Our babies have so much going on in the early days of life. They’re learning to eat, sleep (hopefully!), communicate and move. Learning to move requires opportunities to do so, which is one reason why tummy time is so important.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Holley, S. (2017). Providing Evidence-Based Care During the Golden Hour. Nursing for Women’s Health, 21(6): 462-472.
Odent, M. (2002). The First Hour Following Birth: Don’t Wake the Mother! Midwifery Today, 061.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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/
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)
- 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.
- Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. 1995 May-Jun;2(3):174-80.
- 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
- Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Prevention of Mood and Anxiety Disorders. 2015 Aug; 13(2): 129–137.
- Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset? 1997 Jul;20(7):505-11.
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.
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!
Written by Sarah Longacre, Blooma's founder & owner. Mama, doula, yoga teacher, and lover of all things birth!
(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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
There is no getting around it – during the first 2+ years of your child’s life, the biggest task you and your partner will take on will be changing diapers. Lots of them. The average child will generate over a TON of diapers. In fact, the majority of what you throw away will be diapers. That’s a lot of trees, petroleum, paper etc. that is being used to transport fancy underwear that will only be used once.
As we celebrate Earth Day, it is a good opportunity to look at your carbon footprint. Kids can be messy and create trash, it's a part of parenting. But, there are small things you can do that make a BIG difference. Think about using rubber straws and ditch the plastic, wipe your kiddos down with washable cloth or compostable wipes, and consider using cloth diapers!
There are a several easy to use, modern cloth diapers out there that come in lots of different types and styles. Even using cloth for part of the time can make a big difference, saving thousands of diapers from the landfill. Washing a cloth diaper uses less resources than making a new disposable diaper. Plus, they are more fun than disposables, coming in lots of different patterns!
If you are worried about the extra work of washing at home, you can use a service like Do Good Diapers. We’ll wash the diapers more efficiently than you can at home and you don’t have to do any dirty work. It is a great way to get started with cloth and we are here for you through your diapering journey. We consider ourselves cloth expertise so we can help answer questions about sizing, the right style, and any fears you may have.
Written by Peter Allen, founder and owner of Do Good Diapers. Father to two wonderful kiddos!
My breastfeeding relationship with my son got off to a rocky start after his complicated birth. First I wasn’t sure if I had enough milk, then I had too much. I am so thankful for the breastfeeding support group I attended while living in Denver. And, after our rough start, I went on to meet my breastfeeding goals with both of my children. A few years later, as a doula, childbirth educator, and lactation counselor, I am so excited to start leading a similar support group here at Blooma called Milk and Cookies. Breastfeeding support groups are an important part of building a mama’s confidence. It also creates a network of mamas who are able to help you through your struggles and celebrate your successes. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s not always easy. A little reassurance can go a long way. Plus, the evidence shows us that providing women with in-person breastfeeding support helps them to breastfeed for longer.
Here are a few questions I’ve been getting about this new group:
Who is this group designed for?
This group is designed for any breastfeeding mama and her baby. While I expect that a lot of mamas will be seeking support in the first 12 weeks of baby’s life, mamas at any age and stage are welcome. This class is discussion-based and tailored to answering your questions about anything from sore nipples and latch difficulties to pumping at work and transitioning to solids. If you come to class with a question that I am not qualified to answer, I will happily refer you to the best lactation consultants in town!
Do I have to come with a specific question?
Nope! You might just come to practice breastfeeding in public, meet some other mamas with babies around the same age as yours, or because you just ran out of cookies. Yep, we will always have cookies. Listening to others ask questions and get answers can be helpful to know you are not alone in experiencing breastfeeding hurdles.
Do I need to arrive on time?
Of course not! You have a NEW BABY and I know how hard it can be to arrive to anything on time, even with the best of intentions. So shake on some dry shampoo and head out the door. You are welcome no matter what time you arrive.
So, will everyone just have their boobs out the whole time?
Basically, the answer is yes. Most mamas will breastfeed at some point during class because babies get to eat whenever they want. If you feel more comfortable covering up, go right ahead, and if you don’t want to, that’s fine, too! Very quickly, you will get accustomed to talking to other mamas who are also feeding their babies.
Milk and Cookies meets at Blooma at our Minneapolis location on Mondays from 12:30-1:30pm. You bring the milk, I’ll bring the cookies.
Written by Mari Melby, childbirth & lactation (CLEC) educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.
In October 2018, Blooma founder Sarah Longacre and DONA doula Emily Shier will be traveling to the Luwero District of Uganda. Together, they will lead a DONA International Doula Training of a lifetime! We want you to join us! Along with doula training, participants will enjoy yoga with Sarah, cultural experiences, safaris, and more - all while supporting a great organization, Shanti Uganda and the community of women they impact each day.
Get to know Shanti Uganda:
We imagine a world where all women have access to a midwife and are respected, empowered and able to thrive throughout the birthing process. At our Birth House, our highly skilled Ugandan midwives, doula and lab technician provide a holistic approach to maternal health - fostering a supportive and respectful birthing environment. We offer full birth services, pre and postnatal care, follow-up visits and immunisations at an extremely low cost to our clients. In addition, Shanti offers weekly prenatal yoga classes, workshops on nutrition and family planning, sexual and reproductive health education for teens and a community garden. Shanti Uganda works hand in hand with the community we serve to provide holistic, respectful care to the whole family.
Founded in 2008, Shanti Uganda is a registered Canadian charity and Ugandan Non- Profit Organization. We stand up for maternal health by putting women first. A safe, respectful and comfortable birthing experience should be a right for every woman; however, thousands of women all over the world suffer and die needlessly every day because of complications from pregnancy and birth. Shanti is working to change that in Uganda, where 16 women die daily. 90% of these deaths are preventable with access to quality, respectful care - that’s exactly what we offer to women in the Luwero District of Uganda.
Why take a Doula training with Shanti?
We are so proud to partner with Blooma on our upcoming DONA International Doula Training in October 2018. In 2008, our organization was founded by a yoga teacher and doula with a background in international development. Since the beginning, we’ve been inspired by the power of doulas to create positive birth experiences for moms. We hosted our first Doula Training in September of 2012 and since then have welcomed 10 groups of inspiring women to Uganda - raising over $84,000 for our programs. We believe deeply that a cross-cultural exchange of knowledge is life-changing for everyone involved. The Doula training is also one of Shanti’s most sustainable sources of funding, a way to truly travel with purpose.
Why does Blooma love Shanti?
Back in 2009, Sarah Longacre was part of an amazing group of women with Off the Mat Into the World who raised $150,000 for the construction of our Birth House. Sarah then came to visit the site and even helped in construction! The Birth House was completed in the spring of 2010 and since then we have supported over 1,300 births and impacted 46,000 lives. Blooma and Shanti Uganda share so many of the same values - we are both care for women passionately and honor their birthing experience. We both strive to create open-hearted communities of support.
You are formally invited to visit us and experience the training of a lifetime. If you’ve ever been drawn to experience Africa, support women or connect with a grassroots organization this is your chance! Learn more about this experience and sign up here.
Written by Kate Hyde Operations Director with Shanti since 2016.
Pregnancy is a time when moms start to think about their environment, what they are eating, and how they can best support a growing baby. What we eat is an amazing tool we have in our control to support our bodies and the development of our baby throughout pregnancy. But, this can quickly become overwhelming when we start to think about all the nutrients we need.
We all hear about needing folate (aka “folic acid”), B vitamins, iron, and calcium in pregnancy. But there are several lesser known nutrients that play a key role in pregnancy. Not only do these nutrients support our developing babies, but they can also help support mom as her body goes through huge changes.
This is a mineral that helps support muscle growth and repair, supports the immune system, and helps to balance hormones. Zinc is essential to support the rapid growth and development of your baby’s cells. Zinc may also help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure in pregnancy as well as reduce risk for low birth weight.
Where to find it: Crab, turkey, chicken, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and collard greens.
Try this recipe: Smoked Turkey and Collard Green Stew - you could always replace the turkey with chicken!
This is another mineral that assists with tissue growth and repair. Magnesium is also an important mineral for bone health and can play a critical role in the development of your baby’s bones and teeth. Magnesium is important for maternal health, helping to relax muscles (helping fight against those pesky leg cramps).
Where to find it: Spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, yogurt, figs, and dark chocolate
Try this recipe: Simply add some pumpkin or sunflower seeds, almonds, and/or figs to your morning yogurt or granola mix. Avocado toast is another great option. Smash some avocado on whole wheat bread and top with radishes and seeds (sunflower or pumpkin).
Choline is important during early pregnancy. It has been tied to a decreased risk of neural tube defects. It is a key factor in development of baby’s cells and nervous system, impacting brain and cognitive development.
Where to find it: Eggs, kidney beans, broccoli, spinach
Try this recipe: Spinach and Egg scramble
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 Tbsp milk or water
- 1 handful of frozen spinach, thawed and drained or ~1 cup fresh spinach
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butter for pan (~1 tbsp)
- Optional: 1-2 Tbsp shredded cheese of choice
- Optional: 2 oz. of canned salmon (great source of Omega-3 Fats - see below!)
- Add 2 eggs, milk/water, and seasonings to a small bowl and whisk eggs
- Melt butter in pan on stove
- Add spinach to pan (if fresh allow to wilt), and salmon if using
- Then add eggs to pan
- Top with cheese, if using
- Stir until eggs are cooked through
FAT! Yes, I’m telling you to eat fat, specifically DHA and EPA Omega-3 fats. This is another nutrient that is crucial for development of a healthy nervous system – including brain development and development of vision.
Where to find it: Salmon, sardines, grass fed beef, flax seeds
Try this recipe: Simple Chocolate Delight (add 2 Tbsp of ground flax seeds into your next smoothie)
- 1 med. Banana
- 2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seeds
- 1 Tbsp Cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp Almond butter
- 2 cups Almond milk
- Ice (per your preference for thickness)
- Combine ingredients in blender.
- Blend until smooth.
Or have a snack of canned sardines - this is a great source of protein and omega-3s.
When you look at the sources of these wonderful nutrients, you see a lot of overlap! If you are getting in a variety of vegetables (especially cruciferous veggies/leafy greens) and protein from trusted sources, you are getting these valuable nutrients to fuel you through your pregnancy.
Food and pregnancy can be challenging between aversions, cravings, heightened sense of smell, heartburn, decreasing space….need I go on? If you are having trouble with any of these things and are working toward starting or maintaining a healthful diet but need guidance and support, I’m here to help!
I offer FREE intro sessions for Health Coaching at Blooma Minneapolis and would be happy to help you through your pregnancy. Schedule your visit here. (Under "Appointment Type" scroll to "Health Coaching")
Written by Margaret Achu – Certified Health Coach, Occupational Therapist, Mama
You can follow me on Instagram @coach_margaret_achu or check out my website margaretachu.com.
*This is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions, please talk to your medical provider regarding any concerns you have regarding nutrition and pregnancy.
I’m laying on my side, facing my 5 week old baby, his tiny limbs gently exploring the air. There is soft music playing in the background, sun shining through the window, we’re warm and comfortable. Strong hands reach to my neck with intention and massage my neck, my shoulders, my back, all the way down to my feet. Unconsciously, a couple of big tears roll down my checks. It’s such a relief to move my nursing, mama body into powerful poses, to lay down to rest, and then to receive someone’s tender touch and affirmation. With hormones shifting, emotions raw, and exhaustion all encompassing, these are tears of gratitude. Thank you for this space, thank you for noticing me, and us, together and connected. At a time when every waking (and sleeping!) moment is consumed with giving care, I have a sweet moment at Blooma where I am the one receiving.
In those early weeks and months of Samuel’s life, yoga at Blooma was the place I went to receive. Parenting young children is so physically demanding, but I don’t think it’s ever more demanding than those first few weeks after giving birth. In that space of newness and recovery, yoga was the sanctuary of our day. It was the place I went to be acknowledged, celebrated, and encouraged. A place where I could connect with other moms - where our stories, our concerns, our joys (and sometimes our babies’ cries!) could be heard.
Samuel is my 4th child, and it hasn’t been like this with my other babies. There was no sanctuary where I felt that sweet connection and relief. My older kids are in 6, 9 and 12, and Blooma wasn’t even in existence when I was pregnant for the first time. Perhaps Blooma’s offerings weren’t as developed when I had the chance with my middle children, but I think the biggest factor was my desire to take care of myself wasn’t as developed. I look back on those years and I think how much easier things would have been if I’d had this community. And I should have known better, I’ve been involved with the birth world for over 20 years.
When I was 19, I had the rare opportunity to shadow the village midwife in a small fishing village in India and attended many births with her. I came back to college, completed a doula training, and attended births in my early 20’s. I became an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, and opened my practice in 2007 focused on women’s health, specializing in fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum care. I have walked alongside women becoming mothers hundreds of times, always encouraging excellent self-care and valuing of their well-being. But now, with more things than ever on my to-do list, I finally see this equation from a different angle.
My assumption with my first three babies was that time spent caring for myself took away from the well-being of my family. I would fit in an acupuncture treatment or massage, but there was no foundation of support that offered consistent care. Now, I recognize that the most important thing for my home, my children and my practice (which has now grown into a much larger women’s health and fertility center) is that I take top-notch care of myself. Because Blooma has classes where I can bring Samuel with me, and offers childcare on-site, this is much easier to achieve.
My journey with Blooma started with barre class at 14 weeks of pregnancy. I’d been dealing with very significant pain in my sacrum for a couple of weeks. I knew that I needed something to help stabilize and strengthen my pelvis and decided to try a barre class. After the first class the pain had significantly decreased and I was hooked. I made an effort to get to barre class at least 3 times/week-- it became one of my main priorities. If I didn’t go, the pain would start to return, so I was motivated. I was also determined to do barre regularly because I remembered how much strength it takes to care for a baby-- to hold and wear a baby, and then a toddler--for long hours, and especially to lug that infant car seat everywhere!
I had done weight training and exercise during my first pregnancy, but by the time I was recovering from my third birth, I was physically weak and depleted and had a variety of physical ailments related to this. This time around I wanted things to be different and I was determined to emerge from this pregnancy strong and vibrant.
Samuel is now almost 5 months old and I have marveled so many times at what a profound impact Blooma has had on the ease of my postpartum journey. We try to make it to babywearing barre at least a couple times each week. Postpartum can be an incredibly isolating and lonely time, especially in the winter months. Getting to class regularly not only boosts my energy and my mood, but has provided connection and community, laughter and support.
The staff at Blooma and the other women in my classes have witnessed my baby grow within my belly and now out in the world. They have celebrated with me and sympathized with me, and I have done the same for them. They’ve witnessed me when my baby is adorable and when he’s inconsolable. By showing up again and again I have not only become stronger and more comfortable physically, but I’ve also learned to be more vulnerable and more compassionate with myself and others.
For everything I have received at Blooma I am so grateful. Thank you amazing teachers and staff. Thank you Sarah. And thank you to all the women in the classes who share this space with me.
Kara is a Blooma Mama and the founder and senior practitioner at Fertile Ground Women's Health and Fertility Center. Fertile Ground is a holistic women's health center in Southwest Minneapolis offering acupuncture, Chinese medicine, therapeutic massage and Maya Abdominal Therapy for women facing fertility challenges, who are pregnant, postpartum or dealing with other women's health concerns.
Delaying admission to Labor and Delivery until a woman is in active labor can be challenging for families. Many women arrive for evaluation before they are in active labor.
Early labor management is a critical time to reduce the cesarean birth rate. When women are admitted to the hospital in early labor they are at increased risk for receiving interventions and having a cesarean section (Rahnama, et al, 2006). With the exceedingly high rate of cesarean sections in the United States (32% from 2013 census data), prevention of the first cesarean birth is important in reducing the overall cesarean rate (current rate of vaginal births after cesarean section – VBAC - is approximately 10%). When women present in early labor at a HealthEast hospital, we often recommend that they go home to labor in the comfort of their own environment. Some women are uneasy with this, feeling nervous to labor at home or are concerned they may birth at home or while in transit. At Woodwinds Health Campus, we want to provide our clients with a comfortable alternative to going home. An Early Labor Lounge has been shown to improve client satisfaction and decrease early admission, thereby lowering the rate of medical interventions and cesarean sections (Rahnama, et al, 2006).
The Blooma and HealthEast Early Labor Lounge offers a space for women and their support team to use until the onset of active labor. The Early Labor Lounge is a beautiful and relaxing space, with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the natural woodlands surrounding Woodwinds. It has supplies needed for the laboring team, such as birth balls, yoga mats, rocking chairs, snacks, hydration, relaxing lighting as well as inspirational messages of encouragement and empowerment to help women as they work through their labor.
Maternal anxiety and fear can lead to medical interventions and less optimal birth outcomes (Hodnett, 2008); promoting comfort and empowerment of the laboring woman can help her cope with the challenges of labor. It addition to staying relaxed and comfortable in early labor, some comfort measures can help a woman progress through labor. Some strategies and techniques include intimate support from a partner and/or doula, ambulation, position changes, utilizing a birth ball, rebozo use, therapeutic shower or bath, acupressure, massage, and nutritional support (Paul, 2017). Some of these supportive therapies are offered in the Blooma and HealthEast Early Labor Lounge.
By providing this space, Woodwinds families will have a comfortable alternative to going home if they arrive in early labor. We hope this will improve our patients’ happiness with their birth experience and improve outcomes. We hope the Blooma and HealthEast Early Labor Lounge makes a positive impact on the clients we serve and finds a permanent home at Woodwinds and other locations.
Written by Natalie Jacobson-Dunlop, MS, CNM, APRN, HealthEast Certified Nurse-Midwife
Hodnett, E. D., Stremler, R., Eston, J. A., et al. (2008). Effect on birth outcomes of a formalised approach to care in hospital labour assessment units: international, randomised controlled trial. BMJ, vol. 337, (Aug 28 1) 2008.
Paul, J. A., Yount, S. M, Blankstein Breman, R., et al (2017). Use of an early Labor Lounge to promote admission in active labor. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 62 (2), 204-209.
Rahnama, P., Ziaei, S., Faghihzadeh, S. (2006). Impact of early admission in labor on method of delivery. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 92 (3): 217-220.