Mattress Wrapping and SIDS

March 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Almost four years ago, I wrote a post called Healing Your Home in which I shared my passion for air-purifying house plants. I also shared info about how poor air quality during the prenatal and neonatal period has been linked to preterm birth, reduced fetal growth, preeclampsia, respiratory problems in infants, reduced intelligence, mood and behavior problems, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). House plants can do a great job of removing toxins from the air. I have plants in almost every room of my house partially for this reason.

Book Cover (16)One source of toxins in indoor air is often overlooked: mattresses. I know I never considered the possibility that our mattresses could be harming us until I learned some valuable information about SIDS. I shared this in my house plant post:

Their research demonstrates that SIDS is the result of accidental poisoning due to toxic gases released from baby mattresses. These gases are produced by the interaction of common household fungi with phosphorus, arsenic and antimony, chemicals which are either present naturally in the mattresses or which have been added as flame retardant chemicals (Source).

Since then I have learned more about the toxic gas theory. Here’s an explanation from Prevent SIDS, quoting Lendon H. Smith, MD:

Before World War II, unexplained infant deaths were unusual. But after 1950, the governments of nearly all the rich industrialized countries required treatment of baby and child mattresses with flame retardant chemicals. Phosphorus and antimony were most commonly used; arsenic was sometimes added later as a preservative.

On Drinking Tiger Vomit

February 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

“It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)

A little over a week ago, I attended a three-day therapeutic guided imagery training workshop. It was one of those life-changing experiences… where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning exactly what you are supposed to be learning. Before I tell you about some of my imagery experiences, let me answer a question that may be on some of your minds: what is guided imagery?

In brief, as a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, I can help another person come into a relaxed and altered state where we can use the mind/imagination to visualize or imagine a limitless variety of experiences and possibilities and find comfort and healing. Guided imagery isn’t just a sort of woo-woo feel-good hippy trip. It is shown through scientific research to be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of physical and emotional difficulties. The Journal of Instructional Psychology explains:

Guided imagery is a flexible intervention whose efficacy has been indicated through a large body of research over many decades in counseling and allied fields. It has earned the right to be considered a research-based approach to helping. (Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of Its History and Efficacy Research)

For instance, in a recent pilot study published in Holistic Nursing Practice looking at the effect of guided imagery on stress levels of hospitalized pregnant women, the results were promising:

Modeling Empathy

March 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Back in 2010, a study of nearly 14,000 American college students indicated that “college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, with the numbers plunging primarily after 2000″ (Source). I started college in 1999, so this downward trend began in my generation. What can we expect to be the consequences of this lack of empathy? “Low empathy is associated with criminal behavior, violence, sexual offenses, aggression when drunk and other antisocial behaviors” (Source). Not a pretty sight. This probably helps explain why I rarely watch/read the news anymore. So can we halt this trend toward empathy-lack?

As a first-time mom, a friend of mine invited me to attend an event for moms and kids. I don’t remember much about it. I think we rotated through different rooms with a variety of crafts and games and activities. The one thing that has stuck with me (after ten years) was a presentation about the importance of empathy. The woman encouraged us to respond to our children’s distress or tantrums first with empathy. She explained that we all have an innate need to feel understood, including and especially children. She encouraged us, when our children would cry about something upsetting to them, to acknowledging their big feelings, speak aloud our understanding of why they would be upset, match their tone of voice and facial expression and then gradually bring it down to a calmer one. For whatever reason, this advice about empathy felt profound and life-changing, and it sunk deep into my heart and mind.

Magnesium for Healthier Moms and Babies

February 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

My brother and his wife came into town and visited us on Monday. My brother mentioned that he was having horrible neck pain. “Magnesium!!” I yelled at him as I slathered his neck and shoulder with magnesium oil cream and spray.

823103185872116_a-faf76df4_0bOiUQ_pm

It’s been several years since I read The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. But I was skimming through it the other day and came upon the chapter about magnesium’s impact on pregnancy-related issues and early infancy. I shared some of this info in my 2010 blogpost “Magnesium for Pregnancy and Beyond,” but I felt impressed to share a bit more today. I’ve got a lot to do today, so I’m going to be lazy and just quote Dr. Carolyn Dean.

Light in the Mourning

February 18, 2014 at 5:48 pm

1687_10152707819600564_468996024_nThe following is a guest post from my friend Brittney. I met Brittney at my DONA doula training back in 2009. She and I will be collaborating on a new book project—Light in the Mourning—a book for mothers grieving pregnancy losses. I was inspired to create this book last year, but the pieces weren’t falling into place until Brittney offered to help. I’m so grateful she did. I look forward to working with Brittney and reading your stories. 

  Light in the Mourning
By Brittney Walker

I’m sad to say we are latecomers to the Noelle Pikus-Pace fan club. It’s nothing personal. Before the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics I couldn’t have named a single athlete that competed there. Since the Olympics traditionally air during school hours, the boys and I have always missed out. So this, our first year homeschooling, I printed an awesome educational packet I found online and we’ve homeschooled the heck out of the winter Olympics. That means all of us, watching almost every night from 7 to 10:30 pm.

My boys invested like I’d never imagined. They’ve learned all they can about Sochi, the sports, the athletes and the countries they represent. Their excitement is contagious and I quickly joined them in Olympic fandom.

One of those first nights we saw that AT&T commercial where Noelle Pikus-Pace wakes up before her family to work out. Then she feeds the kids breakfast, takes them to school and plays soccer mom until her husband picks up the kids so she can go train late into the night. There were tears in my eyes by the end of the commercial. So I looked her up.

I never considered that some of these athletes were juggling parenthood with Olympic training. This still blows my mind. I can’t fathom the kind of commitment and sacrifice it would take to be Mom and manage to keep up with (and even crush) the competition, many of whom have nothing to worry about but themselves.

Not Done

September 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

My friend, Katie, wrote a post for our book blog on Monday called “Your family is complete.” In it she shares how she came to know on a deep and spiritual level that her family was complete after the birth of her sixth child. Discussions on our book’s fb page and my Birth Faith facebook page have had me pondering the subject quite a lot.

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on this subject numerous times. I even included ya’ll in many of those ponderings…

  • “Though I would certainly not refuse any child that came to me, I feel as though it would be a supreme act of selfishness (and craziness) for me to willfully invite any more children into my home.”  (Done?)
  • “As I’ve pondered it, I’ve come to peace with either path.  I feel OK with being done.  And I feel OK with not being done.” (Done? Revisited)
  • “Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.” (Surrender, part 5)
  • “For someone who has spent the last decade of my life passionate about birth and motherhood and babies, it seems so strange that… at present… I have to confess…  Seeing pregnant women makes me feel anxious, seeing babies makes me feel anxious, thinking about ever being pregnant again or having another baby makes me feel horrified.” (Fiery Furnace)
  • “After a while she told me she wanted to introduce me to someone. Another spirit appeared. This spirit is someone I’ve often believed to exist, but I have never known for certain. It was my unborn son. I have come to know him much better over the course of the past month, to understand more about who he is and why he will be a blessing to my family (and the world).” (Retreat)

What a ride! And the ride’s not over yet! Regardless of what goes on inside of me as I ponder this question, I still have a husband with his own strong opinions on the subject. And I’m not about to coerce him into anything. But I can say for myself that I feel confident that my family is not “complete” yet.

Wrap Happy

August 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote a blogpost about making your own no-sew baby wrap. August of 2009. My third child had been born in April of that year, and he was the first of my children to be “worn” regularly. I had made my own ring sling while I was pregnant with him, and then when he was several months old, I made my own stretchy baby wrap.

The first time I recall seeing a baby wrap was back in 2007. An old friend who had become a midwife came to a little reunion at my dad’s house with her new baby strapped to her in a wrap. I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really see another wrap until my doula training in February of 2009. There were a lot of moms with nursing babies at the training, and a couple of women with wraps. But still… wraps were something I only really saw at gatherings of crunchy women or on crunchy websites. They weren’t trendy in the slightest.

When I started wearing my infant son in a stretchy wrap, I came to know just how unusual it was. Everywhere I went, people seemed to have never seen anything like it before. I felt like a walking advertisement for babywearing because I spent some time nearly every outing talking with one or two strangers about what it was, how to make one, that it’s easier to use than it looks, etc. I enjoyed those conversations immensely. It made me happy to spread the joy of babywearing and to imagine how those women’s lives might improve and become easier through making contact with me and my happy wrapped baby boy.

That was four years ago. My blogpost about making your own baby wrap did get a reasonable amount of traffic, but nothing to raise my eyebrows about. Then something happened in 2010-2011. Pinterest hit the web.

Maggie’s Place

June 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm

When I attended my DONA doula training back in early 2009, many of the attendees mentioned that they were volunteers at “Maggie’s Place.” I’ve been wanting to learn more about Maggie’s Place ever since. And the more I learn about this organization, the more I want to become involved in their mission.

What is Maggie’s Place? From their website:

Maggie’s Place is a community that provides houses of hospitality for expectant women who are alone or on the streets, and wish to achieve their goals in a dignified and welcoming atmosphere. Maggie’s Place provides for the immediate physical and emotional needs of our guests including shelter, food, clothing and a supportive community, and provides a safe environment for them to live in while they develop the skills they need to live independently.

Windows to the Womb

June 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I’ve had this book sitting on my desk for a couple of months now, skimming select portions off and on, researching specific topics. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to just start at the beginning and read it, but I plopped myself down on the grass in my backyard this morning and started. It only took a few pages before I was smitten. (And nobody’s paying me to say that. I got the book from the library.)

Written by David Chamberlain, PhD, it delves into the fascinating research now available in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. Mothering Magazine celebrated Dr. Chamberlain as a “Living Treasure” in 2003, and he was honored in 2007 at the Gentle Birth World Conference, receiving the Mother Goose Award for his work with mothers and babies. Dr. Chamberlain also happens to be a fan of my mentor Sarah Hinze‘s work, and he has included several stories from Sarah’s pre-birth experience research in Windows to the Womb.

“Babies have taught me a lot, as I have been privileged to listen to their deep memories. As a psychotherapist, I am especially aware of the need to create babies that are mentally and physically healthy in order to have a world that is healthy and peaceful. Babies are the key to the future of the world” (David Chamberlain, Windows to the Womb, preface).

OK, I’m off to read some more. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review when I’ve finished reading.

For My Sisters

June 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Mother, give me the sun.
-Henrik Ibsen

This poem began writing itself in my head around 3:00 this morning. I tried in vain to go back to sleep. Finally, I got up and put pencil to paper. Here’s what came out.

This poem is dedicated to my sisters, whose stories fill my heart with ache, and whom I pray for today.

3:00 a.m.
By Lani Axman

When I hear
A baby cry,
Her voice
Her song
An invisible vibration of longing
Penetrates my mortal shell,
Gliding through flesh and bone
Like a delicate silver thread.
It throbs with urgency
As it wraps around
And around
And around
My heart,
Bleeding ache.
And now
A hundred
A million
A hundred million
Tiny threads,
Bursting with a deafening silence,
Pull me from my sleep
Like newborns in the night,
“Wake up,”
Their silent voices throb,
“Cry for us,
Scream for us,
Mother.”

Pic-happy

May 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm

If you follow me on facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve become a wee bit obsessed with sharing quote-pics of late. This is partly because I discovered Pinwords, and it’s so fast and easy to make them that I’ve become a little overzealous and perhaps a bit addicted.

Another reason I’ve been so pic-happy is that I’m a little late in discovering that facebook shares status updates and photos with more people than it shares links. Pics are a way to reach more people. Plus it’s easy to read and share a pic in a few seconds, whereas it takes significantly more time to click on a link and read the post before deciding whether to “like” or “share” it. But mostly I’m just enjoying having a new creative outlet.

Here are some of my creations… please feel free to share them on your social networks. Click on the pics to read more about the various topics.

My First Home Birth

May 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm

On April Fool’s Day of 2009, I gave birth to my third child (my only son) at home (10:55 pm, 7 lbs 8 oz, 19 3/4″ long). After two smooth and low-risk pregnancies and births, losing our maternity insurance, and lots of prayer, we knew home birth was the right path for our third (and fourth) pregnancies.

It was a near-perfect birth from start to finish. My water broke in the afternoon, I relaxed at home, contractions started a couple of hours after membranes ruptured, I ate dinner, my birth support team arrived, labor picked-up, I hung out in the birth pool during the most intense contractions, I pushed for five minutes, baby boy was born on my bed. You can read all the details HERE.

It was magical. And I’m so glad I had my friend Cassie and my sister-in-law Brooke there as my doulas/photographers. I created a slideshow with my birth photos that you can view HERE. But I realized yesterday that I’ve never shared the photos themselves in a blogpost. Here are some of my favorites, taken by Cassie (and Brooke) at the end of my pregnancy, during labor, and afterward:

Midwives Save Lives

May 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Midwives have been saving mothers and babies for thousands of years. Long before the words “hospital” and “obstetrician” even existed, midwives were passing down the skills and wisdom of their wise women, nurturing mothers and babies into life.

In one of humanity’s oldest and most well-read stories, midwives were saving lives. The first chapter of Exodus tells of two midwives (Puah and Shiphrah) who saved countless lives through their courage and compassion. When Pharaoh demanded that they kill all the male babies born to the Hebrew women in slavery, Puah and Shiphrah saved the boys instead. It is likely thanks to them that anyone knows and reveres the name of Moses. Midwives save lives.

My own faith’s history claims many brave midwives. In the late 1800’s, Emma Andersen Liljenquist attended a course in midwifery after Mormon church president Brigham Young had urged many women to receive medical training to meet the needs of the Utah’s growing families. (You can read more about Utah’s midwifery history here.) Emma recorded these experiences from her years as a midwife among Utah’s early settlers:

Our Sister’s Keepers

May 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

“That one-third of the world’s women are deprived of their right to bear girls is the biggest women’s rights abuse on earth. This is the true War on Women, and it deserves a passionate response.”

-Reggie Littlejohn

The three deadliest words in the world: “It’s a girl.” 100 million babies have been aborted, killed, or abandoned simply because they were girls. In China, India, and other regions, women are pressured and even forced to undergo gender-based abortions because of cultural, economic, and/or political reasons. Some women also suffer forced sterilizations in these regions. The boy-girl ratios in these countries are extremely unbalanced after decades of boy-preference. And those girls who are left are at extreme risk of abduction, abuse, sexual assault/exploitation, and other horrors.

“We can tip the bowls of Heaven. When interceding tears meet with God’s, they have the power to alter society and generations to come, to change governments and deliver people and nations caught in unbelievable situations. This is justice and this is how women fight!”

                                                                             -Evangeline Johnson

Morgan’s Miscarriage

May 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

I was talking with my friend, Morgan, at the park this past week. We got on the subject of miscarriage, and she told me about her miscarriage experience. Then I asked her if she’d be willing to share it here. I learned some things from her story. Maybe you will too.

Morgan has “five wonderful, crazy, adorable children and a perfect match of a husband.” She dabbles in a little bit of everything, and she spent a little bit of time as a midwifery apprentice until she moved away from her mentor. Morgan loves to sew baby stuff like baby carriers and cloth diapers. Her main pursuits lately are mothering her brood, building her business, and learning energy healing.

Plus, I’d love to add, she is one of the most genuine, kind, radiant people I know. Love her.

Here’s her story…

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest