The Weekly Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Families and Friends
Happy Monday, Friends!
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends and good food. My 7 year old shared the flu with me so I skipped last week's Bumpdate.... and Thanksgiving dinner with my folks.
I didn't get to enjoy my mama's stuffing and mashed potatoes but my little family did get the rare chance to sleep late and play more games of UNO than I can count. It was perfect.
Our household has been sick more this year than ever before and it REALLY sucks. I can't remember ever being this tired when they were babies. I'm positive I was but I'm finding that each new season of parenting takes me farther and farther away from those long sleepless nights. I'd swear the kids would never sleep through the night, eat a full meal, wear pants or wipe their own butts! And yet, they've mastered three of the four so we're feeling pretty good about ourselves over here. All that to say there are seasons to parenting and if you're miserable now, just wait it gets worse. Just kidding. Sure there are parts that might get worse before they get better but on the road there you get to see this little lump of a baby become a little person and let me tell you, it's way fucking cool (sorry Meema Jean). So if you're struggling right now, hang in there friend. It gets so much better in so many ways. And if you're in the midst of a calm season, relish every moment because change is unavoidable and these babies refuse to stop growing.
Division of Labor
A recurring theme in our postpartum gatherings is division of labor for new parents. Many couples will say that their household ran smoothly until player 3 joined the game. The new addition brings new responsibilities, new priorities, and new anxieties with a dash of sleep deprivation, just for kicks. These "news" means a lot of adjusting in real time. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. What worked last year is probably not working right now. What many of us have found is that the division of labor also changes and the imbalance is definitely not in our favor. Last year my badass therapist friend, Dr. Blythe TwoSisters, introduced me to the Fair Play Cards. Each card has a task/responsibility and the couple must agree on who takes which card as their responsibility. The creator of these clever cards, Eve Rodsky, describes the deck as, "a time-and anxiety-saving system that offers couples a completely new way to divvy up domestic responsibilities... With four easy-to-follow rules, 100 household tasks, and a figurative card game you play with your partner, Fair Play helps you prioritize what’s important to your family and who should take the lead on every chore from laundry to homework to dinner." Could it be that easy? The website has some great card examples with action items and ideas on how to implement them into your routine. I haven't had the chance to see it yet but apparently there is a documentary on the subject as well. Viewing party anyone? What have you noticed since your baby arrived? How have you managed the changes you've encountered?
I asked my longtime friend and Bradley Method instructor, Anne Zwicky what trends she was seeing in her most recent classes. When you've been in the birth world as long as we have, you begin to notice common stumbling blocks in groups of new parents. Anne says that lately she's noticed, "I have far fewer couples hiring doulas. I don't know if this is just my couples or a broader trend.... This is definitely affecting birth outcomes." You're breaking this doula's heart, y'all!! If you or someone you know is on the fence about hiring a doula come hang out with me next Friday evening for a Meet the Doula zoom event with the Premier Doulas of Houston. Hear all the evidence for doula support during labor and chat with the folks of PDH. This event is free and open to everyone!
Anne was also gracious enough to write about my very favorite activity from her Bradley Method class.
I teach Bradley Method childbirth classes at Heart of Houston, and my favorite class activity is called Priorities. It helps students think through what is most important to them in their birth experience and how they may handle things that don't go as planned.
Couples create a birth scenario out of a set of cards. They start with mother-baby friendly cards, setting them out in their priority order. The cards say things like: Given information and choices Given privacy Calm environment Access to tub or shower Move and change positions as desired Immediate skin-on-skin time with baby Once their cards are laid out, the couples usually feel pretty good about how their birth looks on paper. I look around the room and see satisfied expressions with lots of head-nodding. Then comes the twist. I give each couple a set of medical intervention cards, such as: Continuous monitoring Frequent vaginal exams Pitocin Epidural Cesarean I tell students that it becomes necessary to add some medical interventions to their birth scenario. I let them choose two intervention cards, and then they have to decide which of their mother-baby friendly cards no longer apply. Do frequent vaginal exams take away mom's feeling of privacy? Does continuous monitoring mean mom can't move and change positions as desired. Next, I randomly choose a couple of medical intervention cards to add to each couple's birth scenario. I usually go with the ones that most of my students really want to avoid, things like internal fetal monitoring, epidural, or cesarean. Those satisfied expressions quickly fade, and the students begin to process what it would feel like to have a birth that looks very little like what they hoped for. Again, we look at the full picture. If mom has to have Pitocin, do all of her hopes for the birth go out the window? Does having a Cesarean birth necessarily preclude a calm environment? Finally, I give each couple a card that says: Healthy baby, Healthy mother (physically, mentally, and emotionally). That physical, mental, and emotional part is huge! Of course, a medically healthy mom and baby is the top priority in childbirth, but it isn't the only thing that matters. Birth almost never goes as imagined, and it's important to think through options and how one may feel if a wrench is thrown in the plans. Students put in the work to prepare because they value the journey of birth and bringing baby into the world in the healthiest way - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Anne begins a new Bradley Method series on February 2nd through April 13th
Who are you?
How do you serve/help the pregnant and postpartum communities?
As a Birth/Bereavement Doula, I serve people through their pregnancy, birth, or its loss. As a Licensed Massage Therapist/ Craniosacral Therapist, I work with pregnant and postpartum people, and children from day 0 and onward. As a community group (BB360), we serve families who need support mostly through meal delivery, but also consultation and meetups.
How did you get into this line of work?
At my first birth at a hospital, I felt so lonely by being left alone. My husband felt at a loss with no guidance on how to support me. I thought, "How sad, I thought birth was supposed to be a happy celebration".
After a few years, I saw a post about doula workshop. When I read the description of doula,
I felt, "this is the kind of person I wanted by my side. I hope no one else would feel the way I felt during my birth." I also come from a low-income, minority community. I hope to be with people who are going through hardships, because I feel it's time for me to give back to the community.
What do you wish everyone knew about your area of expertise? I wish everyone to know that asking for help is OK. And by doing so, you might actually help others who want to help. So you are doing something good by asking for help! You can always give back in a way you feel comfortable. And I believe that's what makes human society as sustainable and hopeful as possible.
What is most rewarding about your work?
When people join the cause. When people feel they are OK and well supported, and starts to serve others in turn, I feel that the wheel of a sustainable ecosystem is turning and that gives me joy.
Tell us about something (or someone) you love.
I love nature and I love drumming. Check out my drumming group and invite us for your next event!
Stretch and Breath for Labor and Birth: Saturday December 3rd and 10th 10:30-12pm Joanna Zepeda will lead a practice of gratitude and guidance as you prepare for your journey into parenthood. This event is $15 for HOH and Whole Heart Collective members and $20 for the public. Please RSVP!
Prelude Prenatal Music Class : Monday December 5th 6:30pm Join us for a new class! You will learn songs to soothe and bond with your baby before you welcome them into this world and for years after! his class free and open to the public! Space is limited, please RSVP
Prelude Music for Babies of All Ages: Wednesday December 7th 11am In our “Babies Class”, babies will learn to embrace, enjoy, and express their inborn musicality, and you will learn how to stimulate and support your baby’s development through music! This class free and open to the public! Space is limited, please RSVP.
New address 6550 Mapleridge Ste 100
Postpartum Support Group: Alternating Wednesdays 10-12 on Zoom. Every Thursday in person 10-12. Link to zoom room has been sent to all HOH clients and Whole Heart Collective members. Email Jessica if you need more information.
Feeding Clinic: Twice a month during Postpartum group. Keep an eye on schedule for specifics
Queer Parent Circle: Second Sunday of every month 2-4pm Open to the public!
Birthworkers Circle: Second Sunday of every month 11am-1:30pm