4 Great Reasons to Hire a Doula

January 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I wish every laboring woman could have a doula’s support.  Here are four great reasons why…

1) Doulas are nothing new.

A lot of people, when they first hear about doulas, think… oh, that’s new. But it’s not at all. For thousands and thousands of years women have been supported by other women during childbirth. We watched an awesome film at our doula training called “The Timeless Way” which showed the history of childbirth starting with ancient artifacts and moving to more modern depictions. I was struck how the very same image was represented through sculpture, wall carvings, pottery, and art over and over and over again. It is the “classic birth triad”—an upright laboring woman supported from behind by another woman, with a midwife in front ready to catch the baby. It has only been in the last century that this “classic birth triad” has all but disappeared. Doulas are not new. Modern obstetric practice is what has strayed (very far, I might add) from the time-tested norm.

Your Dream Team

January 10, 2014 at 12:06 am

Over winter break, we headed north to the land of cold where most of my family lives to hang out for a week. While I was there, I did some trauma release work with a a beloved neuropsychologist family member. In her practice, she does almost exclusively EMDR work. EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” EMDR is a therapeutic technique, sometimes utilizing alternating left and right tapping, eye-movement, or auditory beeps, in which the client is able to desensitize past traumatic experiences and be released from their present ill effects. You can read more about EMDR and how it works HERE.

The ACE (adverse childhood experiences) study published in 2002 found that there is a “powerful relation between our emotional experiences as children and our adult emotional health, physical health, and major causes of mortality. . . . One doesn’t ‘just get over’ some things” (ACE study). If you are experiencing poor mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health, it’s likely that a traumatic event from your past (or an ancestor’s past) could be a major contributing factor. If you suspect you’re suffering from past traumas, traditional “talk therapy” is unlikely to bring the full healing you seek. I invite you to explore more effective trauma release methods, like EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique, energy healing, meditation, etc.

My Dream Team

I’ve done quite a lot of trauma release work via EMDR, energy healing, EFT, and meditation over the past year+. But during this past EMDR session, I was guided to do something I’ve never done before, and I think everyone should do it. I designated a “Resource Team,” which I quickly mentally renamed as my “Dream Team.” A Dream Team consists of three groups: Protectors, Nurturers, and Inner Wisdom Guides. You pick who to put in each of your groups. You can pick as few or as many people as you want. They can be alive or dead, real or imagined, whoever you want. You can even pick one person to fill all three roles if you want.

Gifts that Heal

December 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

A few weeks ago, a friend showed up at my door with a giant stalk of brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s… like this…

brussels

It was a healing gift for a number of reasons… 1) Because there’s something very heart-warming about having another person “get you” well enough to know exactly what would make your day, and 2) Because brussels sprouts are healing in and of themselves.

I love gifts that heal. They’re the best kind.

Here are some more healing gift ideas…

Posteriority

October 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Eight years ago today my second baby came into this world upside down, or “sunny side up” as some people say. And she has indeed been a ray of sunshine in my life.

133 Amber pics 153_edited-1

She was posterior (facing my front side) rather than the normal anterior position (facing my back). Her posteriority (I think I just invented a word!) brought with it some surprises. I had fully expected my second birth to happen very quickly. My sister’s labors were each roughly half as long as the previous. My first daughter’s birth lasted less than six hours, so I was expecting my second to come in less than three! I suspected she might be posterior, however, when that supposed-to-be-fast labor turned into an on-again-off-again roughly 28-hour labor.

For Your Birth Bag

August 22, 2013 at 5:32 am

Image Source

This morning, a friend posted on my facebook page wall:

“Do you have a full list of things you recommend to bring for people who choose to have a hospital birth? I would love to pass a list on to my sister and friends who are pregnant, if you have one.”

I told her I didn’t have one, but she had given me an idea for a great blogpost. I should preface this by saying that I didn’t bring any of these things to my hospital births. But if I could go back in time, I would! Ten years of studying childbirth have taught me a lot!

Aside from the usual change of clothes, toiletries, and baby gear, here’s what I’d recommend you pack in your bag to ease your hospital birth and postpartum experience.

Lightbulb Moment

August 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

A week or two ago I had a little epiphany. Ever since, I’ve had that song stuck in my head… “I wear my sunglasses at night…” I’m a child of the 80’s. Actually, that’s the only line of the song I really know, so I’ve just had that one line repeating over and over in my head. Ha. What is that song even about?

Seriously though, if we’re going to wear sunglasses, we really should be wearing them at night (unless we’re driving, of course). And because of all of this pondering about light and sunglasses, I’m becoming convinced that every woman transferring in labor to a hospital should wear amber (blue-light blocking) eyeglasses. At least until she gets situated and comfortable and labor is continuing to progress.

Let me explain…

It might help if you read these posts first:

Sound Body, Sound Birth

August 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

Before my most recent birth, I made a list of “Hopes for next time.” I outlined the ways I hoped to make my fourth birth even better than the previous three. (Most of the items on my list didn’t happen. Oh well.) My first pregnancy was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the things-to-learn-about-birthing “rabbit hole” was going to go. Now ten years down the road, it goes deeper still.

If I were to write another “Hopes for next time” post, I have another item I’d now be putting at the top of my list: singing.

Shaving, Showering, and Slathering

June 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm

My husband gets to have the same conversations with me over and over (or, rather, he gets to listen to me ramble over and over about the same bizarre stuff that rolls around my brain). For example, the conversation about how we all shower and shave too much. I really do talk about this excessively. Sorry, husband. I’ve been contemplating writing this blogpost for a long time. I nickname it “the pubic hair post.” Ha ha. But really it’s about so much more than pubic hair. Hear me out…

So here’s my premise:

Body hair is surface area for oils, pheromones, and other unseen natural chemical messengers we probably haven’t yet discovered.

And:

These unseen chemical messengers give us valuable information about each other, facilitating some relationships and preventing others (for good reason).

I’ve written about this concept before (see my “Mate Selection” post HERE). And a 2008 Psychology Today article, sums it up well: “As we act out the complex rituals of courtship, many of them inscribed deep in our brain, scent-based cues help us zero in on optimal partners—the ones most likely to stay faithful to us and to create healthy children with us.”

As I was rambling about this topic to my husband (again) yesterday, I mentioned that it’s unfortunate that the phase of life when it’s most important for our body’s natural oils and scents to be broadcast to the public (during the mate-selection process), most “first-world” people are daily shaving, showering, and slathering themselves in artificial fragrances (I know I did). As a society, in general, we are routinely stripping away and masking our authentic scents in an effort to appear/smell “attractive” to potential mates when, in reality, the way we’re most likely to find an ideal reproductive match would be to shave, shower, and slather ourselves less.

Natural Solutions for PMS

June 10, 2013 at 5:02 am

“Every month, not just once or twice a year, [the moon] retreats into darkness before returning to the her fullest brilliance. As a woman, I need a similar reprieve every month to access the most brilliant parts of myself, spiritually, physically and mentally.”  -Monna (Organic Mama Cafe)

962944104391438_a-4a2a3642_uDAZUw_pmFor several decades of a woman’s life, a magnificent monthly hormonal symphony occurs within her body. Each cycle demonstrates her body’s deep investment in the continuation of life. Sometimes that investment continues for nine months. Sometimes that potential for life passes away, and her body cradles that fallen egg in a brief embrace before letting it go to make way for new life again.

The aches and pains associated with menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman and over time. For me, the hardest part of my cycle is typically the few days before my period begins. If I’m going to have PMS, this is when it strikes. And there have been times in my life when it has struck with a vengeance. Over the years, I’ve found some natural remedies that seem to help. Based on my experience and research (this is not medical advice), here are my PMS tips:

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.

Supplemental Support

May 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I was talking on the phone with a friend last night. She’s been experiencing some depression lately. One of the things we pinpointed that could have been contributing to her mood swings was nutrient deficiencies. She had left her stash of vitamins and supplements at a family member’s home while on a trip, so she hasn’t been taking them.

During my first three pregnancies I was pretty lax about taking prenatal vitamins. But after seven straight years of being pregnant and breastfeeding, my body was seriously depleted. I suffered from some depression during my fourth pregnancy, but once I began taking a whole-food prenatal vitamin, my depression disappeared. When my baby was about a year old, after getting lax again with taking vitamins, I began suffering from anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until I began taking my whole-food prenatals again (among other positive changes) that I felt my mind-body-spirit regaining balance.

Raising Wailing Women

May 14, 2013 at 5:15 am

“Your pain holds the key to your purpose.” -Reggie Littlejohn

Image: Luc De Leeuw 2009

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of reading a horrifying news article right before going to bed. In it I learned of hoards of women undergoing forced sterilizations and abortions in China and other parts of Asia. I saw a photo of some of these women lying in a row on the ground following their surgeries. As I lay in bed afterward, I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was weep.

After my father began his training as a mental health counselor, his parenting style began to shift. He began to say things like, “It’s OK to cry,” when I felt sad as a small child. Those words were new to me, but I remember what a relief it was to hear them.

I want my own children to know that I will always be there to listen when they are hurting inside. In her book, The Courage to Grieve, Judy Tatelbaum says, “Tolerating another’s tears is a very meaningful gift.” This is a gift I want to offer, especially to my children. I want them to know that it’s OK to cry, especially for someone else.

After all, God has commanded it. Much of parenting feels like fumbling in the dark, but there are some things about which God has given us specific instructions. “Teach your daughters wailing,” God has said (Jeremiah 9:20).

Meditation as Medicine

May 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Last October, my friend Felice started teaching meditation webinars. I had been battling anxiety/depression for months. Felice had been trying to get me meditating for years. I figured, “Hey, it couldn’t hurt to try.” The week I started meditating with her was the week I started to feel like myself again. Coincidence? Perhaps. A lot of things had shifted in my life at that time. But the more I learn about meditation, the more I want to meditate.

Last week a reader recommended the book Meditation as Medicineby Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., when I wrote about my panic attack. I checked it out from my local library and started reading it yesterday. I wish I could just sit and read this book all day. I love the author’s writing/teaching style.

I’ve been learning a lot lately about the healing power of sound (see here and here).  So I’ve been seeing the world through that lens, frequently asking myself, “What sounds am I hearing? Do they feel good to me?” Interestingly enough, yesterday in the car, my daughter said (completely out of the blue), “This song sounds evil.” I changed the station!

I particularly like this quote from the preface of Healing at the Speed of Sound:

“When we speak of being of ‘sound mind and body,’ we seldom realize that sound itself is the root of being. That sound itself is the route to acquire those things we want so much, a sound mind and body.”

Restoring Balance and Fertility

April 18, 2013 at 6:05 am

For a couple of decades, my menstrual cycle was like clockwork. Every 28 days without fail (except during pregnancy/breastfeeding). It didn’t really matter what I ate, how much I slept or exercised, or how much sunshine I frolicked in. My body just did its thing no matter how much I failed to take good care of it. But, alas, this body of mine ain’t what it used to be. Now that I’m in my thirties, my menstrual cycle is a lot more sensitive to environmental factors.

During last year’s drama, my cycle was cut short by a few days nearly every month. I thought it was just the stress. As I healed and gained weight, my cycle slowly returned to its 28-day norm.

When my period arrived two days early this week, I was a little confused. Wait a second, I thought… Didn’t my body heal from all of that craziness? Then I remembered that I had spent many nights last week staying up past 1:00 a.m. working on my new website and doing research. I’ve been extremely sleep-deprived. That reminded me how I spent months last summer experiencing medicine-induced insomnia. This was fortunately the only side effect I really noticed from my medication, but it was horrible. Maybe the sleep-deprivation had been a big contributing factor to my wacky menstrual cycles last year?

All of this got me wondering… is there a link between sleep and fertility? I started digging and found a whole lot of information I wanted to share. If you’re trying to get pregnant and you’re finding your cycles less than regular, here are some things that may bring your body back in balance.

Happy Sleep

March 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I’ve been fluctuating between severely-sleep-deprived and mildly-sleep-deprived for most of my life. Before having children, I had my own night-owl tendencies to blame. After having children, I wished I could go back in time and yell at my former self, “Sleep while you can!!!!!” I was utterly unprepared for the whiplash of new-parent sleep-loss. Honestly, I think last year’s craziness was partially just nine years of chronic sleep-deprivation pushing me to my breaking point. Sleep is so important, but its usually in short supply when you’re a mom, especially if you’ve chosen “night-time parenting” as your side-job.

I want you to get more sleep. I want your babies (small and large) to get more sleep. Here are some things you might want to try, if that’s what you want as well.

 

1) Music

I’ve been really interested in sound lately. I’m reading a book called Healing at the Speed of Sound: How What We Hear Transforms Our Brains and Lives. I love these words from the preface, “When we speak of being of ‘sound mind and body,’ we seldom realize that sound itself is the root of being. That sound itself is the route to acquire those things we want so much, a sound mind and body.” And these words from the introduction, “We may choose organic good at the supermarket and avoid inhaling others’ cigarette smoke, yet we rarely pay attention to the equally positive or negative health impacts of sound, the other thing we put in our bodies.” I am loving thinking about the concept of “sound nutrition.” Great stuff.

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