postpartum

Blooma is Heading to Uganda: Join Us!

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. 

After Year One of Parenting, Creating A Re-United Front

Here’s the deal: I hit the husband jackpot when I got married. I know this is a super obnoxious and eye-rolling inducing thing to say, but it’s true. His mother, twin sister, and I all agree that he’s our real life Randall from “This is Us”. He has the same laser sharp focus on the needs of his family and methodically works to fulfill them. He’s a one-man pit crew in our house, keeping the whole shebang running.

I’ve heard this theory that in every relationship, one person is a “reacher” and the other is a “settler”. Sometimes I look at his luxurious Brazilian curls and perfect brown skin and think “damn it I’m the reacher!” I mean I’m cool with it. I bring good stuff to the table, even if his hair is way better than mine.

We met in graduate school. One of a handful of the classes we had together was a course on negotiation. We were paired up against another student and when we discussed our strategy, I wrote “united front” on a piece of paper. This turned out to be one of the most romantic moments of all time because I got to tell that story when I vowed to him “a united front” at our wedding.

I’m a super romantic reacher.

We had talked a lot about becoming parents long before our son was born. Everything from raising a child within the context of organized religion to not feeding him puffs because they have zero nutritional value. For the record, the former still fluctuates from time to time and the latter, well, our child basically lived on puffs for a while. It turns out that a lot of our talk about parenting before actually becoming parents turned out to be just that.

What we had not talked about was how having a baby would impact us individually. And subsequently, how it would impact our partnership. On maternity leave when people would ask me how things were going, I often responded with “the baby is the easy part; the grown-ups are the bigger challenge.”

Example: I called him one afternoon as he was on his way into the Capitol to meet with a legislator. I was crying. A lot. “I am here every single day taking care of our baby and becoming increasingly obsolete in my career that I love. Meanwhile, you go to work every day and do not have to pay a price professionally for becoming a parent. I have nothing to show for taking care of him! It’s not like he can conduct a performance evaluation!”

You get the idea. Legitimate thoughts and feelings? Absolutely. Pretty common concerns about your career when becoming a mom? Duh. Important to communicate this to my partner in crime? Without a doubt. In the middle of the day as he’s on his way into a meeting, while I’m sleep-deprived, hormonal, and alone with a newborn for too many hours? Ya know, maybe not.

He listened. He agreed with the struggle. He was compassionate and patient. He then asked nicely if we could continue the conversation later because he was now late for his meeting.

When I was pregnant, I wrote him a letter entitled “United Front, Chapter Two.” I told him that as we prepared to become parents, I wanted us to remember that our partnership existed before the baby. I wrote that “our gaze will shift from inwards at you and me to outwards at this human we made. But, I do not want us to lose sight of us.”

I can honestly and very humbly say that in this first year of being parents, it turned out to be pretty impossible to not lose sight of us. Like so many parents who have gone before, our kid stole our hearts and minds in a way that no amount of talk beforehand could have even begun to prepare us for. We learned that becoming a mom and becoming a dad is kind of a big deal.

As we reflect on year one, the united front is coming back into view. The new baby fog has lifted and we are able to see us again. We definitely look a little different, but there is even more happiness than before and a new, deeper kind of strength. Plus, his hair is still amazing and I try not to call him crying as much.

I have always believed that your kid’s first birthday is not about your kid. It’s about parents keeping their tiny human alive. Actually, keeping everything in the household alive: dogs, cats, adults, child(ren), plants, whatever. Keeping the domestic unit intact after the birth of a child is a monumental feat of epic proportions. I always told friends to celebrate this massive accomplishment more than anything else. The kid will get their birthday glory for the rest of their lives. Our celebrating included frigid winter hiking, delicious old old-fashioneds, undisturbed – and still warm – meals, and most importantly, uninterrupted conversation.

Here’s a fun fact: our son was born on our dating anniversary. Of all the predictions from our family and friends of his birth date, I was hoping for one of the latest dates because it was our anniversary. His due date was January 25th and I wanted February 4th. Lo and behold, that is when he made his entrance into the world – six years after our first date. So, I’m either a masochist for even entertaining the thought that he be 10 days overdue, or as previously stated, a really romantic reacher.

Either way, this will be really handy. The birth of our kid will always coincide with the beginning of us. And one should be celebrated just as much as the other.

Written by Blooma Mama Ann

Blooma- A Mama Thank You Note

I want to thank you for the safe and nurturing community you have created and continue to foster at Blooma.  We struggled with infertility for many years and when we surprisingly got pregnant it was equally frightening and thrilling.  I loved my prenatal yoga classes.  They became an incredibly sacred space for me - to connect with my soul and with the babe growing inside of me.  They helped me make peace with my fears.  I often tell people the best decision I made when pregnant was joining Blooma.  Once Henry arrived I could not wait to get back to Blooma.  Those first few months in BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby Yoga) were amazing.  I cried my way through the entire class my first time back.  I was filled with so much joy being able to reconnect with myself (and connect with Henry) in that space.  I also wept the day I realized we had outgrown BYOB.  He started crawling and climbing and finding his way off the mat entirely too soon!   I am not sure if hear this…  but… thank you. The space you provide for women (at so many places along the journey) is a gift on countless levels! 

Written by Katie, Blooma mama to little Henry, wife to Travis, lover of sunshine and bearing witness to the stories of others

 

To learn more about the classes at Blooma, please visit us HERE.

Honoring the Significance of Pregnancy & Birth: The Fourth Trimester

Carrying a baby, birthing a baby, and mothering a baby is one of the biggest life experiences.  This transformational journey continues once baby joins a family earthside.  Each mother deserves time and space to heal from the effort of birth, honoring her own unique circumstances and needs.  Planning ahead for the fourth trimester can impact your entire postpartum experience.  Studies have shown that care, nourishment, and guidance during this time can result in long term health benefits to mother, baby, and the entire family.  

No matter what type of birth you experienced, your body went through a significant transformation.  This time is about you mamas and your body needs rest.  In Chinese culture, “Zou yuezi is a sacred 40 day period following birth that is a time to shower the new mother with nourishment and self care through therapeutic baths and deep oil massages.  In Western culture you may not be able to set aside a full 40 days and we understand that, but try making your first two weeks postpartum a sacred time, bonding with baby and resting.  

“Mothers cannot give from a depleted source.  Every mother needs emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual validation, nourishment, and support.  When a mother is respected and well cared for, she, and her whole family, will benefit.” - A motherwoman principle

In our childbirth education classes at Blooma we encourage students to abide by the 5-5-5 rule the best they can.  New mothers should plan to spend at least 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed, and 5 days near the bed.  Do you remember birthing your placenta?  There is a wound that size that needs to heal.  Low activity and rest can promote healing of the perineal tissues, allow birther’s organs to reposition themselves, and reduce the length of postpartum bleeding.  Have your partner or others bring you anything and everything you may need.  Request warm nourishing foods from your support team.  According to research, warm, soft foods such as bone broth, soups, or a good combination of carbs, protein and fats can help aid in digestion and provide the needed energy to nourish you and your babies body.  

 

 

After speaking with several postpartum mothers about their postpartum experience, responses were very individual and unique.  More than once, however, mamas noted they wished they would have asked more for what they need.  You are the gatekeeper of your space.  You may decide to decline visitors until you and your partner have enjoyed alone time to connect, get a handle on breastfeeding, and rest.  It’s important to keep in mind that following birth you will experience physical and emotional changes, many of which happen within the first 2- 6 weeks.  This can be a sensitive time.  If you don’t feel comfortable being naked, crying, or sleeping in front of certain family or friends here are a couple ways to decline visitors until you are ready.

*Avoid posting on social media outlets unless you are ready for people to start reaching out.  

*Ignore your phone.  Honestly, this is one of the times in your life it’s totally acceptable to be severely tardy in your replies to text, emails, and voicemails.

*Leave a nice sign on the doorstep saying thank you for celebrating in the arrival of our little one, we are not quite ready for visitors but will let you know when we are.

You may be a mama who is dreading all the alone time and know you will crave connection with others.  Make a list before baby arrives that includes family and friends who have flexibility in the daytime or evening to stop by and keep you company. A postpartum doula can be an amazing lifeline and worth every penny.  Postpartum doulas have specialized training for childbirth recovery, emotional well-being, and breastfeeding.  Postpartum doulas can help during the day or night.  If you would like a list of local postpartum doulas please reach out to a Blooma staff member and we will hook you up!

Regardless of what kind of postpartum choices you envision will best suite you and your family, have a list of people nearby you can call on to help you feel nourished, held, and supported.

Attention family and friends of a new parent: Consider asking, “How can I help you?”  or think “What can I do to make your life easier?”  Instead of bringing a baby gift, bring a meal.  Something that can be put in the freezer is a gift that will be received with gratitude.  Offer to help with laundry, care for baby so mother can take a healing bath or nap, or bring the older children to school.   We’ve included a great list of helpful “gift” ideas for new moms below:

Origins herbal heating pack for muscle tightness in the shoulders/back, etc or make your own rice pack

Padsicles (see Educator Jamie’s recipe here!)

Healing Herb Soaks (we sell a variety at Blooma St. Paul & Minneapolis)

Gift cards for Massage

Set up a meal train or drop off a meal on the front steps  

Robe (mamas keep this by your door and put it on before someone arrives to give the hint they shouldn’t stay long)

Build Your Nest: A Postpartum Planning Workbook

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother

 

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor and mama-to-be.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com

My Postpartum Body

“So, when are you due? I don’t normally ask, but you have the most darling little belly,” asked the woman working at the retail store in the fitting room. It was the second time I had heard that in the last weeks prior to this incident. I was so hurt internally, that in order to avoid bursting into tears and tell the truth that would embarrass us both, all I could say was, “Oh, I’m not very far along” and quickly took my stack of clothes into the dressing room. The reason I was so hurt? I wasn’t pregnant. In fact, my daughter was one year old and I was there trying to find a pair of jeans that better hide my “belly.”

I’ve had three babies in four years. With the amount of weight I have gained and lost each time, along with sustaining life inside of me and outside of me in breastfeeding, I look at my body in the mirror now in complete awe of creation. What an incredible miracle conception, pregnancy, birth, and infants are! The blessings and gravity of what I have been a part of is not lost on me. I am truly grateful.

However, it does not mean that there are not challenges. I have had relatively easy pregnancies and recoveries postpartum. And, yet, I still struggle with the changes in my body. In each of my pregnancies I have continued to stay active and eat relatively healthy. I love to walk/run around the beautiful neighborhoods of Saint Paul and take classes at Blooma. Postpartum life brings even more walks with babies, early morning runs, and yoga practices.

But after my second baby, I found that it was really hard to get rid of my “mom pooch.” I was slimming down and getting stronger everywhere else, but I could not get my belly any flatter. In the midst of diapers, toddlers, working part time, and keeping up with the house, I couldn’t find or make the time to do anything about it. I kept thinking that maybe it was the extra ten pounds I had kept on during breastfeeding, like with our first child, until I had weaned him. So, when it didn’t come off when I weaned our second, I started researching if it was something more than baby weight. That’s when I found out about diastasis recti. It’s the natural ab separation that happens when you are pregnant. However, mine, like many women, failed to knit back together postpartum. Thus, the pooching belly. There are a lot of variables how and why this happens, but it’s still there.

By the time that I truly realized that it was a problem and there was something that I could do to fix it and work on it, I was pregnant again. After having our second son this past April, I immediately started Google-ing videos and exercises that could help me work on this condition. I found a lot of different information, all promising to pull in the “mom pooch.” It wasn’t until this past week, when I went to Karin Trigg’s Abdominals: Before and After Birth Workshop at Blooma that I truly felt I received a comprehensive presentation on diastasis recti and how to help it. She went over the anatomy of the body, how and why this separation can happen, breathing and exercises on how to lessen it within our own bodies, and plenty of encouragement and empowerment that we can be our strongest selves, even after being a vessel for another human for so long. Since this workshop, I have tried to dedicate five to eight minutes a day to work on the exercises Karin gave us. Some days I have to wake up even earlier just to make sure I get the exercises in, but it’s helping. And, I can only hope that it continues to help. I strongly encourage any woman, pregnant or not, to try Karin’s class, even if only to learn more about diastasis recti and how to protect your core.

I realize that I may never look like I did when I was at my smallest, but that was before my body had given life to three other human beings. And, for those miracles, I will be happy with however my body looks, as long as I’m staying healthy and active.

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

Learn more about the next Abdominals Before & After Birth Workshop (October 26, 2017)

Chiropractic Care in the 4th Trimester (Postpartum)

Sometime in the 4th trimester, after all the happy hormones of birth start to fade, the reality of pain can be a shocker for some mamas, and not always where they expect it.  While bellies and bottoms are healing, mamas are often surprised at the physical workout that comes from holding, changing, nursing, and carrying a little one outside the womb! Low back pain gets a lot of attention as the spine is recovering from pregnancy, however chiropractic care is also an excellent way to address neck pain, upper back strain, muscle tension, headaches, wrist, and shoulder pain that are so common in the early postpartum weeks.  Often, these are the result of the awkward postural demands of early baby care (bouncing, carrying, feeding, sleeping).

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     I want to remind everyone about the power getting an adjustment can have in the 4th trimester.

 

 

Even with all the great gadgets, wraps, and pillows, despite our best intentions, we are often inclined to accommodate baby - no matter how uncomfortable it is.  When mamas are a few weeks postpartum and experience  headaches, tension in the shoulders/neck, constantly stretch out their wrists, or arch their upper backs, it is time to visit the chiropractor and get re-aligned (yes even those little wrist bones and elbows can get out of place). Your body will feel amazing and will thank you for the attention! The first adjustment after birth is often one of moms’ favorites.

Come in and visit me at Blooma and get your adjustment pre or post baby. At Blooma, there is so much more to experience than yoga and barre. Take time for you and give your body the attention that it needs for happy and healthy motherhood!

Written by Dr. Jessica D.C (Chiropractor and Mama at Blooma)

Jessica-Peterson

*Dr. Jessica was recently interviewed for MN Parent Magazine as a contributing Chiropractor on this same topic. Thank you to Rachel Guyah for highlighting this in April’s MN Parent magazine, and for consistently supporting Blooma as a superstar resource for our community! You can read the full article HERE.

Prepping for Baby Number Three

Eight weeks and counting. But it could be six weeks or even ten. Still, at least we’re in the single digits. That’s when this new baby comes - at full force - to make his or her presence known. It’s not that I don’t like being pregnant. I actually do enjoy it. I am truly aware of the miracle inside of me – what it means to have a human growing within my own humanity. Even as I’m typing this, my belly is moving like ocean waves as the baby kicks and stretches within me. It is absolutely incredible.

But, there is something about the end of the third trimester. There is so much anticipation for labor and delivery, for who this new little one is going to be, for how my current two toddlers are going to be with him/her, and, for our surprise, if this baby is a boy or girl! Plus, nine months is a long time! I’m ready to have this baby on the outside rather than the inside.

It has been a different experience prepping for this baby other than our first two. As new parents, there is so much equipment and clothing to acquire. You find yourselves consumed by research for car seats, strollers, and high chairs. You also find that when baby comes, all-consuming love for both your partner and this new child takes over every inch of your heart. With the second baby, we didn’t need to acquire many additional items for the baby. Maybe an upgrade on few things and another dresser, but for the most part, we had everything needed for a new baby. As I’m sure all parents wonder if it will actually happen, our hearts grew exponentially when our daughter looked up at our eyes, surprising us by being a girl who came earlier than her guess date and with a much faster birth than our son. So, this third time around, we’re prepping for this baby in a much different way than I expected.

Blooma Prenatal Yoga Classes - I have attended many more prenatal yoga classes this third time around than either before. I discovered during my second pregnancy and labor/delivery, how much yoga helped strengthen and stretch my body during pregnancy and prepared me for labor. I learned how to breathe through uncomfortable (that turned to painful) labor as well as how to move my body to make room for baby. During my second labor in particular, I used many yoga positions and breathing techniques I learned in prenatal yoga classes. Prepping for this baby has meant trying to get to at least one prenatal class per week!

Rearranging/Simplifying – It might be because we live in state with long and dark winters, but for me, every spring brings a giant urge to declutter, deep clean, and simplify our home. So, with this baby due this spring, nesting makes this urge kick in even earlier! My poor husband seems to have a new piece of furniture to move, store, or sell every couple of days. And, my kids have a lot less knick-knacks around, but shhhhh, they haven’t noticed yet! I want this baby to have space both in our home, and in our hearts. As we rearrange and simplify our life, I see that we are rearranging and simplifying our hearts to make room for this new babe. How will this baby fit in our current life? What new parts of ourselves will we learn and discover with the presence of this addition to our family? We have to make room now, in order to be ready!

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Making time for those who are here now - I have tried to be more diligent about making extra time for both my husband and each of our children. There will come a time in a handful of weeks where the majority of my time will be dedicated to little human who requires a lot of needs and attention. So, in these weeks leading up to his/her birth, I’m putting down my phone, pushing off cleaning chores, and waking early (while everyone is sleeping) to get work complete. This way I can spend more time during the day reading my daughter an extra book before nap, helping my son practice letters, and giving more undivided attention to my husband. These are ways I can love them here in the present, instead of being too focused on what is coming in the near future.

Gathering up postpartum goodies – Like I said before, there is not much that the baby will need once he/she comes that we do not already have or can borrow. Instead, I have been collecting a few new goodies for my own postpartum comfort and healing.

Navel Yoga Pants: Mama, doula, yogi, and Blooma-founder/extraordinaire, Sarah Longacre, launched a new brand of yoga pants (and   community right along with it) to fit the physical and emotional changes that come with being a mom. My favorite part of them: the high-waist and detachable belly band for extra coverage and support. I cannot wait to live in these pants during those days cuddling my newborn.

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Bath Salts: A dear family friend owns a holistic skincare and cleaning line out of Brooklyn, NY  (Between You and The Moon). I am lucky enough to try a lot of their products, and this is one of my favorites! Those sitz baths postpartum, even if only for 10 minutes, have been huge lifesavers for my own physical and emotional healing.

Breastfeeding Tanks: For my last two babies, I have breastfed for a full year after they are born. I live in breastfeeding tanks. I have always bought cheap ones that work fine, but this time around, I’m really hoping for something nicer. Maybe even something that aren’t so ratty by the end of my breastfeeding run, they end up in the garbage. I’m still trying to figure out which is best – so if you have any suggestions, send them my way!

New Baby Clothes: I know that I said we really wouldn’t be buying anything new for the baby. However, with already having one boy and one girl, this baby really won’t be getting any new clothing over the course of his/her life – most will be hand-me-downs. In my head, means the new baby should get at least one or two new newborn sleepers.

As my family and I continue to prepare for the arrival of our new one, please know how each of you are in my thoughts (especially if I take class with you) as you prepare for your new ones as well!

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

Looking Ahead in 2017

We continue to rock our New Year's REVOLUTION in 2017. Our Revolution isn't just about January, it's about having an amazing year (ups, downs, and everything in between). With 2016 a few weeks behind us, we wanted to share what we're looking forward to most in the New Year! Babies will be born, our community will grow, and families will celebrate milestones together. Blooma's Leadership Team is looking forward to all different things, from vacations and celebrations to walks in the sunshine and yoga trainings.

Sarah Auna - "I've been asked by one of my dearest yoga teachers to assist her on a yoga retreat to Tuscany, Italy in 2017!!!"

Marina Polvitzki - "I'm looking forward to visiting my little sister in Copenhagen for her graduation, and then traveling to Norway for a camping trip with her + our partners. I am also excited to drink the first batch of beer that we brewed on New Years Eve! Imperial Smoked Chipotle Porter... Mmm :)."

Sarah Longacre - "I am looking forward to being kinder to myself."

Tyler Copeland - "I'm looking forward to living in my new apartment. I has huge southern facing windows with tons of light and is only 4 blocks from Lake Calhoun. I can't wait to walk around the lake on a daily basis with my dog."

Lauren Herbeck - "My baby girl starting Kindergarten this fall.  I am excited about her growing up and enjoying school (which she has been asking to start for 2 years now!) but also the extra time I will have with my boys while she is there."

Meghan Foley - "I am looking forward to continuing my yoga therapy training out at Kripalu in the Berkshire mountains. I am excited to have more time in my schedule to relax and take classes. I am excited for this frozen tundra to warm up."

Greta Fay - "I am looking forward to escaping to the beach, snuggling my best friends fresh babies, staying home more, potty training and summer adventures!"

Sam Boyd - "I can't wait to finally go on a honeymoon with my husband, and stick my toes in the sand. I am also very excited to expand our CSA to more members this summer and grow even more veggies!"

Laura Gillespie - "I am looking forward to exploring my second summer in the Twin Cities (I don’t know how much longer I can take the cold!), making more friends in the area, and taking a trip home for my niece’s first birthday!"

 

And, of course, we are all looking forward to more Blooma love, more mamas, more babies, and more time on the mat or at the barre! What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

 

Thank you to Megan Foley, Sarah Auna, Greta Fay, Sarah Longacre, Tyler Copeland, Laura Gillespie, Sam Christopher, and Marina Povlitzki for your contributions!

Celebrating Nine Years of Blooma Love: A Personal Account From A Blooma Mama

As Blooma celebrates its 9th Birthday, we want to celebrate the people that have contributed to our success and have held our mission so close to their heart. Lauren started at Blooma as part of our childcare team. Nine years later, she basically runs the place. Not only has she seen her career grow, and Blooma develop into the community it is today, but she has become a mother herself, THREE times! She is kind, warm, hardworking, and dedicated to the mission of Blooma. We asked her to reflect on the past nine years, and we won't lie, some moments brought us to tears. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do! Happy Birthday Blooma!

I started my journey with Blooma as a college student, completely unaware that my hourly job in the childcare room was going to impact the next decade of my life.  At that point, I hadn't thought much about yoga or birth and I couldn’t imagine then what my life would be like 9 years later.  But here I am!  Now a mama of 3, married to my incredible husband, and the Director of Operations for Blooma. 

Reflecting on the last 9 years with Blooma, I am overwhelmed with the abundance of personal and professional growth opportunities I have experienced and witnessed. 

As a business, Blooma has grown in many different ways.  Our staff has grown from a handful to almost 100. We have moved and added locations across the twin cities and trained yoga instructors and birth doulas across the world.  We’ve developed and fine-tuned class offerings, education, and wellness services.  We’ve touched the lives of thousands of mamas and their families, made mistakes and celebrated enormous triumphs.  And, with the heart and passion of our leader, Sarah, we will continue to identify and serve the needs of our mamas.  

Blooma’s growth wouldn’t have happened without the perseverance of the women (and a few men!) that pour their energy into Blooma.  I have met so many inspiring people through our studios in the past 9 years.  Women and men who are on a mission to make our world a better place.  Our staff and support team has been comprised of mothers, sisters, doulas, writers, teachers, artists, designers, farmers, lawyers, midwives, accountants, grant writers, marketing managers, world travelers, photographers, small business owners, musicians…and I can keep going for hours!  It is humbling to think of the talent, passion and knowledge I have been surrounded by for so many years.  

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I smile when I think about the ways Blooma has impacted me personally, as a mother and sister.  While working for Blooma, I have been blessed to give birth 3 times. Three very different births. I had a natural hospital birth, a beautiful home water birth, and an unplanned 35-week cesarean birth - each with my friend, doula, and boss Sarah by my side (Literally, I wouldn't let her leave my side). During each birth, I drew from the knowledge and strength that Blooma had given me.  Through yoga I learned to manage my breath, Doula Training provided me with comfort measures, and I found strength in every woman who had shared their birth story.

In the last nine years, I have walked with my fellow mamas through their own unique journeys. From infertility and loss, to planned and unplanned pregnancies.  While I have witnessed hard pregnancies and traumatic births, I have been humbled to witness smooth, complication-free pregnancies and swift births.  I have journeyed through perinatal mood disorders both personally and with other mamas, and have been honored to provide postpartum care to my sisters that they had provided for me - holding their newborns, bringing meals, and offering encouragement.  

 

We all have a journey. I never would have predicted this would be mine.  My passion for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life has turned into a career in a supportive work environment, allowing me to navigate the "working mom" balance.  I have been given an opportunity to apply my skill set in a business with a mission so near to my heart. I am thankful for each client I encounter, each co-worker that’s worked alongside me, every challenge we overcame together, the support I received during my pregnancies, and most significantly of all, for Sarah.  I am beyond grateful for what Blooma has given to me in the last 9 years and can't begin to imagine what the next 9 will bring!

 

Written by Lauren Herbeck

Director of Operations at Blooma

Wife and Mother of Three, Friend to Us All

 

5 Things a Father Would Like You to Know About Postpartum Depression

Being a good dad means I need to be fair, present, kind, consistent, a good communicator, loyal, supportive, open-minded, a good leader, a fair disciplinarian and take good care of myself.

Pretty much …. Perfect.

The truth is, I’m not perfect. I’m human…. and this dad thing is humbling. It’s kicking my ass and bringing me great joy all at once. I’ve never had this kind of experience before.

I have postpartum depression - and so do up to 25% of my male peers.

Here’s what I need you to know:

1 - The traditional therapy model doesn’t work for me.

  • Showing up and admitting to another woman that I’m damaged is very scary and feels unnatural. Men are taught we are supposed to be "tough", and showing emotion makes us wonder if you will still view us as a competent protector and provider.
  • Asking me to talk about emotions I don’t even understand (vulnerability, denial, joy, shame) often leads to a shut-down. Rather than admit that I don't know what to say, I want to "fix" the problem. And I can't "fix" emotions. It's like expecting me to speak a foreign language that I’ve have never heard before.
  • I’d respond better to alternative methods of therapy. Emotion-focused couples therapy can be very helpful, if we are willing to be vulnerable. Here, couples learn an emotional vocabulary, and how to move towards each other, versus away.  Peer support is also very effective. Listening to other men’s stories and having a safe outlet outside of familiar relationships helps me with processing. It also creates accountability, provides mentorship and friendship.

2 - Shame and low self-esteem are my greatest issues -  not anger.

  • Shame is often rooted in family and childhood issues, past trauma/abuse, bullying, and messages from society. Exploring this stuff can often reduce my shame and increase my self-esteem, but often takes time and a therapist that knows to move very slowly.
  • When I am experiencing depression - I presses play on my “worthlessness script” and then act in a way to reinforces it. Why? Because it is what I know how to do and it’s easier than exploring feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, shyness, uncertainty, stupidity or other shame- rooted emotions.
  • What I was taught - is not my fault. It’s helpful for me to hear that what happened to me in my life, what I was taught about self-worth and what it means to be a man,  is not my fault. I also want to know that I have a choice- to continue the cycle, or learn ways to break it.

3 - My postpartum depression will look a lot different than a woman’s.

  • Anger and reckless behavior will be prevalent. Overworking or over-engagement in hobbies to avoid being home, sleeping more or staying up later at night and somatic symptoms (headaches, pain, stomach problems) may be present.
  • Other signs include higher risk of substance abuse, risky behaviors like driving recklessly or engaging in fights.
  • Onset of these mood disorders often occurs later in the postpartum time than in women.
  • Postpartum depression in fathers is seen worldwide.
  • My risk increases if the partner/woman in the relationship has depression, anxiety or OCD. I’m also at an increased risk if I’ve had a past depressive episode or a family history or depression.

4 - There’s no exact tool out there to diagnose my male postpartum depression.

  • Online tests and instruments in general should not be used to make a diagnosis. They are often not thorough enough, personalized enough, and I could lie or minimize my symptoms. But tools like a depression test or the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale can be given as a way to plant a seed for future reflection or conversation.
  • Ask me!!! Is being a father what I envisioned? How is it different? What has the experience of fatherhood been like for me?"
  • Having a partner share their observations in an early therapy session (but NOT the first) can be helpful. Let me create some rapport with the therapist first, and when you come, talk more about my behaviors than how you perceive I’m feeling.

5 - If you suspect I am suffering - don’t push, plant seeds.

  • If I say "I’m Fine" - don't argue. Share your own observations, let me know you are here if anything changes.
  • Tell me it’s ok to feel scared. Tell me it you see me, support me, love me.
  • Try to engage me in activities versus talking about feelings. Suggest we take a walk together, or do a physical activity together that we enjoy. It’s less scary than a face-to-face conversation about feelings.
  • If we decide we need to, lets contact the pros. If I don’t have the energy to call for an appointment - that’s okay. Help me make the call.

 

This piece was inspired by “Parental Mood Disorders: What you need to know about working with Dads” - presented by Mark Meier and Crystal Clancy at the 2016 Beyond the Baby Blues Conference.

Mark Meier, Founder of Face It, a Minneapolis-based center to help men overcome depression.

Crystal Clancy, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Stages Counseling, based in Eagan.

 Sarah Auna, Lamaze-certified Blooma Childbirth Educator.

 

The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #1 – “My Walk with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety”

Once again we bow our heads to our fearless, amazing leader Sarah Longacre. We cannot imagine the courage it took to write this blog post that has been viewed tens of thousands of times and shared all across the world.

For any mother out there struggling with these same issues - know you are not alone. Please know that you can reach out to anyone at Blooma, or go on our Resources page to seek help if you feel so inclined. This horrible bear of a disease affects one in eight mothers, and that is just too much.

Let's shout our stories from the rooftops and do what we can to end this terrible disease.

Once again we need to thank Sarah for sharing this incredible story, this number 1 post in our Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time:

"My Walk with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety"

Love to all the mothers out there.

Ann + the Women of Blooma