Childbirth, Mind-Body-Spirit, Parenting, Pregnancy

Childbirth Preparation: A Complete Guide for Pregnant Women

It’s alive! My new (and much improved!) Childbirth Preparation Online Course was birthed on Udemy today!

I’m offering 50 badass preggos out there a mega-discount ($50 instead of $125!) Use the coupon code FENGSHUIMOMMY when you go here.

There are plenty of Preview videos, checklists, and relaxation recordings you can peruse for free before clicking the Buy button 🙂

 

Career, Childbirth, Family Entertainment, Mind-Body-Spirit, Parenting, Travel

How the Band Famous October Tours With Their Baby (Interview)

When you have a baby it can be a struggle just to put on some pants and walk to the mail box. Well, Sarah Bowman and Rene Coal Burrell of the band Famous Octoberhad the baby, put on the pants and didn’t just make it to the mailbox, they went on tour for the “One Day Baby” album they also birthed. Sarah and Rene are a living testament to the fact that creative passions, career and parenthood can harmoniously coexist as they travel through the United States sharing their music and nurturing their young family.

I was able to get a glimpse into their journey thus far, and gleaned plenty of inspiration for my own journey through motherhood.

Read the interview on Huff Post!

Airplane Travel, Travel, Uncategorized

How to Travel to Costa Rica With a Baby

IMG_3651Warm water, magenta sunsets, giant plates of nachos, and monkeys (loud free-roaming monkeys that don’t mess with your stuff)- me thinks I found heaven in Costa Rica.

You know this place is incredible if I can call it heaven after traveling seventeen hours, via airplanes and cars, with a baby. Yes, I had the support of my partner, parents, and brothers, but I’m the mom with the boobs full of milk.

The magic of Costa Rica made every ounce of anxiety-ridden travel worth it. I even plan to eventually follow in my wanderlust cousin’s footsteps and move my family to this eco-friendly paradise for six-ish months.

If you have the desire to explore the gem of Central America (and why not?) with your baby, here are a few words of guidance from one parent to another.

Read More on Huff Post Parents!

Childbirth, Uncategorized

Kudos to The Birth Hour

image.jpgI’m addicted.

Stuck on you.

In love.

In awe.

Give me more.

I’m talking to you The Birth Hour. A podcast featuring badass women sharing their awe-inspiring birth stories. Created by mama-writer-creator extraordinaire, Bryn Huntpalmer, this series of audible goodness has made me relish traffic because I can soak in these fascinating tales of natural birth, medicated birth, c-sections, home birth, acrobatic birth (just kidding), water birth, and beyond.

Bryn created an open forum for women to verbally flow through their raw, often humorous, and deeply emotional stories, helping to connect the sisterhood of mothers and remind us that we are not alone in our fears, triumphs, (and embarrassing moments!)

The title of each episode provides a description of the type of birth you will hear about in the episode.

If you’re pregnant, I recommend seeking out the episodes that describe the type of birth you want to have, envisioning yourself absorbing the positive aspects of that story, making it your own.

If you’re trying to heal hurts from a past childbirth experience, listen to the episodes that are similar to the birth you had, connecting you to these women and possibly hearing strategies for how they moved through any attached physical or emotional challenges.

And if you’re just a women interested in the magnificence of birth (and interested in being entertained!) you’ll love this podcast.

Check-idy check it out. 

Childbirth, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

10 Ways to Stop Birth Shaming

IMG_1349“If you don’t let us give you Pitocin, your baby could die.”

Her doctor said it with complete finality, but there was no medical evidence to back up his claim, as the midwife in the room attested to.

The doctor was on his fifth delivery of the day and was overheard telling a nurse he was ready to go home — and was playing golf later that day.

I’m a doula, and my client who shared this story with me, ended up having a C-section she feels she was pressured into.

Shame, which has sidled its way into the ingredients of our culture, commonly mixes into childbirth. Women are constantly being pushed to accept unnecessary interventions they’re not comfortable with, just to suit the needs of those that have a hand (often literally) in their birth experience.

There are of course beautiful exceptions to this rule in the form of doctors and midwives who put their clients’ needs first and only suggest intervention if it is medically needed or requested by the birthing woman. In fact, that needs to be the rule.

Read more on Babble

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Childbirth, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Birth Oasis Basics

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Look! I’m wearing the one-size-fits all gown. Do as I say, not as I do 😉

Sterile. Stiff. Bright. Harsh. Stressed. Cold. Loud.

Or…

Intimate. Soft. Glowing. Gentle. Calm. Comfortable. Quiet. Aromatic (in the most pleasant sense of the word).

Which list do you choose? The second? Me too.

Wouldn’t the characteristics of that second list make for a deeply nurturing birth environment?

Not surprisingly, a nurturing birth environment often equals a more gentle and comfortable birth.

Whether you’re having a home or hospital birth, these tips will help you manifest the birthing oasis of your (sometimes strange) pregnancy dreams:

  1. Low Lighting. Harsh overhead lighting sucks the positive energy out of a space. Opt for a few well placed lamps giving off subtle glows.
  2. Essential Oils. Choose your favorite essential oil/s and dab it on your pulse points, in your birthing tub, or essential oil diffuser. The diffuser is my favorite option as it gently disperses the scent throughout the room providing the calming, or stimulating, effect to everyone in the space. My favorites are lavender (calm) and peppermint (energizing- best for the last phase of labor.)
  3. Comfortable Temperatures. Adjust the thermostat as needed, or have a space heater and fan on hand to regulate your temperature, that will likely be in constant flux.
  4. Soft Materials. Ensure the materials on your birthing bed and body are soft and nurturing. You do not have to succumb to the one-size-fits-all hospital gowns (as lovely as they are.)
  5. Soft Voices. Place a ‘Quiet Please’ sign on your birthing room door and have your birthing companion remind your other supporters to speak in soft, calm, and positive tones.
  6. Favorite Colors. If you end up being an “eyes open” birth-er, you’ll want positive images and colors to use as your focal points. Paint your toes in your favorite color, ask your birth companions to wear this color, and bring in one or two peaceful images or items to set in your view line.
  7. Soothing Melodies. The murmurs of others, or the (sometimes traumatic) bustle of a hospital can be distracting. Have a portable speaker playing calming music or birthing specific relaxation recordings- or pop on your headphones to completely cancel out unwanted noise.
  8. Nom Noms. Have light, delicious, and nutritious snacks on hand for yourself and others. And water. Drink so much water. Water. Water. Water.
  9. A Higher Power. Invite a higher power (whatever that means to you) to enter the space and spiritually guide and support you through all phases of birth.
  10. What Makes You Feel Good? Meditate on that question and fill your birthing oasis with the answers.

The Gist- Make sure all six of your senses are positively supported in your birthing space.

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Uncategorized

10% of Each Course Sale Now Donated to #EveryMotherCounts

Every-Mother-Counts-logo

Hear ye hear ye!

10% of each sale of the online childbirth course is now being donated to the non-profit organization Every Mother Counts– dedicated to lowering global rates of infant and maternal mortality by making pregnancy and childbirth safer for every mother.

Uncategorized

10 Traits of a Rad Dad

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Some troubling news has come to my attention recently — that dads occasionally feel a bit left out, a tad on the outside, a little unappreciated.

As a mother, I confess that sometimes I secretly wish to be “left on the outside” so I can go get a massage without anyone hassling me. But who am I kidding, the feeling of being worshipped by tiny people makes me feel pretty good.

So let’s dish out some of that worship to the deserving dudes too. Many a dad out there works his keister off to contribute, and earn a few brownie points (ideally in the form of some actual brownies.)

Below are 10 (of the many) traits I believe a rad dad possesses, and I would like to make a call to action that we throw a few more bones (or brownies!) their way, when we see dads, partners, or papas exhibiting said awesomeness:

Read more on Babble!

Mom Humor

31 Strange Addictions Only Moms Understand

I’ve developed a proclivity for habits my (naïve) pre-baby self would have deemed nonsensical. I’ve tried many forms of therapy — self-hypnosis, journaling, and chocolate (hoping to replace one habit with another), but nothing seems to kick my motherly addiction to the following …

1. Talking about baby’s bodily fluids, to everyone, even the nice teenage grocery store clerk who asks me how my day has been.

Read More at Scary Mommy!

Mom Humor

The 10 Commandments of Your First Mom-Friend Date

Forget romantic dates with actual real life men. Now that you’re a mom, you’re facing something even more terrifying: mom dates. A first-time mom date can be even more fraught with anxiety than a romantic date. Although hanky-panky is off the table, the potential for mom shaming, guilt, and the hopes that you just may be meeting the love of your mommy-friend life abounds.

Read more at Babble!

Mom Humor

I Envision Other Mothers….

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I envision other mothers prepping three course (food pyramid approved) meals for their children, three times a day…

While I make scrambled eggs in the microwave… three times a day.

I envision other mothers spending a leisurely thirty minutes talking their tot through a gentle diaper change…

While I beg my child not to smear poop on my face as I haphazardly diaper him as we’re rushing out the door to the Mommy and Me (fill in the blank) class we’re inevitably late for.

I envision other mothers having the television removed from the home the instant they learn an impressionable new little human is growing within them….

While I frantically try to figure out how to get to the Netflix Kids app so I can have two uninterrupted minutes to scrub the microwave eggs out of the carpet, and my hair.

I envision other mothers mystically stretching time and completing all laundry, bathing, clothing, feeding, watering (of themselves and their children,) cleaning their shelter, and laughing (it’s most certainly a basic need,) ALL. IN. ONE. DAY.

While I spread out our basic needs over the course of a week, with the exception of laughing, we do plenty of that.

I envision other mothers prepping a developmentally appropriate art project for kiddo/s each day of the week….

While I consider arranging our spaghetti (with a side of microwave eggs) into abstract shapes during dinner, art project enough.

I envision other mothers polishing off thoughtful and inspiring replies to all 55 of their emails, in one hour, and shutting down the computer for the rest of the day…

While I pull out my cell phone, laptop, or tablet thingy 367 times a day in an attempt to get out any response to the 16 emails I have sitting in my Inbox.

I envision other mothers leaving helpful, humorous, and heartfelt posts on their online ‘Mom Group’ of choice…

While I’m fortunate if I can shoot off an incredibly helpful, ‘Me too!’ or ‘That Sucks!’

I envision other mothers taking an adorable holiday card photo in June, pre-ordering the cards by September, and shipping them out, complete with a tastefully witty ‘Our Year in Review’ letter, by November 29th….

While I post a ‘Happy Holidays’ photo of my child on Facebook on January 3rd, hoping all the relevant relatives see it.

I envision other mothers writing the next great American novel, or blog, during their child’s three-hour naps….

While I attempt to type out ONE SENTENCE as my child simultaneously kicks my typing hand and bites my boob. (I started writing this two weeks ago.)

I envision other mothers being really cool and cutting me way too much slack for all the lazy mom-isms I’m guilty of….

While I have a good laugh with my kiddo, and remember that, hey girl, it’s all good.

Mom Humor, Self Love

Bashfulness Be Gone

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I used to bathe with a bathing suit on, well, at least in public. You’re welcome public. I would be the bashful bather at the gym, standing to the side, waiting for a private shower stall to open up, while courageous ladies stripped down and had a rinse off. No way, not me; if I was desperate I would just shower with my bathing suit on.

That was me then, pre-baby.

This is me now; stripping off my bathing suit before the locker room door latches, because I only have 30 seconds to shower before my baby starts demanding boob from his milk-less caretaker. Modesty be damned.

I never thought I would ever be in a bathroom with onlookers urging my bowels to make moves. Okay, well maybe I realized this would be a possibility someday, but certainly not before my nineties. These onlookers were a stark reality of my birth experience. They wanted me to have a bowel movement really bad; but unfortunately, the stage fright, and resulting nerves, did not have the usual outcome of gurgling bowels.

After the no-go pooping debacle, all remaining traces of my modesty were wiped away, as my body pushed out a human, as four humans and one camera, looked on. Oh yes, someone also removed my shirt during this deposit of human, to prepare for the first public feeding of said human.

No one told me that my modesty would be drained out as my internal floodgate of baby love opened and poured in. As I began to feed my baby, my newfound boob boldness was put to the test as my brother-in-law entered the room. My initial reaction was to cover up, but this instinct was quickly overthrown by the ‘whatever’ echoing in my mind. It’s easier to have my boobs out while I’m feeding this hungry infant, whatever.

Since birthing a baby, I have undergone the following, quite liberating, metamorphoses.

Bras Shmas

The first few weeks postpartum, I not only vetoed the bra, but the shirt as well. My boobs were sore and the effort of pulling my shirt down or up every few minutes was just too much. Any Peeping Toms gazing through my bedroom window would have been treated to the vision of a drooling topless-women, with a man and a baby standing over her, repeating the mantra, ‘I think the baby is hungry again.’ The no-bra thing caught on, and I only wear one when I have to go to a wedding or a funeral.

Flatulence is a Fact and it’s Fun

People fart, I don’t care how proper you are; you fart. If you hold it in too much, you may be really cranky, because your stomach is likely in a constant state of turmoil; I should know, I used to be a chronic fart-holder-inner. Having a baby loosens everything up, which kind of forces you into adopting the motto, ‘if you gotta go, let it flow’; for pretty much all meanings you can attach to that saying. I now have a new understanding, and respect, for the older folks in my life who will boldly lift the side of their tush up during dinner and let one rip; who wants to eat dinner with a belly full of hot air? I have not yet reached the ‘bold brass balls’ level of toots touting, but I’m getting there.

‘There’s a chunk of food on my shirt?’ Pass it to me, I haven’t eaten in hours.

I’ve had everything from baby poop, boogers, green mush, and unidentified liquid on me since having a baby. Pre-baby Bailey would have changed her entire outfit after a miniscule drop of anything trickled onto the edge of her shirt, not anymore. It would take a waterfall like flow of spit up being issued from baby’s mouth, to my already dirty shirt, for me to hassle with changing.

Modesty can be such a nuisance if allowed to get out of control. It holds you back from just living, from just being, by distracting you with thoughts of, ‘how does this make me look?’ Who cares if some snooty pants scoff at your boldness if you’re happy and feel free to just be.

Mom Humor, Uncategorized

The Art of the Nap Extraction

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Regardless of what the ancient Chinese texts say, I’m convinced that Tai Chi was created by the parents of a baby who would awaken at the drop of a diaper pin. These hypothetical Tai Chi creators took to laying down with their little one to get them to sleep, but would then be faced with the monumental task of extracting themselves from their sleeping baby’s presence, without waking the finicky snoozer. After numerous failed attempts, these Tai Chi parents learned how to move so slowly and gracefully, they could remove themselves from baby’s energy field without a peep, bump, or ‘ah s*** I stubbed my toe!’ But, it would take them 20 minutes to move 2 feet.

I don’t formally practice Tai Chi, but since I’ve become a self-proclaimed expert of the nap extraction, I’d like to think I’d be quite a whiz at the glacially slow form of Chinese exercise. In the beginning, I was such a novice at nap extraction that Hudson’s naps would last an average of a whopping 5 minutes, or I would be lured to sleepy land, and would wake up 2 hours later drooling, and nursing a baby who had learned to pull my boob out without my assistance, or consent. If I wanted to get anything done, I needed to learn how to remove myself from naptime, without taking the curtain of slumber with me.

Let’s compare my rookie mistakes to my now masterful moves:

#1-Laying down in the middle of the bed

Rookie

Cuddling up with baby in the middle of the bed means you have a long way to roll, crawl, or shuffle before you reach the ‘almost home free’ zone, of the floor by the bed. My first attempt at squirming out from the middle of the bed ended in tears, for both Hudson, and I. I had honestly spent over 10 minutes (I was eyeing the clock the entire time,) gently scooting my body centimeter by centimeter closer to the edge of the bed. Four feet never felt so formidable. When I was just about to make touchdown on the treasured floor, my shift in weight caused Hudson to start, and let out a piercing ‘I’m suddenly wide awake now!’ wail. Joy. Back to square one.

Master

I now position myself approximately 5 inches from the edge of the bed. This positioning allows me to awkwardly do a cramp inducing side-backbend to grasp the edge of our bed frame. I then muster all the ‘I must make it out of this bed without waking this child’ strength, and quickly roll my body out of bed in one fell swoop, all the while depositing most of my weight on the immovable bed frame.

#2-Placing arm under pillow

Rookie

I sleep with an arm under my pillow, I don’t know why; I just always have, and likely always will. It’s my comfy pose. Baby naptime is no time for a comfy pose, unless I want to end up like the fore mentioned daytime droller whose infant feeds off her while she sleeps. Having to remove an arm from underneath a pillow adds a whole other element of hassle to the extraction process. Hudson has a habit of scooting himself up my body as he sleeps, which means his little head is often resting at the bottom of the pillow I’m trying to break free of. The first time I undertook this ‘arm under pillow’ extraction challenge, I was met by an ‘Ah-ha! I got you!’ slap of the baby hand. My plan had been foiled. Never move the pillow, never move the pillow, never move the pillow; it will just bring catastrophe.

Master

I now keep my arm far and away from that pain in the neck pillow, and place my arm stiffly beside my torso, which often causes a literal pain in my neck. But, it’s utterly worth it if I can withdraw myself from the nap and gain 30 minutes to do whatever I want (aka wash dishes, fold laundry, and lay starfish on the ground in silence, without a tiny human crawling on me.)

#3-Getting under the blanket

Rookie

I used to cozy on up under Huddy’s ‘blankie’ with him. He would tangle his legs in mine and the blanket would slowly tuck itself around me, forming a human burrito. Need I say more? Extracting myself from this predicament was a waking-baby nightmare. There was only one time I was able to miraculously pull myself out, and Hudson was high on post-immunization baby pain meds.

Master

I now lay down with baby; wrap him in the blanket, and stuff a bit of the blanket in between his legs. This baby cannot sleep without something nudged between his tiny knees; I get it, it must be genetic. After I create my baby burrito, I join the party, ensuring I’m positioned in my proper escape route, without any baby waking items atop me.

The Mother of all Extractions

For this one moment in time, I wish I had hidden cameras in my bedroom. This nighttime nap extraction was the lord of all nap extractions, and I wish I had it documented for all to see, sigh. It was a quiet night in the little town of Ojai. The fan was quietly whirling, generating a light breeze in the room. Our sound machine was producing faux raindrops, and our hippie Himalayan pink salt crystal lamp was emitting a good energy glow in the room. The conditions were ideal for a deep baby sleep, and a swift mommy extraction. It all started as planned, as I initiated phase one of Operation Mommy Removal, and gingerly made my backbend move to grip the bed frame. As I gripped the sturdy frame, Hudson let out a kick, popped open his eyes, and we began a stare off. I didn’t dare blink, but decided to be bold and began a slow whisper like ‘shhhh’ incantation. The Gods must have been smiling in pity for me because his eyelids started a glorious descent, and he drifted back to the land of REM. Next, I was required to reposition my hand in order to regain the optimal pre-roll lateral stance. As I moved my hand, it landed smack dap in what I instantly knew to be a huge sticky spider web. Don’t move a muscle. I prayed to the powers that be that the occupant of this spider web, and my baby, did not wake up. My silent pleas were honored and I remained un-bit, and un-met with open baby eyes. I then began phase two, and commenced my side roll, with the intent of softly placing my feet on solid ground. The unspeakable happened, I over did my roll, and was forced by gravity to thump down on the ground with what sounded like a thunderous thud in my hypersensitive ears. I heard a little whimper from baby, and embarked on holding my breath for what felt like a mini eternity, not daring to even twitch an eyelash. After getting precariously close to losing consciousness, I initiated my stealthy Tai Chi crawl out of the room. It took me so long to transport my sloth like self out of the sleep den, I only had about 45 minutes before Hudson graced my world with his alert cuteness. But, I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment I experienced after my tumultuously triumphant extraction.