Blooma Truths

Photo credit:  Bundle Studio

Photo credit: Bundle Studio

I get asked all the time what makes Blooma different than other yoga studios. Well number one is simple - it’s not just a yoga studio. There are dozens of amazing yoga studios in the Twin Cities area, but Blooma is SO MUCH MORE. We’re a community for young families. We have childbirth education, wellness services, workshops for new parents and families, and MORE.

Just yesterday two moms stayed after babywearing barre to feed their babies and catch up. One of them thanked me for letting them stay for so long after class, commenting, “it’s almost like a second home here.” That’s music to my ears. SERIOUSLY. Twelve years ago when I opened Blooma, that was what I wanted new mamas, in the thick of this thing called motherhood and wading their way through it, to feel - like Blooma was a second home.

I could go on and on. But on that note, if you’ve never been to Blooma, I wanted to share a couple of reasons why we’re different. And if you’re a Blooma regular or just haven’t been in a while - this can serve as a reminder for you.

My Top 5 Blooma Truths:

  1. All are welcome at Blooma. ALL. That means whatever your family situation looks like, whatever type of birth you’re planning or have had - we want you at Blooma. It seriously hurts when I hear that people think Blooma is for one type of family or one type of mama, or that you have to be planning or have had a “natural” birth. OR that you even have to be a mom to come! ALL are welcome. 

  2. Blooma is a no judgement zone. I know, I know, a lot of people say that. But it’s really true at Blooma. Come as you are! If you haven’t showered, it’s your first time making it out of the house for the day or you feel like you haven’t slept in a week (and have the under-eye bags to prove it), you’ll be in good company at Blooma.

  3. Your baby may cry. Hell, YOU may cry! And that’s ok! I can’t tell you how many mamas come for the first time and are nervous about what to do if their new babe cries. ALL babies cry. It’s fine! And on that note - all babies poop! You’ll likely need to change a diaper mid-class at some point - no one cares, everyone has done it. You and baby will be more comfortable once it’s done.

  4. Go ahead and feed your baby! We all know that a hungry baby (well a hungry anyone!) is a fussy baby. Feed them! Whether that’s a bottle or you’re nursing, feeding your child is 100% acceptable, and even encouraged, wherever and however works for the two of you.

  5. We want to make class as stress free as possible - which means: you’re never late, you can leave early, and we have mats, towels, water and tea ready for you. You’ve got enough going on and you should be proud that you made it to your mat and if you’re a parent, you even kept a small human alive.

Whether you’re super into your kiddo (today, this week or always), or it’s a day you’re questioning how you got into all of this, we get it. Being a parent takes our whole selves and we want to be here for you through the journey.

I hope I’ve explained a few things about Blooma that maybe you didn’t know or needed a reminder about. If you have questions, shoot us a note at info@blooma.com, give us a call or stop by. Now what are you waiting for? Come see us in studio! We’ve got an awesome schedule in Minneapolis, Plymouth and St. Paul and a mat waiting for you. We can’t wait to see YOU!

SO MUCH Blooma love to you!


My Life as a Doula

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Wow! Already this summer, my doula partner Mari and I have attended 5 births! Each one has been different, each one beautiful. And we know that the rest of the births we have coming up this summer will also be unique and be an important chapter in each family's life.

I was called to be a doula to be an educator, to inspire and to hold space for one of the greatest transitions of a woman’s life. Even when I’ve done other things, I’ve always been called back to this work because it’s so deeply needed. I’ve had the opportunity to do many amazing things in my life and work with amazing people, but honestly, helping bring life into the world is the absolute best. There’s nothing like it!

While I could talk about this for hours (and I’d love to, just give me a call!) I've distilled my thoughts down to help guide you if you’re deciding to work with a doula AND your first steps once you make that decision.

So why would you work with a doula?
Your doula will be your #1 Cheerleader. Even before you go into labor, doulas are there to help mamas prepare physically, emotionally and for some, spiritually to bring a new life into this world. While your doctor, midwife and nurses play a crucial role, they’re focused on so many aspects of the birth. Your doula will be there by your side supporting you and holding space for you.

And if you have a partner, your doula can help support them as they support you. Think about it for a minute. Every birth is different and some take longer than others. If your partner is by your side for 72 hours, maybe lacking sleep and food, they want to be the best support possible and are faced with a bunch of decisions, it’s A LOT for one person. A doula can share that support role.

Doulas can provide answers and walk through the pros and cons of different scenarios. They don’t tell you what to do, but can help you make a decision from a place of knowledge, listening to your inner wisdom, instead of listening to a place of fear.

SO now, if you’re thinking about hiring a doula, I suggest a couple of first steps:

  1. Interview at least 3 doulas. I don’t care if someone was recommended to you, talk to several! Just because your neighbor loved, “Sarah the doula,” doesn’t mean you’ll connect with her.

  2. When you’re talking to doulas, keep it simple. Just ask the doula about herself and why she likes being a doula – get to know her. And always keep in the back of your mind ... “Is this a person I can see holding back my hair while I am hovering over a toilet?”

  3. Head to The Childbirth Collective! Attend a Parent Topic night. It’s FREE and you can meet many doulas all in one place.

  4. Attend a Prenatal Yoga class at Blooma. Many of our yoga teachers are doulas and you can see what it feels like to be with these doulas/yoga teachers and what energy you’re drawn to when you are deep in your breath and body.

Whatever decision you make, do what feels right for you and your family. And I hope that includes working with a doula! I am a phone call, a text or an email away if you have any questions. Or ask another mama at Blooma why she used a doula. Knowledge is power!

Lots of love to each of you,

Sarah


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Welcoming Baby Rowan into the World

Colleen was introduced to Blooma through a dear friend. She had signed up for a breastfeeding class with Mari, the director of childbirth education at Blooma, and instantly felt at home, so much so that she cancelled her childbirth education classes at another organization to switch to Blooma.

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“It was the best decision we could have ever made, particularly as it led us to our doulas, Sarah and Mari.”

While Colleen’s pregnancy had gone largely as planned, due to Colleen’s age she was being monitored closely. When concerns of possibly developing preeclampsia arose, her physicians decided to induce at 38 weeks.

Sarah and Mari were there to help Colleen and her husband Matt process this unexpected change of plans, which they eventually embraced.

Colleen remained in contact with Sarah and Mari during the overnight induction, and just as things began to pick up speed, Mari headed to the hospital.

Mari’s timing was impeccable as the doctor decided to break Colleen’s water minutes after she arrived.

While this wasn’t Colleen’s original birth plan and things changed quickly, Colleen and Matt took solace from the knowledge they gained in childbirth classes. And having Mari there as a true advocate for Colleen was comforting.

Through Mari’s artful guidance and armed with a wealth of comfort techniques, Colleen gave birth to a beautiful son, Rowan.

Sarah Longacre Caught a Baby!

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Having a home birth was never something Lindsay had contemplated. Her plan was to have a natural birth at a local hospital with midwives and her doula. That was the plan, simple. However, like many birth stories, her plans changed.

Lindsay and her husband Ben decided to work with Sarah and Mari as their doulas months before their baby was due. They wanted someone in the room who not only had a lot of experience in guiding birth, but could support Ben when the time came so he could focus on supporting Lindsay. 

Lindsay woke up with contractions early on a February morning, she was just days away from her guess date. She knew labor was beginning and she was giddy that she was soon going to meet her baby! She called her midwives and her doula, Sarah Longacre, and was advised to eat a good breakfast, relax and conserve her energy.

Lindsay’s labor progressed quickly. Her contractions were intensifying and getting closer together. While her and her husband thought they’d have the day to labor at home, maybe even go out to lunch and relax, she was quickly discovering that wasn’t going to be the case.

“I will never forget blow drying my hair in front of my bathroom mirror and watching my uterus contract up and down and in and out. I knew I was going to meet my baby today and I was filled with excitement and in awe of what my body was doing,” Lindsay remembers.

Lindsay had Ben call Sarah again to explain how quickly things were progressing and Sarah headed over. Once Sarah arrived, Lindsay felt a great sense of relief knowing they were in capable hands. Sarah called the hospital to let them know they would be on the way shortly, but discovered the hospital was full. At that point Lindsay’s midwife asked Sarah to check to see how far Lindsay was dilated to determine if they had time to make it to another hospital. Sarah quickly discovered that the baby was just a fingertip away. This sweet baby boy was coming soon and there was no time to get to a hospital.

Lindsay took prenatal yoga classes at Blooma and learned how to connect with her baby as well as breathing techniques and positions that she was able to use to help her get through the pain of the contractions and the stress of the unknown. Sarah held Lindsay’s hands and coached her through each contraction.

Knowing that the baby was coming soon, Sarah called the paramedics. When they arrived, they assessed the situation and wanted to try to make it to the hospital. But Sarah knew the baby was close and asked them to allow Lindsay three more pushes before making that decision. Well, it didn’t even take three pushes. Minutes later Ben and Lindsay’s baby ‘shot out’ like lightening.

“Sarah caught my firstborn baby boy and deflected him to my husband, who then lovingly placed him on my chest. It was the best moment of my life!”

Every birth is beautiful. Every birth is different. And many births don’t go quite as planned. Lindsay, Ben and sweet baby James are doing well and settling into their new life, loving every minute as a family of three.

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National Infertility Awareness Week

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This is National Infertility Awareness Week, which marks something different for each of us. It could remind you of a challenging time, but one also filled with growth, beauty and a happy ending. Or maybe infertility is a current, consuming, perhaps even devastating centerpiece in your daily life right now. If you haven’t experienced a fertility struggle yourself it may cause you to think of your friend, co-worker, child, or sibling who has dealt with this or is struggling with it now.

Even here at Blooma, where most of us are already moms, it’s valuable to notice that for many it was a long journey to motherhood, and others may be struggling to grow their family.

This week, let’s notice each other in a new way.

It’s understood that 1 in 8 couples experience fertility challenges yet I think it is more prevalent than those numbers alone. Through my work as a fertility specialist at Fertile Ground over the past 12 years I’ve found some couples suffer privately and do not seek a formal evaluation and diagnosis. Since 61% of women experiencing infertility don’t share their struggle with friends and family, someone close to you may be suffering without you knowin

Another common misconception about infertility can revolve around age. It may seem unlikely that this could be impacting people in their 20’s or early 30’s. Actually, there are a myriad of issues that can impede a couple’s fertility at any age, ranging from hormonal imbalances to structural or congenital issues. It’s also common for men of all ages to contribute to the fertility diagnosis. In fact, for one-third of couples with infertility, it’s due to a male fertility issue, and another third is due to a combination of both male and female.

In an equally heartbreaking way, secondary Infertility, which affects people who already have one or more children but are struggling to conceive again, can also be overlooked. Secondary infertility makes up about one-third of infertility cases and comes with unique challenges.

Given the prevalence of infertility it’s safe to assume that there are people in your community, and here at Blooma, who are dealing with this.

This week, let’s be aware.

At Blooma we come together to move our bodies, to breathe together, to join a community of people who care about one another. I come because it is an important part of how I care for myself and manage my stress.

Stress plays a large role in infertility. Yes, everyone experiences stress—but did you know that the stress levels of women dealing with infertility are equivalent to those dealing with a cancer diagnosis, AIDS or heart disease? Where can women and couples who are experiencing infertility go to receive care and support and ease their stress?

Fertile Ground is a free-standing holistic fertility center that I started in 2007 with the goal of supporting women and men to overcome their fertility struggle. It is a place where people who are dealing with reproductive challenges receive physical care and emotional support. We offer acupuncture, Chinese medicine, lifestyle counseling, Maya Abdominal therapy and other forms of therapeutic bodywork to support patients along their journey to becoming parents and achieving greater health and well-being.

Did you know that these modalities have been used to correct infertility imbalances for thousands of years?

There is hope, and it begins with awareness.

This week, I encourage each of you to consider how you might become a better ally for this cause. If you are experiencing infertility this is an opportunity to reflect on how you can better support yourself and others struggling alongside you. If you are not, I encourage you to explore how you can be a great ally for those who are.

If you would like to join us this Saturday we are going to be at the annual Walk of Hope. This is an excellent opportunity to come together as a community that cares about infertility and to raise awareness, solidarity and HOPE. All are welcome and we would love to have you and your friends and family participate! Sign up here. There is a $30 per person fee that goes directly to Resolve, the National Infertility Association.


If you have questions about how we support couples experiencing infertility contact us here:

Fertile Ground Women’s Health and Fertility Center

(612) 823-0012 info@fertilegroundmn.com

Or check out our website: fertilegroundmn.com

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Kara is a Blooma Mama and the founder and a senior practitioner at Fertile Ground Women's Health and Fertility Center which is located at 40th St. and Lyndale Ave. S

5 Reasons You Should Take Your Childbirth Education Classes at Blooma

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As the Director of Education at Blooma, I truly believe that our classes are the best that the Twin Cities has to offer. Here are my top 5 reasons to take your childbirth education classes here with us at Blooma:

  1. We serve all families, whether they are planning on birthing at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital. We serve families birthing with midwives and with OBs. We serve families who are planning unmedicated births, epidurals, or planned cesareans. This provides our students with amazing opportunities to learn from one another and to share a variety of perspectives on birth, breastfeeding, and parenting--all in a non-judgemental environment. We don’t believe there is one right way to birth. We do, however, believe that education is empowerment and we want to make sure that you always know your options.

  2. We cap our classes at 12 couples. We know that our smaller class sizes help us to foster relationships among students and between students and instructors. We are able to tailor our instruction to the individual circumstances of our students and allow plenty of time for questions.

  3. We write our own curriculum. We don’t believe that birth is one-size-fits-all, so our curriculum can’t be either. New research comes out everyday that we need to incorporate into our curriculum. We pay attention not only to our content, but also to our methods of instruction, because it’s important to us that our clients retain what we are teaching. Our classes are a fun, upbeat mix of lecture, video, hands-on practice and discussion. Our instructors are all active doulas or nurses in the community who attend regular professional development opportunities and each bring their own unique perspective, experience, and personality to their classes.

  4. We teach you how to communicate with your provider. Our classes teach you how to differentiate between signing a consent form and what it really means to make an informed decision. We teach you how to navigate unexpected circumstances in birth by analyzing the risks, benefits, and alternatives. These are skills you will take with you throughout the rest of your life as a parent and as a person navigating the healthcare system.

  5. While we care a lot about healthy moms and babies, we also care about birth satisfaction and reducing the rate of birth trauma in the US. We know that how we give birth to our babies has a profound effect not only on our postpartum recovery, but also on how we view ourselves as individuals and as parents. In our first class, we talk extensively about the importance of finding a provider that is a good match with your own individual needs and values and what to do if you feel you are currently with a provider who is not the right fit for you.

Here are what a few of our recent students had to say about their childbirth education classes at Blooma:

  • I wasn’t sure what to expect from a birth class, but I can honestly say I left the four weeks with way more confidence going into labor and empowered to be my own advocate. Thank you!

  • My husband went into this class with some anxiety around birth and whether he would be able to handle it all. After our third class he told me that he felt SO much more confident and felt like he knows what kinds of things to expect when I'm giving birth. That alone made the class 100% worth it for our family.

  • After this course, we feel more confident and less fearful of the process of birthing our first child. The way the information was presented normalized the process, making us more confident in our abilities to be able to handle what may come our way. We also feel more informed to make decisions, if we come across things we cannot anticipate or plan for.

The Blooma Birth Class and the Blooma Birth Class Express both come with a FREE month of unlimited yoga and barre that can be used at any of our three locations (Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Plymouth).

If you are hoping to take a class with us, but are concerned about cost, we now offer full and partial scholarships for our classes. You can find the application here.

Do I have you convinced yet? We recommend that you take your classes in the third trimester and complete all classes before you reach 38 weeks of pregnancy. View our schedule and register for classes here. Have more questions? Reach out to me directly at mari@blooma.com.

We can’t wait to see you in class!

Mari

Self Care in the New Year

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Starting a family changes you on a cellular level. Something that I did not anticipate when my son was born. I was sure I’d bounce right back to my usual speed of 90 MPH in no time. Just with a baby in tow – no big deal. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wasn’t going to fit in the remodeling project and clean out my closets during my maternity leave as I’d originally planned! When my daughter was born three years later, I didn’t even make a ‘to do’ list for my time at home because at that point, a successful day consisted of taking a shower AND getting food on the table. Am I right??  

While I loved most things about raising my children when they were young, I realized over time that I was ever-so-slowly starting to lose myself. Life had gone into reactive mode. I saw my friends less. I went to fewer yoga classes. I couldn’t tell you the last book I read! Guess what that all translated to? One crabby mom. And a crabby wife, if you ask my husband when I’m not looking.  

On one of our rare cabin weekends when the kids were 2 and 5, I went on a kayak ride. It was another one of those things I loved doing pre-kids, but I barely had time for since. On this particular afternoon, I really needed to go somewhere where no one could bother me. The middle of a lake sounded like a safe spot. As I paddled out and found my meditative rhythm, I started thinking…something HAS to change! I was working full-time. Trying to be this “perfect” mom. Trying to maintain a “perfect” house. And it wasn’t working. I’d find myself on the weekends organizing and cleaning and then feeling guilty for not playing more with the kids. And that led to negative self-talk. It was an unhealthy cycle. 

At this point, I had stopped paddling. I’d made it to the middle of the lake, and the sun had set. I noticed my husband waving me in from the dock, but I wasn’t ready to come in. I gave a quick wave of my paddle but didn’t move. As I watched him walk back in the cabin, probably to some hangry kids, I just sat in my kayak taking in the silent breeze and singing loons. What could I possibly do to break the cycle I was in? And then it hit me – I need help and support. I don’t have to figure out everything on my own. So simple, yet it profoundly changed my life. 

Fast forward a month later, I had started attending a class that focused on self-compassion, protecting your energy and making choices to serve your highest good. I had also hired a high-schooler in need of some pocket cash to come over to the house four nights a week for one hour after dinner to put our food away, wash our dishes, sweep, vacuum…whatever I needed her to do, so that after the kids were in bed, and my husband and I could fall onto the couch and catch up on Netflix! By finding the support I needed and focusing on my mental and spiritual health, my kids had a much calmer and happier mom.  

Here are a few benefits of my self-care journey:

·        Practicing self-care and being loving and gentle toward ourselves helps us to be more present and calm, so we can respond wisely, intuitively and effectively to a variety of circumstances.

·        Nurturing ourselves makes us naturally feel more loving, which makes us better friends, partners, parents and more fun to be around!

·        By filling our cups first, we tend to feel more generous and can avoid building resentments toward others who demand our energy and time.

 I’ll be facilitating a Personal Renewal Workshop at Blooma, a two-hour group life-coaching program for women at all stages of life. Topics will include the transformative power of self-care, managing your energy, saying “no,” and asking for help. It will provide the opportunity to connect, relate and learn from other women, plus give you the time and space to connect with yourself and access your own inner wisdom through soul-searching journaling exercises. The goal of the workshop is to have you leave feeling renewed and motivated to use self-care techniques to cultivate your own practice at home.  

You can join Shoma for her “Personal Renewal” Workshop at Blooma Minneapolis: January 30 

Shoma Hokanson is a certified life coach and Renée Trudeau & Associates-Trained Personal Renewal Group Facilitator. She recently opened Solera Self-Care to bring experiences and events focused on self-care to others who are ready to cultivate a practice or simply take a break from the daily grind.  

Visit her website at www.soleraselfcare.com and follow her on Facebook at Solera Self-Care and Instagram @soleraselfcare.

 

 

Ask the Educators: What is a Postpartum Doula and What Do They Do?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, “What is a postpartum doula and what do they do?”

Maybe you have wondered the same? Maybe you have heard of a postpartum doula, but want to know more. Maybe you’ve never heard of one. Our amazing Childbirth Educator, Terra will help breakdown exactly what a postpartum can do for your and your family.

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Just like birth doulas, postpartum doulas are widely known in some circles and have never been heard of in others. As our society begins to recognize that the needs of families and mothers are not being met, awareness is starting to grow about the positive and pivotal role a postpartum doula can play. So what exactly is a postpartum doula?

Postpartum doulas are trained professionals who provide physical, emotional, and educational support after your little one’s birth. The key here is that postpartum doulas provide unbiased and evidence-based care. So many mamas are afraid to ask questions of their families or friends because they know they will receive advice or opinions that may feel judgemental. Imagine being able to ask someone for unbiased advice and support - someone who doesn't have their own personal agenda for your child in their response! A postpartum doula’s goal is to leave you feeling so empowered and confident that they work their way out of a job. You know your baby better than anybody else, and a postpartum doula’s hope is to encourage you to find that strength and trust your intuition.

But a postpartum doula is so much more than just being your biggest cheerleader and advocate. Postpartum doulas not only answer questions, provide resources, and listen to any concerns you may have, but they help cover the day to day basics as well.

Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding

Postpartum doulas are trained to assist with all types of feeding and to provide the best resources for you on your journey. They know that whatever path you choose, it can be tough to navigate, and asking questions feels overwhelming because there are so many different opinions. Many postpartum doulas have additional lactation training, or know lactation counselors or IBCLCs who can drop by for an in-home visit. They can assist with pumping questions and help prep, clean, and wash everything you need for feeding so that you don’t have to. Most importantly, they are there to normalize that feeding isn’t always a walk in the park, and there are lots of tips and tools that can help.

Emotional and Physical Support

Postpartum doulas help create a safe space for you to process your birth experience, or new feelings that arise after your birth. Sometimes it feels so good to tell your birth story, and sometimes there are new feelings that are overwhelming to work through. Postpartum doulas are there to listen, but also to encourage you to seek extra support when needed. They have a wealth of resources here in the community and want you to know there is always someone to talk to if this path is feeling far harder than expected. In addition to emotional support, they are there to make sure you are taking care of you. Your doula encourages you to take naps, enjoy some alone time, and soak in a bath. They want you to know that you are your greatest asset, and the more you can feel cared for, the more you can feel confident in your parenting role.

Newborn Care

Want to learn how to give your little one a bath, soothe them, use that new baby carrier, or just have a question about what is normal? Postpartum doulas can help normalize the often overwhelming transition to becoming a parent, teach helpful tips and tricks, and help make your new role of being a parent of one or more kiddos feel manageable. A postpartum doula is not a medical care professional, but they can help navigate some of your basic questions and refer you to your provider when a question is out of their scope of practice.

Household Help

Laundry, dishes, meal prep, and more. Postpartum doulas are there to help take care of the small stuff that can feel BIG when you have a newborn. At the start of every shift, your doula will sit down with  you and ask what is top of mind - is it holding your little one so you can get some solid rest, emptying and reloading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen, starting a meal, taking the pup on a walk, or all of the above? Postpartum doulas are there to assist you with everyday things so that you can simply BE, rest, shower, and bond with your little one.

Day and Night Support

Yes that is right, postpartum doulas help provide daytime and overnight support as well. Most daytime shifts are 3-4 hours and overnight shifts are typically 8 hours. Your doula wants you to feel supported when you need it the most. It is flexible and individualized for every family. Some families seek out support multiple times a week and some families only need a few shifts. Postpartum doulas can be of help anywhere from the first few hours you bring your little one home to months afterwards. Every mama and family is different, and postpartum doulas work to support you in the way that fits best.

So how do you find one of these magical postpartum doulas you ask? Talk to us at Blooma! We have wonderful recommendations of postpartum doulas who are on staff, or in our community. We want YOU to feel supported and cheered on during this wonderful, crazy, and oh such a journey transition and postpartum doulas are there to help.

Written by Terra Peterson Jonker, DONA Certified Birth Doula, trained Postpartum Doula, and Childbirth Educator and Prenatal Yoga Teacher at Blooma.

You can find a class with Terra, or any of our other childbirth educators here.

You haven’t failed: “It takes a village to raise a child”

I have a natural desire to be that “perfect” mom; the one who has all the answers. I want to diagnose every illness, get my kids to eat their veggies, solve behavioral problems, teach them to sleep perfectly, and of course show them everything they need to know in life.

I want my kids to be healthy, happy, and well-behaved – and I want it all to be easy!

As hard as I work to achieve this perfection, reality hits –  I’m not supermom and this isn’t possible!  Yet, when I can’t do it, a part of me feels like I have failed.

In today’s society there is this huge pressure to do it all on our own.  We feel that reaching out for help is a sign of weakness or failure.  This is completely backwards - we can’t do everything on our own and  that is okay!

I love the phrase It takes a village to raise a child.”  Parenting is hard! Kids are complicated. I don’t know it all and sometimes I need to ask for help! Looking for resources available to me and my children is not a sign of defeat.  Finding the right support system for me can be an amazing gain for my child. Sometimes I can find this in my spouse or my family or friends, but at other times I need specialized and professional guidance.

Asking for help is not an admittance of defeat, it is a courageous act and a necessary piece of support for many families. I found this out the hard way.

My first child was an amazing sleeper. So easy to put to bed, slept through the night. I actually had to wake him up most of the time. Then comes Mr. 2 and our world was flipped upside down. He never wanted to be put down, had to sleep right next to me, would make himself sick when we tried to put him to bed.

What happened?  I did everything the same and it just wouldn’t work. Then came Mr. 3 and I was overwhelmed. I was lacking the sleep I required to parent the way I wanted. My children were not benefiting from the biological processes that support memory, health, growth and cognitive development as they sleep. Their behavior was irritable, forgetful and emotionally unstable. I knew this was because of their poor sleep, but I didn’t know what to do.

I struggled for years and I had to make a change and reach out for help! I connected with a dear friend who was working as a Sleep Consultant (scary term, yes I know). I was amazed to find out that sleep was such an individualized piece of every family and unique for every child. I was excited to learn that “sleep training” could be done in a way to support ALL parenting styles, using gentle and sensitive methods. I was blown away that during sleep short term memory transfers to long term memory, growth hormones are released, muscles are restored, tissues are rebuilt and repaired, nerve cells are rewired.  My children were missing out on a healthy development because I didn’t have the tools I needed and was too scared to ask for help.

After reaching out for help, getting the support and encouragement I needed to help them succeed, sleep became my passion. I continued my education and became a Certified Pediatric Sensitive Sleep Consultant. I joined up with my amazing friend and mentor Hannah at www.AtoZSleepSolutions.com and have been supporting families through their own sleep journeys with children ages birth through 5 years.  

 

Sleep can be a complicated puzzle. There are so many environmental and biological factors that work with or against each other and you don’t have to go through this alone. If you need to reach out for help, that’s okay – “It takes a village to raise a child”!

If you have a little one who is struggling with sleep I would love to point you in the right direction. Sign up for my Blooma workshop A to Z Sleep Solutions 4-24 months on December 1st in Minneapolis, or reach out to me at 612-460-1140. I am here to listen and would love to be a part of your village - working together with you to give your child the best start possible on their sleep journey.  

Written by Kate Swanson, Certified Sensitive Sleep Consultant

Kate is a busy mom of four who balances the joys and struggles of mamahood with supporting other families as a Sleep Coach with www.AtoZSleepSolutions.com , member of the International Institute of Complimentary Therapists, and a local community resource for sleep education. 

Learn more and sign up for our upcoming workshop “A to Z Sleep Solutions (for kids 4 – 24 months)” on December 1st at Blooma Minneapolis with Kate Swanson. 

Ask the Educators: Skin to Skin Contact and Bonding After Birth

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, "What are the benefits to skin to skin contact after birth?"

Maybe you have wondered the same? Maybe you plan on skin to skin contact, but dont know the exact benefits. Childbirth Educator Beth Supple to the rescue! Learn why skin to skin contact in the Golden Hour after birth is recommended.

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When a mama gazes into her baby’s eyes immediately after birth, and baby is placed on mama’s abdomen with direct skin contact, a multitude of amazing things happen for both. The first hour after birth is referred to as the “Golden Hour” for a reason.

What happens physiologically to mama and baby during this time is fascinating. Healing begins faster, bonding occurs, breastfeeding has a better success rate, and probiotics get exchanged in a cozy environment. These benefits have made skin-to-skin internationally recommended.

Physical Healing and Emotional Bonding

Both mama and baby maintain a perfect hormonal balance during Golden Hour. Oxytocin, the hormone of love, is the highest during orgasm, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding. After a baby is born and placed on the abdomen, but before the placenta is delivered, the amount of oxytocin released is at its peak. This release minimizes bleeding by stimulating uterine contractions. It also stimulates milk production and begins bonding. Oxytocin is released most easily if a mama is able to gaze without interruption into her newborn’s eyes and feel the baby on her skin. With skin-to-skin, the risk of postpartum hemorrhage is decreased, and there is a better success rate for breastfeeding.

In a natural labor, the body releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, helping mom and baby with pain relief during the birthing process. These endorphins also help create a sense of bliss after birth and dependency between mama and baby. Add that immediate release of adrenaline, and even the most exhausted mama and baby are typically alert immediately after delivery. The bonding of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding can extend this miraculous alertness.

Increased Rate of Success for Breastfeeding

When a baby is skin-to-skin in the first hour of life, baby and mama have primordial instincts to breastfeed. The first milk produced, called colostrum, smells similar to amniotic fluid. Baby is actually able to crawl up to the breast, motivated by sense of smell. His or her little legs push down on mama’s belly to hunt that nipple! This also helps massage the uterus, minimizing postpartum bleeding for mama too. Amazing isn’t it?

Colostrum is the perfect first meal for baby. It is nutrient rich, high in protein, and full of antibodies to help protect baby from infection. It is lower in sugar and fat than breastmilk, so it is easily digested. A few milliliters help to stabilize baby’s blood sugar over the course of the first 24 hours. Colostrum also helps establish lifelong gut flora. Who needs probiotics anyway?

Probiotics and Baby’s Body Temperature

That is not the only remarkable clinical exchange: good bacteria colonizes from mama’s skin to baby’s! The mother and baby share the same unique antibodies, so a mama’s skin is already a familiar place for baby. Mama’s abdomen is the most beneficial space for a baby within the first hour. Delaying baby’s first bath enhances this probiotic balance, and keeps baby’s body temp appropriately cozy! Through thermal synchrony, mama’s body is able to fluctuate temperature and meet baby’s needs. If a baby is too cool, the mama’s chest temperature heats up to warm him or her. An intuitive mama’s body is almost always better technology than a hospital baby warmer.

Skin-to-skin is not always possible immediately after birth. If mama and baby need to be separated, skin-to-skin can still begin as soon as baby is returned. There are still many benefits to skin-to-skin, even if it is delayed beyond the first hour, including bonding and breastfeeding. And let’s give some recognition to the similar miraculous power of a partner’s skin-to-skin abilities - Partners that practice skin to skin create a relationship with baby, lower stress levels, babies cry less, and enhance bonding. Skin-to-skin for the whole family!

Written by Beth Supple, MN, RNC-MNN

Beth is a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse, childbirth educator at Blooma, and mama of two.

 

References:

Crenshaw, J. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4): 211–217.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4235060/

Holley, S. (2017). Providing Evidence-Based Care During the Golden Hour. Nursing for Women’s Health, 21(6): 462-472.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321701874_Providing_Evidence-Based_Care_During_the_Golden_Hour

Odent, M. (2002). The First Hour Following Birth: Don’t Wake the Mother! Midwifery Today, 061.

https://midwiferytoday.com/mt-articles/first-hour/

Erlandsson, K., Dslina, A., Christensson, A. (2007). Skin-to-skin care with the father after cesarean birth and its effect on newborn crying and prefeeding behavior. Birth, 34(2):105-114.

https://nuroobaby.com/skin-to-skin/the-benefits-of-skin-to-skin-contact-between-dad-baby/

Gaining Maddie Jean While Losing Gene The Bean

Chloe is a Blooma mama who always enters our doors with a rich, soulful smile. Her baby girl wows the studio with her epic head of hair. Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us. Dealing with the loss of a parent while becoming a parent is an intense transition. September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. We turn our hearts to honor Chloe and her dad as this disease affects so many of our loved ones.

I’ll never forget the moment I found out my dad had passed away. I was nursing my sweet two-month-old when I got the text. It was a group text too, to me and my sister from my mom, which I know sounds horrible, but she was in shock, and we knew it was coming. My gentle rocking came to an abrupt stop; Maddie and I had just visited him two hours before. How could he be gone?

My dad was one of the very first people I told that I was pregnant. I knew he could keep a secret, not because he had Alzheimer’s Disease, but because he was my best buddy. During the final years of his battle with Alzheimer’s, I got to spend nearly every Thursday with him. This was a chance for my mom, his full-time caregiver, to take a break and a special day for me & my pops to do our thing. I called these our Thursdates. Each Thursdate, as my belly grew, I would tell him that I was pregnant. And each time he was just as excited as if it was the first time he had learned the news! I’ll never know if that was because he had forgotten, or if it was simply my Dad’s kindness shining through. He was convinced that the baby was a boy and suggested that I name him Ice Cream. A few months later we learned that little Ice Cream was a girl.

Late in my pregnancy, my mom faced the tough reality that she could no longer provide the care that her soulmate deserved. After researching many options, we found a home for him. At age 66, he was the youngest (and still the most handsome) resident at the home. To no one’s fault, my dad quickly declined in the new environment. Even today, I keep reminding my mom that he was holding on for her, for us.  Honestly, now that Maddie was here, and he was away from my mom’s dedicated care, he was ready to let go. 

After my dad’s passing, we decided to have a celebration of life in July, which would give us two months to prepare. Let me tell you, helping to plan a celebration is tough when getting the hang of being a new mama! I did what I could. I researched urns and ordered one from Etsy while Maddie napped. I coordinated music for the service in between feedings. I nursed while we met with the pastor to plan the ceremony. I purchased tree saplings for people to take and plant in his honor, all done via Facebook Messenger. It’s quite amazing what a determined mama/loving daughter can accomplish! 

Alzheimer’s disease has taught me so much about living life to the fullest and cherishing the time I have with my family. In some ways, it even helped me prepare for motherhood. Alzheimer’s taught me patience and respect for someone who cannot verbalize their needs. Maddie is such a special part of our family now, and I know my dad would have chosen no one else to be by my side and in my arms as we continue to battle this terrible disease. In fact, “baby” was the last word my dad said to me. 

Alzheimer’s had robbed my dad of his ability to speak in the end, but he still tried, and he still smiled. He was still in there until his very last breath, and now I see so much of him in Maddie already, and she’s just six months. My dad’s name was Gene. We named our daughter Madelyn Jean in his honor. She’s patient with me and even-tempered just as he was (especially during my teenage years!).  Maddie loves nature. She studies the maple leaves as they dance in the wind; Boppa Gene was a forester.  Her eyes have this twinkly kindness to them just like his did. And her hair. Both she and my dad were blessed with a headful at birth.  A lot of people called my dad Gene the Bean. I really don’t know where that nickname came from.  Now, Maddie Jean is the little bean, and she will know the meaning behind her nickname. Through my stories, Maddie Jean will come to know her Boppa and what an amazing angel she has watching over her now and forever.     

Written by Chloe Misner, pilot’s wife, Blooma mama, adventurer & Alzheimer’s advocate. You can find Maddie & me on Instagram @Babymaddiemize.

Feeding Your Baby with Confidence

We love good food. We also love our babies. But, what happens when our babies don’t love food? Making sure your baby is eating and getting the proper nutrition can be super stressful!  It seems that everywhere we turn in today’s society, we are hearing about the best way to…(fill in the blank). As parents and caretakers of the tiniest members of society, we know that days are unpredictable, attitudes are often obstacles to accomplishing things, and babies can be very stubborn. When it comes to nurturing and caring for these little ones, it’s important to take things one day at a time and be ready to adjust course at any moment.

Even as a pediatric Registered Dietitian with years of experience coaching families through the ups and downs of feeding young children, I experienced some of the same doubts and concerns that all caretakers feel when it came to feeding my own son. We always want to do what is best for our children. But, in seeking out “the best” we often question every decision and every choice we make through parenthood.

Like all other areas of parenting, feeding your child is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Parents find themselves confronted with questions like:

1) When do I want to start introducing solids?

2) Which method of feeding should I use? Baby Led Weaning, Traditional Spoon Feeding, or somewhere in the middle?

3) When should I introduce peanuts or other foods that pose higher risk for allergy?

4) When is my baby ready for smaller pieces of food?

5) Is that a gag, or are we dabbling in choking territory?

The list goes on.

When I started hearing these questions from friends, I realized there is a need in the community for a place where people can come with their questions and concerns to learn the ins and outs of feeding their little ones. This fall I will be offering an Introduction to Solids Workshop that combines research-supported feeding recommendations, my experience as a pediatric dietitian, and practical insights learned through parenting that will equip you to feed your baby with confidence. The workshop will address the following topics:

-Nutritional needs of babies ages 4-12 months

-An overview of how to determine when your baby is ready to start solid foods

-The difference between Baby Led Weaning and Traditional Spoon Feeding

-Reducing the risk of choking

-Introducing the most high-risk foods for allergies.

Whether you are in the first few months of parenting, have already begun the process, or have done this before with an older sibling but remember all too well the uncertainties that you had along the way, you are welcome attend. The Introduction to Solids Workshop will be held at Blooma Minneapolis on Wednesday, October 24 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. It’s time we start having some fun with our little foodies! Let’s get them started on the right foot as they embark on their culinary adventure. I am looking forward to seeing you there!

Learn more and sign up here.

Kate is a Pediatric Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who currently works locally with children who have cystic fibrosis and endocrine disorders. She loves going for walks on the MN trails, enjoying oversized mugs of coffee and being silly with her 16 month old little boy, Rory.

When #momlife isn’t quite what you imagined it would be...

Before I became a mom, I had all these visions of what life would be like with kids.  Pinterest-perfect bedrooms, cute little baby moccasins, and family photos that look like we were just casually walking through a beautiful forest, pausing to toss an adorable toddler into the air.

Then I had my two boys, and reality looks a bit different.  Their bedrooms are never clean for more than two minutes, the baby moccasins rarely stayed on their feet, and we literally have one decent family photo because we’re terrible at posing together and I don’t have the patience to keep trying.  Also, my kids can’t keep an outfit clean for more than two minutes, I swear.

Two other things I never imagined I’d be dealing with were life threatening food allergies, and autism spectrum disorder.  

My oldest son, Leo, was diagnosed with severe food allergies when he was a year old after his first time eating eggs landed us in the ER.  It’s been almost three years now and navigating life with severe food allergies has been hard.  It requires a lot of planning, constant scrutinizing of food labels, educating friends and family (over and over), and always being hyperaware of the food and food products around your kids.  It’s exhausting!

Finding other food allergy moms to connect with has made it easier, because they understand the emotions you’re feeling when you make a mistake that could have been life threatening, or when you’re about to leave town and are feeling anxious to leave your kids with their grandparents.

Leo also had some developmental delays as a toddler.  I would take him to the Movers & Crawlers class at Blooma and watch the other kids crawling and trying to walk while he sat still.  He aged out of that class and was the only non-walker in the Kids Yoga classes I took him to.  I felt so alone as a mom. 

We didn’t know what was going on with him yet, and part of me was definitely in denial that anything was wrong.  My other mom friends were quick to gloss over it, “He’s fine!  He’ll get there!  So-and-so never crawled either and look at them now!”

As he passed 18 months and was still not showing any signs of wanting to stand or walk, our pediatrician referred us to a physical therapist who quickly recognized some sensory integration issues.  We began occupational therapy, speech therapy, and started receiving early intervention services through the school district. 

When he turned three, he was evaluated academically by the school district and given the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) label.  He’s made incredible progress in the last two years, and my husband and I joke that we’ve made it through the “dark times” (did I mention we also had a newborn around the time that Leo started receiving therapy?  A newborn that refused to take a bottle and woke up 3-4 times a night most nights for about a year?  Super cool.)

Finding other ASD mamas to connect and share with has been so comforting, because even though we have unique situations and challenges, we understand how to support each other in a way that other moms can’t.  

I’ve been coming to Blooma for four years now, and while I absolutely love the community here, I feel like there’s a hole that needs to be filled.  A space to hold for mamas of kids that have special medical or developmental needs, because these mamas face additional layers of complexity and anxiety that other moms can’t understand.

I wanted to create that space at Blooma, a place for these mamas to connect and feel heard and understood.  And, because these mamas often find self care to be even more of a challenge, I wanted to incorporate some time for a restorative yoga practice together.  

Our new workshop, Self Care and Connection for Mamas of Special Needs Kids, begins in September and will be offered once a month throughout the fall.  We would love to see you there if you’re a mama with a child that has special medical or developmental needs.  No matter how big or small it may seem to you, if you feel the need to connect with other moms dealing with these additional complexities, we welcome you to the group.

We’ll meet for 90 minutes, using half of the time to share and connect, mama to mama.  This is a safe space to share your experience, frustrations, and joys.  You’ll feel heard, seen, and supported by a group of other mamas who get it.  Then we’ll transition into a restorative yoga practice to relax and connect with your inner strength.  Releasing anxiety and tension, you’ll leave feeling restored and rejuvenated.  

If you identified with my story, please know that you’re not alone, mama!  Or, if you have a friend you think would benefit from this group, please share this blog post with them and help us get the word out.  We want all mamas to feel supported and held up at Blooma, and we can’t wait to bring this new offering to our community.

You can join Lilly for her “Self Care and Connection for Mamas of Special Needs Kids” Workshop at Blooma Minneapolis: February 13, February 25, March 13, & March 25

Lilly is a yoga teacher (RYT-200), wellness blogger, and mama of two living in Minneapolis.  You can find her teaching prenatal yoga at Blooma and flow yoga at an event series called Vinyasa + Vino (yoga followed by a wine testing!)

Follow Vinyasa + Vino: https://www.facebook.com/vinovinyasa/

Lilly's blog: www.rebelwell.com

Follow her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/rebel__well/

Birth Story: Louise Wynne Kelley - Right on Time

*All photos by Meredith Westin Photography

August 2017 5 weeks pregnant

Early in our pregnancy my husband and I traveled to Colorado and climbed to the top of Aspen Mountain. The concierge at our hotel said it was 2-3 hours long. I was confident I could do it and that it wouldn't be "that hard".  After an hour and a half we reached a beautiful scenic overlook, took in the view, and started out on what we thought must be the final summit of our climb.  Quickly I realized we still had a LOT to climb; more than half; and each part steeper than the previous. I told myself one breath at a time. One step at a time. You got this. You are doing this. These are all things I've learned help mamas in their journey from my career as a doula.  As my mindset wavered and doubt crept in, my cheerful husband was 3 steps ahead of me telling me how great I was doing. Even though I wanted to roll my eyes (ok I did roll my eyes a couple times) and negative thoughts filled my head (like: what were you thinking, you are so out of shape) I leaned into his cheerful positive attitude, took a deep breath, and willed myself to know I could reach the summit.  The view from the top was more beautiful than I could have imagined.  I couldn’t have been more happy to have accomplished the trek.

40 weeks

I actually wanted to be “overdue”.  Who says that?  I do. I guess I was just savoring my pregnancy and trying to get all the things done.  I tend to be a procrastinate, so I am glad my baby got the drift that she shouldn’t be too prompt with her entrance.  As a childbirth educator I knew my body was right in line with the statistics.  Studies show that on average, first time mothers deliver 3-5 days past their guess date.

I remember receiving a text from a mama friend on my due date saying, “Is today your guess date?  Thinking of you, mama.  Way to grow that baby well. Xoxo”  I had never thought of it that way before.  How thoughtful.  Yes, my body was freaking amazing for carrying another human being inside for that long!   I was able to finish my Spinning Babies Educator Training amidst the worst snowstorm in April history on my “guess date” weekend.  Gail Tully and her team along with Phyllis Klaus touched my belly and gave me all the good birth juju I could ever desire.

40 weeks 5+ days

After making an admittedly poor choice to drive 30 minutes to sell old workout clothes to make some extra cash, I swore off ever driving more than 2 minutes for the rest of my pregnancy.   My baby was squished so high inside and when I was driving, it felt as though her knees were in my throat.  Either that or the onset of early labor was causing nausea.  I had finally decided I was ready for this baby to come. That night in the bathtub I told my baby it was ok if she came now.  I was ready for her.

Later that night,around 11 PM, I started having mild cramping. I was up intermittently throughout the night, but was still able to sleep. In the morning I told my husband to go to work and I would let him know if anything changed.

40 weeks 6 days

With fervor and mild urgency I dusted, vacuumed, did the dishes, and set up my birth altar. Nesting is REAL, people.  The dustmites had no chance of surviving.  I had intentions to meet a friend for coffee but I canceled.  In my work as a doula I always suggest to my clients and students to “carry on” with their regular daily life in early labor, but I absolutely could not imagine being in a coffee shop with these cramps.  Around 9 AM I texted my Doula to let her know something might be happening.  She called me right away to let me know she was headed to another birth. I wasn’t worried.  Nothing major was happening.  After speaking with me for several minutes she sensed I may be further along than I thought.  She got extra bonus points for calling my husband herself and telling him to come home from work. Shortly after he arrived home with several bags of groceries in a super excited mood -  Because, “Hey! he was going to have a baby soon!” - I resorted to the bathtub. 

I texted my sister. She has four kids, but if the stars miraculously aligned, we were hoping she could be there for the birth.

I was in denial that labor was starting and before I knew it there was no room to “think”.  As the contraction waves became regular and strong I was soon in labor land. 

My Doula arrived fresh off another birth.  At this point every contraction required my full attention and was matched with a calm and steady, low, deep moan. Hands and knees became my savior.  I was climbing the mountain.   I called Kate, my midwife to let her know things had started and she asked me to start timing contractions. They were coming about every five minutes.  She said she would finish up what she was doing and head over.  She arrived just before 4 PM and sneakily checked baby’s heart rate and my vitals during and after contractions.  Side Note - We hired Kate without even interviewing other homebirth midwives.  She was confident, caring, gentle, smart, and intuitive.  She made our decision to have a homebirth feel easy and safe.

All of a sudden I felt a big bulge in my underwear. My water had broken. Viola!  The magic compression of those strong contractions was moving baby down and out. There was a little bit of meconium in the water so my midwife kept a close eye on our vitals.

Kate asked if I would like to be checked cervically. I was open to the check, but didn’t want to know the number. Thank goodness I asked not to know.  Later, I would find out I was only two centimeters. I think I would’ve lost it after having had these hard contractions for nearly 5 hours.

Around this time my sister arrived and brought her goddess mama energy with her.  She called in the troops to help watch her children and made it happen to be present for me.  She has a calm presence and I was so glad she was there (she’s the one holding me up in the pushing pictures).

The next several hours were kind of a blur. All I remember is breathing, having my support team right next to me, and thinking "holy crap I never thought it would feel like this". I told myself, one contraction wave at a time. There were thoughts of doubt in my mind but I reminded myself I can do it - I can climb this mountain. And sometimes I even repeated that out loud. “I can do it.  I can do it.  I can climb this mountain”.  We all giggled at the fact that I naturally started rehearsing the word “ouchie” during contractions.  It was my ritual and it seemed to help.  I stared at my affirmation cards hanging on the wall and stared at spots on the floor just to focus my attention.  I labored in the shower, on the floor, in the bed, and eventually my midwife said it was OK for me to labor in the birth tub (Sometimes women relax when they get into the birth tub so they don’t want you to get in there too soon in case it slows labor).

Holy Jesus that tub felt amazing. I remember saying how good it felt, and in my head  I thought “I’m never getting out of here”.

Around 8PM my midwife checked my cervix for the second time, and I wanted to know my dilation. I don’t remember exactly but I think I was a six-ish on one side and then eight-ish on the other. She thought my baby’s head was coming down at a little bit of an angle creating the uneven dilation on each side.   

Kate suggested a seemingly horrific series of different movements to help baby’s head realign. I rolled my eyes at this suggestion. In her sweet voice I remember her saying, “I know you are in labor. Sweet Amy would never have rolled her eyes at me otherwise.”  As a Doula I know certain positions make the contractions more intense, but in the long run it’s worth it as it makes labor shorter.  I would do anything to make this shorter so I obliged.  I had to do each movement for three contractions.  Three contractions on my back in the water.  Three contractions leaning on the left side.  Three contractions leaning on the right side.  And three contractions on my hands and knees.  Eye roll ensued.  I felt so proud when I had actually finished what they suggested. 

Meanwhile, I caught glimpses of my support team sneaking sleep; making smoothies, and seamlessly moving in support of my baby’s arrival.  I was comforted to know they were taking care of themselves. 

The pain in my hips was intense.  The hip squeeze did me no good, but I did find a little reprieve as my doula Alicia shook the hell out of my poor hips with the rebozo.  I thought my hips were going to split apart at one point.  But alas, I am here to tell my story.  My hips did not split apart.  My pelvis is intact.  It boggled my mind to think my sister went through this 4 times and even birthed one baby that was over 10 lbs!  Thinking of that helped me stay present.  I can do this.  I got this.  I am going to make it to the top of the mountain.  I thought of all my strong clients who pushed their babies out.  I thought of all my amazing friends who surrounded me at my blessingway with their words of wisdom.  I started to trust myself.  My body started to open.  Around 11pm I unintentionally and unavoidably started to grunt at the end of every contraction.  I knew this was a great sign-  my body was starting to push! 

I knew pushing could take hours so I tried to not look at the clock and not think about time.  I gave every contraction my full attention.  I grunted and when it felt there was room for more, I started pushing.  The pushing lasted for a little less than 2 hours.  I remember asking my birth team, “Can you just pull her out?”,  clearly, I had to finish the task.  We tried several positions.  Ultimately, my doula grabbed her rebozo and used it as a support/pushing tool.   That seemed to do the trick.  More and more of my sweet baby's head became visible with each push, and soon enough her whole head was out.  For an entire minute her head was out.  Then one final push.  My husband caught her body and handed her right to me.  She was plump, with a head full of hair, long fingernails, tons of vernix, and the sweetest most alert eyes.  She came out making eye contact with all of us around her.  Her (dog) sister, Harriet, peeped her head up onto the birth tub just as Louise was born.  I truly can’t imagine birthing anywhere else or with anyone else. 

If I could choose three words to describe my birth it would be empowering, supported, and intense!  Labor and birth is surely physical and extremely mental - Kind of like climbing a mountain.   If you can let go of the doubts, breathe into your strength, and acknowledge your progress one contraction at a time, the whole timeline of everything might not seem so daunting. Having a hardcore team of cheerleaders alongside you makes all the difference.  I could not have done it without my husband, our midwife, birth assistant, photographer, doula, sister, and my doggie doula.  I am forever grateful.

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Blooma Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula

 

A Blooma Love Note

Blooma has a mission to nurture the mind, body, and spirit of new moms and moms-to-be. We pour our hearts into this mission. It is so amazing when we get feedback from mamas. It reminds us of this mission, and why we work so hard each day to make Blooma a place of love and support in the community. Thank you to this mama, and all the mamas that keep us moving toward a single goal - support mamas at every stage. Enjoy the love note from one mama below:

Dear Sarah (Longacre) and Sarah (Auna),

I had previous wrote to you, but life got away from me and I never finished. I bought some Mala beads to find my “balance” but turns out, this doesn’t exist! I am a still seeking my new normal with two kids and working full time. A recent death in my family, has prompted me to take baby steps towards being more present and to openly say how I feel. I cannot go another day. I want to express my deepest gratitude. 

I started attending class at Blooma when I was 12 weeks gestation with first pregnancy in 2014. I sought out Blooma as I lived in the neighborhood and it offered a safe space to exercise, and retreat from a busy day after work. Little did I know that Blooma would become my community and network.  Your amazing business has provided me the resources to help navigate pregnancy and beyond. Through Blooma, I discovered the Twin Cities Birth Expo, Minnesota Childbirth Collective,  Julie Mueller, Mothering by MOM, and most importantly, my doula, Sarah Auna.

One Saturday morning in the Spring of 2014, at your 8am yoga class you showed a clip on a projector of the Business of Being Born. That was a defining moment for me as it ignited me to do more research and take charge of what I wanted for my birth. After the 8am class I came home to my husband Joe in tears. I couldn’t explain, but I must have been upset enough, that right then and there he turned on the amazon and we watched the full documentary together. I was emotional because my growing gut told me I was not comfortable with my current plan. I had just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and the news was left coldly on a voicemail. 

Through Sarah A’s coaching and support, I gained confidence. As you helped me labor at home, robozo, inversions and all, we moved to Mother Baby Center. When we arrived, Joe offered me a wheel chair. I yelled at him-that I would not accept- as Sarah L encouraged in birth class, to do the stairs! My midwife had to attend to another birth since it didn’t seem like I was progressing, so it was Sarah Auna and I (and Joe) doing some work in the basement and rocking out to HAIM. On the coldest night of the year, I delivered Joey at 7lbs 7oz. They told me it was 7:19 and I didn’t know if that was AM or PM. From this moment on, I never looked back, it was so empowering. In fact I have become a walking advertisement for hiring a doula, because my experience proved that addition to the mama, partners needs care and direction too.  

Three years passed and in 2017, I couldn’t wait to share with Sarah that I was expecting again. With Sarah’s vote of confidence in me, I decided I wanted a Birth Center experience and changed to the wonderful providers at Willow. 

While the second time around, “people” said I will have a shorter labor and that baby will just “fall out of me,” but reality was I had another long multi day labor. Sarah A again guided me, supported and ultimately I delivered Vincent free standing in the middle of the room. I pulled my 9.2 pound little bulldog, full of rolls and black hair, up to my chest and held him so intimately. This is the moment in my life that I am most proud of.  On this journey of one day, mom hair- don’t care, times up! Attitude, then next day to sinking back into some post postpartum feelings, I have an understanding that my path could have gone down a different road had I not stepped foot into Sarah L’s yoga studio.  You are both so courageous that you wake up and do this every day, truly amazing. I very much admire your entrepreneurial spirit and know while I am one of hundreds, you both have make a profound impact on my life, family and I only wish you all the best. Thank you for all that you do. 

Namaste, 

Blooma Mama

Learn more about Sarah Auna's doula services and Heartland Birth

Learn how Blooma can support you in pregnancy and postpartum

12 Sneaky Energy Boosters for All Moms

If you’re a busy mom and you’re reading this, chances are you always feel like your fuel supply is running low. And, while a 20 minute nap time for the kids may seem like the perfect time to catch some z’s and replenish your energy reserves, we all know it doesn’t always work this way.

So, we’ve come up with a few helpful and effective tips for us busy moms to recharge and recuperate, even while kids are running all over the place. These 12 tips for boosting energy are not only scientifically proven to work, they’re also incredibly easy to fit into your daily schedule

1. Have a Hearty Breakfast

You’ve probably already heard this a hundred times but breakfast is most important in our list of sneaky energy boosters because well, it works.

Research shows that having a complete breakfast with plenty of complex carbs, fiber and protein is a great way to kick-start your metabolism so that you are alert, awake and mentally prepared for your day.

Skip the store bought croissants and opt for easy yet nutritious breakfast options such as steel-cut oats (psst… you can make them overnight), yogurt with berries and nuts, whole grain bread with peanut butter or a delicious smoothie with fruits and veggies available in your pantry. He is one breakfast recipe that will change your morning routine.

2. Minimize Your Caffeine Intake

We get it, running around with your kids demands a few cups of Joe, but studies show that going overboard with your caffeine may be a recipe for disaster. 1-2 cups of coffee is generally considered safe and anything over this amount can make you feel jittery and may even lead to an energy crash by mid-day. So, stick to your morning cup, and maybe a mid-day pick me up, but other than that try decaf teas or good ole’ H2O (more to come on this natural energy booster).

3. Say Yes to Citrus

Getting your kids ready for school is perhaps the most frustrating time of the day. Your energy is zapped and you’re not even done with your morning coffee.

Start your day with a glass of orange juice or lemon/orange infused water. According to research, the scent of citrus can effectively boost your energy and reduce stress and anxiety.

Pro tip: Don’t throw those precious orange and lemon peels away! Toss them in a pot of water, let it simmer and enjoy the soothing, citrusy aroma.

4. Sing Your Heart Out

Singing your heart out can boost energy, reduce stress and stimulate your mind. It’s almost as good as a workout. We’re sure you’re just as tired of ‘Let it go’ as we are, but putting on a show for your kids while you drive them to school will not only enhance their mood, but also give you an energy boost that will last the entire day. So rock that solo car karaoke mama!

5. Sneak in a Good Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine. As if it wasn’t obvious enough, a good chuckle, say from a silly viral video, is an excellent mood-lifter. Laughing boosts your heart rate, improves your blood pressure and thus, boosts your energy. Therefore, if you have a minute or two for yourself, watch that funny video that’s circulating online, share a joke with a friend, or treat yourself to a comedy podcast.

6. Sip on Some H20

Water is popular as a miracle elixir for a reason. It’s simple, free and incredibly good for you.

If you’re tired, there’s a chance it’s because you’re dehydrated. Keep a big bottle of water around you so that you can sip from it throughout the day while your out and about. There are lots of apps our there that will send reminders to take a sip.

7. Wear Bright Colors

We are not suggesting going all out on red, yellow, and neon green. But, adding pops of color to your outfit with a scarf or bracelet is an excellent way of keeping your energy up throughout the day. As a bonus, it also ensures that you look chic and peppy, despite being tired from lack of sleep.

8. Stretch

Yoga is a great way to relax your body while getting a good workout. Simply stretching your muscles can stimulate your nervous system, get your blood flowing and make you feel more energized. Make time for a class at Blooma and pop the kids into childcare. Time away from the little ones, moving your body, stretching, and connecting with other mamas is a great way to keep your energy up all day!

9. Indulge in a Snack

Yes, moms need snack time too. It’s natural to grab some coffee or a candy bar as soon as the mid-afternoon drag kicks in, but this is only a short-term fix.

Snacks that contain complex carbohydrates and protein will not only give you that satisfying fullness that will last a while, they will also give you a sustained energy boost. A healthy snack doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Simply grab a handful of nuts or munch of a few whole grain crackers with hummus if you need a quick kick.

10. Meditate

Meditation is scientifically proven to fight stress and stress-related fatigue and you only need a few minutes to reap its benefits. As soon as you know you’re going to lose your mind, simply hold back, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and let your mind go for a few minutes.

11. Don’t forget your good fats

Good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, walnuts, avocado and spinach come with an abundance of health benefits. Omega-3s are also excellent memory and mood-boosters and best of all; they make a refreshing addition to your meals.

12. Turn up the heat

A drop is body temperature can be a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep, explaining why you feel like you could use a nap. Keep yourself warm by either turning up the thermostat or adding warm, yet comfortable layers to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.

 

We hope you find these tips to be useful when you’re in need of a recharge. Taking time and energy to nurture yourself is essential. Keeping the balance and wellness in your own life helps you care for everyone else that depends on you. Nurture yourself so you can nurture others. We know that life can get hectic, but take a few minutes out of your day to try these energy boosters - you will be happy you did!

 

Bio:

Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)

Website:  https://www.siddhiyoga.com/
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy

Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/siddhiyogainter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

 

References

  1. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girl. Am J ClinNutr. 2013 Apr; 97(4): 677–688.
  2. Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. 1995 May-Jun;2(3):174-80.
  3. Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity.J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;74(8):786-92
  4. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Prevention of Mood and Anxiety Disorders. 2015 Aug; 13(2): 129–137.
  5. Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset? 1997 Jul;20(7):505-11.

 

 

 

Supporting Mamas Around the Globe - Blooma & Shanti Uganda

Photo by: John Suhar | johnsuhar.com | @jtsuhar

As you mamas know, I run a busy yoga studio with three locations and lots of employees. I am always rushing to get things done, answer emails, and keep the place going. It is so important for me to step back and get back to the spirit and passion of birth. The journey to Shanti Uganda is so important to me, not just as the owner of Blooma, or as a doula, but as a mother and a woman. I need to continue to learn and grow and journey outside of my small, comfortable bubble.

I am blessed to live in a city that has so many resources for birth; the Twin Cities are filled with amazing doulas, birth centers, and mom and baby-first hospitals. There are postpartum support centers and places like Blooma, that welcome all mamas, working to lift them up. Every mother deserves to birth with care providers that can provide medical and emotional support for her and her baby. Unfortunately, not all moms have access to this level of care. Around the world, 800 women die every day from pregnancy and birth related complications - 16 of those happen in Uganda. We know that 90% of all of these deaths are preventable when moms are given access to high-quality care. This is the mission of Shanti Uganda, to provide quality care to women in need.

I remember when I first arrived in Uganda in 2009 to work and learn with Shanti, I was welcomed into the homes of local families. At first, Uganda felt so different from my daily life and I was humbled by the circumstances I witnessed. But as the days wore on and I connected with moms, saw firsthand the depth of sisterhood, family, and connection that existed, I was able to submerge myself into the mission of Shanti Uganda, and the service they provide to so many women and families. The daily distractions of my life – my computer, phone, my own “shit” – was abandoned.

In 2018, it is even easier to become isolated. From emails and social media, there is such a disconnect. We have to go back to community, connection, and support. Women need other women. Being in a fitness class, a book club, a moms group, a COMMUNITY is crucial in fueling your soul. Visiting Shanti and working with the women there was such a reminder of the importance of community. Watching moms carry each other’s babies, singing to them, raising them together. It is the deepest web of sisterhood and support I have ever witnessed.

It because of this sense of community and connection between women that we have to shift our focus to woman’s health, our children’s health, and the future of our globe. If we don’t start supporting women, we all suffer. Feel the vibration and rise up. Women have such an amazing power. We need to support women and show them what that power can bring.

 

So Why Shanti and Why This DONA International Doula Training?

Becoming a doula through Shanti’s DONA International Doula Training will change your life and your outlook on birth. Holding space for a mom at her most vulnerable stage while reminding her what a warrior she is, is a powerful experience. I often say that being a doula is like a drug. It makes you feel good, it is addicting, and it is oh so powerful. Moms need that one- on-one support and guidance from a doula to show her that she CAN do it, that she is stronger than she knows.

Pregnancy and birth are pivotal in a woman’s life. The way a woman feels about herself through pregnancy shapes her birth. Birth can empower a woman like nothing else and can bring them so much confidence in motherhood. But, a bad birthing experience can leave wounds that fester. It is so important to let women share their stories, ask questions, and LISTEN to their response. Women need to feel support as they transition into motherhood. Becoming a doula and working with birthing women makes a difference in the lives of individual women, and to the birth community as a whole.

Training at Shanti us unique because you can fully submerge yourself into the training. You are out of your day to day routine and can give all of yourself to this teaching. You wake up with other trainees, eat lunch with the facilitators, you are surrounded by the sounds, words, and culture of birth.

Photo by: John Suhar | johnsuhar.com | @jtsuhar

Working with Shanti Uganda is a gift that goes two ways. On my first visit I was able to bring my knowledge, experience, and a set of helping hands. But, I learned so much from each person I met, taking so much more knowledge and understanding back home with me.

The money you contribute to Shanti by joining this program is HUGE. It means respectful, maternal care that saves lives. It means supporting women and babies at the most critical level. What you will learn through Shanti will change your life. When you return home, you will have a deeper connection to yourself, your family, children, and relationships.

Africa. Birth. Yoga. Sisterhood. Look into your heart and think about what you want to do with this one precious life. Movement, action, support, education for all! The Shanti Uganda Birth House is a sacred and special place for a life changing training. Emily and I can't wait for this upcoming adventure and we would love for you to join us!

Learn how you can join Sarah Longacre & Emily Shier for a DONA International Doula Training at Shanti Uganda

Written by Sarah Longacre, Blooma's founder & owner. Mama, doula, yoga teacher, and lover of all things birth!

Natural Ways to Induce Labor

(Photo by Meredith Westin Photography)

Mamas-to-be - it can be exhausting and frustrating to be facing week 41 of your pregnancy. Maybe you are wondering how you can encourage your body and your baby to begin labor. Natural induction methods are gentle enough that you won’t go into labor if your body is not ready but can help move things along at the end of your pregnancy. Always talk with your midwife or obstetrician before attempting to induce labor naturally. 

Here are some natural induction methods to help you and baby along:

 Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used in traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body to stimulate Qi, or energy. Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture is safe to use during pregnancy and research shows that acupuncture may help obtain optimal positioning, increase cervical ripening, and even shorten the length of labors. Acupuncture is one of the wellness services offered at Blooma and it can be beneficial for mom and baby in all stages of life and pregnancy. You can book an acupuncture appointment here or by calling us at (612) 223-8064.

Dates

While it is nice to go on a date with your partner late in pregnancy (for the connection and privacy of just the two of you), we are talking about a different kind of date – the sweet dried fruit that comes from a date palm tree. Several studies have looked at the effects of eating dates late in pregnancy because the Quran contains verses claiming that dates are beneficial for pregnancy. Randomized studies have found that eating dates might ripen the cervix more, lower the need for pitocin induction or augmentation during labor, increase the likelihood of having a vaginal delivery, and decrease postpartum blood loss. Dates can be great for bringing on labor, but be sure to talk with your care provider first. Dates are high in sugar, so we wouldn’t recommend making them a large part of your pregnancy nutrition. 

 Nipple Stimulation

Stimulation of the nipples releases the hormone oxytocin, which can lead to ripening of the cervix, uterine contractions, and milk production. Nipple stimulation can be an effective tool for inducing labor naturally. Studies are varied in the methods used and lengths of time for nipple stimulation, some studies used breast pumps and others used breast massage. The studies found that women were more likely to go into labor with nipple stimulation, had lower c-section rates, and decreased risk of postpartum hemorrhage. However, there have been a few case reports of hyperstimulation of the uterus, by either causing too many contractions or contractions that are too long.

 Castor Oil

Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is produced by pressing the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. It is an herbal remedy that has been used for hundreds of years to induce labor, but it also works as a powerful laxative. Studies found that using castor oil can be an effective tool to stimulate labor as well as ripen the cervix. However, study participants in several different studies reported nausea after ingesting castor oil.  This is a popular natural induction method I see as an RN, but most women feel pretty miserable after taking castor oil. Also, there is strong evidence that taking castor oil in early pregnancy can be harmful to the developing fetus.

 Sex

Theoretically, having sexual intercourse should help to stimulate labor because human semen contains prostaglandins, which help to soften and ripen the cervix. Also, any orgasmic stimulation can increase uterine activity (whether alone or with a partner). And it’s fun, so why not? The evidence on having sex to induce labor is mixed. Some studies found no significant difference in those advised to have sex and those who were not. However, another study found sex in late pregnancy was associated with an earlier onset of labor and decreased chance of induction. Since it is safe to have sex during pregnancy and may even relieve some stress, we think this method is worth a try. Your partners can thank us later. *It is not advised to have penetrative intercourse of any kind if your water has broken.*

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga and movement don’t necessarily induce labor, but can be beneficial for getting your body ready for labor and can even lead to a quicker delivery. Prenatal yoga poses can help your baby into the optimal position for delivery by stretching and opening the uterine and pelvic ligaments. New research has found that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labors and are less likely to use epidurals. Exercise during pregnancy also reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, preclampsia, and c-section. So, it's a no brainer, sign up for one of Blooma’s  yoga or barre classes today!

 The evidence has shown that these natural induction methods can associated with stimulation of labor and cervical ripening in women that are term or post-dates pregnancies. Remember to talk with your care provider before attempting to induce labor naturally. To read more about the research studies cited in this blog post, visit https://evidencebasedbirth.com.

 

Written by Beth Supple, MN, RNC-MNN

Beth is a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse, childbirth educator, and mama of two.

 

 

 

Why Should I Take a Childbirth Education Class?

Let me guess: you’re interested in having a shorter, less painful birth and having the baby come out of your vagina? Great! The Blooma Birth Class offers lots of evidence-based tips and tricks that will increase the odds of all of those things happening. But birth can also be a wild animal, so we want you to be prepared for some unexpected twists and turns that can arise along the way. We have no agenda about whether your birth should be unmedicated, at home, or in the hospital with an epidural. But as childbirth educators, we want you to feel empowered, well informed, and well-cared for during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience.

A lot of my students come into The Blooma Birth Class with a whole host of myths about the childbirth process and what they can and cannot control in the course of their labor, birth, and postpartum healing experience. Much of what we know in our culture about childbirth comes from movies, TV shows, or the horror stories that people tell us when we happily announce our pregnancies. Let’s be real: there is a LOT of misinformation out there, and it is not serving anyone.

Here are the main things that we cover in The Blooma Birth Class:

  •  Does the provider you have chosen fit with your needs and values?
  • Addressing common fears and concerns
  • Making informed decisions in pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and even parenting
  • Phases of labor and how partners can support each step of the way
  • Practicing hands-on comfort measures
  • Medications and interventions—including cesarean birth
  • Postpartum healing
  • Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

We even throw in a few bonuses: community building, local referrals, additional resources, AND for some education classes, 30 days of free unlimited barre and yoga.

Still not convinced?

Here’s what a few of our recent students are saying about our Childbirth Education classes:

“I appreciate the safe environment to always ask questions and that you didn’t feel pressure or judgement that one type of birth is better than the other.”

“After taking this class, I felt more empowered and ready to advocate for our needs.”

“We feel more prepared than we thought we would be by taking this class. It helped to alleviate some of the worries we had.”

Worried about the time commitment? In addition to our traditional 12-hour series that is spread out over 4 weeks, we also offer an express option that is a condensed, one-day format.

We understand that planning for the birth of your baby often comes with financial planning and budgeting.  Typically, HSA payments will work to pay for childbirth education classes, as long as there is enough money to cover the total in your account. Another option would be to ask for a gift card to Blooma as a shower gift. This can be used for Childbirth Education, yoga and fitness classes, Workshops, Wellness or retail!

We hope to see you at Blooma during the course of your pregnancy and beyond. Let us guide you during this transition into parenthood through one of our childbirth education classes.

Written by Mari Melby,  childbirth & lactation (CLEC) educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.