Blog Archives

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

44 and Pregnant?

September 19, 2014

44 and pregnantI had fun writing this piece, 44 and Pregnant?, my first for the Huffington Post. It’s already caused a flurry of questions and comments on my personal Facebook page.

Tell me what you think by commenting directly on the Huffington Post, on the Mother’s Circle Facebook page, or here.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’m late. Not just a little late, but over two weeks late, pushing three. For someone who has always been clockwork regular, I’m really late. I feel a little like I’m in that waiting zone between buying a lottery ticket and the drawing date. You know you’re going to lose, but you spend three days dreaming and planning. With my husband having had a vasectomy six years ago, I know I can’t be pregnant. I can’t, right? Right? But I find myself talking about it, imagining, and thinking, “What if?”

What if I am? My first feelings are filled with the nostalgia of being pregnant and a new mom. I think of the family videos that we love to watch with our two teenagers and our 10-year-old. I long for those pudgy cheeks to kiss, for those adorable little voices learning new words, for those cuddly small bodies. I loved my pregnancies. As a doula, I have a trust and passion for birth, and I savored my nursing days snuggled in with a baby. When I think I might be 44 and pregnant, my immediate gut reaction is happy and gleeful, excited for a possible accident.

Then reality starts to ease into my memories.

Click here to continue reading.

Baby Names

May 15, 2014

I’d like to introduce you to a new feature on my site to help you pick baby names.

When you were growing up, did you have a list of names you wanted to name your future children? Then, as you realize that you’re naming a real person, it feels weighty and there’s so much to consider.

We think of giving them a name that sounds good out loud, that looks pretty written, that works with your last name, that doesn’t remind you or your spouse/partner of the boy who picked his nose in math class or the girl who made faces at you from the bus window. Lot’s to think about when it comes to baby names!

So give this fun tool a try – have fun with it, get others involved, and maybe you’ll uncover a name you hadn’t considered which fits just right.

I hope this will be helpful to those of you who are expecting. It’s a fun tool that helps you figure out your favorite name for your new baby! You can add your own to pick baby names or search a list, then you can invite your family and friends to play the game.

Rather than just a one-click poll, this game elicits your deeper preferences. Click Get Started below to build and share your very own baby names poll.

Michael’s Birth Story

January 31, 2014

michael's birth story, cesarean birth story, having a c section, c section birth story, birth stories, baby michael, pregnant belly, breech babyA birth story makes a mother. Or grows a mother along her motherhood journey. In honor of Michael’s birthday, here is his birth story.

Three days after my due date (aka “guess date”), I went in for an ultrasound. Nick and I told the technician, “We still don’t want to know the sex of the baby.” To which she replied, “The butt is down.”

My first thought was she was telling us that she couldn’t see the sex of the baby until it dawned on me what she was really saying: the baby was breech. She verified my realization saying, “You need a C-section.”

Somehow I’d had an inner wisdom that never reached my consciousness, because in hindsight, I realized that I had asked each doctor I saw for weeks, “Is the baby’s head down?” and I was reassured over and over that, yes, vertex baby. Poor kiddo, we kept rubbing his head, perching Ali or a bowl of ice cream there, and thinking it was his butt!

I tried not to cry, but the tears poured out. Right there, in the ultrasound room. Then we sat in my doctor’s office for a talk, he said because I was past my due date, because the placenta was anterior, baby smiling, crooked baby smile, baby boy, 3 month old boy, lamaze toybecause my fluid could be lower, they wouldn’t try to flip the baby with external version. I would’ve asked better questions if I knew what I know now, but I did ask about other options to turn him. None.

In those pre-internet-accessible days that are nearly impossible to imagine now, Nick and I went to the library and hunted for ways to turn a breech baby, searched for anything we could learn about breech babies at all. Besides one paragraph in the back on one book: Nothing. Crazy since now I have a list of things to give a mom to try to turn her baby, and Google turns up 69,900 results in .31 seconds.

So we waited out the weekend, my parents came down to be with us and to take care of Ali. We watched the Super Bowl together and when we headed to bed, I cried kissing my sleeping daughter, her last night as an only child. Those emotions of adding another child, of displacing the first while knowing you’re giving her the greatest gift of a sibling, overcame me. It was an odd sensation knowing the exact day, and even about what time, I would have my next baby.

How Childhood Sexual Abuse Affects Pregnancy and Birth

January 21, 2014

penny simkin, phyllis klaus, DONA founders, book by penny simkin, sexual assault survivors, birth and child abuse, pregnancy and child abuse, sexual abuseThe important and powerful work of Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus on how childhood sexual abuse affects pregnancy and childbirth has shined a light on this dark topic. These incredible women (both founders of DONA International) have raised their voices as well as awareness and understanding around this issue.

The book When Survivors Give Birth is directed at survivors, their families, doctors, midwives, nurses, medical staff and other birth professionals like childbirth educators and doulas, to educate on how childhood sexual abuse affects pregnancy and birth.

Survivors can benefit from the information throughout, but particularly with Chapter 9, called “Self-Help Methods to Prevent and Manage Distress During Childbirth.” The chapter opens with this: “Anxiety, fright, panic, uncertainty, helplessness, inability to act, and distrust can catch the survivor unaware and throw her into distress and despair. Other people perceive her reactions as inappropriate and exaggerated. This chapter offers a variety of self-help techniques to recognize and allay these automatic reactions, or to prevent them in the first place.”

Whether or not a mom discloses any prior abuse to providers, doulas, midwives or anyone in her birthing circle, birth professionals must be prepared and sensitive to the challenges survivors face in pregnancy and birth. Click here for a video of Penny talking about When Survivors Give Birth.

Estimates are that between one in four and one in three women have a history of childhood sexual abuse. This number is likely higher as childhood sexual assault is under reported.

Confident Parenting

September 16, 2013

confident parenting, 4 seasons, discipline techniques for kids, reward systems for kids, learning to parent, how to parent, parenting tips, help for parents, learning to parentThere are times we parents find ourselves rattled, off our game or plain old stumped, but it’s at those times, we need to seek resources and find our mojo to return to confident parenting. Parenthood begins in pregnancy and evolves as our kids grow.

The main goal in parenting boils down to raising future adults with solid character (however each family defines that). We are raising children with the hope of them becoming happy, resilient, confident, healthy grown-ups ready to face the world.

We find our parenting style in many ways, through trial and error, doing and learning, reading books, websites, blogs, expert opinions, observing other parents, reflecting on how our parents did the job. In the end, even with support of family, friends, teachers and community members, the job is ours and we need to trust ourselves. Trust that we know our children best, trust our ability and trust ourselves to seek out help when we need it.

Parenting is a learned behavior – you can improve, you can develop skills and you can grow and change.

Confident parenting encourages us to both examine ourselves and our habits, and to reject advise we don’t agree with, even if it’s from an “expert” or printed in a book. It’s okay to get comfortable trying stuff out, I loveblowing bubbles, child blowing bubbles, games to play with toddlers, crafts for toddlers, pudgy toddler hand, the idea of building up a parenting “tool bag” with tools gleaned from different sources. Tools can be stories to illustrate an idea, motivational tools, demonstration of a skill, reward charts, discipline techniques, family rituals, morning or bedtime systems, distraction tricks, setting clear limits … anything we use in teaching and guiding our children.

Improving Birth – Rally for Change

September 2, 2013

improving birth rally labor dayCan you imagine going to a cancer doctor or a heart surgeon if only one third of their professional organization’s recommendations were based in scientific evidence? Yet that’s what’s going on in obstetrics in America.

A study showed that only one third (33%) of the recommendations put out by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) are based on “good and consistent evidence.” [See below for link to full article text] In looking at only obstetrics, that number falls to only one quarter (25%). Take action and join Improving Birth’s “National Rally for Change on Labor Day” as Empowered Birth Awareness Week kicks off.

Improving Birth held their first rally event in December, 2011 in San Diego and received local media coverage and affected real, evidence-based changes in the local hospital.

First Signs of Pregnancy

August 8, 2013

signs of pregnancy, first signs of pregnancy, early pregnancy signs, am I pregnany?, morning sickness, nausea and pregnancy, what helps morning sickness, cures for morning sicknessThank you to Erin McCormick for this guest post on the first signs of pregnancy.

It came on like rolling up a tube of toothpaste. I was standing in my shower when a wave of energy started in my feet and came all the way up my body. Swirling around in my stomach, I felt the nausea come on suddenly, as it moved through the rest of my body. I could feel it from my toes to my fingers with such intensity that I had a migraine in minutes. I had never had a migraine before and wasn’t sure if it was the cause of the nausea or the other way around.

This was the first sign that let me know I was pregnant.

One friend of mine described waking up thinking, “Oh crap, I’m sick.” She said she was extremely lethargic with no energy. Her breasts started swelling almost immediately. For her, early pregnancy tests were still coming up negative. Another friend said that she started noticing a sensitivity to food and smells, but didn’t have many of the other symptoms.

6 Reasons to Take Childbirth Classes

July 2, 2013

why should I take childbirth classes, reasons to take childbirth classes, hospital or private childbirth classes, refresher childbirth class, do I need childbirth classes, dads and childbirth classes, childbirth education reasons, Childbirth education began over forty years ago in an effort to shift the mentality of birth as an illness to birth as normal and an arena where moms and dads have choices. Popularity of classes peaked in the 1980‘s and 90‘s and has been declining since.

In the 2006 Listening to Mothers Survey, Childbirth Connection found that childbirth class attendance among first-time mothers fell from 70 percent in 2000 to 56 percent in 2005. Only 10% of the 1600 new moms in the survey named childbirth classes as their most important source of information. Sources that rated higher were: television (68%), books (33%), friends and relatives (19%) and the Internet (16%).

Some reasons for the drop may include time and scheduling to get to classes and higher epidural and cesarean rates. Families planning medication or a cesarean may feel, “Why bother to learn about positions and movements in labor if I’m getting an epidural/C-section?” A good childbirth class will cover both of these topics among other interventions and can ease worries and boost confidence for both parents.

Despite the image of childbirth educators as being crunchy-hippy types pushing natural birth, that’s not the reality. Sure you can come across that teacher or you can seek out classes geared at natural, no/low intervention birth, but many classes will give you a solid overall understanding of birth, comfort measures before you get to the hospital for medication if that’s what you’re choosing. A good childbirth class will help you see the broad spectrum of your options in birth. It’s also important to understand that independent classes may be able to give you a different exposure to birth than a hospital-based class where sometimes curriculums are structured and instructors have more limitations. (In full disclosure, I teach at a hospital and have been able to teach fully and freely how I like to present material and topics.)

Here are 6 Reasons to Take Childbirth Classes:

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 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?

Anna’s Birth Story

May 6, 2013

38 weeks pregnant, picture of pregnant woman, anna's birth, birth story,

A birth story makes a mother. Or grows a mother along her motherhood journey. In honor of Mother’s Day and my baby Anna’s birthday, here is her birth story.

Anna’s birth story is of the birth I had envisioned, the birth I had tried to have twice prior. Anna’s birth story is of the birth I had always wanted. “Third time’s a charm,” they joked while I was still in the tub. She was my VBAC waterbirth.

I wasn’t due for two more weeks, I didn’t know about the changes in the hospital VBAC policies only a day before my water broke. When you hear about someone’s “water breaking” it’s the sitcom scenes we visualize – the embarrassing splash, the unmistakable gush – but more often it’s kind of a question mark. Did I just pee or did my water break? I’m old enough to know how to go to the bathroom, but what is this?

It was 12:30 am, I got up, went to the bathroom and got back into bed. As I settled in, I had a tiny, throat-clearing cough and that’s when I felt it. A little warm, a little wet. I got back up and went to the bathroom to test things out. Hmmm, I think my water broke. Even the third time around, there can be uncertainty, it hadn’t happened spontaneously with my first two births so I had no personal point of reference either. Excitedly, I put on a pad and climbed back in bed planning to get some sleep before things kicked in.

What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Preeclampsia

May 1, 2013

preeclampsia awareness month, every pregnant woman needs to know about preeclampsia, facts about preeclampsia, baby in blue blanket, sweet baby girl, adaire, May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, do you know what preeclampsia is? Do you know the signs and symptoms, if you’re at risk, if it can be prevented?

Here are some facts that every pregnant woman needs to know about preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure in pregnancy, affects one in twelve pregnant women (or about 5 – 8% of all pregnancies). You may have heard terms like toxemia, PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension), EPH or PET in the past, these aren’t used anymore but referred to the same condition.

There is no known way to prevent preeclampsia and currently no know cause, however, there are risk factors that are known to increase a Mom’s chances of developing preeclampsia. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Preeclampsia in another pregnancy
  • A first pregnancy
  • A medical history of high blood pressure
  • Being pregnant with twins (or more)
  • Maternal age under 18 or over 40 years old
  • Obesity
  • Long intervals between pregnancies
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Various preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, lupus, autoimmune disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or sickle cell disease
  • A family history of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes

If you’ve had it in a previous pregnancy, the possibility of getting it again ranges from 5 – 80% depending upon factors like severity, overall health, and at what time in your gestation you had preeclampsia in your previous pregnancy. If you’ve developed preeclampsia before, seek preconception or early pregnancy guidance by a specialist.

Why does preeclampsia matter? How can a pregnant Mom spot it early?

4 Secrets Of VBAC

April 15, 2013

Do you know the secrets of VBAC? Mother’s Circle readers know that I’m a big believer in educating yourself, owning your birth and doing the work so you can make truly informed choices in not only your birth but also in your parenting and your life. Empowerment derives from being an active participant instead of […]

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.

6 Tips to Avoid a Cesarean

April 8, 2013

I’m often asked how to avoid a cesarean. While none of these tips is a sure fire way to avoid a cesarean, they can definitely help you, especially as you add them together.

baby in c section, avoid cesarean, cesarean birth, what happens in cesarean birth, baby held high, holding baby up, baby in lights, April is Cesarean Awareness Month and I am devoting my posts this week to issues surrounding cesarean births. Last week, I wrote about cesareans in general and the U.S. c-sections rate as well as some of the myths as to why the c-section rate is as high as it is.

Today, 6 Tips to help you avoid a cesarean:

1. Choose a Provider You Completely Trust

Your provider will be making the clinical judgment calls throughout your pregnancy, labor and birth; you need to be totally comfortable that your provider hears you, understands your hopes and visions for your birth and demonstrates respect for your questions and birth wishes.

If you leave appointments feeling unheard, brushed off or uneasy, trust your gut. Perhaps that indicates you should shop around. Ask your provider what his/her individual cesarean rate is. How decisively did they answer? Did you get a solid response or a vague explanation of their high risk patient load? How does their cesarean rate line up with the hospital, state and national rates? I’m not suggesting an elaborate analysis, but know this number and listen as you ask.

Remember, too, that while you may love one doctor in a group, you may never see that doc during your labor and birth. Obstetricians are surgeons, consider that as you decide who to hire are your provider. Low risk Moms do very well with midwives whose care is generally collaborative, low intervention, and individualized.

The midwifery model of care is based on pregnancy as a state of wellness, the medical model is focused on complications and problems. Childbirth Connection is a fantastic resource and in this article, explains the differences between the care models of midwives and doctors.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

April 5, 2013

c section, image of c section, dad in c section, gentle c section, cesarean birth, cesarean picture, cesarean awarenessCesarean Awareness Month is sponsored by The International Cesarean Awareness Network. ICAN is a non profit whose mission is “to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).” Check back next week for a post on VBAC.

Cesarean section is a surgery that saves babies and mothers lives in special circumstances, however, the United States, along with many other countries, have rates that far exceed what has been determined as the ideal maximum rate. Currently, the U.S. cesarean rate is over 30%.

About one third of American babies are born surgically. No scientific basis justifies this rise. No change in women’s bodies or birthing abilities has driven the increase in cesareans.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; in 2009, some discussion arose surrounding possible changes in WHO recommendations. Henci Goer, an award-winning author, speaker and leading expert in evidence-based maternity care, laid out the details in this 2009 Science and Sensibility article that reiterates the science behind the recommended optimal upper limit of a 15% cesarean rate for any country. Beyond that, it causes harm and increases disease and death in mothers and babies.

Baby Moon Education Retreat – New Fall Dates

April 2, 2013

Mystic, Connecticut Baby Moon + Education
Friday evening, September 20 – Sunday evening, September 22, 2013

[caption id="attachment_1178" align="alignleft" width="235"]Mystic pizza, Mystic Pizza movie, restaurant in mystic, mystic pizza special sauce, main street mystic, Watercolor of Mystic Pizza by Jane Bogdan[/caption]

Join us in Mystic, Connecticut for a Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend of exploring, connecting, learning and enjoying. September is one of the most beautiful times of year to be in Mystic.

It’s a getaway with purpose – nearby, but far enough to feel “away” while you connect with your loved one and continue your work to own your birth.

The term Baby Moon was coined first by Sheila Kitzinger to describe the time a family spends nestled together after the birth of their baby, paralleling a honeymoon taking place after the wedding. In years since, a Baby Moon has become the trendy pre-baby vacation.

If you’re envisioning a no or low-intervention birth, if you know that birth is a state of wellness and you desire to birth your baby(ies) normally, if you trust the birth process and want to honor your experience and protect your memory of your birth, this retreat is for you!

Young Women’s Birth Survey

March 18, 2013

If you’re a woman aged 18-26, click here to take the survey. Thank you!

mothers circle logo, birth survey, what do women fear about birth, college women and birth, birth questions, survey for young women, I have always trusted my body and trusted the process of birth even before I knew babies and mamas would be my profession. I’ve been in the birth world as a professional for over a decade, as a Mom for over fourteen years and it still saddens me to witness how much fear is tied up with birth.

As a doula* and childbirth educator, I work with families starting late in the second trimester, or later, more than midway through their pregnancy. I have found that the short time we work together is simply not long enough to reverse decades of fear a woman may carry. She may not even consciously realize her trepidation and angst, or its depth.

My motivation to conduct the Young Women’s Birth Survey sprouted at a conference with collegiate women in 2010. A group of young women asked what I do and after explaining what a doula is, I was shocked to hear the reactions of these young, healthy women who wanted to be mothers one day. They shared how afraid they were of pregnancy and birth. One young woman believed her body couldn’t hold a baby and another announced that she only wanted a C-section.

How to Decide Whether to Have Another Baby

February 27, 2013

baby number 3, another baby?, deciding on another baby, how to decide on another baby, questions to consider before new baby,How do you decide whether to have another baby? This is an intimately personal choice, everyone and every circumstance is different, of course, but the kinds of things that go into this decision are often quite similar.

Even though this is such a private choice, often outsiders offer unsolicited input. Nick and I always knew we wanted three children. We had a girl and two years later, a boy. Then when I was pregnant with our third baby, someone actually said to me, “Oh, why would you do that? You have the perfect family!” Um, seriously? You have your perfect family, I’ll have mine.

There is so much that goes into family planning decisions. It’s tough to sign up for another pregnancy when you look ahead at going through sleep deprivation, being tied down for nap schedules and managing babyhood, all while ALSO dealing with the needs of toddlers and school-aged kids.

Maybe you feel that things are going smoothly now, well, usually. Your kids are walking on their own, maybe they’re all even going to the bathroom by themselves. Nap times are extinct, diaper bags have been donated and you’re sleeping through the night (most of the time). So it’s hard to think about going back to square one just when you’ve really got a rhythm to your daily life.

My younger brother once said of growing families to Nick, “Everyday, you guys are moving closer to freedom and everyday we’re further away.”

If you’re struggling with this decision, you’re not alone in your conflicted feelings. I’d venture to say that most women and couples explore the idea to have another baby at some point. It’s a modern day battle between head and heart, between practicalities and emotions.

Girl or Boy? Guessing A Baby’s Gender

February 4, 2013

girl or boy, guessing baby's gender, sex of a baby, Are you having a girl or boy? How many times did you hear that when you were pregnant? You’re carrying all in front, you’re having a boy! You have heartburn? Oh, definitely a girl!

We hear this sort of reasoning so often in America that it seems completely normal or believable, but like other folklore around the world behind guessing a baby’s gender, it’s not based in anything factual.

Baby’s position, the color of grandma’s hair, the heart rate or shape of Mom’s belly are all individual factors which have no bearing on the baby’s sex, but we like to believe and accept some of our silly predictors. What do people in other countries use to guess girl or boy?

Baby Moon Education Getaway

December 22, 2012

Mystic, Connecticut
Friday evening, March 22 – Sunday evening, March 24, 2013

dad massages mom, pregnant couple, older couple expecting baby, pregnancy breathing, childbirth clases, mystic ct tourism, baby moon ideas, Join us in Mystic, Connecticut for a Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend of exploring, connecting, learning and enjoying. It’s a getaway with purpose – only 45 minutes from Providence, one hour from Hartford – but far enough to feel “away” while you connect with your loved one and continue your work to own your birth.

The term Baby Moon was coined first by Sheila Kitzinger to describe the time a family spends nestled together after the birth of their baby, paralleling a honeymoon taking place after the wedding. In years since, a Baby Moon has become the trendy pre-baby vacation.

If you’re envisioning a no or low-intervention birth, if you know that birth is a state of wellness and you desire to birth your baby(ies) normally, if you trust the birth process and want to honor your experience and protect your memory of your birth, this retreat is for you!

We will incorporate education on normal birth and it’s emotional and physical aspects. Between meals and outings, our time together will include discussions, group activities, demonstrations, videos, creative expressions, movement, time to experiment and continue to build your trust in birth and help you to make informed, evidence-based choices.

Between meals and childbirth education workshop time, you will enjoy free time to visit the Mystic Seaport

[caption id="attachment_1158" align="alignright" width="300"]mystic river, mystic seaport, drawbridge, sailboats, baby moon childbirth, full moon childbirth, Mystic River[/caption]

(you’ll receive two free tickets with your registration), Mystic Aquarium, Olde Mistick Village, hike local trails at the Nature Center, get a massage, take a swim (YMCA membership for the weekend is included in your registration) or check out Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods (about 1/2 hour from Mystic) and have time for a romantic dinner with your honey.

The Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend is now open for registration, escape the daily grind, enjoy time together before your baby arrives and get some sleep before the night feedings interrupt your zzz’s.

For more information or to register click HERE.

 

 

Boob Milk is Best

December 13, 2012

breastfeeding baby, benefits of breastfeeding, children asking about breastfeeding, siblings breastfeeding, cute baby face, baby hand on faceSitting at the dinner table, my youngest, Anna, asked me why she’s the only one without allergies, and the first answer (as a doula and lactation counselor) was, “Because I nursed you for two years.” “Huh?” she asked.

So I dove right in, “That’s what boobs are for,” she giggled, “for feeding babies. Cow milk is for calves, goat milk is for baby goats and human milk is for …” I paused to let her answer, “Human babies!” Her eyes twinkled, and at her age of increasing modesty and bodily awareness, she giggled and challenged, “Boys have boobs… and pecks.” I responded, “They have nipples, too, but can’t feed a baby.” The word nipples was also met with a chuckle.

We’ve talked about breastfeeding before many times, as a toddler she used to put her dolls to her breast routinely and if she ever used a play bottle, she’d tell me it had breastmilk in it. This discussion reminded me that in parenting, things need to be repeated and not just the pick-up-your-towel repeated, but relearned in new, age-adjusted ways. She was revisiting this topic with some more life experience under her teeny belt.

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 […]

Paper Chain to Motivate and Reward Kids

September 18, 2012

motivate and reward kidsA simple idea in college motivated a group of 17-21 year old women to earn top grades on campus, so I’m thinking this could really work for younger kids as a reward system or as extra inspiration in school work.

When I was the Scholarship Chair for my sorority in college, I cut up bunches of colorful strips of construction paper then I shared my plan. Anyone who got an A on a quiz, test or major paper could add their name to the A-Chain. Our goal was to have this paper chain grow along the stairway from the main floor to the third floor of our house by the end of the term. I couldn’t have anticipated the positive response. Everyone jumped on board excitedly, they proudly wrote their names and shared their successes with one another. We not only hit the top floor midway through the term, but we went all along the third floor hallway and headed down the back stairs! That year, our chapter was number one in grade point average; it was a rewarding achievement for us all.

It dawned on me that this could really work to motivate and reward kids, from toddler to teens. Here are a few ideas to use a paper chain in your family [this shows how to make paper chains with glue, I use staples or tape]:

How Pregnancy and Postpartum are Affected by Eating Disorders

August 31, 2012

Over the course of a single spring, I worked with three women struggling with postpartum anxiety. During our time together, I learned that they all had a history of eating disorders. This connection motivated me to research and talk to women about how eating disorders affected their pregnancy and postpartum experience. [Names have been changed.]

Eating Disorders as Related to Childbearing

The two most common eating disorders (EDs) are anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), estimated to affect 5 – 10 million females in the United States. Approximately 4.5% – 9% of women of childbearing age have a past or active eating disorder. AN is characterized by extreme calorie restriction, obsessive dieting and loss of periods. Symptoms of BN include repeated episodes of binge eating followed by purging, fasting, excessive exercise and abusing laxatives, diuretics and enemas. Both experience extreme fear of weight gain and distorted perception of body image.

Women struggling with EDs often exhibit perfectionism, obsessive behavior, extreme sensitivity, seriousness, anxiousness, self-consciousness, impulsivity, a feeling of being out of control, negative self image and a high level of self-blame. There is a strong correlation among perfectionism, anxiety and eating disorders.

While there are some contradictory study results, EDs have been linked to maternal and fetal risks including excessive vomiting during pregnancy, cesarean section, postpartum depression/anxiety, anemia, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, intrauterine death, preterm delivery, breech presentation, low Apgar scores, low birth weight, fetal growth restriction, small-for-gestational-age infants and slow weight gain.

Research also indicates a significantly greater incidence of anxiety and depressive disorders in women with EDs than in the general population. Shame and guilt about their illness can cause secretiveness, denial of a problem or reluctance to disclose symptoms to providers.

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy

Studies indicate that many women with EDs have a temporary remission during pregnancy which changes in the third trimester and the first three to six months postpartum, when symptoms often reemerge more severely than before pregnancy.

Birth Survey Guest Post

August 6, 2012

I’m happy to have been invited to share my Young Women’s Birth Survey and the motivations for doing this work on Birth Literacy. Please read my guest post and share it with women in the 18-26 year old age group who are eligible for the survey. Take the survey here This survey is intended to […]

Birth Literacy

July 26, 2012

Guest Post By Amy Dolgin   I am a mother, a nurse, a public health practitioner, and a blogger. I started my blog, Birth Literacy, to provide women and their families with evidence based information about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Birth Literacy, is my own spin-off of health literacy, a public health concept that […]

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