Friday, October 21, 2011

The Three S's for Moms

Many of you may be familiar with the 5 S's for babies from the Happiest Baby on the Block book (shushing, swaddling, sucking, swinging and side/stomach positioning).  They are great and do provide a lot of calming to a baby.

However, as a postpartum doula, I am also very interested in having a calm Mom!  So, I would like to take this opportunity to present my Three S's for moms.  These three S's will help a new mom stay calm, avoid postpartum blues and mood disorders and most of all enjoy her baby.  A happy and relaxed mom can take better care of her baby.  And also - YOU DESERVE IT!

Dover Doula's Three S's:

1.  Sleep - There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like the sleep deprivation that comes along with a newborn.  So, go lay down in your bed EVERY SINGLE CHANCE YOU GET!  This means:  napping when the baby naps, napping when your partner gets home from work, napping when a friend comes to visit (they only want to hold the baby anyway), napping on the couch when your baby is safely snuggled on your chest, napping when your doula comes, napping all the time! 

Not only are you exhausted from all the nighttime feedings, but your body needs to recover and heal from birth (particularly if you've had a cesarean birth).  The only time your body can heal is when it is relaxed and resting.  Also, if you are breastfeeding, you need to be getting enough sleep so that your body can produce milk.  Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories/energy!

So, after you read #2 and #3 - close your laptop and go lay down!

2.  Sustenance - nourish yourself so that you can sustain life - your own and your baby's.  Drink plenty of water to help withe healing process, cleansing process and the production of milk.  Eat yummy, warm, healthy food.  Change your morning routine to having your partner cook you a nice big breakfast before leaving for work.  Eating lots of healthy meals and snacks throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar steady and your head clear. 

Breathe!  Throughout the day, notice your posture and try to sit up straight, allowing your lungs to fill to capacity as you inhale.  As you exhale, feel your navel pulling in toward your spine and imagine that you are exhaling all the stale air up and out from the bottom of your lungs.  Taking some moments to take some nice deep breaths can rejuvenate and relax you.

3.  Self-care - New moms (hey - all moms!) need to put a lot of focus on self-care.  The postpartum time period is a sacred time.  Nurture yourself.  Be sure you are resting when the baby rests, eating healthy meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water.  Yes, it would be fantastic if you could sneek away for a massage or a pedicure, but let's get real here.  Self-care can also be as simple as ensuring you have a moment to brush your teeth, taking the time to take a nice, long, hot shower.  Massaging your skin with a gentle oil.  Enjoying a nice, long snuggle on the couch with your yummy baby.  Self-care means postponing the thank you note writing while you and your baby go back to bed after the first early morning feeding. 

This is hard, because your "mother bear" instincts are kicking in full force with a rush of natural hormones and it is completely normal and common to put the baby first.  New moms tend to push their own basic needs to the back burner as they focus on their baby, but as any good flight attendant worth their salty peanuts will tell you, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, before you can help your baby.

Take care of yourself.  Put yourself first - ahead of the laundry, the thank you notes, the unpacking, and the dishes.  Step over that laundry basket and go for a walk outside for some fresh air and sunshine.  Close the door on the unfinished nursery, light a candle and take a nice long soak in the tub. 

You, and your baby, are worth it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Witching Hour

You've had a long day of feeding, burping, wearing spit up, singing nursery rhymes, feeding, burping, bouncing, walking, feeding, burping, etc.  It's 5:00 pm and you are just waiting for your sweetie pie to walk through that door. 

And then it starts.  The fussing and the crying.  Maybe even some screaming.  It's the Witching Hour.

Before you know it, your sweetie pie has called to say he'll be late and you and the baby are both sobbing.  And that's usually when you also realize you haven't even brushed your teeth yet.  Never mind had a shower.

Does the so-called Witching Hour exist?  It sure does!  Is there anything you can do to help your baby avoid The Witching Hour?  There sure is!

The Witching Hour is simply your baby's reaction to a long day of stimulation.   Remember, this baby just spent nine months in your womb.  Being here on the "outside" is like Disneyworld to him or her, even if you never left the first floor of your house. 

When my clients ask about the Witching Hour, I always tell them that babies are like computers.  And sometimes you just have to re-boot.

When I say "re-boot", what I really mean is try to recreate the womb.  Allow your baby to relax in a womb-like setting to counteract the stimulation from the day and let you both relax.

Steps for recreating the womb:

1.  Dim the lights
2.  Turn off the tv, music and the ringer on your phone
3.  Swaddle the baby up
4.  Depending on the level of fussiness either sit down and snuggle the baby, holding him or her really close to you with his ear resting right next to your mouth.  Whisper and/or sing softly to your baby.  Or, if the baby is really worked up, start to bounce/pace/swing your baby while "shushing" in his or her ear.

These steps will help the baby to feel safe and make it easier for him/her to calm down.

Tips for avoiding the Witching Hour:

1.  Allow your baby to sleep as much as s/he can during the day.  Babies need LOTS of sleep.  This helps them avoid that over-tired, over-stimulated state.
2.  Keep your daily activities to a minimum.  Both you and the baby need to rest and take it easy.
3.  Watch your baby's cues.  If s/he is slowing down and not really focusing on anything, give him or her a break.  The baby is probably ready for a nap.
4.  Limit visitors.  I know it's hard because you want to show your baby off and the whole world wants to come see him/her.  But long days of visitors can wear both you and the baby out.

Two VERY important things to keep in mind while dealing with the Witching Hour.

1.  When your baby is upset, s/he learns that you will be there to comfort him or her.  This is an important thing for them to learn - that they can trust you.
2.  This is normal.  Find solace in the fact that thousand of other new parents are pacing the halls of their own homes across the globe at this very moment.

When the baby does eventually calm down, reheat that lasagna your neighbor brought over and then call a friend or a postpartum doula to come over the next day and help you get a break.

Darcy Sauers is a certified postpartum doula¸ lactation counselor and the owner of Dover Doula ( in the Seacoast area.  She is passionately committed to helping new moms find the support, resources and information that they need.  Please do not hesitate to contact Darcy with any questions at or 603-988-5945.  For more information on breastfeeding, the postpartum period and local resources and events for new moms, follow her on Facebook

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do you love babies?

Whenever I tell someone that I am a postpartum doula, nine out of ten times they say, "Oh I love babies, I would love to do that!"  And a couple times a month I receive a call from someone who is thinking of becoming a postpartum doula because they "love babies". 

However, for me and other postpartum doulas, it is NOT about the babies.  It's about the new mom. 

Postpartum doulas "mother the mother" and nurture them to help ease their transition into motherhood.  Holding the baby is just a bonus!  Postpartum doulas do a lot of listening to help new moms process their birth story (positive or negative) and the tremendous range of emotions that they experience in those first few postpartum weeks. 

A big part of what I do is also teaching these new moms to remember to nurture themselves.  The baby does not always have to come first.  Moms need to take the time to eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, take a shower, take a walk, take a nap. 

A common question I hear is "What's the difference between a baby nurse and a postpartum doula?"  I love to watch peoples' reaction as I answer, "A baby nurse takes care of the baby.  A postpartum doula takes care of the whole family."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easing Sciatic Nerve Pain with Prenatal Yoga

In addition to being a Postpartum Doula, I also teach Prenatal Yoga at Childlight Yoga in downtown Dover, NH.  One of the most common physical complaints I hear from students in class is that they have pain down the back of one or both of their legs.  Sciatica is a common discomfort associated with pregnancy and there are several great yoga poses you can do to relieve the pain.

First, it helps to understand what causes Sciatica during pregnancy.   Usually, it is because of swelling of and around the the piriformis muscle.  In simple terms, the Piriforis muscle starts at the Sacrum, goes through the muscle of your butt/pelvis and then connects to the top of your femur or thigh bone.  During pregnancy, as your body begins to create more fluid and everything in the pelvic area begins to swell, the piriformis muscle can tighten and put pressure on the Sciatic nerve.  This pressure on the nerve can cause pain, numbness and tingling down the leg.

So, by stretching the piriformis muscle, you can alleviate the pressure on the nerve and help to relieve your symptoms.

Pigeon Pose:

Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.
The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its midline presses against the floor. 

Join one of Darcy's Prenatal Yoga classes at the ChildLight Yoga studio in downtown Dover, NH.  Classes run on Sunday and Tuesday evenings.  For more info or to register, click here.

Darcy Sauers is a certified Prenatal Yoga teacher and a certified Yoga Birth Method instructor.  She is also a DONA certified Postpartum Doula and Certified Lactation Counselor.  Darcy teaches prenatal yoga classes and Yoga Birth Method workshops and private sessions in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire.  She is the owner of Dover Doula and a member of Great Bay Doulas.  Darcy lives in Dover, NH with her husband and three children.  For more information on  her upcoming classes and workshops, please visit  She can be reached at 603-988-5945 or 

Postpartum Doulas Provide Vital Support to the Community

Postpartum doulas are knowledgeable professionals who assist families during the critical period immediately after the birth of their baby.  They “mother the mother” and offer physical, emotional and informational support to the family, as well as practical help.  The doula’s expertise in mother and baby care enables her to assist with postpartum comfort measures, breastfeeding support, non-judgmental guidance in infant care techniques, information on normal postpartum restoration, and family emotional assistance through this major transition.

These doulas provide essential support during the modern postpartum experience, a time when many mothers today feel uninformed, isolated and anxious.  Traditionally, the postpartum period was a “nesting period,” when a new mother was attended to by other experienced mothers.  They helped take care of her and her family, so that the mother could focus on the vital tasks of postpartum recovery, emotional adaptation to great change and getting to know her precious little one.

Today few families have such support, and frequently become exhausted and overwhelmed by the immense work of becoming parents.  Postpartum doulas gently guide and support families through this transition so that they may get off to the best start with their new baby.
The practical help that is included with a postpartum doula’s services vary, but most doulas make simple meals for the family, comfort and diaper the baby, answer the phone and door, and take care of the baby and any siblings while the parents nap, shower or take a much-needed break.  Some doulas will assist with laundry, errands or light housekeeping as well.

The doula is not a maid, though, nor is she a nurse.  She leaves diagnoses and clinical procedures to medically trained personnel, but will make referrals to a medical professional if she notices something of concern.  However, it is commonly felt that a doula can help a mother stay healthy and reduce her chances of postpartum complications.  She does this by educating the mother and enabling her to focus on her recovery from birth and to rest as much as possible.  Doulas keep the mother well nourished and hydrated, and help to reduce incidences of sleep deprivation and postpartum depression.  Studies have shown that with the help of a postpartum doula, breastfeeding duration is increased, while feeding problems and depression decrease.  Also, parents report feeling more confident and less stressed or anxious.

Darcy Sauers of Dover Doula offers postpartum doula  services in the Seacoast area and she is nationally certified by DONA (Doulas of North America).  Darcy is knowledgeable about many aspects of postpartum, including infant care and development, normal postpartum restoration and cesarean recovery, breastfeeding assistance, postpartum depression, facilitating bonding and more.   For more information contact Darcy via her website at or 603-988-5945.

From:  Perinatal Education Associates, Inc.