently have no availability for in person support for the rest of the year, and possibly into next year. I do have colleagues that I work closely with and the doulas I have trained in the past that may have availability, so please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any support. I am also doing a virtual New Parent 101 webinar in conjunction with Thornhill Doulas and Petra Nobel. This  is a 3 hour course that covers all things newborn baby, new parents, tips and tricks, baby and parent sleep and a lot more. Learn more from the link below.

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That’s all from me for now. I think I will talk about sleep in my next blog. Keep safe everyone, even if lock down rules are loosened and more services and facilities are allowed to open. Be cautious, wash your hands, wear a mask if you have to go shopping, stay healthy, and don’t forget to breathe…. when it all becomes overwhelming, stop and take a deep belly breath, and sigh it out in a loud ahhhhhhh and repeat until calmness returns.

 

It’s been a while…and volunteers needed!

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It’s been a while…and volunteers needed!

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. I have decided to start blogging again as I used to enjoy doing it. I have been pretty busy with the business and work and so the blogging  got pushed aside.

Since I last penned anything on here, I have become a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, joined CAPPA Faculty and started training postpartum doulas, took the CAPPA New Parent Educator training Teresa Maskery, took a CAPPA approved working multiples training which I hosted, Kimberly Bepler came from the US and we did training at CSI, Spadina- Birthmark allowed us to use their space. I also embarked on a sleep consultant’s certification with IPHI- International Parents and Health Institute, training with Mar De Carlo, and her holistic science of sleep method. I am hoping to be a certified maternity and child sleep consultant by August, 2020.  It is for this qualification and certification that I am seeking some volunteers. If you are pregnant and experiencing challenges with sleeping, if you are a parent of a baby, toddler or older child and want some tips on helping optimise sleep for your baby please get in touch with me. Email me at suyindoula@gmail.com. You don’t have to be in Canada to volunteer! Sleep consults, optimising and coaching can be done remotely and virtually. I have consulted with clients in Jordan and Taiwan recently.

In other news, I have trained 6 postpartum doulas, since the beginning of 2019.  Andrea Lorenzo, who did her postpartum workshop with me at the beginning of September, 2019 has just gained her certification from CAPPA, and is now a CAPPA Certified Postpartum Doula. She has worked really hard, been so conscientious and is a great doula- a big shout out to her for achieving her certification within 6 months of taking my training. Awesome!!!

 

This is a picture of the 4 postpartum doulas who did my workshop in September, 2019. Andrea is the one by the white board.

I will be blogging about Andrea soon, I interviewed her on why she wanted to be a certified postpartum doula.  A lot of doulas do not certify, as the doula profession is not regulated here in Canada. They feel they do not need to certify. I will ramble on more about this in my blog about Andrea.

This year will be my 2nd recertification with CAPPA for postpartum doula, which means I have been a doula for almost 8 years.  I have been privileged to support many families and have transitioned them into parenthood.  They welcomed me into their homes and trusted me with their babies and I have had such great experiences working with them. I am truly grateful to have a job that I love.

Here are some pics of my little clients, I have their parents permission to post their pics.

 

I have attended about 2 births a year for the last 6 years too, being a birth doula. This too has been rewarding. I don’t tend to take on many births as I am predominantly a postpartum doula and my schedule is pretty full. Trying to fit a birth in and being on call can be difficult. Therefore, I only do 1-2 births a year.

Back to today! I have decided to blog every week, and more often if I have time. I will be using this platform to reflect on my week, like a form of journalling. I feel like the time is now, for some self care and reflection!

I hope you have enjoyed reading and if you know of anyone who can benefit from holistic science of sleep coaching, please get in touch via my website http://www.cherryblossomdoulas.ca  or email me at suyindoula@gmail.com.

Thank you for dropping by…… more to come in the days and weeks to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Soothing techniques for Colic

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The year was 1998. I had just given birth to my first child, Mitchell Alexander Jordan, born on the 2nd of June. I was a registered midwife in the UK and had been practising midwifery for 5 years. I thought it would be easy, I thought I knew all about newborns. I was mistaken!

Mitchell was a fussy baby. I don’t remember when the fuss started exactly, those first few weeks of parenthood passed in a blur. I know he was less than 6 weeks old, because the fussing and crying eased up after about 8 weeks.

We were told by doctors and friends back then that he had colic. He would scream and cry when he wasn’t carried, we could not put him down, he would not sleep on his own- we had a variety of sleeping surfaces for him. He had a Moses basket which is like a soft grass woven basket-like bassinet, a carry cot- which is like the bassinets that fit on top of your stroller carriage and he had a crib. For the first 6 weeks of his life, he co-slept with his parents, or no one would get any sleep at all. It was as though he needed to feel close to us. We had a futon mattress on top of a wooden bed frame, so it was a firm sleeping surface. He slept between us, whilst we perched on the edge of the mattress for fear of crushing him. We didn’t smoke or drink while he was sharing our bed, and the advice nowadays is to only have one adult bed-sharing with a baby.

During the day, he would fuss and cry, there didn’t seem to be any pattern, unlike some babies who would fuss and cry during the witching hour which was between the hours of 5pm till 9pm. This crying would go on and on, and we were almost at our wits end.

We tried everything to soothe him. He was well fed and growth checks would reveal that he was growing well- moving from the 50th percentile at birth to about 90th percentile by 4 weeks! We would sing to him, sway him in our arms, we would do squats in order to bounce him gently whilst carrying him- if I was doing this today, I would bounce him on a Swiss exercise ball. Well, I would bounce on the ball whilst carrying or wearing him. Friends who had babies before us, suggested Infacol- like the Ovol of today. The active ingredient being simethicone, which is not absorbed by baby’s gut but passed through, making the gas bubbles collate and therefore making it easier to pass- that was the claim. It was an over the counter medication specifically for colicky babies. We did give Mitchell some infacol, in fact he had a lot of it! We didn’t really know if it worked but we had to do something especially as all our other effort to soothe him did not seem to have any effect. Today, there is no real evidence that shows simethicone actually works!

What is colic? Back in 1998, we were told that it was a spasmodic pain that he was experiencing in his gut. It was possibly caused by gas. It did look like he was in pain, crying,arching his back at times, pulling his knees up to his chest. At times he was inconsolable, but at times he was not. Hence the term spasmodic.

Today, research and studies show that colic is not a medical condition as we don’t really know what causes it! It follows the rule of threes. According to The American family physician – a baby has colic if they cry for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week and lasts for more than 3 weeks in a well fed and otherwise healthy baby. (https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0815/p735.html)

This fussiness and crying has no apparent cause and can be frustrating for parents, as most parents would want to know why their baby is crying in order to know how to soothe them.

It is thought that colic may be due to baby’s immature nervous system and that it’s all part of normal development. All babies go through this to a greater or lesser extent. (http://purplecrying.info/sub-pages/crying/what-is-colic.php). Most babies’ colic resolves by 12 weeks of age.

So what works to soothe your ‘colicky’ baby?

I like Ronald G Barr’s first principle of soothing which is, Some things work some of the time, but nothing works all of the time. We have to remember that infants are not like machines; they are not predictable, and they do not have an “on-off” switch for crying or for soothing.(http://purplecrying.info/sub-pages/soothing/common-features-and-principles-of-soothing.php)

So don’t beat yourself up if everything you try doesn’t seem to help. Or wonder why rocking your baby worked yesterday, but today it’s not helping at all.

Trying to recreate a womb like atmosphere for your baby will be soothing to them. Swaddling them firmly and safely, holding them close to you, baby wearing, swaying from side to side, shushing near their ear, sitting on a bouncy ball or doing squats whist holding your baby may help soothe them. These methods work because babies are reminded of a time of safety and contentment whilst still in their mothers’ womb where they were safe and had everything they needed.

Here are some other soothing methods :-

Wear your baby, in a wrap or sling, making sure that you are wearing your baby safely. Having baby close to you, and with their head against your chest and listening to your heart beat is soothing and comforting.

Take your baby for a car ride. The vibrations and motion will help soothe baby. Ensure your baby is in a rear facing car seat.

Rocking your baby in glider or rocking chair whilst holding them close to you is comforting. As is using a swing or baby bouncer that is age appropriate for your baby. Ensure you use the safety harness when placing your baby in a swing/bouncer.

Using white noise- either from a white noise machine, a vacuum cleaner, fan, extractor fan in the kitchen or hairdryer. These noises are soothing to baby as it mimics some of the noises that they constantly heard whilst in the uterus.

Sing to your baby, babies love being sung too, using a higher pitch also tends to comfort them.

Give baby a warm soothing bath. This will help calm them.

Breastfeed your baby if you are breastfeeding. The sucking will help release a hormone called cholecystokinin that is both soothing to baby and parent.

Use a pacifier, once again, the sucking will produce the same calming hormone.

Try putting baby skin to skin. Babies love being close to their parents, and skin to skin contact is comforting to them.

Making eye contact with you baby and talking to them calmly, even when they are fussing will tell your baby that you love them even when they are fussing and crying.

It may take a while for your baby to calm down. You may need to try all the methods mentioned above, to find one that works for your baby. Sometimes you may be unable to soothe your baby, but understanding that this is ok, will help you through these challenging times. Remember that if your baby is otherwise well and growing well, they sometimes fuss or cry inconsolably for no apparent reason. It’s part of their growth and development. It is important to remember that while many of these suggestions will work most of the time, nothing will work all of the time.

If the crying or fussing is getting too much for you, hand baby over to another adult to look after while you have a break. However, if there is no one at hand to help, place baby on a safe surface like their crib or bassinet, ensuring no harm will come to baby if you leave. Go into another room and have a short break and a few deep breaths before returning to baby. Sometimes babies who have been held and jiggled and cajoled in attempts to try to soothe them get a little overstimulated, and putting them down, may miraculously comfort them, and they stop crying.

We often use soothing techniques when babies are already fussing and crying. However, there is research that show that using these soothing measures prior to baby becoming fussy helps prevent the fussiness from happening, or at the very least makes the crying less severe.

This is the second principle of keeping babies calm; soothing can work preventively if the soothing activities are applied when the infant is not crying rather than just in response to crying.

Lastly, remember that colic issues will not last forever. At around 12 weeks, most babies would have have outgrown this phase of development and the inconsolable crying and fussiness comes to an end. Please consult your paediatrician if you are concerned or if your baby is fussing and crying because they are unwell or sick.

Disclaimer

This blog is written by a nurse, midwife and postpartum doula.

This blog does not take the place of the advice given by your paediatrician. It only covers colic like problems in infants who are otherwise healthy and are growing well with no prior conditions or concerns.

Laid Back Breastfeeding AKA Biological Nurturing

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Recently I discussed this method of breastfeeding to a new mum who was having a few problems with obtaining a good latch resulting in sore nipples. She was pretty sceptical and because I was the only person amongst all the health care professionals she had encountered since the birth of her baby, including nurses and a lactation consultant, who had mentioned it she was mulling it over. In the meantime, I had suggested side feeding, which seemed to be the best bet for a good latch. After going to the 2nd Lactation Consultant a week later, who convinced her it was worth a go, she tried it whilst with the lactation consultant and found that it was a great way of getting the baby to latch. She came home, tried to replicate the experience and did not succeed, she went back to cross-cradle hold and side feeding. Baby was having the most success with a good latch in the lying sideways position.

When I visited the next day and we we talking about how things went with the IBCLC, she said that she wanted to give the laid back method another go, and would I help her to achieve this. I said of course I could and we set on an adventure, baby, mum, dad and I. We undressed baby, placed baby on mum and watched in amazement as baby made her way to the breast. She had some assistance from mum who placed her within the vicinity of a nipple and she appeared to do the rest. How wonderful, baby led breastfeeding and attachment. Admittedly mum had to be careful that baby did not clamp down too hard on the healing nipples, by directing the breast towards baby’s wide open mouth, but it was minimal assistance as opposed to having had to bring baby to her breast as in all the other positions and methods that had been used previously. Mum too felt more relaxed and comfortable, bringing her arm down to support baby’s head as in a modified cradle position. Mum said the laid back position she was in also reduced the back and shoulder strain she had experienced previously in the more traditional feeding positions. Success.

The first time I heard about biological nurturing was when I attended  CAPPA lactation educator’s training, being delivered by Attie Sandink IBCLC extrodinaire. I had been a midwife in the UK and practised for 6 years, till the year 2000 and a nurse after that until 2009, and never once had I heard about laid back breastfeeding.  The DVDs were amazing to watch but to see it for oneself live is the best thing ever. For this I can thank my current clients. Dr S Colson brought this method to us and we should teach all new mums about it.

Here is a link to an article by By Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA about biological nurturing. 

https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/some-ins-and-outs-laid-back-breastfeeding

 Here’s a link to Suzanne Coulson’s video on Biological Nurturing

http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/video/bn3clip.html

Yet another link to Dr S Colson’s work and words

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/biologicalnurturing.asp

Baby Whisperer Part 2

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This name was given to me by 2 sets of parents recently. I happen to turn up for work and their babies just happen to be going through a fractious phase. I step in, say hello, and offer to have baby and, voila… baby calms down and quietens.  The parents stare at me in disbelief and awe, which I am almost unaware of. Then they say, “What did you do?” Or, “How did you do that?”  In all honesty, I don’t know myself, but I have some theories to explain what is happening.  I am penning this right of the top of my head and it’s by no means evidence based. It may be interesting to explore the evidence in support some of my techniques for settling babies… I guess that will be in Baby Whisperer Part 3.

The early days of parenthood are wonderful and amazing times. It can also be a time of stress and these precious miracles called babies are very adept at feeling the stress their parents feel.  So, my theory is that when I take over from them, being the calm, confident postpartum doula that I am, the babies sense this too, and calms down, as the stress around them has been removed.

Once the babies are clam and quiet, stop crying and fussing, the stress levels in their parents drop too, so that when I hand the babies back to them, all is calm and great.

Now, in the back of my mind, I see a potential drawback. I want to empower my clients to become confident parents. I don’t want to be the only one who can calm their fractious baby. So, I explain to them about the stresses of the early days of parenthood and discuss ways of dealing with these stresses and anxieties. It’s a huge learning curve becoming a parent for the first time and of course they are going to be anxious and have a lot of concerns and questions.

Why do babies cry?  Babies cry primarily because it’s their only means of communicating with us until they learn how to talk.  And it is our duty as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ parents to decipher what that crying means. They are trying to communicate to us that they may be hungry, they may have  wet or soiled their diaper, they may have gas or they may have been startled. It may even be too quiet for them.  They are not used to being left alone, after all, they have spent the last 40 weeks in their mother’s uterus listening to the swishing, pulsating of the placenta and their mother’s heartbeat. Not to mention all that borborygmi! They can also hear mum’s voice and that of others all through their watery world of amniotic fluid.

And so they are born. All of a sudden their noisy world becomes a relatively quiet one. It must take a bit of getting used to. Maybe this is why white noise machines seem to be a must thing to have these days, though I must admit I did not have one for my children. I co-slept with them, and I guess that having us close to them comforted them enough to negate the need for any white noise.

So, in order to calm a baby, go through the list of why she/he may be crying, one by one until you solve the mystery. Eventually, you’ll get used to baby’s cries and reactions, and discover the reason fairly easily. In the early days though, going through the list mentally in your head may help. If baby is rooting – opening her mouth as though searching for a breast – feed her. If she has been fed, and is not settling, burp her, check her diaper and maybe check if she needs topping up.  Swaddling is going out of fashion and there have been some recent recommendations by the Ontario Nurses Association advising against swaddling.  The following link is just one write-up of many written about the new guidelines.

http://www.canadapress.org/health/2014/03/05/new-guidelines-reopen-great-swaddling-debate/

Bearing this in mind, I do not advise my clients to swaddle their babies, if they decide to do so, I advise them of the risks so they can make their own informed decision.

In conclusion, I don’t think I am a baby whisperer nor do I profess to be one. I am an enabler and educator. There are many ways of settling a baby and it may seem like a mystery but if you go through the possible reasons as to why a baby may be unhappy, you’ll soon discover the cause and solve the problem. It’s all about learning,  learning to be confident parents and babies learning to communicate with their parents.

 

 

You’re the baby whisperer!

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Just a quick entry as I am due at work in 8 minutes. Just wanted to pen this down and write more about this later when I have a bit more time. I have been called this twice by clients recently… It’s a great compliment but I tell my clients that it’s not what I set out to be!  And if indeed I am a baby whisperer than I will impart these skills to my clients so they too become their baby’s baby whisperer.

Anyhow, will return to this in due course… more to follow. Got to dash now.