Two *FREE* Online Mama & Woman-Centered Summits Coming Up This Spring

First up: The Mom Conference, April 7th-14th

The Mom Conference!

Click the image to register!

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

Thyroid Summit

Click the image to register!

Oh the thyroid. Such a tiny gland and it controls oh so much in our bodies! Your thyroid hormones control:

  • metabolism
  • growth
  • body temperature
  • muscle strength
  • appetite and,
  • the health of your heart, brain, kidneys, and reproductive system!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

SweetMama Back to Treetop!

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!)

 

 

Control Freak

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.

 

 

Abortion Doula?

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.

 

Blow Your Heart Wide Open, A Saint Valentine’s Day Yoga Party!

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!

 

Rock Star, Physician-Midwife Dr. Aviva Romm Still Chooses Homebirth

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.)

Aviva Romm Homebirth Blog Post

Pulsation

copied from simmonsgallery.com

“HOW MUCH LONGER IS THIS GOING TO LAST?!?!”

This is a question I am asked often in the labor room. A woman working her hardest, contraction after contraction, hour after hour, gets to a point when she wants to know how much longer she has to work until she meets her baby. Actually, sometimes she’s so tired and simply wanting the work to be over she forgets she is even having a baby! For obvious reasons, the answer to this question is coveted intel. The truth is however, no matter whom the Mama asks–midwife, doctor, nurse, husband, doula, best friend, mother, sister, brother– as much as everyone wants to be able to say for sure, no one can predict how long or short her labor will be. The length of active labor, how swiftly transition will progress, how soon she will be pushing, or how many pushes it will take to bring her baby out of her body and into this world, we just can’t say and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. That’s the truth, Mamas. We doulas, and your midwives or doctors can give you the statistical data on the average length of labors for first, second, and third time mamas, or ask you how your sister’s labor went (you’re more likely to labor like your sisters than your mother), but no one can tell you the hard-and-fast number of hours for what will be, what is, your unique labor.

Here is where yoga can help us, again. The word is spanda, sanskrit for pulsation. The Spanda Organization defines spanda:

Spanda
is the original, primordial
subtle vibration that arises from
the dynamic interplay of the passive
and the creative polarizations of the
Absolute, and that by unfolding
itself into the energetic
process of differentiation
bringing forth the whole
of creation.

Sounds kinda powerful, right? The recognition of pulsation, or spanda, is incredibly useful in our daily lives, and especially so in the birth experience. Applied, seeing the spanda of life breaks down like this: Something pleasant comes along, a pulsation. Feel and experience it, and know, like every moment of our lives, it is not forever. Something not so pleasant comes along, a pulsation. Feel and experience it, and know, like every moment of our lives, it is not forever. Working this practice of seeing our lives as strung together pulsations, pleasant or unpleasant, exciting or dull, inspiring or defeating, courageous or cowardly can help us celebrate and revel with joy and gratitude in the good when we’ve got it, and the stamina and courage to get through the bad when the going gets rough because we can recognize the good and bad moments for the passing pulsations that they are. We can see life as one big sea, and we ride the waves, come as they may. Like in labor, we may not know how long labor is going to last but we can find peace in knowing contractions come one at a time and they are not eternal. They build to about five minutes in length and then you get an, albeit brief, rest. Knowing labor will come in pulsations of work-rest-work-rest, you have the choice to trust the process or fight it.

This is why I wish every pregnant woman I meet had some surf time under her belt. Surfing is such a great metaphor for labor, and life for that matter! Since every woman on the North Shore doesn’t surf (hello, cold water and little waves) I’ll paint you the gist of it.

When you’re about to catch a wave, there’s a split-second moment when the wave pulls back a little. In order to not freak out and eat it (a.k.a. wipe out really badly) or bail on the wave (a.k.a. let the swell pass under you and “waste the wave”), you have to trust the movement of the wave. In that split-second moment of truth it feels like the wave might swallow you in backwards towards the sea whence it came. If you don’t go for it, you can find yourself in an awkward position when the wave breaks. This looks like: You + surf board flipping bottom-over-teakettle into the salty spin cycle. It’s really scary under water and you then to boot, you bob to the surface with your hair pasted to your face like seaweed (oh wait, that is seaweed). Not so smooth.

But, and this is where the magic (a.k.a physics) of waves and surfing come in, if you can muster the courage to go with the flow of the wave’s powerful energy, you can align to it and you’ll feel, instead of continuing to suck backwards, the wave unfurls towards the shore. With a little knee-bending you can pop up and ride that briny marine-green swell! On a surfboard! And so… You are surfing! GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!

No doubt, a lot of trust is being asked of you in that split-second moment of ride, eat it or bail. Managing the very powerful, and sometimes scary, energy of the wave takes trust and courage. The difference lies in the answer to this question:

Can you get out of your head and into your body enough to ride the pulsation/wave/contraction/whateverlifethrowsatyou?

As for your midwife, doctor, nurse, husband, doula, best friend, mother, sister, brother… We do our best by showing up for you, with whatever skills and purpose we have at your birth, to support your safe passage across the somewhat topsy-turvy, often long, and amazingly wide ocean of labor, one wave at a time. The good and bad news is no one can labor for you. Likewise, no one can know the super sweet feeling of holding your baby that you (not your midwife or doctor) delivered into this world. That’s a task only you can complete, Mama. Like how the wave can only take you for a ride if you align to it, we, your birth team, can best help you ride the waves of labor if you make the choice to keep coming back to your body, trust the pulsation and go with the flow. I mean spanda. You can do it! When those pulsations come, leave your mind at the door and surf that beast!

 

CPM Bill on the table again for Mass. WBUR Cognoscenti Discusses Support

“It’s time for the Commonwealth to join the 28 other states” that have already adopted legislation to license home birth midwives.

- Judy Norsigan (Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves)

 

The Battle For Safer Home Births

It should be noted that there is some debate about this bill. Though the Mass. Midwives Alliance supports House Bill 2008/Senate Bill 1081, some homebirth midwives and homebirth advocates fear that putting the process of becoming a midwife under tight state oversight will mean loss of autonomy for homebirth midwives. This Cognescenti piece outlines the “pro-bill” stance on Senate Bill 1081/House Bill 2008.
 

 

 

 

Two New Class Offerings in Gloucester Start January 13th

Image from babble.com

Image from babble.com

New Class! SweetMama Prenatal Yoga® Monday evenings, 7-8 PM at Harbor Yoga in Gloucester

  • Women in any phase of the natal year are welcome
  • $15 per class; class cards available
Contemplative Wellness & Education

www.harboryoga.org | www.contemplativewellness.org

114 Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts  (978) 500-3155

 

 

New Class! ‘Align & Flow’ Tuesday mornings, 9-10:15 AM at Harbor Yoga in Gloucester

Align and Flow is about connecting your heart, mind, and body through the breath and sacred geometry of asana (yogic postures). Class begins in a grounded, supported seat that allows you to arrive in your body and connect with your breath. Using universal principles of alignment in a blend of strong standing poses, centering balance poses, hip openers and backbends, this class journeys through a flow of carefully sequenced postures. When appropriate or helpful, we will dissect individual poses from the bottom up to assist you safely into deeper stability, postural understanding, and overall well-being. Class closes with restorative postures and deep relaxation to seal in the fruits of the practice. This is an all-level class, offering modifications and variations to meet each student’s needs.

  • Women in any phase of the natal year are welcome
  • $15 per class; class cards available
Contemplative Wellness & Education

www.harboryoga.org | www.contemplativewellness.org

114 Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts  (978) 500-3155

 

 

Know your nursing rights, Mamas!

So this is pretty cool, the United States Department of Labor wrote a blog post last month all about mothers’ breastfeeding rights in the workplace. YES! Check out the informative blog post here.

And if reading your rights still doesn’t put your shyness or worries about breastfeeding at work at bay, what this mama has to say–and how she says it–may give you the inspirational boost you need. I present to you wordsmith/mama, Hollie McNish.

Hollie McNish