Author Archive

The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #2 – “13 Reasons Why You REALLY Want a Doula”

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Doulas are birth magic, Blooma Family. Aside from the amazing facts this article by the incredible Alisa Blackwood goes through, there is one reason we want to add (call it the bonus reason): Doulas are trained to hold space for you. They inhale anxiety and anger and pain and exhale peace into your room. They hold your partner’s hand while you cannot. They talk to nurses and midwives and family and provide the space you need to give birth in whatever way works that day, for you. They will stand up for you, support you in your choices, and then afterwards, tell you your birth story and give you a hug, telling you that you did a great job. EVERYONE can use a doula – whether you are birthing in a hospital or in the woods, whether you are waiting until your water breaks at 42 weeks or whether your C-section is already on the calendar. Can you tell we have so much love for doulas? Well, if this short rant hasn’t convinced you yet, please read Alisa’s beautiful words in this, our number 2 in the Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time: “13 Reasons You REALLY Want a Doula” Lots of Blooma love, Ann + The Women of Blooma

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The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #4 – “’Squirreling’ — Or, Prepping Postpartum Freezer Meals”

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

As we round the corner into the top four posts, Blooma Family we come to a post that had a lot of our mamas talking, and inspired a big round of sharing in our Prenatal Yoga classes. What were meals mamas could make before birth to have on hand afterwards? We loved the ideas that came up – chopped up fruits and veggies, shredded meats for easy tacos or wraps, and oh so many soups, chilis and broths! This post has some great places to start with recipes and suggestions for those who are not into cooking, and we’d love to hear more of your ideas in the comments below! With that and with mouths watering, we present the number 4 post in our Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time: “‘Squirreling’ – Or, Prepping Postpartum Freezer Meals” Here’s wishing you and your loved ones full bellies, happy hearts, and peaceful minds. With lots of Blooma love, Ann + The Women of Blooma

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The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #8 – “5 Tips for Planning Your Maternity Photo Shoot”

Monday, December 14th, 2015

We often talk to our BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) Yoga classes to brand new Mamas about things they wish they would have known coming into the season of being a mother, and things they wish they would have done before baby arrived (along with things they did or purchased they did not use once!), and so often we hear the same two things: 1. I wish I would have gone on more dates with my spouse. 2. I wish I would have captured my pregnant belly. Maternity photos are very personal – some women want to bare it all like a celebrity, and some want to keep things covered. Some want to share everywhere (if you feel like sharing, tag us with the hashtag #joytothebelly – we would love to see your bump!), and some want to just have their maternity photos for themselves and their partners. Either way you go, Mamas, here they are: “The Top 5 Tips for Planning Your Maternity Photo Shoot” Here’s hoping your photos are ones you treasure, Mamas. Love, Ann + the women of Blooma

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The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #15 – “5 Tips For Boosting Love Hormones and Reducing Labor Pain”

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

{By: Ann Drewiske} We are counting down the days to a new Blooma Blog – and we have so many new articles and features ready to go, Mamas! Until then, we are counting down the top 15 posts from the blog so far (based on clicks and shares) – starting with this brilliant piece from Alisa Blackwood on how to reduce pain in labor by, well, “getting juices flowing” with your partner. Check out Alisa’s article, “Top 5 Tips for Boosting Love Hormones and Reducing Labor Pain,” and share in the comments below – did you use these tips with your partner during labor, and did it help? We’ll see you soon with our #14 post, and stay tuned for the relaunch of the Blooma Blog, coming at you in the beginning of December! Until then, lots of Blooma love (and partner love, if you are headed into labor!), Ann + the women of Blooma  

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Why Watching Your Child Sleep Never Gets Old

Monday, July 6th, 2015

We reached a fever-pitch of whining last night. The 7 year old: “That’s not fair! She gets to…” (insert whatever). And the 4 year old: “I want THIS book, not THAT book!” Ah, bedtime. And especially bedtime after a holiday weekend full of too many treats, too many late nights, and a whole lot of fun. By the time both kids were finally asleep, my husband and I looked at each other with knowing WTF expressions of exhaustion. Any plans for a just-us movie night or snuggles next to a backyard bonfire were dashed. Too tired, too late — it was understood that we, too, were going straight to bed. This morning, as my husband and oldest child dashed out the door for camp drop off, I was left with a few minutes of alone time while Lola, my 4 year old, slept in. (Cue dread for continuing the cycle of late bedtimes.) I crept into her room to put away some laundry, hoping to gently rouse her. My rustling barely stirred her. She turned in my direction and in one, quick unexpected moment, also took my breath away. There she was: beautiful. Peaceful. This was my chance, sans whining or drama to take in her little girl curls, her sweet sleeping-in-only-underwear body. And with her asleep, I could simply watch her. And touch her. And marvel at her miraculous perfection. I smoothed my hand over her soft belly, pet her head, and kissed her sweet cheeks. I counted each of her ribs, visible with each of her deep, sleeping breaths. Her cute little toes, still painted red from the 4th of July. Yes — how miraculous this being is: each part that’s unseen — heart, stomach, brain — all so very luckily, perfectly formed and working in sync with the kind of magic we take for granted every day. Watching one of my children sleep is a lot like a coming to the end of a fabulous yoga class. I’ve cut through the clutter and drama inside my mind and remain with only the essentials: the purity of my breath, a calm heart, and gratitude. Within that quiet, I can see what truly matters. Yes, just like peering in at one of my slumbering not-so-little-anymore babes. These are the moments that remind us to inhale a little deeper, to melt into the exhales, to remember that on the other side of those parenting growing pains, failures and frustrations, there are moments like this — ripe with simplicity and gratitude.

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Straight Talk: Placentas — Wisdom from a Guatemalan Midwife (Part 2)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

The placenta, which a mother’s body grows for the sole purpose of nourishing her baby from tiny being to birth, is thought of by many as the first spiritual connection between mother and child. Many cultures around the world consider the placenta to be sacred, and treat it as such. Some choose to bury the placenta in a location important to the family. Some make art by printing the “tree of life” side onto a canvas. (If you’re curious about placenta encapsulation, check out my part one Straight Talk post about placentas.) Here in the U.S., the placenta is often thrown away as medical waste. Some women question — is the placenta really just garbage or does it symbolize something more? Recently I traveled to Guatemala with three other American birth workers and together, we experienced the honor of a cultural exchange with two Mayan midwives. First, we met with 70-year-old midwife María Sajquiy Cortez (who had, at the time of our meeting, attended 3,802 births!). Against the stunning backdrop of Lake Atitlán — and with the help of two phenomenal language translators — we talked for hours. One of my favorite moments was learning about her beliefs and practices surrounding postpartum treatment of the placenta. “The key to the life of the human being is the placenta,” Sajquiy told us.
A midwife shows a mother her placenta. This side, where the umbilical cord attaches, is also known as the "tree of life" side because it looks like a tree trunk with branches. (Photo by Alisa Blackwood)

A midwife shows a mother her placenta. This side, where the umbilical cord attaches, is also known as the “tree of life” side because it looks like a tree trunk with branches. (Photo by Alisa Blackwood)

After the umbilical cord is cut, Sajquiy ties it tightly in a knot, and via her intuition, determines “the significance and what luck it can bring the newborn,” relaying that information to the mother. The placenta is then cleaned, dried in the sun, and placed in a box with other meaningful relics. The box stays with baby into adulthood, and throughout its life, as a way to keep that person connected to his or her purpose. With Sajquiy’s permission, I’m sharing the video of this part of our conversation. Press play below to learn what she does with the placenta, and how she believes it serves as a life-long, essential guidepost for a person. Special thanks to my Spanish teacher, Teresa Schweitzer-Quieju for her heartfelt translation from Spanish to English, and to Pablo Garcia Ixmata of the Academy of Mayan Languages for his brilliant and compassionate translation from Sajquiy’s Mayan language (Tz’utujil) into Spanish. The second Guatemalan midwife we met with shared with us her practice as well. She waits to cut the cord until after the placenta is birthed. Then she wraps the placenta in a white cloth (to symbolize purity) and gives it to the baby’s family to bury on a spot of land that belongs to them. “If we burn or throw away the placenta, the child will suffer,” said midwife Petrona Yojcom Cortez. Whether or not these practices resonate with you, I was struck by the beauty of such intentional connection to the life source of a person — a contrast to treating the placenta as trash. Like Sajquiy, midwife Yojcom determine’s a baby’s “gift” after birth.”This work for me is very sacred,” she said. “Every baby is born with a gift to the world.” Alisa Blackwood is a certified birth doula, insatiable world traveler, and a registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT). As a mother of two, she had two chances to figure out what to do with her placentas. She buried the first one at a family farm with a lovely little tree, and encapsulated her second.

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Straight Talk: Placentas — to Encapsulate or Not? (Part I)

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

When my husband posted on Facebook a “quote of the day” from me, it went something like this: “Oh, by the way, honey, there’s a placenta in our fridge.” True, this happened. And true, it happens with some frequency. As a birth doula, I’m often the middle-woman who brings home a new mother’s placenta as it awaits processing and encapsulation. Sealed and labeled in a white, hospital-issued bucket strikingly similar to a gallon container of Blue Bunny, it sits in my fridge for a few hours until the placenta encapsulator picks it up. (Many doulas offer this service to their mamas, but I choose to outsource this.) Naturally, a bunch of my birthy friends commented positively or liked my husband’s Facebook post. But I can only imagine the “ew” faces crinkled up behind their computer screens that I couldn’t see. One curious cousin living across the country from us dared to ask: “What exactly do you DO with the placenta?” You might be wondering the same thing. So let’s do this. Let’s talk placentas. First off, can we all agree that no matter what you do with the placenta after birth, it’s a downright miraculous thing that a woman’s body GROWS A DISPOSABLE ORGAN for one-time use? This large organ — about the width of a salad plate, give or take a few inches — weighs about a pound, give or take a few ounces. It attaches to the wall of a mother’s uterus and provides oxygen and nourishment to baby via the umbilical cord. It also removes waste from baby’s blood. After baby’s birth, the placenta detaches from mom’s uterus and is expelled with the help of a few (less intense) contractions and maybe a few pushes. In short, the placenta is a baby’s physical — and some say spiritual — connection to its mother. It serves as baby’s life force. That alone is reason enough for many women to consider the placenta sacred (more on that in tomorrow’s post). Yes, some people eat it post-birth — you may have read about placenta stews, stir-fries or milkshakes — but I’d venture to guess that the number of women who partake in culinary placenta use is relatively low. Meanwhile, placenta encapsulation continues to gain in popularity among postpartum women, who can better stomach the idea of popping a pill filled with her steamed, dehydrated, ground up, and now tasteless placenta. Publications from The Atlantic to Parents have written about the practice. Locally, here in Minnesota, you can investigate and find an encapsulator at So what’s the takeaway? Why do it?  
Photo by Teresa Espenas Jugovich.

Photo by Teresa Espenas Jugovich.

Though much of the evidence is anecdotal, moms who choose placenta encapsulation report that the pills help regulate postpartum mood, restore iron levels and boost milk production. Even without significant scientific research on the practice, experts say there is little risk to consuming the placenta as long as it is prepared safely, with sterile equipment, by a trained encapsulator. That can be just enough of a go-ahead for a woman with a fear or history of postpartum depression, for example, to hire an encapsulator. I have on rare occasions heard from a mom who says she stopped taking them because they made her feel funny — too energetic, but for the most part, the feedback is two enthusiastic thumbs up. Placebo or real, positive pick-me-up? You decide. What about you, mamas? Do you have personal experience with encapsulation? Tell us — we’d love to hear about your experience. Alisa Blackwood is a certified birth doula and registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT). As a mother of two, she had two chances to figure out what to do with her placentas. She buried the first one at a family farm with a lovely little tree, and encapsulated her second. A few weeks post birth her husband commented, “Wow, you seem to have a lot of energy!” 

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Blooma Prenatal Yoga: Rest Smart for More Comfortable Sleep

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

by Alisa Blackwood

As your belly grows, the more important your precious sleep becomes — and the more important it is to use extra props for overnight comfort! The above image shows you how to “rest smart,” so you can snooze the night away (until your next bathroom break, that is). This pose is also a great way to set yourself up in prenatal savasana, or final resting pose, at the end of your prenatal yoga practice. What you’ll need:

  • a pillow or bolster for under your head
  • a firm bolster or stack of folded blankets
  • a pregnancy wedge or thinner blanket (optional)

Begin by sliding down onto your left side. Sliding down sideways, rather than leaning directly back reduces the chance of straining your back or hips. Use your pillow or a bolster under your head. Straighten your bottom leg. Bend your top leg, supporting it with a firm bolster or stack of blankets. The props should be high enough to keep you from leaning backwards or twisting your upper body. Stack your hips, one on top of the other. Allow your belly to hang forward, as though your baby is resting in a hammock. If you need extra support under your belly, use a thin blanket or a pregnancy wedge. Allow your belly, your muscles, and ligaments to feel heavy and relaxed. Let go. Switch sides whenever you need to. Ahhhh… sweet sleeping, mamas! TVP_4098 (For more about “resting smart” and other tips for maternal comfort during pregnancy, stream Daily Essentials, a video collaboration between Blooma founder Sarah Longacre and Gail Tully of

Alisa Blackwood is a registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT), a certified birth doula, and a mother of two.  

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Blooma Prenatal Yoga Sequence for Boosting Confidence

Monday, January 26th, 2015

by Alisa Blackwood
Fill your spirit with energy that’s grounding, yet confident, with this 5-8-minute series of poses. First warm up your body with prenatal sun salutations. Then proceed to the sequence below.

  For Boosting Confidence  

Breathe smoothly, in and out of your nose to calm, center, and channel your focus. As always, listen to your body and back off the pose if it does not feel right to you.


1) Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Stand at the top of your mat with your feet hips distance apart. Take a few breaths to rock side to side, back and forth, and evenly distribute your weight throughout your feet.
Inhale, sweep the arms up by the ears, palms facing inward. Exhale, bend your knees and drop the back of your thighs toward the mat, keeping them as parallel as possible to the floor.*
Inhale, melt your shoulders and snuggle baby in. Exhale, pull back through the hips, releasing your tailbone toward the floor.
Inhale, lengthen your spine and lift your heart. Exhale, release your scapula down your back.
To come out of the pose, inhale and press your feet into the earth as you rise up to standing. Exhale, float the arms down. Take a few breaths here and notice how your body feels.
* Weak knees? Reduce the depth of your squat.


2) Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
From the top of your mat, step your left foot back, into a wide-legged standing position. Pivot on the right heel to turn the toes forward 90 degrees. Turn the left foot so the toes point toward the front left corner of your mat, pressing down through your back heel.
Inhale, sweep the arms up to shoulder height, extending the fingers. Exhale, bend the right knee over the ankle, aiming the outer edge of the knee toward the pinky toe. Breathe as you press through the back heel, lift the knee cap and draw your thigh toward the bone. Imagine your torso lengthening and lifting, keeping it centered over the hips.
Snuggling baby close, lift your pelvic floor and relax your tailbone down.
Pause here for two to three breaths. Send love and breath to baby. Notice your own energy and confidence building!
Repeat on the opposite side.


3) Goddess Pose
From Warrior II, straighten your front leg and pivot the toes outward, drawing your weight into the outside edges of your feet. Inhale arms to shoulder height, bending at the elbows. Exhale as you flip your palms toward the sky and bend your knees deeply. Lengthen your spine and lift your heart. Keep your gaze soft or close your eyes. Allow your jaw and shoulders to melt. Feel your strength rooting down as you send three to five breaths to your baby. Receive!


Alisa Blackwood is a registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT), a certified birth doula, and a mother of two. Greta Fay (editor) is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor and Blooma Teacher Liaison. 

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Boobs, Bottles & Milk: 10 Tips for Creating a “Nursing Station”

Friday, December 19th, 2014

One of the best breastfeeding tips I received prenatally was to set up a nursing station. At the time I knew a whole lot of nothing about nursing. So naturally, I didn’t listen. I was too busy focusing on my baby’s upcoming birth! I learned the hard way that the second I sat down and finally got my baby latched just right that I would be either parched beyond imagination or starving. And of course, neither my water nor snacks would be nearby. I quickly understood that my midwife’s nursing station advice was spot-on.

So I got right on that nursing station thing. (You might want to, too!) My new go-to spot had everything I needed. I was comfortable and nourished.

To create your nursing station, choose a cozy corner or a relaxing area of your house. Choose a comfortable chair and maybe your favorite soft blanket. Then pick up a cute basket and keep it stocked with the following:

1 / A big water bottle. You’ll want to aim for the equivalent of eight glasses of water a day. Drink to your thirst if you feel you want more. Have your bottle filled and nearby before you sit down to nurse.

Sometimes your nursing station doubles as a pumping station. (Note giant jar of water on this mama's side table!)

Sometimes your nursing station doubles as a pumping station. (Note giant jar of water!)


2 / Healthy snacks. You’ll need about 400-500 extra calories a day when breastfeeding. That doesn’t mean you get to load up on candy bars or ice cream, but nutritious, healthy snacks, please! Having them nearby and ready can help you keep up those extra calories easily and healthfully.

3 / A list of breastfeeding resources such as lactation consultants and local La Leche League groups.

51XKBM85KQL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_4/ An excellent breastfeeding book. For quick questions and troubleshooting, READ MORE

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Real Moms’ Top Tips for Your Postpartum Kit

Friday, November 21st, 2014

by Alisa Blackwood

Sometimes asking the Facebook brain for advice yields excellent results. (And sometimes you just don’t need to hear from your conspiracy theory-obsessed neighbor …) In today’s case, you’re going to benefit big time. I asked moms and birth/postpartum professionals to share their top tips for the immediate postpartum period — and WOW! — did they ever deliver. From Florida to California, and Minnesota to New York, mamas weighed in with what helped them most. First, the highlights:

1 / Mother Love Nipple Cream. People mentioned this stuff so many times it must be better than gold!

2 / A Peri Squirt Bottle. This is a FOR-SURE. Swipe a couple from the hospital or pick up at a drug store. Fill with warm water or a postpartum herbal tea and squirt on yourself when urinating. Replaces wiping.

3 / Witch Hazel or Tucks

4 / Postpartum bath herbs. There are a bunch of great ones to choose from!

5 / Comfy, loose clothing (sized similarly to when you were 5 months pregnant) and nursing tanks/bras

6 / A nursing pillow such as the My Brest Friend

7 / Nutritious snacks + meals, especially if you’ve prepped it + frozen it in advance or if delivered by friends.

8 / Support of all kinds: a postpartum doula, helpful family, a designated friend for the hard times, and phone numbers for a therapist and lactation counselor/consultant Now for the specifics! (Do be sure to ask your health care provider about any medications or herbal/homeopathic remedies suggested.)

Read on, take notes, and start assembling your own postpartum kit.

Tips from Moms for Your Postpartum Kit 

  • Lactation cookies, lottsa soups (to keep me … ahem, regular), sitting backwards on the toilet and Mother Love Nipple Cream. I put that *s* on everything! —Sarah A.
  • Big pads soaked in witch hazel and frozen … oh lord … yes … —Maddi
  • Comfy new socks or a new lounging outfit (yoga pants and oversized shirt). Healthy and convenient snacks for all night feedings. Tucks! —Megan
  • Pads, pads, pads. Healthy finger food. —Bridget Boob-Ease-Soothing-Therapy-Pillows--pTRU1-13305341dt
  • Those gel nipple pads you can put in the fridge and those boob warmers for the microwave. Never would have thought… —Jennifer
  • I second (or third) mother love nipple cream! —Anna C.
  • Frozen maxi pads soaked in witch hazel — a lifesaver after vaginal childbirth. —‪Sharron
  • Colace! Was given it with my second, not with my first. What a difference!!!! Didn’t feel like I was going to poop out my uterus. The squirty (peri) water bottle for, ahem, intimate toilet rinsing … Any top with easy boob access. Permission to shed all types of body shame and self-consciousness. A list of breastfeeding-safe meds for common, mild ailments so that when you get a headache, you don’t freak out about what you can and cannot safely take. —Jennie
  • Witch hazel spray and witch hazel frozen pads. Lavender oil + Epsom salt bath soak. —‪Melissa‬
  • One of those lovely donut cushions to sit on!!! A must! —Katie
  • Two words: Squirt bottle. —Jennifer
  • The promise of postpartum aid/presence. Someone to run errands. Or hold your baby while you shower/ grocery shop/ nap. —Melissa
  • Postpartum doula. Bathrobe. Time to snuggle in with babe. —Margaret
  • I had to have C-sections every time (two 10-pounders, 1st one breach, and an emergency delivery for the third). Anyway, no one in the U.S. ever told me to ice my incision, but my Mexican doc said ice is your incision’s best friend, and he was right. Also, I didn’t have family there to help but had full-time help, even on weekends. Best decision ever. —Kelly
  • I give Well-in-Hand New Mama Tush Soothing Bath. So healing! —‪Marieka‬
  • Motherswort tincture as well as Arnica to reduce postpartum swelling and muscle inflammation. Angel Bottom Baby Balm for hemorrhoids and tears. Invaluable! —‪Cheryllyne _0006_nipple_cream_1a
  • Breast pads and a pump. —‪Brandy‬
  • I stole a crap ton of those snappy ice packs from the hospital. Those were a godsend! —Allison
  • I *guiltily* took a few of those pads on the bed … not the Chux/paper/dog pads kind, but the reusable/washable ones. Great for any leaking, bleeding, or baby pukes since baby slept in bed with us. Witch hazel spray (better than actually touching the tender spots with wipes) and Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple cream (Lansinoh/lanolin required too much touching for my tender nips; this stuff melted on). Grandpa-style jammies for easy nursing access. Nursing tanks. Squirt bottle. Time to take a bath every day. Sometimes more than one. Food from friends. Lots of pads. Eventually a Moby Wrap or ring sling. An app to track when I breastfed so I didn’t have to worry about it. (there are plenty of free ones.) Ibuprofen! —Katie
  • Comfrey Root for healing “down there” as well as assisting with hemorrhoids (if you’re unfortunate enough to get them). Cramp Bark & Motherwort tinctures! Also, this amazing goodie bag from ‪LuSa Organics‬!‪‬ —Amy
  • Community • wine/beer • favorite music • yoga pants • naps —Charity
  • A postpartum doula!!!! —Tara
  • My must haves for the first couple of weeks: Lansinoh gel pads for nipples. A cold cabbage for engorgement. Two baths per day with Heal Fast postpartum herbs and Epsom salts. Oh and of course one week in bed snuggling 24/7. And nutritious food. —Kathryn
  • Family and friends providing meals. Lactation consultant. —Megan
  • Dr. Newman’s APNO, Bravada nursing bra, a Boppy, the mesh shorts from the hospital plus the ice packs you crack in half. —Leslie
  • Zip-up cozy jackets/hoodies/layers (that stayed open pretty much all month long). —Amy
  • Someone who is the designated confidant to support new mom in all her feelings (including the not so blissful ones). —Amy B.
  • A meal tree. A plan between family and friends to help with any sibling care childcare pick up from school arranging park and play dates. Ideally this person or people would last one to three weeks with you. —Mara
  • A lavender warm pack. Place the warm pack on your lower abdomen to help with any cramping. Warmth also moves blood which is a good thing in postpartum because this will reduce the pain and distention. Also can be used on the shoulder and neck area, which as we know gets tight from nursing and holding baby. —Kaitlen
  • A postpartum doula, of course! Physically: castor oil and belly wrapping, herbal pads for vaginal area, and Ayurvedic postpartum recipes. Herbal tinctures orally for cramping along with Ibuprofen and hot water bottle. And, My Breast Friend. —Maureen
  • A good baby carrier. Family to help out. Friends who were or had breastfed. A bouncy chair. —Kathy

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Birth Story: A Peaceful Home Birth Video

Friday, November 7th, 2014

This lovely collection of images comes to you by way of a home birthing mama in Phoenix, Arizona. Leah and Jack Notebaert welcomed their daughter, Alice, with the support of Mary Henderson of Beyond Conception Midwifery. All images by Jill Richards Photography. Welcome to the world, sweet Alice!

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13 Reasons Why You REALLY Want a Doula

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Alisa Blackwood

Though maybe the word “doula” is new to you, women helping women during labor isn’t a new idea. Women used to do this for each other all the time. We witnessed and supported our friends, sisters, and aunts, as they gave birth. Things have changed a bit; more often than not, a woman has likely never seen another woman giving birth. Enter the doula. She fills this essential role of female-to-female support, bringing with her the experience, knowledge and compassionate support essential for both you and your partner. Check out our tips on finding a doula, and help us add to this list by leaving a comment about what your doula brought to your labor!

1 / Let’s start with the hard facts on how and why doulas are so rockin’. There’s GOBS of research showing that continuous support throughout labor results in a higher satisfaction of the birth experience, less use of pain medication, fewer births requiring instrumental help, and lowered risk of Cesarean section. So, there’s that.

2 / Your doula is the one person experienced in birth who will not leave your side throughout your labor. Many nurses wish they could stay by your side, but they often have more than one mama they’re looking after, plus they’re responsible for a mind-blowing amount of charting. Nurses also change shifts, as do OBs and midwives. Your doula will provide consistent support no matter how short or long your labor is. She will also get to know you and your partner prenatally, bringing with her that knowledge of your history, hopes and fears that nurses and other care providers may not be privy to.

3 / Her touch will feel like magic. Your doula will squeeze your hips in ways that will rock your world. Her touch may even make you say, “Ohhhhh, yes! Keep doing THAT.” She’ll apply just the right amount of pressure, in just the right spot on your sacrum, exactly when you need it. She’ll have her own, unique way of soothing you that will make you think, thank goodness that lady is here, doing that. Don’t stop.

4 / She’s got skills, ladies, mad skills. Whether suggesting a warm shower at just the right moment, suggesting a position change to help wiggle baby into just the right spot, or sweeping on lip balm before you even noticed your lips were chapped, your doula comes with a set of tricks and tips that only those experienced in birth would think to suggest. She’ll offer sips of water and bites of nourishing snacks to keep you hydrated and full of energy. If it’s a labor dance party you want, I’m pretty sure your doula will move and groove right along with you. (Labor dance parties are among my favorite!) There’s not a one-fits-all-approach; she’ll tend to you in the ways you need most. Finding a doula you trust and click with is key.

5 / She’ll enhance your partner’s ability to be fully present for you. Supporting the one you love through labor is a lot of pressure on partners. After all, this is the birth of his or her baby, too! Your partner also needs support to trust the process. When your partner is relieved of the duties of remembering Every. Little. Detail. from your childbirth education class, he or she is freed up to simply be your love. Your partner. A doula cannot replace the connection and history the two of you share. She will bring experience, encouragement and calm. She will peek at your partner with a wink, a smile and a nod that “this is normal!” when you’re moaning or puking. Then she’ll grab a cool cloth, hand it to your partner for your forehead, and make sure your sweetheart gets all the credit.

6 / Your doula will hook you up. Why waste your time googling for a prenatal massage therapist or asking around for the best childbirth education class when your doula has all that information at her fingertips? Doulas are well-connected and knowledgable about the resources available in your community. Both prenatally and postpartum, doulas provide referrals for body workers, therapists, lactation support, postpartum doulas, and more.

7 / She’ll remind you to follow your body, heart and intuition. This may sound sorta woo-woo, but it is, in fact, vital. Many of us (myself included) get caught up in thinking our way through labor. I often hear women worry they’re doing something “wrong” (psst: there is no “wrong” in labor!), or they worry about the next steps. Whew! Ease up on yourselves, mamas. Doulas have seen enough births to know that thinking your way through birth simply doesn’t work. Labor is the time to go deeper. Your doula will remind you that you know what to do. And she means it. She’ll help you find your way on your journey. When you need suggestions of position changes or calming guidance, she’ll provide those things. If something unexpected pops up during your labor and a decision needs to be made, she’ll hold space for you to ask questions of your medical provider, understand your options, then tap into your heart space to make your decision.

8 / Seeing you barf, poop or burp will not phase her. In fact, she’ll tell you what awesome signs of labor progression these are. She might even do a little cheer (while reminding you that throwing up can help you dilate)! These bodily functions are normal, and the sooner you relax and let your body do its work, the sooner you’ll meet your baby. Your doula will bring you a tooth brush and a cup to spit into to freshen up that taste in your mouth. Then she’ll look you in the eye and remind you, “You got this, mama.” And she’ll be right there as you dive deeper into labor.

9 / She will NOT judge you if you decide to get an epidural or other pain relief. If it’s important to you to have an unmedicated birth (and you’ll talk with your doula about this prenatally), she will first offer other suggestions and comfort measures first. She will keep encouraging you and distracting you. Sometimes she’ll suggest that your cervix be checked first (because what if you’re almost ready to push??). If you get to the point that you need or simply want medicated relief, then you should have it. She, along with your care provider, can make sure you understand the pros and cons, and then help you rest. If an epidural is placed, she’ll remind you that YES! your body is still doing its essential work. She’ll help you stay connected to baby even if you can’t feel your legs. And she’ll bring a different set of tips and tricks for supporting you and your partner through a birth that may be different than you imagined. And oh! the massages she’ll give you!

10 / Get ready to be pampered. Speaking of massages, you deserve mega tons of pampering. After all, you are bringing a HUMAN into the world! This merits major rewards. Not all women want to be touched during labor (you’ll figure that out as you go), but if you do want touch, she’ll help relax your scalp, temples, jaw, neck and shoulders with massage. Charlie horse in your calf muscle? She’ll ease that bad boy away. Need distracting while the nurse places an IV? She’ll massage your feet. She may bring essential oils (if you want them), like lavender to help you relax, ginger for nausea relief, or peppermint for when you need to perk up. She’ll create an atmosphere of peace and calm. Think candles (electric ones at the hospital), dim lights, and quiet voices. Ahhhh. amandas birth 038 11 / She’ll support you through any left turns or surprises that may arise during birth. Prenatally she’ll help you understand your options and write your birth plan (or as I like to call them, birth preferences). This “plan” is not a script for how you want labor to go, but crafting your birth preferences is a way to let your care providers know what’s important to you and what you hope for. If something unexpected occurs during labor or your care provider suggests an intervention, your doula will help you ask questions so you fully understand the pros and cons. Her presence alone can help create the space for you to take a deep breath, talk with your partner, then go inward to decide what feel is best. In the case of an unexpected Cesarean birth or an emergency, she’ll help both of you understand what to expect and what is going on. If the hospital allows (and many do, but ask about this in advance), your doula will accompany you and your partner into the operating room. If your partner goes with baby after the birth, your doula will stay with you, talk to you about your baby and massage your head, neck, face or hands. No matter how baby decides to be born, your doula will help keep you and your partner calm — making sure you feel supported and listened to throughout your birthing experience.

12 / Because this once-skeptical mama, now on the flip-side of labor, suggests hiring “one of these wizards.” Read about one mother’s recent experience with both her birth doula and her postpartum doula. 13 / She brings her heart. Whether your doula has been at this for years or is newly trained, the most important thing she brings to your birthing journey is her heart. Her intention, which is focused solely on supporting your transition to motherhood (whether for the first time or fourth), comes from a deep desire to empower women. That alone is worth its weight in gold.

Not all doulas are the same. Find someone who jives with you and your partner, someone who helps you feel both excited for your birth experience, yet also calm and confident. How you click with her is the most important thing, but if it’s important to you, ask about her training and any additional skills she might bring to your birth, too. Check out one of our previous posts for more tips on finding your just-right-for-you doula.

Alisa Blackwood is a mom of two, a prenatal yoga teacher, and a birth photographer who has worked as a certified birth doula since 2007.

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Birth Story: Twins, Forceps, Breech, & More … A Wonderful Birth

Friday, September 26th, 2014

I love this mama’s birthing story. I love it because she’s strong, honest and raw. I love it because she accomplished so many amazing feats. (Growing healthy twins! Teaching booty-kicking barre classes while 36 weeks pregnant with TWO babies!) But I love it most of all because her carefully selected birth team supported her, listened to her, and nurtured her. So when unexpected twists and turns came up during labor, this mama asked good questions, looked to her support team, and trusted her gut. Way to go, Corrine. Big love to you! YOU DID IT!

xoxo, Alisa

{by Corrine Gernes}

Let me start with three reasons that this was a wonderful birth for me:

  • I birthed two beautiful, healthy, and amazing babies: Lillian Naviv (5 lbs, 8 oz) and Bennett Michael (6 lbs, 10 oz)
  • I was surrounded by the birth team of my dreams: my husband, my doula, and Dr. Dennis Hartung
  • Throughout the whole birth, as things came up (and there were a few surprises) I felt totally cared for, respected, heard, and secure in the choices that my birth team and I were making.

Now the story.

When people found out I was pregnant with twins they often said: “You’ll be lucky to get to 36 weeks.” or “You’ll go early.” or “When do you go on bed rest?”

I didn’t buy the whole early birth thing. I have very good genes for babies (36 first cousins, yo) and both my mom and sister had great pregnancies. I circled my 40-week due date on the calendar and wrote: “We can make it babies! Let’s do this!” Then I started a conversation with my babies. Every night I would think: “Just stay in, stay strong. Thank you for being so healthy. Thank you for waiting until we can all come home together.READ MORE

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Celebrate Bellyrama 2014 in Pictures!

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Feast your eyes, mamas, on the gorgeous Bellyrama 2014 images by Tanya Villano Photography! Were you there? Leave a comment and let us know what inspired YOU most at this year’s Bellyrama! Enjoy these highlights of the day, and check out all of Tanya’s Bellyrama photos on her Facebook page. We’ve also received a bunch of requests for Kelly Shay’s (DJ Enigma) phenomenal Bellyrama 2014 playlist, so stay tuned to the BloomaBlog for a list of those tunes coming soon. xoxo, Alisa 10687203_934375623242703_8616948480012619450_n   10672323_934388359908096_63097162144154434_nREAD MORE

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A Beautiful, Crisp Day for Bellyrama 2014 (Tomorrow!)

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Blooma is counting down the hours until the 5th Annual Bellyrama outdoor yoga festival! Join Blooma founder Sarah Longacre and other favorite Blooma teachers Saturday, Sept. 13 for yoga that celebrates mamas, bellies, birth & babies. ALL are welcome, including the little ones! Bring your own mat and water, and we’ll see you at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis; 9 a.m. start time. Stay for loads of fun vendors, adorn yourself with some gorgeous henna, take the kiddos to free kids yoga at 10:30 and have their faces painted, too! Bundle up and get ready for an invigorating, inspiring, community-filled morning full of LOVE. See you there, mamas! Bellyrama2014  

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Quick Warrior Flow Yoga Video + Be Present Discount Code

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Carve out a mere five minutes for YOU with yoga and pilates teacher Jesse Bennett. You all enjoyed her Quick Fix Standing Flow video so much, we thought it high time to bring you another Jesse video: Quick Fix Warrior Flow with Shoulder Openers. READ MORE

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Birth Story {Video}: A Sunlit Water Birth

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Thanks to Blooma mama Jessica and Jennifer Liv Photography for sharing these gorgeous images of her baby’s birth. We adore the images of laboring outside on her birth center’s front porch, then her beautiful, midwife and doula-attended water birth in a sunlit room. Just lovely.

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Warriors & Dancing Goddesses: Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Delighted doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt when reading this gush of love from a graduate of Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. If you’ve been considering signing up, Kenya might just help sway you! And you’ve got some pretty fabulous choices coming up of where to take your training. Our 2014 prenatal yoga teacher trainings will take us to Hawaii, Tampa and of course, Blooma’s home town, Minneapolis. Join us!
  {by Kenya M. Fairley} One of the best personal and professional investments I’ve made to date is most certainly my decision to participate in Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. Over the course of four days I was filled with so much love, hope, healing, optimism and strength from all of my yogi and birth doula sisters and mamas at this training.READ MORE

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Blooma Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in HAWAII!

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Imagine this: a circle of women who share your passion for birth, pregnancy and yoga, flowing with breath and movement on your yoga mat, the hint of an ocean breeze lapping at your skin. The promise of juicy pineapple… YES. This is Blooma Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in HAWAII. Join Blooma founder Sarah Longacre and Blooma’s director of teacher trainings Stacy Seebart, at the luxurious Lumeria retreat center in Maui, Feb. 6-9, 2015, for a 45-hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. (See below for our early bird special, ending Nov. 1!) Lumeria Maui, located on six gorgeously-landscaped ocean view acres, was named “One of The Top 17 Dream Yoga Destinations” by Yoga Journal in its 2014 “The Ultimate Yoga Retreat Guide.” At Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training you’ll get the best of both worlds: an in-depth, knowledgable and spirit-filled teacher training, in a retreat-style atmosphere guaranteed to fill your well. You do not need to already be a yoga teacher, though registered yoga teachers will love knowing that this training is part one (of two) of our Yoga Alliance-approved prenatal yoga teacher training program. We welcome all yoga teachers, doulas, midwives, OB’s, labor and delivery nurses and of course, moms.READ MORE

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Mindful Mama: Finding Presence in Summer Strawberries

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

by Alisa Blackwood

Do you ever have those moments when it suddenly hits you: I am so intensely happy. Content. Right now. Do you? I usually have those in the car with the window down and my favorite music blaring. Or when I’m dancing and giggling with my daughter. On my yoga mat. Or kayaking a lake and soaking in the sun’s warmth.

And sometimes, those in-the-moment-moments are far and few between. Usually that’s a sign I’m in a rut: too busy, over scheduled, lacking self-care. All winter long we look forward to summer — the vacations, the leisure, the carefree play outside. Am I alone, though, in that the reality of summer often entails being in fact, wildly busy? There’s just so much fun to be had! Cabins and travel and camps and lake trips and outdoor parties and festivities that make my city so fabulous!

But where’s the room for a spontaneous day of coloring sidewalks with chalk, backyard sprinkler play or swimming at the pool or lake? I vowed this summer to leave more space … for me, and for my family. (Next year I’m going to leave even more.)

At first I worried that my kids would Drive. Me. Crazy. if I didn’t plan enough to occupy us all summer on my off-work days. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that that hasn’t (for the most part) been the case. My favorite days of summer so far have been the completely unplanned, spontaneous ones like riding light rail, getting off wherever we felt like, wandering, discovering a city park with a stream, taking our shoes off, splashing each other… you know, things like that. And the other day — my most recent intensely happy moment — picking strawberries.

It all started with memories of a fresh strawberry pie I made last summer. I’m not a baker and I’m 100 percent fine with using a store bought crust. But this filling! OH, this strawberry filling! It’s the kind of pie that can ONLY be made once a year, when the just-picked strawberries are small, flavor-packed, red as rubies, and so decadently sweet they might as well be candy. Memories of this pie (and homemade strawberry ice cream) filled my mind with each berry I picked. One pie. Once a year. Enjoy each moment, for the perfection of this fruit and this day is fleeting. As a family we picked and picked. (Continued below.) photo 2 photo 3 The kids ate more berries in the field than they probably should have, and it was obvious to everyone thanks to their red, sticky, strawberry-juice-covered chins. After we paid 40 bucks for our mounds of officially-picked berries, we sat under a shady tree and gorged on berries some more. Then we canceled our afternoon plans and decided not to rush anywhere. (Sorry, friends.) We drove through a nearby town, picked up pizza slices and watched the passersby. Drank some lemonade. Drove home with the kids so sleepy that their sweet little necks couldn’t hold up their heavy heads any longer. In my book: a perfect summer day — not just because it was fun, but because I was present, mindful, and grateful. Thank you, summer. Thank you, strawberries. Thank you, my sweet family.   pizza  

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Quick Fix Feel Good Yoga Video (3 mins!) with Jesse Bennett

Monday, July 14th, 2014

If those of us at Blooma could draw giant hearts all over yoga and pilates teacher Jesse Bennett, we would. This mama of two lives and teaches in California, is a Be Present Ambassador, and one of the brightest shining lights you’ll ever meet. She inspired too many mamas to count during her years teaching at Blooma Minneapolis, and we miss her so! READ MORE

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A Home Birth Story in Photos

Friday, July 11th, 2014

“I dreamed that the birth of our second child could be empowering and that I would feel safe and loved. I dreamed I could birth my baby and draw her up into my arms,” writes second-time mama Anna Melzer about her baby’s home birth. As she celebrates her daughter’s first birthday, and reflects upon her first year of mothering two children, she adds: “Pregnancy, labor, and birth are not perfect. Neither is mothering. Dealing with this imperfection, fully experiencing it and becoming a witness to it is what makes it so powerful and transformative.” Enjoy Anna’s birthing story in images, and wander over to Anna’s website to read her birth story in full! xo, Alisa img_2080_2 img_2093_2 img_2112_2 img_2147_2 img_2171_2 (1)   img_2174 (1) img_2190 img_2252_2 img_2253    

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Blooma Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in Tampa, FL!

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Blooma’s internationally renowned prenatal yoga teacher training program is heading south to sunny Tampa, Florida this fall! Join Sarah Longacre and Stacy Seebart at Green Locus Yoga, Nov. 14-17, 2014. Book by July 15 and take advantage of the early bird pricing of $625! This 45-hour, level 1 training will leave you feeling confident and prepared to teach a safe and inspiring prenatal yoga class. READ MORE

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Celebrating Pregnancy with Maternity Photography

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Like any phase in life, some mamas love their pregnant body and some don’t. Whichever camp you fall into, a well-done pregnancy portrait session can make you feel like a GODDESS. Truly. Play up your curves, bring on your sexy, and capture the miraculousness of this time in your life as a woman. Before you book a session, be sure to check out our 5 Tips for Planning Your Maternity Shoot. Mallory, one of my regular prenatal yoga students, recently shared in class about how much fun she’d had at her pregnancy photography shoot. She wanted to commemorate her growing belly and changing pregnancy body. “The session made me feel wonderful,” Mallory says. “It was an afternoon of indulgence – starting with getting my makeup done and hair styled by Brett, who is an extremely talented artist. Having that done took away any of the ‘how will I look’ anxiety.”

And check out the gorgeous results!

Photo by Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios

Photo by Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios

“I love the finished images and feel absolutely beautiful in them. I’m so glad I had them done,” Mallory says. “We’re excited to have these photos to look back on and remember this short time in our lives. They are a great keepsake!”

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Bellyrama Outdoor Yoga Festival – Sept. 13, 2014

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Check out this Wall Street Journal link showing these gorgeous Chinese mamas practicing prenatal yoga! A total of 505 women practiced together, breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest prenatal yoga class. Think we can beat them? I think so! Blooma is celebrating FIVE years of Blooma’s Bellyrama outdoor yoga festival, with our 5th annual Bellyrama scheduled for Sept. 13, 2014. We’ll meet at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis at 9 a.m. We love blooming pregnant bellies, and also want to welcome ALL. Come if you are a mama, you’re going to be a mama, if you have a mother — it does not matter! Come and do a little mama yoga by the lake! Bring a friend, a yoga mat, water and a towel. Come and PLAY on your mat as Blooma founder Sarah Longacre leads class to live music. Last year over 400 yogis (mother- to-be, children, grandmothers and dads) showed up for Bellyrama and we can’t wait to see even more of you this year! Love, Alisa, Sarah & the women of Blooma
Bellyrama wide angle-smaller

photo by Tanya Villano

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Let’s Nurture (Not Shun) the Third- or Fourth-Time Mama

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Oooh, ouch. Have I been guilty of the below mistake? Saying something unintentionally misconstrued as insensitive to a mama pregnant for the fourth (or more) time? Something along the lines of, “Four! Wow! I can’t imagine.” If so, it’s because as an only child myself I can’t wrap my head around mothering more than two. And because I believe that those of you who mother more than one or two children are GODDESSES here on Earth. (Heck, ALL mamas are goddesses!)

Among those goddesses is my college best friend, who recently birthed her fourth baby. READ MORE

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Video: “World’s Toughest Job” Job Posting

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Mamas, this must-see video highlights the *amazing* work you do each and every day. (Someone in the greeting card advertising industry nailed it with this one.) A fake job posting was created. Applicants were interviewed by video. Check out their reactions when discovering that the “Director of Operations” job required working unlimited hours, with no breaks, and, um — no pay. I’m sure you gather where this is going… Pat yourself on the back, mamas for a job WELL DONE.

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Celebrating You & A Chance to Win!

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Blooma is celebrating a big Facebook milestone — your love and support has pushed us over 5,000 likes! To show our appreciation, we’re offering a few fun prizes for mamas near and far: To enter, READ MORE

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5 Tips for a Pleasurable Birth (YES, It Can Be!)

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

by Alisa Blackwood

A few lucky birth workers gathered recently with Debra Pascali-Bonaro — creator and director of the documentary “Orgasmic Birth,” inspirational speaker, and trainer of thousands of doulas and birth professionals around the world. Her topic: how to help mamas bring more pleasure into their birthing process.

YES — Pleasure!

Let’s get honest with ourselves right away: Do you think pleasure in birth is possible? This is an important question to ask yourself as you examine your deeply-held (sometimes subconscious) beliefs about birth. If you don’t believe it, why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts below on this. To create space for a pleasurable birth, it takes preparation. As you’re rolling this concept around in your brain, body and heart, here are a few tips from Debra to get you feeling juicy and open! 

1 / Choose Your Language Thoughtfully “Instead of being afraid of this intensity in your body, embrace the intensity,” Debra told us. Your brain believes what you say. If “pain” is a regular part of your vocabulary, replace it with words that feel right to you, but that suggest a subtle shift in your perception — words like “sensation, intensity, releasing, rushes.” You are in charge of creating your own beliefs, mamas! Keep coming back Debra’s “3 Ps” of birth: “Pleasure, Purpose, and Power.”

2 / Express Your Fears Ahead of Time “No animal will labor easily will it doesn’t feel safe. That’s true for humans as well,” Debra says. “That means exploring that as birthing women. Part of that means looking at your fears, expressing your fears, and finding techniques to work through them. It’s time to look at birth in new ways. Look deeper. Consider, what has society taught us about birth, and how much of that is truly serving women?”

3 / Create an Atmosphere of Calm & Sensuality Women birth pleasurably in places where they feel safe, undisturbed and supported. Where is that for you? What does your birthing space look like? What does it smell like and sound like? Can you add candles (real or electric)? Scents that are soothing to you? In what kind of environment will you be most able to fully let go?

4 / Surround Yourself With Positive Birth Imagery Whether you start a Pinterest board of positive birth imagery or hang inspiring pictures in your birthing space, these images seep into your consciousness and remind you of the beautiful possibilities of the journey ahead. During Debra’s talk with birth workers she showed us the image below, by Alex Grey, telling us, “If you start to feel scared as a birthing woman, think of this image and reframe your energy. Look at this powerful birth energy!”


“Birth” by Alex Grey.

5 / Invite In Physical Pleasure Let’s look at what happens to your body during labor and birth. There is pressure in your vaginal area. Extra blood flow. If you’re relaxed, supported and surround by love, there is also tons of oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins (your natural relaxers/pain relievers) flowing throughout your body. Guess when else those same sensations and hormones are in full-blown play? During S-E-X!

So let’s consider for just a moment that perhaps physical pleasure is possible in birth if we allow it to be so. One story shared at our workshop involved a birthing woman who rubbed her clitoris in circles through contractions to cope with the car ride to her birthing place. No one even noticed. This isn’t something most women confess to or talk about, but ladies, it’s possible to enjoy moments of pleasure during labor, and even cultivate those pleasurable sensations.

As midwife Ina May Gaskin said, “The energy that got the baby in, gets the baby out.” Birth is unpredictable. You can’t script it or plan it. But you can become educated about your options and you can choose a birth team and location that makes you feel safe and empowered.

Check out my other tips for Boosting Love Hormones During Labor, and please share your own plans, tips or thoughts below!

Love, Alisa  

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