Let's Talk About Sex...Postpartum; Discussing Sex After Birth

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.33.29 PM.png

Let’s Talk About Sex….Postpartum; Discussing Sex After Birth

You’re not the only one to wonder about or struggle through this topic: sex after birth. In this article, let’s be unafraid to get honest, and open up that discussion.

There are so many psychosocial pressures to maintaining a strong and healthy loving relationship these days. One of the most concerning and yet least talked about pressures is reviving your sex life after having given birth.

How extensively will a baby affect our sex life?

Will it ever be again like it was before?

Will it hurt?

Do I have to think about this now???

I have little or no interest in sex and I feel so unattractive and guilty - what to do?

My partner wants to have sex again, but I can't even deal with the whole thing. I just need a hug. Is this normal? How to get in the mood?? 

Not only is sex after birth not often discussed, especially on a mental/emotional and relational level, but the so-called “fourth trimester” is practically completely forgotten in many parts of the modern world.

Let’s begin to shed some light on an important topic in an open manner, shall we?

baby.jpeg

Where to Begin?

Many studies have been conducted on sex after birth. But, there were always two factors that limited our social perception and perhaps our understanding of how to effectively prepare couples for intimacy after pregnancy.

Namely, studies were always done on a biological level, and they were always focused on the mother who’d just given birth—almost always never the partner.

In a recent study done at the University of Michigan, they focused primarily on sexual desire in the partner after their child was born.

They discovered that a good portion of a woman’s sexual and sensual desires, after giving birth, were mainly dependent on her partner’s own perception of her at the time. This is just one study, and studies have flaws: but what seems more true in my experience and research, is that a woman's sexual desires are more dependent on her. This is empowering!

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.18.27 PM.png

Suffice to say, this is indeed an extremely self-conscious time for the new momma.

We’ve also discovered that this could be an equally insecure time for the partner as well. Many partners felt excluded from the family due to the new and acute bond between mother and baby.

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 7.13.15 PM.png

It’s evident that communication is so crucial at this stage between partners. If both partners knew how vulnerable they each were, the pressure to “perform” or “satisfy the other’s desires” would probably greatly diminish. And what you can learn, is that if a woman knows her desires and her desires are satisfied, her cup is full and she will naturally want to please her partner...or not. If a woman is turned off and unsatisfied, you can forget about her interest in desiring to serve her partner. But no one really talks about it.

This lack of communication isn’t only within the couple itself but throughout society and even between client/patient and midwife or doctor.

“Sexual problems are common among new parents, but discussing them with doctors or close friends is not.” (“Sex and Intimacy,” New York Times.)

 

Are There Any Practical Steps?

While there’s no one trick to get your sex life rocking and rolling again, much like the first time (fortunately or unfortunately!), you’ll both have to rediscover yourselves and find your own groove.

But again, here is the big and empowering news. A crucial ingredient to a wonderful life that includes awesome sex, is largely dependent on the woman. Reclaim and own your feminine power, which defies logic. As a woman, it helps to dig deep to know what your desires are and what turns you on - using all of your senses, so that you can create what you want, stay in your pleasure, be turned on and communicate your requests to your partner.  Partners tend to really want to please, and do not always know how or what their love is thinking. There’s probably nothing easy or nonchalant about finding your desire again either, but know that it takes time and that it is doable.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.34.06 PM.png

Regina Thomashauer has been advocating for women and studying the discipline of female pleasure for years - in all aspects of life, “so as a woman, you can actually design a life that will allow you to experience pleasure any time you wish, ongoingly.  Pleasure is deliberate, not casual. She requires planning, she does not happen by default.”

In her latest NY times best selling, provocative but life-changing book, Pussy: A Reclamation, “you’ll discover what no one taught you about the source of your feminine power and how to use it. It’s no secret that women today are still undervalued at home, at work, and in a relationship. Too many of us are at war with our bodies and disconnected from our truth.

See, we live in a culture that teaches us to turn off. To play small. To take care of everyone else first. To keep a lid on our dreams and a cork on our truth.

This book is written to reacquaint a woman with her own power source—which is the part of herself she has been taught to ignore, push down, and despise...

It’s a call for her to tune in, turn on, and not drop out—but live more richly, fully, and lusciously than she ever thought she could.”

Here’s what else you’ll learn - how to know and speak your truth, how to radically accept, love and celebrate everything that is you and feel the rewards of this life-changing practice, how to move from depletion, obligation, overwork and resentment into embracing what life brings your way and all of what you feel, how to cultivate an attitude of immense gratitude, how to healthfully process your emotions, how to listen to and trust your sacred inner wisdom, creating sisterhood, and passionately creating and loving your life. This will ultimately rock your sex life, but you will also learn practices on how to further enhance it. I am convinced this book is a must-read for all women.

Some other must have sexual resources

Women’s Anatomy of Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston CNM

The New Art of Sexual Ecstasy: Following the Path of Sacred Sexuality by Margo

Anand

Pure Sex: The Intimate Guide to Sexual Fulfillment by Anne Cooper

 

But Let’s Talk Basics First: When and How to Resume Sex After Birth

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 7.12.08 PM.png

For most new mommas, sex after birth can be as daunting as the very first time. While much of social convention will have you thinking that partners are more than ready to jump right back into bed, this is most often not exactly the case. And they can be exhausted too, doing what they can to help, keeping up with work, also getting broken and less sleep, while adjusting to being a dad of this new baby.

At this stage in your relationship, open and honest, kind and sensitive "nonviolent" communication are the key.

On a practical level, most practitioners recommend waiting between 4 to 6 weeks before trying intercourse again in order to give the new mother time to heal - at least until the bleeding stops and any tearing has healed. But, we are finding more and more that this recommendation is based mostly on physical readiness. Many women after giving birth, report not being ready for sexual intercourse for much longer.

What about your psychological readiness? How do you work through the possibly daunting task of beginning sex again after birth, when you may feel some or all of the following: your breasts are full, tender and leaking milk, baby is nursing every few hours, you feel overtired and are not getting the sleep or help you need, you feel dry and still sore vaginally, you feel fat and less attractive than you used to, you are preoccupied with caring for your new baby and balancing all of your other responsibilities, you are afraid to get pregnant again, you can barely find the time to eat, you are feeling emotional and overwhelmed, you just need hugs and cuddling, have very little, if any interest in sex, but feel guilty and pressured to do it for your partner when you really don’t want to, and you are just madly in love...with your baby.

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 7.12.59 PM.png

A great way to begin is knowing that what you’re feeling is totally normal and very common.

Not only is it normal for your libido to be low during this time after birth but many women have expressed how intimidating it is to have the sex conversation at the six-week mark. They don’t even want to think about sex for another 6 months, sometimes even longer.

And, there are many reasons for not feeling ready or downright apprehensive.

The key is to listen to and honor your feelings, talk your feelings through with your partner and get to know what your partner’s feelings are as well. You might be relieved at what your partner reveals. But do not have sex if you are feeling pressured into in it, out of guilt or obligation, if you really do not want to. That is not intimacy; it is actually is non consensual sex, which can lead to an unhealthy sexual relationship, or worse if it becomes ongoing - deep psychic pain and sexual trauma.

Dealing with Discomforts After Birth

Social perception tends to emphasize birth as the predominant and climactic purpose of pregnancy. But, in uncovering this forgotten “fourth trimester,” we’ll find that the numerous discomforts, huge lifestyle adjustments a new momma has to make after giving birth can be just as strenuous if not more so than labor and birth. Even though this is part of life, we have been birthing and mothering since the beginning of time, we had a village, a community of support; but today many women are alone. That is why I urge preparing for postpartum support during pregnancy and provide extensive planning guidance in my Love Your Birth online course, as I do with the mommas in my practice.

Here are just a couple of examples of predominant issues to deal with after birth - not to make you fear them but to know what is normal, to prepare and find support for them. While these may be fairly obvious, I’ve paired them with some of the worries and concerns a partner might be feeling and not telling you.

Hopefully, this opens the door to more real and meaningful conversations that deepen your connection.

*Related articles: How Can Prenatal Yoga Help in Birth, Postpartum, and Beyond?

Welcome To The Club

Tearing/Lacerations

There are ways to prevent you from tearing when the baby emerges at birth; many women do not tear, or tear a little but do not need stitches. But sometimes, despite all you and your attendants efforts, tearing occurs and needs to be repaired with stitches under a local anesthetic. Tearing, of course, requires the proper time to recover. So take it slow and cultivate patience and trust. The body has an incredible capacity to heal.

It’s important to note that episiotomy is another aspect of more severe tearing that has recently been deemed no longer necessary; it is actually one of the most harmful unnecessary routine procedures that had become so widespread, and remains despite the evidence that does not support its use in normal childbirth. Now, it’s been found to actually cause more damage than any natural tearing would. It can, however, be necessary in rare emergencies in which the baby needs to be delivered right away. 

Many women who had tearing and stitches fear sex will worsen the tear or open the stitches after they are healed, which you can rest assured, this does not happen. Many women feel lingering discomfort and dryness, which some organic natural lubricant can relieve. Explore the various natural scented and unscented sensual massage oils and see which one is your favorite. Partners also may feel uneasy or nervous about penetration for these reasons. You might be thinking that the sex in your relationship will not be the “same” for a long time. But in time, if you do the work to cultivate and grow personally, and deepen your intimate connection and sexual relationship...it will get better and better. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, and have fun with it.

Invite the ambiance that is important to you - the scented candle or massage oil, the music, the feel of your lingerie or sheets, the lighting, anything in the environment that sets the mood. Experiment with doing something you enjoy together, watching comedy, games and role playing, slowly and sensually feeding each other strawberries or dark chocolate, reading erotica or romantic poetry together, looking into each other’s eyes, placing your hands on each other's heart, caressing in a variety of ways. Expand the focus of intimacy way beyond sexual intercourse.

'Foreplay' is a huge part of arousal for a woman, but I am not crazy about the word.  It implies less important activities that have value only in that they lead to sexual intercourse, but do not really count as sex. It makes the end goal of the man's happy ending the main focus, when in actuality, these 'foreplay' activities enhance pleasure by themselves, build stronger intimacy, and are all part of the sexual experience - not separate from it. In addition, over half of all women do not reach orgasm from sexual intercourse alone; more women have an orgasm through oral and manual stimulation of their clitoris. The clitoris has 8000 nerve endings designed only for a woman's pleasure and ecstasy, so it is really essential for the both of you to get to know her. A woman's sexual pleasure is just as important as a man's. So bring on the whispered loving words, the soft touching, massaging, caressing, licking, kissing and hugging - it is not only such fun for both of you, it also will ease reintroducing sexual pleasure into your relationship and strengthen your connection.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.14.16 PM.png

“One study found manual genital stimulation to be a form of sexual activity considered most exciting and most pleasant by both genders postpartum,” (Sexuality and Breastfeeding: What Do You Know?, pg. 221). A woman's clitoris has 8000 nerve endings designed only for a woman's pleasure and natural ecstasy, so it is really essential for the both of you to get to know her.  It is very sensitive and honest, and takes its patient feminine time. It knows what it likes and what it does not like. It tends to like to be touched softly or stroked gently, especially around the left upper quadrant. Sensations can move. Experiment with your clitoris. Learn what feels real good, so you can help your partner touch you in ways that are deeply pleasurable. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Gratitude and communication in loving honesty are key, as is a playful sense of humor!

Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding is a very intimate and tender part of motherhood, it does cause hormonal changes which also contribute to vaginal dryness. Using one of the lubricants mentioned above will make all the difference. This is more commonly talked about in the literature and with your midwife or doctor.

What is less discussed are the feelings of jealousy and exclusion that the mother/baby dyad might create in the partner. While this may not be a concern readily brought up by your partner, it does create an opportunity to validate and embrace your partner's feelings as well as your own, discuss the importance of more partner/baby time, and quality time alone with just you and your partner.

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 7.22.45 PM.png

A partner can feel quite out of the loop especially if they don’t have much or any parental leave at this time. So, how can they feel more involved and nurture their own special relationship with the baby?

Having this discussion with your partner can create a more unified and open relationship, making it easier for each partner to feel vulnerable with the other and so facilitate maybe not a resumption of your sexual relationship itself but at least the conversation. Also, as soon as you are able and feeling ready, ask a family member or hire a trusted babysitter, so you and your partner can go out - I would say aim high, once a week, even if only for a few hours, leaving behind a supply of pumped breast milk. Do something you love and make it simple - especially in the beginning. It might be just to have a quiet cup of tea, eating at a lovely restaurant, going on a walk, playing a game at a coffee shop or in the park. With time, you can expand into going to a concert, sports game or show, doing a meditation or taking a tango class together.  Imagination has no limits. You can play with taking turns planning and surprising each other with fun activities.

Contraception - Fear of Getting Pregnant Again, Before Feeling Ready or Wanting To Be

Full time exclusive breastfeeding has been relied upon since the beginning of time to space children - at least for the first 6 months, as it causes a rise in hormones that suppresses ovulation. While there is no guarantee and much variability here, there are things you can do to enhance its reliability in preventing pregnancy. It is called the Lactation Amenorrhea Method - and it is as effective as the birth control pill. But I have women in my practice that are nursing a toddler a few times a day and have not yet returned to their menstrual cycling, and women who get their periods back within 6-8 weeks after birth - despite exclusively and frequently breastfeeding on demand, keeping baby close, and not using pacifiers or bottles. It happened to me with all four of my kids. We did our best.  Dr. Sears explains why.

Once the first period comes, breastfeeding is not a reliable form of contraception; and those who get pregnant unexpectedly in the early months postpartum, doing all they can to exclusively nurse, get pregnant because ovulation occurs BEFORE the first period - they were not aware they resumed fertility. The World Health Organization actually recommends waiting 24 months after birth before getting pregnant again, to have the most optimally healthy outcome for you and baby. If you are sure you are not ready for another pregnancy, it is important to understand your fertility signs, to look into and discuss options for contraception with your midwife or doctor - there are several effective ways to prevent pregnancy safe for breastfeeding, naturally or not. You will feel better and more relaxed about resuming sexual intercourse knowing you have a good contraceptive plan that works for you.

How to Reclaim Your Sensual/Sexual Self After Birth

Sexuality is a part of Self that cannot be ignored or glossed over, and, just over the last 9 months, you, as a new momma, have become more of an expert on using the senses. All of them. You might have noticed a heightened sense of smell, taste, hearing, seeing and feeling. 

But postpartum, you’re probably all “touched-out” as we’d say—your baby has been growing and developing inside you. You gave birth to your baby, which took a HUGE amount of your energy and strength, is a HUGE transformational event in your life and an incredible accomplishment! Now that he or she is here, baby constantly needs you from a physical standpoint as well as a nurturing one. Your breasts are being nursed frequently.

Your greatest desire right now is probably a shower, take a nap, eat delicious meal that someone else prepared, and for no one to even touch you!

That being said, how do you nurture yourself without feeling like you’re neglecting your sexual self and your partner, and equally somehow betraying your newfound momma-hood?

How do you and your partner become intimate once again after a long while of focusing on the baby?

This is a great time to get to know yourself and your partner again. As I said, honest nonviolent communication is focal and crucial at every level of any kind of relationship, more so now than ever. Your relationship will probably never be the same. But, that doesn’t mean your intimacy can’t be as great as it was before...or much deeper and closer.

It really can be better!

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.34.36 PM.png

The conversation might not be easy. But, this is an opportunity for you both to see who you are now that you’ve crossed over to this new phase of life.

Don’t be afraid to take things slow and do things in a new way. Read and discuss together the books I mentioned above - start in pregnancy if you can, but if you already gave birth, start now - even a few pages a day.

You’ve probably only had a few hours of broken sleep; your baby could wake up at any minute for nursing; you feel fat, nothing fits, and you didn’t have time to take a shower or put on any makeup.

Embrace the postpartum, beautiful self in all of its empowering, draining, frustrating, and glorious moments. Give yourself lots of self-care. A human being just came out of you--cut yourself some slack!

In fact, I hope you’ve tuned into the empowering sense of motherhood and what it means to be a woman.

This is why I really recommend reading Mama Gena’s book, Pussy: A Reclamation. Please don’t be deterred by the title. This is a great work of writing encouraging women to be turned on to their life and their pleasure.

To give you an idea of the book’s content, I want to share with you Mama Gena’s thoughts which she shares in an interview with Dr. Kelly Brogan. Here, Mama Gena is speaking about what her work is all about:

“[when] a woman begins to plug into what it means to have the privilege of 8000 nerve endings dedicated to pleasure, what it means to have her emotional truth embodied and considered important and righteous, and not try to be “sugar and spice, and everything nice” but to actually feel free to express the full range of her passion, her grief, her rage, her devastation, her joy.”

Related article: The Strength of a Woman
 

Sex, despite being a big social topic, is the least talked about in an honest, caring, compassionate, and vulnerable way--sex after birth even less so.

The best way to figure out how to go about getting back into the mood is through talking openly with yourself and your partner, nurturing your relationship with yourself and your partner, and making sure you are living a turned on life that you love - not simply turned on sexually, but turned on and excited about all aspects of living. Safeguard your own self care and joy, and consider them as important as eating and drinking healthfully. A happy fulfilled mama takes everyone higher, including her family and relationships.  

The “when” is entirely up to the both of you and shouldn’t be before you’re ready.

Always take the time to learn about and nurture every part of the Self--you’ll be giving your partner as well as yourself the best of you.


Do you have more questions about sensitive topics and are looking for honest answers and personalized support? Schedule a conversation with me. To connect more in general, get helpful tips, exciting news and promotions I do not share anywhere else, sign up for my free monthly newsletter called Ask the Midwife.

Let Me Help You Create The Happiest Birth Experience Of Your Life and Best Prepare for a Most Supported Postpartum...

Whether you're a first time or experienced momma, planning a VBAC

Or a midwife, doula, or birth professional guiding mommas..

Regardless if you are intending to birth at home, a hospital, a birth center or need a cesarean section, or if you are taking another childbirth education class…

You Really Can Create The Delivery Of Your Dreams, ROCK your VBAC

And have a blissful birth wherever you are.

More Precious Than A Wedding...A Birth Should Be A Celebration!

Let me show you how to…

  • Understand the sensations of your body and connect your intuition with how your body is communicating and leading you towards what to do during labor
  • Tap into your inner calm to deeply relax yourself,letting go of busy, stressful and fearful thoughts on demand for the health of baby
  • Speak your truth from your heart in a way that deepens your relationships, sets clear boundaries, and has people listen to you and support you before, during and after pregnancy
  • Trust yourself, connect with your body wisdom and communicate with baby in your belly
  • Connect with natural time and sync your body and mind up with your unique biological clock for ease from pregnancy to postpartum
  • Reprogram negative patterns, stories, and beliefs that undermine your confidence, strength and self trust so you can rock your birth
  • Learn exactly what postpartum is, how long it lasts, and how long it takes to feel back to yourself

  • How to prepare during pregnancy for adjusting to caring for a newborn, breastfeeding, healing and recovery (many modern day women are stunned today about all that is involved!)

  • Learn priorities during this time for what is needed, how and what to delegate to ensure everything that can be, is taken care of by others and off your plate

  • How to transition from 'doing' and accomplishing your-to-do list, to 'being,' and living in tune with your and your baby’s needs

  • Essential nutrition, hydration and whole food/herbal supplements for postpartum

  • Self-identify signs of postpartum depression, anxiety and psychiatric illness vs normal emotional changes so you can get help early for postpartum depression or anxiety

  • Receive comprehensive head to toe training on what to expect physically and emotionally, and the reasons why, with some suggestions/natural remedies for common issues such as:

    • Lack of sleep and exhaustion

    • Breast changes
    • Nipple soreness
    • Colostrum to breastmilk
    • Bleeding patterns
    • Cramping
    • Perineal soreness and stitches
    • Constipation and hemorrhoids
    • Return to pre pregnant weight
    • Return to cycle and fertility  
    • Return to sex
    • Relationship changes
    • Sibling adjustment 
    • Body image: how to love your postpartum body

Physicians and midwives around the world recommend my teachings to their pregnant clients and many Doulas across the country learn the secrets of blissful birthing from me to supplement their Doula Training & Certification process!

To learn more, visit:  LOVE YOUR BIRTH Online Childbirth Course!

It is based on my years of experience, as a midwife and yoga teacher, helping thousands of women tap into their calm and live and birth from a place of grounded relaxation and joy. 

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

 

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

 




 

 

 

Birth Story - Sacred, Sensual, & Laughing Baby Out

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.37.54 PM.png

My second son Ojiah was born... During the pregnancy I needed guidance accepting the change that this was bringing to my life. From conception, Ojiah has been asking for my evolution as a person, spiritually and actively. While researching ecstatic and orgasmic birth, I found Suni Krall's book Sacred Birthing. My first birth was amazing and I needed to know I could have another wonderful birth (that I hadn't used up my great birth reserves, so to speak) This book, most of all, helped me with affirmations, visualizations, and meditations. I practiced mindful meditation, stating my intentions towards a healthy baby and a spiritually high, painless birth. 

The early evening of Dec 12th, I was feeling restless and hungry. I had been having pre-labor sensations for a couple of weeks and felt ripe and ready. Jack and I put our son Sedge to bed, then made love. Labor came on instantly--what a pleasant surprise! I had dribbling of water from my yoni and nice strong contractions. We both laid down in bed and tried to get some rest.

Jack's body was propped up on some pillows and I was lying on his chest; he was so solid, strong, and warm.

I focused on my breathing and closed my eyes. The waves of sensation with each rush manifested in my breathing rate and I was both concentrating on and allowing relaxation through the surges of intensity. As the waves started to come on stronger andmore often, I felt the need to get up. I also needed to empty my bowels. The rushes became stronger and this seemed to be happening quickly. I began to moan and groan to release any pain. I sought out the most comfortable positions which was kneeling on the floor, knees splayed, my upper body propped up on the couch, a stool or a birthing ball. 

Timing of when to call the midwife is tricky when you become so immersed in the present, but Jack was making me aware of the obvious--things were progressing--it was time to call Anne. When she and her assistant Nancy arrived, they were so gentle and respectful. Any concerns about having toentertain or having my energy pulled away from myself quickly diminished. They were immediately present and 'holding the space'. Jack's touch was amazing, connected, and strong. To complement that, Nancy's touch was soft, warm, and reassuring. Making noises during rushes really moved them through me. At one point, I remember feeling a gentle sadness washing over me and I announced it was going to manifest itself as a cry. Jack was so supportive as he sat with me and Nancy respectfully paused in the process of checking my temperature. Everyone present allowed this feeling to express. It was very calm and fleeting, and felt almost like singing. It was a gentle weeping, like a breeze through a willow, and it was over, no specific thoughts were involved--just total feeling. 

As things began to get more intense, Anne wisely suggested a shower, which was revitalizing. As the close of the birth was approaching, I began to fear that our two year old son, Sedge, would wake up and be needy when the baby needed us most. We had originally planned to call someone to be with him. Though this didn't feel right in the moment, I feared having the flow broken if Sedge became scared and needed something I just couldn't give. Jack kept talking me through this, reassuring me that it was ALL OK. Walking, squatting, bending, moaning were all part of the progression, and the pressure began to feel heavier. I felt the need to push. Anne checked me and said I was not ready--I needed to open more. Certain visualizations came into my being at this time: the opening of flowers and an affirmation from Sacred Birthing -- "I wish to envision my birth as an ultimate high". I also remembered from Spiritual Midwifery about connecting in with your man. We had smooched plenty earlier and I know this had helped me. I turned toward Jack and looked into his eyes and acknowledged and held that connection I felt. It was deep and loving and freeing and joyous, and out bubbled a laugh; it felt GREAT..... "ah hah!" I allowed the laughs to keep on coming and thought about the words "I wish to envision my birth as an ultimate high," and I was getting high! I don't remember any pain at that time. I was completely lifted above it all... it felt REALLY good. Laughing transcended me. I'm not sure how long this went on. There's no linear grasp on time, but I know that it was a prevalent gift in my birthing experience.  

Sedge began waking up then, and Jack went into the bedroom to be with him and talk about what was going on with mama. I clearly remember the 'last laugh'. It started to arise naturally and then was caught in my throat by a strong rush. I knew it was time for inward quiet. Transition. I sat on my birthing ball and felt deep calm. I was fully opened. I felt Ojiah moving lower and lower with the next contractions and deeper grunts came out of me. All I wanted to do was walk around and squat on the rush. Sedge and Jack came out of the bedroom. Sedge gave me a hug, then he and Jack sat on the couch, while I sat on the birthing stool facing them and resting my upper body on Jack's lap, hugging him whenever the intensity of feeling came on. Sedge was not just there, he was completely supportive. At one point this pure, wise little being rested his hand on my arm. A gesture that was fully present and not at all needy. He was aware of the magic and sacredness of the space and moment.

Anne and Nancy had me on a birthing stool that was the perfect height to really get a squat. During the pushing I alternated between sitting on it and getting up onto it to get a deeper squat. Anne made lovely suggestions during this time to walk, go under the shower, and listen to music. I didn't think I was grounded enough to choose or enjoy music, but I trusted Anne and agreed to it. She took out her CD of women birthing songs from around the world. I pushed and called out with a will of strength so primal and raw.  I was actually tuned in and encouraged by the tribal music. It was ancestral. My beautiful baby boy was born. He was so gentle and peaceful and welcome.

Bringing me back to that moment swells my heart to a great capacity. It is a beautiful and awesome initiation into the countless moments of the real and perfect harmonies of parenting. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my story.

Shannon

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.28.06 PM.png

Let Me Help You Create The Happiest Birth Experience Of Your Life...

Whether you're a first time or experienced momma,

Or a midwife, doula, or birth professional guiding mommas..

Regardless if you are planning a birth at home, a hospital, a birth center or need a cesarean section, or if you are taking another childbirth education class…

You Really Can Create The Delivery Of Your Dreams.

And have a blissful birth wherever you are.

More Precious Than A Wedding...A Birth Should Be A Celebration!

Let me show you how to…

  • Understand the sensations of your body and connect your intuition with how your body is communicating and leading you towards what to do during labor
  • Tap into your inner calm to deeply relax yourself, letting go of busy, stressful and fearful thoughts on demand for the health of baby
  • Speak your truth from your heart in a way that deepens your relationships, sets clear boundaries, and has people listen to you and support you before, during and after pregnancy
  • Trust yourself, connect with your body wisdom and communicate with baby in belly
  • Connect with natural time and sync your body and mind up with your unique biological clock for ease from pregnancy to postpartum
  • Reprogram negative patterns, stories, and beliefs that undermine your confidence, strength and self trust so you can rock your birth

Physicians and midwives around the world recommend my teachings to their pregnant clients and many Doulas across the country learn the secrets of blissful birthing from me to supplement their Doula Training & Certification process!

To learn more, visit:  LOVE YOUR BIRTH Online Childbirth Course!

It is based on my years of experience, as a midwife and yoga teacher, helping thousands of women tap into their calm and live and birth from a place of grounded relaxation and joy. 

It’s wonderful alone, a great refresher or adjunct to any other course!

“Forget your childbirth class, and take steps to your most empowering experience. If you are thinking about conception, pregnant, or love someone who is, take it from me that her wisdom is life-changing.
Yours in the truth

— Kelly Brogan, MD

Photo by Megan Hancock Photography

Photo by Megan Hancock Photography

How do You Navigate Immunizations for You and Your Baby?

infantvaccine.jpg

How do You Navigate Immunizations for You and Your Baby?

If you keep conscious and up-to-date with the goings-on of the health industry, you know that the immunization of babies and young children through vaccination is not as simple as mainstream medicine makes it seem.

It is indeed a controversial topic, especially among those that take their well-being into their own hands, and prefer natural, more holistic approaches. As with most any health issue, you have your extremists polarizing –not to mention monopolizing– the content of this subject.

If you begin to do simple research online of the pros and cons of vaccination, you’ll quickly discover that there’s a lot in the way of intense debating. It has become quite a political issue. People with differing opinions can get emotionally charged and take things personally. I maintain a welcoming stance to respectful discussion and disagreement, as long as positive vibes are maintained and there is no judgement against a family who makes a decision to do what they feel is best for themselves.

How, as a parent or soon-to-be, do you dig out the truth? And, how do you know you can trust it?

How do you navigate immunizations for you during pregnancy, and your baby? You alone can choose what is best for yourself and your little one.

We all know that modern medicine urges vaccines as per CDC guidelines; that is heavily promoted and is a legal requirement in many localities. But more and more scholars and physicians are questioning the standard protocols as they analyze the science and data.  In this article, I dare attempt to provide some counter balance, and share the unspeakable, for a licensed health care provider. I specifically delve into talk around the flu vaccine as it’s recommended and administered routinely to pregnant women in the United States. The principles and issues of concern, however, remain the same as with all vaccines. Do your research and be mindful of the difference between fear-based news and actual facts. 

It is a huge topic - each vaccine and infection it is said to prevent could be a chapter in a book; but hopefully, this gives you an idea of how to go about your own immunization research, and a sense of where you are comfortable seeking your health care guidance.

baby-1839565.jpg

The Controversy Surrounding Immunization in Pregnancy, Babies and Young Children

Should we vaccinate? If we do, how early do we start? Which vaccines do we consider?

Should we not vaccinate? Can we trust these vaccinations not only to work but to, in turn, do no harm? 

In my own work, I’ve always guided mothers to educate themselves in order to make informed decisions, and have recently written specifically about another hot issue Group B Strep.

As with GBS, I encourage educating yourself, weighing the risks and benefits of each option regarding testing, prevention and treatment, and deciding what is best for you and your baby. 

In the case where you’re dealing with an illness that’s potentially very serious, it may make sense to administer the associated vaccination whose known risks have so far appeared relatively innocuous.  But often enough, it is not clear what is worse: the risk of infections, or the risk of the vaccines - some of which are far from harmless.

What I’d like to do with this article is give you a broad idea of what’s being sold to us as consumers and what’s truly out there in terms of factual information and sound research.

The ACIP, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, is “a group of ‘thought leaders,’” writes Dr Kelly Brogan MD, “charged with the task of determining what vaccines will be pushed upon you during your doctor’s check-ups and wellness visits. It consists of heads of pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Sanofi Pasteur, and is a prime example of the enmeshment between the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and [the] industry….The surprising news is that vaccines, the pharmaceutical product in question, have never been studied in a truly placebo controlled manner, in single, or multiple deliveries, and not for long-term outcomes, even in a general population.”

For example, in the US, all major health regulators including the CDC advise all pregnant women to get the flu vaccine to decrease risk of flu related complications. It is said to be safe in all trimesters, based on short term studies by various pharmaceutical companies.

The complications in question, however, are rarely severe enough to cause preterm labor and even death. Furthermore, the studies did not take into account healthy lifestyle and holistic modalities to strengthen immunity against the flu virus, commonly seen and used in out of hospital midwifery practices. The flu vaccine has been administered to millions of pregnant women in recent years, exposing millions of unborn fetuses.  

Dr. Kelly Brogan MD in her thought provoking scholarly analysis of the flu vaccine in pregnancy, calls into question the validity and flaws of these studies, and discusses risks families are not told about.

What is striking to me is that long term effects on the unborn babies have not been studied and are therefore unknown; fetal loss (miscarriage or stillbirth) have been excluded from the studies when a huge increase in fetal deaths after the flu vaccine have been reported; risks to the healthy mother have been downplayed; and the vaccine’s benefits have been falsely exaggerated.

vaccination-1215279_1920.jpg

This hits home as I had two moms in my practice who had healthy pregnancies, miscarry in the second trimester the day after they were given the flu vaccine by their primary physician. As is commonly the case, the flu vaccine was not reported as the causative factor.

After the second tragedy, I did some research. Not only did I hear similar incidences among my colleagues around the country, the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System) found over a 4000-fold increase in fetal deaths after the flu vaccine in 2009 and 2010.

In an eye-opening blog article on her website, Dr. Aviva Romm, physician, herbalist, and midwife, speaks to the way the medical industry portrays our health as a whole.

“There is a lot of fear mongering in medicine. As a public, we have a skewed, media-driven, fear-based view of our health and of disease prevalence. And it is impossible to ignore the fact that there are massive profits to be made by the very limited number of pharmaceutical companies producing the influenza vaccine.”

Romm continues in this article, regarding the flu vaccine, to state that the very reasons why we are told to have the vaccine are actually not as severe as the media makes them out to be.

In fact, a mother with a Ph.D. in immunology even wrote to legislators with hopes to debunk some of the consequences the media forcefully and fearfully propagates. It is important to note here that she does not write to them in order to push her own right not to vaccinate her children but simply because she feared the discrimination against non-vaccinated children in school.

“In summary, a person who is not vaccinated with IPV, DTaP, HepB, and Hib vaccines due to reasons of conscience poses no extra danger to the public than a person who is. No discrimination is warranted.”

If you can take the time to read her letter, please do so. In it, she shows that the school environment is not affected any more or less by either a child who is vaccinated or not.

While an illness can lead to certain potentially serious complications in a pregnant mama and/or her baby, those complications are actually more exceptional and more uncommon than the pharmaceutical industry and modern medical authorities make them out to be. Although medical doctors take the Hippocratic Oath upon graduation from training, with the essential component included "First, Do No Harm," I am concerned the risks of each injection into a healthy baby are downplayed and may be doing more harm than realized.

Dr. Brogan does not mince words in her brave research based statements not only about "a known 4250% increase in fetal demise during the 2009/10 flu season, but also about evidence-based inefficacy and risks of the pertussis vaccine pushed on pregnant women, about Gardasil killing healthy girls across the globe, fear mongering about SIDS that is actually caused by a visit to the pediatriciancorruption of an infant’s birthday by the Hepatitis B vaccine"...and, "as parents around the world have known for 7 decades, and basic science has supported, vaccines do cause autism."

How Effective are Immunizations for Your Baby?

The Truth About Disease and Vaccines

While the intentions and the aim of the pharmaceutical industry can be seemingly profit driven, and concerns of the various infectious illnesses seem valid, this does not address the facts about the vaccines themselves.

Can vaccines truly help to prevent today’s diseases in our children? What are the facts about disease prevention and vaccines?

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no clear or direct answer. In tackling this issue of navigating immunizations for your baby, the only sure thing to do is to personally conduct your own research and to then come to your own conclusion. Each vaccine and the infectious illness it is directed against needs to be looked at individually.

Interview several pediatricians who share your philosophies and choose one you trust. There are pediatricians who do not accept a baby into their practice if parents do not follow the standard vaccination schedule. Fortunately, there are more and more holistic or integrative family and pediatric physicians out there who can teach you about disease prevention as a whole, address each vaccine separately, as well as appropriately plan a wide variety of alternative healing modalities. A wonderful example is pediatrician Dr. Elisa Song of Whole Family Wellness in CA, who believes "that the decision to get the flu vaccine for your child, just like any other vaccine, is YOUR CHOICE as a parent, and it’s a very personal choice with many factors that have to be weighed. This decision must be made on an individual basis, taking into account the unique healthcare needs and concerns of your child....There is NO right or wrong decision. By informing yourself, you are doing the best thing for your child and for your whole family. Trust your mama or your papa “gut”, and you will always do what is best for your child. Whatever you decide, using your natural medicines toolkit will get your whole family through the winter cold and flu season healthier and stronger." She empowers the families in her practice to " Treat Your Child’s Flu – Naturally!"  She, like other more progressive pediatricians, accommodates a variety of approaches - from administering all immunizations according to the CDC recommendations, to giving them one at a time over a period of time instead of giving several of them at once, to only giving those you decide upon, to not giving any at all; she integrates conventional and holistic pediatrics to help children thrive to their fullest potentials of wellness, prevention and healing from illness. For more information, check out her Thriving Child Summit free from 9/18 through 25/2017, where you will hear "a real-world conversation about vaccine safety with 2 board-certified pediatricians" as well as many other topics related to the foundations of a thriving healthy child.

Dr. Sears, famed American and midwifery-friendly pediatrician, wrote a book to solely address this convoluted subject, The Vaccine Book.

He created it in order to answer parents’ questions and address their deepest concerns about vaccinating a child. He tackles the pros and cons as well as information about the diseases themselves in an relatively unbiased fashion.

He adamantly suggests that you take the time to learn how the vaccine you’re considering is made and what ingredients are contained within it. If you decide to vaccinate, this will help you to get clear on which particular quality brands to ask for, in what order the vaccine should be taken in succession with others, etc.

Again, your own research and conscious-based decision are essential! 

The aim of Sears’ book is to give parents enough information and clarity so that they feel confident enough to make their own decision whether they decide to vaccinate their children or not. Despite his being pro-vaccine, he does not take a stance in this book and simply provides facts.

How Your Immune System Works

Research is increasingly showing that there may not be as a big of a disease threat as we’ve been taught to believe. Vaccines do not always work or confer long lasting immunity, as would be the case after creating your own antibodies from the actual infection. For example, chicken pox (varicella) is usually a harmless infectious illness in children, but results in life long immunity; the vaccine for it is now given to babies, but does not often produce immunity lasting into adulthood, when the illness is potentially more serious. The recent resurgence of adult pertussis (whooping cough) is largely occurring in vaccinated individuals whose immunity after the childhood vaccine waned, risking non-immune newborns who can get dangerously ill if exposed. German measles (rubella) is given to babies, but their immunity commonly does not last into adult childbearing years - risking serious complications for fetuses of non-immune pregnant women. People still get the flu after the flu vaccine.

In reference to the flu shot, Dr. Romm and Dr. Brogan share with us that in a Cochrane analysis of 50 studies, there was 2% incidence of presumed influenza in the unvaccinated population as opposed to a 1% incidence in the vaccinated" - a difference of 1%.

So, vaccination has no true effect on protecting me or my child from disease?

This is not entirely the case. What I’ve been discussing so far is that, simply put, the fear we’ve been taught to harbor isn’t actually necessary. There are risks to each vaccination injection given that need to be weighed against to risks of each infection. There is way more to the story than most parents are told, and it is not a topic to be taken lightly.

While it is not in our human control who gets sick, we can do what we can to prevent exposure to someone with a known infection; we can maintain good hand washing and hygiene habits, avoid sharing personal items, observe safe eating and traveling practices, as well as ways prevent illness unique to each infection. 

Something as simple as a regular practice of yoga and meditation - prenatal yoga in pregnancy - can help boost your own immune system which can be passed on to your baby against many types of infections. Yoga and simple meditation reduces incidence and severity of many of the modern world’s most recent and common ailments: infection, cancer, various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and allergies.

tray-2546077_1920.jpg

Eating healthfully has a huge impact on preventing illness as does reducing inner stress. Eating a wide variety of plant-based whole foods, and getting sufficient protein and healthy fat are major steps to sound health. You’d be surprised at how well your body can actually defend and heal itself against disease when given the proper nutrients and care.

In terms of nutrients, Dr. Sears has a concise and simple article on how our body’s immune system works.  If you understand how your body heals itself from within, you may be more clearly able to decide which vaccines are worth investing your time in.

In this article, Sears addresses the army that is your immune system and how it works to defend your body from sickness. He also shares why some more serious diseases can attack your body. What he does point out at the top of the article is something foundational to our and our children’s health and well-being: “Because of poor diets, many school children and adults have immune systems that don’t operate at peak efficiency. They get sick more often.” Breastfeeding without question, results in healthy immunity, and breastfed babies have significantly reduced rates and severity of infection as compared with formula fed babies. 

Something as simple as including probiotics and whole food supplements into your diet can boost your immune system and improve your overall health and well-being, and treating common infections naturally can be very effective. And these are nutrients that pass into the breastmilk you give to your baby, boosting baby's health and immunity.

My online dispensary is a convenient way for you to purchase my hand-picked, professional-grade, whole food supplements and other natural health products. Ordering is simple, and the products will be shipped directly to your home or work within a few days.

I have listed my recommended prenatal supplements in the PRENATAL SUPPLEMENTS section, and have a section for postpartum/breastfeeding supplements as well; but you can search their catalog for other supplements and natural remedies for common infections like cold and flu.

Click here to directly enter my dispensary at Fullscript.

Click here to directly enter my dispensary at Fullscript.

Trusting the Information on Immunization

I think what Drs. Brogan, Romm, Song and Sears have in common is their mission to provide facts to their readership, in order to IMPROVE health and well-being. They want to help them in making better decisions that empower and help them to grow healthfully and live to the fullest potential. As I’ve mentioned previously, Dr. Sears always refers back to how crucial it is that you learn about the product you’re using so that you can make a conscious decision.

Kelly Brogan, M.D. strongly advises that when doing research you take into account a few things:

Who funded the study?

Was a proper placebo used?

What did the results show?

I would also add:

How large was the study?

Were long term consequences properly researched, as well as the short term effects?

What were the study's limitations and biases?

Is there a meta-analysis of multiple large random, double blind, placebo control trials that provides compelling results or are there only a few small and limited studies on the subject?

Even the doctors conducting the study might have to use “strategic tactics to paper over the truth” as Brogan puts it in an article she wrote addressing the overlooking of certain medical data pertaining to premature babies.

Our tendency is to think that because we’re reading a clinical study, it must be accurate; because our doctor says so, it must be true. Making conclusions based on a meta-analysis of multiple properly conducted random control trials carries much more weight than one clinical study or the opinion of a health care provider or medical 'expert.'

In the same article I mentioned earlier of Dr. Romm’s, she finds that the data given to us on the prevalence of the flu as well as its severity among pregnant women is highly inflated. And, in doing her own research, she has found that the “CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year.”

This is the same organization that was spreading fear-ridden media about how catastrophic the H1N1 disease was going to be. And, Romm is directly quoting from the CDC’s website.

On top of this, she has learned that they also state that, “about 90% of influenza-associated deaths occur among adults 65 years and older.”

Sometimes, inaccuracies are staring us right in the face. It’s worth taking the time to root them out.

While there is an extensive amount of information online and in libraries about the pros and cons of vaccinations - from isolated tragic cases to conflicting opinions to reputable research - that can be real daunting, I hope that this article can provide you with the first building blocks to guide your personal journey to decide what is best for you and your young ones.

To summarize the answer to the question, How do you navigate immunizations for you and your baby?: By taking the time to learn not only about immunization as they pertain to preventing infectious illnesses, but also to consider the short and long term risks of each vaccine, learn more about how the body can minimize common ailments, avoid sickness and even heal itself, and what you can do to aid the process.

Do your research and be mindful of the difference between fear-based news and actual facts. Consider all of the evidence and sound investigation, as well as your options and your own principals. Seek professional guidance from those you trust; but then trust your intuitive wisdom to make the decision that is right for you and your family.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. No matter what you decide, your choices need to be honored and respected. Whether you choose to vaccinate or not, once you act on your decision, know you made the best decision you and your family.  Blessings to you on your journey!

new-born-615751_1920.jpg


Want to download my free ebook of 154 favorite resources for the journey from pregnancy to birth, taking care of your newborn baby and mamahood? Get my free ebook today! It is my gift to you! Knowledge is power.

Want to connect with like-minded women supporting each other through their natural birthing journey? Join our Facebook community which is open to all active and previous clients, those who have had general or pregnancy consultations, and who have taken my online course or other classes.

 

Let Me Help You Create The Happiest Birth Experience Of Your Life...

Whether you're a first time or experienced momma, planning a VBAC

Or a midwife, doula, or birth professional guiding mommas..

Regardless if you are intending to birth at home, a hospital, a birth center or need a cesarean section, or if you are taking another childbirth education class…

You Really Can Create The Delivery Of Your Dreams, ROCK your VBAC

And have a blissful birth wherever you are.

More Precious Than A Wedding...A Birth Should Be A Celebration!

Let me show you how to…

  • Understand the sensations of your body and connect your intuition with how your body is communicating and leading you towards what to do during labor
  • Tap into your inner calm to deeply relax yourself,letting go of busy, stressful and fearful thoughts on demand for the health of baby
  • Speak your truth from your heart in a way that deepens your relationships, sets clear boundaries, and has people listen to you and support you before, during and after pregnancy
  • Trust yourself, connect with your body wisdom and communicate with baby in your belly
  • Connect with natural time and sync your body and mind up with your unique biological clock for ease from pregnancy to postpartum
  • Reprogram negative patterns, stories, and beliefs that undermine your confidence, strength and self trust so you can rock your birth

Physicians and midwives around the world recommend my teachings to their pregnant clients and many Doulas across the country learn the secrets of blissful birthing from me to supplement their Doula Training & Certification process!

To learn more, visit:  LOVE YOUR BIRTH Online Childbirth Course!

It is based on my years of experience, as a midwife and yoga teacher, helping thousands of women tap into their calm and live and birth from a place of grounded relaxation and joy. 

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

 




 

 

 

It Takes A Village Birth Story - A Doula That Made A Difference

The Birth, and Baby Moon of Felix.

5th June 2017; 12.15am.

It was a mild Sunday. I had done 283 days of pregnancy...approximately 6792 hours (if the days didn’t sound long enough). I was 3 days overdue, the size and weight of a led balloon and I had absolutely reached my breaking point. For the past 2 weeks I’d had seemingly constant Braxton Hicks, awful back pain and every night ended in a false labour. I spent the day lying in bed crying, and coming to terms with the fact that I was obviously going to be an elephant forever.

I had previously had two very rapid births, with my last being very traumatic, riddled with pre, and post-natal depression. I was young, desperate for a home birth and felt completely ignored and not listened to by the NHS. I ended up in the midwife led unit at my nearest hospital being held down on my back to birth, which was not good considering I had SPD. I thought I had dealt with the anxiety this experience had caused me; but until I fell pregnant again this time round, I had no idea how much I had locked away. I had a fantastic midwife for this pregnancy, who arranged a debrief with a lovely lady that gave me the confidence to be sure my wish for a home birth would be met. I had done endless sessions of hypnotherapy at home, printed off affirmation cards to stick to my wall, made a visual birth plan, practised my breathing techniques, watched calm home birth videos, had a pregnancy blessing with all of my most cherished female friends; and hired a fabulous doula to make sure that I had the best possible chance of achieving what I needed for myself and my baby. I spent the last few months being proud of my body, really coming to terms with my changing shape and loving it! However, those last two weeks of pregnancy really started to drain on all of this preparation and, to be honest, I was at the point of taking any offer made that would get this baby out of me.

My doula came over Sunday afternoon to give this giant pregnant elephant a pep talk to help get me out of the headspace I had ended up in. She said to spend the afternoon ‘pretending I wasn’t pregnant’; so we made plans to go the cinema the following day, and all sat down as a family to watch the One Love Manchester concert before bed. At around 7.45 the kids were settling when I suddenly felt a pop and my waters started gushing everywhere.

We phoned our doula to come back over, my mum and our birthing partners. Everyone arrived super quickly whilst I phoned the labour line to alert them that things were kicking off. They assured me that they’d send a midwife out as soon as my surges got to one in 6; they had one ready who knew the area really well so to phone back as soon as things became regular

After this, my doula did a sideline release; a technique from spinning babies, to get Felix in to a better position. By this point waters were literally covering my living room floor and sofa every time I moved; my once massive bump had deflated and completely changed shape, making us all think baby was going to be of average size. After some bouncing on my birthing ball and finding a chilled out music playlist; I went to the loo, which caused things to massively ramp up to the point I couldn’t get back upstairs without starting to make birthing noises.

Daniel, my 3 year old; helped his dad massage my back whilst my doula helped keep my breathing steady and my mum phoned the midwife back. I was asked to go into the birthing unit, but in the throes of labour, I “politely” declined. By 11.30, things had massively ramped up, and it was obvious that Felix was well on his way. I made my way to the air bed we had prepared, whilst my doula held my pelvis and a paramedic was phoned.

I could feel Felix moving up and down the birth canal with every surge. The intensity was beyond my ability to describe! Hannah, my 5 year old was awoken by the commotion and came in to watch on in fascination. We had prepared both the children beforehand with lots of conversations about what would happen, along with lots of home birth videos on YouTube; so they knew what was going to happen. In just 2 minutes, at 12.15am; Felix was born!

The paramedic walked in as his head was born. She was wonderful and completely respected my choice to be observed from a distance. Not long after Felix landed on the airbed; the midwives walked in. I birthed on all fours so leant back to pick up my beautiful, and huge, baby boy. I was the first to touch him, which was magical! We had some skin to skin; then he latched on and fed until the placenta was delivered naturally at 12.45am. The cord wasn’t touched until this point, by which time Felix had got the full amount of goodness from it, and it had turned white. His dad then helped to cut it, with the kids watching on, still in complete fascination. My doula helped me tie his rainbow cord tie on, and then he was weighed. 10lbs5. TEN POUNDS FIVE OUNCES! The entire room erupted in a mixture of shock and humour at the fact that me, only 5’4 in height, had naturally delivered this giant child without even a taste of a paracetamol, in 2 minutes with not even a graze.

Whilst Felix was dressed and his siblings got their first cuddles, my placenta was checked over and taken by my doula for some prints and a placenta smoothie. The smoothie was blended with red berries and apple juice; it was so refreshing to drink after going through birth and completely stopped my shakes and helped to reset me. My placenta prints were done as with my last two, I never even got asked if I wanted to see the placenta. The tissue that had helped to nurture and grow my babies was whisked away like it was something dirty; so this time, I wanted a reminder of what my amazing body had held and grown that I could put some artistic flair on.

Once everything had settled, and Felix had been checked over. Everyone headed home and we settled down for bed, at 5am Monday morning. The whole experience was so surreal I couldn’t sleep from the high and excitement. I had finally got the birth I had been dreaming of. Everything about it was beautiful and wonderful.

in the first postnatal days, I was left alone to bond, feed and heal; which was completely what I needed. My birth partners were my lifeline of support, and came over to help cook, clean and provide me with copious amounts of tea and pain relief. These wonderful women had held me up throughout pregnancy and were still holding me post birth.

In these days, I had the time to do a lot of reflection on myself, and past experiences not only involving birth, but of life in general. I realized that I’ve spent way too much time trying to be perfect at everything, and too much time being afraid to ask for help; two valuable life lessons that will forever stay with me.

I also finally understood, and connected with all of those women I had read about in blogs who wanted to tell anyone and everyone about their amazing birth story; and I had a new respect for the amazing work that doulas do. Without my doula, my pregnancy and birth would probably have been completely different. On that Sunday, I needed her and she came without hesitation. Without that seemingly small pep talk, my mental state going in to birth would probably have been completely different, and I wouldn’t handled the situation as well as I did. She enabled everyone to have their own space, and made the entire atmosphere calm and confident. I could not thank her enough.

On day 7, she came out again to do a wonderful closing the bones ceremony with me. This involved a gentle abdominal massage with some beautiful oils; and some spinning babies sifting with a rebozo scarf. This helped to realign all of my muscles and really helped me to say goodbye to the last 9 very long months. After she left, I had the most beautiful milk bath with Felix; made with oat milk, lavender and chamomile oils, Epsom salts, dried rose and lavender petals and chrysanthemums. It was extremely healing; and such a different, more peaceful experience to the first baths of my last two children.

I’d like to finish this by saying to anyone who reads this; that your birth is possible, you are enough, trust yourself, and never underestimate the power that a tribe of women can bring. I started this journey a complete sceptic of mindfulness, and the power of positive thinking. I had trust issues with almost everyone, low self esteem and stopped myself from dealing with any of it by trying to be perfect at everything, and keeping myself busy. This whole experience has been more healing than I can define, and I wish that everyone could have the chance to have the experience that I have. I hope that if just one person reads this and it helps them, then I have enabled someone; like my tribe enabled me.

By Lucy Howel @hippychick_mumma.

 

 Birth photos by birthing partner Leanne Shepherd @shepherd_leanne. 

Postpartum Depression: Ending The Stigma

Postpartum Depression: Ending the Stigma

Guest Contributor: Haley Rolff

"The exact rate of postpartum depression is unknown because there are so many undiagnosed cases.  In the US, it’s estimated that up to 80% of women who give birth will experience some form of it, whether it’s the “baby blues” or a more severe type of postpartum depression (American Pregnancy Association). There are 4 million live births a year which means that 3.2 million women are at risk! This is before taking into account the women who have experienced stillbirths (about 24,000 happen each year in the US) and miscarriages (which happens between 660,000 and 880,000 times a year in the US) (CDC, Mayo Clinic).

As for clinical postpartum depression, specifically, about 900,000 cases are diagnosed each year (Postpartum Progress). Medical experts estimate that, when taking undiagnosed cases into account, that number could be twice as large!

Why are there so many undiagnosed cases? After conducting research and going through over 250 interviews (with moms, dads, and postpartum specialists) a team of students at Northwestern University speculate that the culture around postpartum lifestyle in the US may be a major factor.

When asked whose health came first (between the mom’s health or the baby’s health) the universal response of parents was the baby’s health. Moms think that the baby’s health comes first so much so that many of them don’t eat enough, rest enough, or practice enough self-care. Instead, they overexert themselves trying to obtain the “perfect motherhood” which many characterize with impossibly high standards in terms of the state of a mom’s baby, home, and over-all image.

Let’s start with the standards around the baby. It begins with the baby shower, where the mom receives stylish onesies, blankets, and tiny socks for her baby, who, not only is too young to enjoy its ‘gifts,’ but will quickly outgrow most of it. Those things then turn into more clutter for a mom to worry about.

Beyond the culture around the baby’s style, moms are most worried about their baby’s health. They also feel pressure to spend as much time as possible holding and interacting with her infant for the good of its development (an overwhelming message that is constantly pitched on parent blogs and other social media). Moms then feel incredibly guilty if her baby cries excessively, have issues feeding, or get sick because they see it as a sign of failure as a mom. In reality, these problems are normal and actually shared by most parents.

On Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, however, no one posts about these problems which make them seem uncommon and a sign of bad parenting. Parents on Facebook mostly post about the positives. Why would you want to update your friends, family, and coworkers about the fact that your infant isn’t taking to breastfeeding, or is causing you to suffer from sleep deprivation? It’s easier to post cute pictures of infants’ moments of joy and pretend that life is always blissful. Moms on Pinterest post about incredible DIY baby projects, intricate baby fashion, and picture perfect homes. They don’t post about the house getting messy when parenting gets super demanding, or the sweatpants they throw on when they don’t have time to choose a stylish new mom outfit (which is much more common). Instagram is where celebrity moms and fitness-bloggers-turned-moms post their rapid postpartum recovery: somehow they get a six pack a month after giving birth, and their makeup is always perfect. In reality, the postpartum recovery process takes a while and each body has different needs and fitness restrictions.

All of this culminates into unrealistic standards for motherhood. According to the interviews, many moms who looked back on past pregnancies admitted to buying into some of these standards and regretted the toll it took on their own well-being (some interviewees revealed that they had undiagnosed postpartum mental illnesses).

Not only do these standards play a role in damaging the well-being of many moms, but it also plays a role in creating a stigma around postpartum mental illnesses, by constantly plugging that motherhood is an overall joyful experience. Although some people (even celebrities like Chrissy Teigen) are starting to talk about their experiences with postpartum depression, it is still vastly overshadowed and stigmatized by much of the media, or simply downplayed to “baby blues” which invalidates those who actually have clinical postpartum depression.

If you or a mom you know may be suffering from a form of postpartum depression, seek help from a doctor, (midwife), or a support group. Talking to people and sharing experiences is the only way to end the stigma, because it normalizes what has been wrongfully projected as obscure and shameful: mental illness. More importantly, it provides moms the support they need. Every mother deserves to be healthy, and every baby deserves a healthy mother.

Bundles of Health, a startup born out of Northwestern University, aims to give new moms better care postpartum. The company offers a curated selection of the most useful gifts to include in a baby registry. Instead of onesies, blankets, and socks, Bundles of Health allows family and friends to gift the mom-to-be a month of housecleaning, food delivery, or a postpartum doula. To add to your Amazon, Babylist, MyRegistry, or Target registry, click here. Help your loved ones give you the gift of health and happiness, time and peace of mind!

Check out Mayo Clinic’s description of postpartum depression signs, symptoms, and advice here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130 "

For Postpartum Mommas Worldwide

Whether it's banishing postpartum depression, healing birth trauma, or balancing me time, I'm an expert in postpartum care and can help you, no matter where you live. I've went through it all personally and professionally. I know postpartum blues, depression and anxiety well, and have helped thousands of women through what I call the "Forgotten 4th Trimester," to prevent or overcome postpartum depression and anxiety in a wholesome, effective and lasting way.  When you are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, exhaustion, mild to moderate feelings of depression or anxiety, newborn care or breastfeeding challenges, or finding a sustainable new momma rhythm, I can help you with personalized guidance for your unique situation.