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The Spirit and Practice of Moving Through Labor

This is me and His Holiness chillin in the dressing room at the Yoga Tree on Valencia, a place where I spent a good deal of my pregnancy 🙂

Yoga…where do I even begin? Let’s just say that being in a yoga studio with 40+ other pregnant women were some of the most connected and authentic times I experienced in my pregnancy. Jane Austin is AMAZING, and I looked forward to seeing her (and being seen by her) every time I got ready to hit the mat. Those sessions were so powerful that even before I knew I would be doing birth work, I wanted to learn how to teach from her, not just for other people, but for myself.

Since then, I have come to know so many teachers around town doing great work for birthing people and their communities. At my home studio, COIL, June Aceves is offering prenatal yoga, Old Town Yoga‘s, Ashley Whitten is rocking the Pre/Postnatal yoga classes, and you can find prenatal yoga at Perfect Balance Yoga as well. There are new studios and new classes opening up all the time, so don’t despair if you can’t find a class that works with your schedule. Or, you could schedule a session in the privacy of your own home at a time that’s perfect for you.

Drawing from my years of yoga practice and recent trainings, both as a yoga teacher and as a doula, I am offering a Labor Skills Partner Workshop! Grab your mat and your birth partner(s) as we explore the use of breath, touch, and movement to meet the challenges of labor in a connected and conscious way.

Stay tuned for dates and times to come. I can’t wait to see you there!

Come on back next week when we fill up on breastfeeding!

Juicy Hips

There is this adorable video making the rounds of an OB who teaches his patients to dance as a way to help labor progress, and let me tell you it is sweet, but this is NOT new. Just about every culture in the world, at some point in their history, taught women to rhythmically move their hips as part of a traditional, gender-specific orientation to their expectations as child bearers.

Teaching women to move in this way, joyfully, and as a deep, reverential expression of their body’s power is a way to connect with the “flow of ancestors” and is just plain FUN!

In cities across the world (even in Fresno, CA!) mamas can find dance classes specifically designed to promote flexibility, stability, general health, and connection with their pregnant bodies and other pregnant women. Look for these classes, especially those that encourage more organic flow and creative expression as opposed to rigid sequences.

So, thanks to our ancient grandmothers who passed down this beautiful tradition, and the chain of mothers that have preserved it, we can all connect to this maternal rhythm and dance in whatever way feels good for us. Get it, mama!

….and bonus points if you can get partner in on it, too!

Join us next week when we continue to explore movement in pregnancy and labor: YOGA EDITION!

The Power of Skin-to-Skin

There are few things more irresistibly touchable than a baby’s skin, and perhaps that’s nature’s way of enticing us into a critical connection that improves baby’s health and promotes bonding.

When babies are welcomed to mama’s bare breast immediately after birth, they warm to the perfect temperature much better than on a warming table, they calm more quickly into the quiet alert state where bonding continues to happen, and breast feeding can begin more organically as baby smells mama’s familiar scent and becomes interested in the nipple.

While the immediate benefits of skin-to-skin contact are amazing, they don’t stop there! As baby grows, skin-to-skin continues to promote bonding, calming, improved immune function and other health benefits.

If all of that wasn’t enough, skin-to-skin can even save a baby’s life. In the video below, mum Katie Ogg shares the beautiful story of how skin-to-skin changed tragedy to triumph.

Come on back next week as we dance into labor!

You Spin Me Right Round

As the estimated due date gets closer and closer, “optimal fetal positioning” will be a phrase heard more and more frequently, and for good reason. When baby is optimally positioned, mama and baby can work together most efficiently, which usually means fewer medical interventions will warrant consideration. So, what’s the “optimal position”? Well, with multiples, it gets a bit complicated, but for singletons, head down, chin tucked, and baby’s back to mama’s front is considered best, to put it in simple, non-anatomical terms.

While these points are important, they don’t offer a complete story of how baby uses the environment of mama’s body to prepare for a safe and speedy exit. Spinning Babies offers a wider concept of the relationship between baby and womb to improve birth outcomes, specifically to ease the birthing process and reduce the chances of cesarean.

Visit the Spinning Babies site for great resource videos and articles.

 

Come on back next week when we dive into the power of skin-to-skin contact!

Laughing All the Way To the Hospital

In the next few posts, I will let y’all in on some of the jewels I received from the DONA Labor Support Doula & Lactation Training. This week, we gently wade into the birth tub with a chuckle of relief.

Attitude is Everything

The way we approach birth can really set the tone for how we experience birth. If we go in with only our exposure to bumbling sitcom tableaux and horror stories from our family and friends, we can take a lot of unnecessary fear into what could otherwise be a very powerful, triumphant, and joyful experience.

Using humor is great way to become comfortable with the process of birth and to remind us that we are allowed to laugh (*gasp*) in labor and even keep a sense of humor throughout the process. Leaving space for you to be encouraged and surprised by your own strength and courage throughout your labor will set a hopeful tone for your ability to source resilience as a parent (you will need this, oh, how you will need this).

The following video is fun way to educate yourself on both the physics of labor and the attitude of humor that will help keep up your strength when you are challenged beyond what you thought you could endure (spoiler alert: you are a warrior and you will be transformed).

Enjoy!

 

Stay tuned next week as we journey into the Land of Spinning Babies!

BodyMellow

BodyMellow, Corporeal Cream Dream

 

To paraphrase RuPaul, “if you can’t take care of yourself, how the hell you gonna take care of somebody else? Can I get an Amen up in here?!

Self-care is a learned skill, and it is absolutely essential. Often, it’s just about finding time to do the little things to lavish a few extra moments on yourself. A great place to start, is when you’re already taking a little me-time: in or around the shower.

I just made a batch of this amazing body butter that whips up more like frosting and, once in a jar, looks like marshmallows; I call it BodyMellow. Yes, loaded with rich organic emollients and lavender scent it’s like a spa treatment right at home. It’s a cinch to make, if you have a little patience and the right equipment.

 

Ingredients

 

Shea Butter (cut into 1 inch cubes)                  ½ cup

Coconut Oil                                                          ½ cup

Favorite massage oil (jojoba, avocado, almond, etc.)                ½ cup

Soothing essential oil(s)                                                          30+ drops

 

Method

 

  1. Place the shea butter and coconut oil in a double boiler (Pyrex bowl over a pot of boiling water) to melt. You can skip the measuring cup for the shea butter if you get the 1 lb. block above, just cut it in half, then cut the half in half – presto! 4 oz.
  2. Once just melted, remove the oils from heat completely by pouring it off into another container (try to use one that will hold at least 2 cups). Let sit for an episode of Grace and Frankie.
  3. Add in the massage oil and essential oils. Be careful of how much essential oil you add, especially if you’re going to use this cream to really pamper yourself, * winknudgewithelbow*
  4. Let mixture partially solidify (I let mine fully solidify in the freezer and it extended the next step). Pop it into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes, but keep an eye on it. You’ll want to see it sinking in the middle with a cloudy semi-solid ring around the edge.
  5. Using a kitchen mixer with the whisk attachment, whip it good! Extra points if you sing a little Devo to your cream. If you want a really even consistency, take the time to let it whip (insert Dazz Band here) for about 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides, and repeat those two steps until delicious fluffiness is achieved. While optional, it has been my experience that singing and dancing to your creations improves satisfaction by 300% (science).
  6. Here’s the best part. If you have the time, marinade in a hot bath before frosting your bod in your freshly whipped cream. If not, go a little bolder with the loofah in your next morning shower, then slather yourself in some of this fab stuff before you slip into a robe while handling some other business (hair, makeup, meditation, planning to take over the world, the usual). Enjoy YOU featuring some seriously supple skin.