Archive for doula life

My Birth Story (Alba)

How do we choose what we share with others, and what we keep to ourselves, or within a smaller circle? We’re all on a different sharing spectrum, and whether we keep things back out of a sense of privacy, shame, or possessiveness of our own experiences, each of us has secrets and curates her own truth. Social Media is a modern magnifier of that personalized curation of what we’re willing to share vs. what we struggle with quietly. I kept most things to myself when I was young, but as I’ve aged, I’ve witnessed the healing power of telling someone your story. My birth story isn’t super dramatic or surprising, but it’s mine, and I’ve held the truth of it close to me for long enough and for a variety of reasons, not least of which includes the judgment that is immediately placed on our choices as mothers before our babies have exited the womb. For as long as I can remember, my personal choices to stay quiet or keep to myself stem from my desire to block out the noise of other people who think it’s their right to comment, pass judgment, and give opinions. I don’t ask for much advice, consider, or judge how other people do things because I trust my own instincts deeply, and I honestly think that’s unnerving to some people. If I need added wisdom in an area, like breastfeeding, of course I ask, but I lived in a house with 35 girls in college and never once asked someone if they liked my outfit. I don’t share my stories and poems for editing or opinions before I submit them. I think my mom actually pauses to take a deep breath and acknowledge the moment if I ask her for advice, which I do more often these days — like the world has stopped spinning because I’m not so inwardly focused for a second. We all need a reminder of who we are sometimes, though. And the best advice I got during my pregnancy was on a card from my friend Veronica. It’s still on my fridge today: a picture of giant headphones under the words, “Let me listen to me and not to them.” As a Doula and friend, that is my best and only advice. Listen to your doctors for health and safety reasons, obviously, but beyond that, trust yourself more than anyone.

I hope that the act of sharing my story more openly via my blog encourages, lifts, and brings us closer. As a Doula, I thought I had to have a birth story that was blissful, heroic, and full of affirmation and confidence to make it worth sharing. As a woman and mother, I understand that birth is powerful because it can simultaneously be the most terrible and beautiful thing we’ve ever experienced; a sometimes hellish passage that connects us to the tiny people we love most in the world.

I’ve also learned that, regardless of what we personally idealize as the perfect birth scenario, many women do experience trauma in labor and delivery, and sharing that fear and pain doesn’t weaken your connection to your child or make you less of a woman. As a Doula, I want to prevent birth trauma where I can, but in times when it’s not preventable, we have to help other women to pinpoint, define, and heal birth-related fear and pain. We carry so much trauma in that sacral area of our bodies, and we owe it to ourselves to learn the physical and spiritual tools that release that pain and make us whole again. I felt total kinship and freedom when I finally heard two women I respect in the health/wellness/ babymaking field (Wolfe/Mundell) express serious lasting birth trauma that effected their desire for more children. It was in direct opposition to every other person I know telling me that I would soon forget any negative aspects of my birth story. I do want more children, but I have not forgotten, and I am already preparing with my OB and midwives to try to do things a lot differently next time.

My last caveat before I dive into the fun details of my personal experience is a big one. My baby was born beautiful and healthy. She was admitted to the nursery for low blood sugar on day 2, and was put on a bottle regiment until discharge, but I have not experienced the real trauma of my baby not being well. To anyone who has, my heart is with you always, and you may not want to read ahead. You have lived the unimaginable, and that is a completely different and deeper kind of birth trauma than my birth story here. <3

I was induced Friday, December 15th, 2017 for sustained high blood pressure and a below 20th percentile belly circumference. High Blood pressure is, rightfully, taken very seriously in pregnancy. I have always had extremely healthy, low blood pressure, and had a very healthy pregnancy that included daily exercise, so this BP stuff was unavoidable. It was 11 days before my calculated due date and 14 days before my OB “official” due date. Two amazing OBs debated my induction, and it wasn’t unanimous. Nevertheless, to be safe, I was admitted at 7 pm, 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated (could have been worse!) I began the drug cytotec around midnight to efface my cervix, and had a second round Saturday morning at 8 am. Thus began our long wait for Alba—who at this point may also have been Ciara (Irish sp. of Keira).

I utilized the Hypnobabies program, which is a wonderful meditation technique to ease labor pain through visualization and affirmation. It was something I had researched thoroughly and been practicing with Matt for months. We enjoyed it and had a lot of faith that it could work for our personality types and birth wishes. I listened to it almost constantly from the time I started Pitocin to induce labor on Saturday afternoon. My birth plan was to use Hypnobabies tracks and meditation/ breathing as pain abatement rather than an epidural. I also wanted to spend most of my laboring time in the tub. Having been privy as Doula to 4 Pitocin inductions at this point, I knew that Pitocin contractions can sometimes make it more difficult to go without an epidural since they can be rapid and strong. I also knew that the constant Pitocin drip and blood pressure monitoring ruled out tub time, so I was bummed, but excited to meet my baby and get labor rolling! I had seen Pitocin turned up to 10 with my 2nd and 3rd Doula births, both of which were 41 week gestations. I was 38 weeks gestation, and after 7 hours, around midnight, my Pitocin was turned up to 20, which is the highest dose my hospital gives. At 2:30 am on Sunday morning, I was dilated 3 cm. (Does anyone else hate cervical checks more than late stage labor?! Minimize your cervical checks to as few as safely possible!)

My OB broke my water just before 3 am. She was the OB who had admitted me before she left at 7 pm on Friday. She was back on Saturday morning at 7 am (after a 12 hour break) and was on for another 24 hour straight shift until 7 am Sunday morning, so we were pretty confident that she would catch for us, which was exciting because I had really bonded with her during the course of my pregnancy. From week 18, she had been the voice in my ear telling me to consider an epidural, which I was always open to, and after she broke my water and I instantly started to feel intense contractions, she came over to me, sat on the bed and said “Natural, unmedicated birth can be beautiful for some people. It can also be very, very traumatic. If you think you might want an epidural, I want you to call for it immediately because it might take a while to arrive.” Another presence I was thankful for was Hali Hemingway, my Doula! Unfortunately, we had such a long, boring 30 hour process of effacement and dilation that we decided to wait until I was 3 cm to call Hali since it was my first baby, and things tend to go slowly. You will see why that was a miscalculation momentarily!

From 1-3 cm, I felt mild cramps while meditating, reading, walking, and hanging out. As soon as my OB broke my waters, I felt totally different, which of course I was expecting, but it hit me like a freight train. Matt called Hali and I went to the bathroom immediately and totally emptied my body in every way possible. Mind you, I’m dragging along my Pitocin fluids, and I had the worst IV placement, bleeding everywhere. After my nightmare bathroom trip broke the ice, my wonderful nurse helped me to undress and change over to a water-proof Pitocin set-up so I could get in the shower and I was SO EXCITED to have that substitution for the tub — I love warm water therapy! By 3:15ish I was in the shower, but continuing to throw up. Matt was helping me to stand and get through my contractions. By this time, my contractions were coming in rapid waves, sometimes a minute long and closer than a minute apart- about every 45 seconds. Contractions or “birthing waves” came regularly after my water was broken, and then they were absolutely on top of each other with little to no space in between. So just as I learned what a real contraction felt like, and how to move my mind and body through it as a first time birther, another would come so quickly that I didn’t have time to catch my breath between them, ask questions, or prepare for the next. Things had progressed SO QUICKLY that my brain just couldn’t catch up with what was happening. The pain and frequency had come on so abruptly and was so unearthly intense that my mind had no space to comprehend what was happening, and I just felt really confused. Many women describe the feeling of full contractions from 7-10 cm as a drowning sensation because you can’t catch your breath or “reach the surface.” This is also how Matt describes his kidney stones, as “totally unrelenting.” All I remember being able to get out between breaths is “why are my contractions coming so fast?” No one answered me because I don’t think Matt or my nurse knew. My nurse said it was just normal labor. I couldn’t process the possibility that my vomiting and spaceless contractions were a sign of transition, which is obvious in retrospect, so I told myself that I was weak, that it had only been a few minutes so I couldn’t POSSIBLY be more than 4-5 centimeters dilated. If I couldn’t cope with this, how would I make it through transition? How would I push and birth my baby if it felt so hard, just minutes into my labor? And when I looked at Matt and my nurse, I saw disappointment in their faces, rather than the deep concern they actually felt.

I will never understand why our first inclination is to doubt ourselves- how does that serve evolution? The memory of what turned out to be my transition while standing in the shower is one of the saddest and hardest memories from my birth. I coach and train women to trust and honor themselves through the sacred birth journey, and I hated myself in my deepest and most heroic moments of birthing. I couldn’t have been in the shower for more than 30 minutes because Hali, my Doula angel, was standing in my room as I got out and dried off, and I know she got there quickly. I was doubled over, grasping the end of the bed, no strength left to stand after being hit again, and again, and again with these birthing waves. The next day I couldn’t lift my arms or hold Alba without support because my arms were stiff and useless from squeezing the bar in the shower and the end of the bed with my full power. Hali’s presence made me feel instantly more relaxed, and I confided in her that I wanted to order the epidural because it had only been 45 minutes and I felt like my body was about to give out, so I needed to conserve energy for pushing. It must have been close to 3:45 am when the anesthesiologist walked in (ie not long at all) and he was immediately put off by the intensity and frequency of my contractions. The nurse told him I was 3 cm at my last measurement and had only been laboring for about 45 minutes. He said it looked more like 10 cm and instead of interpreting this as his concern for placing an epidural, I interpreted it as failure on my part—God, I made labor look harder than it was! I wondered how I could have overestimated myself to such a degree. As I sat on the side of the hospital bed, and Matt held my hands down between my legs in order to arch my back and keep me from moving for the epidural placement, my contractions were back to back, and I was blacking out. I apparently signed an epidural release, talked to Matt, but remember none of it. All I remember from this time is the most insane, primal urge to slip off the side of the bed, squat, and PUSH. I felt like Alba was just going to slip out of me and I was flexing my thigh muscles to hold her in. After some fierce animal-like mouth breathing through clenched teeth (that I think scared Matt a little) I could finally find the breath to articulate that I HAD. TO. PUSH. My mind, again, dealing with all that pain, couldn’t comprehend the possibility that I was actually 10 cm and ready to have my baby after just 45 minutes of labor, so I panicked, wondering why I felt the pressure. Luckily, Matt was calm and stepped in, telling the STILL reluctant (and equally confused) nurse to check my dilation. She did, and Alba was crowning with a head full of dark hair!

Matt called Hali in, the anesthesiologist grabbed nurses from across the hall to make the table for my birth, and I got to push which was THE. BEST. FEELING. after what I had been going through from 3-4 am. The nurses did an overview of optimal pushing techniques for me and adrenaline kicked in– pushing was my thing! I thought. I liked being able to feel the pressure and relief, which were great for guiding me on how to bare down and maneuver her out. I did feel her favoring the left side as she came out, but overall, pushing was a heavenly experience after birthing waves. Alba was in a perfect anterior position, but that slight angle at which she descended, my quick dilation, and my first-timer anatomy did cause quite the exit wound from my little bullet baby! I pushed for about 20 minutes, holding Hali’s hand. Matt was holding an oxygen mask to my face, and the new nurses who didn’t get the memo about my “quiet birthing vibe” were cheering me on and encouraging me to push as hard and fast as I wanted. Their noisy cheering was rubbing off on Matt, and I remember just focusing on Hali, who seemed to be giving off a nimbus of light, and being so relieved when my OB arrived after being awakened (also surprised I progressed so quickly). She looked into my eyes, just like she did when she broke my water, and told me to listen to my body, and focus on her and me, and no one else. Alba was out and on my chest, pink and squealing at 4:21 am. I tell everyone this, but the first thing I thought was how insanely beautiful she was. I did also notice my doctor really focused on my placenta birth followed by my stitches for close to an hour, which is a really long time! I asked about what had happened several times, wondering to what degree I tore, etc. I was pretty much ignored and told to focus on baby. In retrospect, that was not really the way to handle it. Their response to my very normal, contained concern made me feel like I was over-worrying about nothing, and that I didn’t need to know. The OBs who looked in on me after birth didn’t even check me or acknowledge my borderline 3rd degree front to back tear. It upset me at the time and still does now, because I didn’t heal for the first 14 weeks postpartum, I’m still not fully healed 11 months later, and I may never be.

The hospital was busy and we weren’t moved to mother baby recovery until about 12 hours after Alba’s birth. Unfortunately, no one from the hospital Lactation group visited us in Labor and Deliver. As a first time breastfeeder, and mother to a small “early term” baby, lactation help was a huge priority for me and I was disappointed. The very busy L&D nurses did their absolute best to help me nurse Alba in between babies being born down the hall, and some of their advice really helped. However, I didn’t have a lot of colostrum, Alba’s mouth was especially tiny, even for a 6 pounder, and her blood sugar wobbled, so she was pricked for her levels every hour. I finally saw Lactation for the first time at noon, 32 hours after Alba was born. They were not able to help latch her, but did remove the little colostrum I had made with a syringe and I fed her. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough after Alba’s luge ride through the birth canal, and her blood sugar continued to dip. We started giving Alba supplemental bottles with our lovely baby nurse on Monday, but by nighttime, after many more attempts at breastfeeding, she started to tremble in her swaddles, and was whisked off to the nursery. I was told she may need to be given an IV and the thought of needles in her tiny, delicate body tore my very hormonal heart out. Matt was at home walking our dogs when all of this happened, of course, and when he returned, I promptly fell to pieces and pumped as much as they would let me. I actually ended up only ever making 2 oz of colostrum total. My milk came in with a fever and hard breast lumps on Day 3 (probably from the insane amount of pumping I did), but I continued to fight hard for supply with Alba’s latching issues throughout the months ahead. Alba ended up only needing to be bottlefed by nurses, and not needing an IV. Her blood sugar stabilized quickly since she was otherwise healthy, and we were able to go home on Tuesday, December 19th!

Those first two weeks at home learning to breastfeed and trying to physically recover were a hormonal blur. My Doulas encapsulated my placenta, and I’m so glad I took all 130 pills because I really struggled with waves of self-scrutiny, -hatred, -doubt, as my hormones evened out. Alba gained weight, but very slowly, and that is hard on any mother. We were referred to an IBCLC, and only left the house for those appointments since walking, lifting, and normal activities were tough on my healing body. The weeks after giving birth were possibly a harder “labor” than we had at the hospital, as we learned and struggled and never slept when my Mom was away, driven in determination by sheer force of LOVE for this beautiful girl and our world that she had totally turned upside down. Matt took weeks off of work, learned how to do everything but breastfeed perfectly, and was my Beacon when I felt adrift at sea at times. We literally shared shifts so that one of us was always awake with Alba (even when she was sleeping) for the first 2 months! We just had to be staring at her at all times. Guessing we won’t do that with #2. My experience has made me extremely passionate about postpartum doula work, and the emphasis that society places on getting mothers through pregnancy and delivery, rather than the initial days and weeks at home. I’m planning on getting licensed for placenta encapsulation, and I’m compiling some special postpartum recipes for my future doula clients. Looking back, I have achieved a lot of peace after my birth experience, but that is largely because of working through it, talking through it, and sharing my story. I hope I can bring peace to others through my Doula work. Most of all, I hope I can share this story with Alba one day, so she knows that her Mama is tough and fought hard to get her here, fought hard to breastfeed her, and will always, always fight hard for her. The only thing more transformative than my birthing experience is the daily bliss of being your Mama, Alba!

“Beautiful Girl, look at the amazing things you can do!”
(Quote from the bracelet I wore during Alba’s birth)

The REAL Deal Cookies & Breast Cancer Awareness

halloween real deal chocolate chip cookiesI’m so excited that I’ll be attending Danielle Walker’s tour for the Eat What You Love cookbook, the 4th of her Paleo cookbook series. It’s her first time in Raleigh, NC! If you’re going, send me a message or comment below. I would love to meet up at the event or beforehand!

Though I take a simpler approach to my recipes, and I have enjoyed following MANY other paleo and primal influencers over these years, Danielle’s Against All Grain cookbook was my earliest inspiration and my ultimate savior for gut and autoimmune health. I am forever grateful to her for taking this journey and inspiring so many others along the way — she truly has the reigning aesthetic in primal lifestyle! I Love Danielle, her precious family, and I can’t wait to meet her! She is, without a doubt, the real deal.

To celebrate my ticket purchase (but really to keep myself away from the tempting Halloween candy we have), I made Danielle’s Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies— the nut/grain/gluten/sugar/dairy free version! I added the sugar-free chocolate Halloween sprinkles…Matt and I both love sprinkles 🙂

Find the recipe here.  Buy tickets to join me in January here.

With the month coming to a close, and All Souls’ Day approaching next week, I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this disease is still robbing us of women and mothers in their prime. One of my college roommates fought cancer and introduced me to earlier.org which encourages early screenings, and is a great place to get (re)involved with this worthy cause. Personally, breast cancer has stolen two of the women I admired most in my life in the last year. Both of these women were incredibly supportive of my journey to better health through nutrition and natural healing, and I have them to thank for getting me started on this road 4 years ago.

Maria taught me so much about being a Doula. She shared literature, stories, and experiences that, in just 3 meetings for tea/coffee, transformed me forever as a Doula and human being. We had so many common interests, and talked for hours. She was the most spiritually connected person I have ever met. And when she found out I was pregnant, she messaged me about all the things she could pass on to me as I entered motherhood, both physical gifts and spiritual ones. She left behind a son and small daughter 2 weeks after Alba was born.

My Mom’s best friend Janice encouraged me, attended my essential oils seminars, and even held one at her house in support of me. She was brilliant and vibrant, the type of person who lit the room. She gave me the cheese dome in this picture and I keep it out always (and try to keep it filled!) so that I get to remember her every day. Specifically, I want to embody her joie de vivre, and her unwillingness to deny any of the delicious and beautiful things that life has to share with us. We have to be willing to take it in like she was. We only get one chance. Take the trip, buy the art, eat the fucking cookies.

I hope to pass on a piece of each of these women to our daughter.

mary oliver quote

 

 

 

Paleo Blueberry Muffins

Paleo Blueberry Muffins are my favorite snack to bring my Doula clients! I’ve been experimenting with recipes lately because my plan is to stock my freezer for late pregnancy and early newborn days. This is a great time of year to freeze blueberry muffins so you can take advantage of summer’s delicious in-season blueberries! I’m getting a list of healthy, hearty, filling, easy-to-reheat recipes together for a week of cooking and baking at Thanksgiving before my baby gets here, so look for more freezer friendly food on the blog then!

Paleo Blueberry Muffins are at the top of my freezer list because blueberries are a “galactagogue,” meaning they promote milk production. I’ll also be sharing a paleo lactation cookie recipe soon!

Please comment below if there was something you really enjoyed having on hand during late pregnancy and early breastfeeding days! Matt and I are also thinking about doing a meal service plan like Blue Apron or Sunbasket so we are not dependent on take out or processed foods, and can really control what is going into our bodies and into my breastmilk.

By the way, these muffins aren’t just for lactating Moms! They are great for kids & husbands too, and my co-workers REALLY enjoyed the batch I made them this week! It’s so fun to surprise people with tasty treats by introducing them to delicious sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free options (but always give them the nut warning for almond flour!)

And Mondays always need a little more cheer 🙂

Paleo Blueberry Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

You will need 30 minutes and

  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2-3 tbsp honey or maple syrup for sweetness
  • 1/2 cup of coconut or almond milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line tin with muffin cups
  3. Mix almond flour, salt, and baking soda together
  4. Mix wet ingredients separately
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients and fold in blueberries
  6. Bake for 20+ minutes until a dry toothpick can be removed
  7. Set to cool on a wire rack!! If you are freezing, i would double or even triple this recipe, which is easy to do and still works!

silicone muffin wrapper

Doula Life: 3 postpartum foods for healing and lactation

The sole baby girl I was expecting this spring/summer birth season was born early this morning! I still can’t get over how perfect little Beatrice is and how strong her Mama was throughout.

A Galactagogue (great word!!!) is a food, herb, or supplement that aids breast milk supply. Prior to leaving for the hospital, I had prepared the following foods for my client to promote healing for her and baby, to promote lactation, and to intensify her nutrient stores. These could be some great meals for new moms out there, doulas, or just shiny, healthy people looking for whole food, nutrient dense recipes!

Slow baked salmon, kale and quinoa with lemon, fennel, and dill seasoning

In a sheet pan, I slow roasted (275 F) 2 large salmon planks on a bed of spinach, kale and pre-cooked quinoa, covered in lemon and fennel slices, seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh dill.

Spinach, kale and other leafy greens are filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and are non-dairy sources of calcium.
Salmon is full of a special kind of fat called DHA that promotes brain growth in infants (and is found in breast milk and formula). The more DHA you eat, the more you will have in your breast milk, and it is also thought to reduce stress and postpartum depression. Quinoa and whole grains provide folic acid important in breastfeeding as well.

Chickpea and Spinach Soup (If on AIP , replace chickpeas with cauliflower)

In a blender or food processor I combine 2 cups of cooked chickpeas, 1 bag of cooked spinach, 1 pan roasted yellow onion and 3 cloves of garlic, and 4 cups of bone broth (chicken stock). I intensify the healing power of my broth my adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to draw out the marrow goodness, and I season it with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. After that is blended well to smooth, I stir in 1 can of coconut milk.

Soup in general helps to increase milk production as it heals. Warm foods also enliven your Qi (or life force), according to Eastern tradition, and thus promote lactation and healing. Bone broth is always good for everyone after surgeries, and I love bringing it as a “get well” gift, so it is even more relevant if you have had a C-section or episiotomy.

Blueberry Oat Muffins

This recipe is coming in my next blog post! Oats, though, provide a new Mom the necessary folic acid and iron (if the tummy can take them) and blueberries are well known antioxidants and provide an energy boost when needed!

Now I’m off to get some sleep!

 

Fertility, Rites, and The Blood Moon

My friend Erin has a simple and great response when I asked her why I am so drawn both to the Catholic faith and druid/pagan folklore: “Um, because you’re Irish!”

So today is the convergence of all those things because I had my first rite of welcome at Mass and I’m performing a fertility ritual under the full blood moon tonight. If you haven’t read about the tetrad of blood moons that have occurred over the last two years…well, most likely you have. The Full Moon is absolutely linked to fertility of the earth, as I mention in my moonstruation post.

Tonight, my ritual is for all my friends who have entrusted me with their desire to become pregnant (you better hire me as your doula!) but it’s also in honor of anyone else out there who has great faith and great desire for the same thing.

Traditional items for your (outdoor) altar: white candle, rose quartz, and something that represents your desired child (a flower, doll, poem, anything!)
Then you just get as many female friends as possible to gather or send you positive energy from afar to concentrate and meditate on the fertility power of the moon goddess and wish all good things for you. This ritual is so positive and full of blessings that it will leave you feeling absolutely wonderful, regardless of how well it actually works for fertility! It is a way for us to bond, rather than compete, as women, and that is the very best part!

Super Soul Sunday

<b>Quotes</b> Ideas <b>brene</b> <b>brown</b> <b>quote</b> , <b>brene brown quotes</b> , <b>brene</b> <b>brown</b> ...

 

This quote from the fabulous Brené Brown spoke to me for many reasons. If you don’t know Brown’s perfect, honest wit and wisdom, then you should make The Gifts of Imperfection your next read! Obviously, I love and appreciate the midwife reference, especially since the midwife here is the representation of faith – how true! But I also truly love this sentiment, and think it reflects the rawness of Brené’s writing, and the experience I’ve had so far in this crazy life. Faith really isn’t what carries you through your turmoil, unscathed; faith is the thing (the midwife, the Doula) that holds your hand while you fight through the pain of bearing that turmoil. How lucky we are to have such companions along the way. Hope you’ve had a beautiful Sunday!

A Doula Testimonial

Check out A Doula testimonial below from Actress/model, Jaime King, whose new son is probably most famous for being Taylor Swift’s Godson. I honestly couldn’t have said better what Jaime articulated. I hope you catch my article TODAY on Mind Body Green–Why a Doula’s Worth the Money— and remember that my first 3 clients are free of charge.

A Doula Testimony

IMG_1391 A Doula Testimonial

 

Moonstruation: Why we should be in tune with the earth’s cycles to benefit our own

Moonstruation: Why we should be in tune with the earth's cycles to benefit our own

Have you ever look up at the moon and felt connected to it? OR felt like it connected you with someone else or everyone else? Maybe there’s something to that feeling. A majority of menstruating women with regular cycles report menses during the NEW moon and ovulation during the FULL moon. Thus many women, like me, refer to the monthly cycle as a “moon cycle.” {there’s a nice new name for it if you were looking for one!}
Women were once all in tune with the moon this way. Archaeological and historical evidence shows us that before modern diets shifted to processed foods, and even before hormonal imbalances abounded because of toxins in our environment,  women all over the world actually cycled together. From this, we have the wonderful stories of the “Red Tent” and matriarchal lineage passed through the stories of mothers, sisters, and Doulas. As women, it is most natural for us to flow with the new moon so that we are most fertile during the full moon. This is the way of the earth’s fertility and how crops grow, and at one time we were in tune with it.

Some Reasons you might want to get in tune with your Moonstruation:

– You experience frequently missed or irregular periods
– You suffer with PCOS
– You are experiencing fertility issues
– Other hormonal problems

If you want to get back to your truest moon cycle, I recommend a whole foods diet, 8+ hours of sleep a night, and rising naturally with the sun in the morning. If you can’t quite manage that, make sure your workout routine (even if it’s just walking) gets you tired enough so that you fall asleep when your head hits the pillow. It’s extremely important to cut out artificial light from your bedroom and sleep cycle, including phones and televisions. They should not enter your bedroom. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, which is hard to process through your liver along with your hormones, and finally, most importantly, meditate once a day. Honestly, I’ve noticed that simply being more aware of the moon and its phases draws me closer to my essential moon goddessness. Get in touch with your inner femininity on the full and new moon by scheduling  some “me” time with the help of  this calendar!

 

To Doula or not to Doula

When I tell people that I’m becoming a Doula, the most common response is “what do they do?” and “why do people want one?”Well my friends…I have a pretty compelling list of reasons for that I came up with last night. I know that I won’t go through my future pregnancies without a Doula, and I hope you consider all the richness that this service can add to your childbearing journey!

1. One of the most obvious reasons that I’ve come across is that asking a father or other family member to provide primary support is an extremely difficult expectation put in place by modern society. A Doula enables a father or other family member to present at their comfort level; run the gamut of feelings and fears, and still be able to remain present spiritually for the mother and child in labor.

2. Doulas are trained in massage and relaxation techniques and use bonus natural medicines like essential oils, herbal tinctures, and hypnosis pain control. You are 100% guaranteed to be more comfortable and experience less pain through these techniques. If you also choose to use a breathing technique from another class, Doulas are trained to support you in that as well. It’s like a relaxation and pain control UPGRADE.

3. The largest study to date of Doula-assisted medical births shows a major reduction in length of labor, and a 50% reduction in unnecessary C-Sections. Doulas help to moderate procedures that may not be in your birth plan if they are avoidable, such as pitocin augmentation, membrane rupture, epidural, episiotomy, or any other preference for the expecting mother.

4. A dual certified birth/ postpartum Doula is typically with you from 3 months before delivery to 3 months after. Studies show that this constant companionship and support can have a truly positive effect on a mother’s long term view of herself and her relationship with her child. This is the best part to me! What more do you need to know?

5. If you are planing your birth at a Birth Center, then you may have an individual midwife who is trained in Doula techniques and Nursing, and committed to you through your pregnancy- woohoo! If you are birthing in a hospital, then you should contact me or check out your local DONA listings for options in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum companionship!

Welcome to My New Site!

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that most journeys, especially ones toward health and well-being are taken one step at a time. My aim is to be able to share my steps toward holistic health daily, in the hope that my experience will reach someone and make a real difference in their quality of life, the way mine has been forever altered.

My new posts will include recipes, ancestral health tips, archaeological stories & findings, adventures of my doula training, thoughts on sustainable and natural living in the home and garden, and herbal and essential oil remedies. There’s something for everyone, and I’m excited about this new chapter.

Let me know what you think of the new look and if you have any recipe or topic suggestions for the coming year! I’ve got a bunch of fabulous ideas that I can’t wait to share!

Be Well,

Elisabeth

set your life on fire

Roadtrip to Atlanta!

This weekend we packed up the puppy and A TON of organic, yummy groceries and headed to Atlanta so I could see two of my best friends and their new baby girl. It was a good, rainy weekend of cooking and cuddling. I’m excited to perfect and share my recipes for you:  bison & acorn squash chili and sweet potato & blackbean enchiladas with homemade sauce are coming as soon as I catch up after my Paleo Thanksgiving cooking marathon and posts!

abigail and me

joyful.

 

moon

I’m so happy to be writing my first post on the Full Moon in Taurus. “A full moon in Taurus also coaxes us to shed the layers of our old selves, allowing the illumined authentic self to finally, truly emerge. Many of us have experienced the intensity of recent cosmic shifts, so it’s time to release the perpetual grip we still have on what no longer serves us, for good.”

Now that’s a sentiment that I can surely get behind. RELEASE the perpetual grip YOU STILL HAVE on what NO LONGER SERVES YOU. After this full moon begins to wane,the tight grip that I’ve had on all the things that do not serve the person I am becoming will loosen. I will let go. Why wait until New Year’s! I’m making a list of all the things that no longer serve me:

1.) Past hurts
2.) Unreasonable Grief
3.) Complacency in my job
4.) Processed food and harmful  “cheats” I haven’t fully let go of
5.) Excess alcohol
6.) Ever believing that I don’t deserve to be totally. joyful.
7.) Waiting until tomorrow….