Need more mama wellness? Click here to schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session now!
Need more mama wellness? Click here to schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session now!
I know the word chakra conjures up images of Birkenstocks and peasant skirts and general stereotypical fluff. (Not that I have anything against a good pair of Birkenstocks….) But the chakras are really just a sanskrit word for “wheel”, and they refer to circular points of energy in the body. Did you know that the chakras correlate to what Western philosophy calls the endocrine system?
This is why it’s so helpful to practice yoga (designed to balance chakras) for women’s health!
Each chakra is associated with a different part of the endocrine system, and different emotions/ sensations. If you think about it, you probably already believe this. We use phrases like “heartache” not to describe a physical pain but a pain we feel in our chest from sadness related to love. We talk about “gut feelings” as something we feel physically related to something we feel emotionally. I was thinking about the phrases that are supposed to be associated with the chakras and wanted to find some scripture to meditate on for these different areas.
Why does it matter? Because knowing about the chakras can be a great tool for increasing your body awareness. For example: if you do a deep squat (which helps the first chakra) do you feel more grounded? If you’re feeling chaotic and out of control does a child’s pose help you slow down and figure out why?
It’s also useful to help with specific body ailments. Looking to increase fertility or balance hormones? You want to nourish the endocrine system – specifcally increase blood flow to the ovaries (second chakra) right? How do you begin to think about that? The chakra map can help!
The chakras are counted from the lowest to the highest in the body. Starting with the pelvic floor.
“…rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
” Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” ~Gal 6:4
” Do your best, prepare for the worst— then trust God to bring victory.” ~Proverbs 21:31 (MSG)
“Souls who follow their hearts thrive; fools bent on evil despise matters of soul.” ~Prov 13:19
“For it is not you who are speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” ~Matthew 10:20
“…God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it…” Phil 3:15
“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].” Eph 6:10
Want to know more about how yoga can help you balance your endocrine system for healthy conception, pregnancy and postpartum? Click here to schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session.
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.
I am slowly working my way through Herbal Healing for Women. This great book I found from a second hand book shop on 2nd street in Philly. Written by Rosemary Gladstar in 1993, this book is full of great information for women. I feel healthy just reading it. (Do you think I can absorb her good vibes through the ink and paper??) I use it as a reference and then read through a chapter and then go back. I’m an underliner and notetaker, so it’s getting marked up, which is how a well loved book should be in my opinion.
She follows the Wise Woman Tradition. Although a little new-agey for me, this philosophy does really support women’s intuition and wisdom and that is something I am huge fan of, obviously.
There’s a great recipe I came across today called “Yoni Powder“. I make a great Yoni Bath and Yoni Oil, but this is something new! It’s used as a medicinal talc to treat yeast infections. I also learned that I can help to treat excess yeast in the body by drinking apple cider vinegar and raw honey in warm water- which I already drink on a daily basis, so that’s good news! (We call it “Maurer Hot Toddy” and use it to treat colds, allergies or flu.)
When I did a google search for “yoni powder” I came across an apothecary that makes a yoni powder based on this exact recipe.
What I have also recently found out is that healthy vaginal bacteria is influential in preventing premature labor and premature rupture of membranes (P.R.O.M.) This makes this information all the more valuable for my doula clients and women who are pregnant or plan to be!
I’m thinking of adding a recipe to my Etsy shop as well.
But if you’d like to make your own, here’s the recipe!
Most pregnant women in America know they need to be taking their prenatal vitamins, but many, way too many are unaware that they’re still missing out on a fundamental vitamin that will not only help their pregnancy but their immunity, their ability to heal postpartum.
Since we are an indoor country- living and working indoors most of the time, experts suspect that on Average Americans are losing vitamin D. Vitamin D is not something your body produces on it’s on, unless it’s in the sun. (Skin exposure, without the sunscreen). Yes, there is some vitamin D in foods, but not enough to sustain our lack of sun exposure.
Why is it important in pregnancy?
It’s been linked to preeclampsia, risk of c section and other complications. It also effects baby’s bone development and over all immnuity.
“U.S. researchers Drs. Hollis and Wagner also found that the “core morbidities of pregnancy” — diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia — were reduced by 30 percent in the women who took high-dose vitamin D, amounting to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D a day (ten times the RDA of 400 IU).”
I know you’ve been hearing for years about wearing your sunscreen, and I’m not suggesting you immediately run to the beach and get a burn. But you DO need vitamin D. Here’s what to do:
1.) Get a vitamin D deficiency test. Your doctor can provide this.
2.) Get sun exposure. This is a great article about how to get the best out of the sun. Your face is an area of very thin skin, so you’ll want to cover that up, but getting sunshine directly on bare arms and legs is perfect.
3.) Skip the sunscreens, especially with weird products in them. Protect areas from sun exposure using mostly clothing. Didn’t know that sunscreens contain cancer-causing parabens? Check out this info about which sunscreens to choose for the times you do want to cover up.
4.) In the winter months when there is obviously little sunshine (and what sunshine there is outside isn’t as strong), get quality vitamin D supplement. Preferably liquid (easier to absorb by the body). Like this one. The recommendation is generally about 4,000 IU/day. (Refer back to Dr. Mercola’s article for more specifics on dosage. )
5.) There’s an app for it, of course. Check this out.
I regularly read anything about vaginas. Truly. A good yoni story makes me feel all amped up as a doula and a woman. It always amazes me how much I still have to learn about my own body, and how many women know even less than I do. The womb truly is a mystery, and it’s a beautiful journey exploring what power it has.
My new favorite Yoni Resource is a magazine devoted to birth called Squat. There was an article about Bacterial Vaginosis (basically an imbalance in vaginal bacteria) and the relationship to preterm labor and preterm rupture of membranes.
“Bacterial Vaginosis occurs when the vaginal flora are in an alkaline state; the BV bacteria then help to maintain an alkaline state. Retrospective and prospective studies show that high vaginal pH (alkaline state) is a marker for BV and is predictive of preterm labor, and of preterm rupture of membranes (PROM)”(Read the full article here.)
Did you know that a study in the Journal of Fetal and Maternal Medicine (October, 2011) showed that women who eat yogurt on a regular basis had a much lower rate of Bacterial Vaginosis AND a higher rate of lactobacilli. This means they had all the good bugs and less of the bad ones. Good news for the probiotic fans!
Vinegar rinse: The mild cleansing solution disables common bacteria but leaves lactobacilli unharmed and able to quickly recolonize without competition. It creates an acidic environment, encouraging lactobacilli growth. Diluted vinegar is a time-tested treatment for unspecified ‘vaginitis’, is generally considered safe, and is accompanied by supporting research. (Note: douching should not be done during pregnancy. A vaginal “rinse” can be done without pressure by gen- tly pouring the solution over the vulval/vaginal area). The usual recommendation is 2 to 4 tbsp. vinegar to a pint of water. Use once daily for three days, then once every three days, then once a week for two weeks.
A gelled-vinegar cream is currently being tested for treatment of BV and AV.
So what is Happy Womb Tea, you may ask? (well, even if you weren’t asking, I’m going to tell you!) When I first did my doula training I wanted to find an herb that was beneficial for the uterus. The more I researched the more I uses I found for red raspberry leaf- the wonder uterus tonic. It seems it’s beneficial for anything related to the yoni.
“Red raspberry leaves have been used for many years dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Some of the illness they used red raspberry leaves to treat included the flu, gum disease, rubella, upset stomach, hangovers, diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, menstrual problems, and inflammation. Red raspberry leaves have also been used for a mouth rinse to treat sore throats and irritations of the mouth. The most popular use of red raspberry leaves would be for pregnancy .It has been known to help with nausea associated with pregnancy and to ease the pains of delivery. “~Heather Shockney
If you’d like to purchase these herbs on their own I suggest MountainRose Herbs. They have a wonderful selection of organically, responsibly and lovingly grown herbs.
When I have a baby, I am finding someone to do this for me. Even if I have to hire someone.
My mother works full time, lives six hours away and doesn’t specialize in nurturing behavior, so it probably won’t be her that comes to perform this ancient ritual for me.
In the US, as I’ve written about before, we have lost our sense of ritual. We have developed new ones of course: we get Starbucks, buy Apple products, eat out as much as we eat in. We have developed rites of passage: we drink too much when we turn twenty-one, have babies in hospitals, go to college right after highschool, spend too much money to get married. Obviously, in a country so large and diverse there are many many more rituals, and family specific rituals as well. But as a collective people we have forgotten the art of celebration.
Birth especially has suffered this loss. True, we have developed new rituals around birth, but not all are positive. We now have a ritual of bringing baby home from hospital, of teaching them to sleep. The baby shower is an important ritual, the hospital bag, the baby album, the pregnant belly photos. But I would argue that part of the reason for our mothers suffering from so much postpartum depression has to do with two things: birth power that is taken from mother and given to doctor, and lack of postpartum ritual.
In Natural Health After Birth Aviva Romm says:
” ‘We have come a long way in our understanding of birth, its physiology, psychology, and spirituality. The birth experience is recognized as a rite of passage for all involved,’ says Sylvia Reichman in Mothering magazine. ‘But what about afterwards, when the birth experience has taken its place as a part of life and there is the new mom, alone with her new baby?’ she asks.”
Birth has a profound effect on a woman, but so does the postpartum period and I believe mothers need to regain ritual around this time. As women we should collectively care for each other after babies are born- mothers, sisters and friends should be taught as young women how to care for postpartum mothers, how to be sensitive and truly helpful. Too often I hear mothers complain about grandparents coming to visit the new baby. It seems that the grandparents so often come as guests and not as caretakers. They come to visit the baby and not to care for the mother. They project their views on childcare and sometimes even defensiveness over the difference in birth experiences between their child and them.
I recently read in Squat magazine, a great publication on birth, about Cuarentena, the Mexican postpartum ritual. I knew that Mexican midwives have great wisdom and shared the gift of the rebozo, but this forty-day ritual after birth is yet another blessing from them.
The medical view of postpartum is six weeks. If after six weeks postpartum any complications arise, they are no longer even considered birth related. This means that if you develop an infection from your c-section but it isn’t fatal until after the sixth week, it’s not considered a maternal death. (This is a particularly scary statistic considering we already have a frighteningly high maternal mortality rate and this tells us we’re not even reporting 100% of the deaths correctly.)
Having a small window like six weeks as the “postpartum” definition makes mothers feel like they should be back to their pre-pregnancy selves by this time. Not so! For the “fourth trimester” there are still so many changes going on within and with baby.
The Cuarentena has rituals for the forty days postpartum, starting with day 1. You aren’t to read or strain your eyes, or any part of the body. Someone is to wash your hair for you, using only fingers so not too much cold air gets to yours scalp. You lie in bed for the first two weeks. The ritual involves nutrition, body care, massage, rest. It’s inclusive. I think sometimes we spend too much time celebrating the pregnancy and not enough celebrating the birth! It’s an incredibly important time to empower mothers, let them recover fully, and set them up for success and health in the years to come.
I would love to see herbal sitz baths, massage, belly binding and other body rituals become part of American mother’s postpartum care.
What were some of the ways you were cared for postpartum? What were some of the ways you wish you had been care for postpartum? What rituals would be helpful for American women?
Read the full article here: Squat Birth Journal, Winter 2012
Natural Health After Birth, Aviva Romm
As a Christmas gift to you, I’d like to share some behind the scenes action. Several of you have asked how to make your own balm, and even though this means you won’t buy it from me anymore, rather than be a grinch I thought I’d help you out!
So…. here is the basics of how I make my Belly Balm. It’s also really a healing salve and very flexible- you can adjust what herbs you use, and the amounts of each ingredient you use as well.
What you’ll need as the base:
I have a nasty habit of getting sinus colds during this season, and the few times I have given in and just taken some cold medicine the colds always lasted longer and didn’t really get any better. I wanted to share some ways to help deal with cold/cough/congestion that are safe for pregnant women and for children.
A study published in 2001 found that those given a daily garlic supplement actually did have a significant decrease in colds and/or in the duration of symptoms. They suspect the compound called Allicin, a main component of garlic, that blocks enzymes that play a role in viral and bacterial infections.
“Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It promotes body and digestive health, is a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies, and is an excellent remedy for skin wounds and all types of infections. Raw honey’s benefits don’t stop there. Raw honey can also stabilize blood pressure, balance sugar levels, relieve pain, calm nerves, and it has been used to treat ulcers. Raw honey is also an expectorant and anti-inflammatory and has been known to effectively treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma.”
According to Dr. Aviva Romm in her book The Natural Pregnancy Book (which I highly recommend), stinging nettles can be a wonderful herb during pregnancy and postpartum as it helps to balance the adrenal gland and therefore hormones. What women wouldn’t want that? In addition nettles has been known to help with sinus problems. Personally I take it quite often during my allergy season and when I feel congested. I purchase a pre-made tincture but if you can get your hands on dried or fresh nettle leaves and steep in grain alcohol for a week or two you can make one of your own. Something like 40 drops in water a day or a few times a day for acute symptoms is great.
Ok, this is by far one of my favorite cold solutions. It’s great to drink something hot to help open up lungs and sinuses, but this recipe in particular is delicious and can be made with a little rum or whiskey to aid in the sedative effect. Even if you’re pregnant you may find it helpful. Now I’m not advocating all pregnant women go have a few shots of whiskey, but according to recent research it may not be as dangerous as we thought, in fact it might even be beneficial to have a few relaxing drinks during pregnancy. Hot Toddies are great without the whiskey as well. Truly. Enjoy and be well!!