Meeting Baby

by Misty Many parents are anxious when introducing their older child to the newest addition of the family. Although you have been preparing your child for their new role as big brother/sister, many younger children do not grasp the understanding that a baby will be joining the household. Their first meeting with the baby, if handled correctly, can be a positive stepping stone from which to build a healthy relationship between siblings.

  • Consider the appropriateness of having your child at the birth. Some children enjoy participating in the birth, while others become upset at the sights/sounds/smells. Never force a child to stay at the birth if they are not comfortable, and have a trusted family member around to babysit.
  • If your child has not attended the birth, have your partner prepare them well for what they will see. Explain that Mommy will be in bed, resting, and that a new baby will be with her.
  • If you are planning a hospital birth, consider bringing your child in to see the hospital before the birth, so that they are familiar with the space.
  • Have your child participate in picking out a special gift for the baby, and have a gift ready (from the baby) that is to be given to the older sibling. Handmade gifts are always special.
  • When your older child is about to enter the room, put your newborn on the bed, in a neutral position. That way, everyone “meets” the new baby together, without Mommy cuddling or breastfeeding the baby when the older sibling walks in.
  • If your older child has no interest in meeting the baby, don’t force the issue. He/she will become interested in the baby at some point, and will begin to ask questions.

Remember that patience and understanding are key. If your older child becomes upset, consider handing the baby off for a few minutes and cuddling with your child. Explain that you will need to do a lot of caring for the baby in the next little while, but that big brother/sister will have very important jobs to do to assist mommy. Kids like to feel important, and giving them small jobs to do is a great way to integrate them into baby care. Enjoy your “new” family, and remember that this stage of adjustment will only last a little while!

Misty Pratt is a doula in Ottawa, and supports families through birth and postpartum. You can find out more about doula services here (  In her spare time, Misty blogs at The Chickadee Tweet (

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What is a doula?

by Misty When you make the decision to get pregnant, you know that at some point, you’re going to be pushing a little human being out of your body. The realization of this fact often hits home late in pregnancy:

“At around 8 months pregnant, I started to become anxious about the labour and birth process. What had I gotten myself into? Everywhere I turned there were horror stories about labour – all you needed to do was watch TLC for an afternoon, and you’d soon be thinking that every birth story is an emergency.”

Sound familiar? What if there were women out there who could tell you that birth can be exciting, magical, and really, not that bad!?  Good news! They exist, and they’re called doulas!

What’s a doula? I know, it’s a funny word. It essentially means “womanly servant.” A doula is someone who guides a woman and her partner through the birth of their child. In addition, doulas provide essential prenatal support and education, as well as postpartum wisdom to get you through those first hectic weeks.

Well, I have a midwife, so do I really need a doula? Midwives care for the medical aspect of your pregnancy and birth. Doulas have no medical role, and are entirely devoted to supporting, reassuring and comforting you and your partner. Midwives find doulas to be extremely helpful for their clients, as they are often busy with paperwork and monitoring.

But what can a doula do for me? Picture this: it’s 2am, and you’ve been woken up with mild cramping, which you’re timing at about 10min apart. It’s too early to call your midwife or go to the hospital, but you’re anxious and have a lot of questions. So you call your doula! She’ll chat with you over the phone and make suggestions, or come right over to your house if you need her. As contractions become more intense, a doula will give you a massage, do relaxation exercises with you, suggest position changes, and get you water and food if you so desire. She stays with you for your entire labour (even if it’s 24 hours!) and ensures you are comfortable and resting before she leaves.

I want an epidural, so I don’t need a doula Doulas can be supportive, regardless of whether you are planning to labour naturally or with the use of pharmaceuticals. You generally need to reach 4cm dilation before a hospital will administer an epidural, so there are quite a few hours where you will need to use alternative coping strategies for your pain. As well, doulas can reduce the increased risk of vacuum/forceps delivery or caesarean section by helping you change positions in bed.

My husband is going to be my birth coach A doula never replaces the role of a husband or partner. Even though you get to know and trust your doula, your hubby will help you to relax and feel safe. However, your partner is only human, and he will need to take breaks! A doula is there to provide some relief for Dad, and to help comfort and reassure him that things are progressing normally.

As long as women have been giving birth, doulas have been around to provide support – often they were a relative or good friend who had experienced childbirth themselves. Nowadays, we tend to live far away from our families, and fee-for-service doulas have taken their place. If the cost is prohibitive, consider creating a “doula fund” for your baby shower, find a doula-in-training or one that offers their services on a sliding scale.

If you’re pregnant and feeling anxious, turn off the TV and give a doula a call! Before you know it, you’ll be holding a little babe in your arms and saying “that wasn’t so bad!”

Misty is a local doula who lives in Orleans with her husband and 2yo daughter. She claims that birth is “not that bad.” You can find out more about her at

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