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Doulas for Dummies

A few reasons you might want to book your doula before entering the labor ward.

Doulas for Dummies
©Jada Shapiro, Birth Day Presence

The day your baby is born will likely be the best day of your life...eventually. But first comes labor. To help get you closer to the sweet cry of your new baby, a doula can provide extra emotional and physical support before, during and after labor. Jada Shapiro, founder of boober and Birth Day Presence, gives Well Rounded the rundown on birth doula services and makes the case for adding one extra VIP to the delivery room.

Well Rounded: Why would someone choose to use a doula during the birthing experience?

Jada Shapiro: A doula provides extra emotional and physical support to the laboring woman and her partner. Studies show that if a woman is birthing with an OB, she can expect to see her doctor about 5 percent of the time and she may see her nurse about 25 percent of the time. So, couples are left alone for much of the birth experience. A doula is the only childbirth professional who stays continuously with the mother throughout her entire labor.

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Doulas also free up a partner to have his/her own emotional experience and to just be there for the mom. Finally, studies show that doula care leads to a reduction in unnecessary cesarean births, reductions in postpartum depression, reductions in request for pain medications, and an increase in maternal satisfaction with the birth experience.

WR: What services does a doula provide, from the most minimal relationship to the most in-depth offering?

JS: Doulas provide pain relief techniques, massage, emotional and physical support, informational support, reassurance, and more to help the mother and her partner through the birth experience. Once a doula is hired, she is on-call 24-7 by phone and email from 36 weeks until birth. Usually, she comes to the mother's home at about 36 weeks for a prenatal meeting with the parent(s)-to-be about how she can best support them through the birth. She will join the family during labor when the mother requests her presence, and stay until about 1-2 hours after the birth, helping with breastfeeding and getting the family settled.

WR: How does a doula complement the birth, rather than compete or conflict?

JS: If you hire a doula who is following the correct standards and codes for doula practice according to DONA International (the organization which certifies our affiliated doulas), then she will not be competing or conflicting with your midwife or doctor in any way. A doula is non-clinical, and there to support the mother emotionally, physically and informationally. The doula complements the medical staff by providing the calm state and reassurance a women needs during labor. Many of the care providers we work with recommend a doula because it makes their job easier, and over the past decade, we have seen some of the formerly doula-resistant doctors begin to accept our role in labor.

WR: What are some of the most important characteristics for a person to determine when choosing the right doula for their birth?

JS: Chemistry between the mother and the doula is critical. Do you feel a good, strong connection? Can you imagine that person there with you during one of the most intimate times of your life? Does she make you feel safe and secure? Choosing a doula is partially about listening to your gut instincts, and partially about practical things like your budget, doula experience and personality type.

WR: Are doulas just a luxury for ladies who lunch? Are there affordable options?

JS: We believe that all pregnant women and families who want a doula should be able to work with one. Birth Day Presence provides a wide range of doulas, with fees starting at $300 for doulas-in-training. All doulas affiliated with Birth Day Presence take our incredible doula training, and some trainees just out of our program will volunteer their services to families in need. Insurance is starting to cover doula care as well.

WR: There's a common perception that only "crunchy" gals use doulas. Does hiring a doula mean you have to have a home birth or can't have an epidural?

JS: Absolutely not!! Our clients run the gamut from granola to glitz, and we are there to support women through whatever type of birth they want to have. Most births in New York City take place in the hospital, and most women have epidurals. But even if you are planning to have an epidural, you still have to be in labor before you can get one, or the anesthesiologist may be unavailable for 1-2 hours. What if the epidural doesn't totally work for you? These are all cases where having a doula could be critical.

Think of a doula as an extra helper. Even with pain medication in play, there will still be a lot of hard work ahead for you, from pushing the baby out, to managing any potential medical side effects, and helping once the baby comes out. And for those women who hope to avoid pain medication, a doula is so helpful in providing non-pharmacological pain-management techniques and encouragement.

Photography by ©Jada Shapiro, Birth Day Presence

http://www.birthdaypresence.net

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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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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