What I Wish I'd Known Postpartum

As a mom of three, I've learned a lot of things the hard way. Even as a doula and childbirth educator I'm continually learning new things. My biggest teachers in this life are my children and I often say that the things I got right, I got REALLY right, and the things I got wrong, well, I learned the hard way! Learn from my personal mistakes and also my now immense doula trainings so that maybe you can have an easier postpartum time:

me as a (short haired!) new mama

me as a (short haired!) new mama

 

I wish I'd asked for help.

I honestly thought I could do it all alone. I thought, "Having a baby is natural, right?" I assumed after a little post-birth healing, that i'd be up and about my routine as usual. I thought I could clean the house, make food, grocery shop, immediately and all by myself. I didn't consider how heavy my need to process my birth would be. I didn't know how heavily I needed a tribe of women to help me cook, help me clean, listen to my needs and fears. I didn't realize how I'd crave woman-to-woman wisdom and story sharing. In fact, I find that a lot of what I do now as a postpartum doula is sharing my own stories of my babies and myself after each of my own personal births. New mothers are thrust into a completely new life and we want to know that we aren't the only ones who have gone through this and survived! Many of my postpartum clients ask me, "Did your babies do this? Did you feel this way?" and there's something so vital and sacred in that sharing. 

Not to mention, hello, I needed help with some daily physical tasks. I wish I'd asked for help or even better, I really wish I'd hired a postpartum doula.

I wish I'd had a better understanding of breastfeeding.

Again, I assumed, "It's natural so it's easy right!?" Oh boy. Breastfeeding wasn't an easy, or even pleasant, experience for me. I dealt with everything from thrush, tongue ties, double mastitis, and raynaud's syndrome. Needless to say, breastfeeding kicked my ass. I wish I'd known that it was a hard journey for a lot of women. I wish I'd known that it was OK to stop! I felt so guilty moving onto formula and I also wasn't fully prepared on what formula to even choose. What bottles, what pacifier, what formula? These were all things I didn't even consider until my body was aching and the whole experience wore me down. Plus the mom-shame of feeling like I'd failed. Maybe this falls into the category of asking for help. Maybe a lactation consultant or postpartum doula could have helped me be more successful. But I really wish I'd had a better idea of how hard breastfeeding can potentially be.

I wish I'd prepared really good meals.

Postpartum nutrition is SO FREAKING IMPORTANT. I didn't prep for that! I was literally breastfeeding and eating graham crackers and twizzlers because they were easy. The last thing I wanted to do was cook. I recommend The First 40 Days for every expectant mother. It's full of mineral rich recipes you can freeze ahead of time. PLAN on being STARVING every moment of the day and pack food in your fridge like you're about to feed a football team.

I wish I'd gone easier on myself

Our society pushes us to "bounce back" immediately after baby. But your body, mood, LIFE, are all forever changed. I wish I'd ignored that dumb pressure and just enjoyed the ride.

I wish I had a self-care routine

This is a fairly new trend honestly. I have only started making self care a habit in the past couple of years. I encourage expectant parents to write down a list of things that make them feel loved and renewed. Try to implement at least one of those things every day. Wether it's a bath, a good meal, a splurge purchase, a walk, listening to music, whatever it is-- DO IT and do it EVERY DAY. As moms we get so wrapped up in taking care of everyone else that we are usually last on the list. But you can't pour from an empty cup! You gotta take care of you. 

I wish I'd left the house with a crying baby.

Yep, you read that right. In the beginning of my postpartum time I was terrified of leaving the house with baby. What if I had to nurse in public? What if baby cried?? What if I couldn't calm baby down? What if everyone stared at me?? Forget it. Pack a diaper and go. Just go. Get out of the damn house. If baby cries, baby cries, and baby will calm down and be happy again in five minutes. Leaving the house for fresh air and perspective is ALWAYS worth it and it's a good habit to get babies used to. They need to get out too! 

I wish I'd owned my parenting decisions

From friends, to family, to strangers and doctors. ERRR-BODY got an opinion. There will always be someone who disagrees with what you do, how you do it, how often you do it, blah blah blah. Cloth diaper or disposable, breast or bottle, vaccine or not, attachment parent or cry-it-out. You're with your baby too much or too little. It's a sh** storm of opinions and it's overwhelming. It still is sometimes. But I've learned over the years that ya know what, if you're doing the best with what you have, then who cares. At the end of the day our babies are loved, and healthy, and cared for, and diaper choices don't really matter in the long run. So own it and forget the haters. 

Those are a few things I wish I'd done. What would you add to my list? 

 

 

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Steady as we go

I don't put a lot of stock into astrology. I'm a casual horoscope checker, more for fun than purpose. I never really related to my title of "Capricorn"... However, as I've gotten older, I realize how much that dang goat does hold symbol for me.

Change and transitions aren't easy for me. I am a steady, trotting goat. I will scale flat-sided mountains, little by little, step by step. I like to have a plan. Boy do I like plans. One of my favorite activities is my once-a-week ritual of going to a coffee shop, all alone, ordering a brew, and camping out at a table. Once I've sufficiently nested into a corner, I pull out my thick and obnoixiously pink planner, my clutch of multi-colored pens, and plan my week. 

I write down my to-do's, my goals, my weekly and monthly tasks. I even go back to the previous planned week and write down my "wins" and "ways to improve". I scribble down qoutes that have been on my mind or ennegram 4 inspirations... Yes, this is fun for me believe it or not! I pack up my pens and take my last sip of coffee feeling more in control and like my mind can finally sigh in relief that it's all on a page.

I laugh at the hilarity of the universe that two of my life callings, being a mother, and being a doula, conflict so spectacularly with being a head-strong, list-making, day-planning, control freak, steady trotting capricorn. 

Trying to plan with kids akin to herding cats. And have you tried to plan a birth? Go ahead, try, tell me how that goes ;) 

What I'm learning, though, is that weakness and strength are a sort of yin and yang of harmony. I want control, but i'm so acutely aware that it really doesn't exist, so my want and knowing that I won't have it relax me.

I have my entire day planned on paper-- but i also have the desire to say f-it to the page and do something else sometimes and that feels exciting.

I have zero idea of what may happen at a client's birth. A homebirth could end up a hospital transfer-- and you'd think that would make a "planner" lose their mind, but to the contrary, I've already thought about that and have a Plan B 😂

So instead of fighting who I am and trying to force myself into "caring less" or being more fluid, I'm accepting that this is me and it's choas and it's steady, it's a great gift and it's a big struggle. It's everything at once.

Do certain traits in your life show up like that for you too?

 

 

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Motherhood Rites of Passage

I have always loved learning about other cultures. It can be so easy to be sucked into the western way of thinking that we forget that there's a huge world of people out there with varied experiences and viewpoints. I find this western and eastern contrast especially interesting in regards to motherhood. 

In China, for example, it's commonplace for the new mother to stay off her feet for 40 days after birth. She's cooked very specific, vitamin rich foods, and she's supported by women in her community during this sacred time of healing and bonding. This is quite the contrast to America, where statistically the average woman returns to work just two weeks after delivery.  This is only the tip of the iceburg of the imense knowlege we can gain from learning about motherhood from other cultures.

Something else I've noticed and come to appreciate are the Rites of Passage that are celebrated around the world. I recently read a story about an African tribe that secludes the pregnant mother from the men of the village in order to adorn her and tell her stories of birth and labor. 

One Aboriginal community, the Hopi, have an ancient purification ritual for the newborn baby and their mother, that is highly complex and connected to their creation legend. After the child is born they are kept in their home in darkness for twenty days. The mother chooses the perfect corn (that has four kernels on the end) to symbolize their Corn Mother (their creation goddess) and places it beside her child. For nineteen days the child is bathed in cedar water (like a cedar tea) and rubbed with ashes in a specific alternating pattern. The mother is also occasionally washed and drinks the cedar water. As the days go by the family draws lines in corn meal on the home's wall, then erases the lines in steps and redraws them in the community temple. These lines are the baby's spiritual home and their movement indicates that his spiritual home, once the mother's womb, is becoming the community temple. This is the baby's introduction to their spiritual life.

The beautiful traditions and stories go on and on of ways a new mother is blessed, though, what is that in our culture here in America? A new mother in America will typically have a baby shower where friends and relatives give gifts. Newest trends also include gender reveal parties where the baby's gender is revealing in a surprise "pink or blue" way. There are all sweet and fun! But how are we honoring the mother and this sacred event?

Most largely pregnant women in our culture are accosted in grocery store lines with opinions, "You're so huge!" or told horror stories of how dreadfully painful or terrible birth is. Where is the wise woman wisdom telling her she is capable and beautiful?

I encourage you to think about a Rite of Passage that could mark this time in your life, as you await your new little babe. Something that could honor the sacredness of this experience. Not as "another thing to add to the list" but as a way to connect spititually and honor this sacred passsage into motherhood.

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A few ideas:

A Blessingway Ceremony: A Blessing Way was traditionally a Navajo Ritual created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood. In recent times, this beautiful Ritual has been adapted as an alternative to Baby Showers, where the focus tends to be more on the gifts and the baby, rather than on the Mother and her experience. A blessingway or "Mother Blessing" can be as creative or simple as you like. Women you invite can write you birth affirmations, share stories of their power, take turns adorning the mother in flower crowns or handmade jewlery to wear during birth. I've attended several Blessingway Ceremonies and I can say that they are so special and empowering to the woman.

Henna: After being drawn to it for years, I've recently started dabbling in henna. Henna is an Indian artform of using a natural, plant-based stain to draw beautiful designs on the body. Most people get them on their hands, feet, or palm. Pregnanct women can get a beautiful design to decorate their belly. It can be a beautiful way to celebrate your new form. You can also choose a design that's meaningful and empowering for you like a flower or mandala. 

Belly Casts: These can usually be done at home yourself. Afterwards you can paint your bellycast and hang it up to display somewhere in your home.

An Empowering Maternity Shoot: Book a photographer at 9 months pregnant, put on a flowy dress, get out in nature and get some gorgeous shots of your mama body.

Meditation and Ceremony. Meditating on your feminine power and affirming your body's ability to bring forth life. Afterwards you can create anything you want to solidify the moment. Make a flower crown, set up a birth alter with affirmations, crystals, and/or photos. Make it your own.

If other traditions have taught us anything about birth it's that it's collectively viewed as a sacred and precious time in a woman's life. It's one that is meant to be celebrated and adored. I encourage you to find a way to include, not just a celebration of the baby, but a celebration of your journey into motherhood. You deserve it. 

 

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Wedding Prep vs. Baby Prep

Did you know that most brides spend up to 20 hours a week planning their wedding?

 

Of course, we want everything perfect, down to the flowers, the dress, the ceremony, writing our vows, hiring a planner, and a photographer. We think about how we want our families involved, we plan out our honeymoons...

 

So why don't we spend as much effort, if not more, on planning our births!?

 

There are ways to plan and prepare for labor so that you're feeling just as beautiful, confident, prepared, and as IN LOVE as you were on your wedding day.

 

And just like those wedding details can be overwhelming, it's ultimately worth it for the memories and the bond that will last for years to come. SO... I urge you, sweet mamas, to really think about your birth and how you want it to go.

 

Beyond birth plans and care providers-- how do you want to FEEL? Who do you want with you? How are you best supported? Who can you call postpartum to come help? How are you going o preserve the memory of your birth?

 

As always, I'm happy to help with any of these thoughts or details, and I'd be honored to support you in your birth. Feel free to message me any time! <3

 

 

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Asheville Doula: Happy Mother's Day!

My motherhood journey has been a wild and rewarding ride. 

I had my first daughter at 21. While friends my age were out staying up all night and mixing drinks,  I was staying up all night [with a baby] and mixing [bottles]. Then after a couple years came her sister, and then finally, another sister. It's hard to put into words how much motherhood has shaped me. I've grown up alongside my children and we are constantly learning from each other. 

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I have an independent, creative, introspecive oldest. A sensitive, nurturing, and compassionate middle. A sassy, fireball, trail-blazing youngest. I see in each of my children a quality of myself that is so pronounced in them that I want to foster it and encourage it to bloom and grow. And then there are the qualities that are uniquely their own that I discover as they grow. We figure it all out together.

Being a mother has taught me long nights, where one kid has a bad dream, then another kid needs a sip of water.

Motherhood has taught me that my "plan" is basically only there for my own comfort and can, and probably will be, thrown out the window at a moment's notice. Sometimes life requires detours to afterschool ice cream and Target for sketchbook paper... again. 

Motherhood has taught me a profound appreciation for my body. For what it can do, how I have little silver stretch marks on my belly that I don't even try to make go away, they're just there- reminding me that I grew life three times. Having girls, motherhood has taught me that I'll be damned if I ever say a harsh word about my body in front of them. It's a piece of art, as is there's, and I'll never convey differently. 

Motherhood has taught me to embrace my inner instinct and intuition. It's lead me to find my "Mother Wolf" and rely on my root. I'm not a fighter by nature but I've faught for what's best for my my girls when I've had to. 

Motherhood has taught me imensely about love and the beauty of grace. How tomorrow is always a new day, and there's really not much that can't be fixed with a hug and a little chocolate. 

I'm continually learning and growing. Motherhood has pushed me to be better, and then better, and then even more better. Because my babes deserve that and it's in me to give, and I'll always give, and give, and give. 

I'm brought back to something I read years and years ago by Ann Voskamp:

"Because God needed someone to love the least and the little into real whole people, and He knew that to love is to suffer so God made a mother.

God had said – I need someone to get up at midnight and scoop the most fragile of humanity close to her warmth and rock though she can hardly stand and nourish though she’s mostly sleep-starved and change the diaper and the sheets and the leaked on, leaked through, and leaked down clothes though she’ll have to change them in the morning and next week and that won’t change for years.

So God made a Momma.

 

That God had said I need somebody with a strong heart.

Strong enough for toddler tantrums and teenage testing, yet broken enough to fall on her knees and pray, pray, pray.

Someone who knows that in every hard place is exactly where you extend grace, who looks a hopeful child in the eye and says yes, even though she knows every yes means a mess but this is how you bless, who has the courage to keep letting go because she’s holding on to Me.

So God made a momma.

 

God said I need somebody who can shape a soul and find shoes on Sunday mornings and get grass stains out of Levis.

And make dinner out of nothing and do it again 79, 678 times, and keep kids off the road and out of the toilet and in clean underwear and mainly alive though she’s mainly losing her mind and will put in an 80 hour week by Wednesday night and just do one more load of laundry.

And one more sink of crusted burnt pots.

And keep on going another eighty hours because raising generations matters and weaving families matters and tying heart strings matters and these people here in hidden places matter.

So God made a momma…

 

It had to be somebody who could comb back pigtails and tie up skates just-right tight.

Who could pretend she remembered algebra and how to get home from here and that really, she was just fine, that it must just be the silly onions.

Somebody who would run for the catch, jump on a trampoline and play one fierce game of soccer and not give a thought to all those labors and her weak pelvic floor. Somebody who’d stay up late with a science project that never ends, who’d get up early for the game in the rain, somebody who’d wave at the door until the taillights were out of sight and still be smiling brave.

So God made a momma.

 

It had to be somebody willing to keep loving when it made no sense because that’s what love does.

Somebody who knew that life is not an emergency but a gift — so just. slow. down. There are children at play here and we don’t want anyone to get hurt and the hurry makes us hurt.

Somebody willing to feed and lead, lay down her life and pick up her cross, give of her time because they have her heart. Someone who knows that we all blow it — and what matters is what we then do after.

Someone who could humble herself into the tender sorry that covers a multitude of sins.

Someone who would live like a Giving Tree — who would give grace, give life, and give thanks —  eucharisteo:  the giving thanks for every grace that gives back always joy.

Someone who would stand in the mess and the midst and give thanks anyways — because eucharisteo always, always, precedes the miracle of discovering that the Giver Himself is always, always more than enough.

Someone who would live it a thousand times: Give thanks — and discover that the Giver Himself is the Gift and He alone is always, always enough.

Someone who would pour out and bend down and surrender not only to the physical pain of childbirth but the far deeper, unending heart pain of letting go, letting go, letting go –  from the womb, from the arms, from the front door. Someone who would know that umbilical cords can be cut — but heart strings never can.

Someone who’d bow her head at night over the girl sleeping with the doll in the crook of her arm — and give thanks to her Father for this hidden life that’s turning a gear for the whole spinning world.

So God made a momma.

You." ~ Ann Voskamp

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Happy Mother's Day, to all you Giving Trees who became Giving Mothers.

 

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Asheville Doula: Acupressure for Labor

Did you know that by day I run an acupuncture clinic? I've been trained in Acupressure for Labor and Birth and find it to be an invaluable tool as a doula. I use acupressure during labor for everything from easing PANIC, controlling NAUSEA, and reducing PAIN receptors. I even have some cool traditional wooden tools that I use!

Furthermore, clients of mine get discounted acupuncture for LIFE! Acupuncture is great for hormonal issues, labor induction, postpartum healing and more. Read more about the evidence based benefits of acupunture and acupressure during labor below.

https://evidencebasedbirth.com/acupuncture-and-acupressure…/

 

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Asheville Doula: Updates!

Hi there lovely beings,

It's been a month since I've updated! Birth work is busy and I'm so thankful to have my hands full of what I love. This past month the weekdays are filled with running our natural health clinic Silver Leaf Natural Medicine. Due to client growth and to better meet the needs of our community, we were inspired to expand into much more than a space for acupunture. We knocked down a wall over a weekend, reorganized, and are greatly expanding our herb and supplement inventory in hopes of being Asheville's one-stop-shop for natural cures and wellness. It's exciting but a lot of work on top of the usual flow of patients.

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My nights and weekends have been filled to the brim with doula work. Between meet the doula nights in the community, consults with clients, and teaching Childbirth Education classes at The Mothership Asheville-- I've been kept very busy! I now work with both Doulas of Asheville and The Mothership Asheville as a doula and educator and it's wonderful! 

Within the past few weeks I've felt my soul calling me forward in birth work and yesterday the path forward for me and this journey was laid out ever so clearly. I know exactly where I am going from here and that's a new and crazy and amazing feeling. I will be sharing more in coming months, but for now, I am very blessed to know my next steps. 

In the mean time I am so grateful and humbled to serve people in my community and to stand at the gates of parenthood along so many beautiful and inspiring souls. It's going to be a wonderful year! 

 

 

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Asheville Doula: High Purpose

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Buddhism teaches us not to try to run away from our suffering. You have to look deeply into the nature of suffering in order to recognize its cause, the making of suffering. - Thich Nhat Hanh
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Labor contractions are like waves in the ocean. They come in rhythm and with intensity. I won't lie and say they're merely "surges of feeling" no girl, they hurt. We are conditioned to believe that all pain is bad. Pain signals to us that something is wrong. This isn't the case for birth. If you're in labor, something is very right. Bodies and souls are aligning like stars in the cosmos. Your body and your baby are working hard. Your soul needs to work hard too. Let your heart wrestle with your mind and let your heart win. Let your inner being tell your physical body, "Shh... this is good. This is holy." Accept the pain as a high purpose. .
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Asheville Doula: Cupping Therapy

Did you know that we offering Cupping Therapy at Silver Leaf Natural Medicine?

Cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and well-being.

The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system. Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite.

Cupping is different than a massage in that it lifts the muscle which can increase blood flow and relax the tight area.

Thinking of trying out cupping for pregnancy aches and pains? Let's chat! 

 

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