Sibling Adjustment and the New Normal

Philadelphia, PA 3/30/15

My specialty is helping families adjust to their "new normal" now that baby (or babies) has arrived.  I draw from my many years of experience as a nanny before becoming a postpartum doula to see places where adjustments can be made with the older children to make the transition more seamless. It isn't easy especially since each child and each family relationship is so widely different.  We as doulas don't often have a great deal of time to spend getting to know the family before we start setting up plans to help with the adjustment.  But our postpartum planning session done during pregnancy at least gives us a head start. Often, I use the phrase "let's throw it at the wall and see what sticks!"  This is my way to say that there is many ways to try to help kids adjust and I never know what is going to catch on with a particular kid. 

There is one thing that I do find to be a constant, kids need and love their parents.  They may or may not like the new baby or the commotions surrounding the event but the fact that they still need parents to remain the same as before is evident.  Kids need their parents to keep the structure and discipline that they have been teaching to remain tact.  This is not the time to let all your hard work go down the tubes.  This is the time to reinforce all the good things you have already taught your child.

If you find yourself saying "No!" more than "that's the way to do it!" It is time to step back and reevaluate what behavior you are reinforcing in big bro / big sis. 

Once you can get the routine back after the birth and hospital stay and the older child back on the right track then you can start encouraging big bro / big sis to help with the baby.  Kids are natural helpers and this is the time where they really shine. Ask the older one to tell you what jobs he or she would like to have to help you out.  I think it helps to let them think they are helping you rather than taking care of baby because it helps them to feel good that you (their hero) need their help.  They may not want to take care of the baby, they may even be afraid to hurt the baby, but you needing them is a very different story.

I don't like to compare kids in a family but it is inevitable to see your robust two or three year old as practically independent compared to the new little one.  The older child can do so much for himself that we can fall into the idea that they need us less than the little one.  This is not true.  Big brother or big sister need us just as much only in a very different way.  They need the routine of life to stay as close to normal as possible. This is way easier said than done in the sleep deprived state all new parents operate in but all efforts need to be made so that the transition from small family to larger family can be a content adjustment time for every one. 

Written by Postpartum Doula Cia
For more information about how postpartum doula Cia can support your expanding family transition, please call 484-802-6100 or register here:

Happy Birthday Baby! Big Sibling Prep Class

Havertown, PA
May 2015 date to be announced.

Happy Birthday Baby Havertown PA Sibling Prep Class

Becoming a big brother or big sister is a huge event in your child's life. This parent/child class will provide a combination of preparation and celebration of this exciting transition.  It is geared toward children age 2-7 and is great for the first time sibling as well as for those becoming a sibling again! Class activities will include reading a book about becoming a big brother or big sister, completing a fun arts and crafts activity and then the children will get to use a demonstration doll to learn how to hold and diaper the new baby! We will also talk about how to create a home activity for your big sibling to use during the newborns endless early feedings.  Each child will receive a certificate of completion.

Taught by postpartum doula Aliza Bancoff of Main Line Doulas, the Philadelphia area's premier source for pregnancy, birth and newborn education and in-home support.

Healthy Kids Day 2015 Haverford Area YMCA April 25th, 2015

Haverford Area YMCA
891 N Eagle Rd, Havertown, PA 19083

Main Line Doulas is excited to announce that we will be participating in the Haverford Area YMCA Healthy Kids Day 2015 event on April 25th from 10am-1pm

This FREE family event will encourage kids and families to get moving and learning during the summer months and help families live healthier lifestyles!

Research shows that without access to quality learning activities and physical activity during the summer months, kids can fall behind and obesity rates rise. So this event will be focused on kick-starting behaviors to get the summer off to a great start.

Main Line Doulas will host a children's craft about Becoming a Big Brother/Becoming a Big Sister! It will be geared toward children age 2-6. Our doulas, experts in sibling adjustment, will talk about becoming a big brother and big sister and create a fun craft they can bring home to foster continued discussions in the home. 

There will be many other wonderful vendors at this event and it is open to the entire community.

Philadelphia doulas answer the question, "Should I use a seatbelt while pregnant?"

Sometimes mom's have fears about seat belts during pregnancy and may ask the question, "Couldn't the seat belt crush my baby?" or "what if the airbags hit my baby?"

The question of whether to wear a seat belt during pregnancy is pretty cut and dry: Protect the mom and you protect the baby. So should you wear a seat belt? YES.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology conducted a recent study, "Fetal outcome in motor-vehicle crashes: effects of crash characteristics and maternal restraint"

According to their research, " Proper maternal belt-restraint use (with or without airbag deployment) is associated with acceptable fetal outcome (odds ratio = 4.5, P = .033). Approximately half of fetal losses in motor-vehicle crashes could be prevented if all pregnant women properly wore seat belts."

For more detailed information please review the study here:

The AJOG says, "These results strongly support recommendations that pregnant women use properly positioned seatbelts."

So how can we make sure that a seat belt is properly positioned?

Pull the seat belt across your body. Make sure the lap belt goes under your belly, against your hip bones. Place the chest belt between your breasts. Never put the chest/shoulder belt under your arm.

Doulas help family with after birth complications

Last week, we had the privileged of serving a family with an unexpected complication post delivery. A gallbladder attack requiring surgery.

Usually birth goes smoothly, you give birth and go home 1-2 days later. Sometimes a surgical birth called a cesarean section is required and you are left with  a beautiful baby but the extra challenges of recovering from a surgery in addition to the intense transition of getting to know and care for your new little one. And sometimes, you have an uncomplicated delivery, but then afterwards things happen that you didn't plan for. Main Line Doulas has experience jumping in to help.

For more information on Gallbladder and gallstones please visit here:

I have changed all names locations and details from this story for privacy.

John and Melissa's Story

I received the call after business hours, the family left a voicemail, "Hi, I am calling because I saw your car recently at the Radnor Library. We live in Radnor, recently delivered our baby girl and my wife Melissa was diagnosed with severe gallbladder infection and will need to have it taken out. She was just admitted to hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Hospital and I am staying with her with the baby but will have to go home to be with our other children. Do you service Philadelphia? We were wondering if your postpartum doulas could help?"

I immediately called them back and spoke with the dad, John. I talked with John as he sat in the hospital with his wife and new baby. I conducted a consultation in which I learned more about their family, the other help they have and how they felt we could best help them. Based on this information, I then made some suggestions. John, a resident physician at a different local hospital could not miss too much work, so we came up with a plan to give him peace of mind knowing his wife and baby were being well supported while she was getting the surgery and the 5 days after of recovery before she would be allowed to go home.

The plan was to have two doulas during the day each do 10 hour shifts with two hours between each shift that John would be able to be with Melissa.

During our shifts the postpartum doulas cared for all the needs of the baby, while facilitating bonding and breastfeeding with mom and her bundle of love. We navigated breastfeeding issues including latch and nipple shield use. Mom was in pain and could not physically hold her baby without help, so we helped hold the baby during feeds. We were there to facilitate bonding and breastfeeding which are so important in those first days and weeks.

We spent 5 days with this family in the hospital, around the clock. Once they went home, we had just a few more shifts and family and friends took over from there. I felt truly honored to be able to serve such a wonderful family as they went through an unexpected complication with grace and dignity and went on to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. 

If you are experiencing an unexpected complication after birth, please give us a call at 484-802-6100.

We can help. 

We provide experienced support and peace of mind when you need it most.