COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT LAUNCH

Welcome to our first official Community Spotlight! 🙂 This is going to be a new segment of our blog where we shine the spotlight on some of our community members that are doing awesome work for prenatal/postpartum care! This will be a weekly occurrence, so get ready to meet some pretty awesome people. 

For our first Community Spotlight, it’s only natural that we shine the light on one of our very own doulas, Toni Auker!

To learn more about Toni’s work, passions, winning personality, and the births of her little ones while she busts some common myths about childbirth/ parenting, keep on reading!

TONI AUKER

What brought you to support moms and babies?

I have always wanted to work with women and children, but wasn’t sure in exactly what capacity. When I was an undergrad I was certain that it would be through therapy. I double majored in psychology and women’s studies and hoped to work with families in crisis. Before graduation I realized that I didn’t actually want to do therapy, but I still began looking for jobs working with families. The job market at the time wasn’t easy and I found that I made more money as a server than I would at most of the jobs that would use my degree. I put off the career search for a long time as I concentrated on building my own family. 

As soon as my first son was born I knew what I wanted to do. Although I didn’t have a doula for my birth, I felt extremely supported by my mother. She had 3 natural hospital births, and her confidence in my ability to birth was instrumental in my own confidence. My husband was by my side, but he was nervous and needed his own support. My OB of 10 years happened to be the one that caught my baby, but I felt like I had only seen him for a few minutes throughout the entire labor and birth. The nurses were great, but it felt so strange to me that I had never met them and would never see them again. Birth seemed so personal, and I felt like everyone deserved the continuous support of someone that knew and trusted birth. I knew a little bit about what birth doulas did, and I started to do more research. It wasn’t long before I decided that this was the career I had been looking for. I found a DONA (Doulas of North America) training in Ann Arbor and I took my four month old son with me to the classes. After attending my first birth, I knew that I had finally found my place in the world. Eight years later I have added Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator to my resume and I couldn’t be more excited about where my career is headed. I get to work with the most amazing families at such an exciting time in their lives. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

If there was one myth you could “bust”, what would it be?

There are so many birth myths that I would like to bust, but I think the biggest is that your provider is in charge of your birth. People might not say it directly, but it is in the way that we talk about birth. “My doctor won’t allow…”, “My doctor is making me…” and even “My doctor delivered my baby” are all phrases that I would love to do away with. You are in control of your birth. You birth your baby. Your doctor or midwife simply makes recommendations that you are welcome to accept or refuse. Some of their suggestions will be based on solid research and experience, but others come from habit or fear of litigation. Most of their recommendations come from generic hospital policy with no regard to your personal health or history. I have also found that many providers aren’t even attached to these recommendations, and they are more than willing to support people that ask for alternatives. I am so privileged to work with many brilliant providers and I absolutely respect everything that they do, but I also have amazing respect for the wonderfully intuitive families that take charge of their own births and make the decisions that work best for them

What do you enjoy doing when not working?

I am currently six months pregnant and planning to move, so I am not working much these days. My days seem to be filled with packing and keeping 2 active boys happy. The things I enjoy the most are getting out in nature. I love to hike and camp. Hikes are quite a bit shorter right now, but even just sitting in nature makes me happy. This year we have visited the Hocking Hills and Ocqueoc Falls. We are heading up for a camping trip this weekend, and I hope to plan at least one more adventure before this baby arrives. 

What moment are you most proud of?

I have two moments that I am extremely proud of, one personal and one professional. My proudest professional moment was passing the Lamaze exam. I had already been teaching for someone else, and using their curriculum, for three years. Striking out on my own and passing the Lamaze exam was huge for me. It was like validation that I was on the right path. It makes me a more confident instructor, and I feel like it gives me a bit of credibility in the eyes of the many providers that now send their clients to me.

My proudest moment personally was the birth of my second son. My first birth was amazing and enlightening. I had tried to conceive him for 5 years with the help of 2 fertility doctors. Looking back there was so much I didn’t know, and so many things that I would have changed. Overall though, it was a good birth. With the second I hired homebirth midwives. I rented an inflatable tub for my dining room and asked a doula to be there. From the minute that I hired my midwives, things felt so much different. I felt supported and empowered in a way that I didn’t know was possible with my first birth. Although not everything went as planned (my son was not born in the water as I had envisioned), I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I was in control. I kicked people out of my room when I needed privacy, I pushed when my body told me, and I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. My oldest got to meet his baby brother before we even cut the cord, and I feel like that solidified their bond immediately. I know that homebirth isn’t for everyone, but it was absolutely the right decision for me.

Tell us about something in your practice you would like everyone to know.

I would like everyone to know that Lamaze supports every kind of birth and all choices. I teach directly from research and try to lay out all of your options. I will never tell a client that they need to do something or that they need to refuse something. I give them the evidence on both sides, and often help them find the compromises in the middle. Birth is unpredictable and the best thing that I can give you is the tools to communicate with your providers and make decisions in the moment. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I only gave you the tools for an unmedicated birth. This is something that everyone with Tree Town Doulas has in common. We are here to support you no matter what your circumstances and choices are. Whether you plan to give birth at home or in a hospital, with or without medication, vaginally or caesarean, we are here to support you

 

FOOD FOR THE POSTPARTUM MOOD


The clock strikes 3PM. The tiny, warm, newborn bundle of joy in your arms has finally settled down and dozed off to sleep. A moment of peace surrounds you when all of a sudden you realize you haven’t had anything to eat all day! No wonder you’re exhausted! (you know, aside from the fact that your bundle of joy was only seconds ago a bundle of screaming). If you’ve ever been so busy that you’ve forgotten to indulge in your basic physical needs, you’ll completely understand this phenomenon. And now with a newborn it’s even easier for this to happen! Well have no fear.

Here are a couple tips and tricks to keep up on your postpartum nutrition even when your tiny bundle is keeping you busy: 

  • Eat when you can! Parenthood can be incredibly hectic, especially those first few months postpartum while you’re getting used to your new role and routine. So whenever you have a moment, whether it’s while baby is napping or skin-to-skin during feeding, try munching on a snack. Not only will that keep up your energy for when baby’s especially fussy, but it’ll also improve your milk supply if breastfeeding/chestfeeding is part of your plan!
  • Snack snack snack! With a new baby it’s common not to have the time or energy to prepare full meals on a regular basis. We highly recommend snacking many times throughout the day, not only out of convenience, but because it’s more effective at keeping your blood sugar up as the day goes on. Parents that breastfeed/chestfeed are much more likely to have blood sugar crashes due to so much of their bodily nutrients going to their milk supply, so please make sure to snack if your tiny human is suckling away!
  • Overstock your favorite foods. If there’s a food you’re always in the mood for, don’t be afraid to overstock! Your body will be working overtime to heal after your baby’s birth. So this is a fool-proof way to make sure you’re providing your body with the energy it needs to heal, especially if your appetite is being funky as you adjust.
  • Foods that are easy to eat with one hand. Convenience is key! Leaving some one-handed snacks on the counter so you can grab a few grapes as you walk by can make things SO much easier.
  • Stash non-perishables around the house so you don’t have to get up. End up having an unexpected moment of peace but don’t want to disturb your little one by moving? Good thing you stashed those granola bars in the drawer next to your sofa so that you don’t even have to move to grab a bite!
  • Stock up on foods that require minimum prep. Again, convenience is key. Save your energy for those times when your baby doesn’t want to settle down! Protip: precut fruits and veggies are a godsend.
  • Have your support people (e.g. your doula, significant other, friends, family, etc..) prepare food for you!
  • Prepare and freeze meals before you go into labor. Meal planning before your tiny human arrives can be a lifesaver. By making and freezing nutrient-dense meals ahead of time, you’ll be able to just throw that healthy meal in the microwave while folding clothes or changing baby’s diaper. Easy peasy!

Need some ideas for low-maintenance healthy postpartum snacks? We got you 🙂 

  • Precut fruits and veggies
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Pre sliced cheese/ string cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Granola
  • Protein bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Hummus

 Here are some additional postpartum nutrition tidbits to keep in mind to ensure you’re on your way to feeling your strongest: 

  • Nutrient dense foods for the first few months. A healthy, nutrient-rich diet is one of the biggest deciding factors in healing and gaining your strength back after birth. Instead of defaulting to quick and easy processed foods (although a little dessert never hurt anyone 😉 ), make sure you’re doing everything you can to nourish your body with each bite! You just carried a baby in your body for 9 months, and now it’s time to take care of you too. If nursing is part of your postpartum plan, it’s also important to remember that your baby eats everything you eat, and you both deserve the absolute best in your tummies.
  • Protein-rich foods: Eating more of these foods will not only help strengthen your body, but will also facilitate tissue healing/repair which is vital after birth. This is especially the case after C-sections or physically traumatic births. Examples of these foods: cheese, yogurt, meat, beans, nuts, eggs. 
  • Healthy whole-grain carbs. After your little one has arrived it’s super tempting to switch gears to losing that “baby weight” as soon as possible, but losing it too fast can interfere with your ability to produce milk and leave you feeling fatigued. Investing in some whole-grain carbs is an easy way to keep your energy up as well as provide that extra boost to your milk supply if your’e breastfeeding/chestfeeding!
  • Foods that promote collagen-formation. When it comes to collagen-formation Vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc are must-haves. Collagen promotes the healing of skin and tissue. Vitamin C and zinc also boost your immune system to prevent common illnesses! Examples: carrots, sweet potatoes, red meat, citrus fruits. 
  • Leafy greens. Let’s not forget those leafy greens because they’re a fantastic source of iron and Vitamin A! Vitamin A promotes the formation/maintenance of bones, teeth, soft tissues, mucus membranes, white blood cells, and the immune system. This is especially important for new parents, and even more so for new babies. Don’t worry, nursing babies get all of this good stuff from breast milk!
  • Vitamin B-12. This one’s a biggie. Vitamin B-12 is involved in the metabolism reactions that occur in every single cell of the human body because it helps break down nutrients and enhances nervous system function. Making sure you’re getting adequate amounts of B-12 can improve your postpartum healing experience 10-fold, and also  decreases the likelihood of postpartum depression and anxiety. Breastfeeding/chestfeeding parents also need extra B-12 because it facilitates healthy brain and red blood cell function/development for both the parent and baby. Examples: lean beef, yogurt, cheese, eggs. 
  • Fiber. In your postpartum life you will find there will already be a lot going on down there. No need to add constipation to the mix 🙂 
  • Iron. Anemia is pretty common during and after pregnancy because extra hemoglobin and red blood cells are needed to bring oxygen/nutrients to your baby before they’re born. By getting enough iron, you’re also replenishing your red blood cells! Examples: lentils, leafy greens, lean beef, dark beans. 
  • Hydration nation. Your body is mostly water, so drink up! Plus, water decreases constipation. Need we say more? 🙂 

Now let’s nourish that postpartum body!