Birth Worker

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!

Labor Of Love

In life, we are often convinced to doubt ourselves. So, it is no wonder that we find it hard to believe that we have everything we need to bring our babies Earthside. Babies have been entering into this world, through the gates of their mother’s souls, since the beginning of time. Regardless of how births unfold, they do. Babies arrive in their mother’s arms; their father’s arms; into the arms of those that love and care for them deeply.

The truth is, we are innately born with the ability to start labor, move through labor, and give birth. As humans, we are built to become deeply connected to one another. Though much of what we witness in our world today doesn’t always prove this to be true, love is at the heart of our existence. The science of it all boils down to one simple fact: the flow of hormones in our bodies drives these finely-tuned, innate processes.

As a DONA-trained birth and postpartum doula, a LAMAZE-certified childbirth educator, and a prenatal/postpartum yoga instructor, I often get asked:

“How can I best encourage, enhance and support the natural, pulsating rhythms of labor?”

I hear this question from the doting father-to-be who arrives at the Couple’s Birthing Intensive with a desire to learn how to be the best he can be in supporting his wife as they welcome their child into the world.

I hear this question from the loving partner, in awe of her wife's changing body. A partner who wants to give support while showing acknowledgement and love for this commitment to their growing family.

I hear this question from the “new doula” who just finished her formal training and is dripping with excitement to support her first family in their sacred birth experience.

I hear this question from the woman who will be by her sister’s side while she molds and grows     and forms into the new role of “mother”.

I hear this question from expecting mothers who carve out time to show up on their yoga mat for prenatal yoga. Connect with her baby, but most importantly, connecting to her hopes and desires for her impending birth.

All of these questions stem from a place of acknowledgment and recognition that the anticipation of birth can be overwhelmingly significant. It can stop us dead in our tracks. It can bring up fears and hesitations that were once long buried. It can evoke unwelcome vulnerability and uncertainties. It can open up our self-doubt unlike any other. Expectant woman or not, these sentiments are often felt in varying degrees from everyone involved in the witnessing of such a significant life transition.

Regardless of who is asking the question “how can I best encourage, enhance and support the natural, pulsating rhythms of labor” my answer is always this:

whenever possible, create an environment conducive to building oxytocin”.

Ah yes…Oxytocin.

You may have heard of it. And chances are, whether you know it or not, you’re strongly familiar with it.

Oxytocin is the hormone of love. It is the hormone of a comforting embrace; of a shared kiss; of a deep belly laugh; of a late night cuddle; of intimate sex; of the welcomed touch from a loving hand; of a gifted smile. Simply put, it is the hormone that sky-rockets when we make a connection with another human being. This super-star hormone is also the one in the driver’s seat during labor and birth.

Lamaze International states that “one of the most powerful ways we can support the normal physiology of labor and birth is to let labor begin on its own…the most compelling reason {for this} may be to allow the birth hormones to regulate labor and birth as nature intends.” By doing this, we are allowing the woman’s body to respond, hormonally, in a way that signals to her body and baby that “it’s time.” From this moment on, environmental factors have an impact on the laboring mother.

Women’s bodies are magnificent works of art and function. When trusted and given the opportunity, our bodies - capable & powerful - can do much more than expected. The rush of hormones - of oxytocin - can contract the uterus, can bond two humans together, and can even block the rest of the world out, if even for a moment.

While the body is capable of blocking out it’s surroundings, external and environmental factors can still play a role in the ability of women’s bodies to do their biggest life’s work. Much like the laboring animal retreats into its den for safety; laboring women also need a safe birthing space that enables the sacredness of the journey to unfold.

This may sound like an overwhelming task — creating an environment conducive to the manifestation of oxytocin — but it’s simple really. Laboring women need an environment where they feel love.

When an expectant woman’s partner looks me in the eyes with anxious nervousness and asks me, with quiet hesitation, “how can I possibly be what she needs in birth?”, I look at them confidently and tell them, “You already are.”

*All Photos by Danica Donnelly

Written By Sarah Bach-Bergs-Blooma Yoga Instructor, LAMAZE-Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA-Trained Birth and Postpartum Doula, Mama of two crazy boys, wife, friend, and wilderness lover.

You can learn more from Sarah at Blooma's Couples Birthing Intensive on October 29th, November 19th & December 10th

What is Spinning Babies Parent Class?

Spinning Babies is a technique made famous by Gail Tully. It is an approach based on easing baby’s rotation - when rotation is easier for baby, birth is often easier for mother. We are so excited the Blooma is the FIRST organization to offer The Spinning Babies Parent Class with our trained Childbirth Educators.

What is Spinning Babies?

Spinning Babies looks at birth from a physiological perspective - birth is seen as a natural and normal occurrence for the body with mamas using their own powers to allow labor to start on its own. The Spinning Babies approach investigates baby’s role in labor.  We know that baby's position plays an strong role in the process and progress of birth.  By knowing fetal position, and the space available in the womb, less force and medical intervention is warranted.   

Why should I take the Spinning Babies Parent Class?

Spinning Babies Parent Class is a great opportunity to better understand how baby is an active participant in labor. You will learn how to maintain balance in your body prior to labor, helping to create ease and even pleasure during your birth.  This hands-on class allows you and your partner to practice comfort techniques and daily exercises with ample time to ask questions.

How will Spinning Babies Parent Class impact my birth?

Learning the material and techniques in the Spinning babies Parent Class will instill confidence in your body’s ability to birth your baby. As Gail Tully says, “Not too tight, not too loose, not too twisty.”  Some of our daily habits (i.e. sitting for long periods of time, placing more weight on one leg versus another when standing/leaning, long commutes to work) can create imbalances in the body. The Spinning Babies Parent Class teaches techniques to help bring more symmetry to the tensions/looseness of your muscles, ligaments, and joints. This can help baby navigate the pelvis and surrounding tissues more easily.  This knowledge will help alleviate fears of the birth process and leave you feeling empowered and excited as your little one’s guess date approaches.  

Interested to learn more? Sign up for an upcoming Spinning Babies Parent Class!

October 4 at the Minnesota Birth Center in St. Paul

November 17 in Minneapolis

If you have any questions about this class, or the Spinning Babies technique, please reach out to our educators at education@blooma.com.

Written by Amy Kelley, a M,ama, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga Instructor, Kids, Toddler, & Byob Yoga Instructor.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com