How to Choose a Doula

How to Choose a Doula

Your due date is approaching, and you’ve done ALL of the research on pregnancy and labor. Your partner will be with you in the delivery room, but you’re wondering if you might need more support; for both of you. A doula is a great option to prep you for your trial of labor, delivery room support, and postpartum assistance. How do you choose a doula? You keep reading this blog post, that’s how!!!

Choosing a Doula

Check Out DONA

DONA International is the organization for doulas. DONA provides training and certification for doulas across the globe, including birth doulas and postpartum doulas. If you want a doula that is worth her salt, she will have a DONA certification (or will be working towards it). This should be the first website you visit when you begin your search for a doula. Not only are you able to search for DONA certified doulas in your area on this site, you can also learn EVERYTHING there is to know about what a doula does, how she does it, and what to look for when hiring a doula.

Other resources you can look into include DoulaMatch.net (this is where I found my doula!). Local hospitals and birth centers might also have a few doulas on tap that with which they have a good rapport. Also, don’t forget to check out natural food stores and yoga studios. Many of these co-op style, holistic based businesses have connections to doulas.

Schedule an Interview

Once you’ve conducted a good amount of research, it’s time to find a few doulas and schedule some interviews! Yay! Exciting! Try to connect with 2 or 3 doulas to interview. Trust me, you may not think so now, but once you get into that birthing room, you’re going to be pretty picky about who you do and do not want in there with you. Interviewing more than one doula helps you to make sure you choose the right person for your birthing experience.

It’s okay if you don’t know how to interview for a doula. DONA has a great interview script you can follow on their How to Hire a Doula page. I used this hiring guide for my doula interviews, and it helped tremendously with making sure the doula we hired was the right one.

I conducted my interviews over the phone and in person. We decided to meet at a coffee shop for our in-person interviews. The neutral location helped keep things professional, and we were able to get some pastries and coffee. Which is awesome regardless of whether or not you are pregnant.

Things to keep in mind when you’re interviewing:

  1. This woman will see you naked. And not just naked. She will see all of your bid-ness. All of it.
  2. Remember that she will be there as a support person, and unless she’s also a nurse or a midwife she will not be able to provide medical assistance in the form of communicating your wishes to your care team, or by any physical exams or interventions.
  3. Hiring a doula is an investment, and she will work her butt off for you. Believe me. Doula’s are worth their weight in gold and she will be worth every single penny of your investment. But her fee’s shouldn’t break your bank. If hiring her is going to put a serious ding in your budget, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of having a doula and not having one. And if a doula is a must have, but her fees are looking a little out of your budget, talk to her about your options. Many doulas are very reasonable and receptive to your family’s needs, and may be able to work out a payment plan.

Final Thoughts

After your interviews, you will have to decide who to hire. The best advice I can give you? Go with your gut. Trust your instinct on which person is going to be the best doula for you. If the person you are leaning towards has only attended one birth, and is currently working towards her DONA certification, that’s perfectly okay. Inexperience does not equal unqualified.

The doula we hired was amazing, and she was working towards her certification and had only attended one birth prior to mine (minus her own births). And I was totally fine with her not being officially certified. She had the training. She had the experience of her own births. And she had a personality that just clicked with mine and my husbands.

Plus, I knew that working with her meant that she was one step closer to gaining her DONA certification, which would allow her to continue working with other women who want to hire amazing doulas like her. Which made me feel pretty good.

Lastly, remember that this is your birth experience and yours alone. Don’t let anyone try to deter you from hiring a doula because it’s a luxury or an unnecessary expense. Like I said earlier, doulas are worth their weight in gold and I honestly can’t imagine what my labor would have been like without mine. Hubby agrees, and also couldn’t imagine going through my labor without her (if you want to read about my labor, check out our story here!).

Long story short, treat yo’self and get a doula, mama. You won’t regret it.

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

Our Birth Story

Our Birth Story

My sweetest son,

This is the story of your birth. I’m recording it for us, so that we can always remember the miracle that happened on September 8, 2017.

Our Birth Story Mama Brilliance

Your due date had come and gone, and you were still nestled snugly inside me. Friends and family would text or email, “Is that baby here yet?” “Are you still pregnant?” “Didn’t you tell that kid it’s Labor Day?”

I would respond as cordially as I could, despite the annoyance I felt at their light-hearted jests. Believe me, you will know he’s here shortly after we will, I thought to myself. And so Daddy and I continued to wait for you. We filled our time watching movies, catching up on television shows, walking the trails at the local park. I even counted my stretch marks. 63 crimson stripes across my belly; a permanent reminder of your temporary home.

At 40 weeks and 5 days, my obstetrician offered to strip my membranes. I had been 90% effaced for about 2 weeks, and dilating a centimeter a week for 3 weeks, putting me at 5cm dilated before active labor started. Warm up contractions would come and go for hours at a time, usually between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning. I was ready to meet you. I was ready for the anticipation to be gone, and to finally hold you in my arms.

I graciously accepted the offer from my OB, and braced for impact as she separated the bag of waters from the sides of my uterus. Daddy held my hand, and when the doctor was finished, we agreed that if labor hadn’t started by the weekend, we would induce in 3 days, on Sunday September 10, 2017.

After stopping for an early dinner, we arrived at home around 4PM. I started to feel more cramping, and the contractions began to arrive. I wonder if this is just more warm-up labor, I thought to myself, as ate my sandwich from Jimmy Johns. An Italian Night Club, with no onions; never once feeling guilty for eating lunch meat while pregnant.

Then it happened: a tightening of my belly that grew stronger as it took my breath away. And it happened again. And again. And again.

After 5 hours of deep breathing, rocking on a balance ball, and loading up on cashews, string cheese, and oven roasted turkey breast, we decided it was time to call the hospital. My contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart, lasting a little more than a minute each, and getting stronger with every wave. The nurse who answered the phone agreed that it was time to come in, and Daddy and I gathered the last of our hospital bag items and prepared to head out the door.

The books and the birthing classes all talk about the excitement and joy you feel when you go into labor. I did not feel this way. I was anxious. I felt unprepared. Despite reading dozens on pregnancy, labor and delivery, and newborn care, I felt completely unprepared. In a last ditch effort to maintain some control over the situation, I decided to brush and floss my teeth.

Your Dad walked into the bathroom and asked me what I was doing. I tearfully replied that I didn’t know when I would get another chance to floss my teeth; as if this would be the last time I would EVER have the pleasure of flossing. Daddy replied that he would bring dental floss for me, and that I would, in fact, be able to floss again after you made your grand debut.

After my dramatic farewell to floss, we departed for the hospital at 9:30PM on September 7. I began to cry out of insecurity, and also because my contractions had stopped.

“They’re going to send us home and I’m going to be embarrassed and Sarah (our doula) will have to drive all the way back to Wisconsin just to come back again another day for actual labor to start.”

“That’s not going to happen,” your father reassured me, “We’re going to get to the hospital, you’re going to be admitted, and we’re going to have a baby and everything will be perfect. Okay?”

I nodded as I held back tears and breathed through my anxiety.

We arrived at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth and parked in the Red Ramp. We walked to the skywalk, only to find that the entrance was locked. I cried again, “I forgot we have to enter through the Emergency Room after 8PM.”

Thankfully, a nurse who was entering the hospital saw my gigantic pregnant self and your father with a suitcase and a backpack, and correctly assumed that we were headed to the birth center. She let us enter with her, and wished us luck.

As we rode the elevator to the 5th floor of the hospital, I felt a small contraction. I felt somewhat more confident in being admitted after that contraction, but there was a part of me that still thought we would be sent home.

The nurses admitted us, and our first nurse Theresa brought us to our birthing room. Ironically, it was the same room we toured during the birthing class; a lakeside room with a hookup for nitrous oxide for pain management and a whirlpool tub for laboring in. Reality started to set in.

I’m going to have a baby.

Theresa took my vitals and hooked me up to a monitor to check on your heart rate and measure the frequency of my contractions. Your heart rate was beautiful, and the contractions were still happening, even though I couldn’t really feel them.

The resident on-call came in to take a quick history and to check my cervix. I was between 95-100% effaced and 6 cm dilated. He asked about my preferences for pain management. I requested that I would be able to labor in the tub and to use nitrous oxide if I needed it. I also mentioned that I’m open to an epidural if I feel it becomes necessary.

He nodded in agreement and basically said that he would be leaving me alone until I needed either the nitrous or the epidural, and that if everything was going well he would be back in a few hours to check my cervix again. He didn’t seem concerned that I wasn’t feeling the contractions anymore, since he could see them on the monitor, and they were definitely happening.

After he left, Theresa took the monitors off and suggested Daddy and I walk around the birthing center floor to help restart some stronger contractions. So we walked around the floor twice, and I had begun to feel more pressure in my pelvis. I could still walk, but it was getting harder to breath through the contractions while I was upright.

We arrived back at the room and Sarah, our doula, had arrived. My contractions were in a lull again, and so we made small talk and just hung out for about 30 minutes. It was now just before 11 PM, and our nurses were changing shifts. Theresa would be leaving for the night, and Taylor would be taking over.

Shortly after Taylor had taken another set of vitals, my contractions really picked up. The first few were so strong that I had to get down on all fours to relieve the pressure in my back and belly. Like the Jedi before me, I remembered my training: breath deeply, inhale to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 6 or 8. And groan like a freaking wildebeest. Deep, guttural moans that put to shame any sort of hoofed, quadruped animal in the throes of heat (i.e. elk, moose, yak, llama).

I requested, with my last shred of amity, that Taylor bring a birthing ball to the room. I tried to sit on the birthing ball, but you were putting so much pressure on my cervix that I couldn’t stand the weight. I tried to kneel on the ground over the birthing ball, hugging the giant purple sphere so tightly I was sure it would burst. I lamented that I did not bring my yoga mat to kneel on, as hospital floors are not known for being easy on the knees. We tried a pillow under my knees, with no relief.

Sarah used counter pressure on my hips and back to relieve some of the pressure, reminding me with every contraction to keep breathing, groaning, and remember that each contraction is temporary and productive. “He’s coming, Mama. You get to meet him soon.”

I’ll be honest. Through the hardest part of my contractions, there was a part of me that wondered what I had done to myself. Why did I do this? What kind of sick, sadistic person would intentionally put themselves through this pain?

I need a time machine, so I can go back and tell myself to not get pregnant because labor is AWFUL and it never ends.

“I need the nitrous,” I managed to say.

“Okay. I hear you. Do you want to try a warm bath first?” Sarah asked.

“Yes,” I nodded through another contraction.

We filled the tub, and I stripped down to nearly nothing. Not caring that I was naked from the chest down, I eased down into the tub. The water felt wonderful. But the tub was not nearly big enough for me to labor the way I needed to AND get the full benefit of the water. I tried to lay back and let the jets massage my back. I tried to kneel on all fours. I even tried sitting cross-legged. Nothing was helping. All the while I swayed and rocked and breathed out every wave of pain that shot through my body.

“Sarah, I need the nitrous.”

“Okay, we’ll get the nurse.”

I stood up to get out of the bath, and noticed 10 scarlet streaks gracing the bottom of the tub. Through an especially intense contraction, my Sally Hansen Cinna-Snap toenail polish tagged the tub like a juvenile delinquent with a can of Rustoleum and a pension for defacement.

This is why you put a top-coat on, Megan. Because otherwise you ruin nice things.

Daddy flagged Taylor, and she went to notify the resident on-call. He came in with some papers for me to sign, and began to go over the rules for using the nitrous for pain management. He checked my cervix again; now at 7 cm. Just as Taylor walked in with the machine for the nitrous oxide, another contraction hit me like a freight train. I knew that laughing gas wouldn’t help me at this point.

The resident began to go over the waiver with me, to which I replied, “F**k the nitrous, I need the epidural.” Your Mama was not messing around. I was almost fainting with every contraction, and I needed something stronger to get me through those last 3 cm. The resident responded with an, “Okey dokey,” and Taylor took the nitrous out of the room and went to call the anesthesiologist.

Taylor put the monitors back on my belly to monitor your heart rate and my contractions, and gave me an IV of fluids to keep me hydrated. The contractions kept growing stronger as we waited about 40 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive. When he did, he demonstrated the most perfect example of mansplaining I have ever seen.

This joker sits down on the bed next to me while I’m groaning like a cow, and proceeds to play Pictionary with me to explain how an epidural works.

“Hi Megan, okay, I’m going to draw you a picture here so you know what I’m doing alrighty? This is your brain. This is your spine. This is your brain stem and your spinal cord. Here is your uterus,” etc.

He proceeded to go through a freaking anatomy lesson, drawing every part on his notebook, all the while I’m thinking that I’m a married, 27-year-old, college educated woman. I’ve read the books. I took the class. I KNOW what an epidural does and how it does it. Place the GD catheter and GTFO of here.

And yes, I know that he has to explain what he’s doing for legal purposes so that I don’t sue him incase something goes wrong. His know-it-all attitude was simply not appreciated while I was hitting a 14 out of 10 on the pain scale.

The epidural took about 20 minutes to fully kick in. And even then, it barely took the edge off. I still felt every contraction, and I still needed to breath and groan through every wave that hit me. The contractions were about 2 minutes long at this point, and I thought I would be in labor for ever. I only had about 30 seconds of rest between each contraction, and I needed every single break I could get.

After you were born, Daddy told me that the monitor that was watching my contractions would sometimes go off of the scale. I couldn’t believe how much I felt them even after the epidural. Labor continued like this from 2 AM until about 6 AM on September 8. The resident checked my cervix at about 4 AM; 9 cm. Around 6 AM I entered a slight rest period. The contractions had just about stopped, and I could actually talk and communicate like a human again. The three of us, your Dad, Sarah, and I all slept until 8:30 AM.

Our daytime nurse, Debbie, came to check on me at 8:30. She noted that I had been laying on my left side for a few hours, and was worried that the epidural would have settled on that side; leaving my right side completely open to pain. I assured here that it was not the case, and that my right side was actually completely numb, and my left was the one that needed a little extra assistance.

She acknowledged what I told her, and asked me to roll over on my back so she could check my cervix to see if I had dilated any further. With Daddy and Sarah’s help, I rolled onto my back for yet another cervical exam.

“Oh! Oh, yep. I see your baby’s head. He’s got a lot of hair. Okay, it’s go time.”

“Mkay, great,” I said, trying to roll over onto my right side so I could keep sleeping.

“No, no honey, you’re having a baby now. You can’t go back to sleep.”

“Oh, okay,” as I rolled to my back.

Debbie left to grab another nurse and the daytime on-call doctor and resident. I don’t remember the name of the resident who was there, but the doctor who delivered you was Dr. Rogotzke. They entered the room all at once, decked out in scrubs and surgical gowns and masks. The doctor raised the table and removed the foot of the bed, and though I was in a daze I heard her ask, “Okay Megan, are you ready to have this baby?”

I must have said yes, because the next thing I knew Debbie was directing Sarah and Daddy how to hold my legs as I pushed. The epidural had completely numbed me, and I couldn’t feel anything as I pushed. Dr. Rogotzke coached me to curl around you as I pushed through the contractions that would bring you into your first breath of life.

Daddy and Sarah held my legs while I pulled against them, held my breath, and pushed. Debbie would count to ten, I would push, and then take a half-a-second break. I had been pushing for about 27 minutes when Dr. Rogotzke said, “Okay, ease up a little bit Megan, you’re starting to tear and we need to slow down.”

I backed off, but you were ready. As your final farewell to your uterine home, you used my ribs as a springboard to burst forth into world. Pushing off of my ribs with one last bone-breaking kick, my waters broke with a fury and you erupted out of me like a phoenix from the flames. The doctor caught you as my stomach deflated and I could hardly believe you were here as I laid my eyes on you for the first time.

“Oh my God, oh my God, you’re here,” I repeated over and over as I wept and shook with pride and love and awe.

“He’s real. Oh my God, he’s actually real,” I said to your dad.

“He is,” Daddy replied, struggling to find the words to capture his awestruck agreement.

The doctor handed you to me and I laid you on my chest and held you as hard as I dared. I looked at your father and I barely eked out, “You’re a dad, Daniel! You’re a dad!”

I will never forget the look on his face as he smiled and shed a few tears and nodded joyfully as he kissed my head and looked at you. In that moment I have never loved him more. Even though the room was full of people, it was like no one else was there. It was just the three of us. Our wait was finally over. You were finally here and you were absolutely perfect. Nothing else mattered. We were all together. Our perfect little family.

You weighed 8lbs 8oz at birth, and measured 21.5” in length. Daddy says you have my eyes, and I say you have his nose. You have the cutest little ears, and that hair! So much hair. I don’t think I will ever get tired of looking at you.

As I write this, I look down at you, sleeping on my chest, and I marvel that you lived inside of me for 10 months. You will wake up soon, and you will probably cry, but I will be here with you, and here for you. We’ll snuggle, and we’ll play, and before I know it, you’ll be walking and talking, then off to college, and you’ll be married with a family of your own.

You will never know how much I love you. How much your Father and I so deeply love you is something we can never truly convey. Just know that we will always be here for you; no matter what.

We’re so blessed that you’re here. We can’t wait to watch you grow. 

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

10 Items to Skip on Your Baby Registry

10 Items to Skip on Your Baby Registry

Creating our baby registry was one of my favorite milestones of the pregnancy. Yes, feeling kicks for the first time was amazing. But the baby registry? So much fun to go shopping with my Hubby and let him go full Han Solo with the blaster registry gun. It’s also easy to go overboard and register for things you don’t actually need, or that you shouldn’t even buy.

After registering for and over-receiving/over-buying items, I can tell you first hand what you do and do not need to waste time registering for. Here are 10 items to skip when you’re creating your baby registry.  

Items to Skip on Your Registry

Mama Brilliance is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Car Seat Accessories

Though squishy and adorable, these accessories are unnecessary and actual decrease the safety and effectiveness of your car seat. In the event of a crash, these accessories could void the warranty on your car seat. These could be anything from infant headrests, shoulder straps, custom fabric covers, and even toys that attach to the straps or carry handle.

Clothing

Seriously… don’t bother registering for ANY clothing. You will get a TON of it. Also, just a little FYI from someone who’s worked retail: clothing is seasonal, and will often not be around/available for purchase in the span of when you are registering for items and when you have your baby shower. Unless you want something that is extremely specific or custom made, I recommend skipping any clothing additions to your registry.

Crib Accessories

Again, squishy and adorable, but unnecessary and could cause more harm than good. Skip the crib bumpers, pillows and additional padding. Infants can roll over a lot sooner than you expect, and bumpers can be a suffocation hazard if baby rolls into one while sleeping. All you need is a couple of fitted sheets and you are good to go.

Walkers

Once thought to help babies learn to walk more quickly, walkers have actually been shown to do more harm than good when it comes to lower body alignment and proper walking. Plus, kiddo could take a tumble down the stairs if he’s not properly supervised. Your baby has everything he needs to learn how to walk on his own. No accessory needed for this milestone.10 Items to Skip on Your Registry Visual

Food Processor

Yes, making homemade baby food is a more efficient and economical way to introduce your little one to solids, but a baby specific food processor isn’t necessary. This is especially true if you already own a “grown-up” food processor or high power blender like a Ninja or a Vitamix.

If you really want to go the homemade baby food route, get a Ninja or a Vitamix system because a) it’s better quality than the “baby” brands and b) you can make margaritas in them which is basically priceless after you become a parent.

Baby Bathing Cloths & Towels

What if I told you that babies could be washed with normal wash cloths? Mind. Blown. Right? It’s not something you need, but someone will probably end up getting them for you anyway. Same thing with the hooded towels. Super cute, but you can get by with the towels you already have. OR… ooh, yes, brilliant idea right here: you could register for some luxe grown up towels for your bad self, ‘cause you just gave birth and you freaking deserve them.

I kind of wish I would have thought of this sooner… BRB, heading to Target.

Books & Toys

You’re gonna get a bunch of books. I promise. Unless you’re hoping for something specific, skip the baby book aisle during your registry excursion. Same thing as books, people are going to get you toys. And honestly, you will have more stuffed animals than you know what to do with.

Wipe Warmer

Seems like a great idea, and I’m sure it feels phenomenal compared to a cold wipe on the bottom. But what happens when you’re at Target and you have to change a diaper? Sorry but I’m pretty sure you’re not going to be carrying a wipe warmer in your diaper bag, hoping there’s an outlet for your warmer in the Target bathroom so your babe doesn’t have to feel the icy chill of a *gasp* room temperature diaper wipe.

If anything, keep the warmer for yourself for postpartum vagina recovery. It’s like a spa experience every time you wipe. Haha aahaha ahhh… Not really. It still hurts like hell.

Bassinet

Okay kind of weird, I know, but hear me out on this one. You can get the same effect as a bassinet with many of the play yards that are now available. For example, I registered for the Chicco Lullago Bassinet because I knew I would be driving to my parents house quite frequently during the winter, and I wanted something that was portable and easy to breakdown for travel. But I also registered for the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard Snuggle Suite XL, which has an infant sleeper, bouncer, and diaper changing station.

I love both of these products, but the Pack ‘n Play has a much longer use-expectancy than the bassinet. We’ll probably use the bassinet for 4-6 months, tops. The Pack ‘n Play is MUCH more economical in the long run, and it’s just as portable as the Lullago (as long as you don’t bring the changing station and bouncer).

 

Did I miss anything? Which items do you wish you would have skipped on your registry?

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

5 Books for an Empowered Pregnancy

5 Books for an Empowered Pregnancy

Empowered pregnancy is the best kind of pregnancy in my opinion. Empowerment begins with education and knowledge. A great way to gain knowledge? Books! As a self-proclaimed book-dragon, books are one of my favorite things. When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited for quite a few reasons. One of which was the opportunity to read more books!

I’ve compiled my 5 favorite books that I read while I was pregnant. Bonus: these books build your feelings of confidence and empowerment as you progress through this new and exciting season of your life! Let’s get reading!

5 Books for Empowered Pregnancy

Mama Brilliance is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Pregnancy Childbirth & The Newborn

This is by far my favorite pregnancy book. Pregnancy Childbirth & The Newborn combines the most important aspects of  pregnancy, labor and delivery, and life with a newborn into one easy to digest book. I didn’t discover PCN until I was about 5 months pregnant, but when I did, it became my pregnancy bible.

What makes it so great? I love that it feels more women-focused than some of the other books I checked out. Which honestly seems ridiculous considering that pregnancy is typically woman-focused. What I mean by that is that PCN puts forth the facts and stats about pregnancy and childbirth into the reader’s hands, while simultaneously discussing the options that she might want to consider during her pregnancy or delivery. And the book does it in a way that doesn’t feel condescending or passive aggressive.

Bonus: PCN has a great website that accompanies the book for additional resources, including printable PDFs.

Expecting Better

Every woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant NEEDS to read Expecting Better. Expecting Better challenges the  traditional pregnancy wisdom to shed light on the facts of pregnancy, giving you a sense of empowerment about this amazing time in your life.

Especially in the United States, pregnancy has a history of being treated as a medical problem. It’s something to be treated and monitored, like a disease. And since it’s treated as such, there are many restrictions that have been placed on women in our culture. Restrictions that have pretty much zero medical or statistical significance when you begin to look at the numbers.

Expecting Better gives you a bird’s eye view of the facts about bedrest, caffeine, genetic testing, gardening, sushi, and more.  

The Mindful Mom to Be

Mindfulness is an important quality to possess, regardless of your parenthood status. If you haven’t practiced mindfulness before,  pregnancy is a phenomenal time to start. Why now? Pregnancy is filled with excitement, anticipation, and sometimes anxiety. Mindfulness can help to take the unnecessary stress out of expecting by minimizing reactivity and maximizing observation.

The Mindful Mom to Be discusses the core of mindfulness, why it’s important, and how to practice it before, during, and after your pregnancy. Not only will mindfulness help you to stay calm and collected throughout your pregnancy, it will help tremendously when labor starts, AND when you’re figuring out life with a newborn. Being able to take a step back, clear your mind, and focus on your breath is a HUGELY beneficial practice, and it will help you to keep your sanity during those last few weeks of pregnancy, and the first few months of motherhood.

The Birth Partner

I know what you’re thinking. “Hold up, I thought this was a blog about pregnancy… The Birth Partner is about labor.”  

Correct! My intention here is to focus on the end game. Pregnancy isn’t forever (despite what you may between week 36 and 40). Pregnancy does come to an end, and that’s when labor gets started. The Birth Partner is intended for labor coaches like dads or partners, and doulas, but it’s also great for the people who are doing the actual laboring (i.e. you and me).

The Birth Partner discusses a TON of natural labor techniques and strategies, as well as questions to ask and pathways to consider should any complications arise. It also gives labor coaches a great idea of what to expect from moms as they labor, and how to provide comfort and support during the most trying parts of labor.

This book is great for you and your labor coach to read together, and discuss comfort strategies and the best way to help you both through this exciting time!

Giving Birth With Confidence

Giving Birth with Confidence is another book about the process of labor and delivery. I love this book because it’s the official Lamaze International guide for childbirth. Giving Birth with Confidence made me feel incredibly confident about going into labor.  Before I read this book, I felt uneasy, like I wasn’t sure that my body could handle it. After reading just a few chapters of Giving Birth with Confidence, I felt like a different woman. I was like, “Heck yes, my body was made for this. It knows what to do, and all I have to do is go with the flow.”

Giving Birth with Confidence discusses the traditional OB approach to pregnancy and childbirth, and provides statistical evidence for medical interventions, labor strategies, and the best practices for labor coaches and doulas. It made me feel incredibly empowered to know that my body and my mind will guide me through this process, and that I CAN and WILL come out victorious in the delivery room.

… And Finally

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. One of the most popular pregnancy books of all time is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. So why isn’t it included in this list? In the past 5-7 years, What to Expect has received some backlash from the pregnant community as being outdated and “dumbed down” for the modern pregnant woman.   

Many of the concepts in What to Expect are based on traditional advice and recommendations from the American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Which on the surface seems great, but ACOG has a history of focusing on the medicalization of childbirth (i.e. more interventions, less natural options).

My opinion? This was the first book I bought when I found out I was pregnant. My focus was to absorb as much information about pregnancy as possible, and I feel like this book was fine for that. As I progressed through my pregnancy, I wanted to explore other viewpoints, which led me to the other books that I’ve listed. What to Expect gives you a good idea of what to expect (get it?) from a traditional OB approach to pregnancy and childbirth, but I wouldn’t call it an empowering book.  

Which books did you read when you were pregnant?

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.

How to Embrace Your Inner Queen as a New Mom

How to Embrace Your Inner Queen as a New Mom

Becoming a mom is a crazy journey, and pregnancy is only the beginning. You grow that little one inside of you for 9 long months, doing your best to prepare him for life outside of your womb. Once he arrives, you may feel powerful and vulnerable at the same time; knowing you are all he needs in that moment, but the myriad of choices before you soon come flooding into perspective.

Let’s establish one thing before we dive in: You’re a queen. You just gave birth to a human life, and you deserve to feel like you could rule the world. Embracing that inner queen might not come naturally to some of us, but there are steps we can take to get to know her, and work towards wearing our invisible crowns on the daily. Sound good? Sounds GREAT. Let’s start with why embracing your inner queen is important as a new mom.

Embrace Your Inner Queen

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Why Embrace Your Inner Queen?

Two-words: mommy-guilt. Is that two words or is it one word hyphenated? …The world may never know…

Anyway! Mommy-guilt is real, and it’s as prevalent as ever with social media in our lives. Breast or bottle-feed? Screens or no screens? Should I stay at home or go back to work? Regardless of what a woman chooses, she will almost inevitably be shamed regarding her choices by someone, somewhere. Their shaming may be disguised as well-intentioned advice, but it can cut a mom to the core; making her feel unworthy and unqualified for this new role that she has taken on.

Even the most confident woman can struggle with the choices she faces for her family. What it comes down to is that there are too many choices for moms to sift through these days; all of them touting their benefits versus “the other options.” How is she supposed to know which options are the RIGHT options for her and her family?

A Perfect Solution

The solution: self-love. Self-love starts with recognizing that you are worthy of loving yourself and your decisions, regardless of what else might be out there. When you are confident in your ability to love yourself, you don’t second-guess your intuition and your processes. You make educated decisions like the freaking queen that you are, and you can feel confident that what you are doing is best for YOU. And that is more than good enough: it’s sheer perfection.

How exactly are you supposed to build up this quality of self-love? Just like a muscle, self-love becomes stronger when you exercise it regularly. It can be difficult at first, just like a new workout routine. Eventually, you become stronger and more grounded in your routine; jumping into your practice with vigor for the pride and euphoria you feel once you’ve completed your exercises.  

Self-Love Made Super Simple

To get started on your self-love journey, it’s helpful if you have someone to guide you. It’s kind of like if you’re going to hike a new trail through unfamiliar territory: to get to where you need to be, you’ll want to hire a guide. Could you do it on your own? Sure, but it’s more likely that you could get derailed and lost in the jungle. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The guide is there to simply travel along with you through your journey. She points out the directions you can go, and provides valuable feedback about what strategy might be best for this particular mountain.

Enter Raewyn Sangari, multi-passionate world changer and all-around champion of self-love, encouragement, and everything that is good in this world. As a busy mom and entrepreneur, Raewyn knew that her clients would benefit from self-love routines, but they needed something that was easily digestible and could be implemented quickly in times of crisis (which happens a lot in those first few months as a new mom). She created Embracing Your Inner Queen in 5

embracing-your-inner-queen-ssi

Embracing Your Inner Queen in Five is a five-chapter audio course that will jumpstart your self-love journey as you dive into the five areas of self-love. The course includes:

  • 5 Audio Chapters
  • Workbook to Accompany the Audios
  • Bonus e-book,
  • 30-minute soul session with Raewyn

Embracing Your Inner Queen in Five takes you through the five areas of self-love:

  • confidence in your mind,
  • nourishment of your soul,
  • body love,
  • building your community, and
  • supporting the community towards a thriving sisterhood.

The best part about Embracing Your Inner Queen in 5? It takes less time to practice these self-care strategies than it does to change a diaper. Because let’s face it, as a new mom, you don’t have hours to spare for self-care. Raewyn dives into some of the most impactful daily practices that only take a few minutes throughout the day (which is much more manageable with a newborn than most other self-care strategies).

I love that the course is primarily audio content, which means I can listen to it just about anywhere. All I need is my phone and a pair of earbuds, and I’m set to gorge myself on these amazing self-love strategies. Seriously, I’m talking trips to the grocery store, listening in my car, while relaxing in a bubble bath while hubby takes care of the little guy. The list goes on and on.

Even though I’m still pregnant, I know that it’s never too early to start building up my self-love toolbox. With the strategies Raewyn has pulled together in my pocket, I will be much better prepared to face whatever challenges motherhood throws at me.

Bonus

Oh, and if the course wasn’t awesome enough for you, you also a free tank top with your purchase of Embracing Your Inner Queen in 5! Aren’t these adorable? I’m seriously in love with the Queen In My Own Right tank. And that crown? To DIE for. Whichever one you choose, you’ll rock it. I just know it 😉

Ready to Embrace Your Inner Queen in 5? Head over to the Shield Sisters Initiative and treat yo’self!

As the founder of Mama Brilliance, Megan is an avid writer, reader, and self-professed coffee snob. You can find her in northern Minnesota with her family, exploring the great outdoors and dreaming of breakfast food.