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Doula support in Chicago Suburbs

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Savor, Honor, and Enjoy Your Pregnancy

In pregnancy, it can seem like every moment you are preparing for the next moment or reading about growth and planning for parties or the eventual arrival of your new beloved family member. But one of the joys for many of this special time is to savor the moments that define your pregnancy. We want to take a moment and recognize the wondrous thing that is you pregnant. Consider some of these magical moments to savor in your unique way.

 

1. The bubbles of first feelings

When your baby grows large enough for you to feel when they bump around inside you, it is such a surprise and comfort. There you are little one! Hello!
They will soon start to have a pattern of awake and sleepy times. Those bumps pull you away from what you are doing and immediately lure you into sharing a moment with your unborn child. It is always unique. It is personal. You are physically moved from the inside, connected, and sharing something that has a definite end as soon as they are born. As you near the end of pregnancy, and small bumps morph into elbows, feet, and hands, making you uncomfortable, take a breath. We encourage you to take a snapshot of this and remember the beauty of it.

 

2. Your baby’s heartbeat

Your little one is working so hard already by merely growing. A baby’s heart rate beats faster than us adults, but hearing their rhythmic pulsing at any point in your pregnancy can be simply mesmerizing. If you want to bring that sound home from a prenatal appointment, open your phone and ask if you can record the sounds. If your partner isn’t able to attend the appointments with you, hearing that sound can be a fantastic way to bring them into the experience and feel a connection.

 

3. Journaling your experience

The days are long, but so quickly you may find you don’t remember certain things you believed you would never forget. A fantastic way to honor your pregnancy and to create a lasting keepsake is to take a few moments, say once a week, to write what your experiences in your body have been like for you. Your inner monologue, your concerns, the things that excited you, and any messages you want to send to your child encouraging them to thrive.

 

4. Legacy, Journey, and Community

We would be amiss if we didn’t mention the incredible reality that you are both growing a new life, and becoming a new creation yourself. One of the ways we love to encourage with families is a community gathering to honor your pregnancy. A child and a mother cannot thrive when they are isolated, and support starts when you are pregnant. Gather your friends. Be surrounded by your family. These sessions are traditionally called baby showers, but they do not have to be a moment for presents and games.

 

Finding the people who gave you life, provided you support in life and want to continue to help you by cherishing your child are precisely the kinds of people that a new family can rely upon. By letting them in to honor your journey, you are building ties that continue a nurturing legacy and foster community.

 

We hope your busy life can take more than a few moments to slow down and appreciate the wonder that is this period of your life. You are incredible. Your family is incredible. Being in the moment is a gift you deserve to give to yourself.

Breastfeeding FAQs

Doulas are often the first people to help clients bring the theoretical act of breastfeeding to life in the early hours of being together with their new baby. Breastfeeding can be a beautiful crossroads of nutritional need mixing with emotional security. However, there can be frustration too, for all parties involved.

 

We want to share some commonly asked questions about breastfeeding so you can prepare, or as a quick resource if you are scrolling this list while also holding your sleeping baby.

 

How do you breastfeed?

 

The mechanics of breastfeeding seem simple: get as much of your nipple, areola, and breast tissue into your baby’s wide open mouth. In the beginning, there is as much learning going on for the parent as there is the child – getting your baby to open his or her mouth nice and wide may take consistent positive reinforcement so they can learn to have a deep, flanged, latch.

 

How much and how often do you breastfeed?

 

There is no wrong answer to this question because your baby may want to breastfeed for reasons other than hunger. However, it is pretty common for newborns to feed more often than older babies due to the small size of their stomachs.

 

You can expect to nurse every 1.5-3 hours in the first weeks of life, transferring 1.5-3 ounces per feeding. Around 2-months old, you can estimate feeding about 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours. More or less is dependent on your baby’s age, if they are in a growth spurt, or if they are also taking solids once they are older than 6 months of age.

 

How long do I feed my baby at each feeding?

 

Because it can be hard to know how much milk is transferring from your breast to your baby, this question is common, and again, there is no wrong answer. But babies who have learned how to nurse with a good latch are usually participating in nutritive nursing for 15-20 minutes at a time. There are also times when your baby may be sleepy, and they slip into non-nutritive nursing, where they may be moving their jaw, but they are not swallowing milk.

 

Watching your baby swallowing and drift off to sleep can help you learn your specific baby’s eating, and comfort cues.

 

How often should I switch sides when breastfeeding?

 

The most reliable way to ensure your milk supply is supported on both sides, to empty your breasts of milk routinely. One way this can happen is by alternating which side you start each feeding. For example, if you start on the right side and feed until you feel empty, you can then switch sides if your baby is still hungry. The next feeding, you would then start with the breast you ended on, to ensure it is being drained completely.

 

How often should I burp my baby?

 

You can burp your baby after every feeding, and for some babies once or twice in the middle of a feeding. Burping allows air that has been consumed to be expelled before digestion and can help with reducing spit-up and gastro-intentional discomfort later. However, if you have trouble getting substantial burps from your babe, don’t fret! Helping your baby by doing leg rotations, or “bicycle kicks,” can help their tiny tummies expel gas.

How do I know my baby has eaten enough?

 

Breastfeeding has one feature that can cause some a bit of anxiety. Because it is hard to measure how much milk your child consumes at the time of feeding, wondering how much a baby has eaten is a common question.

 

The most reliable source to understand if your child is getting enough nutrition is to keep track of their weight, and the number of wet and dirty diapers.

 

For newborns up to 4 days old, the number of total dirty diapers a day (pee and stool) should match their days of life. So on day one, they should have one or more diapers. On day two, they should produce two diapers, etc. After day four, having 6-12 dirty diapers is considered normal.

 

Another option is to use a nursing scale, and weigh your baby before and directly after he or she eats. And one more option is to pump breast milk and use a bottle so you can easily measure the amount of milk consumed.

 

If you have more questions that aren’t addressed here, we are lucky to have a local resource that is thorough and moderated by respected lactation professionals called BreastfeedChicago.org. For lists of lactation professionals in your area, several troubleshooting resources, or a community of support, consider putting it on your favorites tab.

Reiki For Postpartum Healing

Postpartum healing and recovery are one of the great myths of childbirth. With expectations of bouncing back, or of 40 days of rest and solitude, most people fall short of either ideal extreme. The spectrum of healing is vast, and there are too few stories of how those in the majority are managing their care after birth. We hope to share how on Reiki may be a recovery aid for those people who are in the majority, looking for options on how to cope with life after birth.

Postpartum recovery is usually referring to the period in the first weeks and months after a person has a baby.

However, we take a much wider stance – postpartum is not a specific state, but a new normal. Postpartum refers to someone who has given birth, and the end of someone’s postpartum recovery is self-defined by those experiencing it.

 

There is a tremendous amount of mental weight, or emotional labor, that exists after birth. This work is ongoing, and many say it feels overwhelming. If you are a first-time parent, it is a part of the shock of your new responsibilities. Your child can have everything he or she needs to be content for a time, but it is hard to turn off your worry or need to do or act. There is perhaps a buzz in your body that tells you over and over; the baby will wake up as soon as I rest, so be ready. Are they ok? Why aren’t they waking up yet?

 

Living in the moment is forced upon you while your baby is awake, and seems impossible when your baby is sleeping.

 

We are living in a new wave of mindfulness. It is one of the buzz words with “self-care” and “wholehearted living” that gets used a lot with good reason. Our world is moving faster than ever and is pounding stimulation at us. Bluelight-blocking glasses now exist because of how much time we are spending on devices. To balance all of the external sources vying for our attention, to rest, we need to spend time with ourselves.

 

Enter Reiki. As we mentioned in our last piece “Reiki is a specific form of energy healing that works with the Universal Life Energy in us all. Different cultures throughout the world use different names to refer to this Universal Life Energy, but the theme is the same – there is a current that connects all living things, and that animates us. When we seek connection with that current, there can be a great benefit to both the giver and receiver.”

 

Reiki sessions for postpartum women can help to ground your body and mind and help to reduce fear and anxiety by connecting with Life Energy.  Feelings of wellbeing and a sense of calm are common reactions after having a session. Reiki can aid to foster connection and bonding between the mother and baby, as well, which is helpful for those looking for support after a difficult birth.

 

Each Reiki session is focused on the individual and their unique needs in that session. Sometimes that is releasing fears or calming the mind, and sometimes it’s opening up one of the blocked chakras like the heart or sacral.

 

Past clients have found Reiki helpful for:

  • Clearing fear-based energy (yours or others)
  • Clearing the mind and improving focus
  • Connecting with baby
  • Emotional stress
  • Fear releasing
  • Improving blood pressure
  • Increasing energy
  • Insomnia
  • Releasing birth trauma
  • Relieving aches and pain from tension
  • Surrender

 

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us for more information.

Reiki For Pregnancy

Reiki is a specific form of energy healing that works with the Universal Life Energy in us all. Different cultures throughout the world use different names to refer to this Universal Life Energy, but the theme is the same – there is a current that connects all living things, and that animates us. And when we seek connection with that current, there can be a great benefit to both the giver and receiver.

 

We offer Reiki to our pregnant clients for deep relaxation, to speed recovery, and reduce pain. We love working with each person to understand what they are looking for from a Reiki session, and how we can create an incredible experience.

 

Having Reiki during pregnancy is a unique way to find a connection to your inner voice and your unborn child. The work of centering, connecting to, and tuning into one’s energy is a natural holistic process that allows for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

 

While going through pregnancy, it is not uncommon to feel out of control of your body. Going through such a large life-changing experience can also dredge up past feelings that have not been settled or healed completely. Having Reiki during pregnancy is a chance to connect and recover, and could help regain a sense of control.

 

Here are a few ways Reiki may be beneficial for you during your pregnancy:

 

  • Strengthen the bond between you and your child.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety, and increase feelings of calm.
  • Unlock fears or blocked chakras
  • Reduce feelings of fatigue and nausea.
  • Help with insomnia
  • Body aches

 

You can experience Reiki with us as a way to honor your pregnancy or to focus on your postpartum healing. For those looking to use Reiki during pregnancy, plan to have a relaxing session between one an a half to two hours in length, with guided meditation, and a fear-releasing exercise, in addition to Reiki Healing Energy work.

 

 

Blessings, Rituals, and Ways to Honor Your Pregnancy Journey

Imagine walking into a pleasant and caring space where you are the focus of an afternoon. There is no one there who adds to your anxiety, and everyone who you hope to see when you are at your most vulnerable.

A gathering of positive influence, nurturing energies, and valued trust, embodied by the friends and loved ones you wish to be a part of your pregnancy and postpartum experience.
Often times when “Mother Blessings” or pregnancy rituals are mentioned, their magic and appeal are lost in translation of what happens at the gathering. Sometimes messages are written for support. Sometimes affirmations are shared openly in person, sometimes instructions are dispersed to center focus and energy at the news labor has begun or birth is imminent.
What happens at a gathering of this sort, at an Honor Circle, is we take time to recognize the grandeur that is taking place. Life is being created. A mother is being born alongside her child, and we walk closer and tighter with those people who have come to prove themselves available to see and share in the glory of these fleeting moments.
But creating these kinds of spaces can be overwhelming. What rituals to undertake? What reading would be just right? How to make people feel included, while always keeping the focus on the person the gathering is honoring?
Curating these spaces is one of the things we feel called to help provide. We have worked to study, acknowledge, and respect the cultural origins of many blessing ways, and in no way seek to appropriate spaces which are not meant for outsiders.
However, we do subscribe to the belief that all birth is powerful, all life is sacred, and a gathering of pure intent can be designed to honor each individual mother. We seek to honor you, the mother, and we hope to bond the ties you have with your most trusted support tighter for this time when you will be stretched and tested.
If you are interested in learning more about how an Honor Circle can be a part of your pregnancy celebration, we would love to help you plan and execute an event to your liking. Be it for a 1st, 2nd, 4th or 10th baby, we would love to foster the growth of your personal village and affirm you in this incredible rite of passage.

4 Common Pregnancy Complaints and Holistic Solutions

4 Common Pregnancy Complaints

and Holistic Solutions

We have put together some holistic solutions to some of the most common pregnancy concerns.

Nausea – For some, nausea never comes, and for others, it can last through the entire pregnancy. However, for most, nausea typically comes mid-way through the first trimester and continues until the beginning or middle of the 2nd trimester.

Holistic options to consider:
  • Ginger – be it tea, a ginger chew, or a cookie, consuming ginger has helped many with pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
  • Peppermint – Drinking peppermint tea, eating peppermint candy, or even smelling peppermint through a diffuser can be helpful. *Peppermint can adversely impact breastfeeding relationships once the baby is born, however, using during pregnancy is not typically harmful
  • Eating small but frequent meals with protein, like yogurt, nuts, or chocolate milk.
  • Acupuncture – Nausea is one reason of many that having a relationship with an acupuncturist through pregnancy can be helpful.
* Acupuncture: There are well-known pressure points on the body that have been used for centuries (sea sickness wrist bands come to mind). Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that works to help with physical, emotional, and mental ailments. Some reasons pregnant people choose to see an acupuncturist during pregnancy: swelling, headache, stress, breech position, digestion, anxiety

 

Muscle soreness/cramps– Your body is working hard, and you are probably feeling it. Not only overall fatigue is normal in the first trimester, but muscle soreness and cramping are not uncommon.
Holistic options to consider:
  • Regular stretching in the morning and evening, such as yoga
  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking deep breaths throughout the day to help expel any build up of lactic acid
  • Increase potassium consumption such as bananas, sweet potatoes, or spinach
  • Begin receiving regular prenatal massage
  • Get plenty of rest

 

Constipation – A common pregnancy complaint is constipation. Changes in hormone levels and slowed digestion, coupled with added pressure on your pelvic floor means you may be experiencing constipation.
Holistic options to consider:
  • Diet rich in fiber
  • Staying hydrated
  • Chiropractic care for alignment support
  • Regular exercises, such as pregnancy yoga or walking
  • Toilet Stool
  • Finding ways to reduce stress

 

Incontinence and Frequent Urination – It can be frustrating while pregnant because it is possible to experience incontinence AND constipation – they are not mutually exclusive. Incontinence is the lack of control over urination. The changes to organ placement, and the pressure being placed on the pelvic floor makes urinary incontinence a common pregnancy complaint.
While frequent urination may not be entirely relieved until your baby is delivered, there are some things to consider, for both it and incontinence.
Holistic options to consider:
  • Establishing a relationship with a physical therapist with training in pelvic floor health
  • Consider Yoga courses with a focus on pelvic floor
  • Breathing and full relaxation when using the restroom to allow for your bladder to be emptied entirely
  • Schedule and take frequent bathroom breaks
We love to work with our birth doula clients to help them relieve whatever symptoms they have in pregnancy.   Please comment what has worked for you during your pregnancy!  Connect with us on Instagram and Facebook

Self Love This Valentine’s Day

Self Love this Valentine’s Day

While many people are thinking about passion with Valentine’s day arriving soon, perhaps a little compassion will be extended as well. And not generally speaking – but love and compassion for working towards a healthier you.

Looking inward and having a vulnerable personal conversation about what you want, what you need, and how you wish to walk through the world is a gutsy gift to yourself this Valentine’s day. The questions get asked over and over, and how often do we stop and find a real answer to, “What do you want?”

What do you want to give in relationships?

How do you want to be treated?

What impact will you have?

However, before all of that. Before looking outward, the brave first step is to love your whole self and practice radical acceptance. All of your parts – those you are proud of and those you hide because of embarrassment or shame – all of those parts together make up the body, mind, and spirit of the unique you: a person who is deserving of the best and is capable of individual thoughts and feelings and change.

Connecting with ourselves is more than self care practices like an herbal bath or a pedicure (which are important too!). It’s taking an in-depth look into what helps us feel whole, and the things we each need to belong genuinely. For many, there is a need to heal wounds that get inflicted as we assimilate into a culture or society.

Take time for yourself to explore what needs attention.   One way to do this is to tune into Stephi Wagner as she describes the “mother wound” and helps people understand that there is an innate need for healing. More so, that we are all born into a pattern of being a person who is ready to re-connect, but that our parents, and ourselves as parents, are often not supported socially enough to then give to our babies and children.

Ways we might experience the mother wound, from Stephi Wagner:
  • Feeling like we are “not enough”
  • Feeling like we are “too much”
  • Being tone policed by others for our authentic feelings
  • Feeling shame about our authentic feelings
  • Struggling to make and maintain boundaries
  • Shame storms: “I AM a bad mistake” (shame) rather than “I made a bad mistake” (guilt)
  • Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings
  • Accepting poor treatment from other people
  • Self-sabotaging by backing away on the brink of a success
  • Attenuation: trying to stay small in body, mind, impact,
Does anything stand out in this list? A significant first step could be writing about your reactions to these points and exploring where your memories and feelings take you. If conversations come from your writing, find ways to be gentle with yourself as you involve others in your healing process. Also, if necessary, consider the professional guidance of a therapist.
Learning to love ourselves and make changes necessary to reflect the support we need is part of the process of self-healing.
So this Valentine’s Day, while giving love, and showing gratitude to others in our communities with treats and decorations is a beautiful tradition, consider your deeper needs, and investing time is something that could have a lasting positive impact on you.

Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about your healing journey?  Please post below and join us on our Facebook Page.

 

Surviving Winter Pregnancy

Surviving Winter Pregnancy

Being pregnant during winter months brings unique challenges to the forefront, and we’re not talking about trying to find a jacket that fits comfortably around your torso. No, winter months are simply a lot of work for pregnant people, on top of other difficulties that can come from pregnancy.

If you are pregnant this winter, we hope it is an experience filled with cozy fires and relaxation in your home, and not red-noses and shuffling down the sidewalk on the lookout for icy patches.

A few common complaints about being a winter pregnancy have to do with the weather and soreness and muscle pain. The cold weather can make anyone’s muscles tense! If you have hunched shoulders, back and hip pain, or tight calf or shin pain from taking shorter steps in the cold, take a big deep breath…

…and take a bath.

I know, I know! They say to avoid baths with super hot temperatures. We are not advocating for you to raise your body temperature so significantly that you are sweating while bathing. What we are saying, is that in the winter, finding a way to be completely surrounded by a warmth that promotes a certain distance from the world is hard to find. Being in the water is one way to have some of that distance.

For sore muscles, we suggest adding Epsom salts to your water. And don’t be shy. Add a full cup or two. Let the stresses from the day slowly ease out and enjoy some time to be fully in your mind and your body.

If you are concerned about dry winter skin being exacerbated by the bath, add a small amount of body oil to your water. When you are ready to leave the water, take a minute before grabbing a towel, to rub in the thin layer of bath oil into your skin to help keep dryness at bay.

After getting warm and relaxed, take a few moments to really stretch. If possible and desired, have your partner give a gentle massage on the places you feel most sore. Here is a great guided video.

Another common complaint during a winter pregnancy is treating sickness or keeping it at bay. Many over the counter medicines are not recommended during pregnancy, as well as many other medications.

So what can you do to keep a cold at bay?

Bone Broth – Essentially long-simmered stock to allow as much of the bone collagen to seep into the fluid of the broth. Some choose to roast the bones in the oven before starting their Bone Broth to help with flavor and for a deep brown color. It is not the same as any stock you find in the store, and it is recommended by home remedy purists to make your own or have it come from a loving friend, especially if your friend is a kitchen witch.  It is  great for your hair, nails, and skin, but also promotes strong gut health.

Elderberry syrup – With vitamins A, B, and C stimulating the immune system, and the berries seem to be able to “disarm the enzyme virus’s use to penetrate healthy cells.” It can be hand-made, but is also readily available as a syrup or gummy. Cote has some delicious syrup in stock in her Our Healing Roots Etsy store.  This syrup been help to stave off sickness in our families for many cold and flu seasons!

Wash your hands with soap. Often. Bacteria and viruses have extended living time on surfaces and can be easily transferred through touch and the air. Some viruses live longer in the cold weather, and that paired with the closer contact of us all staying inside more often in colder months can increase the likelihood of spread illness.

If you are interested in learning more about a medication you would like to take or are currently taking, MotherToBaby has an extensive fact sheet database you can search.

If you are looking for herbal remedies, there is still reason to do your research. Luckily we have a trained herbalist here on staff, Cote Garceau, who is skilled in discussing the purpose and methods for using natural medicine that can support you. You can find Cote’s herbal work here or you can search locally to find an herbalist near you. Here are is a great blog on the use of herbs during pregnancy by the amazing Aviva Romm.

surviving winter pregnancy

elderberry syrup, homemade, local, immune booster