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5 Healthy Eating Tips for Pregnant Mothers

Posted by Megan Blasingame on November 2, 2013 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Authors: Sophia Tasler and Debra Boutin


5 Healthy Eating Tips for Pregnant Mothers

Pregnancy is a time to renew you and your family’s commitment to health.


Leafy green kale

Pregnancy is a time to renew you and your family’s commitment to health. Whether you are a first-time parent or seasoned mother of many, following these tips will set you and your baby on a nutritious path for success:


1. Vital Veggies


Dark leafy greens are packed with folate and help with placental health and prevention of neural tube defects. Greens also provide an extra fiber bonus. Eating at least 28 grams of fiber a day will ease constipation and reduce hemorrhoids.


2. Building Baby


Baby needs lots of building material, especially protein. Meats, eggs, legumes and nuts are all great sources of protein. Animal proteins are also super sources of iron. Increased blood volume during pregnancy means you have a greater need for iron. Extra protein does double duty!


3. Calcium Connection


When calcium intake becomes too low, baby draws from mom’s supply of bone calcium, compromising her bone health. Spinach, kale, salmon, sardines, dairy and almonds are easy picks to pack in calcium.


4. Fish for More


Omega 3 fatty acids are a fat abundantly found in cold-water fish like salmon and sardines. They stabilize mother’s mood, decrease postpartum depression and feed baby’s brain. Eating two to three servings of these fish each week will safely supply this healthy fat. Non-aquatic sources include walnuts and flax seeds.


5. Frequent Fluids


Drinking lots of fluids, especially water, prevents constipation, flushes out infections and keeps you hydrated. About eight to 10 glasses each day is recommended.


— By Sophia Tasler, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

What is a Birth Doula and Why Should I Consider One?

Posted by Megan Blasingame on November 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Author: Sharon Muza, certified doula (DONA), BDT (DONA), LCCE, FACCE

What is a Birth Doula and Why Should I Consider One?

A trained birth doula provides continuous emotional, physical and informational support to a birthing woman and her family.


Doula holding child

Many women and their partners wouldn’t think of heading into their birth without a doula as part of their team. The term “doula” (pronounced “doo-la”) comes from the ancient Greek language for “a woman who serves,” although nowadays both men and women fill the doula role.


A trained birth doula is hired by the mother (and her partner, if applicable) to provide continuous emotional, physical and informational support to a birthing woman and her family. Many research studies and reviews over the past few decades find that doula support during labor helps reduce interventions (including cesarean sections, forceps and vacuum deliveries), shortens the duration of labor, increases breastfeeding rates and raises overall birth satisfaction. You can use a doula whether you plan on giving birth in a hospital, a birth center or at home.


Before the Birth


If you are interested in having a doula support you at your birth, consider the resources at, DONA International or the Puget Sound local doula organization PALS Doulas. You may find this list of questions to ask a doula to be useful. Interview several doulas to be sure you have found a good fit. Friends, family and your health care provider can also make suggestions.


Once a doula has been hired, she will meet with the family several times prior to labor to learn about the birth preferences of the mother and partner. The doula will ask about fears and concerns, share information, answer questions and help the family feel confident and positive about the upcoming birth. They will get to know each other and find out how the doula can best help make the birth a positive experience.


During Labor and Delivery


The birth doula will then join the clients in labor, offering comfort measures, providing emotional support for the partner as well as the laboring mother, and helping the client gather information and make decisions during the labor and birth. She will remain until a few hours after the baby is born and everyone is stable, then return for a postpartum visit or two in the days and weeks after birth, to help answer questions about feeding and newborn.


A mother can hire a doula at any point in her pregnancy, though she might find she can make best use of the doula’s knowledge if she selects one earlier on in her pregnancy. But no worries, if a mother makes a decision in the last month or weeks, there will still be a qualified doula available and ready to help.


The price of a doula can range from a few hundred dollars to $1,500 or more, based on years of experience, number of births attended, certification level and other factors. Financial factors should not prevent you from hiring a doula. Discuss your budget and needs and let each doula share how she can help you have a doula at your birth.


For families that meet income qualifications, Open Arms Perinatal Services offers free doulas in the Seattle area.


— By Sharon Muza, certified doula (DONA), BDT (DONA), LCCE, FACCE. To learn about becoming a doula, visit Bastyr's Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations.

Coping with Mood Disorders During Pregnancy

Posted by Megan Blasingame on November 2, 2013 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Author: Margaret Bergmann-Ness, MA, LICSW, CPD (DONA)

Coping with Mood Disorders During Pregnancy

Pregnancy mood disorders are not as well known as postpartum mood disorders, but they are common and can be resolved with appropriate care.


Pregnant woman stretches in field.

Exercise can be part of a treatment plan for pregnancy mood disorders.

Pregnancy is a demanding endeavor, and often a joyful one. Creating a human being feels great when all goes well — maybe the most exciting thing you can imagine! And yet, pregnancy also creates stress. The physical demands of pregnancy growth are complex. Many women undergo various forms of prenatal testing, which can provoke intense anxiety. The major lifestyle changes that come along with a baby can feel like losses, even when a pregnancy is planned and welcome.


These emotional changes are often useful in helping new parents empathize with their newborn's vulnerable state. However, a significant number of women experience not good stress, but also states of anxiety and/or depression. Pregnancy mood disorders are not as well known or recognized as postpartum mood disorders, but the two are related. It helps to think of them as two sides of one coin — perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.


Telling the Difference


How can you distinguish between ordinary mood swings during pregnancy and a pregnancy mood disorder? It helps to pay attention to the duration, frequency and intensity of moods. Feeling mildly depressed for a day is different from having the same feeling for a month. Occasional anxious moods are different than consistent daily anxiety. The misery of a panic attack or deep depression is quite different from a nagging feeling of concern or low energy.


It is always appropriate to discuss concerns about moods with a pregnancy care provider. Midwives and doctors have assessment tools and referrals to help mothers determine whether additional care is appropriate. Another excellent resource for support and information is Postpartum Support International of Washington (888-404-7763).


Forms of Care


If a mood disorder is diagnosed, a care provider may recommend psychological counseling or mood-stabilizing medications as well as ordinary helpful activities such as healthy eating, sleep, exercise and emotional support.


Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can generally be resolved with appropriate care, but they often do not resolve smoothly without care. When pregnancy mood disorders are not addressed, the experiences of pregnancy and postpartum become much more challenging and may lose all delight, affecting your entire family. If you are concerned about your moods, pay attention and find the care you need.


— Margaret Bergmann-Ness, MA, LICSW, CPD (DONA), perinatal social worker, psychotherapist, internationally certified birth and postpartum doula, and lead instructor for the postpartum doula skills workshop at the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations.

Help Your Newborn Sleep Through the Night

Posted by Megan Blasingame on November 2, 2013 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Author: Angie Dobbins-Frisbie, PCD, PDT, ICCE, CLE.:

Help Your Newborn Sleep Through the Night

In my work with new parents, the number one question I am asked is, “When will our baby sleep through the night?" I wish the answer was straightforward!


A baby's sleep depends on many factors, such as gestational age (premature or not), health and temperament. A review of sleep research [PDF] by The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) of the United Kingdom found that by 12 weeks most but not all babies have settled into longer sleep patterns at night. The research also showed that by six to nine months, 63 percent of babies slept at least eight hours during “family-friendly times” which researchers defined as 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.


The First 2 Weeks


During the first two weeks of baby’s life, simply enjoy getting to know your child. Remember that getting less sleep is normal, so seek support from family, friends or a postpartum doula to get yourneeds met. Take this time to observe how your baby tells you she is hungry or wet. Listen to the noises yourbaby makes during active sleep. Know that babies open their eyes during active sleep and appear to be looking deeply into your eyes, but in reality, they are asleep.


The Next 10 Weeks


NCT research and popular sleep books suggest a few things parents can do during the first 12 weeks of a baby's life to promote nighttime sleeping:


Follow a bedtime routine.

Place your baby to bed awake but drowsy.

Introduce a small, safe "lovey" for a positive sleep association and for self-soothing.

Some experts suggest consistent naptime routines also play a role in longer nighttime sleep.

Establishing a Routine


Consider these tips for developing a consistent, enjoyable nighttime routine:


Start at a consistent time.

Keep lights and noise levels low.

Use whisper voices and minimal conversations during night feedings and diaper changes.

Use a consistent order, such as bathing, then feeding and reading to your baby.

Put your baby to bed awake but drowsy.

Consider using routines at naptime as well.

Remember, as I tell parents in my practice, to place your focus on your baby and your family's unique needs and desires. And remember that your baby will, one day, sleep through the night!


—By Angie Dobbins-Frisbie, PCD, PDT, ICCE, CLE. To learn about becoming a doula, visit Bastyr University's Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations.

Breastfeeding Tips for New Mothers

Posted by Megan Blasingame on August 17, 2013 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


Author: Teri Shilling, MS, CD(DONA), IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE.

Breastfeeding Tips for New Mothers

Here are seven practical tips to take the overwhelming feeling out of breastfeeding.

Welcoming a new baby can be exciting, but the task of feeding a newborn can be daunting. Here are seven practical tips to take the overwhelming feeling out of breastfeeding.


1.  Skin to Skin, Heart to Heart

  Watch how your baby responds when you are together skin-to-skin. While it is tempting to swaddle babies snugly to imitate the womb, undress them frequently and hold them close. Put a baby blanket over the two of you instead of between you. If they become frantic while trying to latch on, place them “heart to heart” on your chest, regain a sense of calm and try again.


2.  Find Support

  Find people in your family, friend network and community who have breastfed. They can share tips and how they dealt with challenges like soreness or pumping while commuting to work. Don’t isolate yourself.


3.  Learn How to Hand-Express

  Hand expression can be a useful skill for dealing with the early days of engorgement, when you are gone from your baby longer than expected, or if your pump breaks.


4.  Visitor Control

  A new baby is a magnet for visitors. Put a sign on the door and a message on voicemail saying you are focusing on sleeping, feeding and adjustment during these early weeks. Ask that people who stop by do a household task in exchange for a chance to hold the newest family member.


5.  Feed Frequently

  The mission of newborns is to double their birth weight. What would you do if that was your goal? Eat frequently!


6.  Feeding Cues/Infant States

  Crying is the very last cue that your baby is hungry. It will be easier to get your baby latched if you notice the early gestures of hunger, like lip smacking, stretching, fist sucking, squeaking and searching.


7.  Make a Nest

  Consider setting up a special area to feed your baby, especially in the early days. Have everything you might need, like your phone, a snack, a beverage, TV remote, and a book to read all within an easy reach. This will allow you to settle in for uninterrupted bliss while nursing your baby.


—By Teri Shilling, MS, CD(DONA), IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE, an internationally certified birth doula and DONA International-approved birth doula trainer. To learn about becoming a doula, visit Bastyr University's Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations.


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