Calling all doulas: join the team!

Hi doulas!


We are currently looking for beginner and intermediate level doulas to apply to our doula agency. If you are a doula that has between 3-75 births and has experience with/interest in birth, postpartum and lactation support, please apply! We are looking for warm, hands-on, and evidence based doulas interested in growing their businesses as well as getting guidance and mentorship from experienced doulas.

I joined NYC Birth Village almost a year ago, and it has made such a difference in my doula practice. I knew I wanted to expand into working with a partner, but I wasn’t sure where to start in navigating that new type of relationship. Having Narchi and Karla as mentors in this process has been so rewarding. Not only in demonstrating how partnership doula can work, but in honing interview skills, improving communication with clients, and finding balance in this challenging work. They invest in our community of doulas, and in turn, we invest in each other. I look forward to welcoming another person to our group! If you’d like to hear more from our current doulas about working with NYC Birth Village, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Find out more and apply here!

A doula approved reading list!

There are so many books out there about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding. One of my favorites that I’ve been recommending to clients lately is Labyrinth of Birth by Pam England. Different than a maze, a labyrinth has a single path to the center with only one entrance and no dead ends. This is a helpful metaphor when people feel lost or that they aren’t progressing. The birthing person can trust that they are moving closer to their end goal because there is only one direction to go: forward. England says, “Just when you think you’ve hit a wall in labor, you will turn a corner and the path will lead you in a new direction. The Labyrinth symbol reminds us that we can’t predict or plan the absolute course of life or labor.”

England also talks about expecting the unexpected. A labyrinth may only have one path, but there are an unknown number of twists and turns once you’re in it, and it’s impossible to know how close you are to the center. “Unpredictable, sudden changes in direction in the labyrinth parallel unexpected, unwished-for surprises that are part of every labor and postpartum…From time to time, like most mothers, you will feel “lost” in labor because when you are in labor, you can’t see how far you’ve come, or how close you are to giving birth.”

If you’re looking for a book to help you tackle the emotional parts of your labor and can complement your nuts and bolts birth books, go check out Labyrinth of Birth! Since this book has been so helpful to my clients, I decided to ask my fellow doulas here at NYC Birth Village about their favorite book recommendations and they delivered! As if your pregnancy reading list needed to be longer…

  1. Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel

    “I think it does a great job of providing both big picture and practical advice for achieving an unmedicated birth in a hospital. It also has one of my favorite outlines for developing birth preferences, including tackling the fear of getting attached or disappointed when things don’t go as “planned”. - Sierra

    “I of course read it from the recommendation of Karla and Narchi when I was pregnant with Carter and I always recommend it to my pregnant friends. It really does provide comfort for those who overall feel safe in a hospital but want to achieve a natural birth and be well informed of their options.” - Jamie

  2. Like a Mother by Angela Garbes

    “I think that this kind of read can be extremely beneficial as someone embarks in the process of pregnancy and motherhood, where the current culture is still full of misconceptions and outdated assumptions. People can approach this life altering time with more self-love, compassion and trust, and less fear, shame and guilt.” - Narchi

  3. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth by Diana Korte

    “I think this book is really easy to read and understand and helps guide about all of the choices that come along with birth!” - Erica

  4. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

    “It explains every aspect of birth in a very simple way. So while it’s a lot of content, it’s very easy to understand and it’s a great book to go back to to reference certain aspects of interest.” - Jamie

  5. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

    “What I like about it is not so much the practical tips (though invaluable), but how it gives a nice balance of personal birth stories in a way that the reader can go through in their own way, on their own time and via their own terms (I.e., they can be read out of order, or you can choose to just scroll a few, or read all of them or just a couple at a time...), yet regardless it serves the purpose of showing the variety of unpredictable sets of circumstances that occur and the different ways women view them (often alongside the woman’s initial expectations).” - Kim


How Do You Know When You Need a Pelvic Floor Therapist?

This is a guest post written by occupational therapist, Lindsey Vestal, founder of The Functional Pelvis.

“I pee every time I sneeze… is that normal?”

“Ever since I had a baby, sex is so painful…does everyone experience that?”

“Ever since I gave birth, I feel so much pressure down there… is that ok?”

“My baby is 6 months old;  I’ve almost lost all the “baby” weight but I still look pregnant… is that normal?”

“Omg I cannot hold my farts in and yet I have the hardest time pooping… is that normal?”

Do any of these questions sound familiar?  Do you have your own questions that have you wondering if you’re normal?  If so, you would benefit from working with a pelvic floor therapist.  While problems with the pelvic floor are common, especially pre and postpartum, they are not necessarily “normal” and what’s important is that you don’t have to just live with them.  There is help.

Pelvic floor therapy is indicated when there is pain or a loss of function involving the vital daily activities of the pelvis.  To be blunt, these activities include peeing, pooping, farting and sex.  All the things we don’t discuss in public but are so incredibly important to our quality of life.

The pelvic floor is a hammock-like structure made up of 14-16 muscles that stretch across the bottom of the pelvis.  These muscles do some pretty important jobs including holding in our pee, poop and farts when we don’t want them to come out but also relaxing to let them out when it’s time.  They are also big players in helping us to enjoy sex including penetration and orgasms.  They also play a really important role in supporting the pelvic organs including the bladder, uterus and rectum as well as supporting the whole body including the spinal column and head.  So in essence, these muscles are super important and YET most of us know very little about this part of our musculoskeletal system much less how to rehabilitate it when something isn’t working as it should.

Pelvic floor therapists are trained to help you regain function by assessing what is contributing to your symptoms and creating a plan of care tailored to you with your specific goals in mind. Often we use breath work, strengthening, stretching and muscular release techniques.  Some exercises will focus on the pelvic floor muscles and core muscles while others will integrate the whole body.  We may also spend some time on helping clients to improve body mechanics in everyday tasks that they do at home or at work.  At The Functional Pelvis, we pride ourselves on providing education throughout the session as we strongly believe that knowledge is power  -- the more you understand about your body, the more healing can occur. Our approach ensures that pelvic health is important not just during the pre and postnatal period, but for your health and well-being throughout your life. We are privileged to guide you along this important path that ensures a wonderful quality of life not only throughout your postpartum period but throughout your lifetime as a woman.

Sonia Reiter and Lindsey Vestal are occupational therapists specializing in pelvic floor therapy for pre and postnatal women. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit http://www.functionalpelvis.com

Chiropractic May Play an Important Role in Managing Breastfeeding with Infants

Recent research reported in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health – Chiropractic on an infant with difficulty latching to breastfeed, reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in managing these infants. The literature included supports the role of chiropractic in infants suffering from this health challenge and calls for more research in this area.

“Numerous case studies and some clinical studies are revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine, the nervous system and the various health challenges that infants experience” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. 

McCoy added “In the case report presented, the infant was suffering from difficulty breastfeeding that resolved under chiropractic care because of the nature of the nervous system and its relationship to the spine.  Anytime there are imbalances in the head and neck this can alter the infant’s ability to latch on the breast to nurse properly.” 

According to researchers the nervous system controls and coordinates all functions of the body and structural shifts in the spine can occur that obstruct the nerves and interfere with their function. By removing the structural shifts, chiropractic improves nerve supply and function. 

The infant reported on in the study was a 4-day-old male suffering from a flat head, recessed jaw and difficulty with latching to breastfeed, even with a nipple shield.  His mother reported he could only feed using a bottle and had to held in specific positions. 

The chiropractor examined the infant and found structural shifts, tight muscles, and limited motion in his head, jaw, upper neck, upper back, and pelvis. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct. 

Following chiropractic adjustments, he experienced resolution and was able to breastfeed successfully. 

The study’s author called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in infants with difficulty latching to breastfeed.  

Contact Information: 

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health – Chiropractic
http://www.chiropracticpediatricresearch.com
support@vertebralsubluxationresearch.com

10 Tips to Baby-proof Your Relationship as You Enter Parenthood

Enjoy this guest post from Lisa Greaves Taylor, an award-winning childbirth educator based in Astoria, NY who offers in-person and online education courses for expecting parents.

Entering into parenthood in a committed relationship? A black box warning for you: Having a baby will put your relationship to the test like nobody’s business.(The divorce rate is through the roof within the first few years of having a baby.) As much as you can, plan in pregnancy to protect and nurture your relationship from now into parenthood.

  1. Agree on a date night quota. What’s your monthly date goal going to be so you're prioritizing your relationship? Stick to it! During your dates, have a rule: “all baby talk is off limits” -- you can talk about anything else under the sun; just not baby. Do set aside other (non-date) time to discuss baby/parenting issues. It's indeed important to present a consistent, united front as a team as you raise your little one. (Yep, you got 3 tips wrapped into one there…BONUS!)

  2. Look for opportunities to connect with & affirm your partner. For example: whenever you’ve been apart for any length of time, be proactive with approaching them. This should be a two-way street. If you don't stop what you’re doing to greet your partner eye-to-eye, at least sometimes, it can give your beloved the sense that they don’t matter to you. (Make this and the next tip priorities. These will reduce the risk of struggles with postpartum depression or other mood and anxiety disorders.)

  3. Discuss how you can divide responsibilities & build in support in the first 6 weeks. Feeding needs to happen at least 8-12 times a day in the first few weeks in order to establish a healthy milk supply & meet baby’s needs.This is intense! So, feeding baby and resting should be the postpartum parent’s main priorities. Baby needs lots of other things that partner can help with (diapering, soothing/settling baby, etc.). Support your partner now, andyour love life will thank you down the road. It’s a great way to bond with your little one, too!

  4. Post a “love board” on your fridge for leaving notes of appreciation. Leave love notes on bathroom mirrors with dry-erase markers or post-its. Each person in our family writes something we love about each other. We update the fridge dry-erase board whenever something new occurs to us.

  5. Cool off when arguments flare up. When you have an argument and get worked up, that's the worst time to work through conflict. In the fight-or-flight state, we lose the ability to be rational. Take a breather and come back to it once you’ve had a cooling-off period. See this excellent Gottman Institute book, And Baby Makes Three, for more on this concept. You can also sign up for some great relationship tip regular emails from GI on their website.

  6. Do some of the relationship exercises in the book above as well as The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson

  7. Take a birth class together & hire a doula for your birth team. Look for a class with a focus on ways partners can be supportive in pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. A quality birth class will also foster discussions between the two of you that will lead to a stronger birth AND relationship. Hiring a doula--one who’s the right fit for you and your partner--will provide similar, symbiotic benefits

  8. Keep in mind your “dates” will look different in the very beginning of parenthood. Start by lighting a candle at the table where you eat. Sit across the table from each other and see if you can look into each other's eyes without dozing off amidst your sleep deprivation. (At least you’re being intentional with this time, even if you do drift off!)

  9. Perhaps a little farther down the road, consider organizing a monthly “relationship care” small group with other married friends (or friends in a long-term, committed relationship). This might be a bit out of people's comfort zones, but it has been a game changer for some couples. It’s a kind of support meeting that provides intentional, dedicated time to dialogue one-on-one in the presence of other couples. This type of group is intended for couples who are not in crisis, but committed to nurturing their relationships in a constructive, level-headed way by addressing some harder topics in a confidential setting. Each couple has an opportunity to discuss questions that they've received ahead of time while other couples listen and observe. Supportive feedback for the dialoguing couple is always optional and never judgmental.

  10. If some of the tips above don’t resonate with where you find yourself at the moment in your relationship, working with a couples’ therapist during pregnancy or into parenthood can be a smart thing to seek out. Too many couples wait until they’re in deep relationship crisis to reach out for help, and at that point, it’s much harder to resolve issues. Seek out counseling early and find a good fit for both of you if you feel like your relationship could benefit.

Choose a few of the tips above to try, and your relationship will be on the road to being baby-proofed! For childbirth education classes with an intentional focus on nurturing your relationship and practical ways partners can support the laboring person, see www.birthmattersnyc.com

Five Things Your Doula Wishes You Knew

  1. Some people have the kind of births they want to have in spite of their providers, and some people do it because of their providers. Choosing a provider is probably the most important decision you can make for your birth. I wish everyone took this decision seriously and interviewed multiple providers before choosing one. Midwives and doctors all approach situations in different ways, and the key is to find someone who shares your values and will help you work towards your goals. When I meet a potential client who tells me they are skeptical of their provider and they’re hiring a doula because they’re hoping that is enough to guard them from interventions and a c-section, it raises a red flag for me. While I can certainly illuminate your options, provide a platform for you to weigh decisions, and give you helpful questions to ask, you must feel supported by the medical team you’ve chosen.

  2. We want to hear from you! You’re not bothering us. We want text updates that you’ve been walking a mile every day and have been feeling more crampy recently. We want to hop on the phone with you if you had a conversation with your provider and have new questions. We want to see pictures when you say you saw some bleeding in your underwear or you think you might have lost your mucus plug. We want you to call us in the middle of the night when you’re not sure if you’re in labor. Especially while you’re in early labor and we haven’t joined you yet. You don’t have to wait until your contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting one minute for one hour. Let us know when you need extra support at any time, day or night, and we will be there.

  3. You do not need to ask permission or apologize for things you want during labor. This is most applicable to people who are delivering in a hospital setting. Treat your labor and delivery room like your living room. You wouldn’t ask for permission to get up and go to the bathroom, take a sip of water, or eat food at home and you don’t need to do it at the hospital. You shouldn’t hide the fact that you’re eating or drinking, in fact, it’s important that your providers know if there is food in your system. Going back to #1 of this list, if you feel like you have to hide things from your provider, that is also a red flag. Your mindset can have a huge impact on your labor and birth. Understanding that you have the final say in all things that happen to your body will give you confidence to act in a way that feels right to you.

  4. Spend some time thinking about how present you want family and friends to be in the later days of pregnancy, during labor, and immediately after. Labor and birth can be intense and long. The average labor for a first time mom can be 24 hours, which means you might not want to loop in people right away. Support is amazing. Being overwhelmed by other people’s expectations, timelines, and schedules is not as amazing. It is important for the birthing person to feel unburdened. Will having family members waiting in the hospital lobby add stress while you’re in labor? Will you feel supported if your partner is tied to their phone updating family and friends while you labor? Will you wait to tell family and friends until after the baby is born? Will you want extra people in the room while you’re pushing? Or immediately after you’ve given birth? You get to decide who is allowed to visit and how long they will stay.

  5. We are still your doulas postpartum — use us! We usually leave about one to two hours after your baby is born to ensure you are supported during the golden hour, throughout any repairs that need to happen, and to make sure your new family feels settled. The first few days can be intense. Everyone has a different set up for support after birth, but even while you are in the hospital, please feel free to call and text us with questions. The same way that we walked you through decisions during pregnancy, we can do the same when you are presented with different decision points in the hospital. What are the benefits of giving baby a bath? Is it necessary to supplement with formula? There’s usually a period of time that you’re home before we see you for your postpartum visit, and now the questions seem to triple — please call! If we don’t know the answer we can direct you to resources for support. Months down the road when new questions arise, we are here. And even when you don’t have a question, send us an update and a picture of your baby! We never get tired of seeing baby pictures!!

Find your doula at nycbirthvillage.com. We have doulas at all levels of experience trained in birth, postpartum and lactation!

Three Pieces of Advice from a Breastfeeding Counselor

*All of the doulas at NYC Birth Village have breastfeeding training. We also offer a two-hour private breastfeeding and newborn care class to help you prepare for the kind of feeding relationship you want to have! Learn more about our classes here.

  1. Build your village before baby is here and use these resources! The mother should not be the only person responsible for figuring out how to make breastfeeding work for the family. The most sustainable and successful breastfeeding relationships are able to flourish because there is a network of support around the mother and baby. Partners should educate themselves about breastfeeding so they can be an informational resource in addition to providing emotional and logistical support. Find out who among your close friends and family breastfed and who is open to sharing their stories, challenges, tips and tricks. You’re not alone in your journey, and talking with people who can empathize will help get you through the challenging days. Choose a pediatrician who is not just breastfeeding tolerant, but promotes breastfeeding and is knowledgeable about how it impacts your baby’s growth. Find lactation counselors or consultants in your area so you know who to call when you’re having issues. Research breastfeeding circles and La Leche League meet-ups nearby, which will help you troubleshoot, meet breastfeeding families in your area, and provide emotional support and encouragement.

  2. Learn how to hand express. Many people who plan to breastfeed will get an electric pump, which is typically covered by insurance. However, an electric pump is not the only way to get milk out and, on its own, it is actually the least efficient way to transfer milk. Hand expression is the next best way to get milk out second to your baby, which means your precious time will be spent more efficiently! You can get milk out using hand expression, an electric pump, or a manual pump. Think of all these methods as different tools, and each tool gives you more options and flexibility. Hand expression is great when you’re engorged and just need a bit of relief, when you are not near an outlet or don’t have an electric pump with you, or when you just don’t feel like cleaning pump parts!

  3. Create informed and flexible goals. Your number one goal is to feed your baby and ensure they are at a healthy weight. You can supplement with breastmilk, but it’s also great to have a backup plan. Exclusive breastfeeding is like eating farm to table for every meal. We would all probably benefit from eating farm to table for every meal, but that doesn’t always happen and that’s okay! Have a backup plan that you feel good about if breastfeeding isn’t going the way you expect in the first few weeks. You can start expressing and collecting colostrum in plastic syringes around 36-37 weeks so your baby has food stored for the first few days of life. You can research and buy a formula that you feel good about in case you can’t get your baby to latch properly so you have a backup plan handy. Another option would be to find a local milk bank with donor milk that’s available if you want to ensure your baby has a breastmilk alternative to yours. You can create informed and flexible goals by taking a breastfeeding class before your baby is born and/or talking with a lactation counselor or consultant beforehand to lay out your goals and understand what you’ll need to do in the early days and weeks to establish a good milk supply.

Big City Moms: The Biggest Baby Shower Ever!

We love building our village, it’s in our name! We had a great time connecting with new and familiar faces at MommyCon, and we are looking forward to our next opportunity to meet you face-to-face. If you are expecting or just had a baby, check us out at Big City Moms! The Biggest Baby Shower Ever is the country’s largest and original event series for expecting and new parents. Don’t miss out on testing the latest gear, learning from the experts, meeting other new and soon-to-be parents in your area, and going home with the latest products on the market. Visit https://www.bigcitymoms.com/ for more info.

Tickets can be purchased here and start at $45, but we are offering a special promo code for $10 off: DOULA10

The Details:

May 7, 2019

5:30pm – 9:30pm

Metropolitan Pavilion

125 West 18th Street

New York City, NY 10011


How to choose the right provider for you!

Some people have low-intervention, vaginal births because of their provider, and some people do it despite their provider. People should also see their provider as their advocate. Someone who doesn’t just tolerate your birth preferences, but who embraces them and does what they can to help you get to that end goal. Of course everyone wants a competent provider, but that is the bare minimum. Just like everyone wants a healthy parent and healthy baby at the end of a labor, the way the labor happens also matters. The way your midwife or doctor treats you matters. Providers all have differing comfort levels with physiological birth. Some are going to be more holistic in their approach and some are more likely to turn to interventions.

So how do you choose a provider that is going to be aligned with your values? If you are working with a doula, they are a great resource! One of the benefits of hiring a doula earlier in the process is you have a sounding board for making decisions like these. They likely have experience with a bunch of different providers in your area and can walk you through the process of choosing a provider. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Check in with yourself. What kind of traits are you looking for in a provider? Compassion, efficiency, patience, a sense of humor? What factors are also important? Location, time of appointments, hospital affiliation, etc.?

  2. Find relevant referrals. Just because your friend loved their provider and you love your friend doesn’t mean their doctor is going to be the right fit for you. If you feel comfortable, ask them more about their experience. Were they hoping for the same kind of birth as you’re planning? What specifically did they like about their provider?

  3. Interview your provider. Sit down with them face to face. Do you like how they explain things? Do they make you feel comfortable? There are a lot of practices with multiple providers and it is hard to ensure you will get along equally well with all of them. In those situations, try to get a sense for how the group practices as a whole. If you would be horrified if one of the providers attends your birth, maybe steer clear of that practice.

  4. Have important conversations early and often. It is never too early to talk about how you want to give birth. Is your provider open to having conversations about your goals? Beyond wanting a vaginal birth, there are important details that can impact your laboring experience. If one of your goals is to go into labor spontaneously, you can ask a provider in your first conversation about their induction policy. You don’t want to wait until you are 37 weeks pregnant to hear that your practice does a routine induction at 41 weeks. If you’re delivering in NYC, it is especially difficult to switch after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Be up front now to save you trouble later on.

The New Postpartum Depression Drug: What Do We Know?

To date, there hasn’t been a drug made specifically to treat postpartum depression (PPD). Like many issues in maternal and reproductive health, there is a lack of research, funding, and answers. The small portion of people who are currently seeking out help for PPD are prescribed the same regimen available to people with generalized depression: antidepressants and counseling. Although PPD is one of the most common complications in the perinatal period, impacting ~15% of birthing people within the first year of birth, it is still very misunderstood. The FDA just approved Brexanolone, sold under the name Zulresso by Sage Therapeutics, which performed well in trials. Its wide release is slated for June. It will be administered intravenously and, unlike other antidepressants, the effects will be fast-acting with patients experiencing results in less than three days and lasting up to a month.

The drug costs $34,000 without insurance. Insurance companies are still deciding how they are going to cover a drug like this. However, even for people who can afford to pay the price, the time requirement is huge for a new mother: 60 hours in a hospital or clinic with a continuously monitored infusion. Right now it is unclear what type of access a mother might have to her newborn when under this type of care. PPD can be a life-threatening condition, and it is important to have life-saving options for those who are incapacitated and unable to take care of themselves or their babies. In severe cases, some people are hospitalized for much longer than the 60 hours it takes to administer the dose, and proponents of the drug argue that these are the situations where Zulresso will make a huge impact.

Postpartum depression vs. baby blues

Impact

  • Baby blues: ~50-80%  

  • PPD: 15-20%

Onset

  • Baby blues: 3 days to 1 month postpartum

  • PPD: a few days after birth but at risk from 6 weeks to 1 year

Cause

  • Baby blues: hormonal shift

  • PPD: history of depression, anxiety or other mood disorders, severe PMS, thyroid problems, hormonal changes

Symptoms

  • Baby blues: tearfulness, moodiness, frustration, irritability BUT interspersed with positive emotions  

  • PPD: anxiety, sadness, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, thoughts of hopelessness and/or harming the baby or yourself, feeling worthless, extreme fatigue and/or excessive worry about the baby’s health

Management

  • Baby blues: support from family, friends, or a postpartum doula and self care

  • PPD: support from family, friends, or a postpartum doula, self care, counseling, and medication


References and resources:

www.themotherhoodcenter.com

www.seleni.org

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/3/20/18274133/postpartum-depression-sage-therapeutics-brexanolone

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/health/postpartum-depression-drug.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/03/21/705545014/new-postpartum-depression-drug-could-be-hard-to-access-for-moms-most-in-need



Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, March 8, 2019, is International Women’s Day (IWD)! As birth and postpartum doulas, we feel lucky to witness the strength, grit, softness and wisdom of women every day. Some of our doulas share their thoughts on IWD:

What does IWD mean to you?

Sam: Every time March 8 rolls around, I am reminded to check in with myself and my fellow sisters. I honor all of the ways my life is impacted by my identity as a woman, the negative and the positive, and how I’ve grown from those experiences. It’s a chance for me to think about what strides women have made in the past year and what we must work towards in the future.

Who is a powerful woman in your life?

Erica: I look up to my sister, she has played many roles in my life including best friend; and at times, a parent and my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her support and love. She’s an amazing person and it’s been incredible to watch her grow, specifically into a mom herself.

If you could send a message to all the women in the world today, what would you say?

Karla: I’ve always been inspired by MLK’s: “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It’s easy to get caught up in all that holds us back now.  As a doula in a woman focused field that helps women advocate for control over decisions that affect their body and family, I’m proud for any small role our doula agency has in making women feel more powerful.

We want to take this opportunity to highlight the ways we can all support and celebrate women every day of the year:

  1. Support women owned businesses, buy art made by women, and go see live music performed by women.

  2. Send a message to a special woman in your life and thank her for being a positive presence.

  3. Sit down with a young woman/girl and create space for them to ask questions and talk about their experience of womanhood.

  4. Respect and stand for everyone who identifies as a woman because we are more powerful when we are in community together!

Source: https://www.planoly.com/blog/portfolio/int...

New York Family Paid Leave: What You Need to Know

If you live in NYC or surrounding areas, you may have heard about the new law allowing residents to obtain paid leave and job protection following the birth of a child or caring for a sick family member. However, as FairyGodBoss explains, there are a few things that you should know before running to HR:

  1. Paid Family Leave (PFL) only covers a fraction of your income. Currently, the maximum payable is a percentage of your income up to $764 for 2019.

  2. The maximum amount of leave is 10 weeks for each parent for 2019, and will go up to 12 weeks in 2021. You don’t have to take each week consecutively, but they must be used within the child’s first year of life.

  3. Only the mother or father are able to take benefits from PFL.

  4. You will continue to be covered by your employer’s insurance as long as you and your employer continue to pay into your health insurance while you are on leave.

  5. You have to give employers 30-Day notice.

  6. If you are self-employed you may be entitled to some benefits that are displayed on the NY PFL website .

The US has a long way to go on the road to comprehensive paid leave (we are the only developed country that doesn’t have a national mandate for paid parental leave), but this is a great start!

Top 9 Apps for the Tech Savvy New Parent

Today’s new parent doesn’t go anywhere without their phone. We are thankful that app developers (who are also parents) have developed very useful tools that make navigating parenthood a little easier!

Kinedu: Baby Development App

Trying to figure out how to play with baby but aren’t sure where to start? The Kinedu app gives you developmentally appropriate exercises to stimulate your baby’s mind and strengthen muscles. These activities also build on each other so that your baby is prepared to roll-over, crawl, sit, stand, and eventually walk. The app goes from newborn to 24 months, so that you can play with baby through the first year of toddlerhood too!

Baby Connect (Activity Log) App

NYC Birth Village Doulas often recommend the Baby Connect App to new parents who want to keep track of diapers, time and duration of feedings as well as ounces that are bottle fed. This app allows multiple users (each parent, night nurse, nanny, or even pediatrician) to input data and have access to the information as the same time. That way everyone is on the same page!

The Wonder Weeks App

If you’ve ever read “The Wonder Weeks: How to Stimulate Your Baby’s Mental Development and Help Him Turn His 10 Predictable, Great, Fussy Phases into Magical Leaps Forward” by Frans X. Plooj and Hetty van de Rijt you know that a fussy period precedes a developmental leap for your baby. The Book’s app allows you to predict when your baby will go into each leap. After you input your due date, the app gives you a projected calendar of when baby may be going through each leap (suns mean a clear, less fussy period and clouds mean a fussy, more interrupted sleep period before a leap).

Mommy Nearest

Would you like to explore the city with your little one but are unsure about where to go? The Mommy Nearest App allows you to look up baby-friendly and child-friendly activities in your area. Who knows? You may even meet another new parent with whom shares the same interests as you. You know what that means…PLAYDATES!

Calm

Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming. This app helps you with mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation. Choose this app to regularly practice self care.

Moments

Do you have a ton of pictures on your phone but don’t want to share them with all of Facebook? Facebook has developed an app that automatically groups photos from events so that you can share them with other friends and family members who also have this app.

Pampers or Huggies Rewards Apps

You may find that your diapering costs for the little one are adding up. Download the Pampers or Huggies Rewards Apps to log your points and gain access to really cool prizes, coupons, and even FREE diapers!

White Noise Deep Sleep App

Its as loud as a vacuum cleaner in your womb, so baby may have a hard time adjusting to the stillness of our world. Install this app for soothing white noise to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

Peanut App

This app is like Tinder for new parents. As you enter your interests, Peanut matches you to other possible new parent friends in the area.

Jamie Martira's "Back to Work" Class

This week’s blog post features one of our very own doulas, Jamie Martira. Jamie is a phenomenal birth and postpartum doula. She also teaches a very informative “Back to Work” class that helps families transition into the fifth trimester. Read more about Jamie and her “Back to Work” class below.

NYC Birth Village: Tell us a little about yourself and how you came into this career.

Jamie Martira: I became interested in helping families through the journey of becoming parents when my niece was born four years ago and I truly realized the village it takes to raise a child.  It wasn't until the birth of my first child 2 and half years ago, when I returned to work after 4 months of maternity leave, that I realized there is a whole other phase of adjusting to parenthood that takes place beyond that immediate postpartum period that no one talks about; going back to work. Returning to work for me was daunting; I was stressed about making the time to pump, worried about the judgement I would receive from others, and scared to leave my baby with someone else. With all these feelings, I had no support and had to figure much of it out on my own with the "help" of a million different articles found through Google searches.  That's when I decided something needed to be done about this and there needed to be more proactive support for parents returning to work so they feel confident and empowered in the decisions they are making for their family.  And so I spent much of my time digging through tons of research to find the most beneficial information to share with families to ease the transition in returning to work and created the Back to Work class.

NYC BV: What kinds of things can a new parent learn from the Back to Work class? 

JM: The class is tailored to each family's needs depending on their situation. It covers the ins and outs of pumping, storing milk, cleaning and sterilizing parts, and feeding your baby when you're away, but also dives into your legal rights to pumping at work, how to communicate with misinformed bosses and coworkers, how to communicate effectively with caregivers, as well as how to manage your time and find balance between work and home.

NYC BV: Is there anything else you’d like for our readers to know about you or your services? 

JM: As a birth and postpartum doula, it's my true passion to work with families through each beautiful stage of becoming a parent. Going back to work is no less important than becoming pregnant, having a baby, and getting through those first few weeks. It's a natural and important part of parenting and I offer support and guidance to help families feel confident about this often forgotten about phase of parenthood!

If you’re interested in learning more about or booking Jamie’s “Back to Work” class, please visit our website and fill out a Contact Form. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Our Doula-approved "Must-Have" Holiday Gifts for New and Expectant parents

What are the best Holiday gifts for new and expectant parents? Our doulas came together to create our “Must-Have” gift list for pregnancy, postpartum and for baby. Pick one of these to make your new parent friend or family member happy!

Pregnancy

1. Money towards birth and/or postpartum doula services: NYC Birth Village doulas are experienced birth and postpartum doulas that offer a variety of packages to meet everyone’s needs. Check out our website to see what our doulas can do for your pregnant/new parent friend.

2. Prenatal Massage: Pregnancy can take a toll on a pregnant person’s body. Give the gift of comforting touch from one of our collaborators, licensed massage therapist Fiona Pippa. Contact us to learn more about her services.

3. Pregnancy Pillow: It can be hard to get a goodnight’s sleep while pregnant. This Queen Rose pregnancy pillow can help make your pregnant friend more comfortable.

4. Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is very important while you are pregnant or nursing. This Camelbak water bottle is an Amazon Best Seller!

5. Large Inflatable Exercise Ball: Regular chairs can be tough to sit on while pregnant. A large exercise ball is a good alternative to the conventional office or desk chair. This ball is also great to open up the hips and for pain management during childbirth. Bouncing on it can also soothe babies who are fussy during the postpartum period.

Postpartum

1. Breastfeeding-friendly clothing: It can be difficult to find clothes that are easily accessible for nursing or pumping AND cute! The Madri Collection has some chic clothing options for breastfeeding parents.

2. A trial subscription to Hulu or Netflix: Breastfeeding sessions can last anywhere between 15 to 45 mins in the first few weeks before baby gets more efficient at the breast. Give your friend or family member something to do while waiting for baby to finish nursing. Binge watching shows on Netflix or Hulu are a great way to pass the time.

3. Mani/pedi Gift Certificate: Raising a new baby can be pretty time consuming and it can be hard to find time to do something for yourself. Give your new parent friend a ticket to self care to their favorite Nail Salon. Its a great reason to get out of the house and treat themselves to something nice.

4. Go Milk Yourself: You Have Power. Express It! One of our very own doulas, Francie Webb, wrote an amazing book that teaches lactating parents how to hand express breastmilk. This is a great option for the breastfeeding enthusiast or for someone who is looking to an alternative to the electric pump. Find the book here.

5. Gift Certificate to Cloth Diaper Service: Cloth Diapering is a great option for your environmentally conscious friends, but may be a daunting task living in NYC where not every apartment has a washer and dryer. Diaperkind offers gift certificates for their cloth diaper services.

For Baby

1. Boppy Lounger: This super cute lounge chair is great for sitting baby upright after a feeding or just to hang out during the day. Find it here .

2. Boba Wrap: Babywearing has many advantages for baby. Its also an easy way to be hands-free and close to your baby at the same time.

3. Comotomo Bottles: These bottles help to ease transition from breast to bottle because of the soft silicone exterior and wide nipple.

4. SwaddleMe Swaddles: These velcro swaddles are great for keeping baby calm, snug and secure, just like in the womb!

5. Soothie Avent Pacifiers: These are popular among babies who soothe themselves by comfort sucking.

You can’t go wrong with any one (or more!) of these gifts! Your pregnant friend or family member will be touched by your thoughtfulness.

Happy Holidays!

NYC Birth Village

Family Spotlight: Kerry and Jesse Discuss Their Experience with a Postpartum Doula

Today we are featuring Kerry and Jesse who are the proud parents of Baby Everett

NYC Birth Village: Thank you for joining us for this interview! We’re grateful to have you on our blog today. What made you decide to seek postpartum doula care and subsequently choose NYC Birth Village for your doula?

Kerry and Jesse: We were fortunate enough to have multiple friends share their extremely positive experiences with NYC Birth Village. Prior to their recommendations, we had never even considered doula care and truthfully, didn't know much about it. So, my husband and I began researching postpartum doula care. We decided to test the waters with a birth and labor prep class and infant care class. We enjoyed our experience so much that we knew postpartum care would be very beneficial for our family. This was our first baby and we don't have any family nearby, so I knew we would need help and support. I also wanted someone that I could trust, feel comfortable with and open up to. After meeting Brianna, I knew we were in good hands.

NYC BV: In what ways did Brianna help you prepare prior to your baby’s arrival?

K&J: I'm not sure I can actually list all of the ways! From an educational standpoint, she spent several hours with us reviewing infant care and breastfeeding principles, both of which were completely new to my husband and me. As I mentioned, this is our first baby and we are the first in each of our families' to have children. We were nervous that we wouldn't have enough knowledge to care for our new baby but Brianna put us right at ease, shared information in a manner which was easy to absorb and helped us feel confident and prepared. However, Brianna's help went beyond educational; she offered us emotional support, as well. I had a C section, so was very nervous about our birth. She provided me with a safe space to voice my concerns and anxieties without judgement.

NYC BV: What do you remember and appreciate most about your postpartum support?

K&J: This is a tough one! I had a particularly challenging birth due to some complications during and after my C-section. I expected the first few weeks home with baby to be hard, but truthfully, there is no way to really prepare for how difficult it is. It is beautiful and wonderful, too. But, you are challenged in completely new ways as a person - emotionally and physically and all on little to no sleep! Having Brianna in my corner was such a relief. What I appreciate most about my postpartum care is knowing that I could depend on my doula to be there for me during a time when I didn't realize how much I needed it. I am not great at asking for help, but Brianna just seemed to know what I needed before I even asked. She asked me important questions and provided me a safe, supportive space in which to share my questions, experiences and feelings, as well as provide me with answers to the overwhelming number of questions I had as a first time parent.

NYC BV: What would you suggest to someone who is on the fence about hiring a doula for postpartum support?

K&J: I think it is the best decision you can make for yourself and your family! However, do your research to decide what services will be most beneficial for you and you can also ask to meet with a doula before deciding to hire him or her to make sure that you find the right person for you.

If you are interested in finding out more about and/or hiring one of our postpartum doulas, please visit our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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