Deborah Carlisle Solomon on RIE and the Newborn

Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) is a way of parenting that remained on the periphery of my own parenting until my first child was almost two. During his infancy, I was unsure how to practice RIE alongside attachment parenting (AP), but as he grew increasingly mobile, I was looking for a structured way to discipline, that would be respectful of him as an individual and allow him his own thoughts and ideas.

I began to read blogs and joined a RIE Facebook group for parents with toddlers. Then I discovered a book called, 1, 2, 3 … The Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers, and it completely changed my perspective on my role as a parent. I learned to give my son space to figure things out on his own, and I saw him begin to trust in himself and his own abilities.

Deborah Carlisle Solomon

Deborah Carlisle Solomon

A year later when I was pregnant with my daughter and seeking resources on how best to use RIE from birth, I discovered Deborah Carlisle Solomon’s book, Baby Knows Best. What I was taught in Baby Knows Best enabled me to feel confident in practicing RIE with my new baby. It was especially helpful after the delivery, when I didn’t have the energy to adhere as closely to the tenants of attachment parenting.

Baby Knows Best educates about RIE from birth to 2 years old. It walks us through caring for our newborn, managing infant sleep, and even how to support developmental milestones naturally through freedom of movement.

Deborah is a leader in the field of child development and I’m overjoyed to share her wisdom on the topic of RIE and the newborn.

Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®)

For families unfamiliar with RIE, how would you summarize the philosophy succinctly?  

RIE® is a way of being with and caring for a baby that supports the baby to feel more peaceful and secure. When a baby feels peaceful and secure, he is easier to care for and this creates greater harmony for the whole family.

Magda Gerber co-founded RIE in 1978 with pediatric neurologist Dr. Tom Forrest. Her Educaring® Approach is comprehensive and addresses all aspects of a baby’s development and daily life. It includes gross motor, fine motor and socio-emotional development of the baby; respectful, attuned caregiving practices; sensitive observation of the baby to understand his needs; the importance of play and appropriate play environments; and consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline, among other topics.

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Bodywork for Babies with Dr. Kolleen Gregory of Focus Chiropractic

Dr. Kolleen Gregory specializes in infants, children and pregnancy at Focus Chiropractic, the family practice she founded with her husband Dr. Richard Gregory.

I met Dr. Kolleen and Dr. Richard during my second pregnancy, when I visited their practice due to pregnancy related discomfort. After experiencing sciatica and symphysis pubis dysfunction during my first pregnancy, I wanted to take preventative steps to avoid that happening again. Chiropractic care helped me stay pain free and active, so I could care for my young son, while pregnant with my daughter.

Dr. Kolleen Gregory

Many people do not associate body work or chiropractic care with infants. However, an initial assessment can benefit all newborns to make certain they aren’t restricted or misaligned. It’s more common than we tend to think. During my years working as a Doula, I have seen newborns with feeding issues, gassy tummies and reflux symptoms that improved after receiving gentle body adjustments. Often babies who have had difficult births, or who are twins, can benefit from this type of body work. Babies who feel comfortable in their bodies, are relaxed, and they transition into life outside the womb with more ease.

For more information about Dr. Kolleen, Dr. Richard and Focus Chiropractic, please visit their website, and follow them on Instagram.

Chiropractic Education

What type of education does a chiropractor have and what kind of special training do they receive to treat infants?

Most chiropractic colleges take about four years to complete, depending on whether they are on a semester or trimesters schedule. A Bachelor of Science is required before enrolling into a program. General chiropractic adjusting education covers how to treat patients from newborn to 100 year olds.

I trained under and have a fellowship with The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). This is a postgraduate course, which we take in addition to our regular professional training. The course covers newborn to adolescent adjusting, as well as therapeutic techniques such as cranio-sacral therapy and the sacral occipital technique. In addition, we learn how to provide pregnancy and postpartum care, including the Webster technique.

We continue to train with the ICPA annually. Last year we traveled to Chicago, to train with one of the prominent pediatric specialists in Chiropractic, Dr. Martin Rosen, who specializes in cranial work with newborns. It is very exciting to continue to learn from the best in the field and this allows us to provide families with the very best care possible. Doctors of Chiropractic who are members of the ICPA have taken postgraduate classes on specific techniques for pregnant mothers, infants and children to enhance their knowledge and skills in this field.

Common Misconceptions

What is a common misconception about chiropractic care you often find yourself educating people about?

The most common misconception about chiropractic care is that babies are adjusted the same way adults are. It’s just not true, nor is it true in any other health field. Children, especially infants, are physically and structurally different than adults. Adults have 206 bones, while infants are born with 300 bones! Adults have dense skeletal bones; children have malleable “softer” bones. These differences go on and on. Chiropractors who specialize in pediatric care use very gentle and effective techniques designed specifically for infants.

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Preparing for a VBAC with Hypnobirthing

Although down from a high of 32.9% in 2009, cesarean births in the United States have risen from 5% in 1970 to 31.9% in 2016, which was the last year of national statistics posted by the CDC.

With this rise has also come the increase in mothers with previous cesareans educating themselves about TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean delivery). While every trial of labor after cesarean won’t end in a vaginal delivery, the success rates for VBAC, according to the ACOG Practice Bulletin published in November 2017, are 60-80%.

Renee Bradfield, HPCE, of The Birth Space, is a certified hypnobirthing teacher and postnatal doula in Australia. She is the mother of two, the second of which was delivered during a TOLOC that resulted in a successful VBAC. Renee and I connected via Instagram where I stumbled upon a link to her moving VBAC birth story.

Preparing for VBAC | Renee Bradfield, Certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner

Here, she shares some tips for preparing for a successful VBAC, as well as how she utilized Hynpobirthing during her own pregnancy and delivery.

Choosing a VBAC

I’ve known many moms who would like to try for a VBAC and get overwhelmed with all of the planning, especially conflicting information. Once you made the decision to have a VBAC, what did you do next?

Once I had read all the current evidence and decided a VBAC was the safest option, I joined support groups online and read every birth story, I read books (Juju Sundin, Ina May, Grantly Dick-Read) and started to prepare my mind with self-hypnosis tracks.

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Breastfeeding Twins: Advice from Lactation Consultant and Twin Mom Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC

Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC, is a UK-based Lactation Consultant certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. Her philosophy, as she puts it, “empowers and enables mums to fulfill and surpass their breastfeeding goals with factual, evidence based information and emotional support. With these tools, women are amazing and can overcome unimaginable difficulties.”Breastfeeding Twins

Thirteen years ago, Kathryn received such great breastfeeding support after welcoming her twins, she decided to become an IBCLC. She now runs a website and Facebook page dedicated to helping nursing mothers of multiples.

In my own work as a postpartum doula, I’ve seen many well-prepared mothers of twins struggle with breastfeeding for various reasons. Many of the available breastfeeding books are written from the perspective of nursing a singleton, and it can take more effort to find resources focused on breastfeeding multiples.

It’s rare to encounter a Lactation Consultant who also successfully breastfed her own twins. I interviewed Kathryn so she can share her first hand knowledge and advice about breastfeeding twins.

Breastfeeding Twins

Q: I have worked with moms of twins who compare their breastfeeding experience to what they’ve read in general breastfeeding books or what they’ve witnessed with friends who have one baby. How is breastfeeding twins different from breastfeeding a singleton?

A: The actual act of breastfeeding is the same, no matter how many babies you have. The latch still has to be the same, and in order to make enough milk it is important for the babies to remove the milk frequently and effectively, just as it is with one baby. The main difference is that there are two babies! But also twin babies tend to be smaller and are often born early, not normally born after 38 weeks and often before. This impacts how easily they will be able to breastfeed, and can make the early days quite challenging, as they can be sleepy and difficult to wake for feeds.

Q: What are the time demands to exclusively breastfeed twins?

A: Basically expect to spend the first 6 to 8 weeks breastfeeding a lot. If mom prefers to breastfeed separately, breastfeeding can be pretty time consuming until the babies become more efficient later. If moms can manage to get tandem feeding going this helps massively as it can halve the time it takes! Once the babies become more efficient when they’re a few months old, breastfeeding can be really quick.

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Navigating the NICU: A Glossary

Whether you’ve just had your first child, or your fifth, every birth and every baby is different. Even under ideal circumstances, labor and delivery can have its challenges. When your infant arrives very early, or has health complications, this experience can intensify.Navigating the NICU: A Glossary

If your newborn needs acute medical assistance or observation, they are admitted to the hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where they will be carefully monitored 24 hours a day by a specialized team of nurses and life-saving machines. Parents are released for home, and quickly learn to juggle hospital visiting hours, regular life, work and the many unknowns involved when your baby is in the hospital.

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Overcoming Infant Loss and the NICU with Priscilla

Priscilla is a survivor of infant loss and the mother of a NICU graduate. Her wish is for all women to experience complication free births. We met via social media where we’ve been following each other for years. She posted something for NICU Awareness Month and I asked her if she would share her family’s story and she agreed.

Overcoming Infant Loss and the NICU

Her first baby, her daughter, only lived a few hours after being born unexpectedly preterm at 22-weeks gestation. William, her second baby, was born full term at 40-weeks gestation and experienced meconium aspiration during his birth. He went on to spend 2-months in the NICU recovering from this and persistent pulmonary hypertension. Today he’s a healthy, happy and thriving 4-year-old.

Nothing tops the kinship you feel when you connect with someone who’s had the same or similar childbirth experience. Reading her story brought back so many of my own memories of progesterone shots and nights in the NICU. I can relate to the triumph of achieving a full-term pregnancy, after a preterm birth, only to have it end in a second complicated delivery.

We share this story in solidarity to highlight the experiences of families that have also coped with infant loss, preterm birth and having a baby in the NICU.

How did you handle being pregnant after the loss of your first baby, a preemie? 

Honestly, not that well. I knew from the moment I lost my first baby that I needed some serious mental health care. Though I went untreated since I didn’t have stable insurance or general access to any practitioners. So when I got pregnant again, I was extremely nervous and anxious all the time. I had flashbacks to my loss, especially whenever I had to go to the doctor and do ultrasounds. And I allowed my PTSD to kind of consume me at times. I became hell-bent on being able to control every single aspect of the birth.

I had a great OB/GYN but I disliked the hospital she delivered at, they had a higher c-section rate and were not very flexible on allowing mothers freedom and choice during childbirth. So I found a Doula thinking she might be able to help, but she was part of a group of doulas and midwives who were very pushy about natural birth and home birth. They swore that I could do this birth at home with a new midwife and I was coerced into leaving my OB/GYN and it did not turn out well. During labor, my son got stuck and we had to have an emergency transfer. Thank goodness, because he aspirated meconium and had persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), which the midwife would not have been prepared to manage during a homebirth.

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How I Survived Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I recently read the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting baby number three. It’s her third pregnancy with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Reading about it has me thinking about my experience with HG.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

A wise mother of three once told me every pregnancy has at least one discomfort. During my son’s pregnancy I had sciatica pain in my lower back. With my daughter’s pregnancy my morning sickness continued the entire pregnancy. I recall even wondering, “maybe its twins this time.” As a childbirth educator I knew HG was more common in twin pregnancies. I had no idea then I was predicting the future. My doctor diagnosed me with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. He also assured me I was not pregnant with twins. I laugh now even thinking about it.

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Having a Preemie: Continuity of Care in the NICU

Care and Continuity for Premature Babies in the NICU

I strongly believe continuity of care is one of the most important things we can do for the happiness of our babies. The proverb, “it takes a village,” is the belief that emotional and physical support, from extended family and caregivers, ensures a calm and welcoming environment for children to grow into healthy adults.

As a first time mom, having nurturing people around me meant more sleep and less stress. It also meant having more time to focus on bonding with my son. He thrived having “a village” to meet his needs with sensitivity and familiarity.

Reminiscing

There are many memories from my time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit I can recall with clarity. I remember the first nurse I met in the NICU, Lisa, she was working beside my son’s bedside when I saw him for the first time. I can call to mind the view out the window from my chair next to the incubator and even the parking attendant in the garage. The moment I can’t recall is meeting the nurse who became the source of our greatest encouragement in the NICU, Lora. I know it was the first week, because she was with me on day five. The first day I was able to hold Bastian.

Although I was a mother with a newborn, until that day, I hadn’t been able to hold or care for my baby. His micro prematurity required a level of care which could only be provided by medically trained professionals. In our first foray into Kangaroo care, often called skin-to-skin contact, I finally felt like a normal new mom.

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Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

I think of Sweden in the same way as Narnia. A far off place with foresty islands, magical light, mythical history, and renowned novelists with strong female protagonists such as Lisbeth and Annika. They also have generous paid family leave. I try not to think about the dark cold winters, and focus on a country that is creating policies to offer families the healthiest work life balance.

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Today, we present Emma Olevik, a horticulture journalist based in Sweden with her husband and three daughters. I had the fortune to “meet” her in an online photography class several years ago. At the time she was a mother of two and I was a mother of one. We bonded over ‘Wabi-sabi’ and have kept in touch since.

Here we talk about having and raising a family in Sweden while being a working mom.

As told to me March 2016. Emma welcomed her 3rd child, a beautiful baby girl, in October 2016. 

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Are there birth doulas and postpartum doulas in Sweden?

Yes, it exists, but it is unusual. But getting more and more common I think. None of my friends had a doula, or anyone I’ve heard of, but you can easily find one online.

During your pregnancies did you receive care from a midwife or an obstetrician?

In Sweden once you find out you are pregnant you call your local ”mother care central” where you register and get a personal midwife whom you meet regularly during the pregnancy. Once or maybe twice you visit the hospital for a scanning/ultrasound (more often if there are special needs). You don’t meet an obstetrician as long as everything is “normal.” Even during the actual birth it is most common to be assisted by a midwife and a nurse. They call on an obstetrician if there is a need for it.

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Motherhood: Fantasy vs. Reality.

Our hopes and dreams create the passion we need to strive in life. However, the vagaries of reality can be disillusioning. Childbirth, and the transition into motherhood, is one of those times where our fantasies often do not match reality.

​The singer Freddie Mercury summed it up in his epic ballad, Bohemian Rhapsody:

“Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.”

Motherhood: Fantasy vs. Reality.

During times when it feels like there’s no escape from the landslide of reality, it’s only natural to seek external inspiration. It’s tempting to jump online and read what others have done to make it work, and copy them. There are plenty of rosy stories with women who seem to have it all. There are also endless tips, tricks and advice articles. While none of this is necessarily bad, it can end up spinning you in circles with no clear direction. Keep in mind that inspiration is not mimicry, it should be a catalyst for finding your own way and methods.

During pregnancy, many of us have expectations for birth and the kind of mother we will be when our baby is here. These expectations can quickly become misaligned with reality depending on how labor goes, what your baby is like and how much support you have during the early days of motherhood.

It’s also important to listen to yourself and find birth professionals who are a good fit. There’s nothing like hiring an obstetrician who doesn’t remember delivering your first child or a lactation consultant who grabs your breast without asking.

A popular book that many women read during pregnancy is “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” It’s filled with encouraging birth stories and advice to trust your body and instincts. Ina May’s books are relevant and important, however it’s important to remember they are also “inspirational.” Striving for an ideal birth can be empowering… but the flip side is that sometimes you just can’t attain it. Being able to accept a not-so-dreamy birth, after fantasizing about a perfect one can be difficult.

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