New York Times article: If Only Everyone Had a Postpartum Doula

New York Times  STYLE:

If Only Everyone Had a Postpartum Doula

When a baby comes, friends and families don’t always know how to help.

By Zoe Greenberg

A version of this article appears in print on Oct. 3, 2018, on Page D2 of the New York edition with the headline: Everyone Should Have a Postpartum Doula


New parenthood — during which ordinary people find themselves abruptly responsible for a brand-new and sometimes famished, inconsolable being — is famously harrowing.

It’s good to have supportive family and friends during this time. But increasingly, parents are turning to postpartum doulas, as well.

Unlike birth doulas, who assist mothers during pregnancy and childbirth, postpartum doulas step in when the baby is already born, and throughout the first six weeks after birth. They teach the supposedly natural but actually quite difficult to master skills of soothing, bathing and breast-feeding infants, without any personal baggage.

There is no one agency that certifies all postpartum doulas, but between 2012 and 2017, DONA International, the oldest doula certification program in the country originally known as the Doulas of North America, accredited 37 percent more postpartum practitioners. The number of certified postpartum doulas at the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), another well-established program, has doubled since 2008.

Meema Spadola was certified by DONA in 2006 and practicesin the New York City area. With cropped black hair and pink-framed glasses, Ms. Spadola, 48, is a modern Mary Poppins: a combination friend, teacher and spirit guide with a price tag of $50 to $70 an hour.

One sunlit afternoon, she mounted the red brick steps of a new client’s house in Brooklyn, armed with a stretch of black fabric for “babywearing” (like a sling for your infant) and a recipe for high-protein nursing snacks affectionately known as “boobie bites.” (recipe and nutritional facts following article)  The client, Shannon Gillen Lipinski, a 37-year-old choreographer, had become a mother just 8 days earlier.

Upon entrance, it became clear that Ms. Gillen Lipinski’s home had been recently transformed. A tarp taped over the front window blocked the day’s bright light. Empty plastic pumping bottles were waiting to be filled; a giant gray birthing ball rolled aimlessly; and the closet was stuffed with tiny onesies covered in bunnies, strawberries and polka dots.

The eight-day-old at the heart of it all, Sasha, was mercifully sleeping, wrapped against Ms. Spadola’s chest, but everyone knew the peace was tenuous. And too soon it was time for Ms. Spadola to teach Ms. Gillen Lipinski swaddling, which meant she had to risk waking the baby and eliciting cries.

“This is so scary,” Ms. Gillen Lipinski said, her voice breaking.

“We’re being very daring,” Ms. Spadola said, laying out a pink blanket inside the crib.

Ms. Gillen Lipinski had committed to choreographing a show in Los Angeles that started in several weeks. With the rehearsal deadline looming — and Sasha prone to crying through the night — Ms. Gillen Lipinski was exhausted. She was trying to learn how to breast-feed and pump milk and calm her infant when she herself was in a panic, but nothing seemed to be going smoothly.

“We always thought we’d have two,” said Ms. Gillen Lipinski. But, she said, perhaps swayed by the three hours of sleep she got the night before, “we just completed our family.”

“It will not always be like this,” Ms. Spadola reassured her, expertly folding the pink blanket over itself to create a tight cocoon around Sasha, while simultaneously patting the baby’s chest and firmly whispering “Shh.” Sasha opened her eyes, yawned and squirmed.

New parents Shannon Gillen Lipinski and Tom Lipinski with their postpartum doula, Meema Spadola, left, and 8-day-old Sasha.CreditAndre D. Wagner for The New York Times

“Ack,” she gurgled, before falling back asleep.

Postpartum doulas like Ms. Spadola fill a void in the U.S. healthcare system. There’s no national healthcare program for new mothers here the way there is in many other countries, despite growing evidence of the postpartum period’s importance in the health of both babies and their mothers.

Medical providers and policymakers have already recognized that birth doulas improve such health outcomes. Two states, Minnesota and Oregon, now include birth doula services in their Medicaid coverage, and in the spring of this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a pilot program to expand Medicaid coverage for doulas in New York. The idea of hiring such doulas has gotten a lot more mainstream.

Still, even as postpartum doulas multiply, the care they provide remains largely unsubsidized and expensive. (The majority of Ms. Spadola’s clients are white, upper middle class and can pay out of pocket, though she does offer a sliding scale.) And though the care aims to be non-judgmental, it often comes along with white, middle-class assumptions about parenting, said Christine Morton, the author of the book “Birth Ambassadors,” which chronicles the rise of doulas in the United States.

Some birth activists and nonprofits are working to change that, and to make postpartum doula care more democratic and widespread. Ancient Song Doula Services in Brooklyn, a low-cost doula collective for women who couldn’t otherwise afford one, is one such place. The majority of the organization’s clients are women of color, and more than half of the doulas are low-income themselves, volunteering to help other women through labor and after birth. The collective is fighting abysmal maternal mortality rates among black and brown women, in addition to well-founded fears among women of color, said Chanel Porchia-Albert, its founder.

“A lot of times women of color won’t express what they’re going through, or seek out help, because they don’t want to be criminalized for the choices they make,” Ms. Porchia-Albert said, adding that a black woman might fear losing custody of her children if she admits to being overwhelmed or exhausted.

One client, Aisha Crawford, 33, wanted to be prepared for anything that might come up when she gave birth, so, six months pregnant, she arrived at Ancient Song to get matched with a postpartum doula free-of-charge. She took a seat in the intake room, a comfortable space outfitted with yoga pillows and a baby crib, and explained her situation to the intake coordinator. She and the father of the baby had a fine relationship, and she wanted him to be involved when the baby arrived. But she wasn’t sure she could depend on him.

“I don’t want to say I’m scared to have the baby by myself, but just in case, I need someone there with me,” Ms. Crawford said.

Like other workers who provide intimate care, postpartum doulas become experts at navigating the delicate and the unsaid: a pregnant woman’s hopes, family expectations, nerves and the relationship between a baby’s parents. They are advocates for their clients not just to doctors and nurses, but also to family members, who have their own ideas about how things should be done.

Ms. Crawford said her parents were initially wary of her pregnancy, because she was still legally married to a different man, who would not sign divorce papers. Berenice Kernizan, Ancient Song’s intake coordinator, nodded empathetically.

“I’m sure as soon as the baby comes, they’re going to forget all about that,” she said. “The way they nag you is the way they show you that they love you.”

Shifting on the couch, Ms. Crawford said she was a little nervous about much of what lay ahead: the months of pregnancy, the hours of labor, and, perhaps most daunting of all, the day the baby would come home with her, delicate and perfect and in need of so much.

“We’re just there to be like that sister-friend,” Ms. Kernizan reassured her. “Guiding you through the whole experience.”

Boobie Bites – Energy Lactation No Bake cookies


I double the recipe as its THAT good. I took this from Pinterest to calculate the calories. Hope everyone enjoys them as much as I do!

Minutes to Prepare: 10   Minutes to Prepare: 15   Number of Servings: 60



1 cup of old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup of honey
1/2 tablespoon Brewer’s Yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips



  1. Combine the dry ingredients first: oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chips, Brewer’s Yeast, and flax seed.
    2. Add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla and turn your mixer on low (or stir together).
    3. Refrigerate mixture for at least one hour.Serving Size: 1 inch ballNumber of Servings: 60

Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user JOLOVE22.

Nutritional Info

  • Servings Per Recipe: 60
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 71.6
  • Total Fat: 4.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 32.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 7.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 2.1 g








Traveling with a Newborn…..

As summer arrives we all think about how best to spend our time.  If your extended family is in another state you are probably considering a trip to see them.  Often it is easier for you and baby to make the trip than relatives with young children, aged grandmas, etc.  Traveling with a newborn is simple.  Until baby is independently mobile you can get around quite easily!

Things to remember:

  1.  Plan ahead for items you don’t want to carry around with you.  Even though you might be able to save a little money, trying to carry all the disposable diapers you will need on vacation is inconvenient, to say the least.  Go on line, find your favorite businesses close to where you will be staying, and plan to purchase cumbersome necessities there.  This will make your trip so much more manageable.  Pack your diaper bag with the day’s necessities and pick up the extra diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, etc, when you arrive.  Or, if it is convenient, have items shipped directly from the manufacturer to your destination.  Relatives can simply put your boxes aside until your arrival.
  2. I find that leaving an ‘active list’ on my kitchen counter, one I can add to when I pass by, helps me remember everything I need to bring along.  It usually takes me a few days to realize everything belonging on the list.  Having it out and easy to reach helps me not forget anything.
  3. If you will be staying in a rented facility ie. hotel, AirBNB, or condo think about what you will need for baby there.  Request a crib, bassinet, high chair, etc. to be in your facility when you arrive.  It is best for baby to have an individual sleeping possibility.  If you are co-sleeping at home of course continue to do so.  Arranging for a separate bed for baby will allow you to put her down for naps in a smaller safe place.   I encourage you to bring your own linens.  Standard crib sheets are small and very transportable.  As will be bassinet or playpen linens.  Often a king sized pillow case can fill this need.  Just cover the mini mattress.  This will give you the assurance that your baby is using clean laundered items.
  4. Most often it is not possible or convenient to take everything with you that you have at home.  Be discriminating.  Decide what is most important to you and take it along.  Check with relatives to see if items can be borrowed on their end.
  5. Usually there are laundry facilities available.  You can wash what you have brought and reuse it while away from home.  This cuts down on what you need to bring.
  6. Most hotels will have agencies providing babysitters, lists of pediatricians, and pharmacies close by.  They are vetted and should be reliable.  If you know you will be needing these while away, do a google search and find some of your own.  Check on Yelp for reviews on each.  Ask your pediatrician if she knows of these services at your destination.

There are many ways to prepare for your vacation.  Spending a little time before you go will make things so much easier once you arrive.  Also, keep your plans on your phone or computer for the next time you go away.  No need to reinvent the wheel every time you go!

Have a wonderful vacation!!!  You and your family have earned it!



Entertaining the Family

Your baby has arrived!  You are on your way home from the hospital and everyone you know wants to meet you at home!!!  What do you say?  This is a big issue!  I encourage you to talk about it during your pregnancy.  Talk with daddy, your friends and family.  Have a clear understanding of the atmosphere you want to set up in your home.

True story:  I worked with a family who had just delivered their first child.  They had been home for a day or two.  I arrived for my evening shift only to find the house filled with people and a three year old running around the house with a dog on a leash.  It was bedlam!  Her family had arrived: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and pets!!!  The next morning mommy had an emotional meltdown.  She did not think she could continue breastfeeding and she was beside herself.  Over the next few days she began to feel better and things settled down.  Daddy shared when his nephew was born he had been told “no visitors for a week”.  It had seemed strange to him, but after this incident he completely understood.  Coming home from the hospital and establishing the atmosphere you want in your home has major implications.  Peace is important.  Mommy needs to be comfortable with baby and her home.

“No visitors for a week” may be more than you need, but it is a great place to begin.  Or, “one visitor a day” for a while.  Until baby has arrived no invitations should be made.  For a myriad of reasons mom could be recovering from surgery or baby could have had to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  Allowing time to recover and get your footing is important.  Also, just feeling comfortable with life is a big deal.

I encourage families to set daddy up as the gatekeeper.  Allow him to decide how many guests should come and when.  If he is not up for the challenge enlist daytime help, grandma, aunt, uncle, or friend.  Mommy can not be responsible for this one.   She needs to be protected and considered vulnerable at this time.  She will feel pressured to say “yes” to visitors when she shouldn’t.  Care for her!!

Encourage relatives who will come from long distances to wait a few weeks.  This gives your new family time to adjust to the unforeseen challenges.  Remember, you are setting up your ‘New Normal’.  It is exciting and wonderful and you will be doing it on less sleep than you are accustomed to after a delivery and perhaps time in the hospital.  Allow yourself the time you will need to adjust.

With one coming delivery a dad asked whether or not he should take everything he needed for several days to the hospital or could he plan on coming home to get what he needed.  I encouraged him to take what he thought he would need with him.  Due to the unpredictable events surrounding births, one does not know ahead of time.  Better to be safe than sorry.  His wife had a planned Cesarean Section.  She had minor complications and spent a night in the ICU.  Baby was early and had minor complications and was in the NICU.  Daddy was going from one unit to the other caring for his family.  Going home for anything was not an option.  He was grateful to have prepared accordingly!

What is the saying:  Hope for the best and plan for everything?  Prepare yourself for as much as possible.  Babies come early.  Be ready for your delivery a month in advance.  Have your bag packed, make arrangements for your dog, have the nursery set up.  This will set you up well incase something you are not planning for happens.  Most births come off without a hitch, but better to be ready.  Have someone you have asked ahead of time to be there in case the unforeseen happens.  Make a list of what needs to happen at home:  bring in mail, water the potted plants, feed the dog and the fish, etc………………….  This will relieve you of having to think of these things at the last minute when you are dealing with far more important issues.

I am a planner.  Thinking ahead is how I am put together.  This is easy for me.  If this is not how you think I encourage you to enlist the help of others who do.  Having these things planned for ahead of time will bring you incredible peace.  Fewer things to have to consider in a hurry.

A professional doula will help you consider what needs to be arranged.  Her training and experience will provide wonderful council for you.  Most doulas will consult for a fee.  Even just a few hours with someone trained in these matters will help you avoid many pitfalls and plan for the future.

Best Wishes in this exciting time in your life!!!


Happy Spring!!!

If you have not already planted a flower or two you are behind the times!!!  Ha!  My Zucchini plant is ten times the size it was a week ago!  I can hardly wait for the huge squash to erupt!  We fill them with spaghetti meat sauce, bake them and sprinkle them with cheese.  Delicious!!

It is so much fun to be coming out of the winter.  It is still a bit brisk, but the sunshine is breaking through and we are seeing wild flowers everywhere!  In Southern California we are officially out of the drought!!!!!  It is truly a miracle!  California has been short on water for so long!!!

What are you summer plans for baby?  Being out doors is the best.  There are so many things to see, touch, eat, and on and on.  If baby is mobile there is no way to keep him or her out of the dirt or sand.  He will sit in it, put it in his mouth, and get to into every nook and cranny.  That is just life.  These are good learning experiences.  Textures, tastes, density, and more are learned through this childhood play.  As parents you do your best to monitor and protect.  Defiantly be aware of where you are and the pesticides, etc in the area.  Allowing these experiences in your own backyard is the best way to supervise. You have more control over the outcome.

As baby becomes more mobile you want to be aware of where dangerous cleaning agents, etc are stored.  I moved them out the high cupboards in the garage.  Out of sight and out of mind.

However, at the age to two, my eldest pushed the high chair under the highest cupboard in the kitchen and retrieved the children chewable vitamins.  I was out and Daddy was taking a nap.  He ate the entire bottle.  This was before child proof lids.  I called the poison center.  Because the vitamins did not contain iron he did not need his stomach pumped.  I was told not to give him vitamins for a month and that he would poop orange and yellow for a while.  Ha!  And he did!!!  There were no other residual affects.  Just know that your inquisitive little ones will do things you never thought possible.


The Milky Way: Amazon Prime movie review on breastfeeding

As a professional certified postpartum doula I recertify every three years.  It is a complicated process requiring hundred of hours of study, review, and client service.  It provides numerous opportunities to research information useful to my clients.  This film, The Milky Way is just such a resource.

Below find my certification review and notes on this film.  It is easily accessible through Amazon Prime.  Even if you have breastfed in the past, reviewing the fundamentals is always a good thing.  Refer it to others you know who are considering breastfeeding their babies.

I was shocked to learn that despite the overwhelming scientific, psychological, and physiological benefits for mother and baby only 15% of American mothers provide purely breastmilk for 6 months!!!  Certainly there are situations where breastfeeding is not preferable, however, in general, it is the easiest, least expensive, and healthiest choice.  We have a lot of education and support to provide in order to help moms decide what is best for their babies!!!

Please know I am available to consult on these issues!!!



The Milky Way                    Produced by Piece of My Heart ProductionsReleased in 2015      Viewed 3/22/19      97 minutes in duration                 Available on Amazon Prime Movies

The Milky Way provides statistics and interviews with many professionals in the field of lactation.  It also investigates and shares the personal experiences of 30 women in their breastfeeding journey.  Their individual situations vary widely.  For many of them the lack of support they received discouraged them as they learned to care for their babies.

As a postpartum doula encouraging breastfeeding is a large part of my practice.  Helping to create a non-judgmental confortable environment for mother and baby is imperative.  Encouraging an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and success is my goal.  This documentary encourages communication.  It reinforces the need for professionals to talk with prospective clients prior to coming into their homes to serve them.  It is important that new mothers have the opportunity to share their thoughts on breastfeeding initially.  It is imperative for me to understand mother’s feelings and needs for support.

Pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon MD and Lactation Consultant Jennifer Davidson RN IBCLC work together in a practice that has morphed into a lactation practice.  They state only 15% of babies in America are breast fed through 6 months of age.  2010, Bartic, Reinhold produced statistics assessing $13 B would be saved annually in medical costs if babies were breast fed through 6 months.

Dr. Peter C. Whybrow MD, Director, Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, UCLA contends 90% of the advantages of breastfeeding have nothing to do with nutrition.  He states the physical contact of breastfeeding contributes to the development of the nervous system, bonding, antibodies, immunities, emotional stability, IQ, and more.  Those of us in the field of infant care and health understand immediately after birth newborns have many physical needs affected by physical contact with mother. The statistics for skin on skin contact and it’s metabolic advantages are widely accepted as Gospel.  Blood sugars stabilize, bacterial patterns are set, heart rate calms as well as body temperature normalizes when skin to skin contact with mother takes place.

The information provided in The Milky Way reinforced previously learned material regarding the continued importance of mother to child breastfeeding for the duration of at least 6 months after birth.  It also provided a foundation of information for clients.  I believe it would be a useful tool in providing expectant mothers information in their search for whether or not they should breastfeed their babies.

Attached notes taken while viewing film:

The Milky Way                                owned by Piece of My Heart Productions                             2015     97 minutes in duration               Available on Amazon Prime Movies

“The Milky Way is a documentary expose about breastfeeding in the United Stated Produced to encourage rethinking of how our culture views breastfeeding through investigating current norms and assumptions, medical influence, international thinking through institutions in Germany & Sweden.”

Breastfeeding   Breast is Best

Breast feeding first mentioned in Greek mythology.  Zues/ Hara/Heraclese The Milky Way Only 15% of US babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months                                                Dr. Jay Gordon MD    Lactation Practice                                                                           Lactation Consultant   Jennifer Davidson   RN  IBCLC                                                         Dr.  Peter C. Whybrow  MD    Director, Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior  UCLA                                                                                                                                   90% of breastfeeding is not nutritional        Development of nervous system. Bonding                   Feeling lessons/ amount of food            Antibodies/immunities.     Individual

If 90% of babies were breastfed for 6 months the US would save $13 billion per year in medical costs    Bartick, Reinhold, 2010

The Fearless Formula Feeding Mother  Blogger                                                                        James J. McKenna  PhD Director, Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab                         University of  Notre Dame         World authority on co-sleeping. Anthropologist  Current teaching is cultural not for babies

Genevieve Thomas Colvin  IBCLC     Program coordinator Breastfeed LAMaternity Leave  – govt. mandated elsewhere        Compartmentalized   mothering separated from rest of life.

Berlin St Joseph Hospital cutting edge infant /mother care!!!!!  1991 Baby friendly hospital movement. Family Beds  Entrainment  heart beat/body temperature  Mothers sleep better, happier w skin to skin. Co-sleeping  encouraged at home                              Katrin Bautsch  RN IBCLC       Director Neonatal Lactation program  St Joes/Berlin Beatrix Schmidt  MD Chief Neo-natologist  St Joes/Berlin                                      Intermittently through out                                                                                                       Nancy Williams  IBCLC Author, Marriage & Family Counselor                                                Dr. Louis Dumas   Skin to Skin vs Separation  Extensive researc. Kangaroo Care                Evidence Based Practice re separation           respiration improv.  Fundamental physiology

Newborn mothers  Babies find their way to mom’s breast          Trust the bond between mothers n babies

Stockholm, Sweden   Pro-family policies  breastfeeding skin to skin.  18 months family leave when baby born

Scott M Montgomery PhD   Prof Clinical Epidemiology    Karalinska Institute

Britt-Mari Fornell    Certified Midwife  Mama Mia Birthing Center

Formula companies. Provide $ to med schools. $ to hospitals/ supplies  heavily invested in the thinking of breastfeeding in med find. ingredients    palm oil    high fructose corn syrup

Seeking Change          normalizing breastfeeding in public

Supporting moms in many ways


Peace in Your Home: Judy’s Tried and True Newborn Helps

As life feels like it is on it’s ear it is difficult to be happy in your skin.  There are so many new things to learn.  You are exhausted most of the time, trying to cope with your own body changes and “New Normal”.  How can you make the transition from ‘Me’ to ‘Mommy’ more easily?


First, talk with your family and friends!  Many of them have already been down this path.  They will not have experienced it the same way you will, but they will have suggestions that will help.  In addition, they will offer a listening ear which every new mom needs!

Second, laugh a lot!  Doing your best to keep things light and easy will help everyone relax.  Be willing to laugh at your mistakes!!!  Cut yourself some slack!!!  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  When your infant son pees all over himself and you during a diaper change, see the humor in it!  Find some great music to listen to during your days.  Watch a funny movie or TV show when you have a moment.  Talk with people who help you see the lighter side of life.

Third, make sure you are eating well and resting when baby rests.  Yes, that is what everyone says.  Soon you realize if you don’t rest when baby does you won’t be resting!  You and baby are linked in more ways than you can imagine right now.  Give up trying to keep the house clean and take a nap.   YOU HAVE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE TO HAVE A CLEAN HOUSE!!!  Now you need sanity and that comes with sleep!!  (It won’t always be this way, I promise)

Fourth, plan a few enjoyable moments for yourself each day.  Figure out what feeds your soul and make sure you plan for it.  Having something to look forward to gives you a whole new outlook on the monotony of your life right now.  Ten minutes reading a favorite book, a telephone call with a dear friend, a walk around the block alone, a wonderful bubble bath, a massage…..  Figure out what helps you most and plan a few minutes each day for something just for you!

As you and baby become better acquainted life will stabilize.  These ideas are for you.  I pray they make life easier for you as you grow into motherhood!!


How Are You Keeping Warm These Days? : What is the best way to be sure baby is comfortable?

For us in California this has been a COLD winter.  Ha!  Ha!  I know, I don’t mean to be wining.  My cousins in Virginia send us photos of the 10 ft. snow drifts they acquired in the last storm.  They hoot when I tell them it is raining and no one will go outdoors!!!  Yes, we Southern Californians are spoiled!!  A little rain???  I mean the mountains are glorious!!  Skiing and snowboarding are back in style.  We are really having what we call a winter!!

For us it is actually cold.  The low is 42*.  We have extra blankets on our beds and the sweat shirts and jackets are close at hand.  My daughter and her friend spent the night in a tent outdoors last night with an area heater!  Ha!  Ha!

Now, my son and daughter in law live in a Alaska with three under the age of four.  That, of course, is real cold.  I don’t mind saying it kind of freaks me out.  How do you care for little ones in that kind of cold???  The first thought is that you just never go outdoors.  But, that, of course, becomes very boring very quickly.

How do you make it around in the cold with very little ones?  My concern is they can not tell you when they are uncomfortably cold.  Even when they can tell you, often they are not inclined to.  I am remembering my in-laws taking my eldest son camping when he was eight or so.  The grown ups were concerned because they were well into the evening activities before they realized the boys did not have jackets.  They must have been freezing, but just never spoke up.  I am guessing we simply have to ask more questions regarding their comfort in the cold.  As adults we have to remember to ask on the off shot that they will not tell us.

For infants, there is the consideration that they are overdressed, causing them to overheat.  This puts us in the position where we have to be diligent.  Most often babies will be dressed in something with long sleeves and legs with attached feet/socks.  This should keep them warm indoors with the temperature comfortable for all ages.  At night we add a swaddle.  Depending upon the swaddle this can add several layers of fabric,  eliminating the need for blankets, etc.  The age and activity level of your baby will have an affect on how well the swaddle stays on.  In almost all situations you baby should be perfectly comfortable with these accessories.

Personal note: Even though I have wrapped hundreds of babies, I am unable to use the lovely gauze blankets for swaddles.  There is just no way that even newborns stay wrapped in those things when I administer the wrap!  Ha!  Somewhere during the night my baby has wiggled her hands to her neck and resembles someone trying to escape a straight-jacket.  Those precious little hands wack her in the face and wake her, defeating the purpose of the swaddle in the first place.

The best wraps I have found are those containing velcro.  These allow for the sleep ware  then the swaddle.  There are several brands of these listed below for you convenience.  They help baby relax, as in utero, and encourage much better sleep.  As baby matures she will outgrow the need for swaddles.  But they are a lifesaver when used.

When I worked in the hospital setting I would often enter a postpartum room to find the heat unbearable.  Mommy and Daddy have the heat up believing this is best for baby.  Not so!!!  Most often the belief is that you dress baby the way you would dress for the current temperature then remove a layer of clothing.  This is best for several reasons:  Most often baby will be in the arms of another, absorbing their body heat.  Too much clothing will cause baby to perspire and overheat.  Also, we are very aware of covering baby with something to keep her warm.  With out realizing it, we are providing too much warmth.  Every baby is different.  As you and your baby become better acquainted you will know better that anyone how best to dress and comfort her.

Everyone you know will have an opinion on how much clothing your baby should wear. Talk with those you trust, family members, pediatricians, and friends.  Then watch your baby closely and find out what works best for your family. When others give suggestions, smile sweetly and thank them ever so kindly for their help.  Then go home and do what you believe to be best for you!!!  Ha!  Arguing with others just frustrates you.  They truly believe they know best.  Let them believe it!  Your baby is your responsibility.  Through trial and error you will find what works best for you, be comfortable with that!  Every parent learns how to do this!  YOU WILL TOO!!!


Newborn Baby Infant Swaddle Blanket Sleeping Swaddle Muslin Wrap+Headband
Newborn Baby Infant Swaddle Blanket Sleeping Swaddle Muslin Wrap+Headband

available at Target Stores

SwaddleMe® Original Swaddle 2pk – Sleepy Forest (S, 0-3 mo)

Happy Valentines Day!!!

The month of Love!  Photos, candies, flowers, hugs, kisses, and the gift of time make up many of my favorite Valentines Day gifts!!!  What are yours?  Take a little time and think of the three things that bless you most!   Then think of what your significant other enjoys most.  Plan a few fun activities that include the things you both love.

With children or a new baby in the house time is of the essence.  It will take effort to make something special happen to show your love.  Do you know your loved one’s love language?  There are several books written on the Five Love Languages.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1995 book by Gary Chapman.[1] It outlines five ways to express and experience love that Chapman calls “love languages”[2]:

There is a free online test you can take to determine your most desired love languages.  Share it with those in your family to help them understand how to best express their love to you.  Have them take the test so you know what pleases them most.  There are also books on how to figure out the love languages of your children.  This is a great tool in meeting the psychological and emotional needs of the children you love.

Chapman’s categories include the following:

Examples are given from his counseling practice, as well as questions to help determine one’s own love languages.

The Five Love Languages
Author Gary Chapman
Original title The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate
Country United States
Language English
Subject Intimate relationships
Publisher Northfield Publishing
Publication date
ISBN 9781415857311

Written in his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Dr. Gary Chapman reveals that each of us primarily speaks with one of five love languages: quality time, physical touch, gift giving, acts of service, and words of affirmation.

People tend to give love the way they naturally prefer to receive love. Knowing your love language, you can better express your needs to your partner while also understanding how to make them feel loved in return. This not only helps in romantic relationships, but also improves the way we interact with anyone, whether in the office, with our family, or when meeting new friends. By understanding we give and receive love, we can show people we care and make them feel loved and appreciated.

Description of the Five Love Languages:

Words of affirmation

One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up. Solomon, author of ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21, NIV). Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other.

Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as:

“You look sharp in that suit.”

“Do you ever look incredible in that dress! Wow!”

“I really like how you’re always on time to pick me up at work.”

“You can always make me laugh.”

Words of affirmation are one of the five basic love languages. Within that language, however, there are many dialects. All of the dialects have in common the use of words to affirm one’s spouse. Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.

Quality time

By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. When you spend time that way, Netflix or HBO has your attention — not your spouse. What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, devices put away, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.

Time is a precious commodity. We all have multiple demands on our time, yet each of us has the exact same hours in a day. We can make the most of those hours by committing some of them to our spouse. If your mate’s primary love language is quality time, she simply wants you, being with her, spending time.

Receiving gifts

Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest.

A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him or her a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him or her. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.

But what of the person who says, “I’m not a gift giver. I didn’t receive many gifts growing up. I never learned how to select gifts. It doesn’t come naturally for me.” Congratulations, you have just made the first discovery in becoming a great lover. You and your spouse speak different love languages. Now that you have made that discovery, get on with the business of learning your second language. If your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, you can become a proficient gift giver. In fact, it is one of the easiest love languages to learn.

Acts of service

Michelle’s primary love language was what I call “acts of service.” By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her.

Consider actions such as cooking a meal, setting a table, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, changing the baby’s diaper, picking up a prescription, keeping the car in operating condition — they are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.

A willingness to examine and change stereotypes is necessary in order to express love more effectively. Remember, there are no rewards for maintaining stereotypes, but there are tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your spouse. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, then “actions speak louder than words.”

Physical touch

We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Numerous research projects in the area of child development have made that conclusion: Babies who are held, stroked and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.

Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their spouse.

Implicit love touches require little time but much thought, especially if physical touch is not your primary love language and if you did not grow up in a “touching family.” Sitting close to each other as you watch your favorite television program requires no additional time but may communicate your love loudly. Touching your spouse as you walk through the room where he is sitting takes only a moment. Touching each other when you leave the house and again when you return may involve only a brief kiss or hug but will speak volumes to your spouse.

Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination on ways to express love.

Dr. Gary Chapman is a family counselor, radio host, associate pastor and author of several books, including The Five Love Languages and One More Try.


Life in the Fast Lane…..

Somehow life takes on more and more until we are in a state of exhaustion!  How is it that no matter how I try there is always more to do than time to accomplish it in????  This scenario continues to replay itself again and again.  We who live in Southern California say it is because of the place where we live, yet even here, there are those who maintain peace and decorum.  How do they do it?  How, in the midst of jobs, kids, extended family, etc. can sanity be maintained?

It is a choice!  Ouch!  You mean I do not have to be on someone else’s treadmill? Right.  Your home can be one of the rare ones where peace prevails.  This requires you and your significant other intentionally discuss your thoughts and plans and stay in sync.  It demands humility, being able to recognize when you are the problem, and pulling yourself up short to correct it.  We all contribute to the insanity in some way.  Being able to self-evaluate goes a long way to maintaining a calm environment.


In Zen Habits, Leo Babuta, discusses ten pointers on how to take back control of your life.


Here’s how to do it.

1. Do less. It’s hard to slow down when you are trying to do a million things. Instead, make the conscious choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace.

2. Be present. It’s not enough to just slow down — you need to actually be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment. That means, when you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen … gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus on what’s going on right now. On your actions, on your environment, on others around you. This takes practice but is essential.

3. Disconnect. Don’t always be connected. If you carry around an iPhone or Blackberry or other mobile device, shut it off. Better yet, learn to leave it behind when possible. If you work on a computer most of the day, have times when you disconnect so you can focus on other things. Being connected all the time means we’re subject to interruptions, we’re constantly stressed about information coming in, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you’re always checking new messages coming in.

4. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues, and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by devices. We are there, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we’re really thinking about ourselves and what we want to say. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. This means that just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — a much more effective use of your time, by the way. It means we really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.

5. Appreciate nature. Many of us are shut in our homes and offices and cars and trains most of the time, and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their cell phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, swimming, etc. Feel the sensations of water and wind and earth against your skin. Try to do this daily — by yourself or with loved ones.

6. Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better. I suggest learning to eat more real food as well, with some great spices (instead of fat and salt and sugar and frying for flavor).

7. Drive slower. Speedy driving is a pretty prevalent habit in our fast-paced world, but it’s also responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress, and wasted fuel. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life, and the things you’re passing. Driving will be more enjoyable, and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.

8. Find pleasure in anything. This is related to being present, but taking it a step farther. Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it, and find the enjoyable aspects. For example, when washing dishes, instead of rushing through it as a boring chore to be finished quickly, really feel the sensations of the water, the suds, the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task if you learn to see it that way. The same applies to other chores — washing the car, sweeping, dusting, laundry — and anything you do, actually. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.

9. Single-task. The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back.

10. Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present, and slow yourself down. It’s also nice to take a deep breath or two — do it now and see what I mean. 🙂


Now breathe!!!  These pointers really helped me to consider the moment and enjoy it!  Type them up and keep them with you during the day.  Put them on the bathroom mirror to help you remember them!  Talk them over with those in your home.  As they become a part of your life discuss them with those at work.  Encourage yourself to reflect on your quality of life.  You will be amazed at the way such easy principals affect you!

Let me know how they help!    JUDY








Biding Farewell to 2018

As we look ahead to a New Year, resolutions, dreams and hopes we close the previous year.  I always appreciate remembering the challenges, failures, and successes of that year.  It is with a tear in my eye that I watch the TV dedications to those who passed in the closing year.  Most of them I never knew or met, but their contributions to our lives can not be ignored.  Steven Hocking passed this year.  His brilliance in scientific reason and his fortitude to continue despite unimaginable odds demand respect.  Both George and Barbara Bush passed this year.  This is common in long term marriages, the connection is so deep that life comes to an end for both in a short time.  My adopted parents were married 60 years and passed with in two months of each other.  I am sure there were many others who touched your lives and are no longer with us.

Now, on to the hope and excitement of the New Year.  If you are pregnant there will be many wonderful joys and challenges in coming months!!!  If you have already delivered you are experiencing the transition from ‘individual’ to ‘parent’.  In coming years you will be known as So and So’s Mom or Dad.  In a very short time you will have a hard time remembering life before your precious little one arrived.  It is amazing how quickly we acclimate to new roles in life.  It is truly an adventure!!  And it is individual.  No one will experience your life the way you will.  No one else will be the Mom, Dad, Wife, Husband, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Friend….. you will be.  Embrace this, enjoy it, be your very best you, you will not regret it!!!!