Elderberry To The Rescue- How We Fight Off Fall and Winter Germs

mwt-elderberry

What is Elderberry and why it’s a mandatory staple in our house for the fall and winter months?

Elderberry is one of the most common herbs used for seasonal wellness.

Used for colds and flu primarily, they contain: organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid,vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C.

They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic.

Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries.

According to test tube studies these flavonoids include anthocyanins that are powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage.

Elderberries also have a really pleasant taste, are safe for kiddos and for pregnant or nursing mamas as well.

Every fall/winter we make a simple elderberry syrup to take daily

1-2TBS/day for prevention, every few hours to treat illness -roughly 1-3 tsp. for kids 2 and up.

((Though with my daughter she received it as young as 1 year.))

elderberry-syrup-recipe

Syrup Ingredients:

 * ⅔- 1 c. of dried elderberries
*3-4 c. water ( some recipes use apple cider instead!)
*2 tbs ginger
*½ tsp black pepper
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1 tbs licorice
*½ tsp. Cloves
*½ tsp nutmeg(optional)

 Place all herbs in a pot.

Add water.

Bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Strain herbs using a mesh strainer and/or cheese cloth.

Combine the liquid with raw honey

(depending on how sweet you like your syrup use 1:1 ratio or ½:1 ratio.

So 1 cup of honey to 1 cup of syrup or 1 c. of honey to 2 c. syrup) or anywhere in between.

Other recipes use closer to 1 c. honey to 3 c. liquid decoction (the boiled liquid from roots/berries).

Stir.

Pour into glass jar or amber bottle.

Store in fridge for a month or so.

Make sure to label with dates for optimal freshness!

We have also loved turning our Elderberry Syrup into Gummy Snacks.

(great as a daily treat, or to munch on when your feeling under the weather)

elderberry-gummies-recipe

Gummy Ingredients:

 * Silicone Molds Or A Glass Pan
( you can cut them into squares once gelled)
*Beef Gelatin Powder
*2 Cups of Liquid

Mix 1 c. of cold syrup with 3 TBS gelatin.

Heat the other cup of syrup and then add to the mixture.

Whisk.

Pour into molds and put in the fridge for an hour or two. Voila!

Mama Wellness Tip- Finding your Happy Womb Breath

 

Use this quick and easy breathing meditation whenever you need to feel connected and restful.

Especially great to ease cramps or feelings of anxiety !

Click below to view the Happy Womb Breath Video and create your happy womb.

http://bit.ly/HappyWombVideo


Are you a mama struggling to find her way through the sea of information that is out there?

I would love to work one on one with you so you feel totally empowered and ready to make all the best choices for you and your little one.

Click here to book your breakthrough session

 

Junia and Elliott’s Birth Story

Finding out I was having twins was probably the only real and true shock I’ve ever had in my life.  My husband was 4 hours away at his PhD program in Minneapolis so we were FaceTiming him in while my dear friend came with me to the 20 week scan.  We were just planning to find out the sex.  I hate getting tests done, especially ones that involve poking me, so Betsy was there for moral support.  She, the mother of five, happens to love ultrasounds.

When we saw the two little heads bobbing on the screen immediately after the wand was placed on my belly, it was obvious what we were looking at.

The sonagrapher asked timidly as she confusedly looked at her paperwork and then back at the screen “have you had any appointments yet?”

Oh shit.

….

We had been trying an awkward commute situation from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis so Bryan could work on his PhD and I could keep our great babysitter, and all of my jobs there in Sioux Falls (a Birth Collective turning into a birth center, a small health food store, my yoga students, my coaching clients…) It became obvious those things were going to need to be left behind for a bigger better picture of my future I couldn’t yet envision. And the separation had already been way too hard on all three of us (Bryan, me and our almost 2 year old Fiona).

Skipping over the details of how God managed to get us out of the lease we were in and set us up with campus family housing, we packed up and moved in -4 degree weather to Minneapolis, 33 weeks pregnant with my di/di twins.

My Symphysis Pubis Pain was so bad I could barely separate my legs. Everything was excruciating.  Thankfully a wonderful chiropractor helped to relieve most of it and I was able to walk (albeit every time with braxton hicks) much better. By the time we hit 35 weeks I was starting to feel ready.

The full moon brought cluster after cluster of contractions and sleeplessness.  Restlessness. It was a Monday before I went into labor, I was 37+3 with my di/di twins.  It felt like a storm.  Clusters of uncomfortable braxton hicks contractions with a few more serious ones thrown in.  Followed by nothing.  Kept me up all night. I tried a shower, little clary sage, raspberry nettles infusion. Nothing.

Tuesday I was exhausted in all ways.  Everything made me agitated. I felt disappointed and impatient.  In ways I never felt waiting for my daughter’s arrival.  Thankfully, I have a very patient and wise husband and a great woman named Elsa we had hired to come help me with laundry and dishes and Fiona (not quite 2) who had become a great friend.

natural twin birth

37 weeks with the twins!

Wednesday morning came, I woke up still pregnant.  I had been so focused on making it to 36 weeks with these lovies that I didn’t consider what to do if I went far past that. But I lost my mucus plug and had some contractions and got really excited in spite of myself. They slowed way down to nothing though, and I could tell it wasn’t going to pick up.  I told Bryan to go to class  but as soon as he went to leave I burst into tears.  So of course he stayed.  And I spent the whole day sleeping and eating, sleeping and eating.  Mostly apple juice and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, like a 6 year old. It was wonderful.

In the afternoon I suddenly wanted to watch Ina May’s Birth Story movie.  So we got it on iTunes and Bryan half watched from the kitchen table as he worked.  Surprisingly it was him who cried at the breech birth scene. Fiona helped me make lentil soup.

I felt happy all day.  Happy and sleepy and satiated. Bryan was convinced this was the “gathering” period and that we would be waking up late at night to go to the hospital.  I thought he might be right but I didn’t want to get my hopes up again.  Turns out he was right.

2:30 am I wake up with contractions that I think are more serious. I stay in bed. I thinkt about the idea that they could slow down..and I thinkt about the probability that they wouldn’t this time.

3:00 am I wake up Bryan to tell him he was right. I’m hesitant to move too quickly and call all the troops (doula, birth photographer, my mom, Elsa to care for Fiona…) if it isn’t going to stick.  Bryan says it’s time to go while I can still put pants on.  I listen.

4:00 am ish we leave for the hospital.  We’re in Minnesota, it’s cold and I keep all my layers on as we drive the 45 minutes to the hospital we have specifically chosen for these specific babies.  I lean on the birth ball.  My doula Kara Jo calls to check on me and pray over me. I repeat this mantra I remember from one of the The Farm midwives:

“I am feeling very open, like a flower in the morn.  Let my petals open, let my child be born.”

5:00 am ish we arrive.  Kara Jo pulls  in the parking lot at the same time.  This tiny hospital in the dark, quiet and happy.  It looks more like a tiny clinic than a hospital.  A library maybe, that accidentally left one light on.

They wheel me to the labor room that has already been set up by the charge nurse, former CNM, Stephanie.  There’s lavender diffusing and electric candles everywhere.  And they immediately get me a birth ball at my request.  Straight to the floor I lean on the ball and the contractions slow down.  For a second I entertain the thought that maybe this would slow down and stop again.  Kara Jo gently reminds me that this usually happens when mamas transition to a different place to give birth and as my body settled down and I felt safe again it would pick up.

She was very right.  I get into the large jet tub in the bathroom.  Kara Jo brings lavender and my verse that was encouraging me this pregnancy:

“There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out all fear” 1 John 4:18

natural twin birthMy birth images and prayer flags from mother blessing with Fiona are hung around the room.  A little clary sage to keep things consistent. I feel them increase and increase.  They build.  Just as I’ve watched happen to women time and time again, the intensity grows. I can hear my raga music mixed with soft hymns and a few sentimental songs like Bob Dylan’s Spanish Boots playing on my my speakers.  The rhythm is unbelievably comforting.

Kara Jo suggests I might even say the word “open” as I moan lowly through contractions.  So I do “Oooooooopen.  Ooooooooopen. Ooooooooopen.” Followed by softly “I can do this. I can do this.  I can do this.”

I don’t notice my doctor had arrived who has taken off his shoes before entering so as not to disturb me. Stephanie asks if we could put an IV port in and I agree as we’ve talked about ahead of time.  I barely notice the belly band with fetal monitors I was sure would bother me.  Stephanie ducks her head in to tell me the babies are “loving this” and doing great.

I knew they were.  As the surges move towards having no break in the waves, I start to doubt. Tears come down my face. I tell Kara Jo and Bryan who have been holding my hands that isn’t the benefit of doing this in a hospital this time that I can have drugs?  Let’s have the drugs now! I insist.  Even as I say it, and I do mean it, I know they’re smiling knowingly next to me that this means Elliott will soon arrive.

With Fiona I pushed for awhile to get her down and out, so when I started to feel the energy shift from drawing upward and collecting uterine tissue at the top of my fundus to pushing downward I thinkt I had awhile.  I know that water births aren’t officially on the menu at this hospital yet and that getting next to the tub was going to be the plan, but the “throwing down” sensation of pushing sneaks up quickly on me and as I stood up to the requests of people around me. I suddenly yell “he’s coming!” and I hear my doctor say “sit back down” so that I’m not half in and half out of the water.natural twin birth

6:51 am And out comes Elliott.  My doctor hands him to me through my legs and up to my chest he went.  “Ohmigod ohmigod I did it!” I repeat, elated.  The feeling of relief when a person emerges from you is indescribable and unbeatable. We wait just about 5 minutes and cut the cord, headed over to the bed. Elliott settled on me to search for the boob and Dr. H asks permission to see if Junia was still head down. Indeed she is. My first and only cervical check the entire pregnancy.

In my head I had decided there wouldn’t be much time between their births.  Contractions continue, though slower and less intense.  I try the birth stool, the ball.  Stephanie the nurse asks if we could do a little clary sage to keep things moving, I say yes. I begin to feel very very tired; my uterus, my brain, my legs, my emotions. Bryan holds Elliott and sings to him gently. I ask to get the tub refilled, Dr. H assures me he had already asked the nurses to do just that.

I get back into the tub and “labor down” awhile.  Just me, Kara Jo, Bryan and Elliott.  I am able to calm down in the dark, private space, as so many laboring women need: privacy and protection.  Dr. H and the nurses sit quietly outside the door listening as I search for my rhythm again.  I can feel the surges get a bit stronger, but they are still spaced apart.  Dr. H pops in his head to ask if I’ve thought about maybe rupturing her water so I don’t get too tired and neither does she.  I have realized at this point that soon after Elliott’s water had broken he had arrived.  He tells Kara Jo, Bryan and I to discuss it.

natural twin birthI’m hesitant, being a really hands off person for labor, even though my doctor assured me he would check first to make sure her head was still presenting and wouldn’t risk a cord prolapse.  I can tell Bryan feels it’s  the right decision.  I also feel very tempted by the possibility of being done.  But you can’t un-break a bag of water and I know the intensity of surges increases dramatically when the water goes.  I am honestly afraid of pushing out another person, knowing that pushing is the least enjoyable part for me.  I have to use all of my focus not to resist it. We agree to do it. Something tells me just deciding to do it would cause it to rupture.

They help me out of the tub, I walked to the birth stool.  Standing in front of it her water breaks. Relief. And then sudden dread at the immense wave of contraction I know is on its way.

9:31 am And here it is.  I muster my determination not to resist and I push into it.  I look down, I expect to see her.  Not yet.  Dr. H says ” do you see that imagnatural twin birthe of yours on the wall?  You can do that!  Reach down and catch your baby!” Another push.  Please tell me that was it.  Her head.  One more, and the rest of her came tumbling out, sunny-side up, with a gush of blood. I truly cannot believe I have done it this time.  And. It. Is. Over.

I hold Junia Moon to my chest, I quickly push out the placentas (that have fused somehow) which brings another large gush of blood and I suddenly feel all the circulation drain from my head to my feet and I lean to my left to find someone there to support me.  Dr. Hartung says he would like a bag of pitocin, I ask “whyy?”  He points out the blood on the floor and the paleness of my skin, and I agree.  Stephanie the nurse tells someone they need to get me to the bed, and I nod in agreement.

The feeling of almost passing out is a bit unnerving and I was glad to rest in the bed.  With both of my babies.  Their APGAR sores were 9 and 10 and both were a happy neon pink.  6 lbs 5oz and 6 lbs 3oz.

And the feeling that I can conquer anything takes over.  The feeling I wish for every mama as she holds her baby or babies for the first time.  Elation.  Success. Pride.  Competence.natural twin birth

Jennifer Liv Photographer & Birth Made Beautiful Doula Services Pregnancy Photos: Fresh Love Birth Photography

How to Squat with Purpose

malasana garland pose yoga squat

Malasana or garland pose is one of those classic poses that a lot of people can do, and has a variety of benefits. Here are a few that will likely apply to you!

  • Creates a feeling of being “grounded” and safe (as it deeply activates and connects you to the root chakra).
  • An easy pose to locate and strengthen your pelvic floor.
  • Relieves lower back pain. Especially for people who sit at a desk all day and have poor posture!
  • Opens your hips and pelvis for conception and birth.
  • Enhances circulation to the pelvis and womb.
  • Lubricates knee and hip joints.
  • Encourages deep breathing.

Here are my tips for maximizing the benefits of malasana!

  1. Use a support under your perineum (especially if you have Symphisis Pubis Discomfort, are late in pregnancy,or have knee issues. )  This helps increase that feeling of connectedness, earthiness and grounding.  You can use a blanket, pillow, block or bolster.
  2. Use your breath (in and out through the nose, or ujayyi breath if you’re familiar with it) to really use your pelvic floor. One of my teachers used to call them “elevator kegels“!  On either the inhale or the exhale, lift up on the pelvic floor (that sensation like you’re trying to stop the flow of urine), and then use the opposite breath to slowly release.   See if you can continue without pause between breaths or movements of the pelvic floor.
  3. Lean against a wall while doing this for a whole other world of support.  Allow everything to totally release.
  4. Relax your jaw.  The hips and the jaw are intimately connected to each other.  Notice what happens if you tense up your jaw, where else in your body do you feel that tension?  Now notice what happens if you release it?  Pigeon (eka pada rajakapotasana) is another great posture to notice the hip-jaw connection.  This is especially important to practice if you’re trying to get pregnant or are pregnant!  It’s why we kiss before sex – it loosens everything up down there.  The throat chakra (being able to express ourselves and our needs well) is related to the root chakra (feeling safe and provided for).  It’s much easier to conceive (i.e. welcome a new being into our bodies) when we feel that we are safe to be able to express our needs and have them met.
  5. Practice daily and hold the pose through any feelings of discomfort (emotional or physical).  *Pain and discomfort are different things.  If you feel pain, especially in your knees, stop! And ask your teacher how to modify or if you should skip the pose.*  Humans tend to carry a lot of feelings of disappointment in the pelvic/hip area, and women even more so.  Notice what emotions come up for you, acknowledge them, breathe with them, honor them, and let them go.

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Mama Wellness Wednesday – Get Body Labor Ready

get body labor ready

Freedom to move in labor has been shown to reduce:

  • Need for pain meds
  • Fetal heart abnormalities
  • Complications during and after birth.

Get ready for the rhythmic movement of labor by getting in touch with your body now. Especially practicing deep squats that open the hips, help you strengthen and connect to the pelvic floor and feel grounded.

Don’t have your  {free} Empowered Mama Guided Meditation yet?  Click here.

How to start building baby’s immune system Now.

newborn immune systemIt’s easy to think we can isolate areas of our lives; to think that what we eat doesn’t affect our mood, that what we hear doesn’t affect our beliefs, that what we think doesn’t affect our future.  But it’s just not true!  We are spiritual beings in physical bodies and all of the parts of our lives affect other parts of our lives, but also the lives of those around us.

When we think of birth as an isolated event, or pregnancy as a time-out from normal life, we miss out on the magic of the continuum; we miss opportunities for creating joy and wellness.

For example, did you know that how you birth can actually affect your child’s immune system?  Recent studies have begun to reveal that the human microbiome is becoming less and less diverse.  What this means is that the human body is mostly comprised of bacteria, and that with our overuse of antibiotics, antibiotics in food, and the lack of bio-diversity in our food (like GMO crops) we are diminishing the kinds of bacteria in our body. This leads to a weak immune system.

We acquire almost all of our bacteria in our system at birth.  This means your little one’s immune system will immediately be populated by bacteria either from your birth canal (if you have a vaginal birth) or from the OR (as in the case of a cesarean birth).  Some studies are even being designed to see if babies born surgically and given a piece of gauze that has been swiped in mama’s vagina have better gut populations and therefore stronger immune systems!  (There’s a whole documentary about this.)

So how can you help your tiny human have a strong immune system starting now? I know there’s no way to guarantee avoiding surgery of course, but there are things you can do to help build your own healthy bacteria so not only are you healthier, but so is baby!

1.  Eat fresh, homemade probiotic rich food.  (Kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee)

2.  Avoid antibiotics during pregnancy and during labor.

3.  Avoid meats and dairy products that you don’t know the source (you want dairy and meat from cows that not only haven’t been treated with antibiotics but also haven’t been fed GMO feed).

4. If it’s an option for you, having a homebirth obviously avoids baby being exposed to the superbugs in a hospital.

5. You can also take a strong probiotic, especially if you have some gut-healing to do!  (I like Garden of Life’s probiotic line.)

 

Do you have a mama wellness guide to take you through conception, pregnancy and postpartum?  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session now, stop worrying about how to sort through all the information out there, and start creating the best for you and your little!

What happens if you don’t do it?

Well, hello there beautiful mama.  Thanks for joining me today.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably following me, and you probably don’t need to be told the benefits of natural birth (or unmedicated birth to be more specific).  You don’t need me to tell you that the “less is more” adage applies to birth in an almost black and white sense.  That with each intervention from the tiniest gesture or statement to the surgical scalpel, birth becomes less of a normal occurrence, less of an empowering experience in a mama’s life.

I don’t need to tell you…

I don’t need to tell you that there are unknowns in birth, and that what happens during birth will in fact affect you and baby – one way or another.

So what happens if you do nothing?  What happens if you know all this, think about it, check off the boxes on the hospital “birth plan” checklist, and show up when labor surges start?  What’s really missing?

You may even be asking yourself, “Sandra, I’m a Christian mama.  I have faith that all will be well, why should I bother planning anything?”

Aha!  I know this feeling!  To you, I say, because, we are stewards of all areas of our life – our health, our finances, our children. I know you think it’s important to research and choose wisely how you spend your time, your money, your food.  I know that you are intentional about all these things, and birth should be no different.

Plan With Faith

We are constantly in a state of compromise between planning and praying.  We live in the natural world of consequences and the spiritual world of supernatural miracles all at the same time.  We navigate these by seeking guidance from the holy spirit and stepping out in action-faith.  Faith without deeds is dead.

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” ~James 2

If we have faith but we do nothing, we are stagnant.  Likewise if we are action takers but never rely on faith to stretch us beyond what we can do, we are stagnant or dead.

So when it comes to birth we need to consciously choose.  We need to say “hey, God works out all things for the good of those who love him, and I believe that even if crazy circumstances arise, there will be a holy healing and redemption.”  We need to decide to go against the flow of our culture – to shame or hyper- sexualize our bodies; to take the God-given power of bringing life earth-side and hand it over to a stranger; to give into fear, close our eyes, hold our breath and hope the whole thing is over soon.

No!  We were created and designed for so much more than that!  We were designed to rely on the power of the spirit and conquer the fears and lies and doubts. To live in the freedom God created for us.

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

The World Needs You

Sarah Bessey wrote in Jesus Feminist “By naming after this aspect of his character [ezer kenegdo], God did not name women as secondary helpmeet assistants.  No friend, women were called out and created as warriors….If we minimize our gifts, hush our voice, and stay small in a misguided attempt to fit a weak and culturally conditioned standard of femininity, we cannot give our brothers the partner they require in God’s mission for the world.”  I invite you to intentionally create an amazingly large vision for pregnancy, birth and motherhood and to walk into these seasons of life with the courage of a warrior created by God.  A warrior princess – with all the beauty and bravery bestowed upon you.  God called you to this task, and so he equips you to carry it out – whatever that looks like for you.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ~ Galations 1:10

Who cares what your friends think?  What your doctor thinks?  What your mother thinks?  This is your moment.  Let’s be honest, none of those people are birthing this specific child, at this specific time.  You are.  This is your mission and yours alone.  Own it! Enjoy it!  Take it up and pursue the best God has for you in it without hesitation! Don’t get me wrong, you will need others.  You will need a circle of support around you, a tribe.  But be selective about who you choose in your birth world.  Who’s voice you allow into this sacred space.  Because right now, this is your mission and you need the sacred protection of totally supportive people around you.

Let me help you mama, it can be done. Let’s do this.

The Most Important Pregnancy Questions

free prenatal meditation

When I lost my first pregnancy, a small, star shaped space in my center was created.  It will always be there.  I cherish it in fact.  I called myself “mother” from then on, because I had birthed an angel baby and brought forth that teeny tiny body in piles of tissue with just as much fear, faith and hope as any mother has.  Bryan and I spent a season of life mourning, growing, learning.  We were newlyweds, we weren’t sure which foot to stand on, which part of our spouse that we had seen so far was the one that we would spend the most time with.  But time passed, our wounds healed and my womb healed, even with that tiny star tattoo for Baby Maurer; and we chose to try to conceive again.  (How magical is it that we get some agency in the process of creating human life??)

I was pregnant with Fiona Lynn and as overjoyed as I was overwhelmed that we were moving from our friends and family and my doula and yoga practice in Virginia to no one, in nowhere, Minnesota.   We moved, rooted, acclimated and the pregnancy continued, Fiona grew right next to that little star scar.  But towards the end of my pregnancy I began to feel something nagging at me.  I talked, and talked with my poor midwife whose visits were closer to 3 hours more often than not.   I shopped. I prayed.  And one morning, way too early (as it often is when the spirit chooses to stir something)  I woke up with the sense that I had not fully let go of this miscarriage.  Knowing what I know about birth and labor, and I did not want this to stall or interfere with in any way Fiona’s birth.

So I made some tea, and sat down to draw.  No sooner had I sketched two drawings – one of my birth and one of my miscarriage, that I just weeped.  Weeped and weeped. And then I felt better.  Relief.  Sigh.  That lift of your heart that feels as though you could suddenly do something you never considered possible, a face to face encounter with the truth that all will be well.  I felt connected to my heritage as a woman : both the actual women in my bloodline and all the women that had birthed before me.  I felt ready for motherhood on a level I didn’t know I needed to reach.

So when Morgan Moon (co author of the Blissful Mama eCourse) and I were chatting recently about the Blissful Mama retreat, the question of speakers came up.  We were considering finding and inviting speakers to teach mamas-to-be from their wise women wisdom.  But this story of mine floated right up to the front of my vision for these retreats and Morgan agreed – the retreats are about looking inward into the spirit and heart of each mama, not to the external teaching of experts.  There’s another time and place for that.

It seems women are on information overload these days, babycenter, google, mothering.com.  While it’s true that I often provide the navigation tools through all that information for mamas,  so many times mothers aren’t really searching for more information, they’re searching for their intuition. We all need support recognizing the voice of God in our lives, and learning to trust our embodied wisdom. This is the area of motherhood that isn’t being addressed by care providers. (And maybe that’s ok.)  But it does need to be addressed.  I don’t know what would have happened had I not spent that reflective time before birth with my drawings.  Perhaps things would have gone the same, we’ll never know.  There are times though, with a mother in labor (or if I’m lucky, beforehand) something reveals itself that blocks a smooth passage to motherhood.  One of my clients was obsessively shopping and feeling restless before her delivery, until she completed a drawing task (reluctantly!) and found that she was feeling incredibly afraid of giving birth without her grandmother (who had passed away and been her mother figure).  We were able to talk about it, and find ways to heal that space so she felt totally ready to birth and move forward. Other times merely asking mamas how they feel about their bodies and having them list some adjectives has caused revelation!  These are our most important pregnancy questions. This is why we say “mothers are born” when babies are born, because becoming a mother is a change in psyche, a shift of perception of ourselves and the world around us.

So I offer myself as a guide, to help each mother I work with discover any of these roadblocks towards what she sees in her vision of birth, to unravel and create new belief systems around pregnancy and motherhood so she is free to find her fullest potential.  Psychological, spiritual and physical health are not as separate as we like to think, though we see different specialists to address these things separately most of the time.  It’s time we begin the important work of re-marrying these things in our understanding of health so we can create true wellness – for ourselves and for our children.

Ready for this kind of journey yourself? Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session now.

Myths of Birth

A prenatal yoga student and I were talking the other day about births I’d seen as a doula.   She asked me, “but don’t lots of women say they want to birth without an epidural?”  Her implication was that women say they want one thing, but they don’t actually get it.  And she’s right! Despite what women are  expressing, at least 75% of us aren’t leaving our birth experiences without an epidural, and with the sense of accomplishment we think we’ll feel. Why?

My student implied that it was almost silly to even express a desire around birth, no matter what the reasons (better health for baby for example).  What she didn’t realize was why she believed that.  Every culture has myths, stories we subscribe to in order to place ourselves within it.  The myth of the American dream – rising to wealth and power from poverty.  They myth of “forefathers” of America. The myth of the Norman Rockwell family.  Archetypes are characters born out of myths – the cowboy, the seductress, the “good girl”, the “soccer mom”.  Our current mythology around womanhood and birth is lacking.  We have changed the environment of birth so drastically in the past 100 years or so, and our heroic stories haven’t caught up.

We love story.

It’s why my close friend is at a conference to learn about writing your story, why I’m reading a book called Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World. It’s why the Bible is full of stories and Jesus taught in parables.  It’s why one of the most read blogs I’ve written is my personal birth story.  We need story and we need art to help us give our lives context, just as we need ritual around rites of passage.

Women aren’t initiated into womanhood with their first new moon bleeding by being told stories of how they are now able to participate in the superpowers of womanhood with all the other women that have gone before them.  I was told no tales of glory to aspire to.  And when I was pregnant on my way to the biggest challenge and victory of my life, there was no built-in positive imagery to inspire me, no stories of joining the ranks of motherhood alongside other women. I had to actively seek them out.

myths of birthWe wanna be in the club.

After giving birth to her son my friend turned to her mother with a look of surprise and almost shame “I feel like I’ve joined the club!” she said, “you have!” her mother happily agreed. Why are we surprised when we feel like we’ve joined a club, and why do we feel bad about that accomplishment?

In some cultures women returning from birth are revered as warriors returning from battle.  Honored, celebrated.  Don’t you crave that?  Isn’t there a little part of you that really wants someone to say “You did it!  You’ve been entered into the club! Join us!”

Baby showers and bridal showers serve a great purpose, but they don’t quite prepare you for the psychological, spiritual and emotional change that comes after.  They’re a bit watered down aren’t they?  We really could do a better job of inspiring and empowering women.

So why don’t we have any?

Why are we lacking these rites of passage, these myths to push us forward? Lots of reasons.

Here are a few:

We’ve been told to “not be a hero” because it’s dangerous and totally out of our control. (I’ve actuall heard nurses say this to mothers!)

We’ve been told motherhood is “the most important job” by a culture that simultaneously doesn’t support mothers financially or socially.

We’ve been told the club isn’t really a club of motherhood at all because women do things so differently and we should judge each other based on those differences.

We’ve been told that birth is not ours, it’s theirs: the doctors who “deliver” not women who “deliver” or “birth”.

 

And so my student felt that it was silly to even say you want something, if it’s true that it’s not really yours, not under your control, and motherhood isn’t really a club or an accomplishment.

So what can we do?  As wise women? 

myths of birthReligious ceremonies used to handle this problem for us – they would initiate people into the next stage of life. We need to share our positive birth stories and stop judging each other for the differences.  We need to be brave enough to consider that maybe we were hurt during our birth stories.  We need to create motherhood spaces.

For me, I asked for a mother blessing, with scripture, positive words and inspiring stories.  I had my body celebrated with henna.   I practiced yoga to connect with my embodied wisdom and the wisdom of all the mothers before me.  I hung up visuals around my labor tub with women powerfully birthing – beautiful art images and phrases to inspire me and keep my consciousness at a higher level than the pain.  To keep my eyes on the vision.  At one point my midwife pointed out that I looked exactly like one of the images on my wall. (After all, the body goes where the mind goes.)  My doula and midwife spoke verses and prayed over me.

I think it will make all the difference.

No, that’s not quite true.  I know it will.  I think we will see the birth culture in the US change, and the birth outcomes improve (unfortunately, they’re not that great) when we embrace new stories about birth.  New images, visuals, role models.  We need stories.  We need better images than hysterical women on TV.

This is why I choose birth art from an artist to represent the work I do with mamas. This is what I offer through my Blissful Mama Program  To gather women together to initiate, impart wisdom, create birth art.  The chance to be inspired and celebrated, so you can experience motherhood and birth as a sacred mission.  This is why we need to hear your story, and so do our daughters.

Are you craving that guidance and tribe? That unbiased support and resource?  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session and get started. 

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