Gorbachev once said “If you don’t move forward, sooner or later you begin to move backward.” For a long time I have been doing nothing with myself. I became complacent where I was. Becoming better got lost in surviving the day. And I began moving backwards. It's a terrifying proposition, loosing skills and abilities you once had solely because you don't use them. Once realized, I began to combat this and move forwards again.
Every doula meeting I have been to recently has had me thinking, "you need to get into postpartum work". We had a panel of doulas at our local doula group, and I said to myself, hey, that's where I need to be. And then I went to the Empowering Fearless Birth Expo, and heard, Heng Ou speak about her book, The First forty days (read my blog post about it here), I thought, I need to better support women postpartum.
As I've gone, I've been implementing things in my doula work, and my life in general that support a healthy postpartum period. I ask clients what their plans are for their postpartum period. I visit friends and family members who have had a baby with food and offering childcare or housework as needed. I am so ready to learn better how to support in the postpartum time.
Now I am taking the time for myself to learn. I found a training that I really love, and comes highly recommended. CAPPA Postpartum doula training. I'm scared, because I don't know where the money is coming for it. But I'm also taking this step, in faith that it will come around to be beneficial. For the first time, I feel like I actually want to get certified in something.
As part of my plan, I am offering ANY mother one FREE appointment to help them make a postpartum plan. I want her to recognize, what I didn't. That she may have an awesome family, but unless she asks she may not get what she wants and needs postpartum. And I want her to know what options are available to her, different practitioners and practices, like belly binding, massage, and counseling that will aid her recovery, both physically and mentally.
Becoming a mother is a life changing event. Mom's need support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I would love to support mothers throughout the entire time, as her doula and postpartum doula. Only one practitioner to find. Only one fee to pay. Check out my packages on my Services page.
If you are anything like me, you are horribly behind the times, and not very tech savvy. But your husband, or your quirky brother in law, keep talking to you, to try to pull you into the 21st century. Well, that happened to me. My sister's crazy husband just got into Bitcoin, or rather Ethereum mining. It's all cryptocurrency, and I really have no idea what it means, except that you use a computer, and it does it's thing, and you make money. It kind of makes sense to me, but not really.
Anyways, the same brother in law suggested that I start accepting bitcoin as payment for my services as a doula. It sounded kind of crazy, but I'm going to try it out. Maybe if tech savvy husbands could use their cryptocurrency to pay for the doula their wives need, they'll be more on board with it? I don't know. Maybe there's a tech savvy lady out there, who needs some postpartum care?
So, here's the deal. I will give you 10% off if you pay for any of my doula services in Ether, or Bitcoin. Whichever you have laying around. I'll give you a time window for when payment is due. You choose the best day to pay me, with however much is equivalent to the cost of services on that day. Contact me for more information.
In the end. I want every woman who wants support for her family to have it. I'm willing to try new things, like trading in Ether, if it means you get what you need.
I believe that God has a way of giving us the things we need. He sees our work and says, hey, she could use that. Sometimes I wish it came in a different form. Recently I wish it came in the form of clients. God saying, "Oh, you've been working on your website, and trying to network, and meet new people? Here's some clients." But that is not how it has worked. Instead it came in the form of another opportunity. Another way to grow.
About a month ago, I walked into my local WIC clinic, to do what I needed to. As I was doing it, I noticed a sign. Needed: Peer breastfeeding counselor, Bilingual Spanish, 10 hours a week. Hmmm, that sounds perfect, except the Spanish. How do you say breast, in Spanish? Pecho. Anything else? Nipple? Breastfeeding? Latch? Nothing, I've got no knowledge of the vocabulary for that. But I had the rest of the requirements, and vocabulary is easy to learn. So I applied. And I fretted about having to dye my hair normal colors (blue isn't exactly professional, and it kind of draws attention to itself). But it felt right.
So I did it.
And I got the job!
I started a couple weeks ago, and it's so fun. I get to help women breastfeed, and support them in their journey into motherhood. I get to teach women who might not be the best off, financially, to give their babies the best go at life. I get to laugh and cry, and commiserate with them. I get to be a positive voice about breastfeeding, for someone who might not hear that at all, but wants to do her best for her baby. It doesn't sound easy, but it sounds worth it.
What have you done that was hard, but something you knew you needed to do?
Every woman is unique, and we all deserve to be celebrated. Each Wednesday, I will be celebrating one woman who has changed my life. There is no rhyme or reason to who gets picked. I hope you can celebrate the women in your life, too!
I would love to see or hear about how you are supporting the women in your life!
Life is about moving, growing, and changing. Its about learning and adding new skills. Its about finding a better way to love and live. Every day we have a chance to change something, to be better, to broaden our horizons. In the last few weeks, I have been learning lots of new things. I took a class on postpartum belly binding. I love this idea, and want to share it with all the women I know.
I learned the Bengkung technique from a friend Bree Moore at Positive Birth Learning. She is a doula in my area who teaches classes on belly binding, and I loved her class. Her lessons taught me how and why to do belly binding, and I wanted to share that with everyone. I think every woman who's had a baby should invest in this service. No, this is not my scheme to get rich, I think the benefits greatly outweigh price tag.
Bengkung belly binding comes from Malaysia. It has been used for generations, to help mom heal after birth. The basic idea is that a long piece of cotton fabric is wrapped around mother's midsection and tied in the front for stability, from her pubic bone all the way up to her sternum. Because Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone that allows the pelvis to open for birth, is still present in the body for weeks after birth, our bodies are malleable and often feel squishy. Binding with cotton, or other non-stretchy fabrics, gives our changing bodies the support they need to return to the shape they should be.
There are many benefits to binding, but I think my favorite is that it makes us rest. Women in Malaysia stay in bed for the majority of their first six weeks postpartum. This is not really possible in American Culture. We are expected to have our pre-pregnancy bodies back when we return to work six weeks after baby. Everyone asks how our maternity leave "vacation" was. It's really laughable. Belly binding counteracts this. It is impossible to keep a belly bind in place and comfortable when constantly up and moving. To keep it in place, one must lay in bed, nursing, and resting. I try to do my belly binds just before bed, to allow maximum wear. Mom can rest all night, with it on, helping her body heal as she sleeps. I suggest that all women bind for at least 5 days postpartum, longer if possible. Asking for help from friends or family, or hiring a postpartum doula, if possible, allow mom to stay in bed with baby, resting from the huge ordeal that is pregnancy, birth, and learning how to care for baby.
There are many physical benefits to Belly binding. It helps stomach muscles re-knit together, reducing diastasis recti. It brings hip bones back where they should be, for proper alignment, and supports proper breastfeeding. It does this by keeping mom's torso straight. Many breastfeeding moms, myself included,slouch over, bringing their breast to baby, instead of baby to breast, despite the warnings of all lactation consultants and nurses. This causes stress and pain in the upper back. When properly wrapped, and propped at an angle in bed, as opposed to sitting up straight in your new fancy glider, you can bring baby to your breast, and allow his body to rest on yours, causing less stress to your poor shoulders. I'm not saying you can't nurse sitting up, binding will help if you do, but allowing gravity to work with you and not against you makes it a lot easier.
I really think every woman should have the individual support that bengkung belly binding offers. Yes there are many girdles that say they do all these things. But none with give you the tailored fit a personalized belly bind will. None offer the breathablity of cotton. None support all the way up to your chest, comfortably. None have generations of use and tradition.
Let me help you help your body heal with a postpartum bind. I can bind you, and teach you how to bind yourself, so you can continue as long as you want.
Last month I attended the Empowering Fearless Birth Expo, here in Salt Lake City. It was a wonderful place to connect with wonderful women who empower and enable other women to do their research, and decide how they want their birth experience to go. There were all sorts of booths showing everything a mother could want to enrich her experience. Everyone I talked to had a great time, and learned a lot. I didn't make it to the film festival they had, but I heard it was amazing. I did manage to carve out time for one of the key note speakers addresses, by Heng Ou. And I'm so glad I did.
Heng Ou has written a book, The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother, that has been instrumental in putting me on a path where I can best serve women. Her insight and background in Chinese medicine, have changed the way I want to support women. I have spent my doula career focused mostly on pregnancy and preparing women for birth. Birth is an important time in a woman's life, and I thoroughly believe it can make or break a mother for the rest of her life. But birth is at most a 3 day experience (hopefully a lot less). According to her book, women should take a minimum of 40 days to take a break from the world, heal, bond with their new baby, and ease into the new normal of being postpartum. She, and I, shun the idea that women should bounce back to what they were pre-pregnancy. Motherhood brings so much to a woman. So much more capacity to love and serve and be. Life will never be the same. Every gateway we pass through, puberty, motherhood, menopause, changes us, and always for the better. My new focus will be more on the experience as a whole, and not just as a birth or postpartum experience separately.
In Heng Ou’s book she describes what it was like, having her aunt, a traditional Chinese herbalist, come and care for her after the birth of her first son. How she always had warm food, and couldn't take a bath because it would cool her chi. She admits that our (American) society, does little, if anything to support new moms, and offers suggestions on how to rally support for yourself, if you are pregnant, or how to best support, if you love someone who just had a baby.
I think my favorite part is just the idea that we need to start planning for our postpartum period specifically. When I had my last son, I assumed, erroneously, that my family and friends would step in and help out. By the time I realized I needed help, I was so far into a depression that I literally didn't think myself worthy of help, and had no idea who or how to ask. I don't want any other woman to feel like I did, which is why I am such an advocate of this. Heng Ou talks about planning a time where your friends can come support and celebrate you! The women you choose, not necessarily your mother and mother in law, like in ancient China, share words of wisdom and peace with you, and they share the work as you start to fill your freezer with nourishing bone broths and other soups that will sustain you in the first few weeks (delicious recipes included).
While most women won't be able to stay in bed, with baby for the whole 40 days, Heng Ou suggests five insights that will help strengthen and protect you and your newborn baby. Retreat, warmth, support, rest, and ritual are essential to the well-being of mothers. How you incorporate them into your postpartum time is for each individual. Every woman is different. As are her needs, and those of the family.
If you are pregnant, or support women who are, I highly recommend reading The First Forty Days. My copy is full of highlights and annotations. You can find it here.
Check out this printable for how you can implement her 5 insights into your postpartum period.
I love the new year! It gives me a chance to reflect on how the past year has gone, and what I want to change. I am horrible at resolutions. They always are so fleeting. But I am trying to be better at goals. I sat down seriously this last week and thought about how I wanted to be and what I wanted to change about my life this year. A lot of it was your typical I want to Facebook less, and eat less carbs. But a lot of it was, different and new, for me, at least. I want to serve and love those people around me more. This, of course starts in my family, focusing my time on my two boys and husband, my family and my friends. But it extends to the lovely people I live near, attend church with, volunteer for, and serve, as their doula. This year, I want to be less about me and more about others.
As part of this, I want to support more women, as their doula. I LOVE being a doula. I love supporting women, and their families, in making the best choices for them. I love learning about how I can be better. This year, I'm going to take a postpartum doula class. and start offering a full prenatal, birth, and postpartum package. And I want to start this year off with a bang! So I'm offering a great deal. If you book my services before February 1st, I will give you $100 off! If you are wanting a doula, but don't feel you can afford one, please talk to me. I am always willing to work for trade, or barter, work with you on a payment plan, or some insurance plans will even pay for my services. Please talk to me. I don't believe anyone should go without the support in this most important time of becoming a mother!
As always, if you have any questions, or suggestions for blog posts, please comment! I love comments!
With the current political climate I've been seeing a lot about abortion recently. I recently received an invitation to a group that is trying to legislate a stop to abortion. A noble cause, to be sure, but not attainable. We can't legislate the end of abortions. It will simply push all of those who want abortions to unhealthy, illegal options. No, to stop abortion, we need to fundamentally change several mindsets rampant in our society.
First and foremost is how we treat women. Without women, mothers, wives, sisters, and friends, our society would cease to exist. And I'm not just talking about procreation. Women, with little exception, carry, teach, nurture, and care for the young. Women and mothers should be given our utmost respect, but this is not the case. Motherhood is being shamed. Being kind and gentle is seen as weakness. A woman is blamed if she gets pregnant, or slut shamed if she enjoys sex. But this is not a one way road. Men have just as much responsibility. But instead of being berated for sexual promiscuity, they are celebrated.
In our day and age it is just as easy for men to prevent pregnancy. Wearing a condom is just as easy to remember as taking a daily pill. But still, the responsibility to not get pregnant falls squarely on the shoulders of the woman. And if she does get pregnant, the "father" might just disappear. He's not ready for the commitment. News flash, neither is she, but she doesn't have the option to just disappear. She has to make a hard life choice: does she keep the baby, try to raise him on her own? Or give the baby up for adoption? Or choose abortion? None of these choices leave her free like the boy who impregnated her and walked away.
If she chooses to raise the baby, she might be shamed for single motherhood, condemned for uncrossing her legs, as it were. Perhaps seen as a welfare mom, only having kids to get her monthly check, whether she works or not.
Adoption is a hard thing; choosing to give your baby to someone else. To live, knowing a part of you is gone, but also thinking it may be for the best.
On the surface, abortion seems the easiest choice. One quick procedure, and you are free again. But are you? Many women, up to 93℅, who have had an abortion regret it afterwards.
Our society fails to assist all of these women. Low income mothers may be able to get the healthcare and physical help they need through welfare programs, but do they have the emotional support? Raising a baby is so much more then food, clothes, and shelter. It is having a village around to support you, where you are not the only one taking care of your baby, and yourself. It is having someone to call when your baby won't stop crying, or when you can’t.. This is something lacking in our culture, not just in low income families, but everywhere. If you are lucky, when you have a baby, maybe a few friends will bring you dinner, maybe your mother will come stay for a couple weeks. But some are not that lucky. Some women, single or not, have to be everything to that baby, while having no one to turn to, no one to help.
Likewise, women who choose adoption may not get the help they need. Yes, baby will be taken care of, loved and provided for by a new family, but that mother, who gave up her baby, she's hurting physically and emotionally, too. She needs support, just as much as the adoptive mom who just got the best present ever.
There are a many things that we can do as a society, to help support mothers, whatever their choices, and minimize the conditions that encourage abortions. In addition to good maternity care, Congress can mandate paid maternity and paternity leave, allowing new parents more time to care for baby without stress for money or losing their job. As a society we should be more supportive of all parents. Bring them meals, or come over and help them around the house, so she can take care of baby, or take care of baby so she can sleep, shower, or get out of the house. We have lost the mindset of "It takes a village to raise a child."
A few months ago, I started writing this blog. I started with a post about breastfeeding week because I think it is so important, and women need more support to be successful! This is one of my passions. But I've been thinking about it, and wanted to write a little bit more about me, and why I became a doula, and what I'm doing to be a better doula, and why everyone should have a doula.
When I was 12 years old, I had the privilege of being there for the birth of one of my brothers. I was under prepared for it, but it was beautiful. My mother had my brother "naturally", without epidural, and though I didn't think about it at the time, I was very impacted by it. My mom had never really talked about her birthing experiences, but I knew I wanted to do it like she had. She always had a more natural approach to health, giving us echinacea, garlic, and vitamin C when any of us kids got sick. Rarely did we go to the doctor or hospital. But we did go, for broken bones, or sicknesses that weren't fixed with herbs and vitamins. That mentality just spilled over into my life, and thus, my pregnancy labor and birth. Birth is not a usually a medical emergency, though it is treated that way in the hospitals.
Fast forward to 14 years later. I was pregnant with my first child, a boy, and while I didn't pause to think why, I wanted to do the same thing, and have my baby without drugs. It was just what I felt ingrained in me. I asked my friends about their doctors and went to a natural birthing class. The class was taught by a doula, and I knew that I wanted one. But we were newly married college kids, and didn't have money for a doula, so I put it out of my mind, and prepared as I could. A few weeks later, I was talking with a co-worker, about birth, and she asked if I wanted a doula. I said I did, but didn't have money to pay one. She said she'd been trained as a doula, helping teen moms, and would love to be my doula, free of cost! I was ecstatic! She visited me a couple of times, talking about how things might go. She came when I thought I was in labor a week before my due date. Alas, nothing came of it, just some contractions. She suggested I walk, have sex, and enjoy the last bit of my pregnancy. A week and a half after my due date my doctor(who wasn't as nice as I'd thought) forced me into an induction. I don't remember much outside of my brain during labor, but I know I had a great team of people behind me, and I know my doula was there.
With my second, I didn't have a specific doula, but my mom and sister were there, helping me, talking me through. I have never felt so supported and loved as I did then, with everyone working to help me. In the months following my second's birth I decided to become a doula. And I have loved every minute of it.
I took the DONA certification class, though I'm not certified though them. I loved being with other women who were the same as me; who loved birth, and wanted to help women, and weren't afraid to be different from the status quo.
I volunteer at University hospital to get more experience. It has been great, and, on top of experience, I have also received training in breastfeeding, using a rebozo to help mom more comfortable and help baby turn, and about how to support a woman with an epidural. It has been great so far.
In February of this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to take an Advance doula training through Birth Learning . We discussed all sorts of topics, from prenatal interviews, to postpartum care. It was truly an uplifting experience. Not only did I gain experience, I also gained mentors and friends to work with.
As thought of how to better serve my clients, I found an acupressure class to help minimize pregnancy related concerns; promote a natural, shorter, more comfortable and positive birth experiences; and minimize post partum concerns. Nick Olow of AcuMassage taught a great class. I strive to use these techniques in my daily life, as well as my practice.
In December I get to take a breastfeeding class from Julie Johnson IBCLC. I am so excited to learn from her, and be able to better support my clients who choose to nurture their baby in this way.
In the future, I am looking forward to talking classes specifically in Postpartum Care, learn Spinning babies techniques, and so much more! I love the chance to learn and grow, and would love to use my skills to support you on your journey into motherhood whether this is your first or forth time becoming a mother.
Leave a comment on what trainings you have loved the most.