Some Helpful Tips From Melanie Henstrom, A Postpartum Doula and Infant Massage Instructor

melanieheadshotMelanie Henstrom has 6 beautiful children (including twins), and a wonderful husband, William Henstrom. In 2009 she was selected to represent Oregon as the Young Mother of the Year. In her “free” time, she enjoys spending time with her family and practicing yoga. Four years ago, when her youngest went to school full-time, she got her certification to be a postpartum doula. She has more recently added her certification for infant massage instruction. Check out www.melaniehenstrom.com for her services.

Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in the day? What I would give to not be tired, or simply have two extra hours in the day? I remember the day my twins were born. I really didn’t know how I was going to do the basic things. At the time I had 5 children under the age of six.

The twin babies would have been enough to keep track of, but to have a 6, 4, and 2 year old potty training, with the twin babies was beyond overwhelming. So, out if necessity I came up with a few tricks that helped me survive.

Most people laugh at the first time saving trick. At night, after my husband and I gave the children a bath, we would put our young ones in the clean clothes they would wear the next day. It saved on laundry, and the cost of pajamas. On Saturday night it was a special treat to sleep in pajamas, because we certainly did not want to put them in church clothes.

The next trick I learned came as my children were old enough to do their own laundry. Each room had their own dirty clothes hamper. When it was full, the entire content went into the washing machine, then into the dryer, then back up to the room where it originated. The children knew when they arrived home from school and their clothes were on the floor, that they were expected to put them away. Consequently, I no longer have to sort or fold the piles of clothes, except my own. This literally saves me hours each week. I may not have had the whitest whites in town, but I certainly have more free time.

My favorite way to cook is with the crock pot. I don’t know how people do without one. There are so many great recipes that can be converted to the crock pot. I love having dinner simmering and ready whenever I need it. If you are not a crock pot cooker, may I suggest you give it a try. It is perfect for those nights that you are busy and it allows you to spend more time with your children when they get home from school.

When I had my twins, I had no idea there was such a thing as a doula. Oh, how I wish I had known. People often ask me what a postpartum doula does. My most simple answer is, “We are a Mom for the Mom”. Here is a more detailed list of what postpartum doulas do:

• Provide hands-on education on infant and mother care
• Create a nurturing, restful atmosphere in which parents may eat, shower and nap
• Shop for groceries and prepare meals
• Play with older children and offer suggestions for how to integrate the new baby into the family
• Spend time with the baby, allowing parents to cuddle and have quality time with older children or just be alone together
• Screen for hurdles such as breastfeeding challenges or postpartum mood disorders
• Make referrals to any local or informational resources that the parents might need
• Offer a listening, non-judgmental ear
• Assess and help with breastfeeding
• Prepare pump supplies or bottles for the next feeding or the next day

I have one regret: I did not learn infant massage when my children were young. There are huge benefits of infant massage. I will list just a few:

infantmassage• Infant-Parent bonding
• Relaxation
• Helps baby feel loved
• Promotes better sleep
• Boosts immune system
• Sensory stimulation
• Improves skin condition
• Improves blood circulation
• Helps digestion
• Caregivers report feeling more comfortable and confident in caring for their baby
• Parents learn to understand and respond to baby’s cues
• Parents learn techniques to comfort their baby

I hope some of these tips will help make it more joyous for you. I love instructing infant massage to new parents. If you are interested in learning more, you can go to my website: www.melaniehenstrom.com to see my pricing and my contact information. I hope to hear from you soon!