Visiting New Parents? Follow These Tips!

Visiting New Parents? Follow These Tips!

Visiting the New Parents? Follow These Tips!

Congratulations on the newest member of your family or circle of friends!  We know you are so excited to meet this new little one and visit with his or her parents. Wondering how you can be helpful and make that visit enjoyable for everyone? Check out these tried and true tips on how to support a new family!:

Keep good boundaries.

Whether two people are becoming a family of three, or a family of 10 is expanding to 11, adapting roles and finding a new rhythm can be challenging!  Try to imagine the family as the inner dot in a circle, surrounded by you and other family members or friends in increasingly wider circles.  Everyone in the outer circles should be sending support into the center. This way, the new family can rightfully be a little selfish and focus on their new addition, without trying meet the needs of anyone in the outer circles. Looking forward to that precious four-generation photo? Let’s keep those special and loving ideas to a minimum in the first few weeks. 

Imagine the family as the inner dot in a circle, surrounded by you and other family members or friends in increasingly wider circles.  Everyone in the outer circles should be sending support into the center.

Provide supportive, no-pressure communication.

Know what works best for parents (i.e. text messages, phone calls, or other), but remind them there is no obligation to respond! Set up a schedule where you reach out to them and they can answer whenever they are ready. Pick a designated “communicator” whose job is to send out news and updates or solicit help from the rest of your tribe.   

Check their to-do list.

Ask if the new parents have a to-do list you can help with. (If not, help them write one!) They can put their to-do list on the front door or on the refrigerator. Ideas include chores, pet care, a grocery run, or anything that weighs on a mind and keeps it from napping! Visitors can check the list to see what they can help with.

Follow these guidelines for good visits:

  • Before you visit, call to find out if they need you to pick something up on your way over (diapers, groceries, etc).  If nothing else, meals are always appreciated!  You can provide a whole meal, but some chopped-up fruit or veggie sticks in baggies or a peanut butter sandwich ready for one-handed snacking is a big treat.
  • When you arrive: Put your food offering away, or set it out if they’re hungry. Ask if the newly postpartum (and probably parched) mom would like a refill on her drink.   

  • Check the to-do list and offer to complete a chore. They may not know what to assign you or may not feel comfortable asking (i.e. they’ll never ask someone to pick up the dog poop!) but helping with those small tasks will be greatly appreciated.
  • Admire the baby and take some pictures to give the new parents (who often forget to take pictures that include themselves). We know it’s so hard, but try not to ask to hold the baby! Baby needs this skin-to-skin time with his parents more than anything else in the first few weeks.  However, if they ask you to hold the baby so they can shower or move a little bit – lucky you! Wash your hands, please, and refrain from kissing newborn babies!

  • Keep the visit short.  Unless otherwise requested, limit the length of your visit so the new family can have time to bond, breastfeed, and rest!

Offer emotional support.

Both parents can suffer bouts of anxiety, irritability, or depression in the days and months after baby is born.  Ask how they’re feeling emotionally and lend an ear to listen.  If you’re concerned, it is okay to say so and to suggest they call their midwife or doctor. You can even call us on their behalf!  Postpartum Support International’s hotline is 1-800-944-4773.  There is loving and professional treatment available.

Offer one-on-one time with older siblings.

Consider coming prepared with an idea for an activity that you might both enjoy: a card game, a game of 20 questions, I spy, finger-knitting, a trip to the zoo, and so on!

Think outside the visit.

As much as new  parents love to show off their bundle of joy, they’re trying to balance that with establishing a rhythm in the home. Let’s get creative about ways to share the love but not the germs!

  • Create a chain of prayer flags or well wishes that can be delivered to the house and express the greetings of each family member or friend in a colorful yet quiet way!

  • Schedule a video call for extended family to visit and see the new baby. If there are siblings, you can set these calls up for every day, but let mom and baby play hooky and stay in bed if they need to.   

  • Set up delivery of meals, and designate a delivery person who is comfortable getting it to the front door and not staying! 

  • Send mail. We’ve lost the art of letter writing and patience in waiting for physical mail, but it feels so good to get real mail!  Bonus – it can be saved in a baby book for reading later!

  • Create a family time capsule for baby to open years from now. You can include pictures, notes, and things that you’re enjoying as a family. Top ten lists of your favorite movies, books, music, family recipes, and restaurants can be fun. Have fun with this!

  • Pitch in together on a gift that may be outside anyone’s individual budget. A lactation consult, a massage, a postpartum doula package, a housecleaning package, diaper service, portrait package, a month’s car payment or home rent – these are all ways to team up and help the new family feel the love of their tribe.

 Thank you for supporting your friends, family, and their new baby!

Olga Ryan MS-NL, RN

Director, Babymoon Inn Tucson

Olga has been in Perinatal nursing since 1995 and in birth center nursing since 2006.  She has been studying leadership her whole life and recently joined the Babymoon Inn team as director of the Tucson location.

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Actually, Birth Never Needed to be in the Hospital

Evaluating birth choices while pregnant in the time of COVID-19.

Take a deep breath.

If you read that headline and bristled, let me clarify this before I even begin:  For people who are high-risk, ill, or who personally feel safest in a hospital setting, then the hospital IS the absolute best place to have your baby. 

But for healthy, low-risk people, I’ll say again: 

Birth doesn’t – and never did – need to be in the hospital.

Thanks to COVID-19, people are rushing in droves to explore out-of-hospital options.  Some common concerns we have heard repeatedly from people planning hospital births:

  • A pregnant woman in labor at babymoon birth center leans on the edge of the tub during a contraction.Concern that they will no longer be able to bring a doula to their birth
  • Concern that they will no longer be able to bring their partner to their birth
  • Concern that their partner can be present for the birth, but not allowed in the recovery room afterward
  • Concern that if a partner is allowed in the hospital, they won’t be able to return if they leave the building for any reason
  • Concern that they will be exposed to viruses or illnesses and become sick while in the hospital
  • Concern that they will be separated from their baby if they are showing COVID-19 symptoms or test positive
  • Concern that they will be subjected to mandatory epidural anesthesia, Cesarean surgery, or other unnecessary interventions

News outlets report on this current trend toward out-of-hospital birth as if pregnant people are trading one risk for another. 

And I get it.  I know that: 

PREGNANT IN A PANDEMIC: “I STARTED TO THINK THAT MAYBE I SHOULD JUST GIVE BIRTH IN MY BATHTUB”

is a far more compelling headline than: 

MORE PEOPLE CHOOSING BIRTH CENTERS – AN OPTIMAL AND TOTALLY SAFE PLACE TO HAVE A BABY. 

But the reality is that people aren’t trading one risk for another. There is less risk in birthing at a licensed and accredited birth center. And that’s true all the time, not just during a global pandemic. Accredited birth centers repeatedly and consistently demonstrate improved outcomes for moms and babies – outcomes that translate across race and socioeconomic status.

There is less risk in birthing at a licensed and accredited birth center. And that’s true all the time, not just during a global pandemic.

Do we like that fear is driving people to consider birth options outside of the hospital? No. It’s sad that fear has to be any kind of driving factor for pregnant people. But do we like that something, ANYTHING is driving people to consider birth options outside of the hospital? Absolutely.

In the (hopefully near) future, social distancing guidelines will be relaxed. We will return to grocery stores and birthday parties and sporting events and begin to find our new normal. And we hope that a part of that new normal is a paradigm shift in the way we view birth. We hope that new normal includes a greater appreciation for the incredible work doctors and nurses do caring for sick people in the hospital.

And we also hope that more people will begin to realize that pregnancy isn’t a sickness.

And that birth never needed to be in a hospital.

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Natalie Vitez is currently expecting her first child and planning to give birth at at freestanding birth center.

I was ecstatic when my husband and I
found out I was pregnant.

 I’d suffered a devastating miscarriage last year, and finding out we were expecting our rainbow baby inspired much joy for us and our family. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to give birth at Babymoon Inn, a birth center in Central Phoenix. Not only had they provided me excellent care as a client leading up to this pregnancy, but they had become like a second family to me since I began working there as a doula. I had every confidence in their ability to guide me through a healthy pregnancy and birth. I had so much to look forward to: maternity clothes, baby showers, preparing the nursery, and endless baby kicks. Luckily, this pregnancy has been completely normal, and I’ve been able to do all of the daydreaming while soaking in the excitement that everyone was feeling.

And then the world turned upside down.

The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spreading around the world and everything has changed. The social distancing mandated to keep it from overwhelming our healthcare system has drastically affected everyone’s daily lives.

Research is limited on the effects of the virus on pregnant people and their babies, so the best option is to be extremely cautious and stay home. Now that I’m working exclusively from home as an administrative assistant, I have to be careful with how much toilet paper I use during my frequent bathroom visits because toilet paper is scarce.

Let me repeat that to highlight the absurdity: toilet paper is scarce.

The unknown is scary.  What you’re feeling – whatever it is – is valid. You are allowed to be scared. You are allowed to be unsure. You can feel disappointed that your baby shower was cancelled. You can feel alone even with your phone ringing off the hook and text messages flooding in. All of these thoughts and feelings are okay. I’m right there with you. There are so many that are right there with you too.

You are not alone. We’re in this together.

My greatest hope for you is that you won’t let those negative feelings take over. If everything feels out of control, look for what you can control. We all know the health recommendations of washing our hands frequently, social distancing, and avoiding touching your face.

But here are a few things you can do to help keep your sanity and
have the best pregnancy and birth possible:

  • Re-evaluate your birth plan:

Take the time to evaluate what is truly important to you and plan how to accommodate and adjust for any restrictions of your birthing place. Consider your options for where to give birth, which may include home, the hospital, or a freestanding birth center.

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  • Get creative:

Have a virtual baby shower or mother blessing.  Use Zoom or Facetime to have your doula or family “present” at your birth. Join that virtual support group for pregnant people. When we let go of one idea or preconceived notion, it opens the door to so many new and creative ideas.

  • Hire a birth doula:

Even if the doula can only provide virtual support on the big day, they can help prepare you and empower you beforehand as well as give excellent support postpartum.

  • Talk to your provider:

Either during in-person visits or over the phone, take the time to really talk about how you’re doing and prioritize your pregnancy.

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  • Talk to other pregnant people:

No one is going to understand what you’re going through more than another pregnant person.

  • Take a childbirth class:

Learning everything you can about childbirth and what your options are can provide a more satisfying birth experience. Now more than ever, it’s important to be informed and prepared heading into your birth.

  • Read positive birth stories:

Surround yourself with positive and uplifting stories to remind yourself what is waiting for you at the end of this. Include recent positive stories of people who have given birth too!

  • Move your body:

Moving is not only good for you physically, but it also does wonders for the mind and reduces stress.

  • Keep a journal:

If it’s something that is up your alley, write everything down. Not only can it help clear your head, but it’ll be fun to show your child what crazy things were happening when they were born.

Above all else, find the light. You can still feel exhilaration when the baby kicks. Or still delight in unpacking new baby onesies, even if they had to come in an online order. Or still laugh at all of the funny pregnancy posts online and the social distancing memes. New babies still represent, as they always have, our most precious hopes for the future.

I hope that you still feel the magic this baby brings and have big dreams. This crisis will not last forever. Don’t let it steal your joy. Please reach out if you need support and remember that you are not alone. Your provider, your doula, your friends and family, they are all here for you.

I am here for you.

You can get through this.

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What NOT To Do in Labor

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DON’T waste energy.  Are you in early labor with noticeable yet manageable contractions? Relax! Take a nap or go to bed, watch Netflix while sitting on an exercise ball, eat a balanced, nourishing meal, take a casual stroll around Target, or take a warm bath or shower. Think of birth like a marathon – maybe even an uphill marathon. Conserve your energy in the beginning because you will need it at the end.   

DON’T watch the clock.  In early labor, there’s rarely a need to time your contractions.  You’ll know if they’re 30 minutes apart or 5 minutes apart – we promise. And if you’re fixating on your contractions, you’re going to feel them more intensely. Plus if you’re timing them, this means you’re not sleeping, which is a far more beneficial activity in early labor! As labor progresses into a more active state, we still discourage looking at the clock. (On more than one occasion I’ve seen a midwife quietly take a clock off the wall in a birthing room…)  Watching the clock makes you acutely aware of how much time is passing – or not passing – and you’re more likely to get caught up asking yourself “How much longer can I do this?” instead of staying mindful and present in the moment and focusing on relaxing during and between contractions. 

DON’T stress out.  Yes, this is easier said than done (which is why we recommend great childbirth classes and lots of mental preparation during pregnancy). But there’s a super-scientific reason why stress is counterproductive to labor. During labor, your body produces increasing levels of oxytocin, the amazing “love hormone” that among other things, causes contractions. Oxytocin is produced when we feel safe and loved. We WANT the body to produce oxytocin because oxytocin = labor progression. But when we’re stressed/scared/sense danger, our body produces stress hormones called catecholamines that – you guessed it – inhibit oxytocin production! So minimizing stress and external stressors isn’t just good for your mental state, it will actually help your labor progress. #science

DON’T hold your breath.  It’s tempting and may even feel instinctive to hold your breath when experiencing pain. But breathing is an important tool for labor, and one of the few tools you can use regardless of the path your birth takes (e.g. if you’re having a Cesarean, birthing balls and rebozos are no longer useful, but breathing is!).  Remember those stress hormones mentioned above? The best way to quell the stress response is by breathing. Breathing also lowers blood pressure and provides energy to both mom and baby. Because it can be instinctive to hold your breath and tense up when feeling pain, practice breathing/relaxation techniques during pregnancy that you can learn in childbirth classes, prenatal yoga, or pregnancy/birth literature.

DON’T be self-conscious.  Labor naked if you want to. Moan and roar and make all the noises you like. Make peace with that fact that you will probably throw up or poop while pushing (I promise literally no one cares, and in fact your midwife might get excited by both of these things because it means labor is advancing and you’re pushing effectively). Again, oxytocin is produced when you feel safe, comfortable, and loved. If you’re stressing out about what you’re doing, saying, or looking like, you’re getting in your own way. Don’t worry about being “lady-like” or “a good patient.” Your birth is about you and your baby. It’s your moment. Don’t worry about other people.  Embrace the experience and be the birthing goddess that you are.

DON’T forget to make a social media plan. Do what’s right for you regarding this topic, but know that if you post on social media that you are in labor, you’re opening up the flood gate of “have you had that baby yet” texts and phone calls. You may be totally fine with this. Or you may find it really frustrating/annoying/distracting/upsetting, especially if labor is going slower than you hoped or has taken a stressful or unexpected turn and you have 50 well-meaning friends and family members wanting minute-by-minute updates. In addition to thinking about if/when you post about being in labor, be thoughtful about what you post. A friend (who shall obviously remain nameless) once posted on Facebook that her water had broken and she was headed to the hospital, only to come back a few hours later and be forced to admit she had actually peed her pants and mistaken it as her water breaking.

What Do’s and Don’ts of labor do you recommend? Tell us in the comments!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Including Siblings in the Birth Experience

Including Siblings in the Birth Experience

Are you considering including your older child or children in the birth of their sibling? While not for everyone, having your other children present at the birth can be a great experience for all of you.  Still, there are a number of factors to consider when making this decision – your child’s age and temperament, the time of day you wind up going into labor, and where you are planning to give birth, to name a few.


If you and your children have mutually decided that they will be present at the birth, consider the following to make the birth a safe, happy, and memorable experience for all.

Follow the child’s lead at the birth. One of the many benefits of birth centers is the comfortable, home-like environment.  During labor, allow your older child to call the shots on where they would like to be.  They may wander in and out of the labor room, have a snack in the kitchen, or play games in the living room.  Honor their feelings and allow them the freedom to choose where they are most comfortable, which may or may not be in the birthing room itself.

ALWAYS bring someone aside from your birth partner to be the primary caregiver during labor and birth. For a number of reasons, it’s best if you bring someone who can be completely focused on your other children.  As the laboring person, you should be relaxed and focused on labor, and your birth partner should be focused on you.  It can be a difficult balance for the non-laboring parent to care for a child (who may be experiencing some big emotions) but also be fully present and able to support the person in labor.  Additionally, if labor takes an extended amount of time or there is an emergency or hospital transfer, it may be necessary for someone to take your other children home.

Talk about birth ahead of time. In terms that are appropriate for your child’s age, explain what may happen during labor and the basics of birth (where the baby comes out, what an umbilical cord is).

  • “Mommy may not seem very happy. She may seem sad and angry, or she may be very quiet.”
  • “Mommy might make some loud noises like this (insert grunts, groans, etc.).  It may sound strange or silly, but those sounds help mommy get the baby out!”
  • “If mommy is in the bath tub, it may turn a different color like pink or red when the baby is born.”
  • “When the baby is born, it may not look very clean! He may be slippery or be covered with white stuff or have blood on him, and that’s OK!”

Consider bringing your children to the birth center ahead of time and also to an appointment with the midwife so they feel included in the process and can ask questions of the midwife

Pack a bag for your child. In addition to basics like comfortable clothes, snacks, etc., pack some activities for your child and their designated caregiver.  For younger children especially, provide some new toys or art supplies they have never seen before.

Assign roles. For older children who have chosen to be present at the birth, talk ahead of time about what their role may be at the birth.  Do they wish to be in another room but present for the actual birth? Or the opposite? Some older children will happily and instinctively jump into a doula role, bringing you water, fanning you to keep you cool, holding your hand, and staying by your side.  If this is your child, talk ahead of time about how they can be helpful.  If this is not your child, have a conversation about what they are comfortable with and assure them whatever they decide is fine with you.

Did your older children attend your birth? What advice would you give other families? Tell us in the comments!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

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