Even the Buddha Got Stuck

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We all have our moments of stuck-ness. Or weeks. Or months. We come in and out of it….of being in the flow and so connected in so many ways, creating magic….and then other times we feel like we can’t manage to even pull ourselves out of bed, or decide what to eat for breakfast.

When we find ourselves “stuck”…it’s so easy to beat ourselves up about it wondering what we did wrong. What we did or didn’t do, should have done differently….what are we missing? We do we keep falling out of it? Why aren’t we “succeeding”?

But the bottom line is, we’re exactly where we need to be. It may not feel like it at the moment. We may not understand why circumstances are what they are.

The universe knows. It know better than us, it has our back, ALWAYS. Unfortunately, some growth happens to feel painful or difficult. But we don’t have to make the pain worse by adding our own self-bashing into it.

We have to remember to allow ourselves some grace. We are human beings, complicated creatures here to learn many lessons. And we will have ample opportunities to learn them, over and over! It’s time to allow ourselves to be human, feel our feels, find a spark of insight, and then move on.

To remember to treat ourselves the same way we would treat a little child who is trying so hard, and having a hard time. To give ourselves a break. Nurture our own little inner-child-selves and say “It’s okay. You’re doing great! Just pick yourself up and start again”.

To remember sometimes we just have to take a moment and STOP. And BREATHE. And BE. Nothing more than that. Because in that moment of pause is where the insight comes, where the clarity comes. Maybe just a tiny little glimpse of something, but a little something in the right direction. In the direction of inner peace, of happiness, of JOY.

To remember to surround ourselves with other people on this same journey. Positive people who can uplift us and remind us of who we really are. To reach out to them and say “Hey! I need a boost.” Or to find a way to regularly spend time with people who will help us stay in our higher vibration.

So remember…you are okay. You are more than okay. You are magical and amazing and on the verge of even more greatness than you could have imagined. You are evolving and growing and that in and of itself is the most important work you can do.

So don’t sweat the “stucks”.  They aren’t really “stucks”. They are pauses for expansion and greatness. Allow them, welcome them, learn from them.

Dance them out…

Sweat them out…

Yell them out…

MOVE THEM OUT.

Get your groove flowing again.

And trust…

You’ve got this.

 

Autism Awareness Day 2017

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I wanted to say a special THANK YOU today, on International Autism Awareness Day, to all the beautiful souls touched by this “label”. It is especially (ironically) fitting for me this weekend, when I personally was touched and blessed by some such beautiful souls.

A THANK YOU to the kind, loving, patient boy who spent 3 hours swimming around the pool with my son yesterday at a pool party. My 6-year-old son was surrounded by a dozen fun loving 11-year-old girls who (understandably) wanted nothing to do with him, so my son put on his snorkel/mask/fins (doesn’t everyone bring these to a pool party?) and swam around, on top of, and next to this kind boy who befriended him and became his “person” for the rest of the party. My son didn’t know this boy was “different”. But he did know he was kind.

A THANK YOU to the beautiful, compassionate, joyful girl today who saw my son struggling to fit in with his peer group at a big, busy social event, and took him under her wing and invited him to play and tag along with her. He was thrilled to find a kind soul to relate to and belong with.

See my son is 6 years old, and doesn’t know what autism is. He is innocent so far and hasn’t needed to see these “differences” among people, differences that require “labels”. He himself (or is it me? Or the rest of us?) struggles with his own set of labels. Highly sensitive. Highly spirited. High needs. He dances to the beat of a different drum himself, and not a day goes by for me that I don’t wonder to myself “Did I miss something? Is he on the spectrum?”. But the better question is aren’t we ALL on the spectrum somewhere or other? It’s a damn SPECTRUM after all, with a hugely wide range of colors and shapes and sounds. And doesn’t that placement on the spectrum change as we navigate life with our own highs and lows, stressful and peaceful periods, struggling and being ostracized at times and at others fitting in quite well?

So THANK YOU to you, beautiful souls. To your kindness, compassion, and uniqueness. The world is a more beautiful, colorful place thanks to you. And a huge THANK YOU to the parents…who tirelessly teach, model, and repeat the same phrase 56,432 times in hopes this time it will stick….your diligence and love does not go unnoticed. Your work is so hard, so important, and I admire you.

THANK YOU.

Pregnant in 2017? ACOG Recommends…

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As a doula, getting the latest recommendations on birth updated is almost like Christmas morning. And if you are pregnant in 2017, you probably want to be aware of the latest recommendations by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Whether you are attempting a natural birth in the hospital, or maybe you aren’t sure exactly what you want to do, there are some important points that would be good for you to know. And as we all know, knowledge is power. And what pregnant woman couldn’t use an extra boost of power?

You can read the entire position paper they put out here, or simply read on to get an overview of some of the key points.

These new recommendations consist of a more hands-off approach when it comes to some things (like fetal monitoring and pushing approaches), and they include and reaffirm their past position on things such as eating and drinking during labor (Yes, of course it’s good for you!)

And you know what else is good for you? Continuous support. Although this is not “new” news. This document specifically mentions doulas several times and numerous citations are used to note the mounting evidence that continuous labor support is associated with a myriad of positive outcomes such as:

  • Fewer operative assisted birth such as forceps or vacuum extractions
  • Less need for epidurals and analgesia
  • Fewer cesarean births
  • Shorter labors
  • Higher 5 minutes Apgar scores
  • Fewer reports of dissatisfaction with the experience of labor

So what else might be important for you to know now?

Laboring at home until active labor is encouraged and beneficial

In recent years the definition of active labor has changed to mean until 5- 6 cm of dilation. But that means little to moms who are laboring at home without being checked by a care provider. So the bottom line is, be prepared to labor at home…for quite awhile. It is perfectly normal for a first time mom to be in early labor for 24 hours, or more. Early labor (the latent phase) is a very important part of the labor process that should not be downplayed, in my opinion. A lot is still going on for a laboring woman, both physically and mentally. Research shows that for low-risk, healthy women, interventions are more likely to be avoided if they are admitted once they reach active labor. So it’s important to understand a lot of labor will be happening outside the hospital, and it’s important to have a good plan. I always educate my clients on the process of early labor, what to look for, help them come up with some ideas as to how to spend it, and I help their partners understand they will have a very important role during this time period.

Intermittent monitoring is appropriate for low-risk labors

Woohoo! ACOG finally affirms that for low-risk labors, intermittent monitoring (as opposed to being tethered to a machine by 2 elastic straps the entire time) is appropriate, and sometimes even more beneficial. The opinion clearly states that studies have shown that continuous monitoring has not reduced perinatal death or cerebral palsy for low-risk pregnancies, and has in fact increased cesarean and instrument assisted births. So couple that with the desire to want to move about freely and change positions at will, which naturally will aid in the descent of the baby and the progress of labor, and it becomes quite logical that for low-risk labors, intermittent monitoring is way more beneficial. But you will need to discuss this before “labor day” with your provider, and make sure the hospital you will be attending has this as a true option. Then on labor day, you will need to remind them that this is important for you.

Water breaks before labor starts? You have choices, and equally good options

When a woman experiences PROM (premature rupture of membranes), this means the water breaks and labor doesn’t begin immediately. When this happens, according to the newest findings, “approximately 77–79% of women will go into labor spontaneously within 12 hours, and 95% will start labor spontaneously within 24–28 hours” (ACOG, Feburary 2017). There are 2 types of management in this case. Expectant management is a “hand’s off” approach where conditions are monitored but treatment is withheld until symptoms appear or parameters change. Active management is where induction is started shortly after the rupture of the membranes “to move things along”.

“For informed women, if concordant with their individual preferences and if there are no other maternal or fetal reasons to expedite delivery, the choice of expectant management for a period of time may be appropriately offered and supported”

-Committee Opinion: Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth, ACOG, February 2017

Current best practices shows outcomes are the same, whether active or expectant management is used in low-risk pregnancies. So this is another good talk to have ahead of time with your provider. Make sure if you think you might want to wait it out at home, they are comfortable with assessing you, and then letting you do your thing until somethings changes, or you change your mind.

And speaking of water breaking…

Your water will break, at some point before or during, or even after labor (for babies born in the caul). This is a hard fact. ACOG is now recognizing what research has shown for years- that AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) has little benefit to the labor as a whole, and may actually do more harm than good in terms of increasing the risk of infection, causing a malpositioned baby, or in extreme cases it can cause cord prolapse or placental abruption, both which will lead to an emergency cesarean. Expectant mothers should know it’s perfectly normal for waters to release when they are ready, and that there is no need to rush the process.Unless, of course, there is an obvious medical necessity.

Keep Calm and Drink On

The reasoning behind the “no eating or drinking during labor” (at a hospital) rule is primarily to avoid aspiration should an emergency ensue later.  Current findings show current anesthesia techniques (meaning epidurals) are associated with a low incidence of aspiration, and ACOG has stated now that hydrating yourself with fluids is preferable to IV hydration. So bring lots of coconut water, herbal teas, bone broth, juices, whatever appeals to you! They have alluded to the fact that since aspiration risks are so low, eating would in effect help keep a laboring mom’s strength up for the marathon of labor, but they have yet to officially change their stance regarding food and are continuing their “ongoing review” on it. We’ll have to give them more time to catch up on this one.

Push it Real Good

The “purple pushing” or Valsalva (closed glottis) pushing technique is being compared to an instinctual, open glottis pushing which is often accompanied with vocalizations of many varieties (and wow, have I heard it all!) in this recent finding. Studies show that there is minimal difference when it comes to the duration of the second stage, no difference in overall outcomes (meaning cesarean, instrument assisted, APGAR scores, etc.). There is a slight shortening of the pushing phase (depending on the study), between 5 and 10 minutes, when using the Valsalva technique, but there is also increased incidence of “abnormal urodynamics” (hello, pelvic floor, how I miss you so). Also, women are now (finally!) being encouraged to “labor down”, meaning give baby some time to move further down on his own and to following their own instincts as to when to start to push. This is a good thing because you are working WITH your body, when it’s ready. Just because you hit 10 cm. does not necessarily mean baby is down low enough to make pushing warranted or very effective…and no one wants an exhausted mama by the time baby is low enough.

Regardless of what you choose for YOUR birth, having evidence based information can help you make better choices. And it’s important is that these are your choices, what you feel is best for you and your family. Documents such as the one just put out by ACOG make wonderful talking points with your care provider. They tend to like that kind of evidence based stuff, they’re funny like that. And believe it or not some of them who have been practicing for a long time may or may not be up to speed with the latest recommendations. So here’s your chance to share with them.

Share on mamas, share on!

Lunar Eclipse & Cleansing Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

firepitTonight with this first lunar eclipse of 2017, and a full moon in Leo, it marks a great shift in our conscious evolution as a species. We are facing our collective demons, and being forced to stare them down to be rid of them for good. The ground is shifting under our feet and we have to decide whether we will let that knock us off our feet onto the ground, or keep our knees bent and springy while we try and keep our balance.

It is a time of great change all around: politically, personally, physically…everyone is feeling it. For some it feels incredibly powerful and beautiful, a coming of age. For others it appears as a giant growth period, with all the aches and pains that accompany it.

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Tonight one of my soul sisters and I gathered to celebrate the moon and the shift, along with our sons. They are 4, 6 and 10 years old. The next generation of sensitive, awakened, powerful and strong men in the making. We teach them the rituals of manifestation, of fire, of drumming, of the moon. We sing, drum, dance and chant under the beautiful moon.  The fire burns our wishes and the wishes become one with the universe. We choose to manifest peace, love, kindness, health, happiness (and transformers).

These boys are young, but wise. They already know they are a part of something greater, and that they each have their own role to play in this great evolution. They sit around the fire each with their own unique energy. Yet they all share an innate, primal knowledge.

The smoke cleanses us all, rids of of our past. And with every piece of paper we burn, we are released more and more from what no longer serves us, released from the energies of our past. We become lighter, more present, and we make room for the glorious future that awaits.

Here’s to the next generation of awakened males. May they teach us of the strength can be found in compassion and love.

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What This Doula Wants You to Know

 

 

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Doulas are for everyone. At least, this one is. Doulas are not only for the earthy-crunchy, squat-in-a-field-by-the-river, no-medication-whatsoever Moms.  I believe everyone could benefit from some intensive support, no matter what your preference, plan, or non-plan is.

After all, birth is a monumental, incredible, life-changing experience, whether you think of it that way or not. And who wouldn’t want some degree of support while going through a monumental, life-changing experience?  But – believe it or not – some people don’t hire a doula. Which is absolutely okay. There are many mothers, sisters, friends, even partners out in the world who are up for the challenge and make incredible birth companions.

But pregnancy and birth is not always a straight line. It (sometimes) has it’s twists and turns, and  (sometimes) that’s when having a trained professional- someone who has been down this well worn path many, many times before, and has seen an endless number of variations of this dance- is invaluable.

But whether you hire a doula or not, my nervous, excited, ever-so-hopeful and determined mama…..there are a few things I really want to share with you.

  • Please, take a great deal of care and time when choosing your birth provider. Your provider is one of the most important decisions you will make in this process. He or she has a significant impact on the outcome of your birth. Please, talk to them open and honestly early on. Listen to what they say, and how they say it. Listen to the tone of voice they use, look at their facial expressions. Then listen for what they don’t say. Don’t be afraid to share everything you are concerned or curious about, or to ask anything, even the hard questions. Then notice how you feel when you are talking with them. Do you feel calm and at ease? Supported? Dismissed? Like they are truly listening? If you don’t get a good feeling and it doesn’t feel like a good match look into meeting another provider. You have the ability and the power to do so! It needs to be a good fit for you both! You need to feel completely comfortable in this relationship. There are all types out there. Just because this person was incredible with your good friend, or cousin, or cousin’s sister, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you!!! Go with your gut.
  • Providers are human beings too. They have similar clinical training across the board, but all have their unique personalities. They bring to the table (and to your birth) with them their own “baggage”. They have opinions and history and past experiences that are going to impact they way they practice today. That doesn’t make them good or bad, only human! Again, find one that makes you feel comfortable! For example, if you are seeking a  VBAC and they seem on the fence about it early on, they are not going to suddenly change their mind halfway through YOUR pregnancy and become a huge advocate and push for it! You might wish that, but it’s not going to happen. So again, find the right fit, early on, or move on and keep looking. It’s a lot easier to find a compatible provider at week 15 than it is at week 36. Or, be prepared to constantly advocate for yourself every step of the way.
  • Remember to think outside the box. There are other places to give birth. Such as at home, with a skilled midwife, or at a Birth Center. Look into these options if you are low risk and seeking a natural birth. They are not so outside the box anymore. More and more women are seeking out these locations for their births because the return of a more a natural birth experience is becoming more and more mainstream. Many women are realizing that most hospitals treat birth as a medical event, a business, not a natural, normal process.
  • If you choose to use an OB as a provider, and there are many supportive, attentive, empathetic OB’s out there, find out how many other OB’s (and Certified Nurse Midwives who also may deliver there) are in the practice. It is not uncommon for a practice to have easily anywhere from 2 to 4 other providers, not counting CNM’s in the practice. So if you painstakingly do all your research and find YOUR PERFECT PROVIDER….please remember the chances of them being the actual person on call the day you go into labor are…well, you do the math. They rotate. So the chances are slim it will happen that way. So it’s best to wrap your head around that concept early on, and make sure all the providers are like-minded. Or find a smaller practice with a different doctor.
  • Education goes a long way. The more educated you are about pregnancy and birth, the more comfortable you will be when and if a deviation from your original plan happens. Take a childbirth class, a breastfeeding class, a newborn care class or all 3. Knowledge is power!
  • I can’t take the pain away…as a Doula I wish I could. But then I’d rob you of the experience of knowing you can and will do this. This experience will push you to the brink of your capabilities. It’s a rite of passage, no matter which way it happens. And the experience belongs to you. As a doula, I can be there by your side, helping you navigate the twists and turns, helping you stay as comfortable as possible, reminding you that you can do this, you’ve got what it takes to get through. Unwavering in my faith in you, and in the process.

You can do this….you will do this.

Remember you have so many choices along the way….

You can choose where to give birth.

You can choose to do it all natural.

You can choose a scheduled c-section.

You can choose an epidural.

You can choose to change your mind midway and go from all natural to an epidural.

You can choose to decline any or all medications for you or your baby.

You can choose not to consent to a procedure that is being recommended if you’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons and don’t believe it’s in your and your baby’s best interest.

But the beauty of this whole experience is you have a lot of power, and you have choices.

Don’t forget that!