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What is a doula and why would you want one on your birth or postnatal team?
If you heard of something you could take into labour with you that would make you
- More likely to give birth vaginally with neither ventouse nor forceps nor caesarean
- Less likely to use pain medications or to have a caesarean birth
- More likely to be satisfied with your experience
- More likely to have a shorter labour
- Less likely to have postpartum depression
- Your baby could be less likely to have low five-minute Apgar scores (the score used when babies’ health and well-being are assessed at birth and shortly afterwards).
Would you want to give it a try?
According to reviews of research the type of support doulas supply has been shown to do all these things.
You’re probably wondering what exactly do doulas do that can have all these potential benefits? I asked a couple of your local doulas what they bring to your birth team.
Alex and Desiree both work in North Hampshire. As they talk about becoming doulas and what they love about being doulas I hope you will see that the benefits are so wide ranging even for times when that “more likely to” in the research doesn’t turn out to be definitely will. Perhaps we should add to the list, in our experience having a doula on your team will make you more likely to realise how amazing and wonderful you truly are.
How did you hear about doulas or first start thinking it might be for you?
Alex: Unknowingly, I have doulaed for many years. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” sits very closely to me as this is how I started my Doula journey. Then a woman in my village, who I offered support to, asked me if I knew of any doulas in our area. The seed was planted as I supported her and decided to start my Doula journey officially.
Within 2 weeks of deciding to go for it I signed up for my Doula training course and within less than a year I became too busy to continue my long standing medical career. And I love what I do!
Desiree: I heard about Doula’s through my sister as she chose to have a Doula support them through their birth. I was very naive and found it odd and rather ‘hippy’. My sister had the most amazing support from her doula.
Then when was pregnant and began planning my birth I knew I wanted a Doula present and having had a long labour my doula was consistent throughout. It really sealed my desire to be able to offer that same continuity of care, calming presence and support that I received to other women and their partners.
What’s your favourite thing about being a Doula?
Desiree: It’s such a privilege for me to share such an intimate, life changing experience with a woman. Seeing her grow, her strength and her ability to birth regardless of what kind of birth – I truly value that. I love seeing women flourish as they step into motherhood, whether it’s the first time or third time.
Alex: The variety of women and couples I meet and being part of their pregnancy, birth and beyond. I feel extremely privileged being a doula. Seeing women making their own informed choices whatever situation they find themselves in. And then seeing women feeling empowered and those lush newborn baby cuddles at my first postnatal meeting.
What are your top tips for planning a positive birth?
Alex: Gather information, know about your choices, trust your body and your instincts. Never take “no” for an answer unless all resources and options explored. Hire a Doula!
Desiree: Birth is a wonderful journey that can sometimes be smooth and straightforward or it may be windy and long. Birth can be like a picnic – you may have 4 seasons in one day. As much as we can plan, there are unforeseen events that can happen. Whilst it’s great to have a plan, it’s important to know what your options are and know that you have choices. Having a birth plan in place can help. Being prepared for all eventualities puts you in a far stronger position afterwards to feel you retained some choice and control in what happened. Understanding our hormones and our environment plays a huge part in how our bodies relax and function during the birthing process.
Do you have any top tips for new parents?
Desiree: Listen to yourself. Family and friends have the best intentions when they feel they need to ‘offer’ their advice, however there is so much conflicting advice it becomes an information overload. Do what you feel is best for you and your child. Everything your baby needs you already have.
Alex: Restrict visitors, take your time, enjoy getting to know each other, accept help (meals, house chores, childcare for older siblings). Be aware of the 4th trimester. Be gentle on yourself and never compare yourself with other new mums! Sleep when your baby sleeps during the day, even if it’s a cat nap here and there. Get support from a postnatal Doula and don’t feel afraid to ask for help!
Now you’ve had the chance to get to know a couple of our local doulas a little bit. If you decide to include a doula as part of your birth team you will get to know her really well in the antenatal sessions you have together. More importantly, she will get to know you and how she can support you and the rest of your birth team the best way for you. If you’ve got more questions you might like to check out our frequently asked questions page http://www.hampshiredoulas.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/ and always feel free to get in touch and ask more questions if you don’t find yours is answered there.
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My recent Wardrobe Refresh session with Victoria was SOO AWESOME but not only that, she’s also very kindly offering a very generous discount to NHM Readers! See below.
If you are stuck for presents for anyone or feel you need a BOOST yourself, I HIGHLY recommend as you can read below.
Review 2018: The Fairy ClothesMother
Victoria messaged me and asked me if I would like to have a Wardrobe ReFresh in exchange for a review and I thought I’d give it a go as I had nothing left to lose and could definitely use the help.
She used to run the store in Vintage Treasures, a boutique specialising in vintage and vintage inspired clothing, on Church Street, in Basingstoke so she knows what she is talking about!
I’ll be honest, I was NOT looking forward to Victoria coming round to help me de-clutter my wardrobe. In my head I had visions of Trinny and Suannah (I’m showing my age now!) and GokWan DECIMATING my wardrobe.
My focus for the past few years has been on getting Miss NHM well again and as part of this I have completely neglected my body and my wardrobe reflects this.
I’ve written before about having a uniform as I don’t have time to think in the mornings or the night before as I prefer to spend my time and energy on other things. If you’ve been reading NHM for a while you’ll know that I am allergic to most man made materials, particularly polyester.
Trying to shop for clothes these days, that don’t have polyester or lycra in is very, very, VERY frustrating. There are certain shops that I know I can shop in that have 100% cotton and I tend to stick to those as I know that they aren’t going to cause me any issues.
Although this does mean that I’ve been in a bit of a clothing rut. I hate clothes shopping at the best of times and then having to double check every single label well… it’s depressing and I don’t have the motivation for it.
So the thought of Victoria coming round and telling me that I needed to go shopping for more clothes….I wasn’t looking forward to it….
Before we met
A couple of weeks before our appointment Victoria sent me a document with several questions asking me things like my hair and eye colour, what my current style is and what my dream look would be.
The document also asked me about my shopping habits and I think she could probably work out from there that I was going to be a total pain in the butt!!! (facepalm!)
Victoria also asked me to send some pictures of my face and my body, so she could see what she would be working with.
The Wardrobe Refresh Appointment
Victoria came round to my house one lunchtime, but just after I’d had a filling. So I was feeling a bit miserable, my face was all numb and I was really not in the mood for the appointment.
However, I haven’t laughed so much in AGES!!! Victoria spent about 15 minutes with me talking through my answers to the questions she’d sent me and I felt SOOOO at ease! You can immediately tell that Victoria’s main aim is to make you feel much better at the end of the appointment than you do at the beginning.
She asked me to write three words down describing how I was feeling right then about my clothes and those words were pretty depressing.
Victoria then talked through my colours and told me that I’m an “Autumn”. I had my colours done years ago and I already knew I was an Autumn and had told Victoria this in my answers but it was really, really good to go through which colours suit me again. Even though I have a colour wallet from when my colours were done when I was 18 years old, I wasn’t sure if they would still be the colours to suit me.
Victoria then briefly talked through which styles suit me best which was quite enlightening.
We then just got stuck in to my wardrobe.
I have quite a small wardrobe but it turns out that I have LOADS of clothes hidden away and even some in Miss NHM’s wardrobe that I had completely forgotten about.
We went through EVERY SINGLE ITEM of clothing in my cupboard and it was… AWESOME!!!
Victoria gave me permission (well, she didn’t actually give me permission but it felt like it!) to get rid of clothes that I’ve been hanging onto for years that I shouldn’t have been.
I read the Life Changing magic of Tidying three years ago (WOW, how time flies!) and even though there were clothes that I had purged then, there were some items that I still had an emotional attachment too that needed to be got rid of.
We went through everything and sorted them into three piles: keep, sell, recycle. It was SUCH an uplifting experience!!! Not at all what I expected.
Normally I’m quite self concious about my body, but I was just stripping off and getting stuck in and Victoria was brilliant. She echoed many things that I’d said in my head about some outfits, except she said it out loud. Hearing someone else say lots and lots of really positive things about my wardrobe was just amazing!
I realised that I do have lots and lots of beautiful dresses that I just don’t wear that I really ought too!
I felt absolutely AMAZING after the appointment. Victoria asked me to update my three words again, about how I was feeling, and it was like they were written by another person!
She advised me to start wearing more colours and notice the compliments that start rolling in and you know what, she was absolutely right! I’ve had LOADS of comments about what I’ve been wearing recently since my Wardrobe ReFresh.
Victoria also suggested making adjustments to certain items of my clothing and has recommended a local seamstress who can do this for me. I only actually need to buy ONE ITEM of clothing for my wardrobe! I expected that I would probably have to buy at least 4 or 5 new items but with modifications to my current clothes and that one item of clothing, it’s going to make such a difference!
Victoria is even going to find me the items that I need online and send the links over to me so I can just buy them directly. HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!!
Victoria says that that with her BOOST Style ethos:
“My mission is to have you with a wardrobe of clothes that are working for your body shape, not against you, in the correct seasonal colour palette and reflect your lifestyle and personality. Most of all I want you to feel empowered to be you! After all, you are the best person to do YOU!”
By the end of the appointment I was literally jumping with joy. I had freed up lots of space in my wardrobe, I’ve got a pile of clothes to sell on ebay so I can use that money to buy my extra item of clothing and it felt really good to “let go” of some clothes that I’d been hanging on to for years.
I couldn’t stop hugging the poor girl before she left as she’d made me feel so happy!!
A couple of days later, Victoria sent me a document which covered everything we had discussed. This was called “Louise style file” and it’s absolutely FANTASTIC!!!!
I cannot stop raving about this document! It’s absolutely bloody brilliant!
I love that the document has my body shape analysis and explains what body shape I am and also has a wonderful list of Do’s and Don’t’s for my body shape, which is going to make it sooooo much easier to shop with now! The document even includes pictures of styles that are mentioned, so if you don’t know what bootcut trousers look like, there is a picture to show you.
I also really liked that there is explanation of my colour analysis with suggestions of colours for me to wear.
There is also a section which highlights the key pieces that I should add to my wardrobe (very delighted it’s only 1 so I don’t have to spend much! lol).
Victoria also sent me a private style board on Pinterest. I love, love, LOVE the private style boardt. It’s absolutely brilliant and has lots and lots of suggestions of outfits that will suit me. My style for swim wear, formal wear and even some pictorial examples of which make up colours suit me best!
Victoria also offers a “Virtual Shopping Session”: “This is a digital file the she sends to you containing links to all of the items mentioned above, you can them order those that you feel suit and when they arrive you have a session via Skype for Victoria to check the fit and style, helping you decide which to keep and which, if any, to return. It’s a great way to update your wardrobe for a new season, holiday or special event without having to leave home!
I will soooo be taking her up on this “virtual shopping session” when I have a wedding to go too as she literally picks out the items for you and sends you the online links so all you have to do is order them. AMAZING!
Discount for NHM Readers
Victoria is very kindly offering NHM Readers a discount code -(NHM25) giving you a 25% discount on the “Wardrobe ReFresh” session.
Please quote this code when getting in touch with Victoria.
Rating out of 5
Twenty Five Hundred out of 5, as Miss NHM says. This was one of the best ways that I’ve spent two hours in a very long time. Victoria is absolutely lovely and a very positive person who made me feel sooooo much better about my wardrobe and also myself.
The appointment is very good value for money and having now had the appointment I would happily pay double for another one (don’t tell Victoria that, obviously! facepalm). I will actually be saving money in the long run, because instead of ordering clothes and finding out that they don’t fit me properly which means I don’t wear them often, I will know EXACTLY what to buy and won’t be wasting any money anymore.
Victoria really is a Fairy ClothesMother and I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend her services!!
You can find out more about The Fairy ClothesMother at: https://www.facebook.com/FairyClothesMother/
or at her website: https://givingyouaboost.wixsite.com/hello
Disclaimer: This post is a review of the Wardrobe ReFresh by The Fairy Clothesmother. The Wardrobe Refresh service was supplied free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.
I recently received a message on facebook from Aideen, asking me if I would like to have my hair done in exchange for a review on NorthHantsMum.
I jumped at the chance! 😀
(There is a special offer for NHM Readers at the bottom of this post :-D)
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a “girly girl” but I do take an interest in how I look. I haven’t had my hair cut in a salon in over 10 years as I have always found hairdressers to be very intimidating places, especially as I’m not into fashion.
It turned out that at a recent fundraising raffle I had won a voucher to get my hair cut but hadn’t realised it that it was with Aideen. I actually gave the voucher to a friend who needed pampering more than me, so when Aideen got in contact it clicked that I’d given away my voucher!!!! lol.
I explained to Aideen that I wasn’t really a girly girl and she was absolutely lovely about it. I did know that I wanted my hair to be coloured but I didn’t want her to be anymore out of pocket, especially as she’d been so generous with her raffle donation.
I explained that I just wanted a trim and colour and we agreed that I would cover the cost of the colouring and she would cut my hair in exchange for this review.
Aideen decided on her career path when she was traveling around Australia for a year after studying at college and university. She’s always loved playing with hair but at the time she thought that she would end up in a different career. Then she saw that lots of fellow travellers cutting hair and making money flexibly and it confirmed her career decision.
Once back from Australia she worked and trained at Arc in Basingstoke town centre and then progressed to a salon in Odiham where she was assistant manager and senior stylist. Then a couple of years ago, after her son was born, she decided to convert a room in her house to her salon and she hasn’t looked back!
We had a chat when I arrived and Aideen chose the best colour for me based on what I’d told her.
Aideen then applied the foils to my hair whilst we continued chatting.
Once the foils came out, Aideen washing my hair in her fancy hair sink and gave me a lovely mini head massage.
Then Aideen cut my hair and layered it a bit. I didn’t realise how long my hair was as she cut off about 4 inches and it was still really long! lol.
We basically didn’t stop talking for the whole two hours!!! It was really lovely to chat to her and she’s a great listener.
She did a fantastic job with my hair and blow dried it straight as my hair normally has a bit of a kink about it.
I came out of Aideen’s salon literally bouncing. There is literally nothing like having 1.5 hours of being pampered and coming out with a fab new hair colour and hairstyle!
When I got home Mr NHM said “something’s different…” which is high praise in our household! lol.
Miss NHM kept telling me how beautiful I looked. She’s not used to me having my hair down.
I felt amazing for the rest of the weekend with my fab new hair!
Aideen normally works only on Saturdays but if you are desperate, she can fit you in at other times.
Aideen’s studio is attached to her house but it’s fab because you literally have it ALL TO YOURSELF!!! She only has one to two people at a time so you have her full concentration.
Babies are very welcome at Aideen’s studio.
The perk of Aideen only having one client at a time means that you can take your baby along as there is room for a baby car seat.
If you let her know in advance that you are taking a baby with you, she said she will allow extra time in case you need to focus on your baby at any point. How fab is that!
Aideen is very understanding as she has two small children of her own.
Is free and on the drive and streets near Aideen’s house.
Prices are what you would expect for an independent hairstylist with her own studio.
For example, a cut, style and finish is £35.
Rating out of 5
Aideen did SUCH an AWESOME job! I absolutely love it!!! My hair looked amazing.
I will easily give her 5 out of 5 because she made me feel so welcome and really looked after me.
I love the colour and the cut was a really good cut. It was such a luxury to have my hair washed AND dried.
If you need a new haircut and are looking for some pampering at the same time, I highly recommend visiting Aideen’s salon!
Aideen can be reach on 07808316933 for any bookings. She also has a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HAIRaffairbasingstoke/
Aideen is also very kindly offering NHM Readers a first time discount £5 off cut and £15 off colour and cut booked together.
Thank you Aideen!!!!!!
Disclaimer: This post is a review of HairAffair Hairdressing. My experience was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you very much to Emma for today’s Review on NorthHantsMum. She’s done a fantastic job!!
Thank you also to Helen for letting us come and review one of the Good for Mums courses!
Review 2018: Good For Mums – Fit-Tums course
Having a baby is one of life’s greatest adventures and joys. It’s a magical time, filled with precious moments and unforgettable memories. However, becoming a mum can also throw up some challenges. For many women, the changes to your body can be quite a shock which can motivate us to grab our exercise gear and get back into shape.
But before you do, I really recommend that you consider attending a Good for Mums Fit-Tum Restore course.
The course is specifically designed and tailored for postnatal mums, to help you rebuild your core muscles and rectify the effects of Diastasis Recti (the process of your abdominal muscles separating during pregnancy). Whilst it’s tempting to jump back into exercise as soon as you can after having a baby, the reality is that if you do attempt it before your body is properly healed and repaired you can end up doing far more damage than good. So bump the burpees, say no to squats and read on.
What can you expect from the course?
First off every attendee is required to complete a comprehensive health check questionnaire to understand your birthing experience and any complications you may have faced. You’ll use this as part of an introductory session with Helen, the highly qualified and super knowledgeable class leader. By talking through the results and carrying out a short physical examination, she’ll be able to advise what point your starting from. This is a really straightforward process and aside from a quick check of your tummy muscles, there’s no need to bare all!
Helen will only recommend you continue with the course if your body is ready for it. In the event that she’s concerned that you might require some more advanced specialist support, she is really well connected and will signpost you in the right direction to get any help you need.
Assuming you are fit to carry on, you’ll then undertake a weekly class, as part of a group of other mums in the same boat as you. You’ll learn simple and straightforward exercises and movements that can easily be incorporated into your daily life, which will gradually and safely begin to heal your muscles back to pre-pregnancy state. The wonderful news is, this course is available for you to attend either with baby or without, so you can sign up for the class that suits you and your needs best.
Having attended the course, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to others. It’s informative, its gentle and most of all, it’s fun! My fellow attendees on the course ranged from a mum who had only just had her 6 week check, through to mums of toddlers who had realised that their stomach just wasn’t repairing itself properly. Whilst the class is intended as a restorative process and not an ‘exercise class’, it’s delivered tummy inch loss time and time again too.
So, if you think your tummy is in need of help, you can’t laugh or sneeze without peeing or you just want to be sure that your body is ready for exercise again, this is the course for you.
This course will only be as successful as you make it. In order to feel the full reward of attending, you need to be prepared to find 10-15 minutes each day to undertake your ‘homework’. Helen will be able to nudge you all along the way and suggest ways to help you remember, but ultimately it’s down to you.
The classes are all run in halls and indoor settings, so they are able to run come rain or shine. They all offer onsite toilets and parking, which is especially helpful if you’re attending a class with baby in tow. In addition, if you are at a mum & baby session, there will be a selection of toys and to keep your little one entertained.
Having now learnt more about what happens to our bodies when we have a baby, I honestly believe this course is an absolute must for anyone who wants to begin exercise again.
It’s a 5/5 from me!
Disclaimer: This post is a review of a Good for Mums course. Emma’s course was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. Emma was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are her own.
Thank you very much to Helen at Good for Mum’s for writing today’s post!
How to choose the right fitness professional
Maybe you’re pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby and you’re looking for a fitness class. But how, in an industry where you can qualify in as little as a couple of months and complete an entirely online qualification in pre/postnatal exercise programming, can you be sure that your instructor is prescribing safe and appropriate exercise?
The answer is simple A.S.K !!!
A. Accredited – They should be qualified, ask to see their certificates. If they aren’t qualified then they won’t have insurance and you aren’t then protected should anything go wrong. Do they have an up to date first aid certificate? Are they a member of a regulating body, such as REPs, CIMSPA or FHT Sports. There are lots of professional standards agencies which fitness instructors can voluntarily sign up to. They often provide CPD, training, further education and keep the instructor up to date with changes in regulations or guidance and it shows they’re committed to maintaining high standards. How long have they been in the industry and what is their speciality. Do they have testimonials from clients which evidences their skills. Do they get results?
S. Screening – Pregnant and Postnatal women go through massive changes when carrying and birthing babies. No two women or births are the same and as such, the screening should be in depth and facilitate answers to questions which are as unique as your body. If your fitness provider is not screening you for pelvic floor disfunction, diastasis recti, over all core function, postural assessment, birth trauma to tissues and the fourth trimester, are they really screening you deeply? Are they painting a picture of your pre/postnatal health and truly able to prescribe appropriate exercise? I recently heard a wise lady say ‘Specialists assess, they don’t guess’ and when it comes to ladies who carry and birth babies, this could not be more true.
K. Knowledge – Does the Company or Fitness Instructor truly understand the client they are working with? Are they saying that you are only postnatal if you had a baby less than six months ago? Are they able to identify potential complications? Do they have the integrity to know when to refer a client to another specialist when symptoms warn of something which maybe beyond their professional capabilities? Or are they telling you to ‘just take the low impact modification’ and taking your money. Is the instructor offering you explanation and reasoning behind their instructions? Do they talk sense? If it sounds like BS it probably is and if they’re saying lots of ‘I don’t know’ or ‘no you don’t need to do that’ you have to ask yourself do you want to settle for industry standard or does your body deserve best practice?
If you’re serious about getting your body to a place where it heals well and recovers properly, be serious about your choices when looking at exercise classes. Your GP check at six weeks clears you to return to ‘normal activity’ such as driving, walking, lifting a baby etc it does not clear you to head straight back to boot camp or iron-mans. Even if you regularly did them pre-pregnancy.
Do something good for you and always remember to ASK.
Miss NHM and I did a baby massage course with Gail in 2011 and the course was so good I still occasionally use the techniques that we were taught by Gail!
Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies
I have been teaching Baby Massage dare I say, since 1995, having taken the first ever Baby Massage Course with the IAM (Int. Assoc. of Infant Massage) offered in the UK in 1993! This really shows my age!!
I have taught in many areas of both Surrey, Berks and Hampshire, but over the last 18 years (since my son was born), have taught most of my classes in the Basingstoke, Hook and Farnham areas……(I may have even taught you….please forgive me if I don’t remember your name as I have taught literally hundreds of Mums over the years and a number now often make me feel even older by producing teenagers who were taught in my massage classes!).
Over the past 4 years I have offered Infant Massage & Baby Yoga classes in 4 -5 of with the wonderful Children’s Centres around Basingstoke which have sadly now closed (criminal!).
Following this I taught private classes at the West Side Community Centre in South Ham until last summer when I decided to have a 6 month break.
However, knowing these classes have been appreciated and valued by new Mums over the years and because there is little on offer because of the doors closing of the Children’s Centres, I have decided to restart my classes in 2018.
I have always seen them as a kind of Foundation Classes for new parents, offering not just massage and yoga tuition but a wealth of information regarding all sorts of topics, where support can be given, problems can be mulled over, new baby handling confidence can increase and very importantly, new friends can be made.
So…..I have decided to return to the Chineham Library and teach my classes once again in Lillypads, the old Children’s Centre there, with my first 6 weeks course starting on Tues. 30th Jan. (and hopefully the second one starting on Tues. 20th March).
If you would like more details, please contact me on my mobile number below.
Gail Harbers (CIMI/BYI)
(Certified Infant Massage & Baby Yoga Instructor)
Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies
Tel. 07720 291197
Mumsmissingmums is a new, support network for those mums who are raising their children without the support of their own mums.
A closed group of women who would like a safe place to chat, share stories and get to know others in the same position with meeting up too if people want to.
It isn’t just for women who have lost their mums to bereavement, it is for all women for whom their mums are absent from their lives.
Please feel free to search for the group on facebook and request to join.
Today’s guest post is by Rosanna of Yoga Babes
Five ways to calm a crying or tired baby
One of the ways babies communicate with their parents and carers is by crying. When we hear that cry it can trigger different emotions for us such as sadness, frustration or even anger. It’s usually an adult’s natural instinct when they hear a baby cry to soothe and help the baby back to state of contentment, and to stop the crying.
I’m Rosanna, a mum of two under 5s and the instructor at Yoga Babes mother and baby Yoga in Hook, Hampshire. My children may cry (just a little!) less than they did when they were young, but I sure do remember those days well. I have been practicing yoga since before having my children, during pregnancy, labour and birth, and ever since. There are many yoga-based techniques that have changed my life as a parent, and outside of that. In this post I’m going to share with you five tips to calm a crying or tired baby that I’ve learnt through doing yoga, training as a baby yoga instructor and from my own experiences as a parent.
The challenge – it’s not always easy to know the reason for your baby’s cry, which can be upsetting and frustrating for parents. We have to try and remember that crying is a very normal part of a baby’s early years, and much like adults – all babies are different. Some babies will cry more than others, some babies will laugh more than others and some babies will sleep more than others. They are each beautifully different in their own unique way.
There are many reasons for a baby to cry including hunger, tiredness, boredom, loneliness, pain, feeling too cold or too hot or discomfort from things like wind or constipation.
Whatever the reason for a baby crying, it’s important to remember the power of physical contact between babies and their parents or carer. Touch reduces stress levels for baby and parent, so holding your baby is a good place to start when they are crying, unsettled or overtired.
The first, perhaps obvious port of call would be checking if your baby is hungry, as that is one of the main reasons for a young baby to cry. It might not matter that you fed them one hour ago or even less, young babies are growing at such a rapid rate compared to the rest of their lives, so their hunger can be extremely regular and have no pattern whatsoever. Even though it can be tiring, feed your baby whenever they are hungry rather than trying to stick to a timetable, as this can cause unnecessary stress for both you and your baby.
If a baby is fed and changed and there is no other known discomfort, a huge reason for babies to cry is because they want the comfort of being held. Some parents try to fight this fact – so it’s important to realise that after spending nine months being permanently held in your womb, it’s going to take a baby some time to gain independence. Perhaps weeks, perhaps months, or even years, but it’s fundamental for your baby’s emotional development that you support them carefully through this transition to living in the outside world. I know from my youngest son who needed to be held a lot, that it can be exhausting for parents to be attached to their babies for long periods of time, so see if you can get help from your partner, friends and family if you need some time out. Baby wraps, slings and carriers are also a great help so you can have your hands free – I couldn’t have lived without them! Try and enjoy these cuddles and this physical connection with your baby when you can, (rather than resenting it) because it doesn’t last forever.
Holding your baby gives them a deep sense of security, they can usually feel your heartbeat, your warmth, hear your voice and your breathing which is extremely reassuring for a small baby. There are many different ways to hold your baby, many of which we practice in my baby yoga class. Different holds can aid different needs, such as digestion, comfort and sleeping.
If you can move while holding your baby, all the better! I was so pleased when I found that I could settle my son’s 6pm (and 10pm, and 3am etc etc…!) cries by holding him or popping him in the baby wrap and walking around my lounge. Even though it was small, the little movement I could do by walking or simply rocking him side to side saved me hours of his crying if I had left him crying away from me. The movement can relieve stress for parents too, providing rhythm and mindfulness to relax the body and mind. In yoga we often use different types of walking for strength, balance, coordination and relaxation.
Even if you don’t agree, your singing voice is the best one there is as far as your baby is concerned! Singing is the perfect way to connect with your baby and release endorphins for babies and parents, which in turn relaxes them when they are feeling unsettled. Singing is also key for brain development in young babies and helps them with the early parts of language development. If your baby is crying because they are bored or frustrated, singing is a brilliant way to engage them and entertain them out of crying. It doesn’t matter what you sing – pop songs, nursery rhymes, lullabies or even (my favourite) – made up songs! Your baby is sure to love the sound of your soothing voice to settle them. In my baby yoga class, we usually use singing with movement which is a great combination to relax your baby and shift them towards a positive mood.
If you have a baby that gets overtired or cries at naptime or bedtime you might find that what you do with them during the daytime makes a big difference. Baby yoga moves are gentle movements you can do with your baby that involve strengthening their limbs, muscles and body, improve coordination and balance and stimulate your baby’s senses. Doing all of these things can make your baby to feel tired, helping them to feel relaxed, settled and fall asleep more easily.
This part is definitely for babies and parents or carers. Babies will pick up on our stress, sadness, frustration and anger and in turn may exhibit similar emotions that make them cry or become unsettled. When we relax it gives our minds the space and time to process emotions in an orderly fashion, rather than over-react to them. Physical relaxation can promote mental and emotional relaxation, and the great news is that you can practice relaxation with your baby, to benefit you both. I remember that when I had small babies, it was too easy to be in a continual cycle of ticking jobs off my list. Laundry, cleaning, tidying, sterilising bottles, responding to emails and messages, getting a changing bag ready for the next outing, even just trying to plan your day. The list goes on… But on reflection I asked myself some questions. How important is it to get ALL these things done today? What will happen if don’t? Do I feel at my best when I have a constant list of to-dos? Are they more important than spending time connecting and bonding with my baby? Are they more important than spending ten minutes to relax and restore my body and mind before carrying on with the day? Maybe you can ponder your own answers to these questions.
No one is suggesting that you live in a pigsty and throw in the towel on any jobs whatsoever, but more that you aim to get some balance in your daily activities. We can do this by making time for relaxation. A result of your relaxed self will most likely be a relaxed baby by your side.
By doing a short relaxation exercise that involves focusing on your breathing, sounds, your bodily sensations or simply just lying still can create a luxurious feeling of calm for you and your baby. Try it lying with your baby, where they might focus on your touch, breath or heartbeat, or just mirror your stillness. This takes practice for babies too! It might be a good idea to try a relaxation half an hour before your baby’s planned bedtime or nap time, so that they have wound down before bed, rather than trying to do it a time when they’ve been become overtired and worked up. If you get the chance, if someone else is around to watch your baby, try a relaxation on your own too and enjoy the peace and clarity it can bring you.
It’s important not to try and force a relaxed feeling as that can have the opposite effect, but by practising on focusing on our physical self or perhaps an idyllic visualisation, the relaxation can come naturally. There is no pass or fail here either, some days you may not be able to reach a feeling of relaxation – that’s ok, just try again tomorrow.
We practice relaxation in my baby yoga classes because for many (myself included) this is not always an easy activity to learn. But the more your practice the more you realise the need for this wonderful pastime and its life changing benefits – all you need is yourself.
I’m a Birthlight baby yoga teacher and I teach mother and baby yoga classes in Hook, near Basingstoke, Hampshire every Thursday morning. The class offers gentle yoga movements for mothers and babies aged 3-9 months. For more information visit www.yogababes.co.uk or email Rosanna@yogababes.co.uk
Louise recently asked “I’m currently working on a post about local Doula’s. Do you have any recommendations of local Doula’s that you have met and “worked” with? TIA”
Thank you to Desiree and Lisa for the following information websites on local doulas:
Thanks also to all those NHM readers who gave the following recommendations. In no particular order.
Thank you also to Juliet who put this post together!!
NHM Reader Recommendations: Doulas
Beth said “Lisa Ramsey”
Karen said “Currently working with Lisa Ramsey. Confident birthing”
Lyndsey said “Lisa Ramsay is wonderful”
Bethan said “Desiree Doula Rawson”
Jill said “Desiree Rawson”
Beth says “Karen Mitchell”
Shaneene said “Wendy Wood – incredible lady”
Rebecca said “Laura Geary – she was fab for me!”
Lisa said “Jane Barnfield”
Jenni said “Carly Lewis”
Victoria said “Nicky White”
Kirsty said “Charmaine Sala”
Aliceja said “I’ve not used her but I met Charmaine Sala at a mothercare event and she is really lovely and in training to become a doula this year I think”
Carla said “Charmaine Sala”