Do I Need To Break Up With My Latte?

You love your coffee! A latte a day keeps the… Oh, who are you kidding! One?

Coffee is delicious. It’s also addictive, and we tend to have routines and rituals around coffee at work and in our personal lives. Maybe you have a coffee with your breakfast every day, enjoy a 10:30 run to the coffee shop on work days or just like to relax with your friends over a hot cup of Joe. A quick look at the trending hashtags on Instagram and you can't deny that many people are passionate about their #coffeecoffeecoffee!

As parents, we want to do the best for our children. Most parents make significant changes to their diets when planning for pregnancy or when they become pregnant. Suddenly, sashimi is out, no more rare steak, and you find yourself lying awake at night Googling whether it’s safe to each shrimp when you’re pregnant.

You've probably heard that you shouldn't drink coffee. Maybe you've had a "helpful" person or two feel the need to fill you in on the effects of coffee during pregnancy while waiting in line at Starbucks. Still, you also probably know many people who never missed an Americano and still had a healthy pregnancy.

So what’s the answer? Can pregnant people safely drink coffee?

There are many studies available on how caffeine consumption affects pregnancy. Officially, doctors recommend against excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Studies suggest there may be a higher incidence of growth issues. Increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight can result from excessive caffeine consumption (more than 3 cups of coffee per day) during pregnancy. Caffeine crosses the placental barrier and increases the baby's heart rate. It may also stay in the baby’s bloodstream longer and at higher levels.

Not only can caffeine have adverse effects on your baby's health, but it can also be harmful to you. When you're pregnant, your body breaks down caffeine at a slower rate than normal causing it to build up in your system. Further, caffeine has a diuretic effect which could make you have to pee more often (think night waking to use the bathroom and dehydration). Caffeine inhibits iron absorption, too.

It’s also important to mention that some studies have shown drinking coffee regularly to have no adverse effects during pregnancy. 

Health Canada (http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-gs/know-savoir/caffeine-eng.php) suggests pregnant people cap their caffeine intake at 300mg per day, about 3 cups of regular coffee. Speciality coffees can be a bit trickier. For example, your Venti Flat White has about 195 mg of caffeine in it.

What is a coffee lover to do?

First of all, if you're concerned about eliminating coffee from your life for the duration of your pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife. They can help you decide what's best for you. 

If coffee or other caffeinated beverages were a big part of your life before pregnancy, there are a few things you can do to cut back.

1.     Try having smaller cups. Instead of a Venti, order a Tall and grab a bottle of water to keep hydrated.

2.     Switch to decaf. Decaffeinated coffee might do the trick for you.

3.     Cut back slowly. Try cutting out one of your regular cups of coffee at a time to ease the transition.

4.     Enjoy other hot beverages instead. Sip caffeine-free herbal teas or hot apple cider!

And finally, pregnancy should not be a nine-months long exercise in self-denial. You can safely enjoy a latte each day. Let that cranky lady behind you in line “Tsk! Tsk!” to their hearts content while you enjoy your morning cup. And feel free to enjoy that sugary treat, just to really get their blood boiling!

 

 

 

Doula Myths Busted!

I'm probably not what most people picture when they hear the term doula. No paisley, no Birkenstocks, no sage smudge. In fact, you could confuse me for any professional, because that's what I am, a professional. Don't get me wrong; many doulas do wear paisley and Birks, and smudge their spaces. Those attributes have nothing to do with how professional a person is. I guess what I am trying to say is that the doula profession is like any other, we are diverse individuals with a job to do. Some wear slacks and blazers; others wear flowing skirts, still other wear denim and leather. Stereotypes about the way doulas dress are just the beginning.

Doula work as a profession is a relatively new career path. Anything new has its misconceptions. Let's get right to it and clear up a few of the most common myths about doulas!

“Oh! Like a midwife!”

Yes, and no.

When I tell people that I am a doula, this is the most common response I get. Like midwives, doulas work with pregnant people and new parents. Doulas and midwives both tend to approach birth as a normal physiological process, and have a passion for supporting pregnant people. That’s where the similarities start to fade. Midwives catch babies; doulas do not. You see, a midwife’s job is to focus on the physical health of the parent and baby. Midwives manage all of the medical and clinical aspects of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Doulas fill the gap with emotional support and assistance with comfort measures during childbirth.

Doulas are only for homebirths.

Doulas are for every birth! Doulas work with clients planning homebirths and water births, un-medicated births in hospitals, birth centre births, birth with the use of medical pain relief, including epidural and even planned caesarian birth. Doulas are for people giving birth and people who have recently given birth.

A doula will replace (or displace) my partner.

You or your partner might be concerned about how a doula could interfere with how your partner experiences your baby's birth. A doula can never replace a loving partner, who knows you intimately, loves you, and is going through the birth on a personal level. In fact, a doula can help facilitate bonding between you and your partner during labour. Reassuring your partner, guiding them, and teaching them techniques to comfort you are a big part of what your doula can do. Further, I find partners are relieved to have someone else that can stay should they need to eat, step out for a phone call, or use the bathroom.

Doulas don’t do epidurals.

Totally false. Doulas love epidurals. Many of us have used epidurals as pain relief for our own births. For clients that are planning to have an epidural or decide to have an epidural placed during labour, doulas continue to provide the same level of committed support.

Most of the myths and misconceptions surrounding doulas focus on a preference for "natural", un-medicated birth or being a replacement for a midwife. However, at the core of this work is a belief in supporting choices. I am a doula not because I want people to choose or experience a specific way of birthing but because I want people to have the experience they wish. I am a doula because I believe people need support and reassurance, and to feel safe and educated. It doesn't matter to me if the birth they dream of takes place in a birth pool in their living room or an operating room at the local hospital.

 

Doulas Are For Scheduled Caesareans

She had waited until the last few weeks of her pregnancy to decide that she would hire a doula. She had scheduled a consultation with the perfect doulas. Then at her doctor’s appointment, she found out that her baby was still breech and she was trying to decide if she would prefer to schedule a caesarean. She and her doctor discussed the risks and benefits of trying for a vaginal birth versus a scheduled caesarean birth.

She went home that afternoon, her head swimming. She wasn't sure what she should decide. Her husband wasn't sure either; he wanted her to do what she felt was best. And what about the doulas? Should she just cancel her consultation?

The next morning she called the doula agency office. She explained her predicament and was surprised to learn that doulas support planned caesarean births. She kept her appointment, and when she hired the doulas she met with, they helped her go over the risks and benefits of her options. They talked about what her gut feeling was about her baby's birth, and she ultimately decided to have a scheduled caesarean delivery.

The night before her caesarean was scheduled, the doula on call phoned her, and they went over the items in her hospital bag. She talked about her fears and about how excited she was to meet her baby! The doula was able to go over what the process would look like from start to finish.

On the big day, her doula met her in the hospital parking lot. The doula helped her partner carry up the bags and kept the mood light and happy. The doula helped her get settled while she was being admitted. While they waited, the doula gave her the most amazing hand and foot massages ever! The three of them talked a lot about hopes and dreams for life as parents!

They had already been informed that it would not be possible for the doula to join them in the operating room so when it was time to go they hugged, and the doula wished them well. She promised to be waiting in the recovery room.

The nurses and doctor were excellent during the birth. The doctor explained what was happening every step of they way and soon a nurse was holding her beautiful baby boy close to her so she could see and kiss him.

In the recovery room, her doula was waiting. She couldn't help but grin with pride when her doula congratulated her. It was so reassuring to both her and her husband to see a familiar and comfortable face.

Together, she and her doula got her new baby latched, and he had a few good swallows. The doula helped them get back into their postpartum room. With help, she was able to get settled in for some rest while her husband enjoyed some baby snuggles. They said their goodbyes.

The doula visited the first day that they were home from the hospital and was so knowledgeable about how to care for the incision. She also knew lots of tricks for staying comfortable. They sipped tea and talked about the birth and what was to come.

It was an incredible roller coaster of an experience from the beginning! In the end, she felt empowered and supported. She knew she had made the right decision to trust her body and her baby. And while she could have done it without the doula, she couldn’t imagine her birth experience any other way!

Getting Multiples on a Schedule



Two (or three, or more!) of everything- how exciting! Until, of course, you start to consider that there will always be multiple babies to feed, bums to change, naps to facilitate, and bedtimes to prepare for.

Almost every book and every expert on twins, triplets, and multiples suggests that having your babies on a schedule is key. Many parents get more rest and feel less overwhelmed by feeding, changing, and putting multiples to sleep on the same schedule. If this kind of routine-based parenting is for you, here are five tips for getting your babies on a schedule:

1.       Hospital to Home
If your babies had an extended hospital stay, you’ll get off to the best start by sticking to the schedule they were already on. You can ask the nurses for a written record of their current schedule for feeding, changing, and sleeping.

2.      Sleeping Together
Letting your brood sleep together will help them snooze more soundly, while also encouraging them to wake together. On a safe sleep surface (link: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/ssb_brochure-eng.php#safe-sleep), place your twins, triplets, or multiples side by side. This practice is appropriate until one or more of them have learned to roll over – once that happens, opt for separate sleeping solutions instead.

3.      Let Sleeping Babies Wake
Forget that saying about never waking a sleeping baby. If one of your babies is awake and needs to be fed, changed, or otherwise attended to, wake the other ones as well. This prevents you from going through the whole routine again an hour later, when the next one calls.

4.      Bedtime Routine
Have a bedtime routine that is calm and familiar each evening. For many families that routine involves bathing, feeding, and, finally, bed.

5.      Be Flexible
Take it as it comes - life happens! Your babies’ schedule is meant to make your life simpler, not deprive you of social interaction. It’s okay to deviate from the routine now and then. Also, if your babies have a different schedule in mind some days, just roll with it. Just try to give your babies the same things at the same times - so if one wakes up or feeds early, wake or feed the others, too.

 

 

Over time, your twins, triplets, or multiples will have different needs. Your schedule will need to evolve to meet these dynamic requirements. Always pay attention to their cues, even if they go off-schedule - feed babies that seem hungry, put sleepy babies to sleep, etc.

If you follow your intuition, trust yourself, and roll with the punches, you’ll soon find you have the tools to navigate through anything. A solid schedule will help you get there.

 

 

Get More Sleep Tonight

 

 

Although you were warned that pregnancy is exhausting, you probably weren’t prepared for just how tired you were going to be. Your body is working hard, making an entire, intricate human being.

 

During the first trimester, your body is making changes to prepare you to provide nourishment to your baby for many months to come. Your breast tissue changes as your body prepares to breastfeed your baby. Your blood volume begins increasing as soon as you become pregnant and will increase by 50% over the course of pregnancy. The hormone progesterone will signal your body to lower carbon dioxide in the blood, changing the way you breathe. Morning sickness can wreak havoc on your nutrition, making it harder for your body to meet demand.

The many changes your body is making deplete you of energy. Hormonal changes and the physical demands of pregnancy add to fatigue. Then there’s first-trimester insomnia! You may have difficulty sleeping even though you are more tired than you have ever been before!

So how does a pregnant person get more sleep and avoid fatigue, moodiness, lowered immunity, and other health concerns related to pregnancy sleep deprivation?

1.       Start by creating a routine. Individuals who go to bed and wake up at the same time each day feel more rested. Set a regular time and ensure you'll be in bed at least 8 hours.

2.      Reduce your evening screen time. Even with the advent of iPhone's "Night Shift," late-night screen time can discourage melatonin production and in turn sleep. If staying off your phone or other devices for the two hours leading up to bedtime is not realistic for you, be sure you're using Night Shift or some other filter, choose devices with smaller screens and turn down your screen's brightness. 

3.      Have a relaxing ritual. As an extension of your routine, adding in some relaxation techniques can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. A hot bath each night, scheduling some quiet time for yourself, reading a book, and having a small snack, can help you sleep better if added to your bedtime routine. 

4.      Exercise and physical activity have been shown to improve the quality of one’s sleep. Take some time to get a little exercise each day.

5.      Work with your health care professionals to relieve any pregnancy related discomforts you’re experiencing to make it easier to sleep. You may find adding a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist to your prenatal care team helpful. Your Ottawa Family Doula can provide carefully vetted resources for practitioners in the Ottawa area.

Follow these tips for blissful slumber. Sweet dreams!