Yogis! The heat is here so let’s make its acquaintance, shall we? This Friday and Saturday I’m covering for the lovely Hayley Haberman at Treetop Yoga in Gloucester. We have a Friday afternoon vinyasa flow to help you transition from your busy week and an early-morning option on Saturday for a loving little hot yoga kick in the pants. Or, really get your practice on and join us for both classes!
Friday, June 20th, 5-6 PM, Vinyasa Flow Hour (just $10!)
Saturday, June 21st (Happy Summer Solstice), 7:30-8:45 AM, Hot Power
Hope to see you there!
Wouldn’t the world be a different place if we always handled newborns with this much care and intention? This video stops me in my tracks every time I watch it. The wild and immense potential to make peace manifest by being present to each other is so real, as evidenced here. Notice how your body feels when you watch.
(Sorry about the ad at the start of the video (hey, it’s YouTube), and sorry I couldn’t figure out how to input the video right into the post!)
Hello, all. This is the official announcement that the SweetMama Prenatal Yoga class at Harbor Yoga in Gloucester will no longer be meeting after Monday, April 21st. It’s been so lovely teaching in this beautiful, cozy space. Sadly, my summer schedule for nursing school is super full and I don’t want to spread myself too thin. I hope my Fall semester will allow a little more wiggle room so we can put this class back on the schedule after Labor Day. A heartfelt thank you to HY director Chris Crotty and the Harbor Yoga sangha. I’ve loved every moment of being on staff at HY and look forward to continuing to be a part of this community as a student.
If you’re new to my blog or even to Cape Ann and you haven’t taken a class at Harbor yet, pregnant or not, I highly recommend it. For information on classes, teachers, workshops, and to sign up for the newsletter, please visit www.harboryoga.org.
First up: The Mom Conference, April 7th-14th
This is a week-long online event created by Moms for Moms. I learned about this conference when an email from Chris Kresser of Health for the 21st Century and creator of The Healthy Baby Code popped up in my inbox. Chris is a licensed acupuncturist and integrative wellness practitioner from California. The Healthy Baby code is an excellent resource for couples struggling to conceive (Chris and his wife shared in that struggle, which is what led to his creating THBC) and for any Mama who wants to refine her diet to eating the most nutritious foods for herself and Baby all the way through pregnancy, breastfeeding, and beyond.
Next up: The Second Opinion Series: The Thyroid Sessions, May 4th
Oh the thyroid. Such a tiny gland and it controls oh so much in our bodies! Your thyroid hormones control:
Those are some pretty important functions. And, yes, it says reproductive system. Did you know hypothyroidism is a main cause of infertility?
Thyroid health is of personal relevance to me. About a year ago, I had my routine physical at my PCP and I asked to have my thyroid checked. My paternal grandmother had hypothyroidism and I know two of my aunts have been diagnosed with it. I suffered with dry skin and dry hair my whole life. I tended towards fatigue, tiredness, and depression. I also just had an intuitive feeling that everything was running a little too slowly.
When the results of my blood test came back my doctor’s note said everything was within normal limits. But when I saw the results of the test for myself, I knew I was on the very low end of normal. Much of the research tells us that under-active thyroid can manifest in a multitude of ways, not just low TSH which is what the standard test checks.
Have you ever wondered about your thyroid? Most mainstream docs don’t give the thyroid its due attention. And they don’t consider all the ways under- or over-active thyroid can show up on a blood test. That’s why I’m thrilled that Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness is bringing us this FREE online thyroid series!
I’m thrilled to be heading back to Treetop Yoga this week and next to cover a few classes for my friends Jemma and Kara while they journey to far away lands for a little R&R. I hope to see you there!
Coming up this week, for the lovely Jemma Torey:
Friday, March 14th at 9:15-10:45 PM–Vinyasa
Sunday, March 16th at 5-6:15 PM–Vinyasa
And next, for the just-as-lovely Kara Harris:
Saturday, March 22nd at 10:45-12 PM–Prenatal Yoga with SweetMama DOULA (me!)
Not a friend of the mysterious? The unknown? The ‘out of your control’? Used to having things done a certain way? Your way? On time? Planned out? Checked off the list?
Welcome to childbirth, Mama. All that control you’ve been exercising over every situation your entire life, that control your pride yourself on, is, well, for the most part, gone.
Does that statement scare the heck out of you?
No sweat. It makes sense. We live in a world of Instagram, ‘I’ll just Google it” and GPS. We, women of the Northeast, like to have answers. Answers = control. We are smart. Accomplished. Ambitious. We get stuff done. When it comes to labor and the thought of actually having your baby, the biggest fear you may have is the not knowing what it’s going to be like–how long it will last, how long you will last, what the contractions will feel like.
It is natural to fear the unknown. While there is a lot in childbirth you can’t control, there is a lot you can control. Focus on the following “can-do’s” so you can go with the labor flow feeling grounded and empowered.
1. Where you give birth. At the hospital? At home? At a birth center? There are many choices and the choice is yours. It’s never to late to switch sites or providers, pending your pregnancy is a healthy one, if someone or someplace just doesn’t feel right to you. Go with your gut and don’t feel like you have to justify your feeling to anyone, including your partner or yourself. You want to feel safe and supported. Once you know the location of your birth, and if it’s not your home, gather some elements to make your laboring space your own: a small lamp so you can leave overhead fluorescent lights (oxytocin blockers) off, candles (hospitals and most birth centers prefer electric ones), music (calming and energizing options), old soft T-shirts to wear, your pillow from home, photos of your favorite place, a birth ball, and perhaps most importantly…
2. With whom you give birth. Good people! Care provider, doula, husband, partner, mother, sister, cousin, dog? All of the above? Care provider + only one of the above? Birth is a sacred event and this one’s yours. You choose who gets to be there. Invite only those around whom you can totally be yourself. Patience, sensitivity, consideration, helpfulness, and a good sense of humor are qualities to look for.
3. Your breath. This one can take a little practice. The art of being centered isn’t attained over night but with consistent practice of watching the simple inhale and exhale of your breath–even 10 minutes a day makes a huge difference!–taking a few minutes’ timeout to connect with your breath will become a new favorite. Breath is a tool you have everywhere you go including gridlock traffic, the line at the grocery store, and the delivery room. Watching your breath is a powerful way to center yourself and it’s something only you can control.
4. Feeling good in your body. I know it’s tempting to throw your feet up at the end of every day with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s but that will wreak havoc on your changing body and growing baby. You’ll feel way less than optimal throughout your pregnancy and labor won’t be any easier with tight hips and high blood sugar either. Go for walks, practice squatting, and sign up for a weekly prenatal yoga class (also a great place to connect with other expectant mamas). Of course, take time to rest when you feel tired, but know that, overall, if you stay active throughout your pregnancy, you will feel better before, during, and after your birth.
5. Your attitude. Are you nearing labor thinking “this is going to kill me“, “I won’t be able to do this“, “I’m not the kind of woman who can go without the drugs“, “I’m definitely having a natural birth“, “I’m just going to breath my baby out like in all the videos I’ve been watching“? Having a vision in your head for a safe and positive birth experience is definitely helpful. Having rigid expectations, however, is bound to leave you disappointed. Better than holding onto one specific idea of what your birth will look like–this is that urge to control maneuvering its sneaky way into your life again–approach the birth focused on what it will feel like. Hold the intention to feel your body, to be able to come back to your center and to stay with yourself. That way, you’ll be able to make decisions from a grounded and steady place. Whether the question is: “do I keep pushing in the tub so Baby is born into water?” or, “is it time to consider that helpful, evidence-based medical intervention?”, the answer will come from within and you’ll feel empowered in your choice.
Birth doesn’t follow a timeline nor does it fit neatly on any to-do list. Its inherently uncontrollable nature is part of its power and magic. Our job is to create a safe and supportive birth environment and to get open and centered in our body so we can stay curious and keep present as the journey unfolds.
An article came across my desk this morning via the birth worker news wire and I felt it was one to share.
“Reproductive Justice Through the Eyes of an Abortion Doula,” is a brief piece written by Jamie J. Hagen, a Boston-based writer who recently attended the first abortion doula training in Boston put on by the Boston Doula Project, an offshoot of NYC-based The Doula Project. ‘Abortion doula’ is not a phrase we hear often. I’m actually pretty sure I’ve never heard of it until just now.
The NYC Doula Project defines ‘abortion doula':
An Abortion Doula provides all of the above (to read “all of the above” click here) to pregnant people who are choosing to terminate their pregnancies or have miscarried or experienced fetal loss. Doulas stay with their clients throughout their procedures, as well as part of the recovery period, and remain in touch with their clients as they desire thereafter.
Whatever your beliefs around abortion, please consider this article as an inquiry into a facet of reproductive justice infrequently considered and discussed: the notion and role of an abortion doula. Read Jamie J. Hagen’s full article here.
Amidst all of that dark chocolate you’ll be nibbling on, treat yourself real sweet tomorrow night and get on your mat for a heart-opening vinyasa class at Yoga Sakti in Salem. Lead by Senior Instructor Kat Mansfield with live music by Jesse Ciarmataro of Qwill, and a candlelight meditation to boot this yoga party is a 90-minute surefire way to really get into your heartspace on Valentine’s Day. Come to class Han Solo to love yourself up with your yoga pals in the sangha (community of practice) or bring your hunny and blow your hearts wide open side by side. Preregistration is recommended as these sweet yoga shindigs usually sell out!
Aviva Romm is one of my all-time heroines. Before becoming a Yale-trained physician, she caught babies as a Certified Professional Midwife (in the States that means home birth midwife) for nearly twenty-five years. She is an herbalist practitioner and educator. She has written numerous books on everything from herbalism to vaccines to prenatal care to postpartum health. A tireless learner and advocate for mothers and babies, Aviva is a powerhouse of knowledge and experience when it comes to maternity care and birth. Women everywhere are fortunate to have this woman as a resource.
“Where we choose to have our babies actually has to do with more than simply personal preference, spiritual beliefs, and romantic notions. It’s a public health and safety issue.”
Her blog post this week is about how after all of her medical training she would still choose to have a baby at home. In true Aviva-style she lays out all of the facts with tons of well-researched and sound evidence to support her stance, not to mention all of her experience as a doc and midwife. Her writing style is casual yet informed, an easy and educational read all in one. I hope you’ll check out this important and timely blog post by Dr. Aviva. (Click the image to go to her site and read the full post.)