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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

We are pleased to welcome Tracy Wilson Peters, CLD, CLE, CCCE , to the Mother’s Advocate blog. Co-author of the soon-to-be released book, The Greatest Pregnancy Ever, Tracy has been a lifelong advocate for families and babies. 

“The main concern of those around pregnant women or for people who care for a pregnant woman should be to ensure their emotional wellbeing.” ~ Michel Odent

Who are the people closest to you? Did you know that the people who are around you the most are influencing the personality and development of your baby? New science has shown that every relationship that you have impacts who your child will become. A mother’s feelings deeply affect her baby. In fact, the baby learns about his world by the feelings his mother has. When a mother has a feeling of happiness, this triggers a hormone release that the baby also feels. The same thing happens when a mother feels stress. Chronic stress is non-supportive for your health and your pregnancy. Hormones associated with depression and anxiety, such as cortisol, can reduce blood supply to the placenta and induce premature labor. So, who is in your life really matters!

Pregnancy offers a great opportunity to take steps to decrease stress in your life. Emotions and attitudes are contagious. Every encounter that you have on a daily basis can be measured on a scale that goes from nourishing to toxic. Who are the people in your life that nourish you? Who are the people in your life that drain your energy? It may not be possible to eliminate all of the people in your life that cause you stress, but you can begin to create healthy boundaries by creating a circle of support. This circle should include people who are supportive and loving in their interactions with you. Your inner circle may or may not include family members. Your circle of support should be comprised of people who you can call on when you need help, have good listening skills, won’t judge you, and can offer you emotional support. This inner circle is a sacred place. Who in your life do you want to be in your circle of support? Is there someone that you have been allowing in your life that you need to step back from?

It may help you to take a few minutes and make a list of the people that you interact with on a regular basis, including family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors – anyone that you spend a significant amount of time with. Next think of each person holding your new baby. What feelings come up for you?  Try to tune in to the feelings that come up during this visualization. Are changes needed?

Some things to keep in mind when creating your inner circle of support:

  • It’s OK to say no. There are moments when we say “yes” to others, and, in fact, we are saying “no” to ourselves.
  • You can love someone and still keep them at a distance.
  • Shifting who you surround yourself with does not mean judging others. Nobody has to be wrong for you to make decisions that are right for you.
  • You can change your circle of influence and love those not in it from a distance.
  • It’s not about being judgmental. It’s about being where you feel comfortable.
  • You are your world, so if you change, the world changes.

Mothers who foster a healthy internal relationship often have nourishing relationships with the people in their lives. You are at the center of your circle. You must take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, in order to have healthy relationships with the people in your life. Taking time to love yourself will have a positive effect on everyone in your life. When you create healthy boundaries with the people in your life, you will be giving yourself and your child a great gift: the gift of self-love and the knowledge that you can move through your world making conscious decisions about who and what is right for you.

Pregnancy is a time of change. Change isn’t always comfortable but it is a necessary part of life. Your new life with your baby will undoubtedly bring many changes in the relationships that you have.  Your relationships will change because you will change. Becoming a mother will provide many opportunities for growth.  As you move into motherhood trust your instincts. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and you will be able to give your very best YOU to your new baby.

“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living” – Author unknown

Author, Tracy Wilson Peters, CLD, CLE, CCCE

Married for over 19 years and mother to two amazing sons, Tracy’s experience raising her own children led her to a love for supporting expectant families. This passion encouraged her to found CAPPA, Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association. Tracy serves as both the CEO and as a faculty member for CAPPA. CAPPA is the largest childbirth organization in the world. Internationally known as a pregnancy expert, she has authored numerous articles, and appeared on many television networks, including FOX, CBS, and NBC.  Tracy has worked with expectant women and families for nearly two decades, attending hundreds of births as a professional labor doula and teaching classes to more than 3000 families.

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Mother’s Advocate is delighted to announce this week’s blog post and Facebook contest by Dr. Gerald Newmark and Laurie Haessley. Dr. Newmark’s work regarding the Five Emotional Needs of Children is receiving accolades everywhere – from breastfeeding support groups and new father groups to school systems and corporate America.  He reminds families that when we treat one another with respect, acceptance and inclusion the world become a more peaceful and loving place. Laurie Haessley is a WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator in California. Read on to learn more about the connection between exclusive breastfeeding and emotionally happy children and how to enter to win a complimentary copy of Dr. Newmark’s book.

Laurie:  As the WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator of a very large county in California, Riverside County, I am responsible for developing and managing our breastfeeding education, support and assistance program.  The goal of everything we do is to increase the exclusive breastfeeding initiation and duration among mothers enrolled in the WIC program.  I am always searching for ways to better serve our WIC families and making ‘course corrections’ in our program so we can best meet the needs of our mothers and babies.  For many years WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors have facilitated breastfeeding mothers groups where mothers come together to discuss breastfeeding issues.  Approximately 6 years ago our Peer Counselors realized that mothers stopped breastfeeding because of life issues NOT because of breastfeeding issues.  We determined we needed a social-emotional component for our breastfeeding program.  At about the same time I met Dr. Newmark speaking at a conference and decided then that we needed a course correction for our breastfeeding mothers groups.

Dr. Newmark: At the conference, I spoke about how babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, parents and grandparents ALL have the same emotional needs.  Meeting these needs in childhood provides the foundation for success in life. Being a relaxed, happy person who enjoys life is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to a child and is one of the most important attributes a parent contributes to a child’s sense of security.  This is vital to a child’s sense of security all the time, but especially during the breastfeeding period.

Laurie: We incorporated the concepts from Dr. Newmark’s Book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children – Meeting the Five Critical  Needs of Children… and Parents Too!  into the mothers groups curriculum.   The five critical emotional needs he speaks about are:

  • Feeling Respected
  • Feeling Important
  • Feeling Accepted
  • Feeling Included
  • Feeling Secure

Our breastfeeding mothers groups are THE success for the high exclusive breastfeeding rates in Riverside County.  The groups are successful because mothers’ emotional needs are met.  Most women stop breastfeeding when they perceive life problems as insurmountable which leads to a lack of confidence as a mother.  Breastfeeding requires self-confidence and mothers who lack self-confidence are not successful breastfeeding.   Our mothers groups facilitated by our awesome peer counselors offer a safe place to discuss and resolve life problems.  The groups are a comfortable place to make friends, be with the same moms each month and practice exclusive breastfeeding.  Groups are safe places for mothers to open up and share their inner most feelings while respecting each others’ differences.

At each mothers group emotional needs are met through the concepts of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children.

Dr. Newmark: Parenting is not something one learns once and masters for all time.  Babies and children of different ages may have the five emotional needs to different degrees.  They may need to be satisfied in slightly different ways. Parents must learn to adjust their interactions accordingly.  The concepts and techniques taught in the book are easy to learn but the most important thing is that parents must be good learners and their children are their best teachers.  Parents must learn to LISTEN to their children to best meet their needs.

Laurie:  One critical emotional need of children and parents is explored during each mothers’ group meeting.

  • Feeling Respected – What does respect look like to you?  How do babies ‘talk’ to us?                 How can we show respect to our babies?
  • Feeling Important – How can we make our babies and children feel important?
  • Feeling Accepted – How can we make our babies and children feel accepted?
  • Feeling Included – How can we make our babies and children feel included?
  • Feeling Secure – How can we make our babies and children feel secure?

At the end of each mothers group session two questions are always asked:  ‘What was a challenge for you this month?’ and ‘What makes motherhood good for you this month?’  Mothers are encouraged to go home and practice what they have learned.  Each month confidence is gained by women in their new role as ‘mother’ leading to a successful breastfeeding experience.

Dr. Newmark:  Laurie and the Riverside County WIC Peer to Peer program have been the pioneers in this emotional health movement.  It is now incorporated in many WIC Peer to Peer programs throughout California and nationwide.

Enter our Facebook giveaway for a chance to win a copy of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Emotional Needs of Children.. And Parents Too! log onto www.facebook.com and “Like” our Mother’s Advocate Facebook page! All “Likes” from August 8, 2011 to August 22, 2011 will be entered to win one of 12 copies!

Dr. Gerald Newmark has had experience at every level of education from elementary school to university as a teacher, consultant and researcher.  He has lectured extensively on parent-child-teacher relations and on innovative methods of teaching and learning. He connects with diverse audiences using straight-forward language that is informative, interesting and entertaining. He has received a presidential citation for his pioneering work in education described in his book This School Belongs To You and Me.  His most recent book How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children has sold 400,000 copies. Translations have been published in Mexico, Israel, Hungary, Russia, Austria, Braille in United States and soon will be released in India and China. Dr. Newmark is a member of the American Association of Humanistic Psychology, the Charles F. Menninger Society and the National Association for The Mentally Ill. (For more information about Dr. Newmark’s work visit www.emotionallyhealthychildren.org)

Laurie Haessly is the Program Director for Lactation Services or Riverside County and the Operations Director of Best Fed Babies. She has a Master’s degree in Nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Laurie has been assisting breastfeeding mothers for more than twenty-five years. She has helped thousands of mothers to successfully breastfeed their babies. She sits on both the National WIC Association and California WIC Association Breastfeeding Committees. Laurie developed and oversees the popular Breastfeeding Cafes, Moms2Moms Groups and Sistah Connection Groups based on the Raising Emotionally Healthy Children concepts in Riverside County, California. Laurie has received numerous “best practices” awards for the work she has conducted at the national, state, and local levels. Recognitions have included the Economic Research Service’s “Innovative Breastfeeding Practices” award; the Princeton Mathematica Institute’s “Best Breastfeeding Practices” award; and the Loma Linda University Perinatal Services Network’s “Most Innovative Breastfeeding Promotion” award.

This successful Breastfeeding Peer to Peer Program is not exclusive to WIC and can be adapted to other breastfeeding organizations.  If you are interested in learning more please contact us at info@emotionallyhealthychildren.org 

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children, now in its second edition and 5th printing, has sold 400,000 books to date, and is often distributed free of charge to parents by many cities, educational systems, hospitals and other institutions.  Individual copies of the book in English and Spanish can be purchased on amazon.com and is also available on Kindle.  For special low pricing on large quantities, contact The Children’s Project: http://www.emotionallyhealthychildren.org

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Ani DiFranco has written hundreds of songs, played thousands of shows and is no doubt an icon for strong and fearless women. This is why we are thrilled to share her thoughts on birth, motherhood and strength in this interview:

MA: Tell us about your decision to have a home birth.

Ani: Birthing is a very unique and profound event, and my choice to have a home birth was not because I’m independent (or something), it’s because essentially I’m an animal and I’m very affected by my environment. I’ve always got my feelers out and I know that the animal in me is very easily intimidated – I know this from making twenty records in awkward situations where I don’t feel comfortable, and then you have to sing and then there’s that moment when you’re not really in your own skin.  I didn’t want to give birth to my baby like I had given birth to some of my records thinking “help I’m alone among strangers in this alien environment”. The hospital environment would have been really counter-productive to me.

In retrospect I think that my midwife actually had a perception of me that I was very independent and knew how I wanted to birth because that’s my M.O., but having babies was something I had never done before and I had no idea how I wanted to do any of it.  I’m really happy that I did it at home, even though it was long and extremely challenging for me. In retrospect I think I would want more guidance.  No matter who you are, giving birth is going to kick your ass – in one way or another.

MA: So how did you get through it?

Ani: You know I think that I went into it with a lot of expectations about the power and the beauty and the transformation, and then when the labor really picked up, I was just scared and in pain. Then of course it was powerful and beautiful and transformative.

I think that one of the things that hurt the most afterwards was not my broken tailbone but my ego. I thought birth would be easy for me somehow and the fact that birth was (really) hard made me feel like “maybe I’m not as strong as I thought. Maybe I’m weak”. So, I had to go through an ego recovery process and address those feelings and my misconception of my role as a woman and myself as a part of nature.

MA: What’s it like to be a mama?  

Ani: It’s really something the way the babies teach us to nurture – to be nurturing and to transfer that sort of love and respect and caring to everybody’s babies. We’re all somebody’s baby and I think that everything we need to know about being mindful mamas our babies will teach us eventually, whether we want it or not.

Ani DiFranco has written hundreds of songs, played thousands of shows, captured the imaginations of legions of followers, and jammed with folkies, orchestras, rappers, rock and roll hall-of-famers, jazz musicians, poets, pop superstars, storytellers and a martial arts legend. Ani started her own music label Righteous Babe Records and because of this decision she’s been called “fiercely independent” (Rolling Stone), “inspirational” (All Music Guide), and “the ultimate do-it-yourself songwriter” (The New York Times).

This interview has been republished with permission from Mindful Mama

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Last week, Katie Wise redefined expectations for sex during the post partum year.  This week, she talks about how to make the most of sex, once you’re ready. Mamas, go ahead and read this, but it’s meant for your partners.  So pass it on.

So, you just had a baby.  You are still basking in the heroic act of welcoming your child into the world and you were stunned by the sheer animal power your lady demonstrated during the birth. You wanted to take her right then and there, but you knew that you had to wait until she was ready, and that day has finally come.  You’ve been waiting and hoping and fantasizing, and today’s the day.

Feeling like a teenager, you take a shower, throw on some cologne, and stride into the bedroom.  You look at your beloved, radiant in her milk stained nightgown.  She looks up and you exchange a look.  You anticipate that she’s about to tell you how excited she is. But instead, she opens her mouth and says

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry . . . I mean, can we just go to sleep?”

That wasn’t exactly what you had hoped for. What now?

When it comes to reconnecting sexually with your partner after baby, Make this your mantra:

Go slow, aim low, and let go.

Remember that Post partum sex requires a deep level of care and patience, tons of love and humor, and a very soft touch.  You may find yourself asking very “un-sexy” questions like: Is this hurting your hemorrhoids?; Does this angle work for your scar tissue?; Can I start to move or do you want me to stay still for a while?: and Do you want me to stop completely and just hold you?.  Let me tell you though, these careful considerations, and compassionate touches are the sexiest thing in the world to the healing postpartum mama.

Go Slow.

Approach your sexual time with her with curiousity instead of a goal. Sometimes slow means stop.  At any moment, if she begins to feel unsafe or in pain, stop immediately.  Sex can bring up many feelings for her, both physical and emotional.  She needs to slowly get to know her body again. And don’t forget all the creative ways to be sexual together!  Intercourse is just one expression of love. Remember those amazing steps along the way that seemed so exciting in high school.  Take your time, explore, and see what else is possible.  And don’t be afraid to use lubricant to off set the changes created by postpartum hormones.  (Note:  remember if it’s lack of libido more than fear of contact with the vagina, other kinds of sex may still be hard for her to participate in.  Honor her pace.)

Aim Low.

The first year after baby is all about baby’s needs, which are unending, and immediate.  Everyone else’s needs are shoved in the closet, and not removed until after that first birthday candle is blown out.

Make a goal of surrounding your partner with love, instead of having sex.  She needs to know that you still find her sexy even if all she wants to do is snuggle up and go to sleep.  She needs to know that nothing is required of her beyond the already heroic task of caring for our child.  She needs to know that it’s okay to not want sex.

In a book called Porn for New Moms, there is picture of a beautiful man under the sheets looking seductive and saying “Let’s not have sex tonight.  Why don’t I rub your feet and you can tell me about the baby’s day.”  Listen and learn, partners.  The best way to seduce your post partum sweetie is to let her have as much time as she wants as far away from sex as she needs.

Let Go.

Let go of the story that there is a problem if you are having less sex than you used to. Let go of what sex “should” be like.  Be present to the tenderness you have for one another.  Be compassionate for the exhaustion you both feel.   And when you do make love, help her to let go. Find breath work, yoga, tantric techniques.  Use your voice to help her surrender. Tell her she is beautiful.  Tell her that things might feel different. Tell her that she is sexier now than ever.   Tell her that you want to be with her forever.  And again, tell her to breathe. Make sex an act of devotion.  Have her imagine she is a plant receiving sunlight, or the shore receiving the ocean.

And remember: you are the one that she created this child with, she wants to grow old with you, and she adores you.  And she may not want to have sex right now.

Please don’t take it personally.

If you are about to have a baby and are feeling concerned right now,  Don’t fear.  This can be one of the most intimate years of your relationship.  In your baby, you may see your partner’s sweet smile, their sassy brow line, or calm spirit.  You meet a person that is born of the love you feel for one another.

You will both love sex again.

Biology makes sense. As her cycle returns, she will look at you in a whole new way.   The woman that you knew and loved before baby arrived will be back in your arms. There may be less sex for a year, but you will likely discover a new level of intimacy that can build your lifelong relationship. Years from now, you will sit on a porch swing talking about all of the years, and this will seem like one single flower in the full garden of your life together.

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This week we are thrilled to welcome back Katie Wise, doula and childbirth educator as she discusses the importance of trusting the process, setting expectations and defying conventional beliefs when embarking on postpartum sex.

Warning: if you have not had children yet, read at your own risk.

“A year?” a mama in my childbirth class said to me, her jaw dropping.

“Yes, a year. Maybe a little more, depending on when your baby masters sleeping through the night, and how quickly your body heals.”

It was the night where the women and their partners separate. It feels a little bit like eighth grade health class, but it’s a powerful night, and gives people the space to talk without concern for their partner’s feelings. We talk about many things, but one thing above all: SEX (or shall we say the lack thereof) after having a baby.

Don’t get me wrong – many couples grow closer during this time.  There is a magic to this baby moon, this slowing down and refocusing on what is really important in life.  Having a baby forces a whole new level of teamwork and has the potential to create a relationship that is unshakable.

But it’s not a sexy year.

My personal highlights from early postpartum?  Feeling a crazy heaviness in my vagina every time I got out of bed; watching my breasts grow to six-times their original size, but not wanting to be touched; having uncontrollable gas; wearing a diaper (yes, me, not the baby) and strutting around our room with my beautiful post partum pooch; thinking about sex the way someone would think about washing the kitchen floor, like it’s important to do, but not at all pleasurable; wondering if I was ever going to sleep again, or if I was going to live the rest of my days in a foggy, subtly depressed state of malaise.

Not exactly boom-chick-a-boom time.

Most doctors don’t help the matter by setting up the expectation that you can – and will – be having sex 6-weeks postpartum. Partners go home and circle the date on their calendar.  Many well-meaning books also lead couples astray. One couple I worked with read a book on marriage after baby and came away with the idea that every postpartum couple “should” be having sex once a week after the initial six-week healing period; that it is a woman’s duty to take care of her partner sexually, even if she doesn’t feel like it.  Instead of “baby-proofing” the marriage, this nearly ended the marriage.

Your body needs time.

After attending 170 births as a doula and working with hundreds more in my yoga studio, it seems to be pretty universal: when it comes to feelings about sex in early postpartum, most mamas range from not interested to downright terrified.

There is a level of trauma in birth.  Lynn Leach, a physical therapist and healer, said to me once that everything after “the moment that you don’t want to do it anymore” can register as trauma in the body.  For some women this could be minutes, others could be hours or even days.

While it may be physically possible to have sex six weeks after birth, most mamas get the shakes just thinking about something going back in where this enormous baby just came out. The idea of any kind of activity down there can be daunting. I gingerly I I explained to my husband that my vagina was like the hiking trails that are closed for rehabilitation.  Nothings broken, you just can’t go there right now.

I’m sure there is the rare mama who feels hot and ready-to-go at six weeks, but I haven’t met her yet.  For most of us, the desire wanes and sex seems like some crazy thing that you used to do before baby came along, like pedicures and “girls nights.”

Expectations are crucial.

In my class, I focus on setting appropriate expectations.  My husband and I, in our separate rooms with the couples, spell out a more realistic timeline of what to expect:

  • Around 6-10 weeks:  A rather awkward attempt at sex.
  • Sometime after that: Another try, maybe a little more successful.
  • Every month or so:  Mama musters up the energy to try again.
  • By six months:  Mama may think sex is a good idea.
  • By a year:  Mama actually initiates (especially if baby is sleeping well).

This timeline is by no means definitive and it is important not to compare. Some couples find their way back to regular sex quickly, and others barely have sex once before the baby’s first birthday.   I encourage couples to trust that whatever love and sexual expression they are capable of in each moment is enough.  And to remember: as with all things baby, it’s always going to be in flux.

Many factors affect libido, including: breastfeeding, physical healing, stress, lack of sleep, and (perhaps most powerfully) the hormonal shift. If your body (physically) doesn’t appear to be functioning – or feeling – right after six months, consult a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health, to make sure that everything is healing correctly.  This work can instantly change the experience of sex.  Don’t suffer through painful intercourse without getting checked.  I secretly thank my physical therapist every day that I have sex with my husband.

That’s right, the dry spell doesn’t last forever.

I remember clearly my first ovulation, at 13 months postpartum, suddenly noticing this devastatingly handsome man in my room.  I’m not sure where he’d been all year, but my husband was looking pretty cute. Perhaps the quantity of sex changes (it’s a lot harder to find the time than it used to be), but the quality can also change, to be a deep and lasting expression of the love between two people.  Love that welcomed another human being into the world.

And that’s pretty hot.

Stay tuned for section two, for more about the physical and emotional “how-to” for sex in the postpartum year.  

Katie Wise is a doula, childbirth educator and birth advocate, as well as the owner and founder of Yo Mama Yoga and Family Centers. Her work and writing have been featured in “Whole Life Times,” “Yogi Times,” “Los Angeles Daily News,” “Special Delivery,” the “Boulder Daily Camera,” and on NPR. Katie believes that women’s bodies have the wisdom to give birth. Her purpose in supporting and educating pregnant women is to uncover and foster that instinct and faith. Katie is also the host of the Mother’s Advocate “Healthy Birth Your Way: 6 Steps to a Safer Birth” video series. Please visit Katie’s site to read her blog or find more information.


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This week, Mother’s Advocate discusses the warning-signs and indications of postpartum depression with Jodi Selander — activist, mother and Director of Placenta Benefits.

MA: What is the difference between the “baby blues” and “postpartum depression” and how common are they?

JS: Postpartum depression is a very real and physiological occurrence that can begin anytime between birth and twelve months postpartum.  It is generally experienced as a series of symptoms, which are identified along a spectrum of severity — ranging from baby blues (which is the mildest and generally corrects itself in the first three to four weeks postpartum), all the way to postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is incredibly serious and often leads to hospitalization.

The majority (80%) of women experience some sort of post-natal mood instability, mostly in the “baby blues” range.  Baby blues shares many common symptoms with full-blown postpartum depression, but is not technically considered a “disorder” by the medical establishment unless the symptoms extend longer than 3-weeks. Symptoms may include: weepiness, mood instability, mood swings, feelings of anxiety, not wanting anyone else to hold the baby, unwillingness to be alone with the baby, or fear husband or partner going back to work or even leaving the house.

15-20% of women who experience the baby blues will go on to experience full-on postpartum depression.  When depressive symptoms last for longer than 6-8 weeks, a doctor may prescribe an anti-depressant.

MA: What causes mothers to feel depressed or sad postpartum?

JS: Aside from the physiological factors (hormone re-balancing and physical recovery), I believe postpartum is largely cultural. There is a lot of emphasis on building confidence during pregnancy and empowering the birth experience, but there is a real lack of practical support once the baby is born.  Those first few weeks are filled with visits from friends and family and interaction with a care provider. But once the flurry dies down, the changes that come with a new baby can become overwhelming.  It’s hard to have confidence as a mother, especially if you’ve never done it before — and the job is so important.  Every decision you make feels like a life and death situation, and women tend to internalize everything.

It’s not just “oh the baby is crying again” —  it’s “why is my baby crying again, what am I doing wrong? Why can’t I not stop this? Does this mean I’m not a good mother?” Women place a lot of pressure on themselves, and I think there’s a lot of pressure that society places on mothers as well. We elevate motherhood as a noble and worthy institution, which is fabulous, but we don’t give any sort of structure to support that pedestal.  In my own personal experience, this leads to an incredible lack of confidence — and that’s very unfortunate.

MA: When should mothers seek medical support?

JS: This is really where the husband and/or partner comes into play.  He or she should be aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression and notice when a mother is showing signs. Often a mother will not seek help for herself,  and her partner should not be afraid to seek help for her — before it becomes a serious issue.  If you notice that your wife or partner is still not herself after 6-weeks, suggest that she make an appointment so that she can be seen for treatment.

MA: What is the preventative measure, especially for women who have the baby blues?

JS: Most women who have just given birth are going to have depleted iron stores. The placenta is packed with iron and has a lot of vitamins and minerals that your body needs postpartum.  I advocate that mothers utilize placenta encapsulation — whereby it’s completely dried and then ground — to restore the body’s natural balance.

Placenta is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fatigue and to enhance lactation, and it has been scientifically shown to increase milk production. The hypothalamus is part of the brain that regulates the endocrine system and studies show that it takes about two weeks for the hypothalamus to receive the signal that the baby’s been born. The placenta capsules help the body to maintain homeostasis during this period, until her body would normally regulate itself.

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of clients, and everybody calls the placenta capsules their “happy pills”. It’s nature’s perfect gift.

Jodi Selander, Director of Placenta Benefits, started researching placentophagy in 2005 during her second pregnancy. She found substantial information documenting the benefits it offered. Having dealt with depression for many years, Jodi had many risk factors for developing postpartum depression. With a B.S. in Psychology, she understood the devastating effects depression could have on women and their families. As a natural health enthusiast, she wanted an alternative to pharmaceuticals that might help avoid those issues. Jodi continues to work toward her mission of making placenta encapsulation an option for every new mother with the launch of the Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Training & Certification Course in May 2008. As a member of the placentophagy research team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Jodi has helped develop and perform several research studies on placentophagy. She traveled to New Orleans in November, 2010 to present the findings at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. This research is incredibly important to her mission of validating the use of placenta for postpartum recovery. Her goal is to have a qualified person in every city offering encapsulation services, so that women everywhere can enjoy a happy, healthy postpartum experience – the way Nature intended.

This interview was originally filmed for Mindful Mama Magazine and has been transcribed with permission from Mindful Mama Magazine.

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Expecting fathers go through a very unique experience during pregnancy and birth, and while this can be a very exciting time it is important to make sure he is prepared for the challenges to come.  This week Cara Terreri from Lamaze’s Giving Birth With Confidence blog shares her favorite tips for dads-to-be.

When a woman is pregnant, most of the outside world’s attention is on the mother-to-be. On one hand, this makes sense: it is the mother who bears the first-hand, physical experience of pregnancy and birth, and the intrinsic connection to a child who was once part of her body.

But what about the father (partner)? Fathers too, go through an experience during pregnancy and birth. First-time dads in particular must come to terms with a transition in family roles and responsibility, and deal with their own feelings of fear, excitement and anxiety. Yet, when a couple is expecting, all of the fuss and concern centers on mom: “How are you feeling? Are you sleeping well? What’s your birth plan?” Dad is more likely to hear nothing — unless it relates to mom.

Women, listen up: Dads need preparation, understanding and communication during pregnancy too! Women tend to gather and process information about pregnancy through their care providers, other women, books and Internet articles. Men however, don’t always attend prenatal appointments, and are less likely to pour over the literature or spark up a conversation about pregnancy with their peers. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested or don’t need support. And here’s the secret: the more prepared and informed dad is, the better equipped he will be to support and encourage you during pregnancy and birth.

The following are simple, but key, steps you can take to involve, support and prepare your partner, helping to improve the experience for both of you.

Attend prenatal appointments together. It may not be practical to see your care provider together every time, but make it a point to attend a handful of appointments as a couple. This allows dad to understand more about your prenatal care, experience exciting things like hearing baby’s heartbeat, and pose his own questions to your care provider.

Make childbirth classes mandatory. Childbirth education classes are designed for moms and dads. For dads who don’t always read up on birth (and for moms who read too much), an in-person, interactive class that teaches the ins and outs of birth, including coping techniques and strategies, is invaluable. Lamaze class educators, for example, are trained to engage with fathers and partners through targeted questions and hands-on practice.

Create your birth plan together. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal advocate to make sure labor and birth is as healthy and safe as possible? You can! Creating a birth plan with your significant other ensures that both of you are on the same page during the big day. If dad knows ahead of time that you wish to remain mobile in labor or avoid continuous monitoring, for example, he will be better prepared to support you and speak to your care providers if necessary. For ideas on what to include in your birth plan, check out the Six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices.

Check in with dad. Keep the lines of communication open! If you don’t have a regular date night, make it a new habit that continues after birth and throughout parenthood. When you make the time to connect with each other, be sure to ask about his thoughts regarding pregnancy and birth in addition to expressing your own. Ask open-ended questions like, “Tell me what you think about our birth plan.” or “How do you feel about our care provider?” or “What worries you the most about birth?”

For more insight on preparing and understanding fathers during the childbearing time, check out the Giving Birth with Confidence series, “Focus on Fathers.”

Cara Terreri is the site administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence, the Lamaze online community for expectant moms, and has worked with Lamaze for the last six years. Giving Birth with Confidence is written for and by real women (and men) and offers a meeting ground to share stories, find answers and provide support during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. In her free time (every last bit), she is mom to two active little boys. Through blogging and advocacy, Cara enjoys helping women discover their power and ability in birth.

What challenges did you experience as a couple? Did you feel supported?

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