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Setting up for sleep success – Guest Blog!

One of the roles I play as a doula is that of connector. It’s important that I know when I’m out of scope or when someone needs more help than I can give. That’s why I have a network of trusted resources I can connect my clients with to ensure they get the support they need.

With that in mind, I’ve asked Bridget Jensen from Better Bedtime to give us some tips on setting your family up for sleep success:

 

When I was expecting my first child, I lost count of how many times people told me “you’ll never sleep again!” Not only was that not helpful, but it was also not true.

As babies get older, they have the ability to hold more food and potentially sleep longer. Until then, there are some things you can do to shape the way your baby sleeps.

Be Kind to Yourself

Setting a good sleep foundation is not meant to be strict or cause you stress. This is not a rigid sleep training program, but is meant to guide you in a well-rested direction. Remember that your baby has frequent needs and will not sleep through the night for several weeks at the earliest.

Where should baby sleep?

Public health recommends that your baby sleeps in the same room as you, but on a separate surface for at least the first six months. Your baby’s sleeping area should be free of blankets, pillows, bumper pads or anything soft or potentially dangerous. The mattress should be firm with a tight-fitting sheet.

Confusing Night with Day

You may have heard stories of babies having their nights and days mixed up. There is something simple you can do that doesn’t take much effort, to avoid this problem. Divide the day into two 12-hour sections. It doesn’t have to be a time set in stone, but let’s say 8:00-8:00 for example. You would put baby to bed around 8pm and then through the night until 8am you will keep feedings quiet, dark and in baby’s sleep area. At baby’s morning waking around 8am, you will take her to a bright, more stimulating area of the house. This helps to differentiate day from night. Keep night time dark, quiet and boring and keep day time bright, noisy and stimulating. During the day, offer all feedings in this bright area.

Routine

The consensus among sleep experts is that a routine is beneficial because it helps cue the body and mind that sleep is approaching. It is never too early to start a routine. If your baby is older – now is still a great time to start! A routine should be 20-30 minutes and include everything your baby needs before bed. An example of a routine for a newborn is: bathroom time (not necessarily a bath, but just a clean-up), pajamas, story, feeding and song.

Feeding Baby

Newborn babies do not have the stomach capacity to hold much food. They will likely need to wake several times in the night to eat for their first few months. I recommend keeping night feedings dark, quiet and boring so that baby doesn’t think it’s party time. Doing the feeding close to the sleeping area is easiest. Try not to have your phone or tablet light shining onto baby’s face. It can help you fall asleep faster if you do not use a device that emits blue light. Respond to all hunger cues in the night, because they simply need to eat. Do not limit feedings – in the womb, baby didn’t know hunger.

stomach

 

How much sleep?

Newborn babies can usually only tolerate 45-60 minutes of awake time before needing sleep again. It’s not recommended to enforce a strict routine with a baby, we are more looking at setting up a healthy foundation for sleep.

Daytime routine

When baby wakes from naps throughout the day, offer a feeding. Since baby will be rested, they will likely have the energy and stamina to take a good feeding. After the feeding, offer some play time before getting ready for the next nap.

Sleep For You

Sleep when baby sleeps!  As you will be tending to baby in the night, this is absolutely a skill worth learning. You will be recovering from childbirth and needing the rest. Accept help and ask for help – it may come in the form of meals, cleaning or simply someone holding the baby while you take a shower. It truly does take a village to raise a baby! If possible, split nighttime baby duty with your support person so you each get at least one uninterrupted block of sleep. For example, one of you is “on duty” from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and the other from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. (adjust these figures to your family’s schedule). When you are “off duty,” sleep in a separate area, and try earplugs, a fan, or a white-noise machine. The on-duty parent can sleep, too, but he or she will be the one who has to wake up to respond to and feed the baby.

  • If you are exclusively nursing, have your partner interrupt your sleep for a quick feeding.
  • Otherwise, consider pumping breast milk so your partner can feed the baby with a bottle of your milk while you get your “off-duty” sleep
  • If you’re bottle feeding, take turns

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Setting good habits can make lengthier sleep happen when baby is ready to go for longer stretches at night.

You don’t have to be sleep deprived for years just because you became a parent. If your baby’s sleep becomes a problem, there is no need to suffer through it. Call me and we can gently resolve it.

About me:

Bridget Jensen is a Certified Sleep Consultant who resides in Waterloo Region. As a mother of three young children, she understands the tremendously important role that sleep plays. She is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants.

She understands that there is no “one-size-fits-all” sleep solution for all families. It isn’t as simple as “do nothing” or “leave them to cry all night.” Every family is different, and therefore the strategies to learn how to sleep vary. A number of factors come into play when determining the right approach for teaching a little one healthy sleep habits: Age, developmental milestones reached, parenting style and much more.

Bridget’s calm and supportive demeanor are beneficial while working with families all over Ontario and beyond. Bridget is dedicated to helping parents learn the skills to teach their children to become independent, healthy sleepers. Bridget has always felt passionate about sleep being a priority in her family’s life and that a better bedtime can happen for your family every night.

 

So there you have it – sleep tips from the sleep expert! Sweet dreams…

 

Beers & Babies

So, what’s this all about?

It’s a class for the non birthing parents – dads and partners.

It’s a casual place to ask all those questions we know you’re wondering about

It’s your chance to connect with other dads-to-be in the same position as you

…and also maybe enjoy a pint or two.

 

And what are you getting with your ticket?

  • evidence based info from a Doula and a Counselor specializing in maternal mental health
  • practical parenting tips for postpartum survival
  • take home information
  • an open floor for questions
  • some beer knowledge and samples from Fixed Gear
  • an invitation to our exclusive Beers & Babies online community
  • lots of brownie points from your partner

Get your tickets here

Beer + babies poster

 

 

This thing that I do

So there’s this thing that I do.

I’ve done it for a few years now.

Not a lot of people know about it…

 

 

I sing. In a choir.

Phew- it feels good to get that out there!

 

Just kidding, it’s not a secret but I thought I might build up the anticipation a bit and get you to keep reading.

I started singing with this group about 5 years ago when I was newly pregnant. I wanted to do something just for me. I wanted it to be social and creative but not crafty. I wanted to exercise my brain and push me out of my comfort zone a bit.

My glee group fills all these needs and more! I’ve continued it ever since and look forward to that time every week.

Also, there are benefits of singing in a group too! Scientific benefits! It releases endorphins and reduces cortisol levels It can also help increase circulation and boost your immune system.

But maybe it’s not for you? That’s fine.

I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you to find your thing. Carve out that time and that space that’s just for you. Something to help you remember your identity outside of Mom.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – we’re just a regular group of women who like to sing together. Believe me – I’m the furthest thing from a professional. I just like it.

But what about you? What do you like? What makes you happy?

What can you add to your life that ‘sparks joy’ as they say.

I promise there are other parents just like you looking for their thing too!

Take a chance and try something new. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

guelph glee

The ladies of Guelph Glee Songbird Pop Choir. Led by the amazing Joni Nehrita

Prenatal Class for Dads

dads class

I know I’ve said this before but I do believe our culture does a disservice to partners.

We don’t give them the tools and information they need to succeed as parents and then act surprised when they don’t know what to do or what to expect.

Well – Jess from Our Mama Village and I are trying to change that!

Let’s set our partners up for success.

Let’s help them be the parents and the partners we know they can be!

This is a prenatal class just for them – casual, interactive, informative. With beer. Delicious craft beer.

We’ll be covering:

  • Building attachment and being involved (even when you’re working full time)
  • keeping your relationship strong with your partner
  • Common changes that happen with your partner and how to support her
  • practical tips on making the transition to parenthood as smooth as possible

Oh, did I mention beer?

Limited tickets available – buy yours  here!

Why Food is the Best Gift for a New Baby

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate
Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

I have to admit – I’m food motivated. Were it not for work or kids, food would be the reason I got out of bed in the morning. My rewards to myself are usually food and I have been known to eat my feelings.

Ok, this is not an examination of my possibly unhealthy relationship with food.

What I’m talking about today is why food is the best gift for new parents.

Well, it’s pretty simple, really. You have to eat.

When you’re nursing and recovering from giving birth you have to eat A LOT.

Also, you have to hold and nurse the baby a lot.

Sometimes it is hard to do both of those things at the same time. We know you’re not going to let the baby suffer so, who does?

You do. That’s right – you will sacrifice proper nutrition and actual meals to make sure your little babe is taken care of.

I get it. I’ve done it too.

But I also know the incredible joy of having a friend or family member drop food off for you – no strings attached. It is so glorious and to me it was always the best gift.

I think bringing food does four things:

  1. It provides you with the calories and nutrients your body desperately needs.
  2. It provides a welcome gift for the family that doesn’t involve more baby ‘stuff’.
  3. It reduces the mental load, at least for that meal on that day.
  4. It shows you that someone is thinking of you and wanted to help care for you.

 

So you want to bring food to a new family? Great! Thank you! Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Think easy – something to just heat and serve (a casserole) or something good at room temperature (muffins)
  2. Fiber, protein, and fat are your friends. Nursing and postpartum parents need lots of each
  3. Easy to eat. Remember- these parents will likely be eating these meals with one hand so if you’re making pasta – use short noodles like penne and maybe skip the soup.
  4. Include some treats! No one wants to eat salad at 3am when they’re up with the babe.
  5. Recyclable foil containers. You don’t want to lose your expensive glass containers and that family doesn’t want to clean them.

Some of my favourite recipes for new parents are things like muffins, chilli, pasta bakes, and even a nice big container of cut up fruit. I often prepare these for my clients too.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – as a new parent it’s just nice to know someone thought of you and wanted to make your life a little bit better!