All posts by bellfamilycompany

What Are Doulas, and Do I Need One?

While doulas are becoming a more common addition to an expectant families birth or postpartum plan, many still aren’t quite sure what a doula actually does. Below is a brief overview of the ways Birth and Postpartum Doulas help the families they work with.

Birth Doulas

We recommend families start interviewing Birth Doulas during the second trimester of pregnancy. It can take a few weeks to line up interviews to find the perfect doula fit. Once hired, your doula is available to you for any questions you may have over email, phone or text. You can also expect:

Pre-birth: during the third trimester, your doula will schedule prenatal meetings. These are valuable sessions to help plan for the day of birth. Your doula will review any childbirth education classes you may have taken and answer any questions you might have. She’ll also help you make a few logistical plans for the day of birth. We never know exactly how labor will unfold, however having a few different plans for how labor may start can be particularly helpful.

Your doula will also help you practice different comfort measures for labor. This may be a combination of movements, breathing techniques, guided imagery, hypnosis, massage techniques and more. She’ll help your partner be prepared for when labor starts, with some guidance on helping you during early labor when contractions are mild.

Day of: on the day of your birth your doula will be on call and ready to meet you when you need support. She can meet you either at your home or hospital, whichever works best depending on how your labor is progressing. Your doula is your guide – she’ll help you manage contractions by coaching you through breathing and comfort techniques. She’ll encourage you every step of the way. For your partner, she’ll help normalize the experience and be a reassuring presence.

At the hospital, your doula will help you settle in and be as comfortable as possible. She’ll help you dialog with medical staff and make sure you have all the information you need to make decisions should they arise. If an epidural is requested, doulas have lots of techniques to help clients rest in different positions to help facilitate the baby’s decent into the birth canal.

Every step of the way during your labor, your doula is there for you and your partner, whether it’s gathering supplies, getting you a drink of water, or offering a massage.  

Following the birth of your baby, your doula will help you with the first latch, get you settled in with a high protein snack, take some family photos if you’d like, and help you be as comfortable as possible for those early bonding hours.

Postpartum: after you’re settled in at home, your Birth Doula will return within the first one to two weeks after the birth to have a postpartum check in session. This is a wonderful time to recap the birth experience together. This is also a good time to trouble shoot any lactation, newborn care or postpartum healing questions that may have come up. Your doula will be able to direct you to community resources if they’re needed.

Postpartum Doulas

Preparing for the postpartum period, aka “the fourth trimester” is incredibly important for the whole family unit. You’ll never regret setting yourself up with help so you can rest and focus on feeding your baby during those early weeks and months.

Postpartum Doulas are available to assist families either during the day or overnight. Daytime doulas spend a lot of their time focusing on guidance and education for the new family. This might include assisting with breastfeeding and latching, teaching newborn care such as bathing, swaddling, and soothing techniques.  

In addition to baby care, the postpartum doula can also run errands, prepare meals, tidy up the home, and attend to things that help the day move forward for the household. Your postpartum doula is your guide- she’ll help you develop and strengthen your parenting confidence so that when she’s not there, you feel secure with your baby.

Overnight doulas are typically hired so new parents can get as much sleep as possible. For moms who are breastfeeding, the postpartum doula can provide support during nighttime feedings if needed. Although mom will need to wake to breastfeed, the doula handles all the diaper changes, swaddling and soothing so mom can get some much needed rest in between feeds. She can also make you a middle of the night snack, and have breakfast ready for you in the morning.

Postpartum doulas typically work with families anywhere from the first 2-3 weeks following the birth, all the way up to the first 5-6 months depending on the family’s needs. We recommend families interview postpartum doulas in the third trimester of pregnancy, though many clients hire postpartum help after the baby is born.

If you’d like to learn more about birth and postpartum doula services, or have questions about your particular situation, feel free to reach out to Baby Caravan: info@babycaravan.com or @babycaravan on Instagram.

3 months

About Baby Caravan

Baby Caravan provides holistic support for families, from pregnancy through returning to work postpartum. Founded in 2014, Baby Caravan’s mission is to provide families in New York City with exceptional birth and postpartum knowledge, guidance and resources through our network of professional Birth & Postpartum Doulas. We connect families with vetted doulas, to best meet their needs during this special, yet challenging time. In addition to doula services, Baby Caravan coaches moms returning to work following maternity leave to help smooth the transition back to work. 

Written by our guest blog partner Jennifer Mayer, Founder Baby Caravan

BFL – Bedtime Routine Tips from the Experts!

Big City Moms has always supporting LLD & BFC, invited us a while back to their Sleep Experts Lunch to speak about the importance of communicating bedtime routines to your sitter. Here are a few important tips!

Newborn-sleeping
1. Give your sitter a tour of your home. Show your sitter the kids rooms, point out dangerous areas you want the kids to stay away from and give specific instructions on how things work.

2. Bedtime Rules. Talk to your sitter about your bedtime routine with the kids i.e. What time do you begin to wind down the night? What is your child’s favorite story and/or bedtime song? What time should they be asleep by?

3. Special Instructions.  Are there any special rules you have? Do your kids have any allergies the sitter should know about? Are the kid’s sick and need medicine?

4. Exchange Contact Info. Be sure to leave your sitter with your cell phone and an emergency contact numbers. Be sure to get her cell phone number so that you can text her throughout the night if you have any questions or to check in.

5. Anything else? Sitters are happy to lend a helping hand. If you’d like them to unload the dishwasher or change the laundry most sitters won’t mind. Especially once they have been at your home a few times and you feel connected to them. They will be happy to help!

I stayed to listen to Kira Ryan, mom, sleep lover and co-founder of Dream Team speak about her infant& toddler sleep tips. Here are a few!

  • Newborns should get 15-18 hours of sleep per day (24hrs)
  • A good bedtime for an infant is between 6-8pm
  • Signs of a sleepy infant: the cry is different, no engagement or eye contact, fussy
  • What is normal?
    • Up to 6 mo infants take naps every1 ½ -2 hours
    • At 6mo infants usually take 2 naps per day
    • 15-18 mo 1 long nap in the afternoon
    • Naps or ‘quiet time’ is recommended up to 3-4 years
    • White noise machines are great especially for city noise
    • Crib should be a sleep sanctuary, anything that screams party or playground should be removed
    • Check the nursery temperature! It should be between 68-72 F.
    • Is the room dark enough? Get blackout shades!

For more info on Dream Team click here

Best Burping Methods

Dear Ask-A-Sitter,

What are the best burping techniques?  I have heard so many. I just want to communicate the best one to my sitter when I leave her with my infant.  What do you recommend?

-Tooty Twins

Dear Tooty Twins,

Yes that is true, everyone seems to have their own method, which makes sense because every baby is different. What works for your lil’ one may not work for another. Try out a few different positions & see which one seems to mesh with your infant the best. Sometimes I also find switching from one burping position to to the other helps the baby release gas.  Here are my top 3 burping positions that seem to work best with an infant:

– Hold your baby with their chin near your shoulder, support the baby with one hand and gently pat/rub their back with the other to sooth them while allowing their body to stretch out

– Sit your baby on your lap with one hand supporting their chin and pat/rub their back

– Lay your baby at a slight angle (with their head higher then their chest) on your lap facing you, rub their belly to sooth them while they stretch out their body. I use this method as a last resort after trying the first two above

Right after burping. The twins are as happy as can be.

Remember to support your lil’ ones head and pat/rub gently.  Your baby doesn’t always need to be burped, if he or she seems happy, they’re probably comfortable. And don’t forget to use a burp cloth regardless of the method you choose.

-LB

Our First Santa Christmas!

This was the first year my oldest daughter really understood the whole concept of Santa Clause. In year’s past, we told her the gifts came from him, but she was too young to comprehend all the reindeer, sled, and cookie-eating details. My husband and I realized we needed to get our “Santa game” going when Avery started asking lots of questions…..was Santa was going to bring her gifts this year? How was he going to fit down the chimney? What happens if one of his reindeers gets sick? Does he like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies? I have no idea where she was getting all of these questions, but I knew we needed answers quick and those answers needed to be consistent between me and her Dad!

Once we got our stories straight, the fun really began! She was so curious and wanted to watch every movie and read every book on this mysterious Santa Clause. We went to visit him and two of his reindeer, Snowball and Sven (children of Dasher), and this really blew her mind. She asked Santa to bring her two simple gifts and we were relieved! We could totally manage to get her a book and a soft bear without throwing the pocketbook off for the month. The joy from meeting Santa for the first time put a smile on her face that seemed to never end.  She was genuinely fascinated that he would take the time to come to our home town when he had so much work to do to get ready for Christmas. We told her that is just what Santa does because he loves good little boys and girls so much!

mbreindeer

On Christmas Eve, the anticipation was killing Avery! So many questions on her little mind. Would Santa really come? Would he eat the cookies she left for him? Drink the milk? Remember what she wanted and deliver on her requests? After she was all tucked in, we set the stage for her mind to be blown yet again. We gobbled down the cookies, chugged the milk, and placed the two gifts – a book and a soft bear – under the tree. We double checked that both girls were fast asleep and hit the sack ourselves. The next morning was truly priceless. She was ecstatic over every detail and loved the gifts. She couldn’t believe he remembered what she had asked for! It was a morning to remember for the whole family.

mb santa1

Although Santa Clause and gifts are not the true reason for the season, it was fun to watch her imagination run wild this holiday season! Can’t wait to do it all again next year!

– Sitter2Mom Mindy B.

BFL – To Swaddle, or Not To Swaddle

With the end of the year traditionally high season for a deluge of new babies, we wanted to re-post some oldies but goodies.

One thing in particular that I have been obsessed with is swaddling. The twins were literally taken from the womb & placed immediately into a swaddle.

Here is what a swaddle looks like.

This simple technique mastered by many hospitals to comfort a newborns is preached to new moms as they take their lil’ ones home & boy does it work.  The twins stay nestled in a swaddle all day & night. They are completely at ease. It’s when they are taken out of the swaddle for one of their many changes that it gets loud.

Swaddling is quick & easy. Most swaddle blankets even include instruction. Check out these photos to show you how to properly swaddle a baby.

 Why swaddle?
  • Keeps baby cozy and mimics the womb
  • Helps reduce nighttime scratching
  • Helps regulate baby’s temperature until that fully develops
  • Can soothe an overstimulated lil’ one

This technique definitely isn’t a one-size fits all solution for helping a lil’ one sleep, but it sure works on my twin nieces & was highly recommended by the nursing staff at Mount Sinai.

-LB aka Aunt Linny

BFF – Everything has its Place

While in the midst of the holiday season it can seem overwhelming with the abundance of new toys, clothes and other additions to your home. Don’t wait for spring…  Get organized now!

It’s a great time of year to get rid of the old and donate it, sell it or pass it on. Then get the kids involved and identify where the new toys or misc. items will now live (their designated space) in your home, especially the kids’ room. When children understand that jackets are hung up, hats and gloves go in the designated drawer or bin and socks and shoes also have their own home you will be amazed at how much time, frustration and arguments you reduce. With the younger kids I like to make a game out of it and with the older kids, it’s about being responsible for their belongings and taking care of their stuff. This is a great time to allow natural consequences be the lesson.

As parents and caregivers we have to make sure we are modeling that same behavior and respect with our things. If everything has its home and is organized, it becomes a habit and it will drastically improve transitions, playtime, bedtime, homework and leaving the house. I find simple, kid friendly; organization is the foundation of teaching children about personal responsibility, respect, time management and appreciation.

For more information on quick & easy to implement organizing solutions for your family send an email to ali@bellfamilycompany.com.

– Ali , Nanny coordinator BFC

WWW – Mary Poppins comes to life

Bell Family Company has been a wonderful option for my family.  I’m afforded the occasional luncheon with a friend, yoga or spin class, and dinner alone with my husband.  As all moms know, a few hours a week among adults (or simply people who speak) provide respite and recharge from the groundhog day of diapering, feeding, and burping a 7 month old.  Admittedly, it took me over 5 months to separate myself from my newborn because I had such a horrid experience with a different agency.  Who can you trust with your firstborn and much loved child?

The inevitable arrived when I went out to celebrate my anniversary with my husband who was feeling a bit neglected.  A seasoned mother in my building referred me to Bell Family and guaranteed a good experience.  In a leap of faith, I submitted my kid sitter request and hoped for the best.

Guess who arrived?  Mary Poppins!  Ok, it was Alice who played Mary Poppins in the Alabama production but for all intensive identification, it was the ultimate baby sitter in my eyes.  After my two hour dinner, I found Alice cuddling Kermit and providing all the warmth and love I would want for him.  With a short sound-bite of “A Spoonful of Sugar”, she had him from tears to giggles.  She is amazing.

In the subsequent two months, I have met a number of other sitters who have impressed and restored my faith in kid providers.  Not only is Laura a kind and loving person, she graduated from one of my favorite Big 10 schools and promised to teach me their fight song.  Countless others have held my son and provided comfort to him in my absence.

All the sitters shared a common sentiment:  Lindsay Bell is remarkable.  I had to meet her.  And so I did.   She’s a savvy New York entrepreneur with sensible midwestern roots and charm.  Our meeting solidified my trust in Bell Family Company.

I believe in good karma.  I welcome Bell Family’s good energy into my home and am thrilled to meet such fascinating women with incredible New York experiences.  Most important, I am so happy Kermit is exposed to such kindness and love.  And that’s all a mother could ask.

– Accidental SAHM, Jeanne lives with her 7 month old and hubby in NYC

BFL – Care Academy

BFC recently sat down with Helen Adeosun, founder and CEO of CareAcademy, a great online resource for nannies and caregivers for a bevy of certifications and classes to enhance their skills and make them even better.

careacademy

How/why did you start CareAcademyI started CareAcademy after being humbled while working with a family that had two children with autism. I loved working with the family, but there was so much that I did not know and I was shocked that there were so few sources that I could learn how to specifically work with a family, and learn about care without having to get another degree.   Care Academy formerly SitterCycle.com was born out of a deep conviction that caregivers are smart and resourceful people, and that our site can serve as a place to learn and validate care skills online.
What is your personal background?  I have a 10+ year history as a nanny, have taught with Teach for America, and love learning as much as I can about everything which is why we get excited to find the best experts in care.

Favorite City?  Boston has my head, Atlanta has my heart, and DC is my second home.

Favorite nannying moment? I have tons and don’t know where to start. but it’s usually between that last hug or pull on your leg as you’re leaving for the day because your nanny kid had a great day with you or a mom who gushes about how great you are with her family. All reasons why this profession is incredible and the women who choose this path also incredible.

What’s next for CA?  Plenty! 2014 we learned a lot and made great leaps in content and in 2015 it’s about forming and helping caregivers find quality classes to hone their skills, teach skills and much more. We want to explore validation as much as possible including CEU hours for caregivers that take classes. We’d love to include Spanish classes and whatever a 20 hour day will help us build.

What is the scope of course offerings right now and where are you headed?  We started largely in professional development, because many great caregivers struggle with the interview and the presentation as a professional. We moved into skill based classes this year and those have received some amazing feedback, and next year we’re moving to the next step which is building more classes and finding ways to teach critical skills from coast to coast.

How do you pick your contributors/specialists?  We find amazing people first on a professional level that have graduated or have a background of excellence and have the credentials to prove they know their stuff. For instance Kathy Ireland is a registered dietician. Next we also ensure that this person has a background that makes them compatible with working with caregivers. We ask the question how well do you know your stuff, and how what does a nanny or caregiver working with a family need to know to make an the very next day.

 

 

BFF – Dad Poll

In this day in age many families are what they call a “shared family” meaning that both parents work full time and share equal responsibility in caring for their children. Working women with families are frequently asked, “how do you balance family and work” yet rarely are the men asked that same question. At the Elle Women in Hollywood event Jennifer Gardner touched on the subject. She stated that her and her husband (Ben Affleck) “do the same job, a little bit”, while she is asked over and over again how she balances her family and work, Ben has never been asked once. She thinks it is time to change the conversation, and so do we!  Here at Bell Family we are seeing more and more dads take initiative with their families scheduling, and everyday childcare needs. We want to shine the light on the dads who do it all. So we asked them “how do you balance being a husband, dad & working full time”?

And here were some results!

From Dad of 2 (5yrs & 3yrs old), married for 7 years said:

It’s certainly isn’t easy & I haven’t been perfect at it, but I do the best I can. I do what I have to do to provide for my family because that is my #1 responsibility. Having a great support system helps. It’s about being reliable. Time management is important & fortunately I feel that is a strength of mine. I try to savior & enjoy the little things. Going above & beyond goes a long way. Be thoughtful to my wife. Be conscience of other’s wants & needs. I try to take some time to myself to do something I enjoy too.   

From Dad of 1 (6 mo old), married for 2 years said:

I balance being a husband and father, and having a full-time job, by letting go of any kind of fixed routine that I had in my previous life. Being open to spending time with my wife and son as those opportunities present themselves is key – even if those times are when I have a million other things I think I need to do. Having open communications with my employer about outside of work commitments is critical as well.  I find that I sometimes have to catch up on work when everyone else is sleeping, and that is okay, particularly if that means I can spend quality time with the family and not be distracted by work.

From Dad of 5 (31, 30, 29, 27 & 23), married for 35 years said:

It’s hard to believe how many less responsibilities I have now. I seem busy 24/7 being 60 years old, I don’t know I managed it when my kids were growing up. A professor of mine once told me ‘You skin your own skunks’. Meaning if you have problems, handle them yourself. Don’t complain about it, just work it out. Nobody wants a whiner. So that’s what I did. It was really hard, but I just took care of it and did what I had to do. My wife and I didn’t have enough time to even think about going out or vacations. When we had a second it was really enjoyable just relaxing at home. I know I had one an advantage, all my family was under the same roof at night and during the day (as my wife and I taught at our kids school). So that made pick-up/drop-offs from school and practices and seeing the kids a lot much easier.

And finally, one of our dad’s provided us with this quote. From Dad of 2 (3yrs & 15 mo), married for 5 years

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between their work and their play; their labor and their leisure; their mind and their body; their education and their recreation. They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence through whatever they are doing, and leave others to determine whether they are working or playing. To themselves, they always appear to be doing both.”

Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand

Articles referenced (http://www.citydadsgroup.com/blog/ben-affleck-jennifer-garner-work-life-balance-sexism/)

WWW – Christmas in Edgartown

This is a bit of a public service announcement regarding a wonderful tradition of ours that while I would love to keep it a secret, want to share it with other East Coast families!  My husband spent a summer on Martha’s Vineyard after he graduated college and fell in love with the island; he then took me there for our first trip together as a couple and we have been going every August ever since!  A couple of years ago we learned they have this fun-filled holiday weekend called Christmas in Edgartown.  We have gone a handful of times just the two of us but were so excited to bring our daughter for the first time and to go as a family; it truly was WONDERFUL!  I have such vivid memories of riding the ferry prior to having a child and longingly looking over at the other moms and dads chasing their little ones around the boat and I just could not wait until we were able to do that ourselves, and sure enough, this past Friday on the 12:30 ferry, there we were, chasing Ashton all over the boat!

samferry

While the vineyard in the summer is amazing, it is equally so in December.  It is definitely quieter and cozier so it gives us a whole different perspective of the island. The decorations all over town are just adorable and the stores all have great sales.  There are events all weekend starting with seeing Santa on Friday, horse drawn carriages through the streets, a parade on Saturday, gingerbread making, a chowder fest, and much much more!  This trip was obviously a bit different with a toddler, coordinating naps, being home by 7, lunch with highchairs and sippy cups instead of wine and more wine, but I would not have changed a thing.  I am such a sucker for traditions and still feel very attached to my traditions form growing up but am feeling so excited about the traditions we are starting as our own family and I can’t to return to the island again next December.

– Mom2Sitter Sam Heller and the wee one