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Shopping for baby stuff

Last weeks of pregnancy mean shopping for baby stuff, right? You know, all those cute outfits, nursery furniture, dummies, bottles, toys, wiper warmers, prams, decorations, changing tables, linens, towels, sleeping bags, books… Internet and parental magazines are loaded with monstrous lists of stuff that seems to be absolutely necessary for human baby to survive. What is REALLY necessary?  In my humble opinion the list is fairly simple. As an added bonus it’s also short and cheap:

Clothes – if you live in Finland, you can even skip that part and just relay on the famous KELA box. If you are not as lucky and live somewhere else, the contents of the box are really well thought, so just copy that list to your notebook and hit the streets.

Diapers – I’m a huge fan of cloth diapers, so would definitely recommend that option. It’s cheaper, healthier, greener. There is the cuteness factor to consider as well. Cloth diapers are super easy to use- most of them you just put on just like you would put a disposable diaper. Used diapers can be placed in a bucket with a lid (they are not half as smelly as disposable ones, trust me) and wait for washing there. Depending on how many diapers you will buy, you do the laundry every second or every third day. In my experience it’s something like 5 minutes extra per day if you compare to using disposables. Oh, wait. Actually it’s zero. You have to get the disposables from the store and then take them to the trash bin outside, so it evens out. Also worth mentioning that this whole diaper thing is optional as well if you decide to go diaper free. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, really.

Baby carrier – uhm, it means you don’t really-truly need to splash out close to 1k€ for a pram/ stroller. You don’t need it. OK, maybe you think you need it, but really, your baby thinks otherwise. Human babies are born to be carried, not wheeled around. Your baby will be happier and calmer being close to you. Her spine and hips will be happier too. She will learn so much more than just looking at the sky from the pram. You will be happier, because you don’t have to push around a heavy, bulky thing and you can go to all the places you used to go (think forest or stairs) without re-routing or other logistical challenges. I can go on and on about this, so I guess another post is coming soon :D

Boobs – right, technically, you cannot buy those. They come attached to the mother. Point here being that if you plan on breastfeeding you can skip the whole formula-bottle-dummy thingy and keep your €. They are not necessary and in fact, research shows that just having this stuff at home can undermine breastfeeding. So, if you are serious about breastfeeding, skip the artificial feeding stuff. If it truly becomes necessary, you will know where to find it. Educate yourself instead. Learn about Booby Traps, go through the checklist for breastfeeding success, read about normal newborn behavior and relax. It will all work out.

Car sear – this is essential, even if you don’t own a car yourself. You will have to transport your baby every once in a while in a taxi or friend’s car. I’m a big fan of buying things second hand, but not this. When you buy secondhand, you have no idea if it has been in an accident or not. Also, don’t buy a seat just because it’s cheap or because it looks nice. Visit autoliito’s site and study the test results. Then buy whatever has the best score. This is about your baby’s safety. Eeore hit the nail on the head: I’m not saying there won’t be an Accident now, mind you. They’re funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you’re having them. Remember that car seats are just that- car seats. They were not designed to be a universal baby container/ carrier/ travel system. Car seats are for cars, and should be used just there.

Everything else is totally optional. Yes, I mean that cot and the related nursery paraphernalia are optional. Baby expects that he will sleep with mama, not separated. That’s exactly the reason most babies cry when they are left alone. Promise, you will all get way more sleep when you put baby next to you. Yes, it is safe. At least as safe (if not actually safer) than crib.

It’s a short list. But really, babies need responsive parents, not stuff or pretty nursery. They need to be held, fed and feel safe. That’s it. It becomes a bit more complicated later (and you still won’t need a lot of stuff), but that’s a different story.

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What’s in “The Bag”?

This bag drives with me in the car when I’m on call for the client. I have spent some time thinking what should go inside and after a year of doula-ing, I’m pretty happy with the content. One of my clients called it a portable Birth Spa :)

Bag looks like this:

And below I introduce its residents:

Two oat bags

I heat them up in a microwave oven and then place in on your lower back or abdomen or shoulders or whatever needs relaxing. This is probably the most used item.

Elle TENS machine

TENS is a small battery-operated electrical current generator that provides input to your central nervous system. The TENS unit is small and portable -so you can walk around or be up with it while using it in labor. TENS is a safe method of pain control. It has no side effects and is totally controlled by you. And, while TENS does not eliminate pain, many women have found it to be extremely effective in helping them work with their contractions and feel more in control. The TENS unit sends an electrical “signal” through your skin to the nerves. This signal feels like a warm, comfortable tingling sensation which helps block out some of the other pain stimuli that is also reaching your central nervous system. Four electrode pads are placed along your spine. Electrode wires are inserted into the pads and plugged into the TENS unit. The unit is turned on to the level of feeling a mild sensation. With each contraction you dial up the intensity of the current with the contraction and turn it down to a mild sensation in between.

Gua-sha

“gua” means “to scrape”, and “sha” is the term used to describe the millet-like redness that may occur after the treatment that has been carried out.  Gua Sha massage technically isn’t a massage at all. Rather, Gua Sha is the name of the instrument that is used during the treatment. Another name for this therapy is “spooning”. The Gua Sha, or instrument, is used because the hands alone may not be enough to dispel heat, increase oxygen to the area, and stimulate blood flow in the way that the Gua Sha can. I mostly use it for lower back to release the tension.
Birth ball {picture}

Rebozo

A rebozo is a woven piece of fabric used by Mexican women as a shawl, a baby carrier and a comfort and positioning tool for pregnancy and childbirth.

Techniques for the Rebozo in childbirth include: “sifting” the mother, aid in the double hip squeeze, rocking or dangling the mother, abdominal lift, covering the mother’s eyes and ears to block distractions, for the mother to pull on, especially during pushing.

Almond oil

to moisturize skin for the massage. It doesn’t have any scent, so it’s perfect if you happen to be sensitive to smells during labour.

Essential oils

I use lavender (when you have trouble relaxing) and peppermint (works wonders in second stage of labour when you need a boost of energy).

Massage tools

when hands are not enough. For some reasons Dads really like those.

Stress balls

when your partner’s arm cannot handle all that squeezing anymore.

iPod with speakers

I have a selection of relaxation music and some African drum beats that might get you in a belly-dancing mood. Plus a lot of other stuff that you can hear on the radio. And of course we can load some of your favorites onto it.

Straws

It’s much easier to drink when someone holds a cup for you and directs the straw to your mouth.

Few books, in case I need a reminder of what other position we can try etc:

Some personal items: toothbrush and toothpaste, chewing gum, energy bars, change of clothes, towel and soap. I also keep some things that you might forget and could come in handy: wool socks, hair band, lip moisturizer…

I plan on adding electric candles – real candles are a no-no in a hospital setting (something about fire hazard), but these can help in creating some really nice atmosphere in the room.

This doesn’t technically fit in the bag, but I drag it along:


It’s possible that the hospital’s pool will be occupied, so here is your backup! Even if you don’t want to have an actual water birth, you can still use it throughout the labour. There are many, many advantages of using birth pool- it can help cope with pain, relax…

With all this in my bag, I have to admit that the most important tools are my hands and words :)

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Sandra Morris - Thanks so much for sharing! I am going to “copy” your bag contents before my next birth.

What does a doula do?

That entirely depends on you and what you want from your birth experience. After all doula literally means a “female slave” in Greek. Plus, each doula has her own, personal style. But most often, what I do could be summarized like this:

You call me sometimes during your pregnancy (I would recommend as early as possible. I only accept a handful of clients for each month) and we agree on an initial meeting, so that we can both decide if we want to work together. If so, we will sign a contract and schedule two or three meetings for your third trimester. And we will talk. We will talk a lot. Or rather, you will talk. I will take notes and listen and throw in a question or two. Also your partner will talk. We will formulate your Birth Preference™ cheat-sheet (some people call it Birth Plan, but I don’t think you can PLAN all that much about birth. But there are a lot of things you might prefer over the others). That should give us all a good picture of what you want and what you don’t want, what are your hopes and fears. We will form a team working on your best possible birth. I see this as the most important part of my work.

Two weeks before your estimated delivery date I will be on call for you. This means few things:

  • I will put my Doula Karba Bag with all fancy-schmancy equipment in the car
  • when I make arrangements to meet with friends I will tell them that I might cancel at the last moment
  • I will keep my phone on, charged, and in close proximity, all the time
  • you can call me whenever the birth starts and whenever you want me to come over (yes, it’s ok that it’s 11:30 pm on New Year’s Eve).

When you call me I jump in the car and drive. Upon arrival I usually spend first couple of minutes just looking at you and how you are working through contractions. If your partner is there, I also look at him and how he supports you. This short observation, together with Birth Preference gives me excellent ground to support you through the process. Depending on what you specified in the Birth Preference I will help with comfort techniques (massage, TENS, birth pool, gua-sha, acupressure, aromatherapy, relaxation, heat packs, position suggestions, verbal encouragement…), practical things (fetching water and food, calling your family to tell them “not yet”, hunting pillows and blankets, you get the point). I am in constant, close proximity to the mother at all times. Generally, I don’t leave the room except for toilet breaks and preparing the equipment (eg. heat packs need to be reheated about once per hour). Except of course, if you need a private moment and want me out of the room. I also work with partners to encourage their participation. After the baby is born and I will be able to finally see through the tears (yes, I always cry when baby is born. I’m just built that way. I thought I will warn ya) I will take your first family picture and stay with you for some time afterwards. I usually head off an hour or two after stage III, when I’m sure you’ve settled in.

I’m still on call for you throughout the first weeks, so when that moment of “we-have-a-baby-at-home-what-do-we-do-now” comes, I can come over and help you figure it out.

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