Posts Tagged ‘postpartum advice’

Looking Ahead in 2017

Sunday, January 15th, 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!

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A Lesson in Acceptance

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

As we break into the New Year, many people are focused on the “New You”. At Blooma, we think you are great just the way you are. You are perfect. You are enough. Thank you to Blooma mama Shea for teaching us a lesson in acceptance. Of our talents, our failures, and all that life throws at us!

Be an individual. Be yourself. Be unique. Follow your dreams. Be who you are. These are all maxims that we hear every day. They are meant to be inspiring and move us to work on ourselves.  However, it often takes a dose of bravery to truly show and be your individual and unique self, instead of hiding behind the person you think you should be.

As a married mother of two on the ground and one in utero, sister, friend, neighbor and confidant, am still trying to figure out who I am. Yes, I can tell you that the beach by the ocean (doesn’t even matter where as long as there is saltwater and ocean waves) is my happy place. I can tell you the books I have devoured and the ones that I slogged through, just to finish for book club. I can tell you that I enjoy going on a run and practicing yoga. And, I can tell you that there was great joy in my heart when all of my siblings were together for Christmas, as we live in all different states across the country.

But, I can also admit to you, that sometimes it’s hard to accept who I am. It is amazing when you look at humanity, and even smaller, at the local culture, and see how similar we all are. Each of us follow very similar patterns – patterns in our day, in our human development, in our manners of speech. However, even in all these similarities, each person is gifted with specific characteristics that make us, us. For example, I’ve been given the gift of gab. I can pretty much chat with whoever walks into my path. I find it relatively easy to small talk, and can usually find something to talk about with whoever I am with. Yes – I know those who are even better at it than I am. But, I do know it is a gift, and I love having this strength in my pocket.

 I have, however, NOT been given the gift of craftiness. It will take a lot for me to pull out the scissors, glue, and glitter. I can sew on a button, but I cannot make a Halloween costume. A few years ago, I tried to make my son a Halloween costume from scratch – because I truly thought that’s what a successful mom should do. However, it was a complete disaster, and was only saved by my own mom, who can actually sew. I learned that, frankly, I don’t really want to learn how to be crafty. That being crafty does not excite me and brings unneeded pressure and stress. I will accept my failure at a homemade Halloween costume, hand it off to another person, and I will marvel and compliment you on your talent. But, I am going to be right here, with my own set of strengths.

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I am still learning to accept who I am, what strengths (and weaknesses) I have been given, and how I can learn to be the best version of myself. And, I am grateful for those that already accept me as I am – My family, children, friends. I remind myself that I must practice what I preach. I want my children to love themselves, accept their strengths, and accept the times that they may fail. To instill this in them, I first need to fully accept myself. My strengths. My failures.

I have been given many gifts, and for this I am grateful. My strengths are different than those of the mama next to me. They may be similar to the mama in the other room. But these similarities, differences, strengths, and weaknesses are what make us human, and what make it so important to support one another in the community. So, begin your own journey of acceptance and what you are meant to be for this world.

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

Photo Credit: Laura Rae Photography

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The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #3 – “Ten Things I Learned in My First Year as a Mother”

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Oh, what a powerful post. As any mama knows – the first year of a baby’s life both crawls and sprints. Some mamas swear the time flies by, some sit up during long nights willing the clock to tick faster. Whatever the experience you have had or will have, our own fearless goddess leader Sarah Longacre‘s thoughts on her baby turning one are worth reading and keeping close to your heart. While our experiences are all different, one thing remains the same, and Sarah captures that so beautifully in the piece. “There is so much love in the world and so many great people – bask in the village that is waiting to embrace you. Love is everywhere. I have SO much more compassion for humans after this first year of motherhood. Every single person on the planet was born. No one, not one person on this planet could have survived that first year without someone’s love, support, and compassion. Neither can we as mothers survive without that love, support, and compassion.” We bow our heads to Sarah and her sweet babe Metta as we introduce number 3 in our Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time: “Ten Things I Learned in My First Year as a Mother” Thank you so much to Sarah for sharing this piece, and thank you to you, sweet reader, for taking the time to read it. Lots of Blooma love, Ann + The Women of Blooma

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

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

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

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The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #6 – “Boobs, Bottles & Milk: The Most Natural Thing in the World—When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go as Planned”

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

This next piece in our Top 15 Blooma Blog posts has inspired so many women, Blooma Family, and we are so proud to share it with you now. Breastfeeding can be beautiful, it can be sweet. It can bond you with baby, and it can bring you a new sense of purpose. But what happens if it doesn’t go as planned? What if, instead of bringing you closer to your baby and yourself, it is an ordeal? One of our brave Blooma Educators and Wellness Therapists Jess Helle-Morrissey explored her experiences with breastfeeding her twin boys, and the journey she took. Here now, is #6 in our Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts of all time: “Boobs, Bottles, and Milk: The Most Natural Thing in the World – When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned” Our heads are bowed to Jess this evening – for everything she has gone through, and for the peace we hope has come to her now. Love, Ann + The Women of Blooma

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The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #11 – “10 Questions with Baby Sleep Expert Lisa Erbes”

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

{By: Ann Drewiske} Ah, baby sleep. Just bringing that up in a New Mama group at Blooma can bring a thousand stories and questions. For goodness sake, we even built an online board around it that is coming up on 2,000 members in less than two years! Some babies sleep through the night at two weeks, some are still getting up at five years, but the universal truth that sleep expert Lisa Erbes teaches us in this informative post is that you need to balance what works for babe, what works for your family, and in the end, what works for you. With that, please enjoy our #11 most popular Blooma Blog post: “Ten Questions with Baby Sleep Expert Lisa Erbes” Here’s wishing you early bedtimes, deep sleeps, and during the wakeful times in the night, some deep breaths to enjoy this secret time you get with your baby. Lots of Blooma love, Ann + The Women of Blooma

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Best of Toddler Tuesday: “Allow for the Possibility”

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

{By: Katie Dohman} This week we are looking back at some of our favorite “Toddler Tuesday” posts – and this one is right up there. We love the idea of being soft – with yourself, with your expectations, with your babe, with your partner, with everyone. It’s ok to shift your plans, whether that means choosing to spend the day cuddling in PJs rather than running errands or doing Pinterest-worthy crafts, or if you decide that staying home or going back to work is what you want. Who cares what you told yourself, or told your friends – do what works best for you, Mama. And on that note, enjoy this inspirational piece by Katie – “Allow for the Possibility” We love you, Katie! Ann + The Women of Blooma  

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Straight Talk: The Benefits of Babywearing…For Mama!

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Today we are graced by Laura Stephens, a babywearing expert from the Twin Cities. Laura shares some amazing benefits of wearing your baby below – and if you’d like to learn more about babywearing, you can attend Laura’s upcoming Babywearing workshop! Learn the ins and outs, try on different carriers to find which one(s) are right for you, and learn from the best how to use and adjust various carriers. And hey – when you get the hang of it, why not join us at Blooma for a Babywearing Barre class or two?  Thank you for your article, Laura! Love, Ann easier_shopping {By: Laura Stephens}   If you spend any time researching the practice of babywearing, you are sure to come across article after article extolling the benefits for baby. Worn babies have their needs met quickly, they tend to cry less, they develop secure attachments with caregivers, they develop their vestibular system through movement, and the list goes on and on. Babies benefit greatly from being worn, but so does someone else- YOU! Parenting is tough, and we all deserve a way to make life a bit easier, so today I’m going to focus on the ways you can expect to benefit from wearing your child.  
  • Free Hands: Wearing baby gives you two hands free for completing everyday tasks. You could be really ambitious and use those free hands to do laundry or clean the kitchen, but it is also perfectly acceptable (and recommended) to use those hands to feed yourself while you sit back and take a break from the day.
 
  • Less Bulky Equipment: I’m not suggesting you ditch the stroller permanently or toss the swing to the curb, but babywearing gives you the option to do more with less. Many carriers can be pre-tied on your body for when you are out and about during the day. Instead of repeatedly dragging the stroller out of the trunk or manhandling your increasingly heavy bucket seat, you can quickly and easily pop baby into the carrier. At home, being in a carrier is often more effective at calming and soothing a fussy baby than a swing or rocker. Who wouldn’t want to be snuggled in to the person you love most?
 
  • Traveling: If you wear your baby for no other reason, wear your baby at the airport.  You have two hands available for schlepping your bags AND you won’t have to take your baby out of the carrier to go through security.  If you have a lap infant, you can also wear baby on the plane (just not for take-off and landing).
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  • Germy Strangers: I thought people were kidding when they said strangers would try to touch your tiny little baby… they are not! Wearing baby snuggled against your chest effectively prevents all but the most persistent onlookers from getting too close. This tactic also works well in situations where you would rather not play “Pass the Baby”.
 
  • Not Stroller Friendly: There are so many amazing places to explore or things to do that are just not practical with a stroller. Owning a carrier that you are comfortable using allows you to take baby with you almost anywhere. This also works for bringing along baby for more adult-ish outings like a movie, dinner party, or your favorite happy hour.
 
  • Me Time: Babywearing also allows you to participate in many activities that you enjoyed pre-baby. I’ve spent many hours sewing and gardening with baby content and sleeping in a wrap. Do use caution and common sense with this one- if you wouldn’t do it when holding your baby, don’t do it while wearing them.
 
  • Friends: The babywearing community is incredibly supportive and welcoming. I’ve met many of my closet friends through our common interest in wearing our babies. Groups such as Babywearing International (BWI) make it easier to meet and connect with other new parents. If you see another babywearing mama at the store, you automatically have a starting point for a conversation—or you can at least give them ‘the nod’ when you pass by each other in the produce section.
3_generations Speaking of friends- I polled a few of my fellow babywearing mamas and asked them to share photos and stories of their favorite benefits of babywearing. Here’s what they had to say:  
  • Toddler containment! If they are attached to you, then you don’t have to worry about what they are up to.
 
  • Watching your husband/partner wear your child. It’s such a great tool for dads to use to soothe and comfort baby.
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  • Being able to snuggle and care for a new baby while also being able to play and interact with older siblings.
 
  • Keeping baby close during an emergency.
 
  • The snuggles – especially from toddlers who rarely slow down long enough to cuddle up with you.
 
  • Calming babies and even older children that are overstimulated or in a stressful situation.
  Most importantly, babywearing should be fun and easy! Being able to comfortably and confidently wear your child in a carrier is a skill that will make any parent’s day more manageable. Whether you wear a few times a week or several times a day, you and your baby will both enjoy the benefits of babywearing. doll_wearing

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The Journey to Healing Your Birth Story

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Today’s post is the preface to a new book coming out called Heal Your Birth Story, by Maureen Campion. This warrior woman is leading a workshop at Blooma coming up called “Healing Birth Stories,” a safe space for women to gather, process, and heal from birth trauma.  A big thank you to Maureen for sharing this piece.  Love, Ann   {By: Maureen Campion} Writing Heal Your Birth Story is part of my personal healing birth story. I wrote this book for the women who courageously, generously, passionately shared their unspeakable stories with me. I wrote this book for the women holding unspeakable stories yet to be told. As women and as mothers, we have a complicated relationship with birth. Creating life with one’s own body is transformational. Cells, then blob, then something fish like, then the baby that looks like a chicken. The chicken grows hair and fingernails and you get that it is part you and part not you, but the baby can only grow inside of one person- the person who someday must birth this new life. There is the ever present thought that this foreign creature that you have allowed to inhabit your body for nine months must come out. There is no denying it. The baby has to come out. Before names and onesies, there will be a birth. Women prepare for birth. Some spend hours on the Internet. Some take classes and monitor their diet and do yoga and meditate. Some place themselves in the hands of experts and look for others to decide. Some deny and ignore and bury their head in the sand… but they too are preparing. We want our births to be safe. We want our babies to be healthy. We want our experience to be uncomplicated and predictable. We don’t really expect it to be painless but we want to be brave and dignified as we face the pain. For most women, if we could, we would have it be beautiful. Soft and serene and peaceful and loving and magical. That is how we picture birth. That is how they sell it. Prepare, get ready, be brave and you get to have a beautiful, safe, manageable birth. For the vast majority of modern social media mommas, within days or weeks of giving birth, you post your birth story. A birth story has become part of the ritual. Your friends expect to hear the story. We measure by hours, sometimes by days. We count stitches and list interventions. We share Apgar scores, birth weights, and breastfeeding struggles. There is a dark side to birth. There are stories that are painful if not impossible to tell. Each year nearly 15% of U.S.women, at least 200,000 women, report feeling traumatized by their birth. Two to six percent of U.S. women are so troubled after their births that they meet the criteria for full blown Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health disorder shared with combat soldiers and rape victims. Over 200,000 women a year have a birth story that isn’t easy to talk about. Their story seems wrong. It feels shameful or raw or a mistake. It is not the story they expected. In 2001, when I was pregnant with my second child, I had to face my own birth trauma. Once I opened the dark closet of my own story, it got easier to talk to other mommas. As a psychologist and specialist in postpartum mood issues, women started sharing their birth stories with me. As a friend, I started asking “So how was it?” and really listening. In 2007 my colleague and fellow survivor, Sarina LaMarch and I created our “Healing Birth Stories” workshop. “Healing Your Birth Story” the book follows from that work, and I believe it provides valuable tools to move past emotional distress to an empowered relationship with your birth story and your body.   How I got here. I have a bachelors degree in Psychology and a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I didn’t learn about birth trauma in school. I had never read a book about it. I actually had never heard the term before I was pregnant for the third time. 10 years ago I asked my friend Susan Lane for her help in finding a birth provider who could help me to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) at my AMA (Advanced Maternal Age- 38). Susan was a friend and an experienced doula. I told her I wanted a vaginal birth and needed her help. Her first question- “Have you done any work to deal with your birth trauma?” I remember that I rolled the term “birth trauma” around in my head for a moment or two. I hadn’t talked much about my first birth but I must have told her something. Birth trauma? Out of nowhere I burst into sobs. A wound burst open. Oh – I had birth trauma.   So the journey began. Preparing for my second birth, I dove head first into birth trauma work only because I thought it gave me a shot at a better outcome for my pregnancy. If I was going to avoid another traumatic birth, I knew things had to be examined. I wouldn’t have dug around in there, opened this can of worms for any other reason. I would never have unlocked that pain. I wasn’t even aware it existed. I simply cut myself off from birth and my feelings and my experience and figured it was over and done with. Time hadn’t healed anything or I wouldn’t have felt so raw. This didn’t feel like visiting hurt from my past, it felt like ripping the scab off and having it all festering right there. I have no idea what covering my pain was costing me. I don’t remember exactly but I know that I was impatient with other women’s birth stories. I trivialized surgical birth. I trivialized the great stories too. I didn’t want to talk about anyone’s birth. Because I never asked, I never heard about anyone’s birth trauma. Unresolved trauma left me less present to emotional pain and limited my access to healing. The work of resolving my personal trauma has made a world of difference to the work I do with others. I found other women who felt traumatized by birth but no ideas on how to help them. I grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of resources. I wanted to talk about my journey. I wanted to hear other women’s stories. I wanted to know what was normal,what healing should look like, and that I was not alone. “Someone should do a workshop.” I approached doulas and childbirth educators and midwives and other therapists. I knew at least 5 different childbirth education programs here in the Twin Cities but no one wanted to touch birth trauma. “Someone should do a workshop.” I wanted the birth professionals to take this on. I wanted someone who believed in the power and significance of natural birth to take this on. And though everyone agreed there was a need, and people gave a lot of lip service to understanding the need, no one knew where to start. It became clear that if a birth trauma workshop was going to happen, I would need to invent it first. With my friend and college Sarina LaMarche who was working through her own birth loss and trauma story we began to offer “Healing Birth Stories” workshops in the Twin Cities starting in 2006. Honestly I remember asking Sarina to help me because I was terrified of what would happen if we got a room of women to talk about what they had all been afraid to talk about. I thought we might have women fall apart. I thought they might not be able to compassionately hear each others’ stories. But somehow we knew. We knew or we never would have started. We knew that the only way to learn how to help women heal trauma was from the women themselves. We knew that the best thing for women to do was to share their birth stories. It was what set us apart. We were those women who didn’t talk about our births. And never once has a woman fallen apart or been harshly judged. We use a lot of kleenex but each woman finds something powerful in her sharing. The workshops gave me back my love and my passion for natural birth. The workshop taught me how to heal and forgive and learn from the things that happen to us when things are beyond our control. This book comes from our work together and from the courageous women who felt compelled to share their stories and their healing. I have asked them to allow me to honor the work that they have done by integrating their stories into my book. I will offer their stories in their own words with their permission changing names and details to protect their privacy. It is my wish that this book offer support and guidance to all women who feel unresolved, disappointed, or wounded by their births. As we heal our stories, we make ourselves available to the world of empowered birth.

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Postpartum Doulas: Solving a Problem Many New Moms Experience

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

{By: Jill Reiter CPD, CAPPA Postpartum Doula Faculty} I became a mother in a flurry of chaos. Was it the same for you? My husband had been deployed in Iraq for four months. He arrived home less than 24 hours before our daughter was born. Yippee! Together we welcomed our daughter into the world. I blinked and 17 days passed. He had to go back to Iraq to finish his deployment. Saying goodbye and not knowing if he would return to us broke my heart. I was alone and isolated. The isolation wasn’t only because my husband was in Iraq. Many mothers experience this feeling after their baby arrives. I wished for someone to give me permission to share how hard it is to be a new mom. My family and friends tried to be supportive. For all their advice, what I heard was, “You’re doing it wrong.” They knew where my baby should sleep, what she should eat, and how I should do things. Even books on parenting vastly differed on what was “right.” No one asked how I was feeling, or why I made the choices I did. I wished someone would have said…
  • “You are doing a good job!”  
  • “I have answers to your biggest questions.” How do I calm her when she cries? Am I feeding her enough? Is she getting enough rest?
  • “Go take a nap or shower. I’ll watch your baby.”  
  • “I made dinner for you.”   
  • “Why don’t you relax and snuggle your baby while I tidy the kitchen?”
woman in rainy window Fast forward a few years. I was a mother of three and looking for work. I wanted a job with flexible hours. I wanted to do something that was empowering to me and other women. I wanted the time I spent away from my family to be meaningful. I wanted to make a difference. That’s when I learned that I could give other women the kind of support I had wished for. I became a postpartum doula. Baby bathtime You haven’t heard of postpartum doulas? I get that a lot. I also work with a lot of new parents. People search me out to support them. I believe we’ve heard the word “postpartum” so often when discussing Postpartum Mood Disorders like Postpartum Depression, as in, “I have postpartum,” that we’ve forgotten the true meaning of the word. Guess what? “Postpartum” actually means the time after you have a baby. Experts disagree on the exact length of the postpartum period so I describe it as the first few months after you have a baby. After birth, every woman is “postpartum” or in the postpartum period. Postpartum doulas support families who recently had a baby or babies. The more people talk about postpartum doulas, the more families will benefit from our care. What do postpartum doulas do? We “mother” the mother. We answer questions. We listen. We teach. We help make life easier for new parents. We are non-medical. We follow a scope of practice.  My career is now full of snuggle time with newborns, aha moments with new moms, and dads who grin ear to ear while calming their new baby so mom can rest. So many people I talk to about my journey say, “I could have used a postpartum doula after I had my baby.” Are you the kind of person who answers questions for new parents?  Do you bring them a meal?  Do you give them tips and tricks that make life easier for them?  If a friend or family member has a baby do they look to you for answers? Could you see yourself as a postpartum doula? Whether or not you are a mother, you can join me in supporting women. The value you offer as a helper can become your career. This journey begins with a three-day postpartum doula training. Training creates a foundation of knowledge. You’re invited. You matter, and if you are reading this, I bet you are called to make a difference in the lives of parents and their babies. During training, I’ll share all the information you need to help you start this journey as a professional. I’ll be there to mentor you. I will provide you with the support you need to help others and to make a difference. And together… we’ll create a new story of early motherhood. We’ll support new mothers so they don’t feel isolated. We’ll help them understand their babies. We’ll mentor them to find their way. We will change the world, one family at a time. Mixed Race Young Family with Newborn Baby Join Blooma’s upcoming Postpartum Doula Training with Jill Reiter. Learn, laugh, and share space in a training filled with like-minded women who are all seeking to help mamas navigate those first tricky months of motherhood. For more information about Jill Reiter and her work as a postparutm doula, go to www.theafterbabylady.com or find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/theafterbabylady  

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Straight Talk: What Science Has to Say About Your Postpartum Sex Life

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Today we are honored to have Angela Callais of Mama Luna Care share her knowledge about what the scientific community has to say about sex – specifically the science behind female desire and sexuality. Angela is running a workshop at Blooma in June called “Rocking the Cradle” – a night of wine, hors d’oeuvres, conversation about the juiciest of topics: SEX! Enjoy Angela’s post below, Mama! Love, Ann DLVDoula019 {By: Angela Callais} Much of the information that we know to be true about the anatomy of our bodies and how they function is actually based on myth, cultural beliefs and scientific research that has been focused primarily on older, white men. This misinformation has caused an incredible amount of confusion about what our anatomy “should” look like, how we “should” act and react sexually and even whether we “should” want to have sex at all. More often than not, the map that has been handed to us doesn’t mirror our terrain and lived experiences in the least! And yet, we often still focus on the map, trying (usually in vain!) to keep forging along a trail that doesn’t feel authentic to our own feelings of desire and pleasure. We blame ourselves, instead of the map. Well, Mama, I’m here to tell you – you are not the problem. The map is the problem. Thankfully, there is progress being made in the field of sexuality research. Fascinating new information is coming out that will continue to help us understand our sexuality, and maybe even more importantly – how we can use that information to positively influence and better our own sex lives! Here are some landmarks that you can use to begin mapping your own terrain, as reported in the book Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski:
  • The clitoris really is the star of the show: 80-90 percent of women who masturbate typically do so with little or no vaginal penetration, including when they use vibrators. These results have been repeated consistently for decades.
  • Less than one third of women are reliably orgasmic with vaginal penetration alone, while the remaining two-thirds are sometimes, rarely or never orgasmic with penetration alone.
  • More women than men experience primarily “responsive” desire, which is when desire emerges only once you’re in a highly erotic context. “Spontaneous” desire, the feeling of desire “out of the blue” is also experienced by some women, but is more commonly experienced by men. Our cultural narrative prizes and only acknowledges spontaneous desire, despite the fact that one is not superior to another.
  • There’s a 50 percent overlap between blood flow to a male’s genitals and how turned on he feels. There’s a 10 percent overlap between blood flow to a woman’s genitals and how turned on she feels. What does this mean? Desire happens in your brain, not your genitals! The best way to tell if a woman is aroused is not to notice what her genitals are doing but to listen to her words.
You, your body and your postpartum sex life are….. normal! Yes! I am talking to you! You right there. You are normal. It’s the world around us that is abnormal, broken, dysfunctional. What would happen if you could let yourself believe, even just for a few hours, that this was true? What would you do differently? What would living that truth look like, and what might not be true any longer? There is no right way to be sexual. It’s pretty cool, and sometimes pretty scary. And maybe some other complicated feelings. But it’s still true, and now there’s even science to prove it!

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Finding Balance as a Mother: An Interview with Emily Hall

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Today we are sharing a recent interview we did with Being Woman, Being Mothers leader Emily Hall. In this post Emily shares some of her thoughts on finding balance as a mother, shares her own personal struggles as a mother of twins, and answers a few questions from Bloomas Up All Night board.   {By: Emily Hall} Motherhood is a balancing act. Yes, it is the balancing of meals, schedules, employment and family time. Motherhood is also the balancing act of self; the art of recognizing our own existence with the importance we deserve while raising the family we love. It’s lovely to know it is possible to achieve this internal balance while experiencing the love, struggle, nurture, crying, exhaustion and joy of raising our loved ones. Balance does not need to become a “me-centered” practice. Rather, it is the availability of experiencing joy in yourself and joy in your family. As a mother of young twins and a business owner I have experienced love, guilt, joy, isolation, and the downward spiral of postpartum depression early on in my children’s lives. I knew I loved myself as an individual, a mother and a woman. I simply had no idea how to recognize myself as a whole person and feel she could exist with any regularity.   Emilyandbabes   A turning point for me came one day as my children were napping peacefully. I sat on the kitchen floor and began to cry. I missed myself, I missed how I used to define “freedom” in my life, and I missed the ability to make decisions for just me. As I sat crying on the floor that day I had an awakening. No one was standing above me dictating my schedule in the moment (kids were asleep) and as I looked around, with tears streaming down my face, alone in my kitchen, I choose to stand instead of remain on the floor. The act of standing may seem small, but for that moment I actively choose myself; no guilt, no fear, no internal backlash of selfishness. I simply stood because I choose to. That single moment led to the next moment where I walked to the sink and washed my face, and the next moment when I decided to sit down again and breathe for a few moments, and then keep moving. I share this experience now, because in the single moment of freedom, standing, I allowed myself to consciously acknowledge I was making a decision for me (no matter the size of the decision). In that moment, I opened a door that lead to balance and available choices in life. A continuous stream of moments where I could identify myself in the choices. It is true, some of my previously defined freedoms have changed with motherhood, and yes adjustment was and is necessary, but it is still possible to recognize myself with love while loving my family. In the next months, I created tools and techniques to continue supporting my individuality and create a new balance where I could actively be present in the areas I value; Mother, Woman, Individual. Balance is important to me, because I love each aspect of my life, I value who I am in my moments, and I know it is possible to experience them with joy.   Some fantastic questions by Blooma readers were sent my way for this post – here are a few: Blooma Mom: Is there a magic age of my kids where my needs become a priority, and where is balance possible with work, illness, and exhaustion overwhelming my existence? Emily: I hear you. Life is challenging when managing exhaustion, illness, employment and more.. Let me ask you this question: How old are you? That’s the perfect age for your needs to become a priority! There is not a magic number in our children’s existence where balance is able to shift for us as individuals… because balance is internal. If we find ourselves waiting for someone else’s time clock to shift it becomes challenging to find our own. There is truth, that as our children age, their dependence on us shifts, allowing the time we are able allocate for various activities, self or family, to increase with the independence our children experience as they grow. This increased independence can assist to lighten some loads of motherhood. Also, I find it important to recognize that time is secondary to balance. As we begin to acknowledge the importance of our individuality in everyday moments, time becomes less the determining factor of happiness. What emerges is creativity, and fun of expressing our unique selves. Small example: washing the family dishes (mother), choose to listen to favorite music and have a mini dance party at the sink (individual) or driving home from daycare (mother) tell your kids a story you love about yourself (individual). My children love to hear details about my life and it’s good for me to say them out loud. Open the door of “you,” with choice, in the small seemingly unimportant moments of the day (there are many). Recognize yourself in daily activities. This practice does not eliminate the challenges of illness, exhaustion and schedules, rather it offers the opportunity shift awareness in the moment to recognize, we love our children, families, friends and we love ourselves. I would gently invite you to know any age is perfect for you to remember your needs. Perhaps shift the question to; How, in this moment can I add a little balance and recognize myself. See yourself in the small details of your day and allow those moments to build into a regular practice of self and mother. Know balance as a mother and more is possible even in the moments it feels the farthest away.   Blooma Mom: As a Mother, Wife and Individual how does one find time for their needs without guilt? Emily: Wonderful truth, without guilt… The answer is; you start small. As moms of young children, and perhaps working as well, it can be challenging to find a significant amount of time to ourselves and release from the guilt of not being with our children or household chores. Give yourself permission that a small amount of time still counts as time! Personally, this began as five short minutes on the deck when my children were napping. Five minutes to be guilt free; to sit and stare at the trees, check the phone, enjoy coffee. Five minutes was possible before the list in my head, or guilt started up again. Eventually these minutes increased daily, and also turned into a one hour walk alone every Saturday morning. But I had to start somewhere, and five minutes was the starting place. The beauty of starting small is that it feels realistic. You don’t have to complete any form of epic “me” time (I’m sure you are too exhausted to complete anything epic), but it helps you gain confidence that choosing “me” is worthwhile, and allows that time to be just for you. Guilt comes from feeling like we are stealing our time from someone else, (i.e. our children). So instead of feeling like you have to “steal” minutes to yourself each day, create minutes each day, and give yourself permission to start small.   Blooma Mom: Are there any useful tools to assist with balance that honor a short time frame? And will it matter what kind of energy we have to start, or can a technique help to shift positively no matter the starting baseline? Emily: These are great questions. The short answer is yes. There are tools and techniques available, and yes they will work regardless of your baseline energy. I’d like to share the thought that the starting place with any tool is always awareness. “Why am I using this tool?” This is true whether the tool is a hammer or a meditation practice. In order for any tool to be effective in its use we must be aware of our intention for using it. Awareness also allows us to pick the correct tool for the moment. This is especially true in our busy lives as mothers. For example, attempting a silent meditation when you have two year olds running around can be challenging and may only serve to frustrate. This does not mean the practice or tool lacks importance, it simply wasn’t correct for the moment. Another beauty of the question above is regarding a positive shift, no matter the starting baseline. Once we are aware of what we would like to shift, positivity becomes available. Often when we catch ourselves losing our temper (awareness) we stop, or breathe, and try a new avenue. Give yourself credit for that awareness, and even pausing for two breaths or simply turning around and facing the other direction to gather your calm are tools you can use. A tool is useful to carry the positive shift forward into further moments and more experiences, but it always starts with awareness. I am guessing you have techniques you use regularly, without realizing they are your personal tools. In my workshop we learn three routes (tools) to use regularly in life as a mother and individual, to help recognize motivations and actions. All three are simple in action, and help achieve two primary goals: First, a short time frame of five minutes or less – so you can use it during running errands, a two minute shower, the single moment before losing a temper, a rare car drive solo, or actual alone time. Second, to acknowledge and grow in a positive evolution of self. To spend time allowing dreams, aspirations, goals and individuality, find importance in life, all while having room to grow with a solid foundation. Both of these goals honor wanting to enjoy the present moment where you are, as well as create room for personal desires in life to become attainable.   Blooma: Do you have any general advice you would like to share with Blooma parents or parents-to-be? There is a multitude of avenues to access helpful, intelligent advice out there – blogs, books, friends, and family. Gather all the information you want, and once you have completed gathering and reading sit back, sigh, and ask yourself: How do you mean to use this information? Gently remind yourself that this is your journey. Parent from the place of love within you. Release the guilt of, “I have to do it like (insert book title, friend or family name.” Ask instead, “What is important to me as a parent, and what traits do I love about myself that I would like my children to absorb and appreciate while living in this world?” Love yourself through the process of parenting. Your babes will benefit from the peace and joy you feel when you are stepping back into you and finding excitement and strength in the individual you are, because by loving ourselves, even in pregnancy, we are teaching our children to love themselves.   purple heart   Thank you again for these questions. It can be challenging in a couple of paragraphs to spell out specific avenues to assist change, but know they are available. If it suits, I invite you to try the workshop to learn and practice some specific practices which go beyond the moment to help access grounding and balance as a mother and more. And overall, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Take time to find your personal awareness and see where it can take you. And ~ As you move on your journey of balance as a mother, remember that you are uniquely you. The support and encouragement you require in life is also uniquely yours. I have shared some of my journey and personal tools. I encourage you to listen to your body and self on this journey and if you need support, reach out. For some moments in life support may be our partners, family, friends, workshops, books and sometimes the stronger support of a professional. Listen to your needs and love her, reach out for help and support as needed because we are all here for a reason and we are allowed to give love and receive love. Whatever you need today, my wish for you is that you can voice and receive it.
 
Emily Hall is a mother of twins. She teaches her workshop Being Woman, Being Mother at Blooma where she addresses the availability of balance as a Mother, Woman, and Individual. Her workshop provides techniques and tools that are realistic to the lives of busy parents and connects to the necessity of maintaining Individuality, all in 5 minutes or less.

In addition to raising her children, Emily is also a Registered Nurse, western herbalist, minister, and business owner of an energetic bodywork practice where she assists individuals to connect with their energetic and spiritual voice.

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My Saving Graces : What Makes Mama Megan’s Life Sane

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

She’s that woman — the one you see at the park with her kids and actively engaged with them, read her articles in various glossy editorials, or spot at one of Minneapolis’ beloved cafes writing away. She’s admirable but rooted, and you can’t help but absolutely love her. A warmth exudes from Megan Kaplan that’s as bright as her baby blues, and within minutes you realize just why she’s such a great mama. Here’s a peek at what makes her life sane. MegKaplan 1) French Press Coffee I come from a family of coffee drinkers. After trying several methods as an adult, including a fancy espresso maker, my husband and I are back to the French press we had in our twenties—we’re finding that old-school is so worth it, from the kettle’s whistle to the steaming cup that wakes us up.   2) The Lip Slip I’m a chapstick-aholic, and I have these smooth blissful glosses in strategic locations around my house and tucked inside my purses for fear that I might find myself without one someday.   3) Plenty of Sleep I need a good night’s sleep, at least 7 hours for me to feel like myself. Even if it means we’re in a bit of a hurry in the morning, I always take an extra 15 minutes of snooze time before I lumber out of bed. My daughters are the exact same way, so I am extremely grateful for our late school start time. 4) Game of Thrones It makes me laugh adding this one, but it’s true: I am a total geek for great fantasy fiction. This show had me from episode 1.   5) Embracing Winter A while ago, I decided that the only way to get through our Minnesota winters was not to merely survive them, but to get out there and embrace the cold. As a family, we downhill ski, and I’ve started cross-country skiing and snowshoeing too. Staying active in the cold has warmed me up to the notion that winter can be fun.   6) Stacks of Magazines My teetering piles of magazines are a little out of control and I have a hard time parting with them—but I just love those glossy pages, filled with stories and photos. I never pass by a newsstand without stopping.   7) Girls Girls Girls I love being a mom to three daughters. They’re taking on such unique personalities and perspectives on the world as they grow up. It will be interesting to see the dynamic shift of our family shift since I’m pregnant with my fourth and have just learned it’s a … BOY!   {Picture of Megan by Bethany Meister}

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Expectations: A Note on Fatherhood

Friday, February 20th, 2015

{By: Michael Fruncillo} I was sitting in a coffee shop with my wife, son, a pregnant friend, and a random guy who had come over to see the baby. We were all talking about what life is like once the baby comes and all of the things you thought you were going to be able to accomplish while the baby is napping or quietly playing by itself on the living room floor or happily laying in the expensive swing that you carefully researched for hours before purchasing. Our friend was getting a dose of reality from all of us about coming to terms with really not being able to do anything other that feed the baby, sleep when you can, and maybe shower a few times a week. “I guess I need to lower my expectations,” she said. And then the random guy said something that has stuck with me ever since. “Yeah but you’re not actually capable of lowering your expectations enough because you don’t have a baby yet.”   Expectations_2   Exactly. And yet the sad irony of that statement is that it’s basically impossible to tell an expectant dad anything. He’s blind. He’s too caught up in the anticipation of walking proudly through the park, baby in the ergo, nodding to neighbors, sipping coffee. When that baby is six weeks old and screaming bloody hell as you whisk through the park as quickly as possible, worried that the neighbors will think you’ve shaken your baby into the current tantrum, trying desperately to stay away from the house so your wife can get some sleep and, maybe later, you can get some too – only then can you reason with the new Dad. We are not our fathers. And we are definitely not our grandfathers. While the former may have been in or near the delivery room for our births, the latter were probably at the bar, enjoying cigars and scotch with the boys. We are in uncharted territory. The first men in space. We are for the first time, perhaps in history, intimately acquainted with all of the beauty and horror of the pregnancy and birth process. We are seated right there at the business end of the birth canal, or the surgeons scalpel. We have replaced what have historically been mothers, sisters, and aunts – female family. We are there because we want to be a part of this process, and because our wives demand it. We are there because however great or garbage our own dads were, we want to be better. But there is little support for us personally. As our fatherly responsibilities have grown, our paid time off been disappearing. For some of us, no such thing exists, so we save what we can and get back to work as quickly as life will allow. When we do, we are sometimes met with confusion or judgment at our choices and needs and complaints. Or there’s this guy – “I know kids can be tough, I have a dog and a cat.”   Expectations_3   We are here to talk about this. We are here to explore and discuss this new territory, and perhaps chart some of it for our brothers and cousins and sons. This shit is awesome, and hard. So please come to Blooma‘s New Dad’s Group with anything you need to say about fatherhood but have no other place to say it. Dad’s Group is a safe and non-judgmental place. What happens at Dad’s Group stays at Dad’s Group.   Expectations_1

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The Foundational Five: Vitamins and Supplements for Everyday Life

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Krista Margolis is a Blooma Mama, Registered Nurse, Board-certified women’s healthcare nurse practitioner, prenatal yoga teacher and postpartum doula who has more than 15 years experience caring for women in various settings. Krista is passionate about all around healthy living, and she believes in every women’s right to choose what works best for her and her family. Her goal is to give each woman the tools to help them feel their best at every stage, phase, and transition in life. Krista has a hustband, three children, and a dog, and lives near the lakes in Southwest Minneapolis. She is leading a workshop for Blooma coming up called “Honoring the 4th Trimester,” designed to help mamas navigate the postpartum period.  Her article, below, is around the five vitamins and supplements that can help you feel your best. Thank you for the article, Krista! Foundational Five 1 {By Krista Margolis} There are a handful of questions that are very common among the women that I see. Some are more basic and some lean toward the risqué side of things (we can save those for the darker, longer days of winter!). One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “Do I really need to take vitamins and supplements?” This is a great question and with all the information out there, it is overwhelming and can become a very expensive undertaking when you are purchasing a bottle of this and a bottle of that but then not feeling committed to taking them because you don’t totally understand what purpose they serve. I am going to break it down here and give you the list that I share with patients; the list known as The Foundational Five. Vitamins and supplements act as boosters to our overall health. Even those of us who eat healthy clean diets have “occasional” slip-ups (up to each of you to decide what occasional means; no judgment!). By having a solid vitamin and supplement regimen you offer your body some protection from those slip-ups and can fill in the nutritional gaps that may result from our whoopses along the way. In an ideal world, a diet consisting of whole organic foods is our best choice, but if you’re human and you’ve tasted some of the food on the “naughty” list, you understand what I’m saying. So, your supplements should not replace a healthy diet but knowing they’ve got your back in times of need is a good thing. Before I get to the list, I also need to answer a FAQ; “Is it possible to have too much of a certain vitamin?” With the majority of the items on the list, I would say that it is not likely to take too much if you’re following recommendations given by a healthcare provider. However, you do need to be more cautious with fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K due to concerns with toxicity. As with anything, if you have a health condition, are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. Foundational Five 4 1) Multivitamin     A quality, therapeutic grade multivitamin (MV) can help to combat the stress and pollution of modern living. MV’s aid in cellular function, which helps make all of your body’s systems work more efficiently. MV’s should be in capsule form as they are easier to digest than tablets and should be taken with food when possible to assist with absorption. If you are taking any prescription medications, check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any possible contraindications. 2) Fish oils     Fish oils, also known as essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, are vitally important to our overall health. They support your body’s ability to prevent chronic diseases, boost your immune system and help fight inflammation. Fish oils also support joint and vision health, cardiovascular health; they strengthen hair, nails and skin and enhance nutrient absorption. Improved memory, mood and attention are also benefits of taking fish oils. They have also been found to decrease depression and help with the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Taking this supplement is important because your body can’t make its own omega-3’s. Fatty fish are a great dietary source of fish oils but if you aren’t a big fish eater, grab your bottle of omega-3’s! 2-4 grams of combined EPA and DHA daily is recommended. Look for a high quality fish oil in triglyceride form to ensure purity and removal of heavy metals and other contaminants. 3) Vitamin D3     You have probably heard so much about this all-important vitamin and how deficient we are as a population. Vitamin D “functions like the office busy body, involving itself in just about everything.” (Dr. Frank Lipman) Vitamin D enhances muscle strength, builds bone, boosts immunity and possesses anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. It is next to impossible to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D in our food; a good supplement and sun exposure are the best ways to obtain it. 2000-4000IU is a typical maintenance dose for most adult women but you may need more or less, depending on your levels. I do not recommend people just start guessing and taking high doses of Vitamin D without having your levels checked; it is an easy blood test that your provider can order. Ideally you want your levels to be between 50-80 ng/mL. Once you know your levels, you can safely begin/adjust your intake of Vitamin D. I will usually re-check levels a few months after a woman begins her Vitamin D intake. 4) Probiotics     Probiotics are the naturally occurring “good bacteria” in your gut. Over 70% of human immunity is in the digestive tract and is dependent on the right balance of good bacteria. These good bacteria aid in digestion, boost immunity, consume bad bacteria and limit the growth of yeast and unhealthy bacteria. They also help with constipation and digestive issues. Stress, pollution, a poor diet and antibiotic use can wipe out the good guys so adding some back in is beneficial for overall health. You should look for a quality brand of probiotics that offers several different strains of bacteria, most importantly lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Take at least 20 billion colony-forming units daily. You may notice an increase in gas when your first start taking probiotics but this should decrease after a few days. 5) Magnesium     Ahhhhh, magnesium. This is good stuff. Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for the proper functioning of over 350 enzymes in your body. 350! Magnesium helps you unwind, calm your nervous system, relax aching muscles, keep your blood pressure in check and aids in constipation. It is found in leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, spinach, and black beans. Oh, and it’s found in dark chocolate! Even so, many of us do not get enough in our diets. I recommend taking Magnesium at bedtime because of its calming effects; 400-800mg at bedtime helps to calm your nervous system and aids in sleep… drug-free! Take between 500-1000mg to help with constipation; monitor your response and adjust accordingly as needed. There is usually some Magnesium in your MV so check the amount in that before starting an additional supplement. A typical maintenance dose of 400mg daily for general health is recommended. There it is; The Foundational Five! This list is not intended to treat any illnesses, nor am I diagnosing or making any claims about YOUR personal health. This is a general list meant to help you as you navigate the vitamin aisle at your local co-op or health foods store. Foundational Five 3  

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Ten Questions with Baby Sleep Expert Lisa Erbes

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Lisa Erbes has worked for three years with Welcome Baby Care as their Director of Education and Lactation and is a self taught baby sleep and feeding expert. Prior to her work at WBC, she worked for seven years with Fairview, as a Birth and Family Educator, teaching Childbirth Education, Breastfeeding and Infant Parenting. She has also worked as a birth doula, and is a proud mom of two girls, eleven and thirteen.   baby_sleep_expert_erbes   Lisa became a sleep expert while working with breastfeeding mothers, where she began by researching how to let moms get rest without affecting mom’s milk supply. She has studied the biology of sleep and has worked with thousands of families over ten years to hone a personal approach in her work. At Welcome Baby she offers In Home, Private Sleep Consultations for families with infants 16 weeks and older. The following is an interview we recently did with Lisa in preparation for her to facilitate Blooma’s “Up All Night” Sleep Support Group:   To start, there are some universal truths to how babies sleep, so you take those truths and help fit those truths in with each unique family and their needs. Biology is my philosophy – it’s about biology, science, and then meeting families where they’re at. Don’t fix things that aren’t broken, and work on those things that are bothering you.   What are the “universal truths” when it comes to sleep? – Babies are biologically wired for early bedtimes and frequent waking. Waking tends to bother families the most. – 0-16 weeks – their sleep cycles are determined by how long it takes to feed, digest, and get hungry again. Feeding needs dominate this period. – 16 weeks and after – the universal truth is the need for consistency and routine. They need environmental queues to maximize sleep. Families need to understand that babies cannot use a clock – they need dim lights, reduced stimulation, and a short routine that is predictable.   How long does it take to establish a sleep routine? I recommend you take one week to start to see results from that routine (3-7 days), and two weeks before you and the baby have that routine established.   baby_sleep_bw   What do you recommend for early risers (babies that wake up between 4-6am) and won’t go back to sleep? I have an early riser – my daughter has been an early riser since day one, she wakes up between 5-6 and that is part of biology. I tell families that the goal is not to change who our children are, the goal is that over time we shape their natural tendencies to work better with the families’ needs and schedules. What I tell families is that just because your baby is up does not mean you have to interact with them, especially with babies over six months. They are perfectly capable of spending time alone, and I think teaching children that being alone is not a bad thing. If they are not fussy, it’s ok to give them a toy and let them entertain themselves. You can’t make a baby go to sleep, just like you can’t make a baby eat, but you can say, this is not time where we play. If they do start to fuss, you can go in and check on them after an expanding period of time (maybe start with 15 minutes, then move from there) where you set an expectation that when they wake up “early” that mom is not going to be available right away.   Co-sleeping vs. crib – what do you recommend? Families should do what works for them – I always start with goals of the family and work from there. I always have to start with the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends proximal but separate sleeping (bassinet, crib, co-sleeper, in the same room), but not bed sharing (where everyone is in the same bed). If a family is bed sharing, I try and help them do it in a safe way. There’s a whole checklist of things, the biggest one being that it is happening intentionally, that everyone is making this choice, not that mom is just falling asleep with baby. We take away soft bedding, soft bed covers, make sure that mom is breastfeeding (breastfeeding means mom and baby are typically on the same sleep schedule because of the hormonal connections), and make sure that the other parent is on board with the bed sharing situation. There is a whole other checklist of drug/alcohol use, medications, etc. I direct them to three resources (listed below) about safe bed sharing and ask that they use these as a reference. References about safe co-sleeping/bed sharing: James McKenna Co-sleeping Guidelines Dr. William Sears Co-sleeping Guidelines Dr. Jay Gordon’s Website Oh! And this is a also a good teaching graphic too about co-sleeping and bed sharing from the La Leche League.   What are you recommendations for transitioning from co-sleeping or bed sharing to a crib? I would say that slow and steady wins this race. It’s a transition. Sometimes parents forget that like any transition, this is a process. Protest should be expected, meaning that baby will cry. Change is harder for some babies than others, and I think the easiest thing to do is to start with the crib in moms room, so the only change to start with is the location of baby, not the room. Baby still hears you breathing, you can attend to them quickly, and touch can be an option. If you are breastfeeding, it’s still easy access. Next step is moving the crib farther and farther away, and eventually into another room. Sometimes mom may even need to be in that other room for a couple of nights. Some babies need a few nights and they get it, some babies need a very gradual, very intentional transition – most babies transition very well if families are ready, most of the time around that six-month mark. As a rule, give every transition (or piece of transition) a week to two weeks. This means you could have success after four days, for some each transitional piece may take ten days to two weeks. You just have to be very consistent with what you are doing to respond to baby, and keep in mind that any time you are making changes to sleep there will be days and nights that it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean you are at square one, it just means that you have to start again. It’s not a parenting fail, it is a “two steps forward, one step back” thing, and most of the time this is a rule for any transition with baby.   What about those babies who only fall asleep on mama for naps or at night? Most of those babies are under 16 weeks old, and in that case it’s just fine – that’s biologically normal for babies to do that. They have a hard time regulating their biology, and by being next to mama this helps them regulate those hormones and chemicals that control stress, etc. The fourth trimester is an external gestation, and it’s very normal for babies to need contact to regulate themselves. When you have a baby who is beyond six months, we are looking at a “sleep crutch,” and we want to faze that out. I recommend a phased approach – if you are holding them for 30 minutes, do that for a week, then hold them less and less – 25 minutes, then 15, and so on. Often times there are other crutches in play as well, like feeding to fall asleep, etc. It’s usually a symptom of a larger pattern that needs to change. You start with individual goals and work from there – earlier bedtime, then replacing sleep associations with other things – like a lovie, a bottle, other things that can help them soothe themselves. Most of the time there are more than one thing that needs to change to help them stop falling asleep in arms. Babies start in light sleep and cycle into deep sleep (adults do the opposite) so identifying when to lay them down may be the first step and help them adapt their responses and go from there.   How can you tell the difference between “light sleep” and “deep sleep” in a baby? Very easily – light sleep is called “active sleep,” – so you will see eyelids fluttering, sleep smiles, flailing (which is why swaddling works for newborns), they may even open and close their eyes. Deep sleep is what I call “coma baby” – if you can lift their arm and it drops right down that is deep sleep – face and body are still, noises don’t wake them, that’s deep sleep. In the newborn period, babies will spend 80% of their sleep in light sleep. As they get older this will transition. Light sleep is important for brain development – this is learning while sleeping, and is important to kick start human growth hormones and helps them thrive.   For those mamas who swaddle, is there a method or product you recommend? At Welcome Baby Care, we promote and use Halo products, but we also teach parents how to swaddle with a blanket. I like Halo products because they are backed by medical evidence and they are researched.   baby_sleep_color   When should babies be on a schedule for naps and nighttime? I would say that you need to start in that three to six month range. It’s the “show me what you can do” phase. It sets up what your routine looks like for the next six months and beyond. That can be when you set the bedtime earlier, move to a flat surface, separate feedings from sleeping, etc. Three to six months is kind of practice for what you need to do for the next phase. Between six and nine months is when it’s really important that as baby starts to develop their sense of self that routine and consistency comes into play. Early bedtimes (between 6-8pm), consistent naptimes, etc. Parents need realistic expectations – around seven months all of those little naps coalesce into one morning nap. Around nine to ten months is when afternoon naps start to come together, and by ten to twelve months most babies are on two naps with a consistent bedtimes and ten and eleven hours at night. Night feedings are still normal at this point – asking a baby to go from 6pm – 6am without eating is almost impossible before one year.   Do you recommend nursing or bottle for the final feed of the evening? I personally don’t have a recommendation – that really depends on what the routine is. Sometimes moms want dad to do that last feed, or control how much baby takes; sometimes moms want that bonding time. What is your nighttime routine, and who does it? Does that work for you?  Those are questions I ask. For working moms, that nursing snuggle time can be great. For others, Moms need a break or needs to tend to other kids so bottle can be the way to go. For “tanking baby up” I recommend cluster feeding – mom has melatonin and tryptophan in their breast milk at night and this can really help baby sleep better. A bottle or cluster feeding can do the same thing. But overall it’s just what works best for your family.   Bonus question – for all the exhausted, bleary-eyed moms out there who are on the brink, what would you say to them? I would say that there are 350 moms on Blooma’s “Up All Night” Board alone – so what that tells me is that you should look at how normal this is. You are not alone. This doesn’t make it any easier, but that does mean you are not doing anything wrong. You are the expert on your baby – if you have questions, there are tons of other resources like other parents, friends, etc. This too shall pass – make it a mantra. Babies do settle in to a sleep routine at different times, but there will be improvements. The definition of sleeping through the night is five or more hours after midnight – keep that in mind when people tell you “most babies sleep through the night.” This is all normal. Look at this village – you are NOT ALONE. And it does get better. You will sleep again, you will have sex again, you may have another baby, and then you will start this all again, a little wiser.

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My Saving Graces | What Makes Mama Angela’s Life Sane

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Sometimes in life, individuals come along and their strength leaves you awestruck, speechless and in an almost disbelief. Their work leaves you feeling both paralyzed by emotion, yet insuppressible in how much they’ve inspired you. That is mama Angela Miller, who has taken her life’s experience, both the heavy and the light, and used her strife as kindling to blaze the trail for thousands of mothers (and all individuals alike) and counting.
Recently publishing an honest and incredible sincere book, You are the Mother of All Mothers, (which you may have seen on our shelves at Blooma and possibly picked up to stroke the poignant pages) Angela has in turn been so strongly reminded of the importance of self-care, and in turn her very own saving graces.  Take a look here at what makes mama Angela’s life sane:
Angela|MSG
1 |  My husband: He is my safe place, my best friend, my soul-mate. Without him I’m not sure where I’d be in this thing called life.
2 | Good friends: Quality time with my dear sisters from another mother makes my heart and life full. I love walking around the lakes, checking out a new restaurant or having backyard potlucks. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, spending time with these shining souls makes my life brighter and better.
3 | Writing: Cathartic, meditative, restorative, therapeutic and healing– writing is like deep breathing for me. Whether life throws me curve balls, or something incredible to celebrate, there’s nothing quite like grabbing a cup of tea and writing my heart out.
4 | Kombucha: Ok, this stuff is pure magic in a bottle. Especially the chia seed kind– cherry chia seed to be specific. Besides water and tea, this is my go-to drink. Energizing and refreshing, and I swear it keeps me healthy too. I wish I was brave enough to make the homemade kind in my kitchen, but “the mother” seriously freaks me out. For now I’ll stick with GTs.
5 | Therapy with Mia Bolte: Mia is a gifted therapist. By gifted I mean she sees the shining parts of you that you can’t always see yourself– and no matter how covered or tarnished or destroyed you are, without even knowing it, you start shining a little brighter. This is the magic of Mia.
6 | Kickboxing: There is no better stress relief for me than this. It clears my mind and reminds me of how strong and capable I am.
7 | Chocolate chip cookies: There is nothing better than eating a hot-out-of-the-oven homemade chocolate chip cookies. These really are the best ever vegan chocolate chip cookies. Even my dairy-loving husband thinks so.
                                                                     
And don’t forget to check out Angela’s newest book, or gift it to someone who could benefit from the comfort it brings.bed for my heart

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Ten Things I Learned in My First Year as a Mother

Monday, December 1st, 2014

With our focus this month on the postpartum period I have had some time to reflect on my own postpartum experience. Before I had Metta, I had such expectations on myself about loving being a mom to a newborn, retaining all aspects of my life before having kids, and now that she is coming up on fourteen months I have had some time to think about my expectations vs. my experience in my first year as a mother. Here are ten things I wish I could have told myself (and listened to) before having Metta those fourteen months ago.  first year of motherhood birthday cakeREAD MORE

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Worshipping at the Temple of Your Belly: A Postpartum Body Journey

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Today’s post comes to us from Angie Sonrode, a Blooma BYOB Yoga teacher, New Mama Group leader, mama of four, birth doula, and overall beautiful spirit. This is her love letter to your postpartum body and story of her journey of acceptance of her own postpartum body after having her four amazing, spirited children. So much love to Angie for sharing this piece with us. Love, Ann   {By: Angie Sonrode} I see you mama. As class is winding down and you are settling into your final resting pose, curled around your sweet babe, pulling and tugging at your shirt to cover you. I hear you in New Mama Group explain with embarrassment why you are six, seven, ten months postpartum and still wearing your stretchy pants everywhere you go. As you sit or lie and feed your babe, I see your soft, malleable body roll out of your clothes and rest on the mat next to you. And I want you to know I love it in all of its glory because you earned it.   This late December marks eleven years as a mother for me. That means that for the last dozen years or so I have essentially been thinking in some way about my belly. While I was pregnant I would relish the rotund expansion and wonder at the limits of my body. During my first pregnancy, every Sunday eve I would don the same pair of pajamas and proudly pose with my exposed stomach as my partner diligently snapped a Polaroid for the scrapbook. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any larger, I would somehow measure bigger at the next appointment. (Once I managed to gain ten (!) pounds in one week much to the dismay of my provider, but that’s a topic for another time). Perusing them now, a close look will reveal the look in my eyes that wonders when we crossed over in size from “darling” to “sideshow”. Yet, I loved it…all of it. Strangers that wanted to touch my abdomen were welcomed with open arms. I felt like a fertility goddess ripe with the next god.   After the birth I remember marveling at the soft, pliable mound left by my son’s vacancy. I placed him on my stomach trying to imagine how he possibly could have managed to fit inside. In those foggy, first postpartum weeks I used my belly as a snuggling place, lying my son tenderly on my stretched out flesh as I examined the swirl in his scalp or the smooth bridge of his nose. Watching him stretch and wiggle I recognized so many of his movements as I had felt them in utero. My stomach was warm and pliable, a welcome spot for him to come to rest. As he had settled in on the inside, so he found comfort on the outside.   I was not someone who had given her weight or shape much thought before having kids. I had been roughly the same petite weight since I was fifteen or so, and although I was always on the go, I wasn’t making any intentional efforts towards fitness or maintaining my shape. It was clear throughout my pregnancy that this was the time my body had been waiting for to let go. As the pounds came on and my shape shifted in all directions, I giggled and wondered at the human forms abilities. I was 25 and trusted my body to relax back into the state it had been in prior to birth. I had been given the heads up to not expect to snap back into my pre-pregnancy pants right away and so I didn’t really mind slipping the now super stretched out elastic waistband over my ever dwindling, yet still soft, middle those first few months. Together I was steadily shrinking as he was steadily growing and this was glorious. I was in the mom club, something I had wanted since before I could remember. If being a bit softer in the middle was the price of admission, I would enthusiastically pay it. postpartum body post angie A year went by, and even though I wasn’t quite back to my pre-baby size, I was chasing a toddler and planning for number two. Six months later I was again pregnant and glowing with excitement over my expanding girth. It was a different experience all together as I was head over heels in love with my son, but also giddy at the thought of giving him a sibling. I grew and grew and some of my most cherished memories of that pregnancy were made while trying to figure out how to maneuver a wiggly toddler around my enormous stomach as he relaxed into me to breastfeed. My feisty daughter would kick him from the inside as if to already lay claim to my lap once she was earth-side. Again I was aware of my growth but didn’t spend much time wondering about it. My daughter was born and I quickly found that managing children instead of a single child was a time suck that would keep me from putting much thought into my shape. I noticed that I was softer and wider, but there was no time to dwell or money to invest in working out.   The few years following her birth were packed with some of the biggest changes our family has ever experienced. Both my husband and I began new careers, we moved to a bigger house that needed lots of fixing up, and we reeled from the loss of one parent’s life and the other set’s divorce. Health and wellness was badly needed but sorely neglected as we chose to spread our withering amounts of time, money and efforts elsewhere. I felt it in my body and I knew I had to make a change.   It was around this time that Blooma first opened its doors and I heard that you could volunteer in the childcare room, with your kiddos in some cases, in exchange for classes. This was a simple way for me to get that movement and attention to me I had forgotten about while not having to sacrifice in other areas. What I found was women here were all devoting time and energy to themselves and their pregnant or postpartum body, with the emphasis not on your shape or your wardrobe, but on your health. Teachers were telling us, instructing us to love ourselves and live in this wondrous body we were given and had given life with. I was hooked and I needed more, as much as I could get. I started teaching a crawlers class and utilized some of the skills I honed teaching toddlers for five years. It was crazy and busy and wonderful, but it wasn’t reverent like the yoga classes that fed my soul.   I longed to reach out to the mothers as the teachers had reached out to me. And so, at 35 weeks pregnant with my third, I attended the Bring Your Own Baby Teacher Training and soaked in the poses, the cues for mamas to gaze at their babies, and the encouragement to love up these mamas. When my third child, a second son, was born, I took classes with him fondly, remembering the classes I had taken with my other two. I savored this time with him as I infused my brain with ways I could structure my own classes when I was ready.   Months later it was my turn to be the teacher…finally to be the voice that was instructing the mothers to love up their babies and smell that delicious baby head. Nervously and tenderly, I found my path and fell into my own pattern. And now I love watching the other mamas gaze at their babies in bemused wonder and deep, head over heels love. Giving mamas the sacred space to just be (and to not explain) is invigorating. I realized rather quickly that the mamas were not watching me to get the pose just right, they were watching their babies and their babies were watching them in a love dance that never gets old.   Along the way I birthed my fourth bonus baby, a son that surprised us all by weighing in at ten and a half pounds! This, I knew being my fourth, would not be something easily bounced back from. Sure enough it has left me with a pooch–that soft, doughy belly that I see mamas trying to hide. Carrying my children has injured my abdomen in ways that exercise may never repair. As my arms and legs tone up, still the belly remains. It’s always humorous and humbling when your pants have to choose to fit above or below the baby belly that no longer will grow babies in it.   Without this belly I would not have Finn, Maeve, Birch and Harlo, whose lives make me explode with joy and pride. They still ease their way into my lap letting my soft middle support and snuggle them in. When my husband’s hand caresses my stomach in intimate moments I do not push it away, but instead I relax into it and know that he is worshiping me in that moment. As a doula I have even marketed my belly as a wonderful headrest when you are leaning forward getting through a contraction that gets you closer to meeting your baby and earning your postpartum belly. I still see it when I catch myself in the full length mirror dressing after the shower and it sometimes catches me by surprise to this day. I am asked on almost a monthly basis when I am due and I have taken to answering “two years ago” and nervously laughing but it stings all the same. I know that there are products and wraps that I can wrestle my way into that may smooth out my midsection but I feel as though, for me, that would not be honoring the journey I have had to take to get to where I am. I do not judge mamas who do but for me I want to be the example that we don’t have to hide it away. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have times where I wish it were not there, rather that I am reframing how I choose to see it.   Someone once told me that mamas are supposed to be squishy and I am holding them to that. Remember this as I am lowered over you rubbing your neck in savasana: there is nothing you need to hide, you are lovely and spectacular the way that you are and I am in awe of you.

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Real Moms’ Top Tips for Your Postpartum Kit

Friday, November 21st, 2014

by Alisa Blackwood

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

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

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

3 / Witch Hazel or Tucks

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

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

6 / A nursing pillow such as the My Brest Friend

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

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

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

Tips from Moms for Your Postpartum Kit 

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

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Straight Talk: Sometimes the Postpartum Period is Pretty OK

Monday, November 10th, 2014

I’m living, breathing proof: Sometimes, after you have a baby, life can feel pretty good. READ MORE

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Video: Simple Yoga Opening for Back, Heart + Shoulders

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Take two minutes with Blooma founder, new mama and yoga teacher Sarah Longacre as she guides you through a simple opener for heart, back and neck. This exercise is especially fabulous for postpartum mamas!

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Blooma Love Note #6: “Keep it Simple”

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple. -Alisa Blackwood, in A Letter to a New Mother on the Blooma Blog

Twice a month on the BloomaBlog we bring you a Blooma Love Note, handwritten by contributor Julie Kesti. Each love note features words to inspire and encourage you on your parenting journey.

 

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The Postpartum Period (Part 2): Postpartum Doulas — A Missing Ingredient

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

by Alisa Blackwood

If you’re pregnant or a new mother, you’ve probably heard countless times, “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” and other advice about how to take care of yourself postpartum. But living that advice is tough for most mamas. We lead busy lives. We want to be on-the-go and feel productive. Most of us aren’t so great about slowing dowwwwwn … even after such an earth-shifting change as becoming a mother.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro

Debra Pascali-Bonaro

Today we’re running part two of my interview about the postpartum period with Debra Pascali-Bonaro — mother, filmmaker, gentle birth activist, and doula trainer. (See part 1 here.)

In this next part of our interview, Debra talks about postpartum doulas — women trained in helping a mother and her family adjust to life with baby. Even if you have family in town to help, and even if you think you already know what a postpartum doula does, I urge you to read on. Don’t miss the opportunity to gift yourself a smoother postpartum transition that will benefit you and baby for years to come!

BloomaHow can a postpartum doula help? What could a family expect?

Debra: I think postpartum doulas are a missing ingredient in our American healthcare system. She is a woman who has extensive training in understanding the physical and emotional adjustments a mom is going through, caring for a newborn, breastfeeding support, and helping as mom, dad and family partners transition. She helps you find a new rhythm in your home. She can be especially important for women who are far from home and haven’t developed their community quite yet. In other cultures around the world, the family structure or the postpartum traditions are more intact. America is one of the few countries where there has been this social breakdown of community.

Blooma: What if you do have family in town willing to help out?

Debra: If you’re blessed to have extended family and community to support you, a postpartum doula can weave them together. On one hand it can be a blessing, but it can also be hard if everyone is trying to come do something and you’re the one trying to coordinate. The doula can look at everyone’s strengths and help plan what they can do so you’re being served best, rather than those people coming in and being in your way. The doula can coordinate when people are dropping off meals. She can listen when you’re having that day when the tears just flow. And because she’s trained in this, she can often help you find a deeper sense of peace during this time, rather than you having to piece it all together. pullquote Blooma: It’s often tough to convince new mothers to take it easy. How does a postpartum doula help with that? 

Debra: In those first six weeks a mother should be waited on, served, and nurtured. Too many of us are not good at accepting support. Too many women still say “no,” when a friend drops in and asks, “Can I do anything for you?” The doula is there to always flip that around and make sure that all the people coming to visit are nurturing the mother, father, children, the family. Doulas can help set boundaries even on how long visitors stay, so that mom gets the rest she needs.

 

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The Postpartum Period (Part 1): Why It’s Essential to Protect This Time

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

by Alisa Blackwood

I recently had the privilege of speaking to the lovely Debra Pascali-Bonaro — an impassioned activist for mothers, babies, gentle birth, and the importance of honoring the postpartum period. She has traveled the world training thousands of birth and postpartum doulas. As a woman and mother who has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, The NBC Today Show, in The New York Times and numerous parenting and health magazines around the world, I wanted to pick her brain: what is it about the postpartum period that’s so important? How can we make the most of this time?

Debra helps put the postpartum period into perspective. Her heartfelt way of framing this time in a woman’s life — also called the “babymoon” period — is all about allowing yourself to be nurtured and cared for so you can be more fully open to the mother within.

That means accepting help. And sometimes, even asking for it. “This is a time a mother will never get back. When you’re in the middle of it, it can be really overwhelming. It can be our highest highs and our lowest lows all within the same hour,” Debra says. “But when women who have taken that time look back on it, they are much better off than women who didn’t give themselves that opportunity to slow down.”

This may mean shifting your perspective of postpartum during pregnancy. Consider it. Consider spending those first few weeks with baby in bed, snuggling, being gentle with yourself. Napping. Eating well. Limiting visitors. Going within to listen

Imagine the possibilities of emerging from those first sleepy weeks as a new mother feeling more like a woman in tune with herself and her baby, than an exhausted crazy person (though there may still be some of that, too!). Are you ready to embrace this change? Then read on!

Blooma: How important do you think it is to plan in advance for the postpartum period? What should parents be doing? 

Debra:  It’s such a sacred and special time in a woman’s life. Particularly in American culture we’ve lost touch with this time. It’s really up to moms, dads, families and partners to make these six weeks as restful, peaceful and nurturing as possible. The more you have a good support network set up, the more supported you’re going feel. Some of the things people forget to think about are who is going to do the day-to-day things? A mother’s job is take care of herself and feed and bond with her baby. So that means other people — family members, friends and her community — need to take over the day-to-day responsibilities. I really encourage moms to make a list of things like: who will bring food? Who will do the laundry and all the other tasks that need to be done? When friends and family stop by, this is a chance to ask them to do a load of laundry.

ppd training 2

Blooma: What is the best thing a mama can do to help herself and her baby during the first few months?

Debra: Mothers in the early days — ideally they’re resting when their baby is resting and really doing the things that nurture themselves. Sadly, today I still see too many moms feeling obligated to work, to be on Facebook, to text, to tweet. This is a time to disengage from those outside responsibilities. This babymoon time is to really reconnect with yourself and develop an essential bond with your baby. This relies on awakening to your inner wisdom and intuition. In order for that to happen, we need to disengage from those outside distractions.

Blooma: That can be easier said than done though, right?

Debra: When you’re in the middle of it, it can be really overwhelming. It can be our highest highs and our lowest lows all within the same hour. But when women who have taken that time look back on it, they are much better off than women who didn’t give themselves that opportunity to slow down. This babymoon time is a time a mother will never get back. This is the time nature intended for us to awaken and discover a part of ourselves that is beyond words. We must give ourselves that time.

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{Next week I’ll post part 2 of Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s interview, in which she details how postpartum doulas are “the missing ingredient in our American healthcare system,” and how they can help — even if you have family in town!} 

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Posted in Ask a Birth Worker, Postpartum, Pregnancy | Comments Off on The Postpartum Period (Part 1): Why It’s Essential to Protect This Time

“Squirreling” — Or, Prepping Postpartum Freezer Meals

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

by Alisa Blackwood

There’s something that happens between getting pregnant and having the baby that goes something like this: devour information (books, pregnancy blogs and magazines), take childbirth ed classes, hire a doula (ideally!), plan for that birth. Then boom! Baby arrives and… oops, we didn’t think about the postpartum period.

I hear that tale not too infrequently. So in one of my recent prenatal yoga classes, this is exactly what we talked about: postpartum planning. This is a rich topic we’re going to mine over the next few weeks. But for today, let’s talk basic necessities: food.

When I asked mamas how they can plan now, so they can more easily nurture themselves (and let others nurture them) once baby comes, a mama named Tara pronounced that she was “squirreling.” Squirreling! And what do squirrels do? Why, they collect food and hide it away! This may become my new favorite term for cooking up a storm and stocking your freezer for easy access later. Really, squirreling is another brilliant form of nesting.

 food3

For all postpartum moms, nutritious food is one of the most important ways you can nurture and heal yourself (and your baby). Moms who exclusively breastfeed require about 400-500 extra calories per day, but generally you can just eat to hunger. Don’t let yourself worry about counting calories — simply eat a varied, whole foods diet and keep plenty of snacks handy. There are a few ways to plan now, while you’re pregnant, so that thinking about meals during those first few weeks with baby isn’t on your to-do list. (The only things on your to-do list, ideally, would be: nap and snuggle skin-to-skin with baby. Truly.) Some ideas:

  • Ask a friend to coordinate meal drop-offs from friends, neighbors, and co-workers by using sites like MealTrain or FoodTidings. The key here is “drop-offs.” If you want to see the person delivering the meal, fine. But don’t expend any energy entertaining or cleaning your house for that visit. It’s perfectly acceptable to put a cooler outside your front door with a big thank you sign, letting them know that you and the baby happen to be napping at the moment (even if you aren’t).
  • Grocery delivery, if available in your area. It’s worth keeping life simple in the beginning, if your bank account can swing the slight increase in cost and/or delivery fee.
  • Squirreling

If you’re like Tara and you fall into the squirreling camp — it’s “my thing,” she says, about her love of cooking — we’d love to know what your favorite make-ahead-and-freeze meals are.  Lasagna may come to mind first. But, oh mamas — we’re talking more than lasagna. When it comes to squirreling away for your babymoon, there’s no need to resort to the same old-same old. Tantalizing meals await!

My favorite place to find ideas on this topic comes from The Pioneer Woman’s blog post “Freezer Cooking.” She gives tips not only on planning and organizing this kind of project, but then follows up with a slew of meals ideas. Soups, stews and sauces are on the list, but there are super simple ideas, too. Think marinating and grilling chicken breasts, then freezing them. Easy, right? Later, use those chicken breasts in approximately one *jillion* different ways like shredding for tacos, slicing over salads, or dicing into soups. Check out her post. You may just want to lick the screen before you’re done reading. I dug up a few other online resources for you, too:

Your belly is growing (and maybe your hunger, too) … It’s time to squirrel away, mamas. Your deep freezer is calling.

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Posted in Postpartum, Pregnancy | 2 Comments »

A Letter to a New Mother

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

by Alisa Blackwood

I wrote this letter to a friend who birthed her first child a few months ago. The transition to motherhood was tough. (Sound familiar?) She was wildly in love with her baby, but found herself frustrated with all the expectations of her as a new mother. Comments like, “Enjoy this magical time!” didn’t sit well. She struggled with day-to-day emotions and questions like, “How will my marriage adapt to this huge change?,” “What about my professional life?,” and most of all, “Who am I for MYSELF?” If you’re a new mother struggling with similar issues, be easy on yourself, sweet mama. Breathe. Know that you are not alone. Sending you much love.

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Dear Friend,

Thank you for your honesty about feeling sad. Too many of us bump along those first few weeks (months?) pretending to ourselves and others that we’re happy in our new role as mother. I know it’s not that black and white, either. Mixed in with the sad may be some happy, too. Maybe not. It’s all such a jumble in these first few sleepless weeks. How could something so small rock your world so entirely? Your soul, your relationship, your job, your perception of yourself. To be needed all. the. time, both sweet and crazy-making.

All parts of you no longer the same — yet the same to the outside world (plus baby). I promise you this — you are still you. And you will feel like you again.

Reach out to friends, to a therapist, find mama groups. Find help to sort through the complicated emotions of your new role as a mama, as a wife, as a friend, and most importantly — the relationship to yourself. You don’t have to do this alone.  Feeling comfortable in your new skin takes time … and maybe some help, too.

A friend told me before the birth of my second child, “Keep it simple. Keep it simple. Keep it simple.”

Such simple, yet profound advice, right? When you’re scurrying to leave the house, rushing, filling your calendar with to-dos, trying to do too much when the baby sleeps, ask yourself — “Am I keeping this moment simple? How can I make it even simpler?”

What would happen if you let go of your expectations of yourself? Just a little? What if you trusted that it doesn’t all have to get done today? I say this not to trivialize anything you feel. I say it as a way of extending a hand, as a mama who was once in that first-year of tunnel vision. I, too, was someone who asked myself, “Do I even want to BE a mother? Can I handle this? Who the eff am I??? When will I get some semblance of my life back?” inhale So for today, close your eyes.

Inhale. Exhale. Let the tears come.

Don’t stuff it or push it away. Let yourself be sad. If it starts to swallow you or creep over you like a shadow that won’t go away, please consider seeing a counselor ASAP. If your way through is prescription meds, consider it.

But always, always know that in this wild, earth-shifting time of transition, in these moments that feel loneliest, there is light out there waiting for you. You WILL one day sleep again. You WILL one day take your time eating dinner or taking a shower. You WILL one day want your partner to touch you again. You WILL one day have the freedom to walk out the door and do what YOU want to do, without having to pump first or arrange childcare.

But what about now? The now is hard. I know it is. It’s moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath.

It’s the challenge of goddess pose, and you keep breathing through it, through the “Holy shit, how much longer can I do this?” And finally you lift out of it, rise up, find relief. A breath. A new perspective, a new view.

You, sweet mama, are perfect, whole and complete as you are, right now, in this very moment. Yes! Right now. In the tears, the leaking breastmilk, the questions, the exhaustion, the moments of awe when you look at your baby, the resentment, the glimpses of bliss — in all the mess, YES. You are perfect, whole and complete.

You are a being of light, even in the darkness. Be soft with yourself. Be soft with your partner. Feel your way through this, in the clunkiness of learning a new way of living and breathing in your skin — yours, as it has always been, yet not. You can do this. You are not alone. youareperfect

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Posted in Mothering, Postpartum, postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, You Are Not Alone | 5 Comments »

What New Moms Want Moms-to-Be To Know

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Attention pregnant mamas! While some of Blooma’s newest mothers are just a few months beyond where you moms-to-be are, they’d like to share some of their recently-discovered wisdom with you. Bring Your Own Baby yoga teacher Corrine Gernes asked a full class of moms with babies under 7 months old, “What do you wish you would have known or been told about before baby came?” These mamas had awesome advice and Corrine was savvy enough to take notes. You may even want to bookmark this page and come back to it several times! Here is what the mamas said they wish they would have known more about before baby:  ***BREASTFEEDING*** This came up the most, they wish they would have:
  • known it can be difficult
  • known when they should seek help
  • read about it BEFORE baby came
  • known that you burn more calories than when pregnant, so keep the snacks around
  • that it’s okay if it doesn’t work great day one…or week one…stick with it and get help
Recommended breastfeeding resources: Ina May’s Guide to BreastfeedingDr. Jack Newman’s Online resources and books on breastfeeding, breastfeeding class highly recommended ***SLEEP / SCHEDULE*** This was the second most mentioned topic, they wish they would have:
  • read up on sleep and scheduling BEFORE baby came
  • had a plan in place with their partner on setting a schedule
Books that helped: No Cry Sleep SolutionHappiest Baby on the Block (also a DVD) ***CONNECT WITH OTHER MOMS***
  • Meet the woman next to you in prenatal- she could be your best friend in 10 months
  • Go to New Mama groups
  • Force yourself to set a 3 week date with another mom
  • Try not to compare yourself to other moms! Every baby is different and every mom needs to mother differently.
***FOOD***
  • Set up a meal calendar (or ask a friend to) for postpartum meal drop-offs
  • Have friends bring food instead of outfits & rest when there is someone there to hold the baby. Don’t entertain in first month.
  • Freeze meals in advance
  • Stock up on Trader Joe’s frozen meals when meal calendar runs out
***BIRTH AND BABY***
  • Research and be prepared and educated about the whole spectrum of birth, including C-sections
  • Be able to change your birth plan
  • Know your OB and hospital rates of interventions, what those interventions mostly are, and why/when they’re used
  • Hire a doula
  • Find a pediatrician BEFORE baby is born- get recommendations from other moms and interview several
***PARTNER TIME***
  • Spend time with your partner- go out on lots of dates
  • Make sure you’re on solid ground because you’re world is about to be turned upside down
So, moms-to-be, what do you think of this list? Are there any experienced moms out there who would like to add any helpful tips? Hugs, Alisa, Sarah & the women of Blooma

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Posted in Postpartum | 1 Comment »

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