February 05, 2019


Nicole Anderson (LD, P&ICD, Childbirth educator, CPST)

Nicole is a Doula and the owner of The Stork’s Nest, providing expert care and support to expectant families in the Peel, Halton, Hamilton and Guelph regions. Judgment-free and nurturing guidance is where it’s at and the doulas at The Stork’s Nest strive to create a compassionate environment where families can access emotional, informational and hands on support during one of the most transformational life experiences. Services available include: Birth and postpartum doula services, prenatal and childbirth preparation classes, newborn 101 and infant feeding workshops and car seat installations by a certified car seat technician. For more information on how you can join the nest and begin to experience all the incredible benefits a Doula has to offer, please visit:
www.thestorksnest.ca or email them at hello@thestorksnest.ca



The Stork's Nest - Ask a Doula by Nicole Anderson

Ask a Doula:

How will I know when “real” labour has begun and when is a good time to leave for the Hospital/Birth Centre?

This is a question I hear often as a Doula and is something I cover with clients during our prenatal meeting. It falls into the category of what I like to call “labour day logistics”. In the weeks leading up to your estimated due date, you may experience minor cramping and/or Braxton Hicks. This is your body’s way of preparing the uterus for labour, but it usually doesn’t follow a pattern or lead to productive contractions. But once your body is ready, and the necessary hormone exchange occurs, those cramps will change pattern and you will notice that they get longer, stronger and closer together. It’s also important to note that not all labours begin with the very distinct sign of your water breaking (television can be so misleading!) Most care providers recommend that you head to the hospital or birth centre when your contractions are 5 mins apart, with each lasting for 1 minute in duration and this pattern continues for 1 hour (they may use the term 5-1-1). It’s a good rule of thumb for most expecting parents to follow. That being said, remember that you are in charge! You get to decide what feels right for your body, so you should head to the hospital when you feel like the time is right…. trust your instincts!


I want to have a bit of time off before my baby comes but I don’t want to be sitting at home going stir crazy. When should I begin my maternity leave?

This is a tricky one as it is impossible to predict when your baby will come. Some of us want lots of time off beforehand to catch up on rest (and maybe a bit of pampering!) while others want to keep busy, so they aren’t sitting at home letting their anxieties build. It’s about tapping into your personality and doing what is best for you. I like to recommend that expecting couples carve out some time for a date night (or two…. who knows when you will be able to have another!) as well as enough time to finish up last minute preparations (installing the car seats etc.). I also love it when a mom gets to fit in a little bit of pampering too. Go get a massage, a chiropractic adjustment, some acupuncture, a facial, or go to lunch with some friends. Make a list of the things you’d like to accomplish in those weeks before baby and come up with a time frame that feels comfortable to you. It can be difficult to find the perfect balance between “resting” and “doing” but remember that old saying “a watched pot never boils”? Try to refrain from sitting at home waiting for labour to begin, you will just find yourself obsessing over every twinge. Keep your mind busy and rest up!


I’m worried about the labour and birth. How do I know that my baby will fit?

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this one……. Remember that while bones are strong, they aren’t completely static. The pelvis is designed to flex and expand, it’s one of the amazing things about the human body! During pregnancy, the body produces and releases a hormone call Relaxin. This hormone is responsible for a multitude of functions but in respect to labour, it helps to facilitate motility within the joints. It may be one of the reasons you have been a bit clumsier, making you susceptible to sprains and strains of ligaments and connective tissue. Relaxin helps to soften the pubic symphysis, a spot in the anterior of the pelvis. This allows your pelvis to stretch to accommodate a human baby and may be the reason why some women experience pelvic-girdle pain during pregnancy. It truly is incredible. There are conditions that make a vaginal birth difficult or impossible (CPD – Cephalo Pelvic Disproportion) but rest assured knowing that it is very rare, and most babies fit through the pelvis just as they should!


How do I know that my baby is latching well while breastfeeding?

Let’s face it, it’s all about the latch! As professionals, we look to see that:
  • mom isn’t experiencing pain with the latch
  • we aren’t hearing any clicking or smacking sounds while feeding
  • baby is content after a feed, aka “milk-drunk” (unclenched fists and sleepy)
  • baby is latching onto the entire nipple and most of the areola (also known as an asymmetrical latch)
  • baby’s lips are flanged outwards around the breast and that the chin is touching the breast during a feed
  • baby is producing the necessary amount of wet diapers and is gaining weight

Breastfeeding definitely comes with some new sensations but it should never be painful. Don’t let anyone tell you that you just need to “toughen up your nipples”. If you are experiencing pain, it is most likely due to a poor latch and may be attributed to one of many reasons. It may be a quick fix, or it may require you to have your baby assessed for a tongue or lip tie. Discuss your concerns with your doula as she may be able to impart some wisdom and help get things on the right track. If more help is needed, you can seek out advice from an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). They are the be-all and end-all of breastfeeding support and are wonderful resources that should definitely be utilized.


When should I give my baby their first bath?

Babies are not dirty and there is no urgent need to bathe them after birth. Decades ago, babies used to receive their first bath in the hospital. This was partly due to the fact that hospital stays were longer and partly due to the fact that we just didn’t know the incredible benefits of the vernix. Vernix is that creamy, cheese-like substance that most babies are born with. Some babies have lots while others do not. This is sometimes related to the baby’s gestation (preterm babies tend to have a bit more, while babies born on or after their due date tend to have less). The vernix’s main task is to protect your baby’s skin while in utero but it has other amazing properties. It contains antimicrobial properties and is a great moisturizer so rub that s**t in!! I always recommend waiting at least a few days before bathing and like to remind parents that until the umbilical stump falls off, a sponge bath is the way to go. The first bath can be a daunting task, babies are slippery! If you are nervous or would like some help the first time you give your slippery seal a bath, ask your Doula for a tutorial…. We love sharing tips!

Simply put; birth is transformational. It changes who you are emotionally as well as physically and you will replay your birth stories repeatedly throughout your life. More important than the circumstances surrounding the actual birth is how a woman felt during her labour. Did she feel safe? Did she feel heard? Was she surrounded by people that love her and were all her needs being met? Those are the landmarks that make a lasting impression on how you view your birth story. For this reason, many families are reaching out and choosing to add a Doula to their care team. Your Doctor or midwife are there to meet your clinical needs but who is there to meet your emotional and physical needs? Your Doula, that’s who!! In the tradition of keeping it real, let’s just say “it takes a freaking village!”. If you or someone you know is looking to add a Doula to their “village”, reach out to The Stork’s Nest. We can’t wait to welcome you to our nest!