The Best Ways to Prepare for Life with a Baby

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending a Better Beginnings Night at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre. This was an event that reached out to any person looking for more information about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum resources here in Ottawa. We saw women very close to their due dates, as well as women and their partners planning for pregnancy. There were birth doulas, postpartum doulas, chiropractors, and various businesses offering information and free samples. This got me thinking - what are the best ways to prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum? I think we all know the more obvious ways to get ready: prep the baby's room, attend regular prenatal appointments with your healthcare provider, and purchase baby supplies. But research has shown that women and partners who are well prepared for the reality of postpartum life tend to fare better in terms of adjustment issues and perinatal mood disorders.

So as your "in-house" doula, I present to you the top tips for preparing for life with a baby (hint....this involves a lot of classes!):

1. Take a prenatal class - one with an actual live teacher. The City of Ottawa now offers a free online course, but research has shown that your interaction with a teacher and/or classmates will enhance your learning. You also want to make sure that the class you choose focuses primarily on labour and birth - stages/phases, physiology, comfort measures for pain and  unexpected outcomes.

2. Take a yoga class - start in early pregnancy, and continue practicing as much as possible throughout each trimester. You not only prepare your body for the physical rigor of labour, but you teach yourself relaxation skills (the KEY to having a healthy birth)

3. Take a baby/newborn preparation class - most of us have absolutely no experience with newborns before we decide to get pregnant. In order to be comfortable with all the challenges you will face as a new parent, you need to understand newborn behaviours, sleep patterns (no, newborn babies do not sleep through the night!), and diaper, feed and carry your child.

4. Make a postpartum plan - it sounds silly, I know. "I need a PLAN to parent my child?" Yes, you least in the beginning. You will be shocked at all the little details you hadn't thought of once baby arrives. Who is nearby to give you support? How will you get breaks? Who will cook and clean the house? Walk the dog? If you take time to think about these things before you enter the postpartum phase, you'll feel less overwhelmed.

5. Take time to hang with your friends who have become parents. Ask them questions. Hold a baby, and offer to babysit several times.

The clients I work with who adjust the easiest to postpartum life are the ones who have:

- a lot of family nearby - husbands/partners that can stay home on paternal leave (if this isn't possible due to financial reasons, plan who else you can call on for assistance) - lots of experience with newborns - taken prenatal classes - lower anxiety due to proper physical activity, meditation or relaxation skills, and yoga

Did you adjust well to the postpartum phase? What made it easier on you?

Dula? Doola? DOULA!

LowRes-Misty-2 The word doula comes from the ancient Greek language meaning "female servant," but it has come to mean a labour support person - someone knowledgeable about birth who will support the labouring woman and her partner before, during, and after birth. Anyone can call themselves a doula and often the woman's sister or friend will assume the role, but professional doulas are trained and some are certified by organizing bodies worldwide. Birth doulas provide information to the expecting woman during her pregnancy, emotional and physical support during her labour, and immediately after the birth. Postpartum doulas work with families in the 4th trimester (the first three months after baby is born) to help encourage, support, and provide information.

Now that we've got that out of the way, what do doulas actually do? Do you need a doula for your birth? What about after baby is born?

Let's talk about birth first. Birth doulas provide continuous support which has been shown to have many benefits including improved maternal and fetal health. Just how does a doula support a labouring woman? It depends on the woman! Some women need a gentle touch and encouraging words while some need to be left alone; some women like knowing their doula is there for ideas and suggestions; and some need a lot of physical support. Whatever you need, your doula is there for you.

Doulas are really handy when it comes to keeping mom comfortable, whether it's applying a cool cloth to the forehead, making sure the room is warm/cool enough, dimming the lights, suggesting different labour positions, or keeping mom hydrated and fed. But there are also things that are taught in the trainings - providing pressure on the back for pain relief, the use of a rebozo - a long, scarf-like piece of material - the use of a TENS machine, massage techniques and something called the double hip squeeze. These are only some of the comfort measures and tools we bring to each and every labour.

A doula can help you feel confident and empowered. A doula can hold your space and hold your hand. A doula can let your partner take a break. A doula can make a world of difference.

As for postpartum doulas, we joke that they try and work themselves out of a job. Postpartum doulas are there to answer any question relating to your new baby or your postpartum body. They are often trained to help with breastfeeding and sometimes baby wearing, cloth diapering, and can always find great resources in the community for anything challenging that comes up. They work with you to help you find your new normal, to find your rhythm, and to blossom into your new family unit.

Want to know more? Want to meet some Ottawa doulas in person? You're in luck. There is a FREE information session Tuesday, July 15th at 7pm at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre. You can ask all your questions and maybe find a doula you like.

Hope to see you there!

Kamerine is mom to Little J and Little K.  She documents her life with two toddlers, a husband and a cat at The Life of KKamerine is also a birth doula, and you can find out more about her services at Tiny Feet Doula Services.


The Baby Show in Ottawa!

When I was pregnant with my first, I was so scared about labour and birth that I neglected to do any kind of preparation for life with a baby. I didn't read any parenting books, I didn't visit any baby shows and I certainly didn't research the available resources for new parents here in our city. So it's no wonder that parenting hit me like a Mack truck :) Now as a doula, I spend a lot of time with my clients talking about what happens after the baby arrives - breastfeeeding, postpartum recovery, sleep issues, and building a relationship with your baby (and keeping the relationship with your partner alive!!)

Luckily here in Ottawa we have SO many wonderful businesses and organizations dedicated to making life with a baby FUN. Many of these people will be at the upcoming Baby Show here in Ottawa, May 3rd and 4th at the Ottawa Convention Centre. If you are expecting a baby OR raising a young family, I would definitely recommend you check it out!

Here are just a few of my favourite businesses you'll find at the show:

Anna Belanger and Associates - with three clinics around Ottawa, there's no excuse not to try a massage with this fantastic local business!

Little Lotus Yoga - with class options for adults and children of all ages! Amanda will be doing a prenatal yoga demonstration on the main stage.

Dr. Alexis Reid with Eco Chic Movement has created her own skin care line, and has great tips for dealing with pregnancy discomforts. Plus, she works at the Ottawa Integrative Health Centre, with a team of fantastic Naturopathic doctors!

Andrea Strang with Kinder Sleep - we all need sleep, right? Sometimes babies don't agree! Andrea offers essential support and information for implementing gentle sleep methods.

There will also be a TON of amazing vendors set up to answer your questions about their products or services. And for the kiddos, Barney will be there, along with a meet and greet with Pinkalicious.

Head on over and get your tickets now! Use the code ONEWEEK for $2 off your tickets.

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Moving and Grooving on a Rainy Day

by Ezmy After a few rainy days in the row, I began to feel as though Budsie might be getting bored with the usual chilling out on the family room floor, reading and playing with puzzles and his musical fridge. Frankly, I was pretty stir crazy myself. One can only play so much ‘Pull The Laundry Out Of The Basket’ or ‘Let’s Count The DVDs’ before one starts to feel a little nutty.

But what to do? I tried a rainy walk but while the kid loved it, I came home covered in mud and feeling icky. Hmpf. Then, one particularly gloomy morning, I gave Budsie some Os and threw on some music while I unloaded the dishwasher. When I turned around to show Budsie how to put away cutlery, I was rewarded with the best sight: my little man just rocking out to Simon and Garfunkel. He’s always been a big fan of music - I think most babies are. But this was the first morning he really went all out, swaying back and forth in his highchair, laughing and bobbing his head.


New rainy day activity for me and Budsie? Moving and Grooving. I set up our laptop in the family room and popped on CD after CD of music that A. and I both enjoy. Some of it worked (Amy Winehouse and Queen) and some did not (Tool and The White Stripes). But boy, when it worked it was so much fun!

So if you’re feeling icky and the rain is bringing you down, Moving and Grooving is a sure fire way to pick up the spirits and make a rainy day seem less doom and gloom. It might even wake you up a bit, which is handy particularly if like me, you're getting less sleep because somebody (I'm not naming names) seems to think that 2:30am is a perfectly reasonable time to start playing with toys.

Here are a few of Budsie’s suggestions for a rockin’ good rainy day:

*Queen - “Another One Bites The Dust” *The Foundations - “Build Me Up Buttercup” *Simon and Garfunkel - “Cecilia” (this was a HUGE hit)

Have a happy dancing day!

Ezmy is a new mum to son Ewan (aka Budsie). When she isn’t working on her master’s thesis, or playing games with her boy, she’s blogging furiously about life as a stay-at-home mum in our nation’s capital. Follow Ezmy on Twitter (@ezmytweets) where she posts daily resolutions and updates on life with an active and very vocal baby.

Walking in the Capital

by Sasha As I write this, it is a beautiful sunny day in Ottawa. Spring has finally, truly arrived! And so baby and I were out enjoying one of our favourite pastimes: walking the bike paths.


CNN bills Ottawa as one of the world's most bike friendly cities. But the 170km of bike paths are not just a boon for cyclists: they are also great for the strollering set. And as an added bonus: it takes a stroller a lot longer to burn through all that pavement.

My favourite stretch of paths runs along the river, from Andrew Haydon Park up to Parliament Hill, partly because of where we live but the views are also lovely.

Although there are some sections that are designated pedestrian-only, it is important to remember that the path is shared between pedestrians and cyclists. Some rules of safety and etiquette for pedestrians to keep in mind:

  1. walk on the right, and leave room to pass on the left
  2. if you are using headphones, make sure you can still hear someone coming behind you
  3. cyclists should ring their bell before passing - if they do, it's nice to give them a little wave so they know you heard them

But the number one rule: the nice weather is here, so get out and enjoy it!

Where do you like to go walking in the capital?

Sasha is mom to 2-year-old Miss Bea, and 4 month old Baby Em.  Her ramblings can also be found on her blog, The Rambling Stroller.