Birth Hormones You Should Know!

Birth Hormones You Should Know!

Birth Hormones You Should Know!

Understanding how birth hormones impact your labor and birth can help you make informed choices about how and where you want to labor, what you can do to help labor progress, and what you might not realize is slowing labor down!

  • Oxytocin

Often called the love hormone, oxytocin can keep you smiling as you’re headed to your birth location in the midst of contractions! Lamaze’s healthy birth practices remind us to let labor begin on its own and avoid unnecessary interventions, and oxytocin plays a crucial role in this process.

“Allowing this process to unfold on its own, and providing space for the complete symphony of hormones to play out, as is done in a physiologic (normal, naturally occurring) birth, can offer the following benefits (Buckley, 2015, page xii): 

  • Rising estrogen levels before labor, help prepare the uterus to be more efficient in labor 
  • Increasing oxytocin and prostaglandin to help ripen cervix before labor
  • Increased oxytocin receptors in the uterus before labor to create more effective contractions during labor and after birth, which reduces bleeding after birth
  • Increased beta-endorphin receptors before labor, which provides natural pain relief in labor 
  • Increased oxytocin and prolactin receptors, which encourage successful breastfeeding and bonding with baby after birth”

It’s also important to remember that while there are some similarities, Pitocin is NOT the same as oxytocin! 

  • Pitocin is synthetic.  Oxytocin is naturally occurring in the body
  • Pitocin does not cross the blood/brain barrier as oxytocin does, which means it does not stimulate the release of pain-relieving endorphins
  • Endorphins

A woman labors in the shower at a freestanding birth center.The pain of labor isn’t the same as pain from an illness or injury, in part thanks to endorphins! Lamaze teaches us that, “your body makes hormones that both cause and counteract pain. The human body truly is amazing. A laboring person’s body creates the hormone called oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone,’ which is responsible for keeping contractions going throughout labor. At the same time, your body also produces endorphins, which are hormones that increase feelings of calm and provide pain relief. The level of endorphins gradually rise throughout labor to match labor’s intensity. Your body makes its own specially-formulated pain medication — whoa.”

  • Adrenaline

When we feel safe and loved, we produce oxytocin.  In labor, oxytocin = contractions.  But if we feel stressed, unsafe, afraid, or in danger during labor, adrenaline (the stress hormone) is going to interfere with all that oxytocin! The flash of bright lights or loud equipment, strangers in your birthing space, or disruptive interventions could all cause an increase in adrenaline and potentially slow or stop contractions as part of your body’s natural response. 

Focus on keeping a calm and relaxed environment surrounded by a team that will speak positive words of encouragement and provide you with information needed to make evidence-based decisions about your care and allow your body to work naturally. 

  • Prolactin

Your birth hormones are still hard at work after your baby arrives. Prolactin is often called the mothering hormone, and it has many roles including being central to milk production.

You can likely promote your body’s production of prolactin by:

  • Waiting for labor to start on its own.
  • Minimizing stress during labor and after birth.
  • Honoring the golden hour and staying together after birth.
  • Breastfeeding early and thereafter on cue from the baby.

Finding a care team that honors your body’s natural process and a birth space that supports physiological labor can help the hormones in your body work in the way they were meant to. Babymoon Inn midwives support your body’s natural process by providing a comforting and safe environment in the birth center with minimal distractions and no unnecessary interventions, and respecting the postpartum period and providing lactation support throughout your journey.

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler and one newborn, and she loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

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How to Play with Your Baby

How to Play with Your Baby

How to Play with Your Baby: 0-3 Months

Congratulations on your adorable new addition! You did it! You literally grew another human and now you’re home together. Since he isn’t walking or talking yet, it might seem like your days consist solely of changing diapers, feeding, burping and rocking him to sleep in those first few hazy months. But there are still many opportunities to play with your baby or make those moments playful!

If you’ve ever found yourself staring at your perfect baby thinking… “Okay, but what am I supposed to DO with him?” this one’s for you.

Include baby in the everyday moments. Don’t overthink it!

A mother gives her baby a massage while the toddler sister gives her teddy bear a massage.Your baby is part of your family now so you can include her in the everyday parts of your life! If you’re spending time outside, try wearing her in a wrap like this one. Sometimes when I’m folding laundry with my baby lying next to me and my toddler “folding” clothes I’ll pause to give my baby a little infant massage to find connection in that moment. The gentle, firm pressure used in infant massage can help stimulate their senses and can be done at any time of day – including after bath time or right before bed time!

Make diaper changes playful.

Use diaper changes as a time for an “I love you ritual” – a special way to connect with your child, created by Dr. Becky Bailey, the founder of Conscious Discipline. There are many to choose from, and both of my children have their own special rituals. Here is one of my favorites:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

(Hold child’s hands up high, touch fingers and twinkle)

What a wonderful child you are!(

(Bring arms down to rest) 

With bright eyes and nice round cheeks,

(Touch near child’s eyes and cheeks)

Talented person from head to feet.

(Touch child’s head and run fingers down to feet)

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

(Twinkle fingers together again)

What a wonderful child you are!

(Smile and hug)

Narrate your actions.

When your baby is alert, awake and happy it might feel like you’re unsure of what to do, but this is actually the perfect time to play with her.  

Narrating your actions is a simple way to “play.” She has known your voice from the moment she could hear, so it’s naturally comforting to her. Singing and reading books aloud are other ways to spend time engaging with her.  

Spend time connecting face to face with your baby so that he can see your eyes and mouth moving. Laying him on your chest can give him a new perspective of your face and helps strengthen head, neck and upper body muscles. Interact with him as if you were having a conversation, speaking in “parentese” – the high pitched sing-songy voice that babies love. And when you hear those first cooing sounds of pleasure, don’t worry if you might look totally silly doing everything possible to get him to repeat it! He loves to see the emotion and excitement in your face too!  

Watch this still face experiment video to see how babies use the limited communication tools they have to generate a response from their caregiver when they have a “still face” and how they regulate again once their “play” resumes. 

If you have an older child and are worried that the baby won’t get enough one on one time, it’s okay! Later born children benefit from overhearing conversations between you and other siblings as well. Did you know later born children may have a more advanced understanding of pronouns (he, she, them) thanks to overhearing these conversations? So #nomomguilt here!

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler and one newborn, and she loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

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Breastfeeding Snack Hacks!

Breastfeeding Snack Hacks!

Five Breastfeeding Snack Hacks

Breastfeeding can be so rewarding for you and your baby, but it often feels extremely demanding of your time and energy. Cluster feeding, pumping, toddler gymnurstics… we know how tough it can be at times. Plus, breastfeeding parents need an average of 500 extra calories to keep up with the physical demand of fueling our little babies!  So, here are my top 5 breastfeeding snack hacks to help you fuel your body!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Pick a super fun water bottle like this one or this one. Breast milk is about 90% water and, while drinking to satisfy thirst (not forcing liquids) is sufficient, we know that with how busy you are it can be easy to forget or ignore the signs that your body is thirsty if there isn’t a cup handy. 

One-handed snacks are your friend!

Congratulations, you’re now a queen of multitasking! Read + feed the baby, chase a toddler + feed the baby, poop + feed the baby… yeah I said it. #beenthere So being able to grab a quick bite for yourself while you’re also feeding the baby can be a huge life saver. Try one of these ideas:

  • Popcorn
  • Edamame
  • Tortilla roll-ups
  • String cheese
A mother breastfeeds while her toddler takes a bite of her snack

When planning out your favorite breastfeeding snacks, remember to account for enthusiastic (and hungry) toddlers who may wander by!

No-bake/no-blend granola bars

Because who wants to heat up the house with the oven, and who wants to wake up the baby with the blender – not me! These are so tasty, and don’t worry if they don’t stick together in bars, you can always eat it with a spoon!

Non-refrigerated snacks

Picture this, it’s 2am, baby just finished a feed and settled back down to sleep and now you’re hungry – I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like hiking down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. Keeping a stash of non-refrigerated snacks bedside can help you calm your hunger and get back to sleep! Try one of these:

  • Dried fruit
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Trail mix
  • Mini-muffins 

Overnight oats

While there is no secret snack actually proven to increase milk supply (nurse, baby, nurse – it’s all about supply & demand!), oatmeal is a good source of iron. “It is known that maternal anemia/low iron levels can result in a decreased milk supply, so it makes sense that eating something high in iron might increase milk supply in some women.”

There are tons of variations you can try out, but here is my absolute favorite overnight oats recipe. It’s so nice to know breakfast is ready to go each morning! Bonus – they are gluten-free, and peanut butter could be substituted for sunbutter to make them allergy friendly. I’ve also used crasins or mini M&Ms as toppings instead of chocolate chips before!  Enjoy! 

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler and one newborn, and she loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

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Mother’s Day at Home

Mother’s Day at Home

Celebrating Mother’s Day at Home

With a little creativity, you can still celebrate the moms in your life this Mother’s Day

While Mother’s Day may look a little different this year, you can still make it an amazing day creating some awesome memories to look back on together.

Remember, celebrating Mom isn’t canceled.

In fact it’s the perfect time to do something extra special!

In the morning

Start the day off right by letting Mom sleep in while you make an easy, but delicious french toast brunch in the crockpot. When mom wakes up, serve a hot pot of coffee or even a mimosa with fruit. If you’re not able to be at home with Mom, another option is to order a coffee delivery from a local spot right to her door. 

While your kiddos might not be bringing home any handmade gifts from school this year you can still make sure Mom’s card is on point with this handmade cactus card.  

Spend some time together talking about all the things you love to do as a family and all the reasons you love Mom with these I love you flowers.  

In the afternoon

Spending time outside soaking up some vitamin D is a great way to lift everyone’s spirits and get out of the house for a while. Having a picnic tea party lunch with simple sandwiches or delivery from your favorite local restaurant is a great way to relax. 

Since the weather is warming, it’s the perfect time to plant flowers or start some fresh herbs in pots for a kitchen counter garden. 

If you can’t take a trip to the pool or beach right now, you can still help mom have a mini getaway in your own backyard. Cool down in a mini pool, serve up a fun icy drink and let Mom read a book (without getting splashed 😉).

In the evening

This one-pan Mexican quinoa casserole can be easily adapted to fit the pantry supplies you have on hand by using rice or any variety of canned beans or vegetables. You could also add in your choice of ground meat if you wanted to switch up the protein. 

Or, keep it simple and order in from her favorite restaurant.

Before bed, let Mom pick the movie for family movie night and snuggle up on the couch with some popcorn. If you can’t be with Mom, plan to watch the same movie at the same time and then call each other afterwards to catch up and talk. 

Give her some time to soak in the bath alone while you get the dishes and craft supplies cleaned up from the day so that they’re not left out to clean up tomorrow. Starting and ending the day with a good clean will be SO appreciated! Taking pictures throughout the day (and every day for #proofofmom) can be a fun way to create a Mother’s Day photo album to look back on later. 

It might not be advised to visit grandmas, aunts, or the other special people in your life this year, but try one of these ideas to make their Mother’s Day extra special as well:

  • Have a family FaceTime or Zoom call with everyone to wish them a happy Mother’s Day and spend time catching up with each other. 
  • If you live nearby, you can drive by their window to wave and blow kisses from the car. You could even make colorful signs to hold up for them to see or decorate their door with a cheerful sign or wreath. 
  • If you live farther away, mailing a hug and a handwritten letter is a great option to send some love their way this season.

What activities are you planning to help make Mother’s Day extra special this year?

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler and one newborn, and she loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

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Social Distancing with Kids

Social Distancing with Kids

What is Social Distancing and Why is the CDC recommending it?  

The CDC defines social distancing as, “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”   

Because the CDC believes COVID-19 spreads easily throughout communities and we all have an important part to play in slowing the spread.  “Community-based interventions such as school dismissals, event cancellations, social distancing, and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19.  Individuals can practice everyday prevention measures like frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html  

With school closings and many employers choosing to implement remote work options you may find yourself wondering just what to do to keep your family happy and healthy while staying home and practicing social distancing.  


Stimulate Your Mind
  

  1. Enjoy a walk through art galleries from The Met in NY to The National Gallery in London with a virtual museum tour that will let you explore art from all over the world without ever having to leave your couch.
  2. Don’t stress the mess – just take your creative kiddos outside! While some basic supplies might be sold out right now, craft supplies are still available – stock up on sticker books, play doh, puzzles, pom poms, and a big roll of craft paper for endless, inexpensive and messy fun. Find more craft ideas here.
  3. Check out what other animal families are up to by checking in on some live animal cams at the National Zoo or the San Diego Zoo!
  4. School’s out, but you can keep the classroom fun going at home with Scholastics 20 days of free activities all based on engaging stories here   

Strengthen Your Body     

  1. Take your meals to the backyard to enjoy a picnic-style lunch while you absorb the natural benefits of sunshine, fresh air and Vitamin D.
  2. Make a fun hand washing sign for your sink to learn about the importance of proper hand washing techniques and then make a video washing your hands to your favorite funny song for 20 seconds and share it with us!
  3. Just add water! Make bathtime extra fun with bubbles, bath crayons or even add an unusual toy like legos to the tub to mix it up. If the weather is warming up, you can even take a dip in the pool outside!
  4. Get the wiggles out with a backyard or indoor camping trip in a blanket fort with a battery-powered candle “camp fire,” microwave s’mores and sleeping bag naps!   

Energize Your Spirit 

  1. Practice mindfulness with some parent-and-me yoga. Find free yoga pose printables here, cut them out and tape them to a die, roll and strike a pose! You can also adapt this to funny animal walks – bear crawl, waddle like a penguin or stomp like an elephant – as you go on a walk around your neighborhood. Social distancing does mean staying away from others, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your backyard, a walk down the street or keeping the windows open for fresh air!
  2. Everyone will react differently to stressful situations requiring social distancing, but you may feel anxiety, frustration, boredom, loneliness or uncertainty. Help combat these feelings by staying connected to family and friends with a virtual playdate and mental check-in day through FaceTime or video chat.
  3. Take a break from the news and social media and instead spend that time journaling about your thoughts and feelings. When you check back in to the news, make sure to use only credible sources.
  4. If you regularly attend therapy or take medications, make sure to have a full supply on hand and talk with your provider about continuing through teledoc sessions.    

If You Also Find Yourself Working Remotely From Home

  1. Make sure you have all necessary equipment to work from home and then organize a dedicated office space. This will help you keep your work area contained and make it clear to other family members when you have “stepped into your office” for uninterrupted time.
  2. Stick to your normal office hours when possible to minimize any disruption to your normal routine.
  3. Be realistic about what chores will and won’t get done while you’re working from home and set expectationswith the entire family about how these tasks will be accomplished.
  4. Finally, if kiddos or pets end up walking in behind you on a video call play it cool, and odds are you will find some comradery with your fellow co-workers also practicing #socialdistancing because we really are all in this together!       

Michelle Petkovic

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler born at a birth center and loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

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