I am currently booked through September for birth clients, however, my schedule is open for private childbirth education classes. Visit here for more information! Thanks for visiting!
Thank you for visiting Happi Birth Services!
If you are interested in acquiring my services for your upcoming birth, please contact me! I am accepting clients on a case by case basis, and if I'm unable to to serve you, I will provide you with referrals to a couple of local doulas. You may also like to check out Doula Match, a registry service that allows you to search local doulas in your area.
Goodness, it's been WAY too long since I've updated this blog. It was a very busy fall and winter (in fact, just this past week I had three births!!), but now the dust is beginning to clear and I had something to fun to share.
I had the privilege of helping to facilitate an Evidence Based Birth class with my friend and doula partner, Julie Fors, of Journey Forward Birth and Parenting. The class was held at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL where a group of labor and delivery nurses and several area doulas partnered together to learn more about how we can make birth better for the moms we serve. I am so grateful for these ladies (and all the ones not pictured from the area hospitals I serve!). They work tirelessly for the families that walk through their doors day in and day out.
A wonderful time of learning was had by all. You can view the full story and photos here.
Recently, I was meeting with an expectant couple. They were taking my childbirth education series, and I was teaching the material on preparing for postpartum.
I pulled up this image, and I reminded them that it’s incredibly important to ask for what they need as they adjust to life with their newborn.
Our culture tells us that after six weeks postpartum, life should resume as normal. Moms are often expected to head back to work, assume normal household duties and responsibilities and be able to juggle all that they used to do. But this is so unrealistic, especially in the case of surgical birth or other complications. These expectations, if unrealized, can cause new moms to feel guilty that their new normal doesn’t look or feel like like they think it should—or worse, that other well-meaning relatives, friends, or strangers think it should. If they are already in an unstable emotional state, moms find themselves in an even deeper abyss of feeling guilty and sad at their "failings."
Listen up, Moms. Having a newborn is so tough. It’s wonderful in many ways, yes. But it’s also incredibly draining - physically, mentally and emotionally. Life as you once knew it is has ceased to exist and it's been replaced with a new life wherein this totally dependent little person needs and depends on you 24/7. It's demanding in every way, and it's exhausting.
I want to remind you that it's okay to ask for help. It's okay to tell people you don't want visitors today. It's okay to accept meals and/or help from friends and family, and it's okay to NOT be okay.
If you are expecting a baby soon, have postpartum support in place BEFORE baby arrives. Ask a good friend or close family member to set up meals for you when the time comes. Know who you can ask for support and help. Inquire about support groups if you are planning to breastfeed (and attend a group/meeting ahead of time!). Look into hiring a postpartum doula or at the very least, have a couple names/numbers on hand that you can call if the need arises. Finally, if someone offers to help, accept it. You'll be glad you did.
The next time someone asks if you need anything, accept the help, even if it seems a small thing. You might be amazed at how freeing it feels to say, "Yes."
Giving birth is a lot like a marathon, or so I've been told. I will admit that I have never trained for a marathon. But I know people who have, and here are a few things they have told me about the process that I think apply beautifully to the marathon of labor!
Mental preparedness is key. There are going to be times throughout the process of labor that you'll want to quit, give up, and forget this crazy idea of having a baby (right in the middle of it all!). I've heard moms very close to meeting their babies exclaim, "That's it! Never mind, I'm going home. I'm done doing this!" If you are reading this and you've had a baby, you most likely can relate to this sentiment! I remind moms that when they feel they are "done" and that they can't do this one more minute, second or hour, they are likely very close to the end of the marathon. The physical stamina is important, yes. But the mental stamina is an equally important key to finishing the race! I recommend taking a childbirth education series that will allow you to learn as much as you can about the process so that you know what to expect and how you can prepare. I also encourage positively envisioning, meditating, praying and/or thinking about the birth you want when you look forward to your birth experience. Some moms may find that it's helpful to practice breathing and relaxation exercises, watch *positive* and affirming births (like this one!), and talk through any fears or concerns prior to or during labor. Going into labor with fear or dread can really hinder the process of labor and the production of oxytocin (the hormone so important to keeping labor progressing). Listening to others share their own journeys through the births of their babies during pregnancy can be helpful, but I want to emphasize the importance of keeping those interactions positive.
You have to train. Physical endurance is really important. This is why I recommend maintaining some sort of exercise routine (assuming your provider has given you the all-clear). You do not have to stop fitness activities just because you are pregnant. Even in late pregnancy, you can continue to keep your normal exercise routine as long as it's comfortable for you and there's no medical reason to discontinue.
Finally, hire a coach! Doulas are gaining popularity as many women have discovered what it feels like to have consistent, continuous support throughout their pregnancies, labors, and postpartum period. You don't have to do this alone. One dad recently told me, "I don't know what we would have done without you. We wouldn't have had the knowledge or expertise to do the things you suggested, and it really made such a difference. Thank you!"
Remember, birth is a marathon and not a sprint. You CAN finish the race! (And the reward at the end is better than any medal you could ever receive.)
Several years ago, I decided to forgo making resolutions for the new year, and instead decided to focus on just one word that would set the tone for my goals.
In addition, I added a detailed written planner to my routine which has been a great help as well. It helps me remember my "why" in what I do as I plan out my days/weeks/months more intentionally.
I share this as we begin 2019 because I think it can be applied to birth as well. When I meet with couples in their birth planning sessions, I ask them a couple of overarching questions. "What do you want your birth to look and feel like? When you close your eyes and think about it, how do you imagine it?"
I want you to know that you have the ability to make many choices for the birth you want. You have the right to have the birth you desire. Your year CAN include a positive birth experience!
Let me know how I can help. I am so looking forward to welcoming new babies in the new year!
Before my husband and I got married, the best advice I received was that preparing for the marriage itself was infinitely more important than preparing for the wedding. The wedding was a day; but the marriage is a lifetime.
So it is with birth.
Parents spend months preparing for the arrival of the baby. They spend hours upon hours tweaking their baby registries, picking themes and colors for the nursery, picking out furniture, and hopefully taking classes as they prepare for the birth of baby. As a doula, I devote an entire prenatal session to helping them formulate a birth plan and encouraging couples to think through every aspect so that we can do our best to set them up for an experience that meets their goals.
In addition, I spend the entire next session with them talking about what they want the first six to eight weeks postpartum to look (and feel) like. Just as we did in the birth planning session, we talk about every aspect of how they want to spend those first weeks and what would help them feel the most supported as they navigate life with a new baby in the home.
Unfortunately, we do not do a very good job supporting new parents in this transition. So much pressure is placed on families to get back to "normal" and to get back to work. Dads are rarely given paternity leave, many new moms often don't have family or friends close by to help (or they work and have to get back to work as well), and so many moms are left with virtually no one to walk beside them in those early days.
So what's a mom to do?
1. Secure help.
Do you have friends or family in the area, or people who would be willing to come into town to help you for the first couple weeks? If so, take advantage of any offers of help that are given. If not, hire a postpartum doula! You'll need help with the daily tasks of keeping the home running smoothly. Having assistance with meals, laundry, cleaning, errand running, etc. is so helpful in those first couple weeks.
2. Gather support.
Are you planning on breastfeeding? Do you have other kids that need care? Do you have a history of perinatal mood disorders with prior children? If so, have your support systems in place BEFORE baby is born. You'll be so glad you have numbers to call and resources to draw upon should the need arise.
3. Educate yourself.
Many families enter into new parenthood blindly. I do not recommend this. As much as you think you know how to change a diaper, give baby a bath, care for a newborn, feed baby, etc, you'll find that when the baby is home 24/7 with you, there will be many, many things you don't know. Taking classes ahead of time (breastfeeding, newborn basics, etc) will help you feel much more confident!
4. Keep your expectations realistic.
This is so important. Expect that you won't sleep much. Expect that you'll be sore and bleed a lot. Expect that your hormones will do crazy things like cause you to cry, be mad and have night sweats. Expect your life to evolve into a "new normal" that does eventually feel more "normal." But it won't happen right away. Be patient with yourself as you adjust to life with your new baby.
If you have other questions about this topic or others related to motherhood, parenting, birth, or pregnancy, contact me! I love providing information and resources to families!
Induction (the process of starting labor using artificial means instead of allowing it to begin on its own) is very common in some obstetric practices. You can read more about what it is and how it is done here. Some possible reasons providers may give for a medical induction may include:
That being said, here are a few common, non-medical reasons moms begin to entertain the idea of induction and some things to know to make a decision that's best for you:
"I'm sick of being pregnant and just want this baby OUT already!"
This is such a common sentiment late in pregnancy. Around the last month (or earlier), many moms begin to get very impatient and, understandably, they just want to meet their babies. They begin to dialogue with their doctor about this, and many will agree that induction could get them from point A to point B much faster. Pretty soon, a date is scheduled for induction and mom knows the (approximate) day that baby will be born.
What to know: Before beginning an induction, it's a really wise idea to ask your provider what your Bishop Score is. This number is calculated after an exam and cervical check is done and can be a good indicator of how "successful" the induction would be. The lower the number, the less chance mom has of birthing vaginally, and the higher the risk of needing a cesarean (or surgical) birth.
"It would be so much easier if I could just plan the date baby is born!"
Of course it would! Yet...the only thing predictable about birth is that it's unpredictable, and this includes the timing. It's usually never very convenient for anyone. Couples are usually very concerned (and rightly so!) about work schedules, care for the other children in the home (if applicable), time off once baby comes, how much leave they have from work, traveling mothers or in-laws coming long distances to help out and their availability, etc. This is especially hard for type-A, "high D" personalities that live by their planner and a very well thought out and organized schedule. But when it comes to babies, these things simply can't be predicted and that's one of the hardest parts for many moms.
What to know: The key to this issue is taking one day (or minute!) at a time, having several contingency plans depending on the day/week, and then doing your best and waiting patiently for the day baby is to be born. It's also important to note that it's the baby, and not mom, that is the decision-maker for when labor begins. When your baby is ready to be born, he or she will secrete a hormone called CRH (cortico-releasing hormone) which sends a chemical signal to your placenta. When your placenta receives the chemical signal from baby, it will release estrogen and cortisol, two hormones that will help your baby's lung's mature. This, in effect, is what "kicks off" labor and is actually quite critical to your baby being able to survive life outside the womb with strong, healthy lungs!
"My baby is just too big. I'm not sure he/she is going to fit!"
For many moms, the thought of delivering a full-term baby is daunting and even downright terrifying. Unfortunately, our culture doesn't help much with this. Women sometimes scare one another with their stories and for the pregnant woman (especially if this is her first baby), this can only add fuel to the fear she may be already feeling. After all, she may be asking, how can something that large be ejected from such a small opening? And so doubt begins to creep in.
What to know: It is so incredibly important to surround yourself with people who will instill confidence and not fear into you. If your provider says "your baby is too big," just bear in mind that there is truly no sure-fire way to know the exact weight of your baby, not even through ultrasound. In fact, they can be off by a pound either direction! It's also really crucial to remember that if your body made the baby, your body can birth the baby. For more information on this topic, read this!
These are just a few of the non-medical reasons for induction I hear most commonly that I wanted to address, but I hope it's been helpful. Let me encourage you...it's your body, your baby, and your birth. You have the right to ask questions, seek counsel, and know what the evidence and research points to in terms of success rates for inductions. I strongly recommend that you find out the risks of induction and learn about the intervention spiral that often results. When we interfere with birth, it negatively impacts the beautiful hormone cocktail of oxytocin in birth, breastfeeding, mother/baby bonding, the way baby adjusts to life outside the womb, and even increases risk of postpartum depression.
Knowledge is power! Know your facts and do what is best for you and your baby!
And as always, thanks for reading!
Are you an expectant mom, thinking of becoming pregnant or currently in the process of trying to conceive? Whatever your individual situation, one thought may be swirling around in your mind: "Can I cope with labor?"
It's a valid question. And the answer is yes! Yes, you can!
I wanted to list a few ideas here that you may find particularly helpful as your prepare for "Labor Day."
Now it's your turn: If you have given birth before, what tips do you have? What did you find particularly helpful in labor? Comment below!
Bringing home a new baby is quite a shock for new moms. Many moms share that life feels upside down for a while until they adjust to their new normal. Today's post is intended to provide some very practical help on the postpartum side of birth. Here, I share some tips to make life at home a little bit easier.
Arrange for help.
It is so important to not only make arrangements for help prior to the baby's arrival but also to accept offers of help when asked what people can do for you. Help with things like meals, laundry, baby care, errand running and cleaning can take a big load off of new moms.
Keep expectations reasonable.
New moms want to do everything perfectly. They are shocked to find out that their newborns don't come with a manual <grin>. Babies are their own little people with unique personalities and it takes some time for families to adjust to the newborn and to the new normal that is now their life. Giving yourself grace during this adjustment period is necessary. You will not be a perfect parent. But you are YOUR baby's perfect parent!
Sleep and rest when you can.
Full disclosure: This was one of my biggest challenges as a new mom. 16 years later, it still is. For some of us, it's really hard to heed this advice, but for the new mom, especially in the first few weeks postpartum, it's so important. In order to care for others, you must care for yourself. It's okay to let the housework go (remember the thing I said about asking for help?) and nurture YOU. You need a break to refresh and rejuvenate so that you can take care of your baby. Sleepless nights and feedings are tiring enough, let alone the emotional, physical, and hormonal changes you are experiencing.
Reach out for support.
I like to remind all my clients at their postpartum visit that my relationship with them doesn't stop after their baby arrives. I want them to always know they have someone to reach out to when and if they need it. It's important to have a few people that you can talk to about motherhood. I remember one mom calling me a couple years ago in tears because she was struggling to help her first child with the transition of having a baby sibling at home. The mom guilt was heavy on her because she felt like she was neglecting her oldest. She needed a listening ear and some encouragement to know she wasn't alone and that her feelings were valid.
And speaking of support.....
I am so excited to announce the formation of a local Mommy and Me group here in McHenry county. I will be partnering with a couple of area doulas to bring this group to fruition. It is our hope that moms will have a safe and non-judgmental place where they can gather to talk, share, learn and encourage each other. We understand motherhood in the trenches is TOUGH, and it is our desire that no one feel alone in their struggles. Each time we meet, we will have a topic to chat about, but it will also be an open forum to bring your concerns and questions so we can learn together. The group will be free of charge and your kids are welcome!! Watch my Facebook page for more details to come!
Happi loves serving families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago as a labor doula and childbirth educator. When she's not at a birth, she loves spending time at home with her loving husband and homeschooling her sons. She also finds great joy in serving the Lord at her church and teaching children about the love of Jesus!