JustFussy Cloth Pads

To my gentleman readers: If feminine hygiene makes you squeamish, you may want to skip this post.

Menstruation isn’t really an issue right now for me, but with the birth coming up, I wanted to go ahead and order a few cloth pads to try them out.  Since Diva Cups and the like aren’t an option postpartum, I need to find an alternative to dealing with lochia and other postpartum discharge.

With this in mind, I acted on a tip from an online friend and contacted Christy of JustFussy which is a mom-owned business specializing in cloth menstrual pads, cloth diapers, reusable nursing pads, and undies.

I wasn’t completely sure.  I’ve used cloth pads before to back up my diva cup, and they were nice, but I didn’t love them, if that makes sense.  What I wanted was something more like the really nice cloth diapers with the ultra-soft and cushy insides.

JustFussy delivers the cushiness I wanted and more!  I wasn’t sure what I should get, so I emailed Christy directly and explained that I was looking for something for postpartum.  She was fantastic.  She recommended trying a few of the pads first to get a feel for them and decide which ones worked best.  So that’s exactly what I did!

Here’s what I ended up getting from her:

She was also kind enough to throw in

With the exception of the ultralight daily liner and the cloth rounds, the pads I got from Christy are made from bamboo velour with a wool backing.

This worried me.  First of all, the only velour I’ve ever worn was polyester and it tended to be hot.  Also, wool?  ‘Scuse me while I drop an ice pack down my pants! *phew!*  Too much heat!  I’m a cotton girl all the way!  But I trusted my cloth diapering friends and I decided to give it a shot.

I am so glad that I did!

Let me tell you first of all how well these guys breathe.  Both the bamboo and the wool keep me feeling much cooler and fresher than even just my plain underwear!  When it comes to moisture (and yes, this is a serious issue during pregnancy), the bamboo wicks the moisture straight into the very absorbent wool backing.

What I’ve discovered is that the cotton pads I was using had been holding the moisture against my skin.  This left me feeling… not so fresh, let’s say.  It was quite a revelation to wear the Moonbow pads.  A very different  and much more pleasant experience.

Another thing I like about these pads is how they feel on.  I simply do not wear pads.  Before I switched to the Diva Cup, I used tampons.  Pads just were never something I liked.  For me they were hot, itchy, and smelly.  Gladrags were better, but they were bulky and still left me feeling gross and stinky.

I was pretty worried that these would be so bulky that I wouldn’t be able to deal with them.  Once again, Christy proved me wrong!  None of these pads feel particularly thick and bulky.  The velour keeps them soft and cool feeling on the fanny, and the wool allows them to be very absorbent without adding to the bulk.  Even the large, which really is overkill for right now, is still as comfortable as the thin little Moonbow liner.  I tried the XL pad last week because the others were all in the wash, and while that one certainly was bulky (4 layers of absorption anyone?) it was no more bulky than the Gladrags and definitely cooler and more comfortable.  I’m glad to know I don’t have to be scared of that one for postpartum.

The wingless Moonbows are really nice.  Later on they’ll act as boosters, but for now, I can just stick them in my undies like a regular pad.  The wool on the back keeps them from crawling out the back of my jeans, which has happened with the Gladrags when I use the boosters alone as a liner.  I have to be careful when I use the restroom so that they don’t fall in the toilet, but like the others, they do the job.  Right now they’re back up pads, later they’ll be boosters.  Christy also recommended soaking these in witch hazel and placing them in the fridge to help soothe that sore postpartum bottom.  Sounds like a fantastic idea to me!

Aside from the comfort, these pads are really pretty.  I’m such a sucker for color and JustFussy Moonbows deliver on that end as well.  I mean, it’s in the name!  Get it?  Moonbow?  Rainbow?  The fabrics are all hand-dyed, and I can tell you that several washings later, they’re still the same rich jewel tones that they were in the beginning.  Now I’m not saying you should throw your raspberry pads into the washer with your white shirts.  That’s just never a good idea.  But they have, thus far, not caused a problem in our laundry.  If you prefer, there is an undyed option as well.

I really, really love these pads.  I can’t wait to get more.  In addition to the one that I tried there is a Large Extra Moonbow pad that looks like it would be great for those heavier days.  It’s the size of the large, but has the same four layers as the XL.

All-in-all, I really can’t say enough good things about these pads.  I’m so glad I got brave enough to give them a shot.  They really are wonderful and you should definitely give them a try.

Doula Update

Due to some scheduling issues, both doula meetings got pushed to this week.  We met with Doula 2 on Tuesday evening (that was the night I ended up puking in case you forgot) and Doula 1 yesterday at lunch.

Both meetings went very well.  Both offered pretty much the same services.  Doula 1 has attended a lot more births than Doula 2, but Doula 2 seemed pretty competent as well and is in the process of completing her DONA training.  All she’s got left is the paperwork.

I think it’s just going to come down to a simple, subjective decision.  Who did we like better?

We committed to both of them that we would let them know early next week, so Mr. Grasshopper and I have the weekend to talk about it.

Below are some things I picked up on from both Doulas.

Doula 1:

  • Has what seems like a little more authoritative personality, which I appreciate.  No guilt about running over her with my own balls to the wall personality.  She seems perfectly capable of pushing me when I might need it the most.
  • Has attended over 40 births
  • Teaches a childbirth education class and can speak with authority on risks/benefits of interventions and various birth situations that arise
  • Former Bradley instructor
  • Is willing to listen to my hypnobabies tracks and read the book to learn more about this
Doula 2:
  • Soft and gentle personality
  • Very kind to the Grasshopper, wants to make sure she’s comfortable in her presence, but since the Grasshopper won’t be joining us for the birth is this completely critical?
  • Almost half the price of Doula 1 due to not completing her DONA certification
  • Didn’t take the lead as much in the conversation, so I worry a little that she may not be able to push me the way I might need to be pushed
  • Also highly recommended by the midwives
  • Also very willing to learn about hypnobabies
Hm.  You know, getting my impressions out on the page really helps me think about things.
We have a lot to talk about this weekend.

Finding a Doula

We have reached the point in this pregnancy where it is time to start looking for a doula.  A doula is a person (usually a woman) who is present throughout the birth to provide emotional and physical support to the mother during her birthing time and post-partum.

We didn’t have a doula last time with the Grasshopper.  We took Bradley Birth classes last time, and our teacher at the time discouraged us from hiring a doula.  In Bradley, there is much emphasis placed on the husband/father as coach, so I think this is why she advised against doulas.  In retrospect, I see that this was not the best advice for us.

This time I am doing Hypnobabies, so I fully expect the dynamic to be completely different.  In fact, this is my intent.  My experience with the Grasshopper was good.  But I want something different for this birth.  I’ve learned some lessons, and I prefer to take that knowledge and move forward.

One of the things I learned is that, yeah, I really do need someone else there to help out.  This is not a knock on my husband.  He absolutely did a great job last time, especially considering that he was thrown into an unfamiliar situation that was loaded with stress and pressure from all sides.  I look forward to childbirth.  He dreads it.

At first when I started talking to him about hiring a doula, he was worried.  He thought that the doula would replace him and take over his role.  This should not be the case at all.  A lot of the experiences of the birth felt strange and uncomfortable to him, and having someone there to navigate that processs with him, I hope, will give him more comfort with the entire process.

In poking around, trying to find some resources for him, I stumbled across this article from Doula.com:  Dads and Doulas: Working Together.

A doula is there to help the father, as much as she helps the mother. The fact of the matter is, our society places a great deal of pressure and responsibility on the father-to-be during labor. A childbirth class isn’t enough to prepare a new, nervous dad to support his wife through what may be one of the most difficult and challenging moments in her life. Is it fair to expect the father to remain 100% focused and calm, when his wife is struggling?

Emphasis mine.  I appreciate the perspective here.  This article really helps us understand how the doula will fit in to our own situation.

I asked my midwives (gosh I love saying that!) for some recommendations on some doulas they work with, and they gave me a few business cards.  I’ve been able to reach two of them, and we have meetings set up for this week.  Tomorrow, we’ll be having lunch with Doula 1, and then next Tuesday Doula 2 is coming to our house to meet us.

Doula 2 said that she prefers for her clients to meet with her in their homes so that they can see how she interacts with them in their own comfort zone and especially how she interacts with other children.  I like this notion.  My sister-in-law will be with us and will help care for the Grasshopper, but I love that Doula 2 considered the Grasshopper and her feelings as well as my husband’s and my feelings.  This impresses me.

I spent this weekend trying to figure out what kinds of questions to ask these doulas during the interview.  DONA International, one of the organizations that certifies and trains doulas, has an article with some questions to ask in their How to Hire a Doula section, but there were some more specific questions we had as well.

Here is the list of questions we came up with for us to ask the doulas (some of these come straight from the DONA page):

  • What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you might consider checking with the organization.)
  • Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?
  • What is your fee, what does it include and what are your refund policies?
  • Tell me about your experience as a birth doula.
  • What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor?
  • What is your familiarity and comfort level with Hypnobabies?  Will you be willing to do some reading and study to prepare for providing support for me during hypnosis?
  • Will you assist in writing a birth plan?
  • Can you give some examples of some of the ways you provide comfort during the birthing time? Massage? Aromatherapy? Do you proactively suggest position changes and movements?
  • In what ways will you help Mr. Grasshopper during the labor?
  • How will you fit in to the birth team since we are birthing with midwives at a birth center as opposed to a hospital?  Are you familiar with waterbirth?
  • At what point during my birthing time will you come?  Will you come to the house?  The birth center?
  • Do you take pictures?  Keep track of details to help me write out the birth story later?
  • What kind of support do you provide after the birth?

I’m sure there are plenty of more questions that will come up during our meetings with the doulas.  I am excited to see where the conversation will take us.

I feel like this really puts us one step closer to bringing this baby into the world, and it’s so exciting!

Birth Center, Midwives, and Such

Last week, my husband and I went to visit with the midwives at one of the local birth centers.  It was very, very cool, and for me, it went very, very well.

She began by giving us a quick tour of the birth center.  Having never been to one before, I had no idea what to expect.  I wasn’t sure if I should expect an office-like atmosphere or what.  What I found was a very quiet, peaceful place.  It was very home-like and comfortable.  There were couches in the consultation room, a nice-sized bed in the birth room (which included a deliberately small, cave-like attached bathroom for a mom who wants to retreat), and a gorgeous room with an absolutely huge, deep tub.  Not to mention, the exam room, kitchenette, auxiliary labor room, etc.

I really liked that she showed me the specific things in the rooms, too.  I remember when we toured the hospital in St. Louis, they brought us to a room and said, “This is one of our labor/delivery rooms.”  And that was it.  As first time parents, you don’t really know what to ask about, so you stand around and say, “Oh, interesting.  Thank you.”   I can’t remember if I asked about a squat bar, but questions like that were met with answers like, “Oh, yes, we have those.  Just request it at the time.”  The difference here was that she was pointing out specific things that you could do.  She showed me their birth stool and even showed where they usually put it and described how you’d sit on it, with your birth partner sitting behind you on the bed for you to lean against.  I am certain that if I had asked if I could sit on it to see how it worked, she would have let me.

This kind of thing is important to me.  I tend to get bogged down in not knowing exactly how things work mechanically.  For example, with the birth bar, I was intrigued by it, but I’d never seen one.  Never tried it out.  I didn’t want to fool around with the whole “Am I doing it right” thing, so I just didn’t ask.  With something right there that I can look over really carefully ahead of time and even try out just to get the feel of it, it’s just a whole different level of confidence.

At any rate, the birth center is gorgeous.  The midwife we met with really took the time to connect with me.  At one point, I was talking a little about some of my hospital experiences and becoming stressed out, and she just reached over and squeezed my hand.  Just little, simple things like that.  She just really went out of her way to validate my feelings and show empathy.  It was very peaceful and comforting and I can see, with a demeanor like that, why she has a successful midwifery practice.

She also really seemed to get the whole thing with HG.  She took a gentle look at the scars from my midline and failed PICC, and was just so gentle and sympathetic about what I’ve been through.  No suggestion to try this, no suggestion that I should have done that.  Just very gentle and kind.  Having someone in the natural birth community who really recognizes that I don’t have a choice about pumping my body full of chemicals is both surprising and a relief.  She is also willing to hold a space for me until I am off my pump and my doctor is able to release me into her care.  She’s willing to wait for me, and I so appreciate that.  No pressure, no stress.  When I am healthy enough and able, she will be there for me.

Aside from all the touchy-feely stuff, they also meet all of the requirements that you would expect them to meet.  Things like licensing, emergency preparedness, how they handle hospital transfers, etc.  All that stuff that you absolutely expect and consider completely necessary for a practice like this.  And I really grilled her.  I had a huge list of questions, and she answered every single one completely and without waffling about it.

For those curious, here is a link to the list of questions I asked.

I came away feeling very, very positive.  It all felt, so… right.  My husband not so much.  He’s very much married to the idea of the hospital model of birth: lay back and let the doctor drive.  This resulted in a bit of… ah… hearty discussion between the two of us.  Thankfully, ultimately, he has found that he can respect that I have some pretty serious aversions to being in a hospital.  He may not understand why, but he accepts that I do.  And I very much appreciate his support.

Ultimately, it’s up to the insurance company.  I’ve applied for them to accept this birth center as in-network, and I’m just waiting to hear back from them.  Keep your fingers crossed that they give us the approval!

Hospitals, Childbirth, and Fear

I’m feeling a lot of fear and anxiety about the birth of this baby, but maybe not in the way you’d expect.

I’m good at childbirth.  I may suck at pregnancy, but I’m good at childbirth.

That said, I am not loving my hospital options here.  My doctor only delivers at two hospitals, both of which are part of the public county hospital system.  I will say that both are classed as Baby Friendly hospitals which is a huge deal and really great.  But I have major concerns about both.  Here are the concerns I have with both places:

Hospital A

This is where I went for my HG hospitalizations.  Anyone remember how awesome my experiences were there?  No one?  That’s right.  Because it sucked.

  • This is an old hospital.  It’s gritty.  It feels very… what’s the word… institutional.  I’m sure it’s very clean, but it just looks really grimy from being old.
  • They have you labor in one room and deliver in another room.  That’s right ladies.  When you hit transition, they make you move.  I cannot imagine the chaos of changing rooms during transition.  This just seems like a terrible idea and a terrible policy.  My doctor said they might be able to make an exception for me since we have no need for things like warming tables and the like, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a “might be able to.”  This is a major deal-breaker.
  • Fathers aren’t allowed to spend the night.  My husband might not be able to do this anyway because of the Grasshopper, but the idea of being stuck in there for 3 days by myself just makes me feel edgy and trapped.
  • I had pretty bad experiences at this hospital.  Just walking into it is enough to send my stress levels up.  The woman I shared a room with leaving blood all over the toilet seats, and the mentally ill man walking outside my door and shouting all night and freaking me out that he would come into my room, and the L&D nurse who left me in the wheelchair and repeatedly told me and anyone she ran into that I shouldn’t be in L&D despite what my doctor had said, and the OBGYN not bothering to see me at all, and the evil vital signs lady who kept making my IV sticks bleed with the blood pressure cuff, and the OBGYN who smiled and said that if I feel persistent nausea and vomiting to come back in (idiot), etc, etc, etc…
  • Very restrictive for visitors under the age of 13.  The Grasshopper could come visit us but only for certain hours.  3 days separated from my family.  Cut off from them when I want to be with them the most.

Hospital B

  • No showers in the rooms.  You have to walk down the hall to the shower behind the nurses station.  That means if I want to sit under the hot water while I’m in labor and labor in the shower, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
  • Only two rooms.  What if they’re full?
  • No visitors under the age of 13 allowed.  That bothers me in a major, major way.  I would be completely cut off from my family during one of the most important times for us all.
  • It’s in the next town over.  It’s not a long drive, but it is a drive.

General Concerns

  • I’m not a fan of several of my doctor’s partners.  I only actively dislike one of them, but I think having him walk into the room to catch the baby would send me over the edge.
  • My doctor isn’t always on call.  I’m not sure what percentage of her babies she delivers, but if she’s not on call, it would be a major, major stressor.  The last thing I want to deal with is more stress.  That week when all hell was breaking loose with the HG, she was not reachable.  At all.
  • They don’t let you eat in labor.  I need to eat all the time!  If I can’t eat I have to get hooked up to an IV with a glucose solution.  I am really, really averse to IVs and needle sticks at this point.  Like heart racing, hands shaking averse to it.
  • No tubs.  Anywhere.
  • General nervousness about the whole thing.

This is my last baby.  Of course, it goes without saying that the ultimate goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mommy.  That’s a major no brainer if you ask me.  So why can’t birth be a pleasurable experience for me?  It was a good experience last time, but like I said in my hypnobirthing post, I want to be an active participant here.  I have absolutely no regrets about the Grasshopper’s birth.  I just want something different this time around.  I want a water birth.  I want to do this on my own.  I want this last time to be a positive and gentle experience.  I’ve had such a crappy pregnancy.  I just want to have a positive, respectful birth.

Home birth is absolutely not an option here, but there are some lovely-looking birth centers here in town.  My husband is dismissing the idea out of hand.  It’s just so far outside his concept of normal.  I just want to find a way to help him understand why I might view that as a viable option.  The hospitals here aren’t like the awesome one we delivered at in St. Louis.  Would switching to midwife care after the HG be like a huge “Eff You” to my doctor?  “Hi there.  You get to do all the awful stuff without the little bonus prize at the end.”

I hope I can find a way to make peace with all of this.

Hypnosis and Childbirth

I’m strongly considering doing a form of hypnosis for the birth of this child.  Specifically, I’ve been looking at Hypnobabies.

I’m attracted to this method for a couple of reasons:

  • I would really like to birth this child without the use of medications. Last time, I opted for an epidural, and what followed was a predictable series of events: stalled labor, pitocin, breaking my water etc.  I believe the epi necessitated the pitocin, and based on my research, the pitocin is probably a large part of what caused my milk to come in late.  I just plain don’t want those interventions again.  Personal choice.
  • I want breastfeeding to start as easily as possible. See above.  Getting started nursing the Grasshopper was terribly difficult.  I know that I am perfectly capable of nursing another child, and I want to make the start of it as easy as possible.
  • I want to be an active participant in this birth. That’s not to say I wasn’t an active participant last time, but I really was tied to that bed.  The epidural essentially paralyzed me from the waist down.  I want to be able to move, sit up, change positions, and do various other things.  I don’t want to have to fight gravity and labor on my back.
  • I am open to and intrigued by the idea of meditation and hypnosis in general. I used to meditate a whole lot.  I loved it.  It helped me feel really good mentally.  I still meditate during yoga practice.  Or I would if I could do yoga right now.  The HG gets in the way of that.

Those are a couple of reasons for me being interested in hypnosis in childbirth.  I haven’t completely gathered my thoughts on why I’m so drawn to this method.  I just feel a pull toward it.

I like the idea that this particular method has a self-study course, which I think will work better for me.  I also love the idea that this particular method teaches an “eyes open” form of hypnosis meaning you can move around open your eyes and do various other things while you’re under the hypnosis.  I think that will really help me feel like a much more active participant in this process.

Have any of you used a form of hypnosis for childbirth?  I would love to hear about your experiences!