Blog Archives

Everything You Wanted to Know About Affirmations *

November 7, 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know About Affirmations | MothersCircle.net*But Were Afraid to Ask

Thank you to author and artist, Susan Singer, for this guest post on the power and use of affirmations.
Try them for birth, for your health, your mental state and well-being, and even for goal-setting and reaching your dreams.
Here, Susan walks us through the whys and how-tos of using affirmations.  

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a positive statement of belief. Ex:  I am happy and prosperous.

When did affirmations start?

Affirmations have been around for as long as people could speak – we all know people with sunny dispositions who tend to look on the bright side of life – but in 1952, affirmations became mainstream when Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking.  It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks and has since sold around five million copies.  This small book introduced affirmations and the power of thinking positively to millions of avid readers who were ready for a shift in their thinking.

In 1978, Louise Hay wrote Heal Your Body which began as a small pamphlet containing a list of different bodily ailments and their probable metaphysical causes. Her premise is that the way we think actually helps cause our physical ailments, and that if we examine those beliefs and work with affirmations to change them, we can heal ourselves.  Her pamphlet was later enlarged and extended into her book You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984 and has since sold over 35 million copies.

One of my favorites of her affirmations is about urinary tract infections about which, she says:
Probable cause: Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.
New thought pattern: I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life. I am safe.

What can affirmations do for me?

Pain to Power Online Childbirth Program

January 7, 2015

pain to power, online childbirth, debra pascali bonaro | MothersCircle.netI’m excited to introduce and support Pain to Power online childbirth program created by birth-powerhouse, Debra Pascali-Bonaro. Debra is a long time friend, mentor, and colleague, we worked together to revise and update Nurturing Beginnings, and I’m happy to share her latest project with you.

Debra is the Founder & President of Orgasmic Birth and creator of Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret Documentary that explores the intimate nature of birth. She’s been a birth worker for over 30 years, helping new families all over the world unlock pleasure in birth and life.

Debra has trained thousands of doulas and birth professionals around the world in the practices of gentle birth support. And now, she’s bringing all of this knowledge to you through her latest creation.

Pain to Power, a 9-week online childbirth experience.Pain to Power with Debra Pascali Bonaro | MothersCircle.net

Nurturing Beginnings by Debra Pascali-Bonaro

April 22, 2014

Nurturing Beginnings cover, baby with wings, doula guide, books for doulas, Debra Pascali-Bonaro book, Announcing the newly updated Nurturing Beginnings, Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s terrific postpartum doula guide. I’m proud to share this with you because I worked with Debra and her team to revise and contribute to the updated version.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro was first my doula trainer, then my mentor, then my friend.

We met in 2007 in New York City at a doula training, as the workshop progressed, I felt achier and sicker and on the last day, I listened to Debra lying down with my eyes closed. (It turned out I had Lyme Disease).

Then I invited Debra to teach several doula trainings I hosted and we attended conferences together. We had pajama talks, chats over glasses of wine and on long walks. We talked about issues monumental and trivial, and everything in between. We shared our families and pondered world problems with our toes in the sand and at restaurants over meals.

So when Debra asked me to be a part of this project, I jumped at the chance. I am proud to have helped to edit, contribute and update this version of Nurturing Beginnings. I am honored to be a co-author beside Debra Pascali-Bonaro.

Why New Parents Need Postpartum Support

August 14, 2013

the value of postpartum support, why new parents need postpartum support, help for new parents, supporting new parents, help with new baby, What does postpartum really mean? Is the work of postpartum completed in six weeks? Two months? Five months? Is there a “right” time to have mastered your new role as parent or your new role as parent of two, three, twins? Why do families need postpartum support?

Postpartum, the time period often defined as the time it takes for the uterus to contract (involute) back to it’s pre-pregnancy size or six weeks, really lasts much longer and involves so much more than the physical restoration of the uterus.

The disparity between expectations and the reality of a newborn can leave parents feeling out of control of their lives. Even with appropriate expectations, for example, adding a second or third child to the family, the time intensive requirements of caring for a newborn can clearly be challenging.

Before the addition of a baby to your family, you have control over how you spend your time in working, leisure, sleeping, self-caretaking and other activities. It is hard to anticipate how dramatically that will change after your baby arrives and hard to imagine just how overwhelming that can be to new parents.postpartum depression help, support after babies, help with twins, help with newborns, postpartum doula

A day in the life of caring for a newborn consists of:

Blessingways for Moms-to-Be

June 27, 2013

flower wreath, flowers in hair, flower wreath for hair, white flower wreath, agroterra photography, lisa gendron photos, celebrating motherhood, ways to do a blessingwayA Blessingway is a special ritual which honors a woman during a time of transition or celebrates her in a new life journey. Blessingways for Moms-to-be create a beautiful circle of support and love around the expectant mama. Just as elephant mothers surround and protect another birthing elephant, so too, we encircle and offer support to a sister, friend, cousin who is becoming a mother for the first or fifth time.

A blessingway differs from a baby shower in that it focuses on the woman and her transformation into mother in a deeper way than at a party with a showering of gifts. Gifts may be included, but instead of practical items or pretty clothing, gifts are symbolic or carry special meaning, such as an heirloom being passed down, or the gift of a poem being read. A woman may have a traditional baby shower and also savor the ritual of a blessingway. These ceremonies welcome and honor a woman as she enters into the Mother’s Circle.

Blessingways for Moms-to-be celebrate women as they enter the sacred circle of motherhood. They should be planned and created with love in the details and should reflect a mother’s personal beliefs and values. Whether a mother is spiritual or not, a ceremony may be designed specifically to have deep meaning and importance to her by incorporating her individual practices and beliefs.red thread ceremony, red thread, matriarchal lineage, henna on belly, pregnant henna art, belly art, pregnancy belly art, blessingways for moms,

Some elements of blessingsways for moms-to-be could include a salt bowl in which each guest adds something to the Epsom salts, such as fragrant oils or dried flowers, and mixes it while saying a prayer or giving a special message to the mother. Another idea is to have a laying-on-of hands ritual in which trusted women gently hold their hands all at once on the mother, upon her head, shoulders, back or belly according to her comfort. Everyone sends thoughts and messages of love and peace to her as they quietly rest their outstretched palms and fingers.

Doulas and Dads

June 11, 2013

dads and doulas, doulas and dads, dad holding baby, fathers day, striped dress, supporting families at birth,

Doulas and Dads work together in a birth to support the Mama and after their baby comes home.

Without a real understanding of what a doula does, I sometimes hear a Dad’s hesitation in hiring a doula. He’s involved in the pregnancy, supportive of his wife/partner; he wants to be active and have a main role in the birth of his baby, so he’s thinking, “Why do we need her?”

As a doula, I can assure all Dads, that I am not there to replace them, but rather as a part of the birthing team, to help enhance their experience, and to support Dads, too, prenatally, during labor and postpartum. Often, after the birth, Dads are more appreciative of doula support than Moms. Doulas and Dads work together as complementary parts of the Mom’s birth team.

Our presence lets Dads support their loved ones in their own way without having to remember position changes or comfort dad supporting mom in labor, dad in bed with laboring mom, dad rubbing moms head, rubbing head in labor, doulas and dads, birth support, labor support, what is a doula, how do I hire a doulameasures, reminding her to empty her bladder or release her shoulders. To a Mom, her husband/partner’s reassurance and presence are invaluable, he is emotionally connected and invested in her and the birth. In labor, I see Dads lovingly rubbing backs, whispering in ears, encouraging and comforting, when they’re working so beautifully together, I can stand back, softly add a word of praise or a suggestion, add a touching hand and let the couple dance the labor dance together.

As labor progresses and becomes more intense, my role picks up, Dad and I are a team in supporting Mom. We may take turns squeezing her hips or being the leaning post for her swaying body. We find a rhythm that works. For some Dads who feel more uncertain or nervous, they can observe how I talk, touch, encourage and they can feel more comfortable in their actions.

How to Soothe a Crying Baby

June 4, 2013

calming a baby, soothe a cryng baby, how to get a baby to stop crying, harvey karp, Leahs soothing skills, mother's circle soothing skills, baby in hospital blanket, how to calm a baby, how to hold a baby, how to swaddle a babyA crying baby can cause a new parent (or even a seasoned parent) to feel stressed or helpless. Learning effective infant soothing can help any parent remain calm in the face of shrieks and howls.

The reality is, with an infant, you have to accept some fussiness, some crying. In the early weeks and months, an awake baby needs your attention, but here’s how to confidently soothe a crying baby back to calm.

I have to admit, when I first heard of Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” I actually rolled my eyes and thought, “How superlative. Seriously?” but then I saw Dr. Karp speak at a conference in 2006 and I was sold. Since then, I’ve used his 5 S’s technique for soothing more babies than I can count. I’ve taught it and recommended his books/DVD to oodles of parents and caregivers. It really is magical when done with attention to details.

These infant soothing skills fall into the category of “Things-I-Wish-I-Knew-When-My-Own-Kids-Were-Babies,” and here, I need to give a nod to my husband. When I raved to him about this fantastic trick to gets babies to sleep, he smiled. He told me that that was exactly what he’d done with each of our sweeties when they were fussing up a storm. He would quietly send me to nap and scoop up our wailing angel and he’d swaddle, shush and walk and jiggle. He described how their heads would shimmy and how predictably it worked. I believe many Dads, partners, and family members have perhaps used their own style of the 5 S’s, but, alas, we weren’t the ones to write the book.

baby crying, mom with crying baby, how to soothe a crying baby, how to help a baby crying, what to do when a baby cries, harvey karp, happiest baby, The basic premise of “Happiest Baby on the Block” is that human babies are born too early and so in the “forth trimester” (the first three months of a newborn’s life) we need to recreate a womb-like environment for the baby. Before birth, a baby has been hearing Mom’s heartbeat, the swooshing of blood through her arteries, he’s been lulled and rolled into sleep as Mom moves, walks and goes about her daily life. Your baby has been folded up snugly, upside down (ideally) with his little limbs bumping into something with each movement.

How to Hire a Doula – International Doula Month

May 15, 2013

In celebration of International Doula Month, here are some tips for how to hire a doula.

1. Determine If You Want To Hire a Birth or Postpartum Doula, or Both

[caption id="attachment_2554" align="alignleft" width="229"]pospartum doula, hiring a doula, how to hire a doula, what is a doula, questions to ask a doula, DONA International, doula match, Enjoying a moment of baby-holding at a postpartum visit.[/caption]

There are two kinds of doulas: birth doulas and postpartum doulas. In a nutshell, birth doulas meet with you prenatally and are on call for you. When you go into labor, your doula can walk you through ideas and provide guidance via the phone for early labor. As labor progresses into active labor, we will meet you either at your home or at your place of birth to labor with you. A doula’s continued presence during labor has been proven to give many benefits such as reduced use of interventions and medications, lower incidence of cesarean section, higher breastfeeding success rates and reduction in postpartum depression.

Postpartum doulas step in once you bring your baby home. We support families in their home with the transition to parenthood (or the addition of another kiddo). Support includes emotional and practical aspects from assistance with nursing, infant care, and organizational tips to being sure Mom and anyone else in the home is fed, gets a chance to nap or shower. One of the biggest parts of my job as a postpartum doula is answering all those questions that arise that grandma doesn’t remember, friends don’t have time to help with, and it’s not quite the thing to call the pediatrician about. That’s where a doula comes in!

2. Ask Around for Recommendations

It goes without saying that not every doula is right for every family, but a good place to start your search is by asking friends, co-workers or even another pregnant mama in the grocery store line. Are you hiring a doula? Did you have a doula? Would you recommend her?

7 Tips For Cesarean Birth

April 11, 2013

operating room, OR in c-section, sterile OR, what to expect in cesarean, tips for cesarean, tips for c sectionSo you need a cesarean or you come to that decision during labor. How can you make it the safest and most satisfying experience for you?

If you are pregnant and planning a vaginal birth, it’s still important to remember these tips for cesarean birth. I believe it’s vital to understand the procedure and your options. With a cesarean birth rate of over 30% in the U.S., even if you’re not expecting to, you could end up in the OR. Read, learn, and discuss it with your provider; then let it go and envision the birth you want.

If you are already scheduled or know you will be having a cesarean, use these tips for cesarean birth to create the birth you want.

7 Tips for Cesarean Birth

1. Be Involved in the Decisions

As with a vaginal birth or labor, Moms having a cesarean need to do their homework to be educated and to make truly informed choices. Even though this is surgery, you DO have options to consider and things you can request or discuss with your doctor. This is your birth and the more involved you are in making decisions that affect your experience, the more likely you are to have a satisfying birth, even if it’s not what you’d hoped for or planned.

I had a client who was planning a home birth but it turned course leading to a transfer to the hospital and a cesarean birth, two opposite ends of the birthing spectrum. While disappointed, she knew she made the best possible decisions for her family at each stage; she felt empowered and at peace with her birth because she was not a passive participant and made the choices at each crossroads.

Own your birth. Select a provider you trust, feel comfortable with your doctor and place of birth. Understand the surgery procedure, the anesthesia, the recovery expectations. Read, reasearch and ask questions. Read blogs and forums that discuss c-sections so you feel well informed of the aspects that may not be as widely known or discussed. Ask for a consent form ahead of time so you can actually read it and ask any questions that may arise. Too often you only see this form as someone glosses over the content while hovering waiting for you to sign it.

Even if you’re planning a vaginal birth, having an understanding of a c-section is important since nearly one third of Moms in the U.S. have cesareans and most of those are not expected or scheduled ahead. This in itself does not mean they were emergencies, as some are, but more often it means they weren’t planned and something during labor lead to the decision.

What is a Mother’s Circle?

November 8, 2012

I’ve always loved symbolism, something simple holding a greater, deeper meaning, and the circle, specifically, strikes me. It has a feeling to me, it feels whole and balanced, it feels like an embrace, inclusive. A circle is never-ending and strongly feminine, while also united with the masculine. I chose the name Mother’s Circle when I […]

Birth Like an Elephant

October 15, 2012

Birth your baby like an elephant births. Female elephants in the wild encircle a birthing mother and protect her within this ring. As human mammals, historically in the U.S. and as a continuing practice in more traditional cultures, we, too, should surround ourselves with strong, nurturing women to hold our birthing space for us. Birth […]

Freedom for Birth – Own Your Birth

September 20, 2012

Today, around the world, the important documentary Freedom for Birth will be premiered in over 1000 locations. This film shines a light on childbirth as a human rights issue and how our birthing systems worldwide so often fail and disrespect women. The time is now to stand up, speak out, and reclaim birth. I always […]

Infant Soothing Karp Style

July 30, 2012
[caption id="attachment_409" align="alignleft" width="250"]baby crying All babies cry sometimes,
but you can learn how to minimize it.[/caption]

 

A crying baby can cause a new parent (or even a seasoned parent) to feel stressed or helpless. Learning effective infant soothing can help any parent remain calm in the face of shrieks and howls. The reality is, with an infant, you have to accept some fussiness, some crying, and the fact that in the early weeks and months, an awake baby needs your attention, but here’s how you can confidently soothe your little one back to mellow.

I have to admit, when I first heard of Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” I actually rolled my eyes and thought, “How superlative. Seriously?” but then I saw Dr. Karp speak at a conference in 2006 and I was sold. Since then, I’ve used his 5 S’s technique for soothing more babies than I can count and I’ve taught it and recommended his books/DVD to oodles of parents and caregivers. It really is magical when done with attention to details.

These infant soothing skills fall into the category of “Things-I-Wish-I-Knew-When-My-Own-Kids-Were-Babies,” and here, I need to give a nod to my husband. When I raved to him about this fantastic trick to gets babies to sleep, he smiled. He told me that that was exactly what he’d done with each of our sweeties when they were fussing up a storm. He would quietly send me to nap and scoop up our wailing angel and he’d swaddle, shush and walk and jiggle. He described how their heads would shimmy and how predictably it worked. I believe many Dads, partners, and family members have perhaps used their own style of the 5 S’s, but, alas, we weren’t the ones to write the book.The basic premise of “Happiest Baby on the Block” is that human babies are born too early and so in the “forth trimester” (the first three months of a newborn’s life) we need to recreate a womb-like environment for the baby. Before birth, baby’s been hearing Mom’s heartbeat, the swooshing of blood through her arteries, he’s been lulled and rolled into sleep as Mom moves, walks and goes about her daily life and baby has been folded up snugly, upside down (ideally) with his little limbs bumping into something with each movement.

Dads and Doulas

June 17, 2012

dads and doulas, father's day, fathers and doulas, doulas from dads perspective

I sometimes hear a Dad’s hesitation in hiring a doula. He’s involved in the pregnancy, supportive of his wife/partner, wants to be active and have a main role in the birth of his baby, so he’s thinking, “Why do we need her?”

As a doula, I can assure all Dads, that I am not there to replace them, but rather as a part of the birthing team, to help enhance their experience, and to support Dads, too, prenatally, during labor and postpartum. Often, after the birth, Dads are more appreciative of doula support than Moms. Dads and doulas work together as complementary parts of the Mom’s birth team.

Our presence lets Dads support their loved ones in their own way without having to remember position changes or comfort measures, reminding her to empty her bladder or release her shoulders. To a Mom, her husband/partner’s reassurance and presence are invaluable, he is emotionally connected and invested in her and the birth. In labor, I see Dads lovingly rubbing backs,

Father supporting mother in labor, dads and doulas, doulas from dads point of view, doulas from dads perspective, doulas and partners, fathers day

whispering in ears, encouraging and comforting, when they’re working so beautifully together, I can stand back, softly add a word of praise or a suggestion, add a touching hand and let the couple dance the labor dance together.

Composing Your Birth Wishes: aka Birth Plan

June 12, 2012

birth wishes, birth plans, writing a birth plan, Since you can’t plan how your labor and birth will unfold, I prefer to talk about your birth wishes or birth preferences than your birth plan. Honestly, I feel the biggest value in writing this document, is not in the end product, but in the process.

Prenatally, it’s important for both Mom and Dad/partner (and anyone who will be attending the birth) to be involved in this exploratory journey. As you learn about and research possible interventions and hospital protocols, you can get an understanding of how you feel about things in a non-labor state of mind. You have the luxury of time to evaluate and prioritize your desires.

As the vision your birth comes into focus, you’ll find there are things you want to really insist upon and things you don’t care about either way. You’ll learn about your options in birth (medications, music, med students, artificial rupture of membranes, hep-lock, etc.) and the immediate postpartum period (delayed cord clamping, infant eye ointment, skin-to-skin, etc.)birth plans, birth options, birth preferences, natural birth in the hospital, planning for birth, labor plans, birth wishes, writing a birth plan,

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