Exciting Announcement

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Hello all,

I will be offering a first time parent group at a new location in Roslindale this fall. I am excited to start this new phase of my business and hope you will spread the word.

Please let me know if you have any questions! Thanks!

Getting Started (For new parents and babies 2-14 weeks)

Join experienced postpartum doula Rachel Hess in a 5 week series with other new parents and their babies. You will find support, information, and fun in these sessions. Each week parents will have a chance to share their fears, questions, and joys in a non-judgmental environment. Every week there will be a different topic of discussion as well as time to get to know each other. Topics include: Sleep, feeding, your new identity as a parent, postpartum mood adjustment, and developmental milestones.  At the end of every class we will spend some time together in a mini “circle time,” learning new ways to play with your newborn.
Join us for this exciting new group.
Details:
$135 for one parent and their newborn (multiples welcome at no extra charge)
5 week 1.5 hour series
When: Fridays, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Dates: September 22, 29, October 6, 13, and 27 (no class on October 20th).
Where: Akasha Yoga Studio in Roslindale, 20 Birch Street
Register here.
Questions? Email me at rachelhessdoula@gmail.com

Perspective

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We often talk about how breastfeeding is a natural, but learned process. You have never done it before, your baby has never done it before, and it is a steep and stressful learning curve. On top of that, you are probably recovering from labor and are totally sleep deprived. You don’t recognize your body, your partner, or your messy, diaper filled house. This makes it hard to have perspective on what is going well and what still needs work. But perspective is exactly what we need in order to not get discouraged or scared. 

When I work with new breastfeeding parents who have any sort of struggles, I spend time sitting with them while they try to nurse. I know firsthand that frustration when a baby won’t latch, or falls asleep, or keeps popping off even though they are crying with hunger. And the time you have to take them off your nipple because it hurts, or the latch isn’t right. Those times can be so discouraging. But there are also moments when I sit with parents and baby latches, maybe not the first time, but after a few tries, and after a few minutes things are going so well we talk about other things (after the usual: “How does that feel? Any pain?” and “Are you comfortable? Can you relax your shoulders a bit?”) Those easier, faster, even sometimes relaxed nursing sessions are the ones we forget. Especially when the frustrating ones occur. Especially when they occur in the middle of the night.

I am not saying that breastfeeding always gets better. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Or sometimes there are longer struggles that involve more interventions. But often, for many people, even with a rough start, things do, slowly, start to get better. Progress is not a straight line up, it takes dips and curves and sometimes goes in unexpected directions along the way. When we can remind ourselves that we had successes in the past week it can make those hard times a little less hard. It is hard to encourage yourself when you are so exhausted. This is why a strong support system is so important in the early stages of breastfeeding. The people around you should be there to remind you of what a great job you are doing and validate the hard times while holding onto the good.

Why LGBTQ Specific Parenting Support Matters

Let me start by saying I wish there had been an LGBTQ new parent group when we had our oldest child. We were the first of our friends, certainly the first of our queer friends, to have a baby. While we found support and some very good friends through the regular new moms groups, there were some things missing. Here is why I believe LGBTQ parenting support matters and why we should work to make sure every new queer parent has the option for this kind of support:

  1. Constantly coming out.

It’s a basic fact, when you are in a group of straight people, especially a group that changes constantly; you have to keep coming out because of heteronomativity. Basically, even where I live in Boston, it is assumed that you are straight, particularly if you have a baby. The same applies to coming out as trans or gender queer, especially if you are going to a new parent group where it is all “moms” or where the facilitator doesn’t ask folks to give their preferred pronouns as part of the basic introductions.  Constantly having to make sure folks know our identities and can validate our experience is exhausting, as if having a small baby isn’t tiring enough.

  1. Checking a piece of your identity at the door.

So if you decide not to constantly come out, or even if you come out, but don’t feel like you are in shared company or that your identity makes you too different, then you tend to check pieces of your identity at the door. Not only does this not feel good, it means we aren’t given access to the same level and depth of support as our straight or cis-gender peers.

  1. How did you “get” your baby?

There are so many assumptions around how queer people have babies. Because we live in a heteronormative and transphobic society, people generally don’t know how to ask questions in a respectful way. In a group of all queer parents, we at least start with a shared understanding that we probably all got our babies in different ways and are then given space to tell our conception or adoption stories. And our stories might be more complicated than that. Being in a space where there are as many ways of bringing your family into being as there are parents in the room, can be validating and liberating to new LGBTQ parents.

  1. Support for non-gestational or non-biological parents.

It is more likely in our queer families that one or more of the parents in any given family are not biologically related to the baby. We need extra support around being recognized and how this impacts our family and our identities. An LGBTQ parent support group is more likely to make space and time for this.

  1. Celebrating how we are special, powerful, and unique.

When we are able to surround ourselves with other queer families, we not only find support for ourselves as parents, we help our children understand that families are created in all different ways. This year at Pride, we talked with our three year old about how one of the purposes of pride was celebrating all sorts of families. She was able to think about and list families she knew with two moms, one mom, one parent, two dads and one mom, and finally, a mom and a dad. Because she has been surrounded by so many different family structures, having two moms isn’t “different” it’s just one of many options. Being surrounded by a group of queer parents enables us to meet, connect, and find other families to raise our children with that help them feel loved and empowered.

Updates!

Hello world,

I just wanted to share with you my summer teaching schedule. I am most excited about my new offering: a group supporting LGTBQ families with babies 0-6 months old. It will meet regularly for 5 weeks over the summer and the cost includes both parents! 

LGBTQ Parent Connections starts July 13th! 

http://www.mymamaandme.com/lgbtq-parent-connections/

LGBTQ Parent/Child Playgroup, monthly, $10 drop-in 

Summer dates:

  • Saturday, 6/7   | 3:30-5:00
  • Sunday, 7/13   | 3:30-5:00
  • Saturday, 8/2     | 3:30-5:00

http://www.mymamaandme.com/lgbtq-parent-group/

Preparing for Baby

Summer dates:

  • Saturday, May 31st  |   9:30-12:30
  • Wednesday, June 11  |  5:30-8:30
  • Saturday, June 21  |  9:30-12:30  
  • Sunday, July 13  |  9:30-12:30  
  • Thursday, July 17  |  5:30-8:30 
  • Sunday, August 3  |  9:30-12:30
  • Wednesday, August 27  |  5:30-8:30

http://www.mymamaandme.com/preparing-for-baby/

New Parent Groups, Thursdays, Starting June 19th!

For babies 0-3 months: http://www.mymamaandme.com/first-connections/

For babies 3-6 months: http://www.mymamaandme.com/growing-connections/

Child Development Classes, Fridays, Starting June 6th!

Come play with me!

http://www.mymamaandme.com/child-development/

 

If you have any questions about any of these classes, please contact me at rachelhessdoula@gmail.com

 

 

Exciting News!

Hello All,
My submission entitled “Supporting LGBTQ Parents: Tips for Doulas ” has been accepted into an upcoming anthology! The name of the book is tentatively titled “Round the Circle: Experienced Doulas Share What They Learned the Hard Way.” The anthologist is the well established local birth worker, Julie Brill. I am so honored to have my piece chosen. Hopefully other prenatal, birth, and postpartum workers will find it useful.

Updates on the book and the publishing date to come.

Thanks for all your support.

Rachel