Feeling Scared While Pregnant?: Tips for Releasing Birth-Related Fears So You Feel More Confident When Preparing for Motherhood

How to feel less afraid when pregnant

Pregnancy and new motherhood can bring on many different fears in women. We may struggle with the uncertainty of when and how we will deliver. Maybe our greatest fear is if we’ll be able to be a good, loving mother once our baby is born. What’s important to keep in mind, no matter what your fears are, is that you’re not alone in this. Coping with so many unknowns is a completely normal part of the birthing and new motherhood experience — this is an overwhelming process, and it’s only natural to have fears about it!

The good news is that there are actionable ways to release our fears and cope with uncertainty. Connecting with your inner self and surrendering to what’s out of your control can cause beautiful, life-changing transformations in your birthing and mothering experience. Want to find out how we can work together to assuage your fears? Read below to learn more!

What are some common fears for new or expecting birthing people?

  • Fear of not knowing if you are in labor and what it will feel like. Your pregnant body brings many sensations, especially as labor nears. Sometimes it is hard to know whether it is a contraction or not; sometimes the sensations come and go and sometimes early labor lasts a long time. Your doula can help you understand where you are in labor and tease out what is labor and what is a “warm up.”  You can prepare for childbirth with classes so you are more informed on what to expect.
  • Fear that the pain will be unbearable. We’ve all heard horror stories about the birthing experience that may make us afraid of what’s to come. It’s common for women to have fears around tearing, the physical pain associated with pushing or cesarean deliveries, and more. Unfortunately, pain is a part of the birthing process, but it’s important to know you have tools and support around you to lessen pain in whatever way feels right for you. Perhaps this is breathing and movement techniques shared by your doula or some medical pain relief options—maybe even a combination of multiple tools.
  • Social pressure to birth in a certain way. Unfortunately, there are many preconceived ideas in our culture about what giving birth is “supposed” to look like. Women may feel concerned about if their preferred birthing experience is the “right” one. However, it’s important to keep in mind that no two women are alike, and neither are two birthing experiences. You have the right to choose the birthing experience that fits your needs — at the end of the day, it’s your body and your desires that matter!
  • Not trusting the body’s ability to give birth. Giving birth demands a lot of us, and it’s natural to wonder if our bodies are up to the task. The truth is that our bodies are much, much stronger than we give them credit for!
  • Fear of the birthing environment and/or the people in it. You might have concerns about the physical environment of your birthing experience, or the people taking care of you / witnessing the birth of your child. Speaking with a doula or other healthcare provider is a great way to talk through these fears, while allowing your support system to create the optimal conditions for your birthing experience. 
  • Fear of your birth ending a certain undesired way. Some people may get attached to a certain outcome. For instance, you may want to avoid a cesarean birth at all costs. If you hold onto that outcome too hard and fear it, it may end up stalling labor. I addressed this fear during a long induction that was stalled. After addressing the elephant in the room and an emotional release, the labor progressed quickly and ended vaginally. Focus on the journey and not the outcome, as you cannot control how your baby comes into this world.
  • Fear of losing control during birth. This is a very common fear, which can manifest in a number of different ways. For example, some women are afraid about pooping while they give birth. This is a completely normal experience, one that doulas are trained to handle! We will assure it is cleaned up quickly and discreetly; and we’ll spray lavender to help maintain a peaceful environment. 
  • Fear of becoming a parent and not being ready. Many birthing people may wonder if they’re fully prepared for a life of parenthood, which can result in a build-up of anxiety and fear in the body. While motherhood comes with challenges, you are never in it alone — you have a support system of healthcare professionals, friends, and family surrounding you that will help you become a wonderful parent to your child. 
  • Fear of being exposed, vulnerable, or too loud in birth. You may worry that your pain will cause you to show a side of yourself that you’re not comfortable showing; perhaps you feel worried about coming across in a way that will make you and others uncomfortable. Everyone uses different vocal sounds to cope with the labor waves and they are all unique “labor songs.” There’s no one “right” or “normal” way to act during the birthing experience, and the truth is that your body is doing something incredible — people around you will most likely be in awe of your strength!
  • Fear that our birth experience will be like someone else’s hard birth experience. Unfortunately, everyone likes to tell you about horrific birth stories either they or someone they know have encountered. Please work with your boundaries during pregnancy to shut down any story before it becomes negative. This is true with family as well. If your own mother had a difficult and/or long birthing experience, you may fear that your own birthing experience will be similarly challenging. Just because a family member had a stressful birth doesn’t mean that your experience will be the same—you have tools at your disposal to make the delivery experience as smooth and peaceful as possible. 

Why is it important to alleviate fears before giving birth?

A build-up of fear can cause tension throughout the body, which may result in more pain when you give birth. In turn, the excess pain produces more fear, which can create a vicious cycle during the birthing process. Fear and anxiety also triggers adrenaline production, which may cause stalling the birth process. The attitude and peace of mind you bring into the birthing experience can make a significant difference in your pain level and the ease of delivery. 

How can we cope with our fear and uncertainty surrounding the birth experience and new motherhood?

At Holistic Family Doulas, we’re committed to helping birthing people uncover and rediscover their innate power in order to be the strongest, healthiest, and most positive versions of themselves. We completely understand that pregnancy, delivery, and new parenthood can be overwhelming, and we want to help support you in coping with your fears and concerns. Here are some of the ways we can work together to release your fears before you give birth:

  • Write down your fears. Sometimes acknowledging our fears is half the battle. By putting words to what we’re most afraid of, we can process our fears out in the open, ultimately opening the door for us to release them back to the universe. Your birth doula can help talk you through your concerns, imparting her wisdom from years of facilitating births. You can also develop a positive affirmation about your body’s strength as a way of flipping the script on the fear you’ve named. For example, if you’re afraid that your body won’t be able to start labor on its own, you might counter this with the affirmation: “I trust my body knows what it’s doing and that my baby will know when it’s ready to be born.” You may find it helpful to symbolically destroy these fears, either by burning them or tearing them up. This process of writing down our fears is known as “fear clearing,” and can be incredibly healing as we move through the pregnancy and birthing experience. 
  • Track how your fears evolve. It’s likely that your fears will shift over time, shedding light on how you’re processing your upcoming birth experience and new motherhood. By keeping tabs on which fears fall away, which linger, and any new fears that emerge, you have the opportunity to keep your doula up to date on how you’re doing emotionally and mentally. This alignment between you and your doula is a critical part of ensuring you have the support you need during your pregnancy, and also that your birthing experience is as positive as possible. 
  • Use healing practices like Reiki and meditation. Reiki is a form of energy healing that can help to decrease your fear and anxiety, bringing your body back into energetic alignment. Meditation encourages you to bring attention to your thoughts and body sensations, allowing you to both acknowledge and gently release tension you’re carrying. Your doula can use one or both of these practices to help balance your energy, release fears you’re holding onto, and loosen emotional blockages. Creating mental and emotional peace is crucial to the birthing process.  

No matter what your fears are about birthing and parenthood, we’re here to support you in alleviating your concerns, and helping you to find a state of inner peace. Do you have fears you’d like to release or concerns about being calm for the birthing process? Wondering how a doula can help you be less scared and feel more confident while giving birth? Feel free to reach out to us here to discuss how we might be able to help. 

Western Suburb Birthing Options

 

Sherman Hospital:

1425 N. Randall Rd
Elgin, IL 60123
Midwife Care Available
Perinatal II+: Level 2 with Extended Capabilities: Hospitals with extended neonatal capabilities provide an intermediate level of care to pregnant women and more complex care to newborns when required. These hospitals do not have a neonatal intensive care nursery. Still, they do maintain a special care nursery that is covered by a neonatologist who is specially trained to treat newborns requiring special care.
Overall Cesarean Section Rate: 24.7%
Primary C Section Rate: 12.0%
VBAC Rate 18.3%
Exclusively Breastfed when leaving: 70.49%
COVID-19 Support Policy: Updated 7/3
From an Advocate Aurora Health representative on 4/30: “Delivering mothers may be accompanied by a doula in addition to one support person (e.g. spouse or relative).” This policy is in place throughout the Advocate Aurora Health system. Doulas and families can follow-up with any concerns or questions by sending an email to: https://www.advocatehealth.com/contact-us/

Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital:

300 Randall Road
Geneva, IL 60134
Classes: Breastfeeding, Carseat Installation, Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, New Dads
Overall Cesarean Section Rate: 29.6%
Primary C Section Rate: 16.3%
VBAC Rate: 11.9%
Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate at Discharge: 71.4%

COVID-19 Support Policy: Updated 7/1

From the Northwestern Medicine website:

All visitors or companions must be 18 or older. Inpatients at the hospital

  • Two designated visitors at a time are allowed between 10 am and 7 pm for patients not being treated for COVID-19.
  • Patients in the New Life Maternity Center can have one visitor.
  • Visitors must be identified by the clinical team during the registration process.
  • Visitors must be masked at all times, including in the patient’s room.

Outside of visiting hours (10 am to 7 pm), visitors are not allowed except for the following:

Central Dupage Hospital:

25 N. Winfield Road
Winfield, IL 60190
Perinatal Level III: “Hospitals provide an intensive care approach for high-risk women who are vulnerable to complicated pregnancies and for at-risk newborns. They provide sub-specialty care for both high-risk pregnancies and for newborns at-risk, and are equipped with neonatal intensive care units.”
Many Classes for Pregnancy and Preparation: In-person classes are on hold presently
Overall Cesarean Section Rate: 30.1%
Primary C-Section 15.4%
VBAC Rate: 10%
Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate at discharge 64.5%
COVID-19 Doula Support Policy: Currently allowing doulas to attend with proof of certification as of 7/21/20.

Elmhurst Hospital:

155 E. Brush Hill Road
Elmhurst, IL 60126
Midwife Care Available, Waterbirth Available

Perinatal Level II+: “Hospitals with extended neonatal capabilities that provide an intermediate level of care to pregnant women and more complex care to newborns, when required. These hospitals do not have a neonatal intensive care nursery, but they do maintain a special care nursery that is covered by a neonatologist who is specifically trained to treat newborns requiring special care.”

Level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit:
“This kind of nursery has a clinical team who takes care of:

  • Babies born before 32 weeks who weigh less than 1,500 grams.
  • Babies of any age or weight who are critically ill.
  • Babies who need equipment to help them breathe to stay alive.
Overall Cesarean Section Rate: 21.9%
Primary C Section Rate: 14.3%
VBAC Rate: 20.8%
Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate: 84.2%
COVID-19 Update:
One support person. Edward-Elmhurst loosened visitor restrictions on June 3. The policy for L&D and postpartum is still as stated below, however.
From the Edward-Elmhurst Health website (Visitor Screening and Restrictions)
Please see the revised Visitor Policy . . . and watch for more information as we broaden our visitor policy over the next several weeks. Please note these exceptions to the visitor policy:

  • Our pediatric patient population, including general pediatrics, PICU, NICU, and the Special Care Nursery (patients under the age of 18), may have two visitors (parents only).
  • Patients in the Mother-Baby Unit may have one partner.
  • While in Labor and Delivery, patients can have one partner or support person who may spend the night.

Hinsdale Hospital:

120 N. Oak St.
Hinsdale, IL 60521
Midwife Care available,  Waterbirth available
Perinatal Level III: “Hospitals provide an intensive care approach for high-risk women who are vulnerable to complicated pregnancies and for at-risk newborns. They provide sub-specialty care for both high-risk pregnancies and for newborns at-risk, and are equipped with neonatal intensive care units.”
Overall Cesarean Section Rate: 25.4%
Primary C-Section Rate: 14.3%
VBAC Rate: 13.2%
Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate at Discharge: 70.5%
Hinsdale has updated their classes to include many virtual class options. See class listings here.
COVID-19 Support Update:
As of 7/3.One visitor, no exception for doulas. From the AMITA Health website, “I will be giving birth at an AMITA Health hospital soon”:
For the health and safety of all our patients and staff, AMITA Health hospitals are allowing no visitors (with very few exceptions) until further notice.
Patients arriving for childbirth or cesarean section are allowed one (1) support person to accompany them to the unit. That person will be identified upon admission. Once the support person is screened and receives an ID band, they must stay with the patient throughout their entire stay at the hospital. They will not be allowed to leave the unit or move about the hospital.

  • Bring all items with you at the time of admission, including what you will need after the baby is born (car seat, etc.)
    • If you’re missing or have forgotten anything at the time of admission, you will be allowed one opportunity to retrieve items from home
  • Do not leave the unit for any reason during your stay; you will not be allowed back in until the delivery of the baby
  • The support person will receive three (3) guest trays of food daily

Edward Hospital:

801 S. Washington St.
Naperville, IL 60540
 Perinatal Level III – Level III perinatal care is provided by hospitals caring for high-risk mothers and newborns and women requiring care usually provided at a level I and level II perinatal care services. These hospitals operate NICU’s and can receive transports from other hospitals. Level III hospitals and RPCs shall return a newborn to the sending hospital when the condition has been stabilized, and return is medically appropriate.  Must transfer infants who require specialized services such as high-frequency ventilator or ECMO.
Overall Cesarean Section Rate: 30.9%,
Primary Cesarean Section Rate: 18%
VBAC Rate: 12.5%
Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate: 83.7%

COVID-19 Support Update:
One support person.
Edward-Elmhurst loosened visitor restrictions on June 3. The policy for L&D and postpartum is still as stated below, however.
From the Edward-Elmhurst Health website (Visitor Screening and Restrictions):
Please see the revised Visitor Policy . . . and watch for more information as we broaden our visitor policy over the next several weeks.

Please note these exceptions to the visitor policy:

    • Our pediatric patient population, including general pediatrics, PICU, NICU, and the Special Care Nursery (patients under the age of 18), may have two visitors (parents only).
    • Patients in the Mother-Baby Unit may have one partner.
    • While in Labor and Delivery, patients can have one partner or support person who may spend the night.

Burr Ridge Birth Center

7000 County Line Road | Burr Ridge, IL | 60527
A freestanding birth center scheduled to open at the end of 2020. Providing care from first periods through menopause and beyond, the Burr Ridge Birth Center will provide a “home-like environment.” They plan to have all manner of support available for those looking for low-intervention birth experiences who value a “high touch, low tech” birth. They plan to have tubs available for a water birth and plan to offer nitrous oxide for pain management.

Placenta Encapsulation – Is It Right For You?

Placenta Encapsulation is one way you can continue to use your placenta after the birth of your baby. If you are like many people giving birth in the Chicago area, you may be surprised you are even considering doing ANYTHING with your placenta – but being pregnant can change a lot of things, including one’s curiosity for, perhaps previously uninteresting ideas.  

The placenta is an incredibly important organ. It filters, nourishes, and is your baby’s lifeline until being born. It is also an important generator of hormones that impact you, the pregnant person. The organ is known to produce prostaglandin, which helps the uterus contract after birth, and oxytocin, the hormone that enables secure bonding connections and love feelings, and much more. Another placental hormone that is connected to wellbeing is a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH is linked to stress reduction and is usually housed in the hypothalamus. However, during pregnancy, large amounts of CRH are produced by the placenta.  

While there is little scientific study or evidence to support placenta encapsulation, there is a strong history of anecdotal success. Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners use the placenta as a medicine to balance out “the extremely yin or cold state of the postpartum period into a more yang or warm state,” says Heng Ou, author of The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.  

Placenta consumption has been in use publicly in the US since the 1980s (and before, but privately) when American women started talking about their choices and experiences. Since that time, there has been a sharp increase in popularity and increased options for consumption.  

Some prefer to consume the placenta raw in small amounts, like a smoothie to help cover the texture and taste. Encapsulation is now popular for its easy-to-take form of pills that can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until gone.  

Encapsulation is the form of processing we specialize in at Holistic Family Doulas. We prepare your placenta with steam before dehydrating. Then, we grind the placenta into a powder that we measure into pills. We do this for ease and to help reduce the risk associated with bacteria and bloodborne pathogens.  

 

Some Reasons To Consider Placenta Encapsulation: 

Not everyone has the same reasons for choosing placenta encapsulation. What we know from serving Chicago families is they are interested in this service mostly for benefits in milk production, energy, and postpartum mood disorders. 

There is some reason to believe that by taking placenta supplements after birth in a gradually decreasing way, your body can benefit from the hormones that are thought to remain in the placenta. Along with them, your body does the work to start reproducing these hormones naturally again. This same gradual method of consumption is also connected to mood stabilization. 

While there is no guarantee you will respond in the positive ways others have when taking placenta supplements, the investment in using this postpartum healing tool is worth any possible gain. At the same time, any adverse side effects can be ended quickly by merely stopping any further use of the pills. However, if you have a difficult postpartum recovery, you can not go back and generate another placenta. There is a short window to decide to save your placenta.

 

Some questions you may ask: 

If you are at all interested in placenta encapsulation, finding a reputable placenta specialist is important. This industry is not regulated and does not have standard guidelines that need to be followed. If only for that reason, it is good to have a conversation with the person who will be handling your placenta and make sure they have the training and experience to safely treat the placenta. 

  • Where did you train as a placenta encapsulator? 
  • Have you taken a bloodborne pathogen safety class?
  • What personal protection equipment (PPE) do you wear when encapsulating?
  • How do you reduce cross-contamination between clients? 
  • How do you want me to communicate once I’m in labor?
  • What do I need to do after the placenta is born, but before you start encapsulating?

 

Possible negative experiences and risks associated with taking placenta pills: 

It is wise to mention that some have had adverse reactions to taking placenta pills. Even if in a capsule, there is still the possibility of an unpleasant taste. For this consider taking the pills with orange juice to neutralize the flavor, and have the additional benefit vitamin C

There are risks if your placenta specialist isn’t aware that some placentas should not be serviced. If an intrauterine infection occurs before or during labor, that placenta should not be encapsulated. While steaming does eliminate the bacteria that comes in contact with the outermost layers of the placenta, a placenta is rich with blood and consuming the pills from an infected placenta causes risk or re-infection. That risk extends to your infant if you are breastfeeding. This risk should be discussed before encapsulation ever begins. If information of infection is shared with us, Holistic Family Doulas will not produce pills from this placenta. 

And while many people take placenta pills to help with milk supply, some people are affected adversely, and their milk supply suffers a drop. The placenta has traces of progesterone, which negatively impacts your body’s ability to produce prolactin, a necessary hormone for milk production. 

What are the outward signs you should stop taking pills? 

  • fever
  • headache
  • cold or flu-like symptoms
  • or just feeling “worse” when you take them

 

What you get besides pills when you work with Holistic Family Doulas

One of the perks of working with us is we have experience and knowledge of the postpartum healing period and not just encapsulation services. When you work with us, we are bringing all of our expertise to our interactions. We can help with early healing questions, your newborn’s behavior insight, or help with knowing what is normal and expected. But more so than the information we have is our desire to help you be cared for thoroughly. We appreciate the care and consideration you take when looking for a placenta specialist, and we honor that trust with every part of our process. 

Is placenta encapsulation for you? That is a question only you can answer. The placenta will have already done an incredible amount of work once it comes time to store it for processing. We know placenta encapsulation is only ONE way to honor you and your incredible body. 

First Weeks Home After Birth During a Pandemic

Walking through your door after making the drive home from the hospital is a surreal moment. You did it. You had a baby! 

Now what? 

First things first, take a breath. 

Two people are healing from birth, you and your baby. Your priorities feel like they shift from moment to moment, depending on who is awake and who is unhappy about it.

  • While you have a minute to think about it, what do you need today?
  • How is your body feeling?
  • When was the last time you ate or drank water, or went to the bathroom?

You focus on your baby’s needs, but no one benefits if you neglect your care. Ideally, someone is also focused on you. You may feel overwhelmed and unable to focus, so being able to rely on someone for help, for big or small things, is a part of healing too. 

But when you were thinking about what life would be like after you gave birth, you could imagine these sorts of needs and even the stressors. What is harder to imagine is how to heal when COVID-19 impacts everyone and everywhere. 

Tasks like going to the grocery store are no longer straightforward, quick errands. Going to the first pediatrician appointment holds new risk. Having the in-person emotional and physical support of friends and family might be impossible.

Here is what some other families in the Chicago-area have done to help new parents during COVID-19: 

Be Confined together:

Some Chicago families are choosing to be proactive and go through the stay at home order with other people. If there is space, going through two weeks of quarantine before the birth means that extra support is on hand.   And the first weeks you are a small community, instead of alone. The benefits are huge.  More hands to make light work of every task, and the ability to take all necessary precautions. 

Family and Friends take over Food Transport: 

Meal trains are nothing new in the world of caregiving.  However, with more people home and looking for activities to keep their own families connected they are taking on new importance.  Porch drop-offs and visits through windows and doors allow for connection, and again, increased safety for your family. 

And if delivering prepared meals isn’t a good option, families have taken over the shopping and transport of groceries. Removing the risk of being in high contamination locations is a tremendous gift to a new family. Grocery pick-up and drop off, and the odd run to the pharmacy for cravings or supplies is a new way to show your love. 

Working with dedicated support professionals, like doulas and newborn specialist: 

If you are not able to have the care you planned from family or friends in the first weeks, doulas are still an option for help and support during COVID-19. Doulas work with immunocompromised populations every day and are seasoned at taking necessary precautions and limiting exposure for our client’s well being. 

Having help during the day or night is not something you have to do without. 

Here are some questions you’ll want to be sure to ask if you are looking for hired help during this time:

  • What precautions does the doula take upon entering your home? 
  • How many families does the doula work with at a time?
  • What/if any training has the doula taken?
  • What safety measures does the doula use while working with your family?

Benefits of Belly Binding

Girdles, Spanx, support hose, corsets – mixed feelings come with all of these garments marketed to women but used by many, to liftshape, and mold one’s body to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Belly binding, while it sounds more like a torture device from the 17th century, has nothing to do with aesthetics, and everything to do with support.
After birth, vaginal or cesarean delivery, the abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are weak and distended. Months of internal pressure and weight of your baby and uterus pressing against these parts causes them to stretch. It is a stretch that does not rebound as soon as the baby is born.
If you have seen someone leaving the hospital or in their first days home after birth, they typically still look pregnant! It takes time to heal. Not just the immediate areas that you imagine birth to include, but your entire body.
One’s uterus slowly starts to decrease in size, and organs shift back into their pre-pregnancy position. In these weeks, it is common to have a support garment recommended by a medical provider – especially after a cesarean – to offer additional support while muscles regain their abilities.
Loss of core strength is part of the reason it is not recommended newly delivered people drive a car. Their reaction time, the range of motion to view their surroundings, and physical ability to lift and press pedals put themselves, and others in danger.
The support garments that are on the market are typically made of elastic and therefore can stretch after many uses, or do not offer sufficient coverage to give full relief when wearing. We like to suggest belly binding for recovery from birth.
Belly binding is the use of one continuous strip of cotton cloth, repeatedly knotted to form to your shape and does not stretch. While having a little stretch sounds nice, in reality, the secure tensions offered by belly binding is often described as a “hug in all the right places.”
Bengkung Belly Binding is a Malaysian method of postpartum recovery. While it is a method that can be placed by yourself, first wraps and instruction are best given in person to learn fit and technique. A belly binding is usually worn every day of the early postpartum period for 1-2 hours per day.

The benefits shared about Bengkung Belly Binding mentioned above and more:

1. Core Support – Abdominal muscles need time to heal, and while belly binding does not improve your muscles, it can support your frame while the muscles repair. Many suffer from diastasis recti (DR) during pregnancy or postpartum. DR is the separation of the abdominals, and often needs more than time to bring the abdominals together again.
2. Pelvic Floor Support – The pelvic floor is connected to your abdominals and glutes, and as the core is supported, so is the pelvic floor. A belly binding can be word during strengthening exercises that may be prescribed by a physical therapist to help with incontinence or weak floor support.
3. Low Back Support – You low back may have been hurting the majority of your pregnancy, but now that you have delivered, your back needs support as well. Belly Binding helps with posture and proper alignment even while resting.
4. Pelvis Support – the bones of your pelvis move during the end of your pregnancy because of a hormone called Relaxin. The purpose of the hormone is to loosen cartilage so the bones of your pelvis will flex and move as your baby moves through the birth canal.
5. Breastfeeding Support – If you are choosing to breastfeed, one of the most common mistakes is to bend forward and offer your breast to your baby, instead of bringing your baby up to your chest. While wearing a belly binding, your feeding sessions won’t be plagued with backaches or constant hunching over, as the binding will encourage good posture.
6. Can be a part of a “Closing Ceremony” to offer emotional and physical respect to the role your womb played at the beginning of this new phase in your life, and your child’s life.

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