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new mom

Sharing Stories Series: Reality of Breastfeeding

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Sharing Stories Series: Reality of Breastfeeding

Doulas of Capitol Hill’s tagline is ‘Let’s Tell Your Story’. Every new parent starts a new chapter in their lives. These stories are memories that are a part of a family’s legacy, and we believe they contribute to the community conversation. We want to give voice to our clients to share their story. In the first of this ongoing series, in honor of National Breastfeeding Week, here is the story from Elisa and baby Orion about their breastfeeding journey. 

We've all heard "breast is best," but what they do not say is that breastfeeding is HARD WORK. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and commitment! Something that has really stuck with me is this idea that ‘your baby has never had to work for his food before’. It takes time to become a skilled nursing pair!

doulas of capitol hill client

My son Orion was born early (36 weeks 3 days) via a cesarean birth because he was breech. This unexpected early arrival totally took us by surprise! Immediately upon being wheeled into recovery, Orion laid on my belly and was placed on my breast. He latched right away and our journey began. I was surprised at how natural it felt to feed my baby this way. I thought “this is going to be easy!”

Boy was I wrong.

Those first few days in the hospital were rough. Orion was too little and too sleepy to nurse effectively, my milk took a few days to come in, and he just could not keep his blood sugar up in the numbers the nurses and doctors wanted to see. Although it made me sad, we had to supplement with formula right away to kick start his growth in the right direction.

I got to know the breast pump very well. After every feeding, I would pump to get my supply up and Orion would have a little formula supplement. The one great advantage of this was that his Dad could give him a bottle and he really enjoyed this bonding time.

We continued this regiment at home until his second weight check at the doctor. We were encouraged to breastfeed on each side, burp him, change him, and put him back on the breast again instead of giving him the additional supplement. By the third weight check he was doing great! We could finally stop supplementing and nurse on demand!

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing after that, but the early days of parenthood are exhausting, overwhelming, and intense.

 Orion was doing well with his weight, but he nursed every two hours even through the night. I had to help Orion latch on, be in just the right position, take off layers to keep him awake, and sometimes it just plain hurt to nurse!

 I began to feel like I was just a pair of breasts and anytime I was near him, he began rooting. I was milk and that's all that mattered.

 Every now and then I would pump just to give myself a break (or a nap or a shower!) Finally, at about two months, we turned a corner. Maybe it was all the practice, or Orion getting older, or the fact that he started to go a little bit longer in between feedings - but I finally felt like nursing was working for us. Around this time, Orion began to smile at me and really give something back. It was wonderful to feel like your baby actually likes you and you're not just a pair of breasts!!!

I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave and was worried about the transition. It turned out great. My work gave me a key to a special single executive bathroom and that's where I pump twice a day. I am so lucky that Orion's daycare is really close to work, so I am able to go visit at lunch time and nurse him every workday. This helps keep my supply up and gives us a chance to reconnect.

Fast forward to now, Orion is eight months old. Nursing him is such a blessing! I would not trade it for the world. What I love most is the chance to stop everything and just be with him. The snuggle time, the closeness, and the love I feel between us makes it all worth it...even in the middle of the night. ;) 

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5 Newborn Tips No One Taught You

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5 Newborn Tips No One Taught You

It is time to leave the hospital with your new baby! You pack up your car, bundle your baby into the car seat (hopefully after being checked by a safety technician!) and arrive home. Then it hits you; you are the sole caregivers for this tiny person. The baby is going to do what every baby does- poop, pee, eat, sleep and cry. These things seem manageable in your mind, but the reality is that it is sometimes overwhelming, scary, exhausting, and all brand new. You think to yourself, ‘Now What?!’

To help both you and your baby have an easier transition home, we have provided 5 tips and insights from our expert postpartum doulas to help ease your transition into parenthood.

blue exercise ball for labor and bouncing a newborn, outside on green grass

1.       Labor or Exercise Ball

Remember that big yoga ball that is sitting in your corner, perhaps used during your labor for rest and comfort? That ball is a great way to bounce a baby. Babies like to move; they were rocked to sleep consistently inside your uterus, and that desire doesn’t change. Rather than standing and rocking, at least you get the opportunity to sit and get a little rest!

2.       Go Outside

Most parents will tell you that a fussy baby settles quite quickly if you go for a walk. The fresh air and change in scenery provides fresh prospective for you and knocks them right to sleep. A walk isn’t even always necessary- step out to enjoy your deck or patio as the weather gets nicer, and see if your fussy baby goes to sleep!

a knuckle bent for a baby to suck on

3.       Use Your Knuckle

Babies like to suck to sooth, but not everyone wants to use a pacifier, especially in the beginning if breastfeeding. A fussy baby may just want to suck a little and fall asleep, and your knuckle is a perfect tool. It has less germs than our fingertips (we recommend still washing your hands first), has no nail that could scratch the baby’s mouth, and it is wide enough that it more similarly mimics sucking at the breast (because we don’t want the baby to just latch to the nipple, which is the size of your finger). This trick will never sooth an actual hungry baby for long, but works well if a full baby who is not sleeping yet just needs a little more encouragement!

4.       Blow Dryer

baby's legs enjoying warm air from a blowdryer

We know this sounds strange, but give us the benefit of the doubt! Babies often hate being changed- think about how you would feel if you were warm and cozy and suddenly someone was taking your clothes off and putting a cold wipe on your butt unexpectedly! Put a blow dryer that you would use for your hair on the changing table. Put your baby down, set the dryer to the low, warm setting and then change his diaper. Your baby will love the warm air and the noise mimics what they heard in utero, making for a happy baby throughout the whole change! This is especially useful for nighttime where your baby maybe almost sleeping after a good feeding but he needs to be changed.

5.       Earplugs

Sometimes babies cry and nothing we do helps them feel better. They could be gassy, overtired, or just irritable; remember, they are little human beings! Earplugs will NOT block out all of the sounds your baby is making, but it can take the edge off. It is scientifically proven that humans react to the sound of a crying baby more than other distressing sounds like a dog whining. Sometimes you just need to find a way to cope that will still allow you to comfort your child. Earplugs also work well at night if you are a parent that has trouble sleeping due to hearing every little noise. Earplugs will block out the little grunts and squeaks, but they will not block out a baby that is actively crying. If concerned, make sure one care provider is not wearing them while the other is, allowing more opportunities to rest AND making sure there is someone responding to baby’s needs. This tool would not work for everyone, as it might make you more anxious to NOT hear everything; it is a method that will help if you are having trouble managing specific moments. For those of you interested in learning more about babies specific cries, you should check out The Dunstan Method

If you would like to discuss other ways we could support you at home with your newborn, please feel free to get in touch! What everyone needs more than any tip or trick is consistent, nonjudgmental support for your ‘fourth trimester’ and beyond. You don’t have to do the work alone!


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Best Nursing Bras Available For Well Dressed Mammas!

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Best Nursing Bras Available For Well Dressed Mammas!

We are very excited to bring you the first blog in an anticipated ongoing series that focuses on awesome women in and around DC! We look forward to highlighting some of the fantastic work they are doing, enjoying the stories about their children, and doing what doulas do best- supporting women!  Today’s blog features Concetta Aires, owner of Well Dressed Mamma, an in-home nursing boutique that allows you to be fitted for and purchase nursing bras in the comfort of your own home. If you are reading this from an area outside of the DMV, visit her website and order her products online!

   Tell us your story-how did you get into this line of work?

After I had my daughter, I had every intention of going back to my financial reporting job. I loved the company but wasn't in love with what I was doing or the amount of hours I was working. I had recently gotten my MBA and was interested in taking a leap of faith and trying to start my own business. After chatting with a Mom friend, she gave me the idea of doing nursing bra sales after she had such a bad experience finding the right bra for her. I immediately related to the horrors of finding a well fitting, good looking bra (among other necessary nursing items) after I ordered a few terrible nursing bras online and had grabbed others from Target and Buy Buy Baby that were uncomfortable. I knew that if I was going to nurse for the long haul, I needed to be comfortable and feel beautiful so I started doing the research to find quality, good looking products. After a few months I found companies that I not only believed in but loved their products and Well Dressed Mamma was born.

 Tell us about your daughter!

My daughter just turned one which is so hard to believe! When people say you will never feel love like the love you have for your child, I was cynical (maybe because I'm madly in love with my husband) but boy were they right. She's funny and beautiful and so much fun to be around. Her smile and giggle light up a room and she's always happy. She is laid back, like her father, and also extremely determined. I feel so lucky to be able spend every day with her and to learn from her! 

Well Dressed Mamma's Guide to Selectinga Nursing Bra

 You mentioned having a hard time finding a good nursing bra. Do you have a favorite?

I love all the bras I carry but the two I wear the most are the Cake Cotton Candy Bra and the Bella Materna Plunge Bra. I absolutely LOVE the Cake Cotton Candy Bra as a light exercise bra. It is insanely comfortable and cute; I have to hold myself back from buying one in every color! I wear it around the house, to spin classes and I'm almost always wearing it when I'm out in my active wear. I'm also always wearing the Bella Materna Plunge Bra. I love the fact that it turns into a racer-back which is perfect for my summer wardrobe and it also gives a great shape without a wire and is a perfect everyday bra. 


What is the most stressful thing about running your own business?

The most stressful part of owning a business is finding the time for the paperwork and to do all of the behind scenes work such as advertising. I have always been a finance professional with a love for sales so it's been a big switch. I try to capitalize on Kennedy's morning nap but sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day! Trying to have it all is stressful and at times it means some things have to give.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

I love the flexibility of running my own business. Although I still work a lot of hours, I can usually fit them in while Kennedy is napping or after she has gone to bed. My favorite part of my particular business is definitely the clients. I love meeting and helping new moms. I have met many of my best friends through selling them bras or organizing events for my clients. It is such a rewarding experience leaving a mom's home with them feeling confident, pretty and COMFORTABLE in their new (or expanded) role.

What do you think is unique about running a business as a woman?

I think running a business as a woman is challenging especially because we tend to not promote ourselves enough or feel that we are worth the service that we are providing. I also feel like we tend to take on too much. Trying to take care of a household and run a business ensures I never have down time- as I'm sure most parents can relate to.

What is your plan for the next year?

I would love to expand into clothing. Look for some clothing beyond tank tops as early as the spring! I would also love to grow and share my experience with other moms that could benefit from selling the bras. It would be a chance to make new connections and receive income from a part time job while still being flexible for a baby or toddler at home!

 Taking the plunge into motherhood is such a challenging time in every woman's life. Being able to provide them with a service that takes the stress out of shopping for nursing bras no matter where they live is taking one small thing off of their plate. It is such a special time and breastfeeding is such an extraordinary thing that I feel all woman should have the opportunity to feel and look beautiful doing it.

 How do we tell everyone to purchase bras from you? 

If you're in the market for nursing bras, I guarantee you that I carry at least one that you love. I come to you with a crate full of goodies and allow you to try on the items in the comfort of your own home. I'll give you honest feedback because the most important part of my business is having satisfied customers. All nursing bras fit differently so it is important to get measured and to try on a few different sizes to find the perfect bra for you!

 Thank you, Nicole, for giving me the opportunity to tell my story! 
 

Please visit Concetta’s website at  www.welldressedmamma.com to schedule an appointment/make online purchases or email her at welldressedmamma@gmail.com

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