Sacred the magazine
sacred sisterhood biz bengkung belly binds
honoring women myths about VBACS
Loving My Vagina
Fall : 2013 |
It is so exciting to be starting the second year of the magazine, and I could not be more pumped up and jazzed about where we are headed in this coming year. Over the past year I have had the honor of meeting the most amazing women, and I want to start this issue on SISTERHOOD with a taste of just that. The women who have become an integral part of Sacred Pregnancy are so vast, that I would be afraid of inadvertently missing one if I started acknowledging each one personally, but I will say that over the past year, we have had an amazing ride and our SISTERHOOD means so much to all of us. I have seen women come together to pay for another womanâ€™s birth, to hold a sister when she is aching in past hurts, to pay for an electric bill, collectively love her with healing touch through honoring who she is in the world, drive for hours at the last moment to cook at a retreat, post inspirational quotes on their FB pages, and host circles of honoring and coming together when the going gets tough, and through everything these women, our SISTERHOOD has become... FAMILY! In Ojai, I witnessed women be honored, flower wreaths adorning them and the tears rolling down their cheeks because of their deep gratitude...In Hatteras, I witnessed communal living, CRAZY winds, midnight spa giggles, amazing food and the FUN of women sharing all the way from the Netherlands! In Virgina, I sat at the wailing wall and witnessed MYSELF grow and change and saw how the heat of the sweat lodge transformed us all...In Colorado, I fell in love with Zuki and her space and drank from the most healing stream EVERY morning with a group of delicious women who held space for deep love for one another...In Australia, I met face to face with my heart sister Hayley Lane and we swam in the clear Aussie waters after releasing fears into the fire on the sands of Eagle Bay...In Georgia, Oh MY Georgia...I swam everyday in literally the MOST healing lake and laughed so hard with women I TRULY LOVE...In Chicago, I met my heart sister Rita, HEALED, opened myself and shared such deep love, its hard to forget that barn and those women! In Catskills, we moved mountains to create a circle of healing...In Sequoia, we delighted in warm milk pours under MOTHER NATUREâ€™S majestic trees, sang with Nina Lee, and poured LITERAL MAGIC into the Salt Bowl...In Julian California, we witnessed couples learning and growing and saw how important this work is for the men! In Topanga, we sat in the trees, watched dolphins as we witnessed each others release, LAUGHED A LOT, painted a lot, were SILLY and experienced the uniqueness of Janky TOWN...and in MAUI...oh MY MAUI...I WAS CHANGED FOREVER by the waters and the international group of sister and brotherhood and was gifted by the healing waters, golden sunsets, pineapple and guava from the ground, MOONBOWS, spa nights and really stepped into FLOW CULTURE!
I am honored, humbled and in deep appreciation for EVERY experience I have had on this journey and look forward to many more in this coming year! Welcome to our Sisterhood issue!
the pic is by Victoria Karalun of Canary Lane Photography
photo by Olivia Hamiliton
the sisterhood issue
Life Lessons 10
The Practice of Mindfulness for Our Future Generation
Pretty + Poetic:
First Touch ~ The Age Old Practise of Skin to Skin
Health + Wellness 20
Postpartum Peace Benkung Belly Binding
Plant Love 24
Sacred Biz: When Dirty Competition Strikes, Sisterhood Comes to the Rescue
Transition Ease 44
Birthing Bones: 9 Myths About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
Crystallized Angelica Root + Schisandra Wine Tincture
Soothing Chai Tea
10 Powerful Herbs for the Colder Months
Sacred Magic 40
Top Trends 16
Edgy: Loving Your Vagina
Honoring Pregnancy 38
Sip This Section 28
Sister Blessings 30
Expert Highlight 32 Reiki + Childbirth
Redefining Motherhood 50
Autumn Apple Galette
Pumpkin Ginger Soup
Journal This 58
Harth + Home 60
Creating a Sacred Kitchen
Crafty Creations 66
Catching Wishes - Expectations & Connection
A Spiritual Walk 70
by Lupen Grainne
Mala Mantras: Mindfulness and the Power of the Spoken Word
Birth Stories section 74
Political Action 110
time + tenderness section 80
Every Mother Counts:
Going Global 118
Unchaining Our Sisters
The Ecstatic Home Water Birth of Terrin Anson Penny
Every Connection Counts The Sisterhood of Motherhood
Loving Your Unexpected Delivery
Vegan Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
Fave Products 104
Dads Corner: Naked Time Recipe:
Fun Food 88
Raw Doughnuts with Cravings: A Nostalgic Treat Orange Ginger Glaze
SACRED pregnancy Fall Manifesto
the mini doughnut
Victoria Karalun 92
How Sacred Pregnancy Has Changed My Life
food crush section 100
devour: The Miracle of Kale
I Double Dare You To 122
(kale with mashed potatoes)
Cover Image: Canary Lane Photography / Victoria Karalun
The Practice of Mindfulness for Our Future Generation By Hayley Lane
Think about it, or should I say contemplate it, just for a second, it doesn’t require much more than that. Do we want our children to grow up chaotic, their heads racing around, even when they are physically still? Do we want them to have no ability to process their own emotions, vulnerable to selfdefeating thought processes and struggling to remain focused for extended periods of time? Do we want them to be emotionally volatile and struggle to find self-acceptance and self-compassion and constantly living in the past or future, always thinking beyond the gift of the present? The list can go on, you know that, because you are susceptible to those destructive thought patterns too. But what is the answer? It’s almost impossible to avoid exposing our children to the ever growing world of technology, to slow down the crazy pace that life has become, it’s just the way it is. But there is something very powerful and simple you can do to ensure your children learn life long lessons to set their future on a nourishing and creative course. Meditation and Mindfulness are the greatest and most fundamental tools that we can teach our children, so that we produce a generation of compassionate and balanced human beings. His Holiness, Dalai Lama totally hit the nail on the head, when he quoted...
‘If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we
will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.’ How totally believable is this? We know it, we feel it and we understand it completely. But what are we doing to encourage mindfulness in our children? For children, it is not about sitting crossed legged in lotus and
remaining totally still for long periods of time, this is discouraging for most, let alone our children. They need to move, it’s part of their make up. Remember how hard it was to sit still for long periods of time as a kid? So, especially for the young ones or for those that are less active, why would we force this upon them, when nowadays, most of our children’s freedom has been replaced with rigid routines, long days at school, hours of homework, and after school and weekend activities? Children require movement, preferably outside, every single day. Movement and exercise is as essential as food for children in order to stay organized, develop and mature their nervous systems, improve their coordination, strength and motor planning, and to be healthy. So what better way to incorporate a mindful, meditative practice into their life than when combined with movement. Meditation is a very broad subject, but essentially it involves deliberately holding your attention on a subject, object or process. It produces a clearing of the mind in ways that promote a sense of calm and heightened awareness. Meditation, therefore, can be incorporated with movement and can be fleeting moments for your child, not long winded sessions of stillness. Encourage them to watch the clouds as they grow and disperse. To watch how the wind blows through a tree, to stare at a wave as it comes rolling in. If a plane passes by, challenge them to keep it in their vision until it completely disappears, to watch in awe of ants and birds and breathe and fire. All around us, there are opportunities to focus our attention and encourage our children the method of single mindedness. Through movement, we can encourage them to concentrate on the breath - whilst running, get them to consciously notice the movement of air in and out the nostrils or they can count the breaths in various ways. You can encourage them to use a mantra whilst they are doing an activity. A mantra is repeating a word or phrase over and over, either aloud or silently, sometimes timed with the breath, to focus they’re attention and brighten they’re consciousness. For my little girls, I like to encourage them to say, ‘I am beautiful and I love myself’. For boys, you could encourage them to say, ‘I am kind and compassionate’.
‘If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.’
Walking is a beautiful way to encourage a meditative practice with your child. Where the activity is not the purpose - but the means of focusing and holding both of your attention on the inner processes. Slowly encourage them to walk in silence, noticing different things on each walk, which can be shared once you return home. Mindfulness on the other hand is something we can be instilling into their everyday lives and is very easy to do. Mindfulness is an ancient practice found in a wide range of Eastern Philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga. It involves consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, interest and receptiveness. It is about paying attention and being focused on the present moment, which children actually do with ease. We spend so much time thinking over stuff that happens, or worrying about things that may be happening in the future, that we actually often forget to appreciate or enjoy the moment. As parents, we are the biggest culprits of this grave mistake and we are our children’s greatest role model. Children absorb the energy of their environment. Therefore, if we as parents are practicing mindfulness in our everyday lives and increasing our own capacity for awareness, then we can be more present and available to our children. Our children need to know that we are really interested in them, completely listening and available to their needs. By practicing mindfulness with our children, we are teaching them a way of bringing us back to experience life as it happens. To slow down our thoughts and nervous system. To give our body the time to heal, to help us cope with stress, and to be more aware of ourselves, our body and our environment.
By encouraging ourselves and our children the techniques of mindfulness, we improve both our physical and mental health, contributing to a more satisfied life. Cultivating these techniques is perhaps the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our future generation. Be mindful of everyday tasks. Experience life as we live it and discover who we really are in the process. For tips and inspiration for a more empowered life, visit her blog
Easy Ways To Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Child’s Life: Mindful Eating Ayurvedic medicine says that if you do not focus on what you are doing when you are doing it, no matter what it might be, then you limit your ability to complete your action to its full potential. This philosophy certainly stands true when it comes to meal times. Again, in our fast pace productive orientated life, we are always doing, including meal times, we read, watch TV, check our phones, clean up whilst grabbing a bite to eat. Become mindful by teaching our children, that when we eat, we simply eat, being mindful of each mouthful and enjoying this sacred time together.
Mindful Breathing teach them to be in the present moment by focusing on their breath. A good time to do this is just before bed. You can lie down with them and take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing. Encourage them to pay attention to what breathing feels like, what happens to different parts of their body and the sound of their breath. If their mind wanders off, which it will, you can simply bring they’re attention back, over and over until it becomes a natural and easy part of their life.
Mindful Uncomfortableness lastly one of the most important lessons that we can teach our children is to be mindful of our feelings and emotions that are unpleasant. From the Buddhist perspective, life is suffering. To live, you must suffer. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. The earlier on we can teach our children this, the more they will be able to cope and be prepared in any situation that may present them. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness, injury, tiredness, old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness, frustrations, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. When you witness your child suffering in anyway, whether it is physical or mental. Do your best to stop everything and give them the greatest gift in these moments, Mindful Moments your attention and awareness. During a tantrum for example, instead of reprimanding them and in everyday life you can teach becoming agitated yourself, take a breathe and come down to their level. Speaking gently and your children to be mindful of the calmly, teach them that it is totally okay to feel this way, it is just a response to their current daily tasks that they take part in. Like emotional state, and it will soon pass. Give them the time and space to process why they brushing their teeth, combing their are feeling this way, slow things down and allow their own inner compasses to kick in hair, or during any activity. and process why they are feeling this way. Children or adults do not purposely choose to suffer, but it is inevitable and always an opportunity to reassess things and guide us back onto a path of mindfulness and serenity. 15
Y g o n u i v r o Va L
Edgy: Top Trends
Loving Your Vagina
By: Jenna Stubbe Vulva, vagina, yoni or sacred flower. Known by many names these sacred parts of a woman deserve our fearless love. How can we, as women, expect to fully open ourselves to our beautiful life/ birth if one of our greatest sources of power is still being metaphorically covered and shamed? As women begin to reawaken ourselves to the sacred we begin a process of relinquishing fears we have about our bodies. When was the last time you said “ I love my vagina” , even if it was just to yourself ? If we believe in the power of our uterus, believe that it can grow healthy babies within, would it not make sense then that we should protect and value their gatekeeper? Not only do we have to value our bodies by nourishing them with good food, clean water but with our positive thoughts as well. A healthy vagina is a happy vagina. And a happy vagina is a loved vagina. When we are walking the path of pregnancy, many of the fears we quietly hold onto will journey to the forefront of our minds. We are confronted with many plights that unless worked through will stay along side us during our birth and even beyond. So many of the fears I see in pregnant women have to do with their voluptuous birthing vaginas/ vulvas. What’s worse is we tend to be ashamed of even thinking about our vagina’s. There is no conversation or celebration of our sacred body parts.We need to be gathering our hearts, along with our voices, so that together we can lift this veil. A veil fed by shame, guilt and fear. This veil is so very real and it is stifling the natural ebb and flow of positive energy within our sacred bodies. Some very real concerns I see woman carry throughout pregnancy and into their labour are: Will my vagina be different/ ruined after birth? What will my supporters think of my birthing vagina? What about all the mess that comes along with birth? These dilemmas can hamper your self-esteem yes, but also the physical process of birth. Our own
fears can stall our birth, adding unneeded difficulty to the natural process. It is important also that the people supporting a woman deal with these same fears/ questions. Just as women’s moon cycles have the power to sync together so do our minds. Imagine for a moment then the impact we could have if we consciously put forth our positive thoughts to a birthing woman! If we opened ourselves along side her and believed fully in her vagina. What many of us fail to see is how eloquently designed our vaginas/ vulvas are for birth. Mother nature did not overlook this sacred area, she made sure our bodies were strong enough for such work. Look at our incredible uterus as an example of her design, a body part able to expand to 500-1000 times its original capacity, then return once again to normal within a matter of weeks. Full circle. Your vagina is no different. Nourish yourself with adequate water, nutrition and simply trust in that lovely body of yours. Growing up in our society we may not see a lot of birth. We witness the before and after, rarely however; do we bare witness to the surreal process. It can be easy then to become over sensitized when we finally do see the shape vulvas take as a child begins to emerge into this world. Recognize though that just as our belly’s and breast’s expand so must our vulvas too. It is not strange or unbecoming, rather it is vivacious, round and delicate. It is a precious moment in time, a moment we should not rush or we risk damaging the body. We are minutes, seconds even, away from our hands first touch upon our babies head. Our first skin to skin contact. Everyone around us is also apart of this precious moment, for this is usually when tears of joy are born as everyone witness’s a miracle happening. A life being born. No need to fear this moment but relish in it. These are the last precious moments of your birth, and the few before you officially become a mother. Some females may fear the primal blood and waters that accompany a child’s journey into the world. They feel it is anything but beautiful. The truth is vaginas are messy...menstruation, birth fluids, discharge. Always do these fluids accompany a woman. This is the language of 17
our vagina’s. It is magnificent and we really need to listen. Our body is speaking to us in the delicate fluids that emerge from within us. They are full of knowledge. Heavy menstruation for example. Maybe you are not working through your problems and your body is trying to physically shed them. You can even see the stages of your moon cycle in your daily discharge. Your birth waters are no different in the fact that they too can carry vital information. Instead try seeing these waters as a wave symbolically washing over you, cleansing you anew as you become a sacred mother forever. These blessed waters are relinquishing a child they once held safely out to you.
As women, we dearly need to open up ourselves. Open our sacred body so we may more easily bring forth children from our wombs. Opening up to the flowing love and energies that exist within our lives. Our worldly garden of vaginas/ vulvas differ so vastly. We are truly unique and remarkable. Each one is a sacred beautiful flower. Be proud of your sacred body. Embrace your vulvas/ vaginas and see first hand how life changing it can be. I love my vagina and so should you!
Connecting to Your Sacred Yoni Mantras:
No matter what stage of life your body is in, a simple mantra can help you stay aware and mindful. Repeat a yoni power mantra throughout your day or create a mantra board to display in your space. Write your own or feel inspired by one of the following. * I love my vagina and trust its wisdom * I open myself to love, compassion & healing
Get to know yourself:
Don’t be afraid to grab a mirror and really get to know your sacred body. See your flowering vulva in all its glory!
Keep flowers around your home, outside or in. See just how much more beauty a flower can exude when it trusts itself and opens to the world. A graceful reminder for us.
Gather warm paint colours, soft brushes and paint a vulva/ vagina inspired art piece. You can do this project solitary or collectively with other women for a profound experience. When you’re done display near a mirror or add it to your birth altar. Not into painting? Create a collage using flower pictures to represent your own sacred flower.
Vagina Blessing Bowl/ Basket:
Pick out a special basket/ bowl to embellish and decorate. Choose one that has a wide opening to represent yourself opening to the world. Personalize it with beautiful paint, ribbon, charms, etc. Ask yourself what are the things you want your mind/ body to be filled with. Add tokens and notes to yourself periodically. See this bowl/ basket housing and protecting these things just as your uterus does for a child.
photo by: Myrriah Raimbault
Health + Wellness
9 Myths About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
by Jennifer Kamel
There are many persistent myths about vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) which make people believe that VBAC is excessively dangerous. Some of these myths are completely false, while others are based on a kernel of truth. However, all have contributed to the confusion that most women have about their post-cesarean birthing options. Let’s delineate a clear line between fact and myth.
Myth: VBACs are inherently unsafe and that is
why hospitals ban them.
Many people believe that VBAC is unreasonably risky because hospitals in their area “ban VBAC.” This means that hospitals have formal or informal policies in place which make it seem as if a woman who has had a prior cesarean has no other option but to have a repeat cesarean. These bans are often based on how those specific hospitals have chosen to interpret the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists’ (ACOG) recommendation that a doctor be “immediately available” to perform a cesarean during a planned VBAC. (1) Yet ACOG did not specify what kind of doctor – obstetrician or anesthesiologist – or provide any guidance as to what “immediately available” actually meant. (2)
: ACOG requires hospitals to provide 24/7 anesthesia coverage in order to offer VBAC. In the absence of clear definitions, some hospitals interpreted “immediately available” to mean the presence of an anesthesiologist, in the hospital, around the clock. Other facilities employ a broader meaning, such as an on-call anesthesiologist within 15 minutes of the hospital, so they can offer VBAC in their community. (3) (4) In short, no consensus exists regarding what “immediately available” actually means and the idea that ACOG requires hospitals to provide 24/7 anesthesia coverage in order to offer VBAC is false. ACOG makes no such requirement and even asserts in their 2010 guidelines that “restricting access was not the intention of the College’s past [immediately available] recommendation.” (1)
Motivated rural hospitals can and do currently offer VBAC safely in the absence of 24/7 anesthesia by adopting multiple strategies. (3) (4) The five rural New Mexico hospitals that serve the Navajo Nation are one example. They collectively boast a 38% VBAC rate with excellent outcomes without 24/7 anesthesia coverage. (5)
: VBACs require special knowledge and that is why hospitals ban them. VBAC is not an obstetrical specialty. As ACOG says, “There is nothing unique about the delivery of the fetus or placenta during VBAC.” (1) Any doctor or midwife with adequate training and experience has the knowledge and tools required to attend a VBAC which are no different than the knowledge and tools required to attend any normal vaginal delivery. As such, hospitals that offer labor and delivery do not need any specialized staff or equipment to offer VBAC. Further, many argue that it is very difficult for a hospital to ban a baby coming out of a woman's vagina. A vaginal delivery is simply the normal conclusion to a pregnancy. It is not a procedure.
: Uterine rupture is unusually dire and that is why hospitals ban VBAC. Uterine rupture is no more serious than other obstetrical complications which first time moms, or repeat cesarean moms, are at risk for. (6) Hospitals offering labor and delivery know they will encounter, and have to respond to, various uncommon emergencies and urgencies such as cord prolapse or shoulder dystocia in a first time mom or placenta accreta or cesarean hysterectomy in a repeat cesarean mom. That is why hospitals have emergency protocols in place. In fact, the presence of adequate response protocols is often cited as the primary reason why women choose hospital birth. So it is confusing when VBAC ban hospitals claim that they can adequately respond to dire, time sensitive situations resulting from first time or repeat cesarean births, yet they simultaneously emphasize that they are incapable of responding to complications like uterine rupture. Either a hospital has competent personnel who can rapidly employ effective protocols to address obstetrical complications or they don’t. It is illogical when a hospital claims they can address a placenta accreta (a known complication of multiple repeat cesareans), but not a uterine rupture. 21
When hospital personnel work as a seamless team that offers swift access to emergency surgery, drugs, and blood products, this creates a safer environment for all birthing women and would presumably result in better outcomes for all mothers and babies, not just those planning a VBAC.
Myth: When faced with a VBAC ban, women have no
option but to have an elective repeat cesarean section.
Most VBAC ban hospitals make women believe that the option of VBAC simply does not exist at that facility and that women have no choice but to have an “elective” repeat cesarean section. (However, is it accurate to describe these surgeries as elective when women believe no alternative exists?) (7) But what many women don’t understand, and hospital administrators fail to consider, is that a woman’s legal right to decline cesarean surgery, or any medical procedure, trumps hospital policy. Even if there is a VBAC ban in place, a woman can still exercise her right of informed refusal, decline a scheduled repeat cesarean, and plan a VBAC. (8) As Howard Minkoff MD said at the 2010 National Institutes of Health (NIH) VBAC Conference, “Autonomy is an unrestricted negative right which means a woman, a person, anybody, has a right to refuse any surgery at any time.” (9) Further, ACOG affirms that “restrictive VBAC policies should not be used to force women to undergo a repeat cesarean delivery against their will.” (1)
(11) and a 71% hysterectomy rate (12), placenta accreta is no joke. By avoiding uterine rupture, we simply subject women to other equally serious and frightening complications. Often women are never informed of how their “choice” to have a cesarean increases their risk of death and serious complications in future pregnancies. The risks of VBAC and uterine rupture are marketed to the public very differently than the risks of cesareans and placenta abnormalities. While one set of risks are continually emphasized, the other are completely ignored and rarely mentioned.
Most VBACs experience a uterine rupture.
But what about how often uterine rupture occurs? Women have been told so many wildly scary statistics which collectively support the pervasive fear that uterine rupture is uniquely terrifying. Yet uterine rupture occurs about 0.47% (1 in 213) of the time in a woman planning a VBAC after one prior low transverse cesarean. (13) This rate is similar to cord prolapse (14), placental abruption (15), and shoulder dystocia (16) in first time moms and placenta accreta after two cesareans. (17) (18)
If a woman wants a VBAC and her hospital has a formal VBAC ban in place, ACOG is saying that she should not be forced to have a cesarean.
Further, ask yourself this: Are first time moms ever offered elective cesareans in order to prevent the unlikely event of cord prolapse or placental abruption? No. Yet women pregnant after a cesarean are led to believe that the risk of uterine rupture is unacceptable and the only prudent option is to have a repeat cesarean. Uterine rupture has been falsely, yet effectively, marketed as something that only selfish women would risk and much of the American public has accepted that as truth.
: Repeat cesareans reduce the risk of uterine rupture with no consequences.
: VBAC is associated with a high rate of infant and maternal mortality.
There is this perception that since the risk of uterine rupture is almost entirely eliminated through scheduled repeat cesareans, there is really no harm in forcing cesareans on women. Yet multiple repeat cesarean sections have serious implications for women in future pregnancies that hospitals will have to address. (10)
Some medical providers, who are not supportive of VBAC, have told their patients that VBAC carries a 25% mortality rate for mothers and babies. Yet the rate of maternal mortality is three times lower during a VBAC (0.0038%) than an elective repeat cesarean (0.0134%). (13)
Hospitals will be unable to implement “Placenta Accreta Bans,” because where repeat cesareans go, placental abnormalities like accreta, increta, percreta and previa follow. There is no easy way to eliminate accreta like we can circumvent uterine rupture. And with up to a 7% maternal mortality
One study found that the risk of infant mortality within 28 days of birth was “not significantly greater” in a VBAC mom than a first time mom. (19) Limited evidence suggests that there is a 2.8 – 6.2% risk of infant mortality after a uterine rupture which is higher than during a repeat cesarean, though the absolute risk is low. (2, 10) Said another way, there is about a 0.13% risk of uterine rupture-related infant mortality during a planned VBAC.
This is why ACOG says that “most” women with one prior cesarean and “some” women with two prior cesareans are candidates for VBAC and should be offered the option of a planned VBAC. (1) Further, the National Institutes of Health asserts that “VBAC is a reasonable and safe choice for the majority of women with prior cesarean.” (13)
Myth: The care provider is the one who decides
how, and under what conditions, a baby is born.
In general, VBAC is safer for the mother while an elective repeat cesarean section is safer for the baby though the likelihood of a bad outcome during either mode of delivery, as the NIH says, is unlikely. The fact is, uncommon though serious risks exist with either mode of delivery, so the birthing mother is really the captain of the ship, not her care provider. The birthing mother is the ultimate decision maker about the risks that are acceptable to her. After all, this is her body and her baby. And the law stands behind this legal right. The tide is turning in America as we learn more about the long term implications of multiple repeat cesarean sections, the safety of VBAC, and the legal rights of the birthing mother. By understanding their options, and how politics can limit their perceived choices, women can truly make an informed decision. Accessing unbiased and honest information is critical during this process. VBAC and repeat cesarean section offer real risks and benefits. Make the right decision for yourself: understand your options, discern truth from fiction, know your legal rights, and get down to the facts. Jennifer Kamel is the Founder & Director of VBAC Facts whose mission is to make hard-to-find, interesting, and pertinent information relative to post-cesarean birth options easily accessible to the people who seek it. She presents her class “The Truth About VBAC: History, Politics, & Stats” to parents, medical providers, birth professionals, administrators, advocates, and academics throughout the United States. Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Continuing Education Provider #16238. Copyright © 2013 VBAC Facts
1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin No. 115: Vaginal Birth After Previous Cesarean Delivery. Obstetrics and Gynecology 2010, 116 (2), 450-463, http://www.acog.org/ Resources_And_Publications/Practice_Bulletins/Committee_on_Practice_Bulletins_--_Obstetrics/Vaginal_ Birth_After_Previous_Cesarean_Delivery. 2. Scott, J. R. Solving the vaginal birth after cesarean dilemma. Obstetrics & Gynecology 2010, 115 (6), 1112-1113. 3. Birnbach, D. J. Impact of Anesthesiologists on the Incidence of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean in the United States: Role of Anesthesia Availability, Productivity, Guidelines, and Patient Safety (video), 2010. Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/10808838. 4. Birnbach, D. J. Impact of anesthesiologists on the incidence of vaginal birth after cesarean in the United States: Role of anesthesia availability, productivity, guidelines, and patient saftey. Vaginal birth after cesarean: New Insights. Programs and Abstracts, Bethesda, 2010; pp 85-87. 5. Howe, J. National Institutes of Health VBAC Conference, Day 2, #04: Public Comments. 14:45-17:08, 2010. Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/10898005. 6. Komorowski, J. Putting Uterine Rupture into Perspective. Giving Birth with Confidence. http:// givingbirthwithconfidence.org/2-2/a-womans-guide-to-vbac/putting-uterine-rupture-into-perspective. 7. Charles, S. The Ethics of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. The Hastings Center Report 2012, 42 (4), 24-27. 8. Kamel, J. Mom encounters VBAC ban and requests advice, 2012. VBAC Facts. http://vbacfacts. com/2012/01/23/mom-encounters-vbac-ban-requests-advice/. 9. Minkoff, H. National Institutes of Health VBAC Conference, Day 2, #04: Public Comments. 11:16. Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/10898005. 10. Kamel, J. Why cesareans are a big deal to you, your wife, and your daughter, 2012. VBAC Facts. http:// vbacfacts.com/2012/12/09/why-cesareans-are-a-big-deal-to-you-your-wife-and-your-daughter/. 11. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Placenta accreta. Committee Opinion No. 529. Obstet Gynecol 2012, 201-211. 12. Shellhaas, C. S.; Gilbert, S.; Landon, M. B.; Varner, M. W.; Leveno, K. J.; Hauth, J. C.; Spong, C. Y.; Caritis, S. N.; Wapner, R. J.; Sorokin, Y.; Miodovnik, M.; O'Sullivan, M. J.; Sibai, B. M.; Langer, O.; Gabbe, S. The frequency and complication rates of hysterectomy accompanying cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol 2009, 114 (2, Part 1), 224-229. 13. Guise, J.-M.; Eden, K.; Emeis, C.; Denman, M. A.; Marshall, N.; Fu, R. (.; Janik, R.; Nygren, P.; Walker, M.; McDonagh, M. Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: New Insights; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US): Rockville (MD), 2010. 14. Beall, M. H.; Chelmow, D. Umbilical Cord Complications, 2012. Medscape. http://emedicine. medscape.com/article/262470-overview#a30. 15. Deering, S. H.; Smith, C. V. Abruptio Placentae, 2013. Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/ article/252810-overview#a0199. 16. Allen, R. H.; Chelmow, D. Shoulder Dystocia, 2011. Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/ article/1602970-overview#a03. 17. Silver, R. M.; Landon, M. B.; Rouse, D. J.; Leveno, K. J. Maternal Morbidity Associated With Multiple Repeat Cesarean Deliveries. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2006, 1226-1232. 18. Kamel, J. Placenta problems in VBAMC/ after multiple repeat cesareans, 2012. VBAC Facts. http:// vbacfacts.com/2012/03/30/placenta-problems-in-vbamc-after-multiple-repeat-cesareans/. 19. Smith, G. C.; Pell, J. P.; Cameron, A. D.; Dobbie, R. Risk of perinatal death associated with labor after previous cesarean delivery in uncomplicated term pregnancies. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002, 287 (20), 2684-2690.
Herb Drawer :
10 Powerful Herbs for the Colder Months by Myrriah Raimbault
1 2 Angelica Root is an herb that is aromatic and warm. It releases exterior pathogens from the body. This herb opens the orifices, especially the nose, and dries dampness. It is frequently used for wind-cold frontal headaches. Some properties of angelica root include antiseptic, diuretic, diaphoretic and expectorant. Decoct 1ounce of angelica root into 1 pint of water and take ½ teaspoon 2-3 times per day. It can also be crystallized, and then chewed to soothe a sore throat or to aid digestion.
Wild Ginger is a powerfully aromatic root herb that has many healing properties. It disperses cold and wind from the body. It opens the orifices and relieves pain. Wild Ginger reaches the head, lungs, bones and joints to disperse dampness and phlegm. The properties of wild ginger include warming, carminative, antispasmodic, diaphoretic and anti-emetic. A mixture of ½ teaspoon of powder to 1 cup of boiling water can be taken when needed.
Echinaceais one of the most popular immune boosting herbs. It helps to lessen cold and flu symptoms. This herb strengthens a cell’s protective membrane so that it is less susceptible to viral invasion and increases the resistance to infection. Echinacea is an antiseptic herb. Use this herb when the immune system is weakened.
Magnolia Floweris typically used to treat nasal obstructions, stuffy nose, congestion and sinus headaches. This herb disseminates and disperses wind heat from the chest. A common dosage of magnolia flower is 3-9 grams, boiled in a decoction of water. The hairs of the flowers can be irritating, be sure to place the herbs in cheesecloth before decocting.
Licoriceroot is an herb that helps bronchitis because it is an expectorant. Also, it reduces irritation and inflammation in the chest. Take ¼ ounce of powdered Licorice Root 3 times a day with honey or in capsules. This herb is helpful with reducing fevers and relieving pain.
Horehound is an herb that helps to open up the lungs. A syrup of the fresh green leaves and raw cane sugar is a good remedy for cough and wheezing of the lungs. Horehound is a wonderful herb for children because it has a pleasant flavor. It has antiseptic and expectorant properties. It is used internally to decrease congestion and mucus, to treat bronchitis, chest coughs, colds and whooping cough.
8 9 Schisandra Berries are used in Chinese Medicine to treat weak lungs with recurrent cough and mucus. The properties of this herb include astringent and soothing expectorant qualities. Use Schisandra berries for night sweats, a dry, chronic cough or asthma. This herb is used as a restorative remedy for immune enhancement.
Elder Flowersare an herb that can be used for chronic colds and sinusitis. It is a restorative for the mucus membranes and sinuses. The properties of the herb include diaphoretic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory. Take an Elderberry tea or tincture for sinusitis, colds, runny nose, hay fever and flu.
Astragulus is an herb used to strengthen the body against disease. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used often to protect and support the immune system. It acts against viruses like the ones that cause colds. Another benefit of Astragulus is that it is an adaptogen, which means that it protects the body from disease and stress. As a decoction, use 3-6 grams of dried root per 12 ounces of water, three times per day.
MoringaOleiferais a plant with many healing properties. Its properties include circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal. MoringaOleiferais used to boost the immune system and enhance overall health. The antioxidant properties of the leaves allow the immune system to fight off infections effectively. The seeds of the plant have natural antibiotic qualities that can be used to treat or control infection.
Crystallized Angelica Root recipe: Cut stems in 1-inch lengths and simmer in sugar water until soft. Strain the pieces. Next, simmer in a syrup comprised of 1 pound of sugar and Â˝ pint of water for 1 hour. Strain again and allow the pieces to dry. Store in an airtight container.
Schisandra Wine Tincture recipe: Add 4 ounces of dried Schisandra Berries to a bottle of rice wine. Store in a cool, dry place for 4-6 weeks. Drink a small wine glass daily to strengthen the lungs.
Soothing Chai Tea Recipe
Maggie E Bijl - Monarch Maui Yoga &Monarch Maui Doula
6 cups water 2 cinnamon sticks 4 cloves 1 inch ginger, roughly chopped 8 pods cardamom 6 whole peppercorns 1 tablespoon loose peppermint tea (or one bag) Combine ingredients in a pot over medium heat Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes Strain into cups Add Almond Milk and raw honey (optional) Serves 4 29
Sister Blessings Spiritual Insight:
â€œBirth is an open presence making way for another souls arrival. A mother is the absolute giving being. Birth is the perfect form of love. It is a new beginning for both mother and child. The pain of childbirth for both mother and the baby is a transformation that is essential. With a lack of comfort comes a major opening of all of the body. Every cell is involved. All of the senses are at their highest peak of performance. The breath is the source of energy. It comes straight from the heavens, and allows the transformation to take place. It is the choice of the souls of both the mother and child to enter this new form. It is a receptive relationship where one needs the other for growth and entrance into the new. The pureness of the soul of the baby infuses the mother and enhances her existence. Her heart opens and a greater capacity to love is birthed. This love is not only for the baby; it is for all of life itself. For each open heart creates a better world. It causes a ripple effect throughout the entire universe. For no small act of love is ever unnoticed. And birthing a new baby is the grandest and greatest act of love. Every birth experience is the greatest act of love. There is no separation between birth experiences, whether at home, in the hospital, natural, medicated, induced or by cesarean section. They are all equally precious to the Heavens. Awareness of the truth of life is enhanced during childbirth. The absolute truth is that childbirth is the ultimate sacrifice. This is true for both mother and child. It is obvious that the mother sacrifices her body, her comfort, her very existence and everything that she ever knew before. The new soul, the child, is also making a sacrifice to leave the spirit world. The spirit world is where everything exists. There is no lacking because the nothingness is filled with everything. The child is coming into a world where he or she must rely on others to fulfill their needs. Being born is the ultimate choice of love and trust. Childbirth is beautiful and should be honored.â€?
Angel blessings! Kindly, Myrriah Raimbault
photo by : Myrriah Raimbault 31
Feature: Expert Highlight
photo credit : Myyriah Raimbault
Reiki + Childbirth
By Kate Ditzler, practicingempathy.com
Kate Ditzler is a sacred pregnancy instructor, level 2 reiki healer, and community organizer.
Reiki in the childbearing year: Reiki for the female and male reproductive organs, to assist in conception General pain over the course of pregnancy (no ill side effects, no pressure points) Turning a breach baby During childbirth for ease of labor To increase milk production, or move duct blockages
For today only anger not, worry not Be grateful and humble Do your work with appreciation Be kind to all. MikaoUsui, founder of Usui Reiki
Reiki + Childbirth By Kate Ditzler
It is a cold fall morning in the rural outskirts of a Detroit Suburb and I’m taking my first steps on my journey towards empowering women. I’m attending a Level I Reiki workshop that has been organized for doulas, so that they can provide healing and energetic light to women during their childbearing year. I’m dubious about this – I’m firmly a head kind of person, and I’m not sure that my hands and heart are up to the task. Besides, I’m not a doula, not yet at least. I’m a graduate student with vague plans of making the world better for women and mothers through public policy. But I know that I’m attracted to the world of birth, and this is the first training that I have been personally asked to attend. That I had the money and the time seemed auspicious, and I said yes, despite my apprehensions. Reiki is both an enlightenment system and a healing art. In the United States, it’s more commonly seen as a healing art – as a laying-on of hands to provide positive, universal energy to those you’retreating to allow them to heal themselves. One explanation is that the energy is channeled through your crown chakra through the chakras on your palms as you hold them on or above the body of your subject. Some schools of thought suggest that Jesus of Nazarath healed this way when he laid his hands on the sick. As an enlightenment system, Vincent Amador says, “your reiki will be an expression of you, of your life, your Being, and it will reflect the oneness and connectedness with all that you are.” But, reiki doesn’t do all the work. You need to do the soul work that quiets the ego, and besides, Amador concludes, “removing your suffering is up to you.” Either way, Reiki can only be passed from a Master to a student through a series of attunements, which help the new student channel the universal energy that is Reiki. Reiki is typically taught in three levels. The third level is the Mastery Level, in which you become a teacher yourself. Reiki Masters are typically the ones who are offering healing. My head is screaming that this is all too woo-woo for me. But, the manual that Leslie, our teacher, hands me says this in the first pages: “Do not try to understand how reiki works. Its explanation will elude you like sand slipping through clutching hands. Just be Reiki. Reiki IS, and in that moment, miracles happen. Don’t stand in the way.” And so I decide stop trying to understand. Besides, there’s bottomless teapots of herbal tea, and a delicious vegetarian lunch involved. If nothing else, I’ll have had the experience, right? Cate, who organized the training, tells the story of how she went to Leslie for a Reiki session over a year previously. She was recovering from emotional and physical trauma that had plagued her for over a year, and told Leslie, a family friend, that she was unsure if she would ever be able to conceive. Leslie, as a talented Reiki Master, was able to sense the energy field of Cate’s body. Leslie, in the course of her session, hovered over Cate’s left ovary. “Does this bother you?” asked Leslie. “Yes,” said Cate. “The periods are always worse when I’m supposed to be ovulating from that side.” 35
“Hm,” said Leslie, and she began manipulating the energy of that ovary, and found that she felt an energetic ribbon there, curled around her fallopian tube. Leslie pulled on the ribbon until she felt that it was no longer attached. Cate conceived her baby girl, now three months old, on the next cycle. She ovulated from the ovary that Leslie had tended, having very clearly felt the mittleschmertz. The story gives me chills, but I’m sure there’s a rational explanation. Maybe there was nothing wrong with that ovary in the first place. But after the first attunement, miracles begin happening. Cate’s baby girl, nicknamed Squish, who sat in her momma’s lap during her momma’s attunement, placed her hands flat against each other, praying, at the conclusion of the attunement.This is not something young children do naturally – their fingers curl into fists because they do not yet have the strength to straighten them on their own. Over lunch, Laurel, another student in the training, who had been doing energy work for years but had never been attuned to Reiki, told a story of how she had used Reiki during a birth. The momma she was supporting as a doula was being pressured into a cesarean birth by the OB. Bravely, the momma gathered up her momma strength and fired that OB at 7cm dilated, but the experience left her shaking with fear, adrenaline, and exhaustion. The momma had curled in on herself, and Laurel knew she had mere minutes to calm the momma before the replacement OB walked in to assess her. Laurel placed one hand on the laboring mother, and one arm away from her, pointing out the door, and moved the fear energy, the anger energy, the fight or flight energy and the exhaustion out of the momma through her body and out of the hospital room. The momma uncurled from her protective stance, stopped shaking, relax and birthed vaginally mere hours later. There was something clearly to this, though I was not sure what. My heart was telling my head that it heard truth in these stories, and my head had to admit that I had seen baby Squish putting her hands into a position of prayer. The intimacy of the gathering, and the power of the energy that we had all been imbued with led to me confessing my own birth trauma, and my wishes for a future vaginal birth after cesarean. When it was my turn to lay on the Reiki table, as my fellow students practiced on me, Laurel hovered her hands over my pubic bone. “What are you doing?” I asked. “I’m making your scar strong,” Laurel said. “I’m making it part of you, part of your strength, and integrating it with your body.” And my heart sang with gladness, and my gut knew it to be true. What’s beautiful about this is that now, a year later,my c-birth scar is dainty. My midwife called it cute. She praised the lack of raised skin, which is correlated with a lower incidence of a c-birth complication called an adhesion. My scar is two-thirds invisible. My scar has faded into my body. The physical manifestation of my birth trauma has shrunk, and so has its impact on my life. Reiki is a practice that I do not understand, cannot understand, but in one training, gave me so much. As a Reiki practitioner gives Reiki to another, they also receive Reiki through their bodies, as their bodies act as a conduit. I like to think that Laurel received some of the womb-strength she was giving me, because she gave birth to a rainbow baby this fall. Reiki has continued to heal all of us. Reiki is an important part of my sisterhood. Reiki has made us mothers, and has made us better mothers. We have become the essence that is healing for ourselves, others, and the world.
10% off order Unique Handmade Jewelry with code JustinePaige.etsy.com “sacred”
Honoring Pregnancy Pretty + Poetic :
when we honor the pregnant woman, we make all life sacred anni daulter
photo by Michelle Gardella / The River Series www.michellegardella.com
First Moments :
by canary lane photography / victoria karalun
First Touch ~ The Age Old Practise of Skin to Skin By Sarah MacKenzie The first touch between two people is a power-full thing. Mountains move, sparks fly and connections are made so deep they are etched in our very being. For a woman crossing the threshold from maiden to mother, birthing her babe into this world, the first touch is a miracle, it is sacred and every time, it is unparalleled. The journey of a pregnancy, that all too often seems so long, comes to its peak and its end as mind body and soul are stretched further than they ever have been before. While the intimate journey through pregnancy is ending, the journey of mothering with babe in arms is beginning and needs to be nurtured and nourished. Both for mother and for baby, the more gentle and natural this transition can be, the better. Skin to skin contact immediately following birth is the epitome of nature at its most wondrous. The baby at birth, leaves the vagina yet is still physically attached to her mother by the umbilical cord, still receiving all she needs as she transitions from life inside her mother’s womb, a space where she has no needs, where there is constance and comfort. Of course, placing the newborn babe on her mother does seem the natural thing to do. And nature, of course, has had it sorted from the start. Nature has been around long before policy and procedures, and yet it is only these policies and procedures that
has been the lead in mothers and babies not only being separated at birth, but in it becoming the ‘norm’ to do so. Separation at birth has only become routine since the early 1900’s when mothers were birthing in hospitals and were routinely given heavy anaesthesia’s that left them in no state physically to safely care for a newborn. We’ve all seen the images of babies lined up in plastic cribs in nurseries, where they were left to ‘self-sooth’ and mothers were left to recover from their labours, their journey into motherhood, without their babies. This contradicts the very basics of human history, where infant survival depended strongly upon continuous contact with her mother. Now health professionals are taking note and recognising the incredible benefits of skin to skin and the surrounding research is of such significance that the World Health Organisation recommends skin to skin for all newborns regardless of factors such as gestational age, weight and place of birth or clinical condition. Skin to skin has an enormous influence on a babies start to life both physiologically and emotionally. While the building blocks of your baby’s life are still so vulnerable and easily imprinted upon, nature has provided the perfect sensory experience for optimal development and a beautiful start. That gentle first touch 41
of a mothers radiant warmth against her baby’s velvety, dewy skin, is nothing but phenomenal in the way it kicks in her primal side, her maternal instinct and a whole cascade of hormones and physiological reflexes to ensure her baby is loved and has her basic needs met. This Sacred mothering space upon her mother’s chest creates a calmer environment for their relationship to develop, meaning less stress for both mother and baby and their behaviours can begin to synchronise. Babies follow a distinct and instinctive process at birth if placed upon their mother’s chest skin to skin. They will initially cry out and then enter a period of relaxation and recovery from the birth. Shortly after they will become wakeful and slowly but surely crawl towards their mother’s breast where they then will nuzzle, lick and become familiar with the smell of their mother.Isn’t it perfect that the distance from the mother’s nipple to her face is the perfect distance for her baby to make eye contact and focus on her?The rooting reflex kicks in and baby will root around for the nipple with her mouth, eventually latching on and feeding before falling asleep.Breastfeeding is easier established and easier maintained in babies given skin to skin. During this amazing time, the baby has been vitally exposed and colonised to the normal flora and bacteria of her mother through the birth canal and the mother’s skin. Skin to skin is proven to regulate the newbornbabies’ blood sugar, temperature, heart rate and their breathing as their body begins to learn to so these things on its own. A mother’s body will adjust its own temperature to facilitate the either warming or cooling of her baby’s body as needed, maintaining thermoregulation more effectively than an incubator, therefore also perfect for babies born prematurely and in neonatal units.
Now all this sensory magic also has a profound effect on the mother. All the eye contact and awe at gazing at their perfectly amazing new born baby, and of course when the baby suckles, stimulates the increase of the awesome love hormone oxytocin, which is already flowing around the mothers body from labour and birth. To get scientific, oxytocin effectively blocks the cingulate gyrus or fear centre in the mother, making her both fall madly in love with her baby and also become fearless to protect her baby with her own life. Today, as we change the birth conversation and a new wave of power-full women set out upon their mothering journeys, skin to skin can be the natural and blissful period after birth and even has the potential to be that empowering moment in a birth with intervention. Babies born in hospitals, born with the aide of forceps or ventouse, or even by caesarean section, if there is no medical emergency that prevents this, can all be given skin to skin with their mother at birth if it is clearly stated in a birth plan. Along with waiting for the cord to finish pulsing before severing, if severing at all, skin to skin marks a gentle and nurturing transition to life earth-side that can continue well past the immediate post-partum period, through to those sleepless nights and times when just a little nourishment is needed. There is something precious and divine about a mother being chest to chest with her baby, head to heart. Something that roars with as much power as it does with vulnerability and echoes with love.
In the space between, where love and light fills home, mama made goods for all. Natural crafts for home and body.
Wearable art, Heart and Hand Made Treasures. www.acalliopewoman.etsy.com
photo by myrriah raimbault
Benkung Belly Binding By Valerie Lynn
Wrapping the belly is an effective and important part of a mama’s recovery that aids the body to shrink and recover in shorter time period, normally six to eight weeks. A bengkung belly wrap provides a mama’s postpartum body with 3600 support to assist the abdominal wall muscle retraction, improve posture, stabilize loosened ligaments, and provide support to the torso while vital organs returned to their prepregnancy size and position. During pregnancy a mama’s body retains water, fat, and air which cause her body to swell and expand, including the organs in the womb area such as the cervix and vagina. The water retained by cells supported the amniotic fluid; and the purpose of the air was to cushion the baby, a mama’s internal organs and bones, as her center of gravity shifted and the baby grew larger and larger. This is why a mama gets more and more swollen during the last months of pregnancy. When a baby is born the excess water, fat and flatulence are no longer needed and the cells will naturally release and shrink back to their pre-pregnant size. However, the purpose of a post-pregnancy wrap is to speed up this process with constant pressure on the abdomen and torso area. A longer design of a post-pregnancy wrap provides a holistic support to all of the abdominal and pelvic organs, including the muscles, in the pelvic area. Support to the pelvic area is very important in the immediate weeks after birth as a mama’s cervix dilates 10 cm when active labor is reached; this is equivalent to the size of an average bagel. Therefore the pressure of a longer wrap on the hip area helps the cervix shrink and allows the pelvic muscles to heal without being further stretched. Steady, pressured support on the hips allows the body to “close” more easily than if just left in its expanded state. The bengkung style of binding is known to help heal diastasis recti with the constant supportive pressure on the abdomen area. Pregnancy conditions that the Bengkung-style of belly binding addresses During pregnancy, musculoskeletal changes are stimulated by hormone secretions and the continuous expansion of the uterus. Some of these changes include: Abdominal wall expansion and abdominal wall separation (Diastasis recti) The growing fetus and the increasing weight of the baby puts pressure on the muscles can stretch the abdomen as much as 50%. The abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) on either side are joined by a narrow fibrous strip (linea alba) that thins as it stretches. Hormonal changes which happen during pregnancy also cause connective tissue to soften. When the muscles separate, their strength is reduced and this can lead to back pain. The condition is more likely to occur where the abdominal muscles were weak prior to pregnancy. It is vital that the abdominal wall returns to its pre-pregnancy location to protect internal organs and properly support the torso. 45
Spine and Posture Realignment Posture is greatly affected as a baby grows larger in the womb. The pelvis tips forward to counterbalance the baby’s weight, which causes the pubic bones and tailbone to move backward, increasing the arch in the lower spine and creating a lordotic posture. The upper spine simultaneously responds to this structural change by increasing its curvature, which rounds the shoulders forward, collapses the chest inward, and slides the head forward, creating a kyphotic posture. The combination of the kyphotic/ lordotic posture results in the classic “S” shaped spine of a pregnant woman and is a direct result of a shifting centre of gravity. This shifting of a woman’s center of gravity and spine can affect the nervous system and cause aching, weakness, and numbness in the body. Pelvic floor relaxation The pelvic floor provides balance, body stabilization, and vital organ support. The pelvic floor is the base of the core muscle system, attaching to the abdominal muscles and the sacroiliac joints. During pregnancy, hormones cause ligaments to stretch, which loosens the pelvic floor structure. This natural realignment allows the pelvic bones to open for the baby’s birth and makes a mama feel a bit wobbly on her feet. After birth the pelvic floor can remain loose and unstable for up to five months. Because the pelvic floor acts as the support system for the lower intestine, colon, and bladder, these vital organs may be less supported for a few months immediately postpartum. This lack of organ support is the primary reason why women suffer incontinence when coughing, sneezing, or laughing after giving birth. Back Support Due to the longer, holistic design of the wrap, binding supports a mama’s back and so relieves the back pain associated with the immediate post-natal period. This also helps to reduce the strain involved in lifting and carrying a baby as well as provides back support when breastfeeding as most mama’s don’t realize they are slouching.
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When Dirty Competition Strikes, Sisterhood Comes to the Rescue By Mary Luz Oscategui
As the professional birthing community grows every year, more people discover a passion to empower, support and inform expecting and new parents. Most of us become birth professionals because we are inspired to empower parents in making informed decisions during and after pregnancy. Perhaps it was a personal experience or witnessing a lack of support among expecting and new parents that initiated your professional journey. It’s no surprise why we as women are instinctively drawn to our industry. It offers the perfect opportunity and blend of approaching pregnancy from a loving and non-judgmental attitude for the families we work while welcoming the collaboration and support of one another. It’s richly fulfilling. At least this is what I thought when I began my professional birth journey until I was met with an unfortunate harsh reality of birth professionals who lose confidence, become fearful and lash out. Many of these professionals fall into what I have coined the“triple C” syndrome: compare, copy, compete. Instead of directing their energy inward to embrace and feed their own authenticity, their energy moves toward those who they feel the need to compare themselves to, copy, and compete with in an unhealthy and unproductive manner. photos by Victoria Karalun of Canary Lane Photography 51
“.., you are shining like a bright light - so bright that some people just can’t take it.”
Dirty Competition Under stress and lack of self-confidence, birth professionals can easily become consumed by anger, fear and jealousy. They attack those they are most afraid of; in the business world it’s the competition. They focus all their efforts to out-do, out-beat and out-last the competition using a number of tactics: Try to discredit businesses Spread rumors, make false claims Treat competition with disrespect, attack them personally Follow their competition’s every move and try to copy their ideas and style From when I began my professional journey in the birth industry until this very day I have encountered professionals who have approached my business with all of the dirty tactics listed above. For example, another business owner started bad-mouthing me and discrediting my work. At first it stung and it broke me down especially because at the very same time I just became a single mother and moved to a new place without any family or friends. Then a very dear friend put things into perspective. Ana said to me, “Mary, you are shining like a bright light - so bright that some people just can’t take it.” My heart opened. Ana gave me a great gift of support and sisterhood. Her insight allowed me to let go of the hurtful words, forgive, find peace in myself and realize it wasn’t my problem - it was theirs. In fact, I soon understood that they were actually doing me a huge favor by drawing their attention toward me. Oscar Wilde once said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” With more talk from my competition about my business and more energy directed at me, my business continued to gain more attention and grow. I believe this was also because I did not feed or direct my energy toward those who saw me as competition. While they were busy directing negative attention toward me, I was busy putting all my passion and creativity into my business. Today there at least a couple of women I have been made aware of that follow my every move, try to imitate what I do and then try to discredit me. I am even aware of a few in my company’s internal network who “spy” for what is considered to be my competition. So what do I do? Nothing. That’s right absolutely nothing. Why? Because I know that by putting my attention on them, I’m taking away attention from
It’s Okay to be Angry. It’s Not Your Fault
It’s human nature to feel angry when being confronted with negativity. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to vent. It’s okay to feel confused. But striking back will give your competition exactly what they were looking for and a reason to keep at it. It can also harm your reputation and your life’s work. As a result, it’s best to avoid engaging with them for these three reasons:
It’s their problem You were attacked because your competition sees you as a threat to their business. Why? They are not aware or connected to their own unique gifts so all they can do is compare and then do what they can to bring you down.. Their fear of failure and their lack of awareness is their problem, not yours. Allow yourself to let go of their pressure and fear and continue to stand strong in your light.
They’re not your responsibility – Since your competition lacks confidence and connection to their own authenticity, unless they ask you specifically, it’s not your responsibility to react or offer any type of guidance. However what you can do is set an example of what it means to be an ethical, mindful and smart business owner.
Stay focused on what you want to strengthen Act professionally at all times, especially in the presence of customers. Don’t waste negative energy by responding or defending yourself. Now, more than ever, your focus must be on building and strengthening your business. In the end your business, you and your customers will be better off for it.
If customers or colleagues press you, simply tell them you will not acknowledge the rumors or the attacker. In private, consider the attacker’s motives. Whether it’s a ridiculous rumor or a nasty blog, document the date, time and specifics to determine if it is an isolated incident or a series of unfair practices. Most entrepreneurs are not foolish enough to breech professional ethics codes. But if there is slander or copyright infringement or any other illegal unprofessional act, consider making a complaint or getting legal counsel. In the end, you have to protect your business.
my business and more importantly myself. Now this does not mean I don’t get frustrated from time to time or want to roll my eyes in disgust. I am human of course. I allow these feelings to appear, be acknowledged, pass through and then I move on.
Negative attacks may come as a surprise to you, even more so in an industry which is firmly rooted in building positive and supportive experiences for families in particular pregnant and postpartum women. As a result, no matter what side you are on, it’s essential that you do not let competition eat you up inside. Rather than allowing your motivation to come from jealousy or revenge, invite it to come from your life’s work and passion: inspiring, encouraging and educating others.
Invite Your Sisterhood
As women entrepreneurs we have a great opportunity to band together in a strong and powerful way. As much dirty competition that exists, so does the special bond between sisterhoods that transcend competition. A nurturing sisterhood provides layers of support, inspiration and strength. It gives us a deep understanding that we can work together and still succeed independently. A Sisterhood understands that we each have unique gifts to offer that are much needed in this world. A Sisterhood also understands that abundance is real and scarcity is not. The bond of a sisterhood will not prevent dirty competition from coming your way but it will help you move through it and come out even stronger. Lastly a sisterhood encourages and celebrates your authentic expression and gifts.
Find your unique expressions: Your experiences, your motivation and your style make up your unique expressions. It’s what makes you, you! Embrace your expressions and customers will acknowledge your personalized services. It will not matter who copies you, for your unique expression will make you very distinct and original.
Acknowledge and embrace your gifts: The more you acknowledge and embrace your unique gifts, the more individualized you will make your brand. Your customers will know it and the public will know it. You will no longer see others as your competition and be personally affected by their dirty tactics.
Join, strengthen and grow the sisterhood or brotherhood: You may feel alone but you are not. There are professional colleagues among you that are ready to receive and give support. How do you find them? Make a list of colleagues, who believe in you, believe in what you do and enjoy celebrating it. It doesn’t matter if you start out with a small circle of one or two. Your sisterhood has begun and will continue to grow.
Collaborate: Collaborating with other professionals is a sure way of strengthening your business, reputation and following. It also provides positive way for other professionals to engage. It lessens and weakens any negative attention from those who are keen on competing with you.
As much as the importance and motivation continues among birth professionals to empower expecting and new parents with education so that may make informed decisions, it is just as important for all of us as birth professionals to set an example for what support can look like within our professional network. I invite all of you to join me in the hood where authenticity, support and collaboration shines bright.
It all begins with hearts connecting; souls rediscovering each other as time stands still. In fact, there is no body; only LOVE. As we gently dance to the rhythm of the Universe, the doors of perception suddenly swings open inviting the Divine Light within like silver moonbeams flooding into the darkness. A breath, a quickening and we realise we are all connected, we are ONE. As we gather in Sisterhood, we connect on a profound level. We can be raw and vulnerable in the comfort of knowing that we will be heard and understood. As we circle in true sisterhood, we find sustenance, support, guidance and a deeper meaning to being a Woman. We discover our innate Feminine Power and Beauty. We learn to embrace our Inner Wisdom.We feel empowered as we make the conscious decision to walk a more true and loving path.
By Corinne Laan www.birthbliss.nl
photo by : Olivia Hamilton
Gather your tribe! Ancient cultures have taught us that when women gather in a loving and supportive atmosphere, their feminine spirit is nourished; they feel emotionally restored and physically energized.
What does it mean to you to be part of a Sisterhood?
Harth + Home
Creating a Sacred Kitchen by: Antonette Vasseur, CHLC
Your kitchen is the ultimate mirror that reflects how you treat your sacred temple. Stand in your kitchen and take a look around. What does your kitchen say about your state of health? Is it open and full of nourishing, vibrant, beautiful energy? Or is it unorganized, chaotic and leaves you feeling frustrated with cupboards full of everything, yet you have nothing that is truly life sustaining to feed your loved ones? In my home, our kitchen is our center, our life force. It is constantly buzzing with energy as meals and snacks are prepared for a family of five, morning, noon and night. How do I keep this healthy energy flowing, and organized, day in and day out? By creating a Sacred Kitchen, a warm space that nourishes a family on all levels, and allows mindful food preparation with an “attitude of gratitude” towards seasonal bounty.
Purge Opening up space in the kitchen makes way for healthy and happy energy to flow freely. Clearing out the clutter eliminates feelings of chaos. Go through drawers, cupboards and pantries and take inventory of what you have. Keep what you need and use, donate what no longer serves you, and toss out items that are no longer functional. Take a moment to wipe the insides of drawers and cupboards before restocking. Cleanliness is next to GODDESSness! Arrange the items in your kitchen in a way that will serve you. Put things away that you don’t use often and only collect dust. Sit the blender out on your counter to motivate you to make those green smoothies you swore you would make yourself every morning!
Organize Food in your kitchen should be organized in a way that makes you want to use it. When we organize our pantries we often bump into our own food vices. Let go of the things that truly do not nourish you. Donate it to your local food bank and toss whatever is expired. Re organizing and cleaning your Sacred Kitchen is about more than just creating good energy. Make sure the items and the food you choose to live in that space FEEDS you, mind,body and soul. We respect and honor the spaces we create in. How could you better organize your kitchen and bring in inspiration? 61
Sacred Space & Earth Connections
Colorful Inspiration Putting whole fresh foods on display adds to the positive life force energy you are creating in your kitchen. Healthier food choices are made when healthy, colorful options are readily available. Fill beautiful bowls and market baskets with fresh, local, organic seasonal fruits and vegetables. Display today’s harvest from your garden and imagine all of the ways that you could use it in your meals today. Honor Gaia in this space with colorful inspiration to CREATE nourishing meals for your family.
Our body craves seasonal connection and by adding a few earth elements to your kitchen space you can create a pleasant reminder of where our food comes from. It gives us the space to honor Mother Earth with more than just the dishes we create. Fill your kitchen with seasonal plants and flowers. A few potted herbs near your cooking space allows you add fresh herbs to your dishes in a pinch, and is pleasing to the eye! Add pictures and decorations that remind you of the sacred connection you and your family share with food. Hang up words of prayer, blessings or affirmations. Create a “nature table”, or a sacred space in your kitchen where you can bring the seasons indoors. Add fresh flowers, leaves, or beautiful stones that you and your children have found during nature walks.
Meal planning gives us the answer to “ What’s for dinner?” It removes all negative energy and anxieties surrounding meal prep. By taking the time to plan out your meals and snacks for the week, you are honoring your Sacred Kitchen and allowing yourself to walk into this space with joy and anticipation, instead of frustration and dread.
Meal planning is not only a great way to plan meals for the week ahead, but it also simplifies grocery shopping, and minimizes the chances of buying foods that aren’t whole or healthy from entering your sacred space.
Cleansing energy in your kitchen clears out stagnant and negative energy allowing you to prepare meals at a higher vibration.
Office binders are great for creating your own seasonal recipe books. One for Spring and Summer and another for Fall and Winter. Divide them into categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Appetizers, Salads, Entrees, Sides, Breads and Desserts.
Throw open your windows and let in some fresh air. Air flow in the early mornings and late evenings helps to get the good energy circling and flowing.
Organize your cookbooks and put them where you can see them, and where you will USE them. Donate cook books you no longer use or need to your local public library. Host a cookbook swap and invite your friends!
Bless your kitchen with a sage smudge. Smudging is a ritual where a bundle of sage, or other herbs, are burned in an intentional way to cleanse out negative energy and replenish healing, nourishing energy.
After creating your meal plan and grocery list, take note of seasonal items you can get from local farmers markets or organic food co ops.
Autumn Apple Galette
Dough 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour Â˝ tsp salt 1 tbs Sugar 12 tbsp unsalted butter Â˝ cup cold water Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter by using a knife, or pinching the butter with your hands and mixing it into the flour creating pea size chunks Slowly add cold water and mix until you can create a dough ball Press into a disk shape and refrigerate for half an hour Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface creating a 16 inch circle
2 lbs apples , peeled, cored and sliced 1 tsp cinnamon 1 Tbs lemon juice 4 Tbs sugar 1 Tbs melted butter Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl toss the apples with cinnamon, lemon juice, and 2 tbs of the sugar. Mound the apple mixture in the center of the dough circle and leave a border of about 2-3 inches wide Fold the edges of the galette, overlapping as you go Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the remaining sugar Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown 63
Lindsey Welch Photography , Natural light and Birth Photographer, www.lindseywelchphotography.com
Pumpkin Ginger Soup 2 Tbs olive oil 1 medium onion 1 Tbsp grated ginger 2 sprigs rosemary chopped 3 sprigs thyme chopped 1 Tbs sage chopped 2 Whole Pie Pumpkins (small pumpkins) 4 cups vegetable broth dash of nutmeg salt to taste Cut the pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds Cut away the rind and cut into 1-inch cubes Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot on medium heat. Add onions,herbs, and ginger and stir for about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin cubes and the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Puree using an immersion blender (if you are using a blender, blend in small batches). Add the cream and nutmeg, then taste and adjust the salt as needed. Garnish soup with walnuts, cream, herbs or sliced apples Stay in awe of the miracle of food and make it a priority each day to protect the sacredness of your kitchen. The energy of this space goes into the meals you create. Fill it with pure, energetic love. 65
Catching Wishes - Expectations & Connection
DIY: Crafty Creations
By: Sara Goff
Expectation is deeply seeded in the machination of our ego. The more we expect a desired result, the farther we are taken from our connection to ourselves, to our source, and from the wisdom of the humanity surrounding us. Expectations take us out of the present moment. As I prepared to write about expectations, connection and wishes I chose to draw cards from The Mother Wisdom Deck. This deck is a beautiful tool we use at Sacred Pregnancy retreats and in our Sacred Pregnancy classes. I took several deep breaths, shuffled the deck, and drew three cards. Keep in mind this is a deck I have been using for over a month now so the cards have been shuffled frequently! The cards I drew all come from the section “Natural Mother” and are presented next to each other in the book (pages 27-33). I have never drawn any of these cards before. I find drawing these particular cards remarkable! It’s awe inspiring to me that when I sit back and allow the wisdom to manifest, it happens in ways I never anticipated! Then I realized that anticipation is just another form of expectation. It fills us up to let us down. When anticipating or expecting, we are unable to be in a place of allowing the pure emotion of the moment to affect us on a deeper level. What does this have to do with wishes? Is wishing another form of expectation? If the act of wishing takes you out of the present moment it puts you in a state of want. It’s as if wishing is a passive form of expectation. Want attracts want and expectations deny allowing. I took the Mother Wisdom cards into meditation. I focused on existing in a state of wonder, offering deep gratitude for the gift of being alive, and listening to the truth that resonates deep inside, and it brought me to this simple wish: That YOUR EXPERIENCE connects you to the deepest truth of your soul’s journey and that you exist in gratitude for your path. As you cast your wishes from this place, out to be caught by those needing their intention, you give them a gift. The gift is not only that of your wish’s intention, but also that of connection to a fellow traveler reaching out and saying:
“I SEE you and I wish you well “
Star * Wonder
“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” -Helen Keller
Smoke * Gratitude
“Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to the truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness.” - David Steindl-Rast
Shell * Listening
“If you want the truth, I’ll tell you the truth: Listen to the secret sound, the real sound, which is inside you.” -Kabir
Creating Wish Catchers
Wish Catchers symbolize our wishes for others. We cast them into a net to be held as a reminder of our good intentions. They may be viewed as similar to the dreamcatchers created by the many of the Native First Nations of North America. Some believe dreamcatchers to be a symbol of unity among nations, the interconnectedness of the web of people. May your creation of wish catchers hold that meaning for the people who receive them!
- A frame for your web; a metal craft ring, wood embroidery hoop, or a circle formed with green tree branches (tie the branches into a teardrop or circle shape with wire or string) - String, twine, yarn, ribbon, embroidery thread, lace or a doily to form your web - Your wish written out (on paper, fabric, ribbon...use your imagination) - Feathers, beads, strips of fabric, anything you find beautiful to adorn your wish
Creating your web:
If you are using lace or a doily as your web, center it on your frame and estimate how much string you will need to tie it to your frame. Note-An embroidery hoop makes an easy frame because you can catch the edges of lace or doily in between the inner and outer hoop and then tighten the hoop.
For webs made of string you have two choices. You can either wrap and weave one or several strings back and forth across your hoop in a freeform fashion or you can form a symmetrical web pattern. To create a symmetrical web, start by securing a long length of string to the top of your frame. It’s best to choose string or yarn that isn’t stretchy, slippery or shiny and has a bit of “grip” to it. Working clockwise choose a spot on your frame at about the 1-2 o’clock position. Hold the string in this spot taking it over the top and around the frame, pull the string to the left of where you are holding it, crossing over itself and pull it taunt but not too tight. Work around the frame at even intervals until you get back to where you started. The closer together your “stitches” the more intricate your web. For the second round continue by stitching the string in the middle of each stitch of the row before it. Tie the string off when you get to the middle.
Adorn your frame and web with feathers, beads, strips of fabric, fibers, wire, stones or shells. Attach your wish to your web using wire or string or “catch” it by weaving it into the web
Awakening: A Spiritual Walk
Mala Mantras: Mindfulness and the Power of the Spoken Word by Bridget Di Luzio
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
How many times do you recall either saying that or hearing it as a child? I’m willing to bet it was more than a fair few that you did. Unfortunately, the child-hood chant is only half correct. Sticks and stones may certainly break your bones, but words CAN hurt you. The power of words, in fact, can lift a person up allowing one to feel empowered, or they can break a person down leaving one feeling worthless. But they’re just words, right? I mean who cares what someone else has to say about you, or anything about you? Words really can’t hurt that much, or, at least, that’s what we’d like to tell ourselves.
Dr. Masaru Emoto is a scientist that has conducted some amazing research surrounding the effect of the spoken word on water crystals. Through his testing and research, he witnessed, and photographed, how water crystals would transform when exposed to prayers, heavy metal music, negative hate speech, and more. In his testing, he showed how when exposed to hateful speech, such as “I hate you!” or “You’re worthless!” the water crystals would have a very volatile reaction like being ripped apart or exploding. On the counter side of that, when the water crystals heard affirmations of love, acceptance, compassion & prayer, they would bloom and transform into a beautiful manifestation of themselves. I find Dr. Emoto’s work truly incredible and amazing! More information on his research can be found at http://www.masaru-emoto.net/. So after hearing about the effect of spoken words on water crystals, and knowing that the human body is made up of 90% water, can we really say that spoken language doesn’t affect a person? The answer to that is a simple and
resounding no. The fact of it is that words can be hurtful. With all of the negative speech out there, it doesn’t take long before that negativity rubs off on a person. We even do it to ourselves. We are our own worst critics. Instead of trying to build ourselves up, we can be found looking in the mirror and degrading our bodies, our looks with hate speech. “I’m fat.” “I’m ugly.” Think of what we must be doing to ourselves. While we are verbal degrading ourselves, our insides are literally ripping us apart. Imagine if we could change all of that; remind our image as we look in the mirror that we are lovely, beautiful creatures. What if we could be totally satisfied with the person that we each are and gave ourselves a message of love daily? I talk to my kids about being mindful of their words and the energy that they are projecting into the world. We talk about the importance of being present in the moment that you are in; letting go of the past, but remembering the lessons learned; planning for future events, but not living for those moments that haven’t even happened yet. Mindful thinking, mindful words, mindful living; this is some of the knowledge that I try to impart upon my children. As parents we tell our children to think before they speak or act, but even we have our moments where our brain has not quite engaged before our mouth opens with some of the most hateful language towards another, or even ourselves. How do we break that vicious cycle? What can one do to make a more positive change? One of the most powerful and useful tools I have found to work is to create a mantra and use a set of mala beads to recite that mantra bead by bead. Mala mantras are much like the act of using a set of rosary beads to recite certain prayers over and over during times of strife, hardship, or when you are just opening yourself up to your God, except in this case, your mantra is something much more personal to you. Anyone can say a prayer and repeat it a multitude of times. It’s the same with a mantra. Having a set of beads to work with, the act 71
of physically touching or moving each bead while reciting a mantra at each beads passing helps to move your brain into a state of awareness, moving one from an unconscious way of thinking to a much more conscious and present awareness. When you bring your mind to be present in what you are doing, you become much more aware and mindful of your words and actions. Mantra is a Sanskrit word that literally means instrument of thought. It is a statement or a slogan that one would hear repeated frequently. While we do want to continually repeat our mantra, we don’t necessarily want to do it to a point where it becomes so automatic that we repeat it without giving thought to what we are saying. Conscious thinking, mindfulness and presence in that moment are what we want. By becoming present with ourselves, and our words, through the use of a mantra in our daily lives, we can overcome obstacles. Remember the “Little Engine that Could?” In the story, she repeated her motto, or mantra, “I think I can” over and over again while attempting to climb a large mountain range. Her mantra is what kept her mindful and determined in her task. While it may be just a children’s story, there is a powerful lesson on the use of positive thinking to help determine an outcome.
Mantras do not have to be complex. They do not have to rhyme. It is also possible to have more than one mantra. You could have a mantra that you repeat to yourself on a daily basis, and one that you say repeatedly before you go in to talk to your boss. When I was in Crestone, Colorado recently, for a training, the owner of the location we stayed in had several mantras written and posted in frequently visited parts of her home. One of those mantras completely spoke to me, and
so I decided to adopt that for my own. The mantra is “I am loved and supported.” For me, it’s a daily reminder that while I may find myself going through a difficult task, or having a troubling day, I am absolutely loved and supported by my family and friends. Mantras can be used for so many things, and they can effectively help you in bringing about a more positive and mindful attitude. Mala beads are used in the recitation of mantras. The strand of beads can be as ornate or as simple as you would like. Typically, the strand is 108 beads in length, resembling a necklace. However, you will also see them in lengths of 18, 21, or even 27 beads, much like the size of a bracelet. Size really does not matter. What matters most are the words and intention behind those words. As I said above, the mala is used as a physical tool for your mantra. It is also a visual aid as you can not only feel each bead, but also watch as you move from one bead to the next. Words have power. Thought and intention have power. When you combine them in a conscious, positive way, you can effectively create change in your personal life. As you work towards becoming more mindful, mantras, with the aid of a mala, can assist in bringing your mind to a more present and aware state. Nobody is perfect. We should never put our expectations of ourselves at the level of perfection. The only thing we can do is try our best. We all slip sometimes. Mala mantras are a great way to help us when we slip, by reminding us that the power resides within us, and within the words that we choose, to help effectuate change. How we use those words is up to us.
Handmade with one-of-a kind gemstones!
Tell It :
pics by Victoria Karalun of Canary Lane Photogrpahy
The Ecstatic Home Water Birth of Terrin Anson Penny
Krista Whipple ~ Mama to Terrin
I was sick, which didnâ€™t seem fair. And because I was sick I was in complete denial that the mild contractions I had been feeling all day meant I was actually in labor. Surely the Universe wouldnâ€™t require such a difficult task of me when I was feeling weak and under the weather. By 4:30pm I finally had to admit it was really happening and called my birth team together. My previous labor was quite long and so I assured everyone that it was still very early and not to rush. I put on some soft music and started lighting candles and preparing my space. At 5:30 my water broke and I sent messages to my doula, midwife, photographer and mother that maybe they should perhaps rush a little bit after all. My cold was forgotten and I started to feel strong and ready. The contractions started to grow and demanded more of my focus, but I was still at peace and managing them easily. I was breathing and humming through each one as the beautiful women whom I had invited to support me and hold sacred space as I birthed began to arrive and assemble in my bedroom. Lying comfortably on the bed, I noticed that as each pressure wave gathered in my body, a really pleasurable tingling sensation would flood from head to toe as well. When the contraction faded, the tingling feeling would stay and feel really really amazingly good; almost like a warm, internal massage that relaxed me completely. My body was somehow producing an incredible natural painkiller! When I got into the warm birth tub the tingling between contractions got even stronger and started to make me feel like I was on a very powerful organic high. In fact, Iâ€™d never felt so totally blissed out like that before! I was working for sure, but I was ecstatically joyful and lucid and 75
calm. My toddler hugged me and kissed me and smiled encouragingly. I rubbed my belly and talked to my baby and invited him to come out and meet all the people who were there to love him. Still remembering my first birth experience, I thought it might be a while longer before he was actually born and I was expecting things to become more challenging. Suddenly my body told me to push; and just 4 or 5 quick pushes later Terrin Anson Penny was born into the warm water. I scooped him up in my arms in a state of pure ecstasy. The entire experience, from water break to birth, lasted less than 2 hours. It was such a contrast from my first birth, which, even though it was wonderful in its own way, I remember as long and painful and very challenging. This time was proof that each birthing experience is unique and totally unpredictable. Because the pleasurable feeling in my body was so powerful and unexpected, it is the far more dominate memory of the experience than any discomfort from the contractions. I didn’t feel sick or exhausted. I felt surrender and peace and intense love and so, so much joy! I’m not sure what caused that special tingling high, but maybe it was all the love and prayers being sent to me from my sacred sisters holding space all over the country as I brought Terrin into the world... Whatever the cause, it was pure, unforgettable magic. The blessing has extended in to Terrin’s life as well. He is a very peaceful baby. He’s not fussy and is an excellent sleeper. He has a huge, dimpled smile and infectious laugh that he shares with everyone he meets. He is sensitive and mysterious, observant, contemplative and curious in stark contrast to his bold, wild toddler-tornado older brother. He is my sweet baby boy who I love with that fierce depth I didn’t know existed before I became a mother. Sometimes I watch him sleep and I daydream about how wonderful his birth was. I would gladly sign up for 10 more difficult labors if it meant I could have one more as amazing as his was. The female body is such a phenomenal creation, capable of astounding, life-giving magic. Giving birth has made me
profoundly grateful that I get to walk this life as a woman and a mother. I was sick, which didn’t seem fair. And because I was sick I was in complete denial that the mild contractions I had been feeling all day meant I was actually in labor. Surely the Universe wouldn’t require such a difficult task of me when I was feeling weak and under the weather. By 4pm I finally had to admit it was really happening and called my birth team together. My previous labor was quite long and so I assured everyone that it was still very early and not to rush. I put on some soft music and started lighting candles and preparing my space. At 5:30 my water broke and I sent messages to my doula, midwife, photographer and mother that maybe they should perhaps rush a little bit after all. My cold was forgotten and I started to feel strong and ready. The contractions started to growand demanded more of my focus, but I was still at peace and managing them easily. I was breathing and humming through each one as the beautiful women whom I had invited to support me and hold sacred spaceas I birthed began to arrive and assemble in my bedroom. Lying comfortably on the bed, I noticed that as each pressure wave would gather in my body, a really pleasurable tingling sensation would flood from head to toe as well. When the contraction faded, the tingling feeling would stay and feel really reallyamazingly good; almost like a warm, internal massage that relaxed me completely. My body was somehow producing an incredible natural painkiller! When I got into the warm birth tub the tingling between contractions got even stronger and started to make me feel like I was on a very powerful organic high. In fact, I’d never felt so totally blissed out like that before! I was working for sure, but I was ecstatically joyful and lucid and calm. My toddler hugged me and kissed me and smiled encouragingly. I rubbed my belly and talked to my baby and invited him to come out and meet all the people who were there to love him already. Still remembering my first birth experience, I thought it might be a while longer before he was actually born and I was expecting things to become more challenging. Suddenly my body
told me to push; and just 4 or 5 quick pushes later Terrin Anson Penny was born into the warm water. I scooped him up in my arms in a state of pure ecstasy. The entire experience, from water break to birth, lasted less than 2 hours. It was such a contrast from my first birth, which, even though it was wonderful in its own way, I remember as long and painful and very challenging. This time was proof that each birthing experience is unique and totally unpredictable. Because the pleasurable feeling in my body was so powerful and unexpected, it is the far more dominate memoryof the experience than any discomfort from the contractions. I didn’t feel sick or exhausted. I felt surrender and peace and intense love and so, so much joy! I’m not sure what caused that special tingling high, but maybe it was all the love and prayers being sent to me from my sacred sisters holding space all over the country as I brought Terrin into the world... Whatever the cause, it was pure, unforgettable magic. The blessing has extended in to Terrin’s life as well. He is a very peaceful baby. He’s not fussy and is an excellent sleeper. He has a huge, dimpled smile and infectious laugh that he shares with everyone he meets. He is sensitive and mysterious, observant, contemplative and curious in stark contrast to his bold, wild toddler tornado older brother. He is my sweet baby boy who I love with that fierce depth I didn’t know existed before I became a mother. Sometimes I watch him sleep and I daydream about how wonderful his birth was. I would gladly sign up for 10 more difficult labors if it meant I could have one more as amazing as his was. The female body is such a phenomenal creation, capable of astounding, lifegiving magic. Giving birth has made me profoundly grateful that I get to walk this life as a woman and a mother.
time + tenderness baby-sweet:
photos by : Sabina Bean Photography
Loving Your Unexpected Delivery
Lauren Condron, MOT, OTR/L – Doula, Birth Educator, and Occupational Therapist In our world of pregnancy and birth, we are seeing, and seeking, a rapid change. Gone are the days of hospital, lay on your back, routine deliveries. Mothers are discovering their inner strength, demanding choices, and finding their inner nirvana through the sweet, exquisiteness of labor and delivery on their own terms. But what if in your journey, somewhere along the way, you find out the unexpected – you are carrying a child with special needs. Do the brakes slam? Does your world tilt on axis, and all joy and anticipation cease to exist? To an extent, the answer is yes and no. Your world does forever change, and your journey has taken a different, unique turn – but it does not need to destroy the joy of the life you grow, or the power you are manifesting, through your pregnancy. I have spoken to so many mothers after their delivery of a special needs child, both smoothly and through troubled waters, who have said “I just wish I could have enjoyed my pregnancy more – it is so much harder now”. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do healthcare providers, and sometimes our own families, suddenly switch gears from happy elation to the new arrival to doom and gloom? How does it serve mother and baby to change to somber, depressed tones, when the miracle of life continues to happily keep flowing? Fear is a huge contributing factor – fear of the unknown. With the normal fears of pregnancy, and the concerns that all mothers feel, now is the added weight of a known complication. But what has truly changed? Has the ability of the mother to give nourishing food to her body changed? Of course not. Has her ability to dream of the life yet born, of all that’s yet to come, been taken away? Dreaming can never, ever extinguished. Has the ability of the mother to mediate and calm her center, as well as explore her personal needs for her own birth plan, been taken away? If anything, it is more important than ever to love through the pregnancy, love through the labor, and love through the birth for the best possible outcomes. Robbing mother of her joyful planning and making wishes for the future only works as a disservice, both to her and the tribe she has chosen to help her (medical as well as family). The key to supporting a special needs delivery centers first on the spirit in which the pregnancy continues. Though it is normal, and natural, for fear and trepidation to try to take hold, this cannot be the focal point and foundation that mama builds her army from. For one reason or another, no matter the belief system of the family (and believe me, your entire belief system comes into examination when this happens), the universe has given this child, at this moment, to this mother. It is not only an honor, but something to be looked at as a special duty – a special kind of test that will course through all levels, but furthermore and more importantly, fortify each part of the mom as she works through it. It will wrap her emotions, her strength, her power, in a special kind of velvet steel, that will make her a tigress, ready to do battle and fight for the needs of her baby, both during pregnancy and once earth side. Her body would not have been capable of making this life if it was not capable of sustaining, birthing, and nurturing it – in all the twists and turns, and all that is yet unknown of what is to come. Knowledge can be the key power to this path. Once a condition is known, it is important for mom and her team to learn as much as they can about what they are heading into – and how they can make a comfortable, supportive birth map to navigate labor, delivery, and beyond. Instead of collapsing into mourning, believing all hope is lost and dreams are shattered, she can build new dreams, chart a new course, and choose the
destiny for herself and her child, fully powerful at the helm. By taking this power, she shares it with her birth team, instead of relying on others and feeling helpless in the aftermath. Holding hands with the need for knowledge is the need for confidence. If others handle mom with delicate, fragile support, she will not find the inner force she needs to support herself and her baby. We need to help these women confidently ask questions, and dismiss those unwilling to answer them. We can help her feel powerful in her choices – too many times these special infants are given to the hands of the medical system, when more often than not, just like a “typical” infant, mama still knows best. A diagnosis or special condition will never, ever preclude mother’s instinct, and that should be in the forefront of all care provided. Lastly, instead of viewing pregnancy as the potential “calm before the storm”, these mothers should be exalted and honored, just as any other. By finding a sisterhood of women to go through this with – perhaps others experiencing the same in support groups, outside organizations, or wherever else she finds comfort – she can add to the tools she carries to have a loving and amazing pregnancy and birth, including cherishing and honoring this time where she holds baby in her womb, and gives it the ultimate protection. These mothers should enjoy therapeutic touch, nourish their body and souls, and find a tribe that will support them in true love and excitement. Expecting a special needs child does not take away the miracle of the body creating life – it does not take away the glowing beauty of the changing pregnant body, and it does not take away the new edition to a growing family. Do not dwell on the things that it is perceived to take away. Instead, bask in the gifts it will bring - a strength that grows with each challenge, compassion that reaches all involved, faith in a power higher than oneself, and a love deeper than ever known.
photo by: Sabrina Bean Photography website: http://www.sabrinabeanphotography.com/
Dadâ€™s Corner : He Speaks
photo by Shawna Banks
Naked Time Tim Daulter
When Anni and I run our Sacred Relationship retreats, our message to the couples is very simple, “Nurture and grow the love connection between you and your beloved.” This is true in any relationship, with your spouse, with your children, with your boss, and even with the auditor from the IRS. Every relationship in our human experience is the amalgamation of the thoughts, words, deeds and intentions that each person has towards the other: good, bad or indifferent. Since the quality of your relationship with anyone is a direct result of the quality of energy that you focus on them (and them on you), then if you want positive relationships it is imperative that you make positive connections. Making eye contact, smiling, saying nice things, thinking positive thoughts about a person will strengthen and grow your relationship with them. Alternatively, if you ignore a person or think negative thoughts about them then the relationship will suffer and eventually whither and die. This seems obvious when you read it, and it is. But, unless you are in the habit of connecting in a positive way, then your experience of any relationship won’t be all that it could be. The relationship between you and your spouse, partner or significant other is special. Part of this specialness is the added quality of romantic connection. This physical attraction is often the magnetic force that first brought you together with your partner. During the early period of this romantic love all you think about is your beloved, how wonderful they are, how all you want is to be in their presence and how much you love them. This positive input grows and strengthens your relationship quickly until, with that special person, you commit to spending your life together. But, your story does not end here. In many relationships, over time the practice of focusing completely and with great reverence on your beloved fades. Life becomes very busy with careers, children, bills, etc, all of which compete for your attention and focus. Moreover, the stress of life can contribute to disharmony in your relationship and pollute your thoughts towards your beloved with negativity and annoyance. When this happens, the quality of your relationship will suffer. If you experience this and you want to bring your relationship up to higher levels, then all you have to do is to build your connection with your beloved in a positive loving way. While simple, this is often difficult, especially if you are starting from a place of hurt, anger, or distrust. I have found that an excellent place to start this is with a commitment to fifteen minutes of daily “Naked Time”. Naked Time is where two people commit to stripping themselves bare (literally and figuratively)and to lay holding each for at least fifteen minutes. This is not sex time (though if you want to follow up with connection in that way then more power to you!). This is an opportunity for a couple to be physically close without anything between them. The feel of your beloved’s skin, rhythm of their breath, the gentle beating 85
of their heart – the many sensations that we have lost touch with in our busy lives, help to build connection. During Naked Time you have no choice but to be totally focused on each other. In our work we have found that many busy husbands who don’t overtly value “connecting” will be enthusiastic proponents of Naked Time. Then once together in the naked embrace, you cannot help but become more connected on many levels. Implementing this practice, even for a mere fifteen minutes per day, will yield immediate benefits. As the connection built during this time grows, you will find yourself feeling closer to your beloved throughout the day and the positive feelings nurtured during this special time will infuse all aspects of your relationship. Naked Time can be a great start to rebuilding your deep soulful connection and remind you of why you came together in the first place.However, when it comes to your IRS auditor, I wouldn’t offer Naked Time at first, but maybe start with a cup of coffee instead!
Cravings: Fun Food
There's just something nostalgic about eating a tasty little doughnut... Whether your embracing a pregnancy 'craving' or simply being indulgent; there's nothing sweeter than enjoying a freshly 'baked' and generously glazed doughnut just as you did in your childhood. Although your enjoying like a child you can eat like a grown-up... With these recipes you can relive those happy childhood memories again and again!!!
Vegan Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts Yields 6
APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS 1 cup all purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/8 tsp nutmeg 1/8 tsp allspice 1/2 tsp salt 1/3 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup apple cider 1/4 cup apple sauce 1 tbsp coconut oil 1 tsp vanilla extract APPLE CIDER GLAZE 1 cup organic powdered sugar 2 tbsp apple cider CINNAMON SUGAR TOPPING 1/2 cup organic granulated sugar 1 tbsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg
*Recipe adapted from The Sweet Life: http://www.thesweetlifeonline.com/2013/09/03/baked-apple-cider-donuts/
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together maple syrup, apple cider, apple sauce, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. 3.Spoon batter into the prepared mini doughnut pan, filling each mold about 3/4 full. 4.Bake for 8-10 minutes, until doughnuts springs back when gently pressed. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring doughnuts onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 5.To make glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and apple cider in a small shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for cinnamon sugar topping. 6.Once doughnuts have cooled, dip the tops of each doughnut into the glaze. Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 7.Let glaze cool + ENJOY!!! 89
Raw Doughnuts with Orange Ginger Glaze serves 10
2 1/2 cups raw oat flour 1 cup brazil nuts, ground fine 1/4 cup raw, organic coconut flour 1/3 cup raw, organic agave nectar or liquid sweetener 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted 1/4 cup coconut sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon vanilla 1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. 2. Making one doughnut at a time, press firmly into doughnut pan. 3. Top with Orange Ginger Glaze Orange Glaze
zest from one orange 3 tablespoons orange juice 3 tablespoons raw coconut butter (not coconut oil), softened 2 tablespoons raw, organic agave nectar or liquid sweetener of choice 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1. Whisk all ingredients together. Pour over doughnuts. Let set (this will take a couple of hours). *Alternatively, roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and dip in orange glaze. **This recipe makes 5 doughnuts but due to the size, one doughnut should be considered to be 2 servings.
Recipe adapted from Rawmazing: http://www.rawmazing.com/raw-orange-ginger-glazed-doughnuts/
Semi Precious Stone Malas for the Modern Day Goddess www.storyofseven.com
Victoria Karalun Sacred Spotlight:
to Canary Lane Photography / Victoria Karalun
How Sacred Pregnancy Has Changed My Life by Victoria Karalun
My time with Sacred Pregnancy began in February 2013, when I traveled from California to North Carolina to photograph the Hatteras retreat. As a birth photographer, I was very involved with the birth scene and I’m used to being around birth workers. They’re ‘my people’! This meant I was expecting to feel in my comfort zone at the retreat. Wrong! I’m a fairly adventurous person, but flying across the country and driving 5 hours to a big house full of 15 other women had me pretty nervous. Although everyone was lovely to me when I arrived, my nerves only increased throughout the first day. I was shown to my room in which I had one of four beds, the bathroom we all shared, and the kitchen in which meals were prepared as a community. For a quiet-time-loving introvert loner, this was pretty much the opposite of my comfort zone. And that’s where the transformation began. Outside of my comfort zone. As the group of women circled for the first time, Anni told me I could join, but I made the choice to sit outside and observe (clinging to the shreds of my CZ!). This group of women was beautifully open and sharing, crying and comforting each other as they spoke of their lives and challenges. Still, I wanted to watch and not be a part of. I vividly recall physically hiding myself behind other women if Anni dared to look in my direction. Don’t ask me to talk! That sentence was pretty much on a loop in my internal dialogue for the entire retreat. And as the retreat went on, from my place of observer I saw the women become closer and I became lonelier. I wondered why they didn’t talk to me much, not realizing that my don’t ask me to talk! was in plain view for all to see. I just didn’t ‘get it’, I wasn’t in a space to accept Sacred Pregnancy into myself. Imagine my mixture of emotions, then, when Anni emailed me the day after the retreat ended, to ask me if I would photograph the Virginia retreat in two weeks’ time. And my surprise at instantly answering ‘yes’. I don’t know what compelled me to try this again, but again I went into it with a good deal of fear. This time I was in a room of eight, on a top bunk bed, with the feeling of even less privacy. I will admit, I just didn’t ‘get’ the circling, saging, hugging, singing thing. I saw the beauty through my lens but could not understand it. Again, my walls were up and again, I watched these beautiful women become closer each day and myself become more locked out. Fear prevented me from joining in, and I built every escape route possible to prevent that from happening. Until the last day. I had had a tumultuous previous day, brought on by the taking in of so much emotional energy, and not letting any out myself. I exploded in 93
an ugly ball of cry. I was never alone but I felt so lonely. I decided that this was a lot to handle and it might be my last retreat. On this last day, however, something amazing happened. I was passed the talking stick. It was the final circle gathering of the retreat, each woman was to say one word for how they intended to continue in the Sacred Pregnancy world. As Nicole unexpectedly turned around and handed me the stick, my mind was blank but the word “beginning” came flying out of my mouth. And so I found myself in the position of taking part, six weeks later, in the Topanga, CA retreat. Now I was all in. Stepping into the circle wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I’d witnessed it twice already and respected the circle as sacred. This time I had fear, but for a different reason - I was opening myself wide, and letting what was to happen happen. I was once again presented with the fight or flight option and this time I chose to fight. I went in vulnerable and open. I started to speak, to give to the circle, and something really wonderful happened. The circle started to give back. It so happened that I had some serious life issues to work on around this time, and from day one, I was supported and held and cared for. I discovered the power of a circle of women. To sit and listen, not to respond but just to listen, is a skill we seem to have lost in our busy, loud world. I didn’t know this was missing from my life until I began, and my soul remembered, this is how it should be. Just loving and supporting each other. I discovered what sisterhood means. I circled and I saged and I hugged and I sang and I got it! I began to understand the value in the ceremony and how it adds to the journey. And something else happened - a shift occurred, on a soul level. It happened as our twenty women, in a circle, began to om. By the third or fourth om, I was no longer hearing the noise, but instead I was feeling it. I felt we were one in this beautiful moment of joined vibration. It was a profound moment of change in me.
By the end of the retreat I was a different person than the one who had arrived. One of my favorite memories of any of the retreats was walking into a restaurant with my sisters and Anni bursting into laughter as she saw me wearing my rebozo, bindi and body paint on my face, hair crazy from the wind. I noticed that other diners were looking at me and inside I smiled, thinking, I know something you don’t know. I’ve now been to seven retreats, in 7 months. I attended the first Sacred Relationship retreat in Julian, CA with my husband. What we experienced there was a deeply transformative journey that I wasn’t expecting. I’d kind of found my groove in the Sacred Pregnancy world by this point and found the idea of my husband (and other men!) being in the circle to be weird. I was pleasantly surprised at how much the men added to the group. I was yet again resistant to a lot of the activities, but pushed through and found it rewarding beyond words. What did this retreat do for me? It gave me a rich, loving, deep marriage. I saw sides of my husband I hadn’t seen in our 11 years together and fell in love with them all. It took us from busy co-parents to a newly in-love couple, and as we renewed our vows on a cliff over the ocean, I felt like it was our real wedding day. To say that having Anni and Tim walk us through the vows and be there to witness was an honor is an understatement. By this point, Anni had been the catalyst in a complete transformation of my life and I felt that I had my soul mama, my best friend, and my sister by my side all at once. I’ve never been the type to cry at weddings, even my own, but at this renewal, I had to hold myself back from sobbing through my vows. Where has this stripping away of my layers led to? Well, at the last retreat I attended, in the Sequoias, CA, the girl who didn’t even want Anni to look at her 7 months ago stripped her clothes off in a group of 25 women and had her body painted, hugged, laughed, discovered her spirit animal, rode in the back of a truck, cried, got a spiritual tattoo, and said, “YES! Yes, I will experience, I will live, I will explore!” Every fiber of me has been changed by Sacred Pregnancy. My work has changed. I used to operate from my camera and now I operate from my soul. I became a birth activist and I fight for women to be empowered. I became spiritual and I found my inner peace and my faith that everything will be okay. I found out that lifting other people up will lift you up. (And I kinda want to live in a commune.) Victoria Karalun Canary Lane Photography http://www.facebook.com/canarylanephoto 951-378-8714
shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/IrisOils web:www.theirisco.com ema il: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elements from the Earth to feed your skin and in spire your soul.
The Miracle of Kale
By Corrine Laan
Kale also known as borecole is a native plant of Asia Minor and was introduced to Europe as early as 600 B.C by Celtic nomads. Very popular in ancient Greece and Rome, it was the staple diet of peasants. Easily cultivated as it can resist harsh winters, this green leafy vegetable spread rapidly across Europe before it was finally brought to America in the 17th century by English settlers. With our renewed interest in nutritious foods, Kale has made a big comeback. This â€œqueen of greensâ€? is truly packed with nutritive goodness and very versatile and so easy to cook. It is delicious with a tangy flavour and can be stir fried, baked and added to soup, mashed potatoes and even smoothies. Kale has it all! Low in calories, cholesterol and zero fat, kale is high on the list of healthy foods. With its high fibre content, it is easy to digest and gives the metabolism a real boost. This nutritive powerhouse is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and other minerals. Kale is not only full of antioxidants, it also contains health promoting and anti-inflammatory properties which can protect the body against certain types of cancer.
Dutch Boerenkool ( kale with mashed potatoes)
This a traditional Dutch dish which is served with sausages but you can substitute the sausages for organic meat or fish for a healthy option. Perfect for when it is cold outside! Serves 4 to 6; you will need: 4 lbs of organic potatoes 2 lbs of kale washed, shredded, stem removed 3 Tbsp of butter Salt and pepper Place the peeled and cubed potatoes in boiling water, add some salt and leave it to cook. In the meantime, steam the kale. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and return to the warm pot. Add the butter and mashed the potatoes until nice and smooth. Mix the kale with the mashed potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste
photo credit: shawna wentz
Nourishing Remedies for Women & Children
noURish YoURselF AnD YoUR liTTle one Bumpboosters Cookies: Real-food snacks for pregnant moms
Try them for FRee at bumpboosters.com/tryme (limit 1 per customer, while supplies last, $2.99 S&H)
t OH. MY. GOODNESS!!! I just tried my Oatmeal Choc. Chip Pregnancy Cookie. Itâ€™s really, really delicious! I am suffering greatly from morning sickness so almost nothing is appealing but I honestly loved this cookie! Itâ€™s crazy delicious! AJ on FAcebook
Molasses Ginger is my fave with oatmeal choc chip as a runner up. Stuck a couple in my hospital bag and looking forward to that as a late night snack w/ a glass of milk! Thanks again!! coURTneY on FAcebook
In Love : Fave Products
Sacred Pregnancy hearts
Ashley Johnson! C h e c k o u t h e r RAD J E W ELS !
photos by myrriah ramibault
Inspired by Mother Earth & Father Sky ~ Handcrafted jewels made on Kaua'i with gifts of the Earth
Prices currently range from $9.00 to $222.00 My mother taught me how to make jewelry. It has become a way for me to express my gratitude for life. By focusing the energy and intention in my heart, I am able to create little works of art on this physical plane. I am inspired by life. By the magnificent and infinitely beauty~full Mother Earth. By the eternal Father Sky. By my own unique expression of God. I am inspired by artists such as my mother Catherine, and others I meet along my journey. I am inspired by ceremony, the powerful experience of BIRTH and the unique and divine way of my own prayerful path. Each one of us are unique emanations of God ~ here is one of the many ways I am able to express that! Each Piece is consciously created with healing gems for a specific healing purpose. I hope that you take with you the love I put into my work.
â€œBlissfully made under the moon or under the sun. May this work of art bless your heart and bring you joy on your path. Walk in grace~ Walk in Beauty~ Mahalo Nui, Ashleyâ€?
~ follow me on instagram @ fromunderthemoon find me on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/ fromunderthemoon 109
Unchaining Our Sisters By Avital Norman Newman
During pregnancy, most women are faced with a variety of questions and choices when it comes to labor and delivery: Midwife or OBGYN? To use a doula or not? Epidural? Home birth? Water birth? Unfortunately, not every pregnant woman has access to these same choices. With over 200,000 women living within the US prison system on any given day , there are some who find themselves pregnant and struggling with the fact that they donâ€™t have the ability to make many crucial pregnancy and labor-related choices. In fact, the majority of pregnant women who end up giving birth in jail find themselves stripped of any choices whatsoever. They also find themselves struggling to obtain even the most basic prenatal care: thousands of pregnant women entering the prison system each year have little access to proper prenatal nutrition and medical screenings . Itâ€™s also not uncommon for women in prison to labor while being shackled to their beds by their legs and hands, preventing them freedom of movement. Despite the fact that the American Medical Association (AMA), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the American College of Nurse-Midwives believe that shackling women during labor and delivery is unsafe and dangerous to both mother and child, only 18 of 50 states have legislation restricting or banning the practice . 111
Birthing while being chained down has many devastating consequences, seen time and time again across US prisons. Shawnna Nelson, who was serving time in an Arkansas prison for passing bad checks, had to endure labor while shackled to a bed. She not only suffered mental and emotional anguish, but also “…injury to her back, intense pain because she couldn’t move or adjust her position through her birth process" according to Dana Sussman, legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights . Unfortunately, Nelson is not alone. Having faced similar horrifying experiences, many women are fighting back against these grave injustices akin to cruel and unusual punishment. There have been class action lawsuits filed - and won - by women who have experienced similar traumatizing births due to being chained down, and many activists outside the prison walls have been calling for much-needed reform. From working toward banning shackles during labor and delivery, to figuring out how to best provide quality prenatal care for women behind bars, there are organizations working tirelessly on fixing the broken system and infrastructure these women reside in. At the same time, there are also those working to make it a bit easier during the dayto-day for these pregnant women: providing doula care for imprisoned pregnant women, helping with breastfeeding, and facilitating mothering groups in prison. I spoke with Marianne Bullock, one of the founders of the Prison Birth Project (PBP) - a “reproductive justice organization providing support, education, advocacy, and activism training to women at the intersection of the criminal justice system and motherhood. ” Marianne, also the lead doula for the Project, has worked hard toward changing the system to better protect and support her fellow mothers. How did the idea for the Prison Birth Project come about?
The idea for PBP came about when I had recently moved to Western Mass. In the 3 years prior I had gone to jail, met folks doing birth work with women inside and then had my own daughter. When I moved here
.. as soon as the nurse left the room I burst into tears realizing thatI was holding a two day old baby that just wanted to look into a human face and bond and be loved -- and the one person in the world who wanted to do that was being taken away in five point restraints.
the jail was just opening and I saw an article in the local newspaper. Since I had dealt with my own issues with the criminal system, I realized how overarching issues of incarceration are and how much family creation and autonomy are denied within the prison system. My daughter was still young and it felt like a really natural fit for me to try to get something going that was directly connecting with other moms who were experiencing the system on their lives.
like I wasn't able to do much for her. She went into labor and it was a beautiful birth on a Friday night before a 3 day weekend. She got all weekend with the baby and in those 3 days her and I finally really connected and she came out of her shell, she decided that because of her experiences in life and her charges she was putting the baby up for adoption - even though she didn’t want to. When she was transferred back to the jail I was holding her baby and the nurse came up to me with discharge papers -- I told her I wasn’t taking the baby and she responded with "then who is?", the adoption agency hadn't been called How many women have you worked with since you and since it was a three day weekend their staffing was low... as soon first started? as the nurse left the room I burst into tears realizing that I was holding a two day old baby that just wanted to look into a human face and bond I honestly can’t even count, but hundreds. We are in our 5th year now and be loved -- and the one person in the world who wanted to do that and we see a large number of women come through our programs. was being taken away in five point restraints. A few weeks after her During the year we have about 8-15 women who give birth with a PBP birth she was transferred and I always had these pictures of her birth doula and a number of women who become long term members with us in my office at home. A few years later I was at a fundraising event for as well. PBP down the street from my house and she came up and tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around and almost fell over! She was doing great and was out, about to be getting her own apartment -- and the baby When you first started working with women in prison, had been adopted by two men who had really been seeking an open what did you find that surprised you the most? adoption, so she gets to see and hang out with her kid whenever she What surprised me the most was how resilient the human spirit is. So wanted to pretty much. I ended up getting her the photos of her birth many of the people that I end up working with have endured so much and it was such a magical moment to relive that experience with her and are under so much pressure with so little resources but continue to in a really strong and healthy place in her live where she felt like she make it happen for them and their families -- I was surprised when I got finally had control. in there how many women were moms and were STILL doing the job of parenting from prison, in really subversive ways that many people would never have to think of or encounter as mothering on the outside. What successes have you been most proud of regarding the Prison Birth Project? Do you have any moments that stand out to you in particular in your years with PBP? I had a client who I worked with in the first year that PBP got started who I will always remember. She was in segregation her whole pregnancy and was really distant and on a ton of meds that made her really out of it. Each week I went down to see her and I really felt
I’m constantly so proud of our work around breastfeeding inside, so many studies and people told us over and over again that it’s "cultural, these women don’t want to breastfeed"... I was constantly saying "THESE WOMEN are just like me and you and every other mother around us --- they want the chance and the right to try." Now the jail supports us and we have mamas who pump for up to a year even though their baby may not be latching anymore during visits -- or even
though they only get one, one hour visit per week. I’m also really proud that we are still here -- with access to the jail! When we started we had SO little experience in running an organization, working with the prison system/officials or fundraising/non profit stuff -- the few of us who have stuck around through it all have really become experts in our own fields within the org and have created something with the help of our members inside and members who have come and gone that feels really powerful at times. How can other women on the outside help mothers inside of prison? I think that a big shift needs to happen in terms of public perspectives around motherhood and incarceration -- and their intersection. Think about the ways that women and mothers are criminalized and demonized in the media for their involvement in the carceral system. I know SO many women who have been locked up "for the safety of the unborn child," judges utter those words, regularly. I think another thing that I see a lot of are people who know someone who is in prison and has kids. BRING THEM THEIR KIDS! Offer to drive their kids to visit them, do the paperwork, make it happen. It really means so much to families to be able to have that contact. And then of course, you can help out PBP through donations or volunteering at one of our events, or just sharing our Facebook posts when we need something spur of the moment!
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You can learn more about the Prison Birth Project at www.ThePrisonBirthProject.org
Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer and editor of
the upcoming anthology: The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality.
Ph: (717) 839-8959
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Every Mother Counts: Going Global
photo credit: Shawna Wentz
Every Connection Counts -The Sisterhood of Motherhood By Christy Turlington-Burns Founder of Every Mother Counts
We talk a lot about sisterhood here at Every Mother Counts, specifically about the Sisterhood of Motherhood. We talk about the ways women in all communities unite and share to create experiences that are greater together than they are apart. It’s not surprising that the Latin term for sister, “sorority,” is defined as a group of girls or women united for a common purpose. It’s not about being born from the same parents. Sisterhood is about the closeness girls and women feel when they’re working and playing together, when they’re sharing their lives with women they trust, depend on and love. Whether we’re sisters by blood or circumstance, we know about the joys, squabbles, disparities and similarities represented among any close group of women.But when it comes to the Sisterhood of Motherhood, we feel it’s especially urgent that women all over the world know - we have their backs. What is that sisterhood of motherhood? It starts with acknowledgment that no matter how your child arrived in your life, whether through birth or adoption, one of our sisters got pregnant and gave birth and it is that universal fact that creates and unites our sisterhood. Though we may come from different countries, cultures and traditions, all of our babies arrived through the same process of pregnancy and birth. It’s our deep commitment that as sisters, those of use who live in countries where girls, women and mothers are overwhelmingly safe during pregnancy and childbirth must reach out and support our sisters both here at home and abroad who are not. Developing our sisterhood and exploring ways to create strong bonds as women is essential to Every Mother Counts’ mission. As coworkers, our team represents a diverse group in terms of age, experiences and location but we’ve developed a sisterhood that’s united in our mission and commitment to support each other and empower our team. At home, many of us have sisters of our own we couldn’t live without. Many others are raising daughters to understand how valuable the bonds among women are in their lives. We hope to stand as examples to the girls and women we know that unlike what’s represented so often in the media, real women all over the world hold each other up. We provide each other support and solace, companionship and fun and a ready set of hands to help lighten the day’s work. 119
Every month, we publish a blog series on Every Mother Counts’ website we call our Global Birth Club. Pregnant women from all over the world, who have roughly the same due dates (give or take a month), contribute their stories about what their pregnancies, prenatal care and births are like. While their homes, families and circumstances in Israel, Uganda, Haiti, the United States and other parts of the world are all unique; their stories of morning sickness, maternity clothes, cravings, cramps, kicks, contractions and hearingtheirbabies’ heartbeats are remarkably similar. We’ve become attached to these women as they share their pregnancies and while we’re not likely to ever meet in person, we feel they re our sisters as mothers. Our hope is that as readers relate to each woman, they’ll feel motivated to make sure each one is safe as she comes close to her time to give birth. This November, Every Mother Counts’ staff members will be traveling to Haiti to witness a truly inspiring example of sisterhood. Since last year, we’ve been sponsoring a class of students as they progressed through midwifery training through a program conducted with Midwives for Haiti. These women (and one or two male students), didn’t know each other when they started their educations, but through their shared and collective experiences, learning how to care for pregnant women in their communities, l how to sit with women in labor, to deliver babies, cut cords, examine placentas, stop bleeding and transfer emergencies, they’ve formed a tight sisterhood. These midwives will be graduating in November and taking the skills they’ve learned in school back to their communities. There, they’ll take care of the women in their villages and towns, tending to them during the most vulnerable times of their lives. They’ll nurture their pregnancies, welcome their babies and provide guidance as they navigate the early days of motherhood. They’ll be midwives. They’ll be sisters, in all the ways that matter. You can’t imagine how honored we are to witness that sorority.
photo by Melissa Kate
Be Brave: I Double Dare You To
Sisterhood is a BRAVE ACT!
You have to be WILLING TO SHOW UP and be raw and real and NAKED... You have to HOLD SPACE for other women when they NEED you You have to be PRESENT with your tribe and take your place in the CIRCLE You have to SELF-FACE even when its hard to look at the dark side You have to LOVE WOMEN and NOT COMPETE with them You have to CELEBRATE every woman's accomplishment This is the PATH TO SISTERHOOD! I TRIPLE DARE YOU TO JOIN THE TRIBE!
by Anni Daulter 123
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Fall Manifesto We are starting to GET our Groove and we are THANKFUL for those who are patient with us as we find our way… We are a CIRCLE and wherever we MAY BE on any GIVEN day, we are HERE for each other in SISTERHOOD. We hold space for DIFFERENCES and EMBRACE our Sameness We sit with WOMEN as they cross from MAIDEN to MOTHER, BOW at her feet as she looks at herself for the FIRST time holding HER BABY, and know that we are on the RIGHT PATH. WE DREAM BIG because there is no other way to dream. We honor SPIRIT in her INFINITE wisdom and BURN AWAY that which does not SERVE us individually + COLLECTIVELY. We MANIFEST the shit out of LIFE and hold true one basic FOUNDATION…its ALL ABOUT THE LOVE. We GIVE of ourselves and see how the BEAUTY WAY leaves each SISTER and BROTHER touched with a sparkle that was not there before. Magic is REAL. SISTERHOOD ROCKS. Chocolate DOES heal. PEACE is POSSIBLE. NOTHING is too BIG To TRY. GIFTS are WORTH GIVING. Gratitude IS the SECRET weapon for CHANGE. Nina Lee’s voice is HEAVAN on EARTH.
LASTLY, S A C R E D is EVERYWHERE!
Until next time… NAMASTE…
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