Surprises come in all forms and we can never get too comfortable. But if we begin to look at birth as a mysterious journey that will unfold in unpredictable ways we may be able to be more comfortable with surprises. I believe if a woman is well prepared and has done her homework on events and options, has a great support team around her and care providers she trusts, then she will be okay with the turns and twists her labor and birth may be accompanied with. I think it is when a woman is ill prepared, is bamboozled and manipulated by those around her who should be supporting her but have their own agenda – then the mystery is not a mystery at all- it is a coup from others to overtake the journey with their plans and underlying issues.

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Are you prepared? Do you have your team in place? Is your tribe supportive of your desires for your birth? Is your care provider one you trust and you feel has your best interest at heart? Are you birthing in a location where you feel safe? Then dream the dream you have for the vision of birth you desire and let the mystery of your birth experience unfold with excitement and wonder and without fear and anxiety.

 

“Happiness means that we’ve let go of our expectations of how things should be and learned to dance with the uncertainty of how things are.”

“Have you learned to accept and even love your “fate” yet, or do believe that things shouldn’t be happening the way they are?

“Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever … happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment–not discouragement–you will find the strength is there.” From “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.”” –Dennis Lewis

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” ― Anaïs Nin

When you hear mystery do you feel differently about that word than unknown? Labor and birth is a mystery. There are unknowns but I prefer to think about it as a mystery. Just like I go on adventures with my husband rather than excursions- there is an element of fun and intrigue in a mystery. You realize that you can not control all things. You realize you can not predict all the pieces that unfold in a labor and birth. But you can be fully prepared to make great decisions that are the right decisions for you. You can be filled with knowledge and the ability to ask questions that will give you the answer. You can be fully supported by your team. And if you have a birth that is different than the one you visualized, you can still say, I was empowered by the experience. You will find your strength. You will grow from the experience.

 

Today in a mentoring session with Karen Brody- the woman who designed the BOLD  childbirth education I teach, she shared a bit about Angeles Arrien. She has something she calls the The Four-Fold Way®

The Way of the Warrior  Show up, and choose to be present.

The Way of the Healer  Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.

The Way of the Visionary  Tell the truth without blame or judgment.

The Way of the Teacher  Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

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She then asked me, “What was the reason you are on this earth?” And I felt it immediately in my womb- Mother- the mother I was told I could never be. Nurturing mother who helps her children find their truth.  I immediately felt my reason on this earth was to help people find their truth. It moved from me feeling it in my womb to my mouth and heart. I feel the scripture in Luke, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” I feel compelled to be the teacher, the guide to where truth lies. But where truth lies for me may not be your truth. This is such a struggle.

I tried to feel the opposite of what I feel is my truth and I immediately felt nauseated and full of anxiety. I feel I have to tell the truth. But my truth is not always someone else’s truth. That has proven to be true with my children- all believers in their own and very different ways. And the hardest part of telling what I believe to be truth sometimes is it is not accepted and welcomed. I have tried over my years to become more tactful and gentle in sharing. But I feel telling what I feel is truth is imperative. I feel the absolute need to make sure someone is fully informed and somewhat warned. 

But telling my truth and helping someone find their truth may be two different things. Expecting an outcome from sharing the truth as I know it has not always brought the results I expected or desired. This has proven to be the hardest part of the Four-Fold Way for me. I hope that imparting information- that which I hold true- will create a particular outcome. And sometimes it does not. It is about each person finding their truth. And then my job is only help people find their truth. Not the truth I think they need to come to- but their’s. So outcome expectations lead you to judgement of the outcome. But there needs to be no judgement.

I do think I feel anxious when someone asks or tells me something and I do not tell them what I hold to be true. For instance when someone tells me about their doctor saying they can not use a doula in their practice. Hmmm, I sense a doctor who does not have the patience to help their patient labor in a way that allows that patient freedom, but instead wants to direct their labor and birth the way they see fit without regard to the woman’s desires. That scares me and I feel compelled to tell her. But if this mom decides to stay with that practice, that may be her finding her truth. Perhaps she feels best if someone else is “driving” her birth than determining her own path. I need to share my thoughts if she asks for them and then support her in her truth.

So, although I feel my reason on earth is to help others find their truth- I encounter both anxiety and pleasure in doing so. I want folks to feel comfortable finding their truth, but truth is not always comfortable. I want folks to love me as the messenger, but sometimes hearing truth and finding truth can be painful and that pain is sometimes reflected back to the messenger. But truth is paramount to me. I do feel awareness is needed to find truth. I want to guide gently with wisdom and foremost with truth. I need to always keep my motives in check and not have my reason be to help others find my truth instead of theirs.

BOLD is helping me grow so much as an educator. Helping others find their truth- listen to their tribe’s voices, find their choices that resonate with them, trust their intuitive wisdom, be guided by their heart, speak their truth, centered with their mind, be guided by their spirit…. finding their path, holding to their truth and owning their outcome. I may have been a doula for over 20 years, but the mantra, “it is not my birth” is resonating more with the growth I am doing with BOLD. It goes beyond that mantra to a whole other level of truth for me.  It is not my truth that is most important for this woman- it is her path to finding her truth. I think that is why I have been put here- to help guide her in finding her truth. I need to step out of the way- sharing my truth as mine- and allowing her to find her truth that is hers.

I want to be the Warrior  Showing up, and choosing to be present.

Helping others find their truth.

I want to be the Healer  Paying attention to what has heart and meaning.

Helping others find their truth.

I want to be the Visionary  Telling the truth without blame or judgment.

Helping others find their truth.

I want to be the Teacher  Being open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

Helping others find their truth.

 

 

New moms have a unique opportunity to adopt the health benefits of nutrition and exercise into every day life, because they understand that their health is now intricately entangled with baby’s health and well-being. One aspect of good health, however, is often downplayed or ignored altogether. Humans are social animals, and numerous studies on every demographic, from children to bachelors and the elderly, show that socializing with others provides definite benefits.

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Pregnancy often poses challenges to getting enough friendship and camaraderie. Time with friends at work may be lost, because they continue with the normal routine while mom takes time off. Old friendships can suffer too, as pregnancy imposes some physical restrictions and prohibits certain bonding activities. Good news is that the learning curve most women face during pregnancy is a prime opportunity to make new friends facing the same challenges. Discover the benefits of socializing, and explore the opportunities to do so while ensuring a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

What Are the Actual Benefits of Having More Friends?
Researchers tend to be more abstract, and studies center around social support. Friends will fall into this category, as will family and partners. A literature review published in Family Medicine shows that the presence of a dense social network is a leading predictor of maternal and infant outcomes. They identified several ways that social support impacts the health of mom and baby, including emotional, tangible, and informational support.

imagesIt makes intuitive sense that emotional support would be even more necessary during pregnancy. Talking through problems and solutions, as well as sharing successes, is a great way to reduce stress. A mother can share her dreams of motherhood as to what type of parent she would like to be, as well as ask questions and share information on optional procedures, like circumcision and umbilical cord blood banking. Tangible support is often thought of as financial support from a partner, but the real meaning is deeper. If mom feels ills, is there someone willing to help with chores or making a meal? When fatigue sets in, are their exercise friends to provide the necessary motivation to fight it? Friends and family perform many services in our lives, and often the benefits go uncounted.

Gaining a Denser Social Network
Some people are simply more introverted for whatever reason, and they have a harder time meeting people and making friends. Others will find it easy to chat with strangers and gain familiarity, but meeting friends who actively support the pregnancy is more difficult. If this is a difficult area, pregnancy classes can really help. Remember that one of the roles played by social networks is informational support. It is well understood that knowledge is power over stress, and an informed mom will be a more relaxed mom.

Pregnancy classes help by filling both needs. They offer the opportunity to interact and make friends with other moms actively seeking more information and denser social networks for themselves. It is worthwhile to enroll early in classes and choose multiple ones to ensure that there is a steady source of new information and friendly moms throughout the pregnancy. Like the good habits of exercise and healthy nutrition, those friendships will continue for years to come.

This article was written by Katie Moore. Katie is an active writer within the blogging community who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, childbirth and other topics within this niche. If you have any questions or would like to connect with Katie please contact by visiting her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter @moorekm26.

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{I do think that pregnancy classes can offer this to many moms. But I also think that groups like Attachment Parenting, La Leche League, a prenatal fitness or Dancing for Birth and Postpartum class can also do this. I built great relationships that forever changed my parenting views and provided great support to me by joining and attending my local La Leche League meetings prior to and after the birth of my first child.}

Have you ever been to a restaurant and had a great meal only to become sick a few hours later? Did you wonder if it was the food you had eaten? What if it was the flu and not the food at all? Would you return to the restaurant again? Would you wonder if it was really the food after all? Would you get queasy as you entered the restaurant?

I met a young mother of two, pregnant with her third this weekend that discussed her last birth with me. She is considering a different home birth midwife this time. I inquired as to why. Her husband really wants her to, feeling the midwife lives too far away. I asked for more details. Seems her second labor was so different in the lack of intensity from her first that she mistook active labor for really being early labor with her second. She had called the midwife, but had not even taken the time to time contractions yet- feeling it very early in the labor. But when intensity came over her, a call to the midwife was only 30 minutes prior to the birth. The midwife did not make it in time for the actual birth, but arrived a bit later. I did not ask if she was happy with her birth. But it seemed the father had not been happy about the unassisted birth. This time she wants a doula. I suppose she thinks a doula may know when to call the midwife sooner. She also said she would feel better about having the doula come sooner than she would have the midwife come. Although, I am unsure why. But as I pondered this more I thought, the midwife did nothing wrong. Yet the father assigns the negative memory of this birth to this midwife.

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A friend designed this new diet and fitness ap. It reminds me of Weight Watchers in the ability to track calories and fat as well as exercise. It is FREE and is has an app for your phone too! I started it today. I can put in what I have eaten, what exercise I have done for the day and even has an inspirational section to help motivate yourself and others. It has a add friend feature and blog. It even has a place to list groups and put up challenges. I will keep you posted on how this is working for me. I have gained a bit of weight over the winter and had to stop walking due to an injury. But I am back walking and trying to eat regularly and healthy. Check out the site SlimKicker.  And if you try it out, let me know what you think!

This is how Christine describes it- “Basically, the main problem with being fit and eating healthy is motivation and willpower. It’s such an abstract goal that seems overwhelming. It seems the best way to counter this is to make it into  smaller, winnable games.  So my app makes living healthy, eating healthy, and fitness into a RPG  game, where users earn points, “level up’, and earn badges as they accomplish their health goals. Everytime they add something healthy like whole greens, and veggies to their food log, they earn points. Every time they complete a workout, they earn points. As they achieve more and more, they’ll level up and unlock badges… Of course, to appeal to people’s need for achievements/progress, I’m also  adding charts, and graphs to show their progress… I think people love that sorta stuff. The whole idea is to shift people’s attitude towards healthy living as fun, and enjoyable. And there’s a web version for those  that don’t own smartphones.”

March was a whirlwind month for me as a doula. And I had some pretty awesome experiences. Last night I was driving home from a long birth that ended up in the OR for a cesarean. I did what is my custom, I called my best friend who also is a doula and educator with my company. She usually talks me home when I am sleepy and also allows me to regroup or process a birth. And she reminded me that we can’t take credit or blame when a birth does not go as the mom wanted any more than we can take credit when it unfolds beautifully just as the mom has  dreamed. And of course it made me realize this needed blogging about!

Last week a women chose to not hire one of my newer, less experienced doulas since many of her births had ended in a cesarean. And I wrote the woman back an email letting her know of the other doulas who were available. She had originally specifically asked about this particular doula. This is what I wrote her:

I understand your concerns- I will say that this doula’s outcomes are more about where the moms have chosen to birth and chosen as their care providers more so than her lack of experience. But the more experienced the doula, the more experience she will have with water births and particular practices and hospitals. For instance 49% of my births are at the hospital you are choosing- 68% of my births are unmedicated and 28% are water births- but that says something about the moms as well as the doula… all of the women who come to me do not want to have an unmedicated birth and some do not choose water births… so keep that in mind when finding the right doula.

I often have moms ask my for my stats as if it is a grade of what kind of doula I am.And I do keep my stats to see trends and also outcomes overall. But my stats don’t prove what kind of doula I am.  I support moms. I offer suggestions and guidance. I do not make them do what I think they should do nor do I judge them when they make decisions different from the ones I would make. Where and how I would give birth is fundamentally not part of the equation for their births. If someone is looking for a birth that is quite different from the ones I have had or like the ones I mainly do, it does not mean I can’t support them.

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What does tincture of time mean to you? This week has been a time of clarity of what that can really mean…

I have a mom who stopped back by for a second visit after having had her baby. She came to get some breastfeeding support and advice. Seems her pediatrician was not fully supportive of breastfeeding due to a slow weight gain by her son. He looked great, was wetting lots of diapers but seemed to have what her doctor felt were too irregular. She felt this mom may not have good nutrition to her breastmilk. This mom appeared quite healthy and has a great diet. The doctor suggested she only give formula for a few days and bring the baby back to be weighed. The mom knew this did not seem right but she followed the directions but still pacified the baby at the breast and pumped to keep her supply steady. The thought was if the baby did not gain well, it must be a metabolic issue or something wrong with the baby. But again, looking at the baby as Dr. Newman suggest is done rather than looking at the scale, the baby seemed quite healthy and happy. A few days later, the mom called me to tell me that the baby gained fine and she was resuming full breastfeeding again. The tincture of time was what was needed. Hopefully this pediatrician will become more supportive of this dyad in the future.

I have a mom who waiting patiently for her baby to be born. She went past her guess date and had tests done by the perinatologist that showed all was well with her daughter. She went into labor just before 42 weeks. Her daughter did not enjoy labor and showed us so profoundly just as the back up physician to the midwife entered the room. It was as if she was waiting for him to arrive to let her desire to be born by cesarean known quite loudly. The baby girl was born and needed to have a few days of transition in the NICU before returning to her mom and was home. The mom pumped her colostrum in the meantime. Today the mom called me with what she thought was an oversupply. I reminded her that the tincture of time was needed for her body to acclimate to how many babies she had had and begin to regulate her supply. Time is all that is needed. (more…)

In a doctor’s office this week I overheard a mother telling the birth story of a friend.  The birth began with an induction and ended in a cesarean.  Imbedded in the tale were words like “big baby”, “she was past her due date”, “she is a short woman” and “she was in SO much pain.”

The woman speaking these words was a lovely young mother herself.  As she spoke them she loving held her own daughter in her lap.  Her daughter was maybe 4 or 5 years old. Five feet away and well within earshot was a woman expecting her first baby.  She was 2 weeks away from her estimated due date.

And so I wondered, these little girl ears and this almost a new mamma’s ears, how did THEY hear the story and how will it affect their perspective on birth? Will this sweet little girl grow up believing that birth is frightening and needs to be managed?  Or perhaps believing that babies are too big for short women to birth? Will the soon-to-be first time mother approach her own birth with fear and trepidation?

 The words we speak are powerful.

 A few days later I visited with a client due to give birth in the next month.  She told me the story of her own mother.  In South Africa her mother traveled two hours to give birth.  Her father recalls the stoicism of his laboring wife through the journey.  My client feels proud to know that her mother gave birth in strength.  She feels sure she will, as well. My client’s husband told of his own family history.  Six of his eight siblings were born at home.  He too, has no fear of birth.

   The words we speak are powerful.

 Be careful what you say.  And be watchful for who may be listening.

Guina G. Bixler, CLD, Certified Birthing From Within Mentor

We were contacted by Sidney regarding a unique approach for those who either live where there are no yoga classes or are prohibited in some other way in attending a live class. I am not sure I feel you get the same benefits from online classes, but if that is what works best for some, it is a great option. I offered to have Sidney write a little something to help get input from others regarding this concept. Please offer your opinions so they can tweak this idea to make it work for everyone who would love to try it.

Thanks- Teresa

 

We all know digital connections are spreading like wildfire these days; from Facebook to Twitter, blogging to Youtube. there’s no shortage of content for which we can engage. But now that content is so bountiful, how can we make online connections that are more personal and meaningful? How can we grow through these connections? Could it be worthwhile to interact and learn online with teachers and students from home?

Specifically, could we attend an online yoga, fitness or pilates class as easy as we can watch a Youtube video? And could it be just as good (or even better) than doing it at a physical center?

These are the questions we are attempting to answer with our new series of online health and wellness classes (see classes at wellness.learnitlive.com) (more…)