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June Infant Sleep Basics for New Parents at Mini Mint, Santa Cruz

Aaaaaaaaaand WE’RE BACK!

gentle sleep training santa cruz

Excited to once again be teaching my Infant Sleep Basics for Parents class at Mini Mint Studios in Santa Cruz. Last month’s class was fantastic, with lots of moms and moms-to-be gathering together to chat about normal infant sleep patters, the dreaded 4-month sleep regression, improving naps, and setting realistic expectations away from gimicky sleep training programs.

Mini Mint is a beautiful space in the Pleasure Point neighborhood owned and operated by Sharai Simpkins, mama of 2 and a passionate advocate for eco-sustainability in parenting. Never has saving the planet looked so stinking cute.

I hope you can join us at this lovely and informative gathering. Expectant parents are welcome (great to get a jumpstart) as well as anyone with a baby up to 1 yrs old. Feel free to bring older kiddos, too.

Hope to see you there!

You can purchase tickets here or pay $40 at the door.

More about my sleep training philosophy

I am really not on board with formal sleep training before 4 months at MINIMUM, but more likely 6 months. And even then, I only advocate for “cry it out” methods when there is some clear lack of thriving in one or more of the family members and only when other options have been exhausted.

ahhh the sleepy baby and his lovie

ahhh the sleepy baby and his lovie

What I'm offering is sleep education that actually has a strong focus on helping families put off sleep "training," understanding that it's not biologically appropriate and then explaining why, while still leaving them with some resources to hopefully get more rest. My sessions / classes focus on going over the basics of infant sleep patterns + cues and how feeding / digestion / overstimulation can affect these things. It's trying to cut out the stress around sleep by giving healthy and realistic expectations and some tricks for gentle sleep routines (that are often more for parents in the first months than a baby that can't be trained to notice anyhow). 

My hope is by helping families access high quality resources (versus opinion based books and blogs), have someone they can touch base with easily, and someone in home working with them one-on-one to help them understand their baby's unique patterns and needs, they can have a less stressful approach to sleep issues and can maybe avoid sleep training entirely. 

Honestly, I've talked every person who's contacted me about sleep training before 6 months out of it, so that feels good. Most families are starting some sort of drive toward scheduled sleep starting too early and it's a huge reason why I've started to do this education more since I was getting so many parents emailing me in pregnancy or with 2-3 week olds asking to be sleep trained.

Too many parents are getting bad intel about how you either need to get on the ball with scheduled and formal sleep training at such and such an age or else your baby will be developmentally stunted, not independent, a crappy sleeper, and stuck in your bed full of bad habits till their in middle school. There is not such a binary in the process of choosing what adjustments you want to make in getting babe sleeping longer and more independently. I want to be able to help guide parents through their options (not make decisions for them or tell them they’ve failed) so they feel intuitively connected to the needs and development of their children and confident that they’re making the most appropriate decisions for their own families.


If you are interested in getting some more education and support around infant sleep issues, there are a number of ways to access my care : Hourly consults, daytime observation and support packages, overnight observation and support packages, bringing me to a new parent group, or taking one of my longer courses. Check out my Infant Sleep Support page to learn more about each option.

…AND! I teach doulas about infant sleep basics, too! If you are part of a doula group or training organization and want to chat about these exciting and informative classes aimed at giving postpartum doulas more resources for supporting families through this minefield of misinformation, judgement, and anxiety please contact me.

cute picture. terrible swaddle. i have thoughts here.

cute picture. terrible swaddle. i have thoughts here.

Plastic Free Breast Feeding

I’m on a plastic-free kick lately. Wanting to share so much more with the folks I work with, both expectant families and folks I see about general health care concerns.

Freezing-Breast-Milk-Mason-Jars.jpg

I was here thinking, probably like many of you, that switching to silicone was a good step. However, I got schooled a bit on silicone today by my work pal, Friday Apaliski, The Sustainability Concierge, and she helped me realize a few key details about certain storage options for breast milk. Turns out, glass and stainless steel are still the way to go, from start to finish if you’re going to be pumping, storing, and feeding through bottles. Silicone is a bit better than the thin plastics used in most baby items, but new research is showing how silicone items might also be leeching chemicals (and most silicone-based storage item and bottle have plastic fillers in them) when heated AND when frozen.

Some elements of switching to glass or steel take some effort, but mostly, you won’t notice a difference. Here are a few easy options :

plastic free ice cube storage
  • Stainless steel ice cube trays are more expensive than plastic or silicone, but are much more durable, just as easy (or easier) to use, don’t have any of the harmful chemicals that can get into your precious milk, and will last a lifetime. An investment in two trays should cover a good supply of milk and will carry over to freezing prepared foods for your baby when they’re eating solids or just as regular old ice cube trays. See the advice below on grease pencils for labeling…You can buy stainless steel ice cube trays for milk storage on Life Without Plastic and the Plastic Free Shop and probably loads of local stores.


  • If you want to store milk in glass jars in the freezer, you have to buy glass jars that run straight up and down. This means 12oz jam jars, pint jars, and 1.5 pint jars only. One case of any of these should suit you. Hopefully, you’ve picked some up for homemade broth and quick pickles to help fight off GBS in pregnancy so you already have some, but if not, you can find them at most hardware and grocery stores and all over the place online (I suggest NOT Amazon, if you can help it). Friday suggested putting the jarred milk in the freezer with the lid off till it’s frozen to ensure it can easily expand without cracking the glass. She used to mark the flat part of the lids with a grease pencil with the date of pumping. You can use any type of glass jar, including this Mason Bottle, if you are leaving the milk in the fridge.


  • You can fit your glass bottles right on to your breast pump! No need to pump into plastic and fiddle with transporting it into something else, unless you are freezing what you are pumping. Easy-peasy. No need to ever purchase ANY plastic bottles for babe. Here’s the rundown of the Best Glass Bottles according to The Bump. Ideally, you can switch away from plastic nipples, too, like these natural rubber nipples from EcoViking.

Image via Friday Apaliski

Image via Friday Apaliski

Well, there they are…just a few easy steps and for the same cost and ease as the plastic alternatives. I’m happy to help you set up this plastic-free system through some postpartum consultations or through a separate consultations focused primarily on how to have a plastic-free, environmentally considerate, and healthier plan for postpartum. I can do these in-person in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley or online anywhere. You can also check in with Friday if you want someone to do your green baby registry for you! How cool is that?

If you want more information on why you should switch away from plastics for your baby’s milk storage, check out these links :

 

Many of the items mentioned above can be found at Life Without Plastic. Follow the link above to shop the plastic free store.

"Big BABY"

This is me as a 9lb 12oz newborn, just two days old and just home from the hospital where my tiny mama pushed me out unmedicated in 12 hours.

bayareababy

Recent conversations with some past and current clients about “big babies” got me worked up a little. The fever pitch of the obsession over fetal and infant weight is alive and well, friends. One of my current clients, despite not having any hospital-based care and seeing midwives who are so chill and supportive and not sounding any alarms about her baby’s size is still stressing HARD about having a big baby. It’s making her think about how each day she’s still pregnant = more oz. In talking this over with her, and talking her out of feeling kinda embarrassed about it, I mentioned how even though she hasn’t gotten any negative messaging about the fear around having a “big baby” from her care providers, it’s so prevalent in our culture it’s nearly impossible to avoid. Likely she’s had more than one friend and family member have a cesarean birth because of having a “big baby.”

People gasp and guffaw at trading newborn weights, but unless there is a pregnancy pathology that might make baby grow disproportionately, there’s an incredibly low change of growing a baby that your body can’t push out vaginally. In cases where that happens, there is often fetal overlap of the baby’s head over the pregnant person’s pubic bone, which can be felt easily in palpations during regular prenatal exams in the third trimester. But that only happens when care providers offer palpation, which most hospital-based providers do not. Pregnant folks who have had major injuries to the pelvic bones because of an accident or the like can sometimes have obstructed pelvic brims that could potentially make it hard to vaginally birth any size baby, which might only be discovered in labor. Same goes for those who were severely malnourished before puberty and have had bouts of rickets, which can alter the shape of the pelvis. Those things are admittedly rare.

Otherwise, when care providers tell a laboring person that there pelvis is “too small” or their baby “too big,” it’s often a matter of faulty ultrasound readings (they can be 1-2lbs off on average), a lack of patience, a mal-positioned baby in labor (for any number of reasons) and perhaps to a degree a lack of willingness of staff to support a laboring person to attempt to position baby into a better spot in the pelvis naturally, or just used as an afterthought to justify an unnecessary surgery. There are certain hospitals and certain providers who tell nearly all of their clients this after they have performed cesareans. I hear this kind of talk in the hallways of every hospital I’ve ever worked in.

When I volunteered at a hospital in Tacoma that touted itself as the “most natural in the Seattle-Tacoma area,” there were nights where I sat around not doing anything because one particular doctor told every patient their baby was too big, induced them, and scheduled all of their cesareans before 10pm and would sleep in the on call room most of the night. I like to remind my client that those stories of practicing such unsafe and non-evidence based medicine with such blatant abandon are rare. Instead, most likely the ways they pressure you into a medical birth for suspected big baby are much more subtle and span the entirety of the prenatal care. There are some care providers who just do not feel entirely comfortable having labor start and progress on it’s own and are very likely to use unsubstantiated information on fetal size, maternal age, and so forth to coerce parents into letting them manage pregnancy and birth more medically. It may be that if you went into labor spontaneously, even after 40 weeks, your baby would have been in a better position in the pelvis and “fit” just fine. Or that if you were at the hospital down the street with a different provider and different policies, your baby would not be seen as having been “big".” Or if you were being attended by a midwife and giving birth in a birth center or having a homebirth, no mention of “big baby” would have graced your ears and you’d push out a baby weighing over 8lbs in any given amount of time.

If left to your own wiles, you will grow the baby to the size you need in order to give birth the way that makes most physiological sense. Some babies weight more because they are quite long and born to tall parents. Some babes are short and chunky, but have totally typical sized heads that can move through a pelvis with ease. Some babes have larger heads, but are born to a parent with a roomy pelvis. Some tall people have small and skinny babies. Some small people have small and skinny babies. There is some thought around small people making fatter babies to withstand colder climates and food scarcity, as can be common with folks with ancestral ties to more northern or mountainous regions.

Most babies born outside of the hospital system here in the U.S. are born at around 8lbs. The reason the average nationally is lower is because of the number of preterm babies born here, both spontaneously and through our 44% induction rate. When I look for protocol papers on suspected “big baby” from other countries, I don’t find “suspected large fetal weight” or any such thing to be a determining factor in the decision to induce or for elective cesarean in any. Considering the fact that we are the only nation with a rising maternal morbidity and mortality rate in the world, it seems reasonable to question these practices around fetal size and other opinion-based reasons for induction and surgery.

Birth should not be treated as a set of medical procedures, but as a physiological act, an important family and cultural event, and a unique time between mother and child.

— “Strategic measures to reduce the caesarean section rate in Brazil",”

The Lancet, October 2018

Currently, there are two studies going around stating that there is “no evidence supporting letting pregnancy go beyond 39 weeks” for fetal safety and again stresses the fear care providers have around suspected large babies. However, the papers also state that there may be a number of reasons why expectant parents would choose to keep babies in till spontaneous labor, which is also very safe and in some ways safer, and can help babes increase fat stores, which help with early thermoregulation and other indicators of “thriving,” which is more important than the number on the scale. The papers note that there was a slight decrease in cesarean births amongst those induced at 39 weeks versus those who went into spontaneous labor at term. However, these studies have a somewhat small sample size of pregnant women who don’t fit the demographic of much of my clientele, or even the national average. For more information and a major breakdown of this study, check out Henci Goer’s article on Science and Sensibility. It’s also worth noting that the much larger and more comprehensive series of Lancet articles about the harmful rate of global cesarean births just published mention that amongst healthy women in developed countries, not inducing until 42 weeks might actually help lower cesarean rates and decrease infant and maternal mortality and morbidity in these countries.

Besides, really the bulk of the work of labor is to make room for the fetal head, which molds and shapes to fit the pelvis it’s in and has nothing to do with a fat or skinny babe, or a big or tiny laboring person.

Shoulder dystocia is a major risk in birth, but fetal weight is not the only factor, and the one dystocia I ever saw was with a 7lb 2 oz baby born two days after it’s supposed guess date (to a woman who’s instincts were to keep turning onto her hands and knees, but was repeatedly instructed to flip over, but whom I believe implicitly knew what that baby needed to get out safely, if she was just given the chance.)

If we’re ditching scale culture for adults, can we please start with ditching obsessing over weight before the person is even born!?