Author Archives: moniquethedoula
We live in a culture that is all mixed up. We make mamas out to be deities with all the superhuman powers to make us invincible. Mamas have babies, breastfeed, go to work after only a couple of weeks, keep the house clean, retrieve our pre-baby bodies within weeks, take care of older children and look sexy doing it all without ANY help!
Mamas and daddies drag their bodies like the walking dead, believing that exhaustion is just par for the course when you have children. Being a “good mother,” according to most of the women I have worked with, includes sacrificing everything from alone time to simply having a full meal. Unfortunately, exhaustion and stress leads to burn out, which can lead to all sorts of physical and mental disorders.
This is why I am officially dubbing the week of Independence Day, “Interdependence Week.” It is my mission and passion to teach families how to function in harmony. So, this week is dedicated to pregnant and postpartum families depending on their Villages for help and support. This week, every family member and friend of new (and seasoned) parents should be asking, “what do you need and how can I help?” This week, all newborn families should practice vulnerability with their folks and practice using the phrase, “I need your help.”
Interdependence Week will be a catalyst for a more collective culture. A culture where mamas do not feel they have to suffer from postpartum mood disorders in silence; a culture where fathers are valued and supported; a culture where our children are well cared for, whether mama and daddy are able to do it themselves or not.
Happy Interdependence Week!
Most of us have seen the viral videos and the memes that poke fun at the “Mean Mama.” She is unreasonable, loud, and never seems to have more than a fleeting moment of happiness or joy. She is always complaining of how tired she is, how much she sacrifices, how her life might be different if it weren’t for “you damned ungrateful kids!” And let’s not forget about how much her child is “just like ya daddy!”
These caricatures are only comical because of how closely they mirror a lot of our actual childhoods living with mothers who seemed to never be happy about much of anything. We didn’t understand why mama was going all the way off about a couple of dirty dishes in the sink. Or why she seemed to get even angrier at the sound of her children crying (“shut up before I give you something to cry about!”). Or why the fact that you have your father’s smile/walk/eyes seemed to make her upset. Were our mother’s just hella mean or was there something else going on under the surface?
In many communities depression is a disorder that goes largely ignored. Until recently, Postpartum Depression was diagnosed as neuroses (for those women who actually spoke about their symptoms) and women with this diagnosis were treated with
Introducing “Doula For A Day”
Would you like a #doula simply to answer some of your #childbirth questions? Someone to put your family’s mind at ease about your childbirth or #postpartum preferences? Need someone to talk to your partner about #bonding? Want help with your #birth preferences list and questions to ask your #OB? But you aren’t sure that you want a doula’s support throughout your pregnancy, at your birth or long term postpartum?
Allow me to support you for a day (no time restraints!). I will answer your questions, help with lists, give tips, tricks and techniques for a wonderful birth and postpartum year!
By Wendy Rose Gould | Originally Published March on Mamapedia | Featuring Monique Cowan
Soon-to-be-parents can feel like they’re being tugged in all sorts of directions even before their little one enters the world. From breastfeeding versus formula, to maternity and/or paternity leave, to choosing where your baby sleeps at night, there’s a lot to think about.
BY SARAH HOSSEINI | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED FEBRUARY ON ROMPER | FEATURING MONIQUE COWAN
Deciding to exclusively breastfeed an infant is not usually a decision that’s made lightly. There are many factors to consider including a mom’s lifestyle and whether they have any emotional triggers associated with breastfeeding. Many women know that even though breastfeeding has been a trend since the dawn of time, that doesn’t mean it’ll easy. Once in the trenches of nursing, you may wonder how to survive exclusive breastfeeding, especially when you feel like you really want to stop. Rest assured, many moms have felt the same way you have, and there are ways to get through breastfeeding, even the hard parts.
Surround Yourself With Support
Have Your Partner Help
Accept That Breastfeeding Has A Learning Curve
Allow Yourself To Struggle Without Judgement
Eat As Healthy As Possible
Practice Self-Care When Possible
Know Where To Seek Professional Help
Contrary to popular belief, exhaustion and GOOD parenting, DO NOT go hand-in-hand.
Around this time, six years ago, I was in my OB’s office for one of my regular prenatal visits. Everything with him had been pretty pleasant up to that point. Then, he asked me if I wanted to schedule an induction or if I wanted him to “let” me go to 40 weeks and wait to see what happens. I, of course, told him I wanted to wait, especially because I KNEW my due date was wrong based on the time of conception. His question scared me, made me angry and had me in a state of shock and confusion. We had spoken about how I wanted to give birth and now, it seemed he hadn’t even been listening. I kept thinking, would I even get to birth naturally or would unnecessary interventions be thrust upon me during labor?
I called my birth doula, almost in a panic, when I got home to tell her what happened. I half expected her to be as riled up as I was. I remember the calm in her voice as she spoke to me. I could hear the smile on her face. She simply asked me, “well, what do YOU wanna do?” I told her that of course I wanted to wait as long as she (my baby) would take to come. Then, I remember her little boy singing, “Baby you can do it, take your time, do it right!” 😀
I left his office afraid and within 20 minutes of getting home and speaking to this beautiful, awesome woman, I felt at peace. I felt powerful. I felt like I had this and that it was up to me to make the decision. She was my support when I felt tired, when I felt unsure, when I felt afraid and even when I was angry and having personal issues. Her job was to help me make INFORMED decisions that worked best for me and my baby. Her job was to make sure I was at ease so that I could birth my baby in peace.
I decided at that point that I wanted to help women feel the same. Being a source of education and support during a time where there is SO MUCH information- and most of it, pretty scary- was what I wanted to do. I wanted to advocate for families during one of the most vulnerable times in their life. I wanted to be the shoulder and the cheerleader for women and families when so many things during this time leave them feeling unsure of themselves and their decisions.
I know that not all- not even MOST- OB’s force interventions onto their pregnant clients. But, having an advocate and someone to reassure you that you have a voice if you DO encounter a doctor like this is INVALUABLE.
This is why I do what I do.
Lots of parents wonder if it is possible to “spoil” their babies by picking them up every time they cry or holding them a lot throughout the day. Basically, the answer is, “NO!” watch my replays from Periscope below to hear why. And remember to follow me on at Periscope.tv/MoniqueTheDoula.
Some of the most pressing questions I get from families I work with have to do with breastfeeding. Mothers, their partners, grannies, sisters, play cousins ALL want to know is baby getting enough? Is it normal if baby eats more than once every few hours? What if mom has small breasts? What if baby is only at the breast for X amount of time? Is the baby too small? Is the baby too big? Should I give water? Supplements?
Since babies and breasts don’t come with manuals (YET! Manuals coming VERY soon), we have to rely upon our instincts (and cues from our Little Ones). The great thing is, our biological instincts are wired, once we give birth, to know what needs to be done when we see, smell, hear or taste (also known as kissing all up on) our little bundles. The not so great thing is, we have been conditioned not to trust these instincts, to constantly compare ourselves and our children to others and to actually SEEK OUT the most horrid of horror stories to undermine our instincts.
Here is the thing, the VAST majority of women are perfectly able to breastfeed. There are some women who are not, but, most women who are fearful that they are unable, are perfectly able. Here is the kicker, however, the stress that comes with not being able to breastfeed can actually LOWER your milk supply! In fact, ANY stress can lower your supply. But, please, DO NOT stress about stressing, thereby adding more stress onto your stress. I made a little poster with some tips and techniques to get that oxytocin flowin’ and those stress levels lowered. Download it, print it, share it. Please let me know if it helps you.