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Birth Decoded

Choices in Childbirth is taking the guesswork out of the birthing experience and empowering moms-to-be.

Birth Decoded

It seems that everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about doulas, midwives and birthing options (and at 5 months pregnant, I’m all ears!). Of course my mother-in-law still says "huh?" every time I mention the word doula or midwife, but I’ve found that even some of my most conservative pals are seeking out resources for their best birth.

The options can be overwhelming but luckily our friends over at NYC-based Choices in Childbirth are passionate about educating and encouraging expecting moms to explore what's out there. From breaking down the differences between an OB, midwife or doula, to detailing the benefits of doula care before, during and after birth, Choices in Childbirth is all about promoting safe, healthy, and empowered births. We recently chatted up the new director, Michele Giordano, about birth centers, expectant parent groups and what NYC area hospitals are the most doula-friendly.

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Tell us about Choices in Childbirth.

Choices in Childbirth is a non-profit education, policy, and advocacy organization that advances women’s health by promoting safe, healthy, and empowered births. Choices in Childbirth offers workshops, tools, and resources to help expecting moms evaluate the many options for where, how, and with whom to birth. Choices in Childbirth also advocates for evidence-based birth practices and improved maternal health policies on the local, state, and federal levels. We put the power of childbirth back in the hands of women and families, one birth at a time.

What brought you to the organization?

My own pregnancy and becoming a mom was the catalyst to want to be part of Choices in Childbirth. I realized how important it was during my own pregnancy to feel informed about my birth choices, have a childbirth educator I trusted, have midwives who knew me, and feel empowered to make the choices that fit for my family. I knew right away after experiencing some of the challenges I had in seeking these options in NYC that I wanted to get involved with Choices in Childbirth and ensure all women had the best care possible for their birth experience.

What are the challenges CIC is currently facing and how do you plan to address them?

In terms of maternity care in NYC, there is a birth center bill that will be the center of our advocacy work for 2015. This bill would revise regulations covering birth centers and allow for more birth centers to exist in NYC without a physician. This would solve the hospital vs. home birth dichotomy we see in NYC. Right now we only have two birth centers, one at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, which is an in-hospital birth center, and the Brooklyn Birth Center, the only free-standing birth center in New York City. Two birth centers for the 123,000 women that give birth each year is not enough!

Tell us more about your recently released doula care report, touting the importance of doulas during labor and the postpartum period.

We constantly have this conversation in our office! Three of us are moms, and if we had a genie bottle and could make a wish, we would love to give every mom a doula! I had a doula at my birth and a postpartum doula, and I would say that the biggest difference doulas makes is to support and coach you throughout your labor and birth and then afterwards when you are shifting to newborn care.

One of my favorite sayings is: “Asking your partner to be your sole guide through labor is like asking them to lead the way on a climb of Mt. Everest. Your partner may be smart and trustworthy, you may love them, but in the Himalayas you’d both be a lot better off with a Sherpa.” –Pat England, a doula based in Albuquerque

It’s not my quote, but I feel it really illustrates why a doula is so important—they have experience with birth and newborn care! Also, it’s important that we acknowledge that moms need just as much nurturing as their babies after birth. We need professionals who can provide experience and information so families feel supported in the fourth trimester when there are many changes and new ways to take care of our babies and ourselves.

Which NYC area hospitals are the most doula-friendly? Why do you think these spots welcome doulas more than others?

NYU is extremely doula friendly. In fact, in our recent survey, doulas overwhelmingly voted NYU the most doula friendly hospital in the city. NYU has consciously made the effort to educate their nurses about doula care and collaborating with doulas. I gave birth at Maimonides, which was also very open to my bringing a doula into the room. Maimonides has the only hospital-based doula program in the city, and the providers and nurses have become accustomed to working with doulas over many years. When providers and nurses get to work with doulas regularly, they are able to see the numerous benefits they offer--making it a smoother, more empowering, more satisfying experience for the mother, while hopefully also making the nurses’ jobs a little easier by offering another set of hands to take care of the woman giving birth.

Do you have any advice on where NY area moms can find a network of women who have experience with a variety of birth options?

At our workshops! We offer interactive workshops for expectant parents and just had one this past year on doula care. The unique aspect of our workshops is we bring in a panel of parents who have made the very choices the expecting parents are considering. For expecting parents it’s a great way to hear from new parents whether they were happy with their choice and why and how it made a difference for them. I would also recommend that expecting moms ask their childbirth educator, their maternity care provider, and other moms in their network for doula referrals. However, choosing a doula is very much about chemistry and fit, so it’s important to speak to a few doulas and determine what feels right for you as an expecting mom.

What's coming down the pipeline from CIC in the coming year?

We are excited to launch our next policy report, Realizing the Affordable Care Act through the Midwifery Model of Care. Choices in Childbirth is committed to bringing women’s voices to each part of the maternity care experience in NYC. This upcoming project will investigate how midwifery care is being experienced in NYC and what the barriers are for women who want to give birth with a midwife. We also will continue to offer our Healthy Birth Choices Workshops and we will have some new topics to offer expecting parents.

Image courtesy of Choices in Childbirth.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

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Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

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Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

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Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

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Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

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Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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