Zenith Birth Services is proud to announce a new addition to our doula team!
Andrea Lind is joining Sarah as a birth doula. Andrea has been interested in pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding for many years. From her journey as a certified nursing assistant to a stay-at-home mom, Andrea has been preparing to be a birth doula along the way. She attended over a hundred births as a scrub tech at a local hospital, and she has given birth to eight children of her own. Her own births have been everything from hospital births to home birth, cesarean to VBAC, epidural to medication-free. Having personally experienced so many different types of births has equipped her to support our clients, no matter the type of birth that they choose.
Andrea’s passions include educating women about their birthing options, supporting them in those choices, and helping to empower women with compassion and empathy. She loves to see women have the resources and tools to advocate for themselves and their babies. She also enjoys homeschooling her children, making music together with her family, serving at her church, and being active outdoors.
Andrea has been married to her husband Chris since 2005. Between her and Chris, through birth and adoption, they have 11 children, ten girls and one boy. They are expecting another daughter this coming July, so Andrea will be using her maternity leave to finish up her birth doula certification through Childbirth International.
We couldn’t be more excited to add this wonderful woman to our team!
2017 is upon us! I think it means I’m getting old, but 2017 sounds so futuristic.
I know last year I posted my New Year’s resolutions. I actually stuck to them for a while. But eventually they fell by the wayside, neglected and forgotten. So this year I’m NOT making any resolutions!
I’ve been working on a few things in my life, so I’m going to keep plugging along with them. Here are a few of the things I’ve been trying to improve.
1. I want to be kind.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I’m not always kind, especially with my kids. I want to strive to be kind in my words and actions. I want my children to see in me a role model of kindness and self-control. I love the Bible verse Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father (God) is merciful.” My Father has endless mercy for me, and I want that to spill over as kindness to those around me.
2. I want to use less technology.
Technology is so useful! But I find that there are days when I’m looking at a computer/iPad/phone screen more than I’m looking at the real, tangible humans in my life. I’ve been working on putting away the screen(s). I will improve!
3. I want to live in the moment.
I can get caught up with thinking and planning. Preparing for the future is definitely a good thing, but when I find that I’m living in my head more than in real life, that’s not healthy. I’m going to continue to plan appropriately and live in today at the same time!
How about you? Did you make resolutions? Are there things in your life that you’re already working on that you will continue to improve in the new year?
These words are all too common now days. Especially among mothers and moms-to-be.
And there are many things to worry about. I’m not going to list them here, since I’m sure your biggest worries are already popping into your mind.
So why am I talking about anxiety? I’m really not trying to get your heart thumping.
Pregnancy and birth have so many unknowns. Even if you’ve given birth before, there is still plenty of mystery. Hiring a doula can help to alleviate those fears. I can help you work through your fears and come to a place of peace.
I want to tell you that when it comes to my doula work, I don’t worry; I don’t have anxiety. I’m free to support and focus on you. I know birth and labor support. I know our local hospitals; I’ve been to them many times. I’ve worked with the hospital staff before. Sure, I don’t know exactly how your birth will go, but I know how to support you through it.
When you hire Zenith Birth Services, know that you can leave all of that anxiety, all of the worry, all of the fear of the unknown at the door. Let me support you so that you can labor in peace, knowing that I'm here for you, giving you anxiety-free support.
So, you’ve just had a baby. Maybe you had a natural birth in the hospital, a cesarean, or a homebirth. However you give birth, there are some things that we all can expect the first week home after giving birth.
Being pregnant is exhausting. Giving birth is like running a marathon. Newborn babies don’t always (or ever) get their days and nights figured out right away. That first night home from the hospital can be especially challenging. With time, things will get easier, but whether it’s your first baby or your third (or more), you will be tired the first few weeks.
Send out your husband or a friend to get you a bunch of healthy snacks! You will be hungry. Have fruit and veggies on hand. String cheese, yogurt, and nuts are good protein sources. And dark chocolate is a must!
Having a baby can be an emotional rollercoaster. Not only are you adjusting to a shifting family dynamic, but your hormones are all over the place! Having your placenta encapsulated may help with the hormones and help you cope, but this is still a time of great change. Know that you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed, scared, and unprepared. If you or your significant other have concerns that your symptoms go beyond what can be expected as normal, please contact your healthcare provider.
The little baby who just joined your family takes time, energy, and work! But you can expect to feel blessed! Not only by your sweet newborn, but hopefully by your friends and family. If someone offers to help you, let them! I know when I offer to help a friend, I really mean it and would genuinely love to be put to work. So I take my friends at face value when they offer to help me. I find something useful for them to do, whether it’s helping with laundry (that’s a good possibility at my house!), organizing baby clothes, bringing a meal, or picking up a few necessities at the store. Give them something specific and practical to do for you. You will be blessed, and so will they!
Did you experience any (or all) of these? What else do you think women should expect their first week home with a new baby?
As I mention in my "About Sarah" page, I am a member of Fusion Birth. Fusion Birth is a collective of five birth professionals in the Cedar Valley whose mission is to connect you to evidence-based childbirth education, labor support, and other pregnancy resources. Not all resources are created equal. We list only the ones that we or our clients have tried and that get good reviews over and over again.
Today I sat down with Fusion Birth member Erin Simmer of Made to Birth. Erin is a childbirth educator, offering Bradley Method childbirth classes. She, along with her husband Paul, have taught Bradley classes for 9 years, and over 200 couples have come through their classes. Erin and Paul have been married for 14 years. They have four children, three girls and a boy ranging in age from 10 to 3. She stays at home with the littles and teaches Bradley on the side, and Paul teaches high school social studies. Most of her days are spent running around after the littles, building forts, reading books, and legos - lots of legos. But she also enjoys moments of quiet: a good book, knitting, and the perfect iced coffee.
Sarah: Why did you decide to become a childbirth educator?
Erin: When we were pregnant with our first child, we had to drive to Wisconsin in order to take the Bradley classes that our midwife recommended. We were lucky that we were able to make the drive work, since there wasn’t a closer option for us. Our birth was amazing. It was everything we had hoped for, and we really felt like a lot of the credit went to the education that we received from our Bradley classes. Our instructors urged us to think about becoming certified to teach, but I completely dismissed the idea. Around her first birthday, I had a change of heart. I just felt really convicted, that we needed to help provide this service for our area. We jumped in wholeheartedly and were ready to teach less than 2 months later!
Sarah: What is one of the most rewarding things about your work?
Erin: Birth stories. It has to be the birth stories. We invite all of our couples to come back and tell their stories. Regardless of whether everything played out just the way they hoped, or if nothing went as planned - they are all invited to come back and share their experience. I think this is one of the neatest parts of class. I love to watch the journey that the couple goes through: the eager and excited woman transforms into a caring, beaming mother. And the dads. Love the dads. My husband and I teach our classes together. I think this is one of the really unique things about Bradley - this idea of the birthing process being a team effort between the mother and her coach. A lot of the coaches come in... not overly excited. They’re dutifully attending with their partner, but maybe not all-in like the women are. But somewhere in the middle of the class, a lot of them really engage. They learn how important their role is in the birth. They become empowered when they see and know all of the different ways that they can support their partner. And when they come back and tell their stories... and they light up, excitedly telling all of the details... It’s just so neat to watch them go from the quiet guy in the corner, to the engaged, proud daddy sharing their story. Yep. I love the birth stories.
Sarah: What do you offer your clients that is unique to you?
Erin: I think that there are several things unique to our classes. I’ve already talked about how we really try to engage the partners and empower them to step up and be a vital part of the birth process. So I think that’s a big one. And, of course, that I teach with my husband. I think that his involvement in our classes really helps to draw out the guys. He’s always adding in sports analogies, and sometimes he can just answer things better than I can, from a perspective that I just don’t know first hand. So I really appreciate his presence in the class. But one more thing I’ll add is that we try really hard to set families up well for this transition that they’re going to make from being a couple to being a family. We don’t just take you through the birth, but into parenthood. We discuss postpartum care and newborn care. We have an entire class devoted to breastfeeding. We bring in local experts to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety, chiropractic care for your newborn, and cover things like cloth diapers and babywearing. Classes are 12 weeks long, and in that time we really try to capitalize on all aspects of birth and parenting a newborn, so that when the baby arrives, families have a good foundation already in place.
Sarah: Tell me about the services you provide.
Erin: Our childbirth classes are 12 weeks long, 2 hours each. We teach women and partners about the natural processes of labor. We want moms to listen to their bodies and partners to feel confident in supporting them. We really strive to teach all-encompassing classes. We don’t just want our classes to teach you how to push a baby out; we want you to feel prepared through the whole laboring process, and also into parenthood as well. We cover many different topics from exercise and nutrition, comfort measures and coaching to postpartum care and newborn care. And we cover breastfeeding, too. Class sizes are kept small - no more than 8 couples - so that we can get to know you well, to help you feel comfortable asking those intimate questions you may have, and also to encourage you to get to know the others in the class. We show lots of birth videos, have several labor rehearsals and relaxation exercises, and birth stories too!
You can find Erin's website and contact information by following this link. Erin and Paul are such a valuable resource in the Cedar Valley and Northeast Iowa as a whole!
Moms of more than one kid: Placenta Encapsulation is for you! Check out what Kari, a mom of four, has to say about it:
Kari definitely felt that her placenta pills helped her get back to her busy life as a farm wife and homeschool mom!
Contact me today to set up your encapsulation!
I think from time to time about my great uncle Donald. He was my maternal grandmother's brother. As a tail gunner during World War II, he had a dangerous job. If his plane was hit, he'd have no way to eject. And his plane was hit.
He was listed as missing in action, and eventually it was found that he was killed in action. My grandma was in France as an Army nurse, and we have some of the letters that she wrote home to her mother. She wrote about how she was trying to find out information about Donald, but she couldn't find much. It's hard to imagine, in our age of information overload, how difficult that waiting must have been.
I also think, especially today, about the national heroes who came from Waterloo, Iowa. Maybe you've heard of them? The five Sullivan Brothers: George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert. They all five enlisted in the Navy in World War II, with the stipulation that they serve together on the same ship.
They were all placed on the USS Juneau. Unfortunately the Juneau was torpedoed on November 13, 1942, and sunk soon after. The next January, three uniformed men arrived at the Sullivan home in Waterloo. They said they had news about the boys. Their father asked, "Which one?", already bracing himself for bad news. One of the officers replied, "I'm sorry. All five."
What a heart-wrenching story. You can read more about them here and here. We actually have a replica of their living room here in Waterloo, at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum. My family loves to visit that museum. I always stop and look at the statue of the brothers. I look into their faces, the features that made them distinctly who they were.
Thank you to those of you left behind this Memorial Day. Your sacrifice and the sacrifice of your loved ones are not forgotten!
While next Sunday is Mother’s Day, did you know that May 1st was Bereaved Mother’s Day? Well, it was. Mother’s Day isn’t always a happy day for people. When it brings up painful memories of loss, some women have a hard time getting through it. I’m glad that we can take a specific day to honor the mothers who have lost children.
Here are six things that you can do (or not do) to support a bereaved mother.
1. Just let her cry
Crying can make some of us uncomfortable. People need to have friends who come around them and are okay with them crying. You can even cry with your grieving friend, but don’t make it about you when it really should be about them.
2. Don’t offer platitudes
Saying things like, “Now your baby has his wings” or “Good comes from all things” may make you feel better, but they don’t help a grieving mother. Please don’t say them. If necessary, just stay quiet and see point 1.
3. Say “I’m sorry”
If you want to say something, tell your friend that you’re sorry. Of course it’s not your fault, but I’m sure that you are sorry your friend has to go through perhaps the most challenging trial a woman has to face in her lifetime: losing a precious son or daughter.
4. Don’t ask for the details
Here’s another thing not to talk about: don’t ask about the way her child passed away. If she wants to talk about it, then listen. But don’t ask about it. As a culture, we have a sick fascination with the gory and the grizzly. It’s not healthy, helpful, or appropriate. We don’t need the gritty details about her child’s passing; it doesn’t help us to support her any better, and it’s certainly not necessary.
5. Spend time with her
A bereaved mother will never be the same. Never. She will eventually find a new normal, but she will be forever changed. Don’t shy away from that fact. And please; still spend time with her. It may be uncomfortable, but do it anyway. Hang out together, even if she is sad. Invite her to parties, even if she is quiet. But don’t be offended if she wants some time alone. Don’t take it personally, and keep inviting her over.
6. Remember her child
Most of these points apply to the situation where a mother has recently lost her child, but this one applies forever! Whether she miscarried last week, lost her adult child 5 years ago, or had a stillborn child 20 years ago, let your friend know that you remember her child. Put his birthday and passing day on your calendar and set it to repeat yearly. Remember her child’s name. Ask about him by name. Acknowledge her child and the impact his or her life had, no matter if it was the briefest of lives or a long, full life.
Most of all, show love and grace to a bereaved mother. She walks a lonely, difficult road!
Well, I moved. I’m still in Waterloo, so I’m still working with women in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Waverly, and surrounding areas. But my family and I packed up our house and moved to a new one.
How exciting it’s been!
And how exhausting!
It’s been good to go through all of our stuff and simplify. I didn’t realize how much JUNK we’d accumulated! We’ve been blessed with many nice things, but too many things, even if they’re nice, make us lose focus on what is really important in life.
When our stuff starts to control us instead of us controlling our stuff, it’s time for a change. Our move has forced us to make that change. It’s been challenging, but good! We’ve been able to refocus on what’s ultimately important: God, and people.