BREECH BIRTH ✽ CHIROPRACTIC FOR MOM AND BABY ✽ NURSING POSTURE
ISSUE 61 | spring 2019 | $7.95
you got this
welcome to issue
LIVING IN T HE GIF T By Charles Eisenstein
In the Story of Separation, giving does not come naturally. Yet it is our deepest nature to pour forth our gifts. Just as life comes to each of us as a gift, so too does the impulse that awakens us to revive a new and ancient story of living, and experience the generosity that comes with it.
TA KING T HE S T EP
© DARKFOXELIXIR | DREAMSTIME.COM
Honoring the wisdom of mother
The Hummingbird...................................................12 By Kacie Flegal, D.C.
A Woman’s Alchemy............................................... 16
By Lindsey Wei
Nursing Posture...................................................... 20 By JOrdan Adams, D.C., and Joseph adams, D.C.
What If...?.............................................................. 22 By Katherine Thornalley
No Sleep Training Required.................................... 24
letter from the editor MAMA MINOU..............................................................6
on the cover BREECH BIRTH...........................................................44
By Zelma Tolley
On Their Own......................................................... 28 By Lindsay Mumma, D.C.
Building Your Baby from the Ground Up................. 30 By Chris Lorang, D.C.
Chiropractic for Mom and Baby.............................. 34
CHIROPRACTIC FOR MOM AND BABY.......................34
By Ian Shtulman, D.C.
Chiropractic and Bedwetting: Kelsey’s Story............ 36 By brenda Trudell, D.C.
cover PhotographY © Leilani Rogers | photosbylei.com
New mother? Here are six things you need 62
©RAWPIXELIMAGES | DREAMSTIME.COM
How chiropractic can help with nighttime bedwetting 36
What does it mean to re-village our culture? 64
S TAY ING T H E C O U RS E
LIVING T HE JOURNEY
Laying the Groundwork..........................................40
Unlearning What We’ve Learned............................ 50
By SaraH Ockwell-SMith
By marianne LIttlejohn
Breech Birth Is Normal........................................... 44
The Powerful Counterbalance to the Masculine Mind...................................................... 52
By Nona Djavid, D.C.
Secret Sensation Time............................................. 46 By Gloria Lemay
By CHantel Quick
I Will Teach You...................................................... 54 By Tae Yun Kim
Too Much............................................................... 58
Children’s health begins in pregnancy and birth.
By vince gowmon, R.T.C.
Real Self-Care for Mothers......................................60 By Sarah Rudell Beach, M.Ed.
Six Things Every New Mother Needs....................... 62 By Allison Mecham Evans, M.A.
In the Absence of the Village, Mothers Struggle Most........................................... 64 By Beth BErry
Advertisers For advertising rates and information, please send us an e-mail at email@example.com or call us at 610-565-2360. Executive Editor and Director of Publishing Jeanne Ohm, D.C. firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing editor John Marc Copy chief Robert Staeger Art director, Design & Layout Tina Aitala Engblom Pathways Coordinator Tia Ohm Digital Integration Gabe Small Web editor Jamie Dougan Advisory board pathwaystofamilywellness.org/advisory
Pathways to Family Wellness is an award-winning quarterly publication offering parents thought-provoking articles and resources to make conscious, informed choices for their families’ well-being. The individual articles and links to healthcare information in Pathways to Family Wellness are based on the opinions and perspectives of their respective authors. The information provided is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is presented as a sharing of knowledge and information. Pathways to Family Wellness magazine is published by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, a 501-C3 nonprofit. Sales of Pathways to Family Wellness and the direction of its community outreach program fulfills ICPA’s mission for public education. Images used are for illustrative purposes only. Materials in this publication (printed and digital) may not be reprinted without written permission from the editorial offices in Media, PA. All rights reserved. © 2004–2019 ICPA, Inc.
Subscrip tions Pathways to Family Wellness is published four times per year. Print subscription rate is $24.95/year. Digital subscription rate is $9.95 for one year, $15.95 for two years. All funds U.S. Dollars. Discounts are available for bulk single and recurring orders. All proceeds support our mission of research, training, and public education for family well-being. Order online by visiting our website: pathwaystofamilywellness.org. Contact Pathways to Family Wellness 327 N. Middletown Rd. Media, PA 19063 Telephone: 610-565-2360 Website: pathwaystofamilywellness.org email@example.com Article submissions Would you like to write for Pathways? We look for articles that challenge and confront, as well as articles that support and nourish. Please e-mail articles and information to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Photographic submissions Do you have amazing photos you would like to share with us? By sending us your photos, you agree that you have the right to distribute the image, and maintain that all people depicted agree to have their image published. Please submit photos and information to: email@example.com. Please visit our website for more details.
Be a part of Pathways!
We love to hear from you. If you have stories and photos to share about pregnancy, birth, family wellness lifestyle choices, or healthy recipes and nutrition ideas, please send an e-mail to our editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue 61, Spring 2019. Printed in the USA. Find us on Facebook at PathwaystoFamilyWellness Follow us on Twitter @pathwaysmag Subscribe to our Channel PathwaysConnect
W hat if there were an organization that recognized your own unique expression and human potential? What if that same organization represented the most highly trained practitioners who could provide specific, gentle care so that you could function at your greatest capacity? What if this organization of practitioners knew how to care for children by honoring women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood? Imagine if doctors truly supported a woman’s innate right to make informed choices for her own family. Imagine if a safe community of empowered parents existed to support a mother’s inner guidance and desire to grow. These are the principles and promises of the ICPA and its community of 6,000 doctors of chiropractic. These 6,000 ICPA members have come together to serve families, the heart and home of our human potential. The loving and gentle care of chiropractic for each individual strengthens the family, strengthens the community, and opens the possibility for a greater tomorrow.
© DA RKFOXELIXIR | DREAMSTIM E.C OM
Welcome to Pathways to Family Wellness… our avenue for bringing chiropractic principles into practice for a more purposeful and fulfilling family life.
L E T T E R F ROM T H E E D I T O R
Mama Minou W
was for us! Both of us had injured our backs—my husband during a car accident, and me while hang-gliding. With chiropractic care we both achieved normal function, as well as new levels of health that we didn’t know were possible. My own longstanding conditions from youth finally went away. My allergies to animals were gone, I stopped getting migraine headaches, my asthma attacks dissipated and never returned— even my menstrual cycle became regular! My husband and I decided to become chiropractors after this experience. But there was one more story that occurred before we headed off to chiropractic college that really opened us up to the power of chiropractic and its insight into family well-being. This story had to do with a certain mother and her babies. In this case, it was our first mama cat, Minou, and her litter of kittens. After her nine-week pregnancy, we marveled at Minou’s natural instincts and ability to birth without assistance. The kittens nursed and grew, but at 2 weeks old, something changed. One became ill, and then two more began to show similar symptoms. Knowing that our chiropractor had worked with animals before, we decided to bring these three kittens to him. He checked each one with his gentle hands, but to no avail. Two days later we told our chiropractor that nothing changed, and he asked us if anything out of the ordinary had happened recently that could have been stressing them out. Tom and I knew immediately what it could be. Around the time of their births, a large dog had moved in with us so that his family could relocate. Day and night, mama Minou was tense and on edge. Any time the dog so much as peeked into her room, she became terribly frightened. Hearing this, our chiropractor paused and said, “Go home and bring me the mother.” And that’s what we did. We drove home, picked up Minou, and went back to the office. He checked her spine and found a serious misalignment in her neck vertebrae. He adjusted her twice, and then we brought her home. She settled back in with all her babies, and less than a day later all the kittens became their normal, healthy selves again. In a previous issue I wrote about the Swahili word mamatoto, which literally means “motherbaby.” It reflects an undeniable truth of motherhood that mother and baby are one entity. In his own way, our chiropractor knew this when he advised us to bring Minou in for care. It was an understanding that helped shape our own practice caring for families years later. And, as we had our own six kiddens along the way, this truth served us immeasurably. Any time my child was sick, I knew I was sick, too. Any time my child experienced fear, I knew that I was afraid, too. I was more than a mother to them. I was a world in and of itself, reflecting to them our mutual experiences. And I’ll never forget the awesome responsibility I felt to be more, for them, than I could have ever been on my own.
For the raising of the consciousness,
Jeanne Ohm, D.C.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
© SVETLA NA M ASLOVA | DREAMSTIME.COM
hile my husband and I were in college, we started going to a chiropractor who helped us regain our normal function. This was after we were told by medical professionals that we were doomed to have “bad backs” for the rest of our lives. What an amazing journey this
The Swahili word Mamatoto literally means, “motherbaby.” It reflects an undeniable truth of motherhood that mother and baby are one entity. In his own way, our chiropractor knew this when he advised us to bring Minou in for care. It was an understanding that helped shape and evolve our own practice caring for families years later. Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 7
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
Living in the Gift By Charles Eisenstein
DREAMSTIME.CO M © JA X_SO RA X :: © HA NOHIKI
hy does the sun shine? A random result of coalescing gases igniting nuclear fusion? Or is it in order to give its light and warmth to life? Why does the rain fall? Is it the senseless product of blind chemical processes of evaporation and condensation? Or is it to water life? Why do you seek to pour forth your song? Is it to show off your genetic fitness to attract a mate, or is it to contribute to a more beautiful world? We may fear those first answers, but it is the second ones that carry the ring of truth. Every culture, as far as I know, has something that I call a Story of the World. That story is a weave of myths, meanings, narratives, words, symbols, rituals, and agreements that together define the world. That story tells us who we are, how to be a man or a woman, what is important and valuable, what is real, what is sacred, and what humanity’s role and purpose is on earth. The world’s dominant culture, the one called modern, has a story of the world, too. I call it the Story of Separation. I won’t go too deep into it now, because I bet you already know intuitively what I’m talking about. It is the story that holds us as separate individuals and holds humanity separate from nature. In the Story of Separation, giving does not come naturally. In fact, that story says our default nature is selfishness, down to the genetic level. If I’m separate from you, then more for me is less for you. In the Story of Separation, trust does not come naturally, either. The world is our adversary, full of other separate
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
individuals, human and otherwise, whom we must compete with and overcome to have a good life—weeds, germs, the Russians, whatever. Beyond that, the forces of nature are adversaries too, because they are utterly random, and the whole universe tends toward entropy. There is no intelligence or purpose outside of ourselves. Therefore, to establish a comfortable human habitation in the world, we must dominate and control these forces, insulate ourselves from them, and harness them to our purposes. That’s what the Story of Separation says. Where in that story is there room for gratitude? Where is there room for gift? In the Story of Separation you basically have to rise above human nature, rise above the way of the world, to be selfless, generous, or altruistic. Becoming a good person, then, involves a sort of conquest, a conquest of self. It is the same domination of nature, this time turned inward. Now, I have to say, this story is quickly becoming obsolete. Even its scientific dimension, in genetics, physics, and biology, is crumbling. In complexity theory, we understand that order to expand can emerge spontaneously out of chaos, without your capacities to their full potential an external organizing force. In ecology, we understand that the well-being of one is inseparable and express them in service to from the well-being of all. So let me talk about something magnificent? gift, generosity, and gratitude from the perspective of another story, a new and ancient story I like to call Interbeing. In the Story of Interbeing, life is a gift. The world and everything in it is a gift. We did not earn our lives. We did not earn the sun; it is not thanks to going to want to bust out and develop and express your our hard efforts that it shines. We did not earn the ability of capacity to give to the world in service of something you plants to grow. We did not earn water. We did not earn our care about. conception nor our breath. Our hearts beat and our livers All beings are thus. That is why we should be living in a metabolize all on their own. Life is a gift. world of incredible abundance. The fact that modern sociWhat about all those things that did come to you ety has constructed conditions of such pervasive scarcity through hard effort? You worked hard for your money is an impressive achievement! So much talent. Such a rich perhaps, for your status, for your healthy body. Okay, but world. How is it that so many live in insecurity, anxiety, and from where comes your capacity to work hard? From where deprivation? Not even the wealthy are exempt from the fear comes your creativity, your strength, and your intelligence? of it. Did you earn those too? Nature is fundamentally abundant, even profligate. I When we apprehend these basic truths, gratitude comes am writing this at my brother’s farm. The birds sing all day, naturally. Gratitude is the knowledge of having received, pouring forth their song as a gift to the world. Sure, I know and the consequent desire to give in turn. It is primal. All about attracting a mate and marking territory, but come beings, including human beings, have an unquenchable on, do they have to sing that much to do that? It is as if they desire to pour forth their gifts. That is why if you are in a are bursting with the desire to give their song, just like you situation where your gifts are not valued, not received, or are. You were born for it. Whatever your song is, you were not useful, you will want to leave that situation, that job or born for it. Do the wild black raspberries here have to taste relationship. No matter how much you are being paid, no that good to attract animals to eat them and poop out their matter how scared you are to leave the relationship, you’re seeds? And don’t you have that urge too, to do it better than
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
© V IEWAPART | DREA MST IM E.COM
Don’t you yearn to make art of your work? Don’t you have the urge within you to create something beautiful,
© DENYS KURBATOV | DREAM STIM E.COM
necessary for the grade, for the boss, for the market? Don’t you yearn to make art of your work? Don’t you have the urge within you to create something beautiful, to expand your capacities to their full potential and express them in service to something magnificent? You are not alone. Imagine what the world would be if each person were liberated in this desire. Imagine what the world could be if we could sweep away the conditions that conspire to stunt and suppress our gifts. These conditions are political. They are economic. They are ideological, they are relational, they are psychological and spiritual. For civilization to transition into an age of the gift requires transformation on every level. I’ve written extensively about the transition on an economic level, but what about the personal, relational, and spiritual? We need to deprogram from the habits of separation and scarcity to reclaim the primal state of gift. I don’t think that this happens through personal efforts, motivated by the desire to be a better person. It is something that happens to us. It happens, in other words, as a gift. The transmission vector of that gift is community. Generosity, you may have noticed, is infectious. When you witness generosity, you receive the message, “It is safe to give. It is okay. I’ll be okay.” Sharing stories and practices of gratitude, of generosity—and of the challenges and setbacks in stepping more deeply into gift—we generate
a normalizing field that counteracts social programming toward competition, selfishness, and scarcity. I hope most of what I’ve written here seems obvious. My purpose here is to pluck an ancient chord of recognition. It is to invoke a memory, to activate a piece of knowledge long suppressed in the dominant culture but still alive somewhere in all of us. It is simply that life is a gift, the world is a gift, and the cosmos operates on the principles of gift. Please bathe in your intuitive resonance with this truth. Beneath the cynicism we know: It is all a gift. Gratitude is our native state. Generosity is its maturation. Thank you for keeping the thread of this knowledge alive.
Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. His background includes a degree in mathematics and philosophy from Yale, a decade in Taiwan as a translator, and stints as a college instructor, a yoga teacher, and a construction worker. He currently writes and speaks full time. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and four children. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 11
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
hen I was a new student in chiropractic college, I was eager to absorb everything I could. Through my eagerness, however, I questioned everything I was learning. I wanted so much to believe the stories of miracles that occurred in the offices of my educators and mentors, yet I would have to see it and live it first. During my first year, one of my professors spoke of the many times he had adjusted birds who had flown into the front window of his home. If, after impact, the birds were still alive, he would check them for spinal fixation and dysfunction (in the chiropractic realm, this is known as spinal subluxations). More often than not, he explained, the birds would respond well to the adjustment and fly off unscathed. I finished school, and opened my first practice a few months later. I was still fresh, but I was educated and skilled enough to care for people in my community. I felt confident seeing pregnant mothers, babies, and children because of my additional training with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Years later, while I was pregnant with my second son, my family and I moved to Ashland, Oregon, where I opened my second family practice. We rented an old white house in the country, with a large front window that faced the mountains. Within two weeks of settling into our new living space, I was cleaning the living room when I heard a loud thud on the window. I was sure that my oldest son had thrown his plastic ball at
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
it. But when I looked outside, I noticed a robin in the dirt below the windowsill, flapping its wings in distress. That was the first of many birds I adjusted while living at that house. I adjusted robins, blue jays, sparrows, and, once, even a crow (although I would be lying if I didn’t say that my heart rate elevated a bit during that adjustment). And just as my professor described years ago, most of the birds flew away moments after. I was now on the path of not just believing in, but knowing the power of the chiropractic adjustment. Through my work with babies, kids, and pregnant mamas, I witnessed miracles every day. Adjusting birds became par for the course. Recently, my family took a vacation with two other families to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. We rented a two-story open-air house, right across the road from the beautiful Caribbean ocean. We all settled in for 10 days of rest, relaxation, and time to soak up the lush environment that was bursting with life. During our trip, many creatures were gracious enough to allow us to cohabitate peacefully with them for a time. We had 4 a.m. wake-up calls each morning from the howler monkeys, heard the nasal squeaks of baby sloths in the trees above, watched the rummaging of the capybaras in the nearby shrubbery, slept with huge, bright-green crickets at night, and admired the multitudes of parrots, toucans, and other tropical birds. One bright morning, as I was cleaning up our humble jungle abode, I heard a faint knock on the large front
© SV ETLAN APRIKHN ENKO | DREA MSTIME.C OM
By Kacie Flegal, D.C.
© M IKHAIL DUDA REV | DREA MST IME.C OM
window that faced the swimming pool. It was a familiar sound to me, reminiscent of past experiences, but a little softer. As I looked outside on the ground, I saw a bird who, unbeknownst to itself, cleverly chose to fly into the window of a vacationing chiropractor. This time, the injured bird was the tiniest of hummingbirds. Its iridescent blue and green feathers shone in the sun like the turquoise sea. Its little head was bent to the left. It was stunned, barely moving. I hurried outside to see if I could help. I gently picked up the hummingbird. It was breathing hard, and licking the air furiously with its long, needle-like tongue. As I cradled its warm little body in my hands, I could feel the race of its heartbeat like a ticking wristwatch in my palm. It was surely in pain, and had a droplet of blood coming out of its right eye. I did what any mother would do with a baby experiencing angst: I gently shushed it, and whispered, “It’s okay, little one, I am here.” I cupped the bird’s body into my left hand, with its tiny feet underneath it, and with my right index finger and thumb, I gently stroked the sides of its beak and face, to let it know that I was a friend. I placed those same fingers, one on either side of its small neck, and gently palpated its spinal movement. Its cervical spine was clearly stuck and subluxated from the impact, so I began the gentle process of adjusting. With tiny movements and precise specificity, I made subtle corrections to the bird’s delicate spine. I was able to move its head back to neutral, and as I did, I felt the tiniest “click.” In that moment, I knew that I had adjusted and freed its spine and nervous system. The hummingbird closed its eyes. Its breathing slowed, and I no longer felt the thumping of its tiny heart. I held the bird gently while it went inward, integrating the experience—moving from trauma through adaptation, and into restoration.
I began to sing softly my favorite Bob Marley song as we held space together: “Don’t worry/ ’bout a thing/ ’cause every little thing/ gonna be alright.” After a few minutes, the bird took a big, life-filling breath. I felt the tiny muscles in its breast and legs contract in my hands, and it shook its head. The hummingbird then turned its head up and to the right and looked right into my eyes, as if to say, “Thank you.” And then it flew away. As a pediatric chiropractor, I am often asked why a baby or small child would need a chiropractic adjustment. I speak about trauma during the birth process, and how children fall often when learning to walk. I talk about how those experiences can create tension in a child’s tender spine and nervous system. I explain that the nervous system is the first system to develop in utero, and that it coordinates all other systems in the body. As I describe how the spine must be free for the nervous system to function optimally, people begin to understand. The follow-up question I usually get is: “How do you adjust a baby or a child?” Currently, my most recent answer: “Have I told you the story of when I adjusted a hummingbird?”
Dr. Kacie Flegal is a family chiropractor certified in prenatal care and pediatrics through the ICPA. Dr. Kacie has been in practice since 2009, and runs her practice based on the philosophy that we have the innate ability to heal and be healthy when we are given the tools to do so. Her approach to chiropractic is gentle and holistic, and honors each individual she serves. She is currently living and practicing in Ashland, Oregon, and is a wife and mother of two little boys. Visit her at elements ofbeing.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 13
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
he most beautiful word on the lips of mankind is the word “Mother,” and the most beautiful call is the call of “My Mother.” It is a word full of hope and love, a sweet and kind word coming from the depths of the heart. The mother is everything—she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness…. Everything in nature bespeaks the mother. The sun is the mother of earth and gives it its nourishment of heat; it never leaves the universe at night until it has put the earth to sleep to the song of the sea and the hymn of birds and brooks. And this earth is the mother of trees and flowers. It produces them, nurses them, and weans them. The trees and flowers become kind mothers of their great fruits and seeds. And the mother, the prototype of all existence, is the eternal spirit, full of beauty and love. —Kahlil Gibran, THE BROKEN WINGS
Â© YA RRUTA | DREAM ST IME.COM
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
A Woman’s By Lindsey Wei
ince the publication of my book, The Valley Spirit, many things have evolved in my life. Some of the dilemmas I faced at that time have now been resolved and borne fruit. The most pivotal changes have been becoming a wife and mother, sacred roles which I strived toward throughout the journey of The Valley Spirit. Now I know intimately an alchemy of a different kind. The first alchemy I learned was the Daoist process of transformation to immortality. Known as internal alchemy, or nei dan, it is about creating another body within the body—a pure yang, pure light body. This path can take a lifetime. The second alchemy I learned was becoming a mother. An experience fully of the flesh and a way of the Earth—yet also the essence of the Dao— this process, too, was creating a body within the body.
VARIOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS | DREAM STIM E.CO M
It is a time of traveling inward, of gathering and storing strength, and channeling most of it into the new being. The woman prepares her cave with the greatest care for the intense journey of the birth of her child. The path from pregnancy to giving birth to motherhood is undeniably an alchemy of its own. There is something very mysterious and brilliant about the way that a life can enter this world—and that knowledge is saved especially for mothers. These little beings come from the deep, unseen caverns inside the body. A new soul breathes the air of this world. A new body that never was before is created. In the early months of pregnancy, after gazing at all the pictures of how the fetus develops and feeling this sacred thing happening within me, I realized that this would be an in-the-flesh experience that is cryptically described in the practice of internal alchemy I’d been learning about and training in for all those years in China with my Shi Fu. The process of internal alchemy, nei dan, can be described in three phases: jing, qi, and shen—or essence, energy, and spirit. Jing is flesh substances, such as saliva, menstrual blood, and semen. Through meditation practices, these are transformed into qi, a type of energy or “power,” that, through self-cultivation, becomes spirit—a complete sublimation of body and soul to enlightenment. The adept sets out on the path and performs certain meditation methods to spark the seed of the light body within. He then nurtures the embryo through stillness. Often this is a period of 100 days. However, he must spend a lifetime preparing his nature and virtue. He waits until one day, when the time has come for a trial, where the adept must pass through many obstacles of desire and hardship. If he does, the light body within will be born, and the adept’s physical body will be shed like skin. He will then be in the realm of the spirit, and live on forever. A woman’s alchemy can be likened to this process as the transformation from pregnancy, to giving birth, to motherhood. When conception occurs from the love and movement of man and woman, or heaven and earth, light comes into the woman, watering the seed of life, and the creation of another body within a body begins. Throughout the nine months (270 days) of pregnancy, the embryo is nurtured. This is a period of inner meditation. It is a time of traveling inward, of gathering and storing strength, and channeling most of it into the new being. The woman prepares her cave with the greatest care for the intense journey of the birth of her child. She is waiting in a place of intuition, and insight into the unseen and eternal. She wonders if it is real, this child within her, who she cannot yet see or hear in this world. There is a glow surrounding her that other people can see clearly.
When the new body has developed enough from the food and air of the mother, the birth begins of its own accord. Nature takes control. The birth is a time of perseverance, demanding courage and strength from the mother. There is the immense pain which is a hardship she must work through and experience, but once she does, she has reached the crossroads. The child is born and breathes the air of this world for the first time. Now visible and tangible, out from the caverns of the unseen it is suddenly here, and the woman becomes a mother, one of the greatest transformations she will experience in this life. She holds her baby for the first time and experiences the enlightenment of unconditional, undying love. This moment is filled with the way of the Great Dao. The rest is the journey of motherhood, or the polishing of the self through one of the most challenging and magical mirrors…children. This, to me, is the realm of the spirit; all mothers, including myself, must strive to remember that and live in the present moment. Perhaps the mother no longer has the time for herself, because all her energy is devoted to caring for the new being—her seed, which lives on after her. Nonetheless, she realizes that that new being is her self—her immortal self. Perhaps the tasks of the home become her daily existence: folding laundry, sweeping the floors, preparing meals. Although these new tasks may feel lesser in this society, a mother must realize they are no different than any other task, and that they are in fact deeply meditative arts if we can be mindful and in the present moment as we go about them. Therefore, all mothers are alchemists. And the Dao is the Primal Mother. Originally published at Singingdragon.com
Lindsey Wei is a disciple of Li Shi Fu in a traditional Daoist lineage that stretches back thousands of years. She divides her time between living as a renowned practitioner in Wudang Mountain and teaching a select group of students in North America. Discover more about her projects in China by visiting fiveimmortals.com. For more information on her book, The Valley Spirit, visit her website wudangwhitehorse.com. You can also find her work on YouTube. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 17
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
There is a phase in labor, appropriately called transition, where a woman will meet her breaking point. She’ll feel as though she just can’t go on, and she is right. The maiden in her is not strong enough for the task at hand. It’s during this time the maiden dies so that the woman can be reborn as a mother, with her child. A new, more capable version of herself with far more strength than she has ever known. From maiden to mother. —Carley Mendes
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 19
CO MPO SIT ED WITH VARIOUS © DREA MSTIM E
Carley Mendes is a holistic nutritionist, and naturally nourishes pregnancy, postpartum, and babies. She supports parents with online guides through Oh Baby Nutrition, and certifies health professionals as nutrition consultants through Oh Baby Academy. View article resources and author information here: pathwaysto familywellness.org/references.html.
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
AND Its Role in Sympathetic Dominance By Jordan Adams, D.C., and Joseph Adams, D.C.
otherhood is stressful, and getting used to life as a mom takes a major adjustment, no matter if it’s the first baby or the fifth. Between the family demands, work demands, financial concerns, endless to-do lists, and the influx of new hormones into the body, it’s all too easy to enter into a state of stress dominance. In this state, the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system of the body dominates for long periods of time and we begin to feel the effects on our emotional and physical health. This problem can extend well beyond the physical side of life, spilling over into our relationships, especially with those closest to us. Stress is an undeniable part of modern life. But what if the unique stress cascade experienced by first-time moms is largely the result of one thing that most people overlook— the posture we take while nursing or bottle feeding our children? When we assess the posture of most new moms today, whether they’re nursing or bottle feeding, what we find is a posture characteristically rounded forward with shoulders rolled in and the head in a downward position, gazing toward the baby, or a phone in hand. Among mothers who are pumping, we also
see a similar, forward-flexed position. Even when new moms aren’t breastfeeding, the 10–20 pounds of added weight that they carry as they go about their days can lead to their whole body tilting forward. “Day after day, I’m running around trying to take care of everyone else, leaving myself last on the list.” This is what a mom recently told me when she came to the chiropractor’s office looking for a remedy to her pain. Her explanation was certainly justified and true, but like many new mothers experiencing sympathetic dominance and the high tension, shallow breathing, and chronic “on edge” feeling that follows, she had overlooked her posture. When this mom got checked, she left her appointment with a whole new perspective, realizing for the first time how much of her own anxiety and tension could be the result of the physical posture she was using to take care of her child.
The Chiropractic Insight When a person’s sympathetic nervous system activates, it’s well known that the body physically prepares by rounding the shoulders, moving the head forward, and tensing the backs of the legs in the fight-or-flight response. What’s less known is that when we round the shoulders and drop the the physical head forward, even in a state of calm relaxation, posture she was using to the spine sends messages take care of her child. to the brain that mimic that fight-or-flight alert. In short, our physical posture can affect our nervous system, just the same as our nervous system affects physical posture in moments of real stress. The major difference between these two sources of signaling is the tendency toward chronic sympathetic activity when posture is the driving signal. Our posture is something we engage in all day long, and it’s important to know which postures feed the stress response and which alleviate it.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
P HOTO COU RTESY O F T HE AU THO RS
She realized for the first time how much of her anxiety and tension could be the result of
© TAT YANA TOMSICKOVA | DREAM STIM E.CO M
As it turns out, the posture many mothers use several times each day for months is just this kind of posture: shoulders rounded in, head and neck bent forward, and tension along the cervical spine. How much of a negative shift in temperament is caused by this posture? Only you can find out for sure—first, by consciously and regularly modifying your posture to see the difference it makes, and second, by seeing a chiropractor who can assess and correct for chronic, structural imbalances. The effects of nursing posture go deeper than neck and back pain—it reaches into the function of the nervous system itself. Posture is critical to our physical, physiological, and psychological well-being. It’s critical for all stages of life, especially the early stages of motherhood, when round-theclock support for the baby is most pressing. Many things can be done at home to combat some of the effects of this type of structural shift, such as knowing and practicing better forms of body posture. Nonetheless, chiropractic care is an essential component because it directly addresses structural patterns that run below the level of conscious awareness. Additionally, chiropractic adjustments intrinsically downregulate the sympathetic response and promote parasympathetic and vagal nerve activity. Home Care While feeding or holding your child, sit or stand tall, with your chest open and shoulders down and back. There should be a sensation of the body, lengthening upward and
expanding outward, with the torso resting on a balanced pelvis and secure lower back. If your feet don’t reach the floor while you’re feeding your baby, use a footstool. Stretch your chest and your hamstrings, and take time to stretch your other muscles and ligaments when you can. Invest in an ergonomic breastfeeding pillow for support. This shouldn’t be a substitute for ideal posture, but an aid to it. Schedule at least 10 minutes of quiet alone time every day to help reboot your nervous system to autonomic balance.
Drs. Jordan and Joseph Adams serve the Mansfield, Texas, community out of their family practice, Calibration Chiropractic. They have a heart for facilitating transformative healing and they are passionate about educating their community on the importance of neuro-structural health while providing longstanding, proactive solutions and empowering individuals and families to take ownership over their health and well-being. They met while attending Parker University, where they both graduated with honors. Dr. Jordan is Webster-certified and holds additional training in prenatal yoga, offering special insight into birth and prenatal care. Dr. Joe has a passion for studying the effects of specifically applied chiropractic care on brain and nervous system function to improve one’s overall capacity to adapt to modern health challenges. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 21
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
What If…? By Katherine Thornalley
Katherine Thornalley started a blog via Facebook about a year ago with the intention of helping other mothers follow their instincts. She has quickly grown a following of mothers who are often discouraged from following attachmentparenting methods. Her intention is to let moms know that instincts are more deeply ingrained than society’s unrealistic expectations of babies and young children with regard to sleep, breastfeeding, and behavior. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
© WUN DERV ISUALS | ISTOCK BY GET T Y
hat if we saw children sleeping on us as a positive? What if we viewed the babies who refuse to go down to nap as a sign that we need to slow down? What if we changed our perception of contact naps, and instead viewed them as an opportunity to relax? Say, for example, that my baby has just fallen asleep on me. I spend a few minutes browsing Facebook, and then my mind wanders…toward the dishes piling up in the sink. The laundry stacked up in the bathroom. The dust that has settled on the TV. I start to feel guilty. I start thinking about work that could be done, or food that needs to be cooked. I try to put my baby down, but no way: He is having none of it. But what if this is how it is supposed to be? Yes, we know that evolution has designed babies to want to be close to their mothers. But what if that is also meant to ensure that the mother has time to rest, too? This need to be close has developed for both our benefits. To let us sit back for just a moment and forget about everything else going on in life. To take in the beauty of our children, and rest. Rest our minds, and rest our bodies. Childbirth has put our bodies under some serious stress, and there are always a million things to get done before the day is over. But perhaps our babies and children needing us to be still with them is nature’s way of telling us to slow down for just a moment. Rest, Mama. Take the opportunity.
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
No Sleep Training Required How to achieve radical acceptance of biologically normal infant sleep By Zelma Tolley
© A MMENTORP | DREAM STIM E.COM
leep is a usually a concern for parents for a variety of reasons. Most of these are fueled by unnecessary fear. It is so important to support parents as they understand and cope with the realities of biologically normal infant sleep. I write about this a lot. Often, I imagine people read these pieces and picture a woman on the couch with her cup of tea, her babe peacefully asleep in her own bed, in a tastefully decorated room where she will stay all night. “What does she know?” readers would ask. “She couldn’t possibly imagine what I’m going through right now.” The true image is a lot closer to the reality for many parents. I’m writing this on my phone with the brightness dimmed, in bed, with my baby on the breast. I am practicing acceptance of this time for the way that it is. I use the word “practice” mindfully, because even with all the education in the world, our society isn’t set up to support biologically normal infant sleep. This makes it easy to get caught up in some negative thinking about what’s happening in your house when the sun goes down. It can be difficult to co-sleep and breastfeed on demand with intention when we are constantly beaten down with messaging to the contrary. This leaves some of us of doing these things out of sheer desperation, and with resentment. We search endlessly for alternatives. Our reality is so skewed that we forget what our
great-grandmothers knew all along, and what we instinctively knew, too. We blindly follow the pages from a book designed to undermine our innate wisdom as mothers and as parents. We don’t realize the consequences. The book prioritizes convenience, under the guise of protecting a parent’s mental health. It sells, and it spreads like wildfire. So, let’s back up a bit. Let’s paint a not-sopretty picture. It’s 2016. I thought my child would be sleeping through the night by now. She’s 11 months old, and she’s not sleeping through. She’s not even sleeping longer than an hour at a time. She’s only settled by an elaborate coordinated dance of rocking and feeding. She is in a cot on the other side of the house and I am getting up each time to settle her before returning to my own bed. We are feeling a bit broken. At this time, I was depressed. I had many triggers and I was in therapy, but I was convinced that if my daughter slept through the night, the postnatal depression would go away and I would be free of the dark mood and exhaustion I was experiencing. I was obsessing about sleep. It didn’t help that every professional I sought for support was also focused on sleep. It’s hard to know what came first—my obsessive thoughts, or the services fueling them. I’d wake up in the morning and my husband would take our daughter so that I could go back to bed for half an hour. Then I’d get up for the day, and it was like a dark cloud entered the
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 25
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
sells it, the sleep books sell it, the “sleep experts” sell it.
kitchen. I would give my husband a detailed account of what happened in the night, justifying my sleep-in. How many times she woke, for how long, what I did to settle her, how tired I felt. It was as if I’d survived an ordeal. I’m pretty sure I even had an app on my phone to track each wake-up. My husband would nod sympathetically. “What are we going to do?” we would ask. He would leave for work and I’d often still be in my pajamas, too exhausted to shower. I tried everything. I’ve always felt in my heart that sleep training wasn’t right for us, after I’d dabbled in a bit of controlled crying (that was definitely not controlled crying, according to the book). But that didn’t stop me from investigating gentle methods. I also had the sleep-inducing smoothies to give her at a certain time each day, a spoonful of coconut oil (supposed to keep a breastfed baby full overnight), magnesium oil to rub on her calves before bed, and more. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. Nothing helped. I was also quite often convinced that something was wrong. Everyone was always asking me whether I’d investigated silent reflux, food intolerances, or if something was wrong with my milk. They just couldn’t fathom that she wouldn’t “behave.”
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
Eventually, I read a book which opened my eyes to the world of gentle sleep, a concept I didn’t even know existed. As a social worker I wanted to practice attachment parenting, but I had all the theory and none of the practice. I got to the end of this book and thought, “But that’s just common sense. That doesn’t tell me how to do anything!” Ahh, a lightbulb moment! That was the lesson right there. It was at this time that I also did a lot of soul searching. I was drawn to radical acceptance, and with my newfound understanding, practiced a radical acceptance of my child’s sleep habits. We set up a floor bed and co-slept safely. I stopped checking the time, eventually; it was the hardest habit to let go of. I would drift off to sleep much more quickly without having to get up out of bed again. My daughter’s sleep did not change. But my mood and my symptoms improved dramatically. In a way, sleep was the reason for my depression, but not in the way that I expected. What I needed to change was internal—my inner world. But the biggest shift was the change in the language that I was using surrounding sleep. Not just out loud, either— there was a drastic overhaul of my internal dialogue, too. Now, we have two children and our conversations in the morning look very different: “How was your night?” he’ll ask. “Normal” I’ll say. He knows exactly what that means. “Did she wake last night?” I’ll ask of our oldest daughter. “I think so” he’ll say. We are curious. But they either needed us or they didn’t,
© TA NGIBLEDAY | DREA MST IME.CO M
Of course we fantasize about a time where we put them to bed, they stay there, and we sleep a full night, waking to the sound of happy children getting their own breakfast. It’s only natural, due to the social conditioning. We are sold this daily. The cot
© KA NNA A | DREAMSTIME.C OM
we either responded or we didn’t. There is no speculation about what is wrong, what we should be doing or why it’s happening. We know it’s normal and we know it will pass. We know we don’t have to rush anything. It’s already prevalent, but with a new baby in tow, when we go to the supermarket (or anywhere, really) people will often ask about sleep. “How much does she sleep? Is she a good baby?” “Just normal for her age” is always my reply. You’d be surprised by how many people respond with “So, not a lot then?” I just smile. It’s through these interactions that we come to share in this common knowledge: All babies wake, and this obviously means that every baby is not born broken. Yet we seem to suppress this because it’s easier than the alternative of shifting our belief system to support the biological norm as opposed to socially constructed ideals. We are just not in acceptance. This does nothing for our little ones who need our presence, even when it feels like a lot to give at times. Babies are not broken, and do not need to be taught how to sleep. It’s the parents who struggle to adjust. Of course we get tired. Of course we fantasize about a time where we put them to bed, they stay there, and we sleep a full night in our own beds, waking to the sound of happy children getting their own breakfast. It’s only natural due to the social conditioning. We are sold this daily. The cot sells it, the sleep books sell it, the “sleep experts” sell it. Those days may be years away, years that will surely pass. But they are years we don’t want to wish away. We don’t want to long for a future time where our children are different people. We want to love them right now, as they are. We can choose to love this time, as it is. We are in a space where we’re told every day by society that it’s the wrong place to be, and yet we are choosing to stay here. That is radical acceptance to me.
I have a challenge for you. I challenge you to shift the way you think and talk about sleep. Instead of giving a fellow mom at the park a blow-byblow of your night, rise above and remain matter-of-fact. You can be authentic without hiding behind a coffee meme and a negative tone tarnishing your truth. You can be tired and honor this without feeling like you’re going to explode if you don’t offload. You can experience your “normal” fully, while knowing that everyone goes through this and is standing alongside you in solidarity because it is indeed normal. You can change your entire experience of parenting by knowing that night-waking, night-feeding, separation anxiety, and a biological need for your presence is normal, and not something to be changed—or feared. There is no wall to build. When you think about the idea of “training” your child to not need you in the night anymore, keep in mind that they are wired to need you to ensure their survival. Training sounds a bit impossible and a bit tiresome. It’s kind of like training them to not need food. We have to let go. Imagine the weight lifted from your shoulders as you stop fighting the normal, biological needs of your children in the night. Let go of the struggle, especially the internal one. Surrender: No sleep training required. Zelma Tolley is founder of the award-winning online movement, The Postnatal Project, and author of Mama, Let’s Be Honest. With a special interest in breastfeeding, birth trauma, perinatal mental health, and parenting, Zelma honors and supports the emotional experience of parents. Zelma is active on social media; you can find out more by visiting thepostnatalproject.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness. org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 27
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
OWN How to Stop Interfering with Your Child’s Development
t’s hard to give objective information about raising a child to a parent without them feeling offended, so when I see things that make me cringe, I usually bite my tongue. But when a friend asked me what I thought about putting her 3-month-old in a Bumbo seat, I realized that I need to speak up. Because I have studied developmental kinesiology and understand human biomechanics, I should be the one to tell people why and how to stop interfering with their child’s development. This is not about my judging your parenting style or choices. This is a way for me to communicate to wellmeaning parents that they are doing more harm than good when it comes to child development and physical capabilities. Here is the important thing to remember: Your child
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
will learn to move on his own. And if he isn’t allowed to learn on his own, he won’t learn how to do it properly. That means that if you try to teach your child how to roll over, how to sit up, how to stand, how to walk, or how to run, he won’t be doing it in the most efficient manner possible. Placing your child in a position that he is not able to hold himself will actually prevent him from learning how to achieve that position. Children need to get a sense of how their bodies function in a gravity environment. This helps them coordinate and activate muscles in the proper sequence to initiate complex movements. Placing your child in any
© DGLIM AGES | ISTOCKPHOTO/G ETT Y IM AGES
By Lindsay Mumma, D.C.
of the following devices is actually counterproductive to their learning and movements: ▪ Bumbo seats (or any other seat that sits your child upright before she has sat up on her own) ▪ ExerSaucers ▪ Door jumpers ▪ Baby walkers and push carts ▪ Baby swings So now you’re probably thinking that I’m either crazy or just mean. Here are the arguments for the use of the above devices, and why they don’t hold up. “My baby wants to walk—he just can’t do it yet.” When you stand an infant up, they will reflexively lift one leg. Reflexively. It looks like they’re walking. It’s adorable. It’s a reflex. This doesn’t mean your child is ready to walk and just needs a little assistance. If your child cannot walk without assistance, your child cannot walk. Instead of focusing on what your baby can’t do yet, sit back and enjoy what your baby can do. This change in perspective will go a long way.
© OLG A BO G AT Y REN KO | DREA MSTIME.C OM
“My baby gets frustrated when I lay her on the ground.” Babies who are used to being held upright will likely need to gradually transition into lying comfortably on the floor. During this transitory period, I recommend spending time on the floor with your child so that she can enjoy your presence without being propped up. (You don’t even need to entertain her. Allow her to explore on her own, and appreciate how she does so.) She will gradually begin to enjoy feeling the pull of gravity as she explores her body’s capabilities. Have a safe place for your baby to play. Often parents put their children in devices to keep them safe, but it’s more effective for the child’s development if they are free to move about in a safe space rather than being confined to a device. “He has so much fun jumping in his door jumper!” I am not trying to prevent your child from having fun. But anyone who’s ever experienced low back pain knows how much “fun” that is. Oh!—it’s not. Don’t set your child up for poor posture or undue stress on his body. Once again, if your child cannot do something without assistance, he simply cannot do it. So if he can’t jump unless the bungee cords attached to your door are pulling him up, then he can’t jump. The patella (kneecap) doesn’t even ossify until 3 to 5 years of age. Repetitive bouncing on a knee that’s still forming from artificial jumping doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. “She’ll only sleep in the swing.” We all need sleep. If your child sleeps safely in a swing, then I say do what you have to so that everyone can rest.
Your child will learn to move on his own. And if he isn’t allowed to learn on his own, he won’t learn how to do it properly.
But remember that if your child is spending a significant amount of time in a reclined/ semi-supine position and strapped in, then she’ll need to make up for that during her waking hours with lots of free movement. One more note to be conscious of when dealing with your little one: Assistance isn’t strictly limited to devices. If you are bent over holding your child’s hand so he can walk, then you are doing him (and likely your own low back) a disservice. If you are sitting your child up, you are simply acting as a live Bumbo seat and putting your child prematurely into a position he cannot achieve. Without going on a whole new tangent, think about the last time you completed a great feat all on your own. Would you have felt as proud if someone else did half of the work for you? Give your baby the chance to feel some satisfaction at his own accomplishments. Before ExerSaucers, door jumpers, Bumbos, and baby walkers, humans learned to move. They learned instinctively and gradually. Trust that your baby is wired for success; trust that he’ll take that first step. And when he does, you’ll want to make sure that your hands are free so you can celebrate the accomplishment together with a hug. Because if he achieves this all on his own, he’s going to be pretty proud of himself—and you’ll be proud of him, too! And finally: If you are concerned about your children’s development, or worry that they’ve spent too much time in assistive devices, it’s a great idea to have them checked by someone who understands biomechanics in tiny humans. Lindsay Mumma, D.C., is the COO of Birthfit and runs Birthfit NC. She is also the owner of Triangle Chiropractic and Rehab, where she primarily sees prenatal and postpartum patients. She’s a wife and mother of two vivacious boys and is the author of the Trimester book series. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 29
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
By Chris LoRang, D.C.
meet with a wide range of patients—from factory workers to athletes, young families to the elderly. Yet there is something particularly special about working with infants. Reaching and wriggling as they yearn to discover the world, their reflexes and seminal movements are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Upon birth, babies begin a developmental journey that transforms them from immobile infants to bipedal toddlers within 12 to 18 months. This crucial window is their opportunity to move in innate, prescribed ways in a sequence optimized for building neuromotor coordination. With this highly evolved pattern, infants gain sustainable stability, coordination, and subsequent mobility that lays the foundation for their biomechanical future. Informed by the models of the Vojta Method and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, the foundational concept that infants are soft-wired to develop
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
in a predictable way has shaped my clinical lens and illuminated to me the critical importance of proper movement during infancy. In my clinical practice, I examine and check infants with developmental delays. Although I enjoy this work, it is difficult to see parents’ frustration and overwhelm at a child’s atypical movements, not to mention the developmental setbacks for the infants themselves. I can’t help but ask, “How can we prevent the problem before it begins?” That question has led me to realize that there is a troubling lack of knowledge about how to best support an infant on his or her biomechanical developmental journey. Some foundational concepts have yet to reach mainstream consciousness. To simplify my clinical recommendations, I give my patients, friends, and family these three pieces of advice: forgo all infant orthotic devices, get on the floor, and educate your village of caretakers.
SY DA P RO DU CTION S | D REAM ST IME.CO M
Avoid Infant Orthotic Devices This recommendation is the one that surprises people the most: to forgo implements designed to contain or artificially support infants. The kind of devices I’m referring to include common registry gifts like fixed-foam infant seats, walkers, ExerSaucers, jumpers, and oversize pillows used to prop up infants. I call such items Infant Orthotic Devices, or IODs. Though such products are common, bolstered by claims from manufacturers that they “help” infants learn to sit and walk, I advise parents to forgo them entirely. Most noticeably, IODs restrict an infant’s natural movements and compromise the developing neck and spine. With aberrant stress placed on their joints, ligaments, muscles, and bones, babies are less able to act out the predictable neurological movements described by Vojta. Infants in IODs are also deterred from receiving the right sensory input at the right time, and may experience misordered sensorimotor input. This lack of coordinated sensory input and motor output may cause them to develop altered movement patterns that could follow them as they grow.
Research shows that infant walkers, in particular, can cause developmental delays, altered motor patterns, or at the very least do not help the child. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has gone so far as to recommend a ban on the manufacture and sale of mobile infant walkers because of safety concerns. In addition, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mary Weck, clinical coordinator of physical therapy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, states, “No equipment enhances a child’s motor development.” Nevertheless, manufacturers of infant orthotic devices continue to make widely-accepted claims that such devices benefit infants by “helping” them learn to sit and walk. Remarkably, infants don’t need any help in this process, and by “helping” them with an IOD, we may be altering their natural progression. “Baby’s development is like the opening of a flower bud. It gradually unfolds,” as Marianne Hermsen-van Wanrooy so poetically states in the introduction to her foundational book, Baby Moves. “If we open its petals unnaturally, we interfere with the growing process and the flower becomes distorted.” What we must remember is that motor development must be allowed to be a gradual process. It takes a typical infant 12 to 18 months to be able to walk. I encourage you to see and celebrate the micro-milestones, as well as the big ones, once the child has reached them on his own.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 31
Fig 1a: This pillow offers artificial stability to the developing infant, shaping the lounged child’s spine into a convex “C.” Forcing the entire spine into flexion, the sensory input required for instinctual motor pattern development is altered and the ability for the child to move is restricted.
Fig 1b: In contrast to Figure 1A, this child’s spine is long, neutral, and elongated. The child is in an ideal posture. Enjoying an age-appropriate viewpoint of his surroundings, this infant can interact with his environment without obstruction.
Fig 2a: This fixed-foam infant seat creates artificial support and restricts normal, age-appropriate movement. As you can see, the infant is compensating with a kyphotic thoracic, cervico-thoracic, lumbar spine, and overdevelopment of neck musculature. A child who cannot move from being on his back to a seated position all by himself, without assistance, should not be placed in a seated position such as this.
Fig 2b: Unsupported and unobstructed, this child is in an age-appropriate position and is stabilizing his spine and head with ease. Not yet ready to sit up on his own, this child can still interact with his environment in this position.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
PHOTOS COU RTESY OF B UILD ING YOUR BABY FROM THE GROUND UP
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
Fig 3a: This child is not yet ready to stand; when placed in a vertical position at this stage as he is in this walker, the child reacts to the abnormal stress on ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck with compensatory, less stable patterns of movement.
Fig 3b: This child has reached the ability to stand all on her own. She exhibits appropriate positioning and motor control of feet, knees, hips, spine, neck, and skull. No child needs an IOD to help them reach this stage.
Get on the Ground In light of research linking IOD use to motor developmental delays, I urge my patients, friends, and family to forgo these devices altogether and opt instead for something that is free and commonly available: the ground. When infants spend time on their backs and on their tummies, they benefit from the opportunity to move naturally— and that alone propels them to eventually crawl, sit, and walk. It is in this process of moving in reaction to the sensory input of being on the floor that appropriate coordination of movement and muscular co-activation occurs. Without each link, occurring in sequence, the chain of motor development becomes skewed and altered patterns are more likely to occur. Like skipping a chapter in a book, using IODs makes an infant jump ahead in their development. In so doing, however, a child will miss the important storyline of their developmental journey.
Whether it’s turning in the direction of a sound, reaching for an object, or taking a first step, these soft-wired neuro-sensorimotor sequences require no technological intervention, only free-range interaction with a flat surface in a safe environment. Give your baby the benefit of a nurturing developmental environment wherever she or he spends time. You can find educational materials and posters on our website (building yourbaby.com) to share with your village of caretakers. The old-is-new, less-is-more approach I propose here maintains that a minimalistic and evolutionary model of infant motor pattern development is best, and that the less technology we use to help our children walk, the better and stronger they will be. As a father and as a clinician, I understand the desire to see a child thrive. That is why it has become my mission to educate and empower parents, clinicians, and caretakers to set their children up for biomechanical developmental success.
Educate Your Village More research is needed to investigate the effect of IODs on infant motor pattern development. In this article, we extrapolate the existing research on infant walkers to include other pieces of equipment that provide artificial support to infants’ limbs and spine. Acknowledging the gap in research, I stand by this extrapolation because I have observed and cared for the dysfunction caused by these devices in my own clinic.
Chris LoRang, D.C., is a chiropractic physician and co-founder of Building Your Baby from the Ground Up, an evidence-informed educational platform designed to spread awareness to parents, caretakers, and clinicians about the benefits of evolutionary infant motor development. Learn more at buildingyourbaby.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 33
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
Chiropractic for Mom and Baby By Ian Shtulman, D.C.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
ackie really wanted her pregnancy to go smoothly and comfortably. Her first pregnancy, five years before, was challenged with horrible sciatica, along with anxiety and high blood pressure. That last condition led to an unwanted induction after her estimated due date came and went. “I could not find a way to settle my mind and body,” she told me. Hoping to avoid a repeat of those physical and emotional challenges, Jackie sought out chiropractic around 15 weeks into her pregnancy. She was already feeling anxiety, reflux, sciatica, and headaches. We evaluated her, and found her nervous system trapped in a near constant fight-or-flight mode—her body was more focused on surviving than thriving. That made it hard enough to be an elementary school teacher and a mom to a 5-year-old girl, let alone also growing another baby. Gentle adjustments helped correct the alignment in her spine and pelvis, reducing adverse tension in her nervous system. “I was surprised how easy the adjustment was,” she
P HOTOS COURTESY OF THE AUT HOR
said. More important, she noticed that after just a few visits her body was working better and her headaches, neck/ shoulder pain, and sciatica resolved and never returned. Jackie’s blood pressure was perfect at every prenatal visit, so she felt much calmer and more emotionally prepared. She was able to stay active with her daughter and continue working at school. She was thrilled when baby Silas arrived in an efficient labor, needing only five pushes for him to be in her arms. A couple weeks after he was born, Silas experienced some bad reflux, causing him to choke and be rushed to the hospital. Jackie knew it was time for Silas to visit the chiropractor. Our evaluation found a subtle shift in the top bone of his neck, which can irritate the vagus nerve and disrupt digestion. Gentle chiropractic adjustments helped reduce that irritation so his nervous system could better regulate normal bodily functions. Silas is relaxed during the adjustments—I mean, look at that face!—and Jackie has noticed that he’s calmer after
each visit, and not fussy or uncomfortable. After just a few visits, Silas is already feeling better, and is having easier and more frequent bowel movements. Simply put, chiropractic helps the body work better for both parents and children, making pregnancy, birth, and baby happier and healthier.
Dr. Ian Shtulman is a second-generation chiropractor in private practice in Palm Beach County, Florida. After graduating from Life University with the Philosophy Distinction award, he earned his diplomate in chiropractic pediatrics through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is now an ICPA instructor. His passion for perinatal chiropractic led him to being the in-house chiropractor in a free-standing birth center and a CE speaker for chiropractors, midwives, and childbirth educators. He is particularly interested in establishing subluxation correction as a routine component of prenatal and pediatric healthcare. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 35
TA K I N G T H E S T E P
CHIROPRACTIC AND NIGHTTIME BEDWET TING
ven though I was not fortunate enough to grow up with chiropractic in my own life, once I discovered the power and significance of prenatal and pediatric chiropractic as an adult, I vowed to make it my purpose. I was four years into practice and had already adjusted a lot of kids, but I had not yet witnessed a real “miracle”—one where you can see the path that a child is on, and know that if they had not been in your office that day, that their trajectory would have taken them down a very different road. Today I want to tell you Kelsey’s story, and how I witnessed the true power of pediatric chiropractic. Kelsey started care at our clinic when she was 7 years old. Her mother worked at the local hospital and had been referred by a coworker who was a patient at our office, and knew we worked with a lot of children. The first time I met Kelsey, I noticed something unusual about her right away. She looked sad—much more sad than any 7-year-old should look. I remember her mom having a desperate look on her face as well, like she wanted to help her child more than anything in the world, but she just didn’t know how. Her mother brought Kelsey in because she was having headaches and nighttime bedwetting. Both of these conditions are unusual for a 7-year-old, so we dug into the details during her consult. For the headaches, Kelsey had been taking quite a bit of Tylenol daily over the past two years, with minimal relief. She would have headaches about five days a week, on average. They spread across her forehead, and she often had to rest in a dark, quiet place. Kelsey would also wet herself several times a night, every night. She’d never had a dry night in her life. She had never had a friend stay overnight, and had never stayed at a friend’s house for a sleepover, because of sheer anxiety about having an accident. She felt like she was losing friends, and that it was hard to make new friends at school because of this. During my review of her health history, I also discovered that Kelsey had frequent stomachaches, IBS, and constipation. She had been taking Miralax every day for the past 4½ months. She was 67 pounds, and her mom told me that she had not gained any weight in 1½ years.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
Other notable parts of Kelsey’s health history included vaginal delivery with epidural. Her tonsils and adenoids were removed when she was 4 because she was sick all the time with chronic sinus infections. Her mom told me she had about eight courses of antibiotics a year until then. Kelsey also had asthma and allergies, and used an albuterol inhaler. She had frequent night terrors, as well. Her mom had tried moving sugar, corn syrup, and most dairy from Kelsey’s diet. She and Kelsey’s father had also recently divorced. Upon examination, I noted that there were subluxations at occiput, C1, T5, T7, L2/L3, and coccyx. Cervical range of motion noted restrictions in many directions, and head tilt toward the left side when extending backwards. After talking to Kelsey, it became clear why she looked so sad the day she came into my office. She was in a lot of pain. At 7 years old, she had more pain daily than most adults experience in a month, or even a year. She had chronic health problems and had been on medications for most of her life. She felt constipated and had troubling stomach problems, and had a hard time with bowel movements. But above all, in her words, she could not be “a normal kid” and have sleepovers with her friends because of her embarrassing bedwetting issues. Her bedwetting was causing her tremendous anxiety, and it was hard for her to be happy. Kelsey’s parents had tried a number of things to help her stop wetting the bed—limiting fluid intake in the evening, setting alarms to wake her up throughout the night, reward systems, etc. But all of these failed, and left her feeling like a failure. Not to mention that she needed more hydration, not less; the alarms disrupted her sleep patterns even more, and she felt like she was letting herself and everyone else down with the rewards because she literally had no control over the issue. Kelsey was not a naughty child, and she was not looking for attention. She wanted to stop the bedwetting more than anyone else did. She could get past everything else if she could just be a normal 7-year-old girl and not be so stressed out all the time. I got it. On her first visit, I adjusted her top cervical vertebrae (which was literally the biggest subluxation at that level
© M M STU DIO SNC DI MA NNELLI ROB ERTO & C. | DREAM STIM E.CO M
By Brenda Trudell, D.C.
Kelsey could get past everything else if she could just be a normal 7-year-old girl
P HOTO COU RTESY O F BRENDA TRU DELL
And not be so stressed out all the time.
I had ever felt) and her third lumbar. Due to scheduling conflicts (Kelsey traveled between her parents’ homes), we were not able to see her again until 10 days later. During that time, she had only a couple of headaches, and they were less severe than before her adjustment. She did not have any stomachaches over the weekend. Bedwetting frequency had decreased from five to seven times a night to once or twice a night. On her third visit (two weeks after her first), Kelsey reported no incidents of bedwetting for the past four nights. She was able to wake up at night to use the restroom if needed, but some nights did not need to wake up at all. Her IBS symptoms and headaches also continued to improve. When Kelsey came in for her fourth visit, I noticed something I had not seen before: a huge smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye that had not been there for a long time, if ever. Her entire face looked different—less strained, more relaxed. Her color had even changed. Her pale skin and dark circles were replaced with rosy cheeks. She gave me a huge hug and handed me a homemade card, and told me she had important news to tell me. That weekend she was going to her first sleepover at a friend’s house! I got tears in my eyes as I looked at her mom, who also had the biggest smile on her face. This might not seem like a huge deal, but to this little girl, it was literally everything! Over the years, we continued to work on the headaches and stomachaches. Some of her troubles seemed to follow a pattern—when she stayed at her dad’s house her diet was drastically different, and because of this, digestive upset and headaches would often follow. We were able to help with those conditions a lot, but she needed to be conscious of what she ate. Kelsey never had another episode of nighttime bedwetting after her second chiropractic adjustment. She also stopped having night terrors, and eventually her asthma and allergies cleared up. She was able to get off all medications, except the occasional Tylenol for severe headaches. She also had a major growth spurt and gained weight appropriately for her age. She enjoyed life, school, dance, sports, family, and her friends. Seven years later, I often think back to this young girl, who showed me my first true miracle in chiropractic.
As chiropractors, we see so many amazing things in our practices that we often take them for granted. When you first witness the power of chiropractic and the amazing power of innate healing unfolding before your eyes, you almost don’t believe it. But it is there. And it is powerful. We have yet to grasp its full potential. When I look back to Kelsey, I recognize that her full innate potential was being hidden by subluxations. They were not allowing her nervous system to fully express itself, and she was paying the price. Once the stress on her nervous system was unlocked, she was able to perceive her environment in a completely different context, and became a different person—right before my eyes. Over the years now I have witnessed many chiropractic “miracles,” but I also understand that they are not miracles at all. They are simply the body’s innate power doing exactly what it is supposed to do once the nervous system is functioning optimally. We are born to survive and designed to thrive. Anything less is diminishing our potential, dimming our shine, and dulling our sparkle. Brenda Trudell, D.C., has maintained a thriving prenatal and pediatric family practice in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, for more than 11 years. Brenda is very involved with the birthing community and is currently finishing up her pediatric certification through the ICPA. Passion for improving pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding outcomes is what drives her, and helped her achieve a beautiful homebirth to daughter Margeaux, who keeps her very busy and happy when she is not at her practice. View article resources and author information here: pathways tofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 37
Chiropractic and Children
Why Chiropractic Care for Children? Birth is tough work for both mothers and babies. There are a lot of pressures and forces being exerted onto your baby during her journey into the world. A recent study by Viola Frymann demonstrated that 90 percent of newborns suffered the effects of birth trauma: associated strain through the neck and cranial areas following birth. Frymann, an American osteopathic doctor, studied more than 1,500 babies periodically across an eight-year period. She examined all babies within the first five days of birth; in fact, many were checked within the first 24 hours. This study revealed that approximately: • 10 percent of the newborn babies had perfect, freely mobile skulls or cranial mechanisms. • 10 percent had severe trauma to the head, evident even to untrained observers. • The remaining 80 percent all had some strain patterns in the cranial mechanism. Birth in its many different forms can be quite traumatic. While each birth is unique, there is always a chance that the baby suffers some sort of strain due to a variety of reasons. Even the most natural births can result in trauma that goes undetected. As researcher G. Gutmann has written, “The trauma from the birth process remains an under-publicized and therefore significantly under-treated problem.”
Safe, Gentle, Effective
More parents are discovering the many benefits associated with chiropractic care throughout childhood. Our doctors provide special care for infants, children, and pregnant mothers. FIND A DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC
Chiropractors who care for infants
What can cause birth trauma in infants?
use very specific, gentle adjustments, and most ICPA doctors
1. Very short labor
have taken advanced classes
2. Very long labor
on specific techniques for infants.
3. The use of Pitocin to strengthen/induce uterine contractions 4. Pain medications 5. Restricted maternal birthing positions 6. Pulling or twisting on the head to deliver the infant’s body 7. The use of forceps or vacuum extraction 8. Cesarean delivery Left uncorrected, this trauma continues to impact a baby’s spinal growth and development,
© YUROLAITSALBERT | DREAMSTIME.COM
reducing the healthy function of her nerve system. This can cause many health challenges later in life that could easily have been prevented. Nursing difficulties, sleep disturbances, and an inability to be soothed and settled are all potential
Children’s health begins in pregnancy and birth.
signs of spinal nerve stress in infants.
Although all infants should be checked right after birth, here are just three clear indicators to find a chiropractor who cares for infants.
His head tilts to one side, even after you straighten it.
She seems to have difficulty turning her neck to one side.
He has difficulty settling down or sleeping soundly.
S TAY I N G T H E C O U R S E
Laying the groundwork Five reasons why your birth can affect your baby and your parenting
hen I meet a new mom, dad, and baby for the first time at a consultation for colic and sleep, I always open with the same topic: “Tell me about your birth.” Mostly my request is met with confusion, wrinkled eyebrows, and exchanged curious looks. Very often they ask me “why?” straight back. After all, they haven’t come to talk about their birth; they’ve come to work out why their baby cries so much. To me, though, the two things are so inextricably linked it is impossible to understand the issues their newborn is having unless we go back to the beginning (and sometimes even farther!). Here’s why I ask that question, and why I believe that any professional working with new parents must consider the baby’s birth in order to really help: Physical Consequences for the Baby If a baby is born by C-section, ventouse, or forceps, my ears always prick up immediately, especially if the labor was long and involved malpresentation. I work very closely with a local chiropractor who specializes in caring for new babies, and over the years I’ve learned an awful lot from her. Imagine if your head had been crooked at an unusual angle for several weeks, and then imagine somebody was pushing your head into that position even harder for a whole day. You’d have a headache and neck ache, right?
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
I have seen babies in obvious discomfort, several with torticollis, unable to turn their head. Aside from the discomfort, this can also have an effect on feeding. Several moms have told me, “He just won’t feed from that side, and cries whenever we try.” They haven’t considered that it might be painful for their baby to turn his head to do so. And when you start delving into the world of cranial nerves, the whole issue becomes more complex. During labor the baby’s cranial bones move and overlap (think of a cone-headed newborn!). This is normal, and the bones usually return to their proper position a few days after the birth, mostly as the baby is sucking: The movement of the upper and lower jaw stimulates the base of the skull via the palate. Sometimes, however, things don’t return to normal; often abnormal skull compression becomes noticeable via the baby’s feeding habits and his need to suck much more than usual. If the baby’s vagus nerve (the nerve directly linked to digestion) is compressed, this can also have noticeable effects on a baby’s digestive system causing pain. All of this is more likely to happen if the labor is long, the baby is malpresented (babies who laid in an asynclitic presentation during labor are often more fussy), or if the baby is born via emergency C-section, forceps, or ventouse. Visiting a good chiropractor or cranial osteopath can make a profound difference for some new parents and babies. I believe it should be available on the NHS. After all, we check a baby’s hearing after birth—why not his skull and spine?
© BLAN SC APE | DREA MSTIM E.COM
By Sarah Ockwell-Smith
© V ITALINKO | DREAM STIM E.CO M
Physical Consequences for the Mother In my utopian world, all new mothers would be visited by a chiropractor or osteopath. I suffered from hideous pelvic girdle pain during my first two pregnancies, and it wasn’t until my third that I discovered that, hey, pregnancy doesn’t have to hurt! I was literally a changed woman. I was lucky in that I only suffered during my pregnancy, but I have known plenty of women who continued to suffer after their births. It affected their posture, both standing and seated, and the constant discomfort would slowly begin to erode into their psyche. And then there is the discomfort some women experience during breastfeeding, which often means their babies are latched poorly—and we all know where that leads. It’s not just the pelvis and spine that matter, though. I have met too many women suffering from perineal trauma, poorly stitched episiotomies, and the like, which not only cause great physical discomfort, but emotional pain as well. This can remain troublesome long after the birth itself. Psychological Consequences for the Baby Even those births that have supposedly been “natural” or gone “well” can be a problem. The two big culprits here are the use of exogenous oxytocin (branded as Syntocinon or Pitocin, depending on where you’re reading this), and what happened immediately after birth. Let’s start with the artificial oxytocin. In his article, “If I Were the Baby: Questioning the Widespread Use of Synthetic Oxytocin,” Michel Odent discusses the blood flow from mother to baby via the placenta, and points out that the permeability is higher from the mother to the fetus than vice versa. And since blood travels from mother to baby easily, so, too, does whatever substance is in the mother’s blood. Odent’s concern is the “oxytocin-induced desensitization of the oxytocin receptors,” saying that “it is probable that, at a quasi-global level, we routinely interfere
with the development of the oxytocin system of human beings at a critical phase for gene-environment interaction.” What does this mean? When artificial oxytocin is put into the maternal bloodstream during labor, it enters the baby as well, and can have profound and lasting consequences on his neurophysiology for the rest of his life. Odent goes on to say: We now have scientific evidence that explains how the capacity to love develops through a complex interaction of hormones, hormones that are secreted during many experiences of love and close human interaction including sexual intercourse and conception, birth, lactation, and even sharing a meal with loved ones. The role of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” is particularly important. Natural oxytocin delivered by human touch, but not synthetic oxytocin delivered by an intravenous drip, has important effects on many organs in the body, including the brain. Those important effects, Odent theorizes, can cause the baby to grow with damaged oxytocin receptors, which he links to rising levels of autism, anxiety, stress, and disturbed ”self-loving”—including higher levels of anorexia and drug and alcohol dependency. Not to mention on another level how traumatizing birth can be for babies. What they are born into is traumatic: bright lights, rough handling, scratchy towels, cold instruments, latex gloves, cord clamps, silly hats and scratch mitts, injections or bitter tasting oral drops. It’s no wonder babies cry when they’re born! (I don’t mean to imply that birth needs to be traumatic for babies. When I trained in baby massage, our instructor Peter Walker asked us, “What if the process of birth was the
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 41
very first massage we receive? What if birth is a pleasurable experience for the baby?” It really made me think.) I was intrigued to learn of the importance of amniotic fluid in calming babies. It’s kind of obvious—a baby spends nine months in amniotic fluid, so it’s what you might call “a constant.” Naturally, then, the scent of the fluid on their skin (and that of their mother) after birth will be calming to them, reminding them of home you might say. Yet, what do we do? We wipe it off, dry them, and wrap them up in a rough towel—despite the fact there is sound scientific evidence to suggest this is the wrong thing to do. Babies whose amniotic fluid is not wiped off after birth cry significantly less, and this is without even discussing skin-to-skin contact. Psychological Consequences for the Mother We know that the blood-brain barrier prevents artificial oxytocin from entering the brain. This might not seem important when you are told that you need an oxytocin drip to speed up or even start your labor, or when you are told it’s best you have an injection to deliver your placenta and prevent blood loss—all of which contain synthesized
My third son arrived at home, in a birth pool, in my dimly lit living room with a midwife who didn’t touch us at all. Nobody but me laid hands on him until he was three days old. Oh my goodness, now I knew what they meant by “love at first sight.”
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
oxytocin—but when you understand that this results in a direct lack of oxytocin circulating in the maternal brain, the trouble becomes clear. These supposedly safe chemicals can have catastrophic effects on the bonding of mother and child, and the initiation (and even long-term success) of breastfeeding. Oxytocin is the hormone of love, and if we are depriving mothers of it, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out how we may be damaging the love process between mother and baby. So often I work with new mothers ashamed to admit that they still don’t know if they really love their babies, or that it took them a long time to love them—that there was no instant “rush of love.” I have experienced it both ways. My first two births were Syntocinontastic. The first one I had “failed to progress” (or they had failed to wait— you decide!), and thus it was deemed my failure of a body that couldn’t get my baby out without a drip to ramp up my contractions. I was then injected with Syntometrine against my consent. (I wasn’t even asked. “I’m just giving you the injection for the placenta now, dear,” and I was jabbed before I had a chance to say anything.) My second birth was an induction for preeclampsia, and I was told I had to have Syntometrine because I was ill/had been induced. Did I get that instant rush of love with those babies? No. Was breastfeeding easy? No. My last two births were dramatically different, however. My third son arrived at home, in a birth pool, in my dimly lit living room with an incredibly respectful midwife who didn’t touch us at all. Nobody but me laid hands on him until he was three days old. Oh my goodness, now I knew what they meant by “love at first sight.” Within 30 minutes of his birth (still in my arms in the pool), I would have died for him—it was as if I was a bubble of golden, warm love. I have never felt so high, drugged, or drunk in my life. This is how birth should be, and this was how it was for my last baby, too, a birth very similar to my third. The love was chemical and instant. I look at photos of my first two births and I can see shadows of the pain and indignity I had suffered, the trauma I had endured, and my sheer relief that it was over. Those same feelings of inadequacy, grief, and confusion lasted for years after the event. Is it any wonder why so many new mothers find it hard to bond with their babies? Why it’s hard to interpret their cries? Hard to hear their instinct? We strip so many mothers of the chemical euphoria they should experience and pay no attention to the aftereffects.
© JEA NETTE BROWN | DREAM STIM E.COM
S TAY I N G T H E C O U R S E
© JEA NETTE BROWN | DREAM STIM E.COM
Psychological Consequences for the Father All too often we forget about the dads, but birth can be— and is—an immensely emotional event for the father, both positively and negatively. Nobody seems to care about the dads, though. Nobody holds their hands and tells them they are doing well, nobody hugs them and listens to their worries, or tells them it’s okay to cry. We expect them to be a tower of strength...but where is their support? The sooner we catch on to this, the better. As a doula I now firmly believe my role is 10 percent supporting the mom (if birthing women are left alone, they pretty much don’t need help from me or anyone else) and 90 percent supporting the dad. It’s funny, but a lot of expectant fathers are reluctant when it comes to employing a doula. The mothers are often much keener, but the dads worry that they will feel left out. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Research indicates that at births with a doula present, the partner is more supportive and more involved. When birth goes well, it can be an amazing high for the dad, too. It can help him bond with his baby almost as instantly as the mom. But when it goes bad...oh, when it goes bad. I have been at a couple of ventouse births and episiotomies now, sitting at “the business end,” and sometimes the visions and noises still haunt me. How must it feel to see your partner in distress, being cut, or having a baby pulled out of her with great force? And afterward being sent home, alone, two hours later, if your baby was born outside of visiting hours. We don’t seem to understand how traumatic witnessing a birth such as that can be for a dad, and the impact it can have upon his transition to fatherhood.
We know that when dads are supportive of breastfeeding the mother is much more likely to be successful and feed for longer. The birth can have a big impact on the dad, and that will affect the support he’s able to give to his partner. So, what do I do with the information that is given to me about the birth from the new parents? Sometimes I’ll suggest a visit to a chiropractor, a breastfeeding counselor, or a birth afterthoughts midwife—or, rarely, a telephone call to the birth trauma association. But often I just listen, and listen some more. For that mom or dad it may be the first time somebody has listened to their story. Never underestimate the impact that being listened to can have on somebody’s state of mind. Next time you meet a new mom with a colicky baby, think about asking her about her birth.
Sarah Ockwell-Smith is the author of eight parenting books, including the bestselling The Gentle Sleep Book and Why Your Baby’s Sleep Matters. She previously worked as a doula and antenatal teacher. She lives in England in a 17th-century cottage with her husband, four children, three cats, 20 former battery chickens, and six Indian Runner ducks. She blogs at sarahockwell-smith.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 43
S TAY I N G T H E C O U R S E
is Normal By Nona Djavid, D.C.
he transition from maiden to mother is the most transformative and sacred journey I have ever taken. It’s the ultimate form of shapeshifting. I was reborn after the birth of my son, Rayan. I remember telling my midwife, “If I can do this, I can do anything.” It was empowering, and the most authentic expression of the divine feminine I have ever experienced. The first 37 weeks of my pregnancy were extremely spiritual and enlightening. For months, I’d read Ina May Gaskin’s books on midwifery and natural childbirth. I ate healthy, exercised, practiced yoga, and meditated. I was under chiropractic care, went to acupuncture, and did everything in between. I chose to have no ultrasounds, no unnecessary tests, and no medical interventions. I had full trust in my body’s ability to do what my female ancestors had done for centuries. There was no fear and no doubt. I told my midwife I wanted a free birth—where only my hands and the hands of my husband would touch the baby. When people asked if I had a birth plan, I would often say that I wanted to squat down and give birth to my son.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
I dreamed about it. I longed for it. I smiled when I breech babies vaginally was dying. As a result, fewer and envisioned it. And then, three weeks prior to my due date, fewer women would have it as an option. everything suddenly changed. That’s when I was told my Of course, I still tried everything in my power to turn son was in a breech position, and that it was “abnormal” and my baby. More chiropractic care, more acupuncture, that my midwife could not, by law, deliver my breech son. He hanging upside down, ice, music, lights. None of these would either have to turn, or I would end up with a C-section. techniques worked; my baby wouldn’t turn. As I was runMy world was upside down. I felt an immense amount of ning around doing all of these things, something inside pain in my heart. For the first time in my pregnancy, I expeof me felt incongruent. I felt out of alignment. I stopped rienced fear and doubt. You see, fear of birth is something and listened to my newfound instinct, and I immediately my mother carried with knew that nothing about her. She experienced a lot this pregnancy—nothing of trauma after multiple about him, nothing about miscarriages, a stillborn his position, and nothing child, and losing a ten-day about me—felt urgent. old newborn baby. This I knew in my heart fear was grand, and it that Rayan had picked his had been carried by my way of coming into the ancestors, generation after world—peacefully and I let go of the circumstances, generation. Stories of loss, through the birth canal. trauma, and pain were I was there to surrender, and began to heal. flooding into me. I had and perhaps learn my first mindfully put all of these lesson in motherhood. I stories away for what seemed like eons, but now the fear was let go of the circumstances, maybe even for the first time, deep and it was consuming me. and began to heal. Shortly after hearing this news, my husband and I went It was time. I was in what my midwife calls labor-land. to get an ultrasound to confirm our baby’s position. And Dr. Stu and my birth team were on the couch discussing yes: Our son was, in fact, breech. After hours and hours the meteor shower that was taking place that night, and of research and phone calls, we found three OBs in all of hoping to catch a glimpse of it at 4 a.m., while I was finding southern California who were known for delivering breech my strength and place of surrender with every contraction. babies vaginally. One had retired. One worked out of a hosAt 4:08 a.m. that early morning, I witnessed the birth of pital. And then there was Dr. Stuart Fischbein, the only OB my son, butt first, Earthside. As my midwife would say, who did home births including VBACs, breech, and twins. I experienced the “rebirth of a mother born by the battle We met with Dr. Stu. I remember him saying, “Breech is she has endured and just won.” a variation of normal.” This was the most refreshing piece of To me, what Joseph Campbell describes as the “hero’s information; my heart was dying to hear it. Something about journey” meant giving birth my own way, on my own breech being “normal” felt right, and I started to feel at peace terms. I became a vehicle for life, and in the process was again. He shared his research and his work with us, checked reborn. When you go through an experience that is so everything out, and let us know that we would qualify for a profound, it shakes you to the core. You begin to overcome breech vaginal birth. all fears, challenges, and perceived conditions. Without He continued to explain how vaginal breech options the outstanding doctor who reminded me of what I already were taken away from women in the 1980s. This was due knew—that breech birth was normal—my journey would to lack of training and a lack of skilled practitioners not have been the same. familiar with specific techniques to deliver breech babies vaginally. This unfortunate trend coincided with a 2000 Nona Djavid, D.C., is a chiropractor, birth-right advocate, Term Breech Trial Study that showed poor outcomes for author, speaker, and mom. After selling her family practice vaginal breech births compared to C-sections. Multiple in Newport Beach, California, she focused her energy on studies came out afterward that proved the study to be coaching female chiropractors in building authentic and flawed or invalid, but it was too late to make a difference. profitable practices that are congruent with being a mom. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology had Her ideas on natural birth and related topics have been featured in various already stopped teaching and recommending a natural blogs, magazines, and podcasts. Currently, Dr. Nona is preparing for her first birth for these moms, and they have not updated their TEDx Talk, focusing on true informed consent at birth, a topic that became recommendations since. very close to her heart after the birth of her first child. Her goal is to raise I now had found my sliver of hope to have my baby enter awareness and empower women to have the birth experiences that they the world how I chose to—which I believe is every woman’s want. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily birthright—but I was saddened that the art of delivering wellness.org/references.html.
© DMIT RII SIMA KOV | D REAM ST IME.CO M
My baby had picked his way of coming into the world—peacefully and through the birth canal. I was there to surrender, and perhaps learn my first lesson in motherhood.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 45
S TAY I N G T H E C O U R S E
How to Have a Great Birth, Especially VBAC By Gloria Lemay
© LEILA NI ROGERS | PHOTOSBYLEI.COM
wanted to write to those of you who are pregnant to tell you something that has been running through my mind all day about how you can be successful with your VBAC births. Many births begin in the night: The woman will get up to pee, feel her membranes release, and then an hour later will begin having sensations 15 minutes apart. Because we think of birth as a family/couple experience, most women will wake up their husbands to tell them something’s starting. Then, probably because we all hope we’ll be the one woman in ten thousand who doesn’t experience any pain, we start organizing the birth supplies, filling up the birthing tub, etc. I have seen so many births that take days and days of prodromal (under 3 cms. dilation) sensations, and they usually begin this way. The couple distracts themselves in that early, critical time when the pituitary gland is beginning to put out oxytocin to dilate the cervix. Turning on the light causes inhibition of the oxytocin release. Many couples don’t call their midwives until they have sensations coming five minutes apart at 7 a.m., but they’ve been up since midnight timing every one of the early sensations. If they had called their midwife at midnight, she would have said, “Turn off the light and let your husband sleep as much as possible through the night. You, stay dark and quiet. Take a bath with a candle if it helps, and call me back when you think I should come over.” That first night can make all the difference, but so many couples act like it’s a party and don’t realize they are sabotaging their births right at the beginning. Staying up all night in the early part does two things: It confuses the brain by throwing off the body clock, and it inhibits the release of the very hormone you need to dilate effectively. It can take days to recover after a night of partying, or after working a graveyard shift. Don’t start your birth with that kind of stress on your hormone system. When you begin to have sensations, I urge you to ignore it as long as you possibly can. Don’t tell anyone. Have a “secret sensation time” with your unborn baby and get in as dark a space as you can. Minimize what is happening with your husband, family, and the birth attendants. What would you rather have— a big, dramatic birth story to tell everyone, or a really smooth birth? You do have a say over your hormone activity. Help your pituitary gland secrete oxytocin to open your cervix by being in a dark, quiet room with your eyes closed.
Gloria Lemay is a childbirth activist living in British Columbia, Canada. She has a passion for VBAC, waterbirth, and ending male genital mutilation. She is a blogger at wisewomanwayofbirth.com. Her film, Birth with Gloria Lemay, was produced in 2012 and has been sent all over the world. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 47
P urpose of Chiropractic Care in P regnancy
Clarity on the Webster Technique in Pregnancy With the intent of supporting natural childbirth in the mid 1980s, Larry Webster, D.C., developed a chiropractic adjustment now called the Webster technique. The first and most significant observation of this adjustment was for women who were presenting breech during pregnancy. After they received the Webster adjustment, their babies turned head down. As a result, they were more likely to experience a natural childbirth that was safer and easier. Often people will ask, “How can a chiropractic adjustment affect baby positioning?” The answer is by improving pelvic balance. When the mother’s pelvis is out of alignment, the ligaments that connect from the pelvis to the uterus increase their tension (tone) resulting in a distortion to the uterine space. Don MacDonald, D.C., offers a great analogy: “Increased tone is like sleeping in a bed with someone sitting on the sheets beside you. Can you turn over freely? No.” For the baby, the surrounding walls of the uterus tighten with pelvic imbalance, becoming more and more like tight bedsheets that restrict her motion. The chiropractic adjustment to the pelvis releases tension to the ligaments and uterus so that the baby can move freely and assume the best possible position for birth.
on the path of motherhood. It is important to realize that many pregnant women are seeking ICPA doctors throughout their pregnancies to
your chiropractic visit?
utilize the many additional benefits of the Webster technique. For every stage of pregnancy, this adjustment reduces interference to the nervous system—a vital benefit to improve physiology for both Mom and her baby. When Mom’s physiological function is at its best, the baby’s development is optimized. Balancing the pelvic bones, muscles, and ligaments, and improving normal physiology sets the stage for a natural birth. Chiropractic care and the Webster technique allow for safer, easier births!
Do you want to optimize your pregnancy and birth? FIND YOUR WEBSTER-CERTIFIED DOCTOR HERE
More and more women are discovering the many benefits associated with chiropractic care in pregnancy. Chiropractors respect the body’s natural design
© SARAH MCKAY
and function and support your desire for a safer, easier birth.
Williams Obstetrics tells us there are three components for a smoother birth for both mother and baby.
P OW E R
PA S SAG E
PA S SE N G E R
The nervous system (Power) operates in all body processes, including childbirth. For birth to proceed as it was naturally designed to, the nervous system must facilitate the transmission of information through the body. By removing interferences and imbalances to the nervous system, chiropractic care helps lead to a normal, physiological birth.
For the baby to descend through the birth canal (Passage), the balance of the mother’s pelvis is vitally important. With chiropractic care, the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis and uterus are free to move and function for the benefit to the mother and the baby. The result is greater ease and comfort in pregnancy and birth.
The baby (Passenger) wants to get into the best possible position to descend through the birth canal. The movements inherent to the birthing baby will be positively facilitated when the mother’s nervous system is optimally functioning and her pelvis balanced. Birth is a cooperative endeavor, where the mom and the baby play vitally connected roles.
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
Unlear ning What We’ve Learned To give birth, women have to
let go of
life’s bad lessons
© CHEERF UL007 | DREAM STIM E.COM
By Marianne Littlejohn
hen pregnant women are induced routinely before 42 weeks of pregnancy, babies learn they have to dance to someone else’s tune, rather than following their own music and time of arrival. Their own biological impulse to seek movement and direction is thwarted. The lesson learned early in life is that spontaneous movement is directed by another force. When newborn babies are conditioned to adapt to an adult’s feeding pattern, such as scheduled feedings every four hours, they learn to suppress their needs for frequent feeding. They learn that their own rhythms are not acceptable. When babies are ignored or abandoned, even for a short time, they learn not to cry in order to survive. They learn their needs are superseded by an outside dominant entity who exerts force and power over their bodies. They learn that their rhythms don’t matter. These prohibitions continue throughout childhood, when the need to explore the environment is strong. “No, don’t touch…”; “No, don’t go there…”; “No, you can’t do this or that.” Children eventually learn to suppress their frustration. So by the time a girl child becomes a woman, she has many layers of self-control that make it acceptable for her to be in society. Women are taught to acquiesce. And then, when we are pregnant, everything we have learned is strong in us. We dream of doing it better, perhaps, and of creating a life for our child in more love and more freedom. Yet we carry our trauma in every cell of our being. We may be afraid and want to “fit in” to the medical system, which, although it may appear to provide safety, is designed to deprive women of their autonomy and power in birth. And here is the rub. We are locked into the patriarchal system. We are locked into our trauma and our pain. Perhaps we are not aware of how much we have learned to hold ourselves together, to behave, to be clean and tidy, to not mess, to not shout or challenge, to not take our clothes off, to not be physical. We have forgotten the rhythm of our bodies. We have forgotten how to follow our own direction. We have forgotten that we are strong and vital. There is a way to unlock our grief, to rediscover our lost selves and rechart our paths. When I was pregnant with my middle son, I broke down. I knew I was not okay. I cried daily as the trauma I had hidden from my childhood started surfacing and I had flashbacks of traumatic events. I sought help from a therapist friend. I cried, raged, wept, and rocked myself in fetal positions nonstop for three weeks. I was concerned that my crying would hurt my unborn baby. Afterward, I felt cleansed and connected and went on to give birth fiercely, unassisted and at home, to my baby son. My baby is now 34 years old and a wonderfully sane, funny, and compassionate person. I had to unlearn my prejudices and let go of the constraints I carried in my body to really connect with myself, my birth, and my baby. Pregnancy, labor, and birth opens the portal to relive and release your grief and to reclaim your direction and life force as a woman. To give birth, a woman has to unlearn everything she has learned.
Marianne Littlejohn is a midwife, teacher, counselor, and advocate for women’s rights in childbirth. Pregnancy and birth is a transitional period from an unseen world to a physical, seen world, and impacts the lives of mothers, fathers, and babies in many ways. Marianne’s spiritual purpose is to bring awareness of this important time to others. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 51
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
Counterbalance to the Masculine Mind By Chantel Quick
he mind/body duality is as fundamental to universal nature as masculine/feminine duality. When it comes to qualities and strengths of the mind and body, traditionally the mind has been seen as the source of more masculine energies (reason, logic, intellect, control) while the body is home to more feminine energy (intuition, flow, sensation), where emotions are stored and felt. In my opinion, one simple way to break down and describe what so many people call “the patriarchy” is to say it’s a society that fundamentally operates in a way that values the mind (intellect/doing) over the body (intuition/feeling). We see this played out everywhere. One of the most obvious and pervasive instances is the ideology of science and the use of charts, graphs, and measurements to “prove” if something is true or untrue. Science is typically seen as “fixed” and “settled.” There is no room for personal accounts, stories, or things that are felt but not seen. This isn’t to say science is wrong or bad at all. I am simply suggesting that it might not be the only means to discovery. Our dismissal of things like magic, energetics, intuition, and all things meta is a sign of masculine dominance, as these things were quite common and well understood in past times. Some radical feminists point out that the process and politics of modern science is a projection and influence of the western man’s values. Here is an excerpt I like from an article by Dr. Kelly Brogan: Ever heard the phrase, “…the science is settled?” If so, it didn’t come from the mouth of a true scientist. Scientific dogmas create taboos—things you’re not allowed to ask about or talk about, let alone study and research. But science is not a destination…it is a process of discovery. Moreover, it is a means of studying and honoring the wonder around us and within us. When science is bound and arrested by dogmatic beliefs, it becomes an eviscerated religion that can be co-opted for political gain and control.
© SEENAD | DREA MSTIM E.COM
Brogan goes on to quote theorist Rupert Sheldrake on the same subject: We are, many of us, waking up from a several century–long slumber induced by Scientism—the dogmatic belief in the dominant narrative of science as religion. As we wake up to nuance, to new science that defies the old, and to a complexity that often leads us to an awareness of all that we don’t know, those Scientism believers will become more and more uncomfortable. These people may be your family, your doctors, or even your formerly trusted media reporters. They may foam at the mouth and
threaten violence at the suggestion that Scientism’s sacred cows (pharmaceuticals, bioengineered foods, industrial chemicals) are not what we have been led to believe. Stay strong and reconnect to the elegance of a world of natural design, harmony, and regeneration. Another way we witness the unconscious cultural belief of the mind being greater than the body is through this idea that women’s bodies are “objects,” and we should stop appreciating their beautiful, sexy bodies, and instead pursue them for their mind/intellect/creativity. Again, it’s not that the latter qualities are not important. But why isn’t the body seen as equally significant, desirable, and powerful? Ironically, it’s typically other women who I see most demanding to be noticed and recognized for the qualities they possess in their mind, while mocking and ridiculing anything body-centric or essential to female biology (which is a powerhouse), or anyone focused on appreciating the female form, or using intuition as a compass for living. One might call this the real “internalized misogyny”— the deep, unchecked belief that the mind is more valuable than the body. In a world where we are so divorced from our bodies and mostly live in the mind, the mind is seen as superior. All our ideas and advocacy for reform are still rooted in these masculine values of systems, intellect, tests, logic, and data. To me, the new feminism would be a return to embodiment. Yet, as it stands today, it seems we still generally believe the mind is more sophisticated, and we depreciate the body as something susceptible that is to be feared and distrusted. We consider it just a powerless “object” that acts as a distraction to men, couldn’t possibly know when and how to give birth, and offers no healing in and of itself. I believe if women owned the power of their body, heart, and sex, and made embodiment their practice—that is to say, focused on radically changing inside themselves, rather than trying to change how everyone responds to us externally—then we would see shifts in our world beyond what we could ever imagine.
Chantel Quick is a blogger on a mission to free women and their families from medical indoctrination by bringing earth-based wisdom back into our lives and homes. She is also a teacher trained specifically in gynecological exams and is passionate about teaching women the art of reproductive sovereignty. This, coupled with her training as a doula, has her advocating for women with evidence-based birth information so that we can collectively change the way we view birth. She is a stay/work-at-home mom to her 4-year-old son, whom she gave birth to in the comfort of her own home in Austin, Texas. You can find Chantal at earthbasedmom.com or on her podcast, Radicle Ruminations, on iTunes. View article resources and author information here: pathways tofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 53
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
I WILL TEACH YOU By Tae Yun Kim
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
© F REDDY CA HYONO | DREA MST IME.C OM
What it took for her life to become her own
The following is an excerpt from Tae Yun Kim’s memoir, Seven Steps to Inner Power. As the passage begins, the author has just been reunited with her family after the end of the Korean War. –The Editors
M ODIFIED © SVELYCHKO | DREA MSTIME.C OM
ventually, I was reunited with my family, and when the war was over I went to live with my grandparents. One blue-gray morning in Kimcheon, South Korea, I was awakened by a shout. Although the war had ended, sudden sounds still had an unsettling effect on me. Cautiously, I slid open the ricepaper window in the room. My uneasiness disappeared as I saw something that instantly captivated me. There, in the early morning fog, my uncles were practicing an ancient martial art. I was mesmerized. The mists swirled with their fluid kicks. Their bodies glistened in the first light of dawn as they moved with amazing power and grace. What I saw awakened a deep feeling inside me. Their movements seemed mystical and yet so natural. To my 7-year-old mind, this was beautiful and exciting. It was important. Nothing had ever seemed so perfect. I had to learn how to do that myself. Little did I know how profoundly that moment would affect my life—and how much opposition I would face to fulfilling my desire. As soon as I could, I asked my uncles to teach me how to do what they were doing, but they met my desire with laughter. “What?” they laughed. “You’re supposed to learn how to cook and sew. And if you’re lucky, someone will find you a husband.” You see, being 7 years old was not the obstacle. The obstacle was that I was a girl. Teaching martial arts to little boys was not unusual. In fact, it was a common practice. Girls, however, were forbidden to learn martial arts. Why? Simply because it had been
that way for centuries. Everyone told me it was silly for me to even imagine that my uncles or anybody else would teach me martial arts. I should look forward to growing up, getting married, and having 12 sons, they kept saying. But I didn’t want to follow the path everyone expected of me. The women in my village were always working, working, working with their backs hunched over. That didn’t seem like any fun to me. I didn’t want to become like my mother. I didn’t want to become like my grandmother. I didn’t want to produce a lot of sons. I didn’t want any of that. I knew in my heart that I was supposed to dedicate myself to learning martial arts. No matter how often my uncles told me that it would be impossible for me to learn martial arts, I would not listen. I insisted that they teach me anyway. Finally, one of my uncles came up with a strategy that he thought would work. “Well,” he said, “if we go ahead and give her lessons, she will probably give up.” They were sure that I would stop being so persistent when I saw how difficult it was and started getting bruises from working out. So every morning, I practiced. Yes, the work was hard and the bruises were many. I had to wear pants to hide the bruises so the other children wouldn’t laugh at me. But to my uncles’ surprise, I did not give up. To their further bewilderment, I progressed. I faced enormous difficulties— not in the art itself but in the continued resistance I met from those who believed that a woman couldn’t and shouldn’t be able to do that. I was, after all, breaking a 5,000-year-old culture and tradition. My family, my neighbors, and everyone I met applied enormous psychological and emotional pressure to try and
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 55
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
The actions of my mother and family only made me more motivated and committed. The more I heard, “No, no, no,” the more I said to myself, “Yes, yes, yes. I can do it. I will do it.”
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
think is best for us. If you can understand why they are acting the way they are, you can have greater compassion for them. That doesn’t mean you have to accept their opinions or act like a victim. When you really want something that you believe in passionately, you can’t let anyone rob you of your dreams. Take a moment now and think about yourself. Have you ever had to stand up for yourself in the face of pressure from those who wanted to force you to live in a certain way? What sort of challenges are you facing now? What dreams are you fighting for?
t this point in my life, I had an even worse reputation, if that was possible. I was considered bad luck because I was born on the lunar new year as a girl instead of a boy, and now I was doing something that only boys and men were supposed to do. Everyone in my family was convinced that there was surely something wrong with me. While they would have been proud of my accomplishments had I been a boy, they regarded this as one more way that I was bringing shame upon them. In addition, my family was understandably worried that if I kept behaving in such odd ways, nobody would want to marry me and I would grow up to be a lonely, isolated, outcast old woman. Still, my mind was set. I was determined to break out of the box everyone was trying to keep me trapped in. I knew I had to be true to the burning desire deep within. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that persistence is what would keep my dream alive through what was coming next.
M ODIFIED © SVELYCHKO | DREA MSTIME.C OM
stop me. My family even applied physical pressure, beating me and locking me in my room to keep me from practicing. My mother constantly nagged me and complained, “Why are you such a terrible daughter?” My father would come home drunk every night and beat my mother and me, demanding that I start acting like a marriageable young lady so he could have some peace in life. My mother was once so desperate to keep me from practicing that she took a pair of scissors and cut off my hair, leaving me with a short, funny-looking hairstyle. She wanted to make me feel so embarrassed that I would not want to leave the house to go practice. I cried, crawled into the corner, and touched my hair in disbelief. Then I thought to myself, “Okay, hair grows back. My hair will grow back. I will have to endure looking like this for a little while, but I am not going to let you stop me from doing what I love. You are not going to cut away my dreams. I will not give that power to you.” In reality, the actions of my mother and family only made me more motivated and committed. The more I heard, “No, no, no,” the more I said to myself, “Yes, yes, yes. I can do it. I will do it.” When I tell this story, people always ask me whether I was upset with my family for trying to hold me down. Of course I shed a lot of tears and would become frustrated and angry. At some point, though, I realized that my mother was simply doing what she thought was right. She had been taught, as had her mother before her, that the best way to raise a little girl was to teach her to fulfill the role expected of her as a good wife and mother, not to encourage her to dream big. The people who raise us usually do what they
One day I saw my grandfather talking to a strange woman in broad daylight, something that you would never normally see in our strict culture. All at once I realized what was happening—the woman was a matchmaker and my grandfather was bribing her to find me a husband. That’s not going to happen, I told myself. I knew that I needed to find a way to make sure the matchmaker didn’t like me, because if she did, I was going to be in big trouble. When my grandfather asked me to serve tea to the two of them so the matchmaker could get a closer look at me, I knew this was my chance to thwart his plan. As I walked toward them holding the hot tea, I suddenly knocked the cup filled with steaming liquid onto the matchmaker’s lap, making it look like an accident. She was furious. “I don’t care how much money you give me,” she shouted. “She’s bad luck and I’m never going to find her a husband. She is clumsy, she is no good, she is like a boy!” Other girls would have been dismayed that such an important person as a matchmaker didn’t like them, but I was ecstatic. As you can imagine, after I had spilled tea on this woman, no other matchmaker would come anywhere near me. My family was at their wit’s end. In their minds, they had done everything in their power to knock some sense into me. Now, they thought, if no one would marry me, they had only one choice left—to turn me over to the Buddhist monks and ask them to accept me as one of them.
© F REDDY CA HYONO | DREA MST IME.C OM
hat’s how the only person who would come to believe in me entered my life. Following the painful episode with the matchmaker, my grandfather invited a monk to come to our house to talk over this plan with him. As they were talking, the monk kept glancing over at me. I had no idea why he was there, but I knew they must be talking about me. Then the monk motioned for me to come over to him. You may not realize how extremely unusual that was. In my culture at the time, girls were not allowed to even make eye contact with their elders. They always had to look down, and if they ever dared laugh or smile in the presence of a grown-up, they were supposed to cover their mouths. Girls were never allowed to speak directly to their grandfathers or even eat in the same room with them, much less talk to a man who was a monk. That was like having a king ask me to talk with him. I walked over to the monk, looking down at the ground. In a gentle, amazingly kind voice, he asked, “So, little girl, don’t you want to get married?” “No, sir,” I answered. “But it’s a woman’s place to get married and to be happy having sons and taking care of her family,” he said.
“No, sir,” I repeated. “That’s not what I want.” “So what do you want to do when you grow up?” “I want to become a teacher and help people.” What a bold statement that was. In the 1950s in Korea, it was unheard of for girls to have such dreams. I might as well have been saying, “I’m going to the moon.” “A teacher?” the monk asked. “What can you possibly teach?” “I want to teach martial arts.” “Martial arts?” “Yes, sir. I’m going to be the first woman teaching martial arts.” Unlike every other person in my life, he did not scoff at me or dismiss my audacious claim. Instead, in the same gentle tone, he said, “Look at me.” Since girls were not allowed to look a monk in the eye, I thought he must be crazy. But he took his hand, put it under my chin, and lifted my head up. “Um hum,” he said, as he studied my face for what seemed like an eternity. I had no idea what he was thinking. Then he looked directly into my eyes and said the words I had been waiting so long to hear: “Yes, you will become a great teacher.” I could not believe my ears. Someone was finally acknowledging me and my desires. Then he said something even more amazing: “I will teach you.” At first I didn’t believe him. But when he again said, “I will teach you,” I knew he was serious. For me, having someone of his stature say he was going to teach me martial arts was like winning a billion dollars in the lottery! It was the first time in my life that anyone had looked at me not as a lowly girl who was always disappointing everyone but as a human being who had value. In that split second, my life changed. Excerpted with permission from Seven Steps to Inner Power: How to Break Through to Awesome by Tae Yun Kim (Mountain Tiger Press, 2018).
Dr. Tae Yun Kim’s life is the quintessential rags-to-riches American success story—and like many of these stories, it does not begin in America. She was born in a shack in a tiny Korean village and ostracized from birth. She was expected, like the other girls in her village, to raise many sons. Nevertheless, from the time she was a child, she broke with tradition. Through hard work and despite unthinkable obstacles and challenges, she became not only the first female grandmaster in the history of Korean martial arts but also one of the most successful businesswomen in America. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 57
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
Why adults resist the exuberant nature of children By Vince Gowmon, R.T.C.
Â© G A SPA RIJ | DREAM ST IME.CO M ::
© M LA DEN ZIV KOVIC | D REAM ST IME.CO M
or adults disconnected from their power, a child’s unbounded, spirited nature can easily be “too much”—too much enthusiasm, too much spontaneity, too much imagination, too much anger, too much sadness. The greater the repression in the adult carried forward from childhood environmental failures, the more overwhelming an exuberant child can be. It takes a lot of playfulness in the heart of an adult to receive and encourage beaming amounts of playfulness in a child. It takes a soaring imagination in an adult to welcome a child’s imagination wishing to travel the galaxy. It takes much depth of feeling for an adult to safely empathize with the large emotions of a child. Indeed, what an adult struggles to make room for inside himself, he might find “too much” in a child. Often without realizing it, the adult will make the child wrong or suppress the spirited, wild nature of the child; he’ll mold the child into just the right “amount,” so that the adult feels comfortable in his or her own skin. The adult will make the child fit into the adult’s diminished world rather than letting the child be a full expression of her unique, bountiful, unadulterated world. (School is a widely accepted systemized example of this.) If you carry a fear that “you’re too much,” you might want to spend some time reflecting on where this belief comes from. Who or what made you feel this way? What is it that you consider to be “too much”? Perhaps the very thing you consider to be “too much” is the same quality that your mom, dad, grandparent, or schoolteacher had a hard time being. What they struggled to tolerate in you was the same thing they learned to shut down inside themselves. Most likely, shutting down was what they needed to do to cope and survive as a child. That quality, whether it’s sadness, joy, imagination, or anger, was not welcomed when they were little. It’s worth remembering that children, by their very nature, are spirited. They are meant to be BIG in their little bodies. (It’s why they thrive in big, wide-open spaces like
nature, and why traditional hunter-gatherer societies have been proven to be optimum for child development.) Loud cries, dramatic displays of anger, awe-inspiring wonder, intense curiosity, bold dreaming, splashy eating. Anyone who spends time with children knows how confrontational their BIGness can be. The more we have dimmed our untamed, free spirit, the more their unabashed nature will feel uncomfortable, or even a threat. In order to cope with their wildness, we unwittingly inflict our lifelong coping mechanisms of self-suppression onto them by bottling them up. In many direct and indirect ways, we deny their BIGness and make them feel like they’re “too much.” Euro-western civilization has, as a whole, been designed to do just this. Look carefully—the suppression of children has been happening for millennia. We’ve just normalized it, and continue to do so. Healing the wounds that come with decades of suppression, while learning to express those lost parts of ourselves, is indeed not only a gift to ourselves, but to our children as well. As we reclaim our anger, we naturally find it easier to be with our child’s anger. As we fan the flames of our lost imagination, we automatically, and effortlessly, encourage the imagination in little ones. Imagine how one would parent differently, and how the education system would transform… Truly, as it always does, it begins with us. Children reflect our energy. They are little mirrors, powerful sponges. We point at them when they are anxious—but how often do we point at ourselves and consider that maybe they are “acting out” the aspects we have long denied? Vince Gowmon, R.T.C., CPCC, B.B.A., is a registered therapeutic counselor, and well-traveled speaker, author, poet, musician, and singer-songwriter. He offers somatic counseling and ceremonial work in person and via Skype, and also conducts distant healing work. For more information, please visit his website, VinceGowmon.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 59
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
Real Self-Care for Mothers By Sarah Rudell Beach, M.Ed.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
talk a lot about self-care for mothers in my work. And I find it so interesting that when I read articles for women about self-care, the recommendations are often things like, “Pamper yourself! Go get a manicure! Take a bubble bath!” Do I really even need to explain the futility of this advice? When I read these articles, my reaction goes something like this: When do I have the time to go get a manicure? That’s so not even in the budget for this month! And even if I did get a manicure, my nails would chip about two hours later when I try to separate two Lego pieces that have somehow fused together! And a bubble bath? Really? My tub is filthy and I would just spend the time cleaning it and then I would smell like bleach for the rest of the day…. I’m certainly not knocking the value of pampering and alone time, but I think there’s a problem when we assume that self-care means a spa treatment. Or, more generally, that self-care means we need to escape. Because even if a frazzled mama does manage to find the time and money to get away, she’ll quickly return to the same place where the frazzling began. And while her nails may look lovely, and she may even have purchased a cute new emery board, she hasn’t acquired any practical tools to manage the full catastrophe of motherhood. I think we need a true understanding of what self-care is. Psychologist Christine Meinecke defines self-care as:
© M LA DEN ZIV KOVIC | D REAM ST IME.CO M
…choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors: exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga or meditation or relaxation techniques, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, engaging in psychotherapy. Also essential to selfcare is learning to self-soothe or calm our physical and emotional distress. And those things don’t usually come wrapped in a pretty box with chocolates! Self-care is a practice. It is a commitment we make to ourselves so that we may do the important work we are here to do. Self-care for mothers means we have a tool kit for daily living, not a “break glass in case of emergency” escape plan. As Clarissa Pinkola-Estes writes in Women Who Run With the Wolves, “vacation is not the same as refuge.” She continues, “It is ironic that we have made wildlife refuges for ibis, pelican, egret, wolf, crane, deer, mouse, moose, and bear, but not for ourselves in the places where we live day after day.” Meaningful self-care for mothers, I would argue, means that we feel truly nurtured and whole where we live day after day…in the crazy zoo of raising little children! It means we engage in sustainable and doable practices that promote well-being and act as antidotes to the frazzling created by the day-to-day work of parenting.
It means we find ways to be present. It means we find ways to cultivate compassion—for our children and ourselves. It means we take time for silence—for prayer, meditation, or just three deep breaths—so that we have a stillness and peace that sustains us during the crazybusynoisy moments of our day. For me, the fundamental thing missing from all this talk of self-care for mothers is mindfulness. When we are intentionally present, with curiosity and without judgment, our experience of motherhood is completely transformed. I distinctly remember a moment, many years ago, when my youngest was about 4 months old. My husband had been out of town for a few days, and I desperately needed a haircut. My mom came over in the evening for a few hours so I could get out of the house alone. I got a scalp massage, a sassy haircut with funky bright blonde color, and conversation with an adult! It felt wonderful. And then I remember walking in the dark on the path from my garage to my house, fighting back my tears, because I knew as soon as I entered the door, the crazy and the chaos and the overwhelm would be right there waiting for me. I had gone on a “vacation,” but I had not found refuge. Mindfulness is what ultimately gave me that refuge. Mindfulness allowed me to see things as they were, instead of the way my anxious, stressed-out mind interpreted them. Mindfulness gave me the precious space to breathe and find a skillful response, instead operating on autopilot (which often meant yelling and/or crying). Mindfulness isn’t a cure-all, and it’s not going to make us happy mamas all the time…but it is a powerful practice that helps us feel at home in our own skin, and in our own crazy homes! Practicing mindfulness allows us to get to the root of the things that are making us suffer, rather than simply ripping up the weeds that will inevitably grow back. It creates the clarity that helps us see the things we can change, and helps us soften into the things we cannot change. And the practice itself is so nourishing, and so restorative, that it can become our go-to form of self-care. Our breath and body become our refuge. So please, take care of yourself, mama. You can always find your way home. Sarah Rudell Beach, M.Ed., is a mother of two who has had a personal mindfulness practice for many years. She is the author of Mindful Moments for Busy Moms: Daily Meditations and Mantras for Greater Calm, Balance, and Joy. She is a mindful schools certified instructor and the executive director of Brilliant Mindfulness, LLC. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 61
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
SIX THINGS EVERY NEW MOTHER NEEDS Borrowed wisdom from cultures where new moms and babies thrive By Allison Mecham Evans, M.A.
was chatting with my friend Ashley about her best friend’s wedding. There were parties to organize, dresses to buy, rehearsals to attend, and registries to fill. Ashley was feeling guilty that, due to her busy schedule, she wasn’t able to be more helpful to the bride. I couldn’t help but contrast the level of support modern brides expect with the support most new mothers receive: a lot, versus nearly none. Why should this be? Don’t get me wrong: I love a wedding, but it’s a party. Becoming a mother, on the other hand, is one of the biggest transitions a woman can experience. The evidence indicates that American and British women are not doing very well with this transition, either. It’s estimated that 20 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, and only 36 percent of American mothers breastfeed successfully. In the U.K., that number is even lower. According to Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., in her book Depression in New Mothers, cultures in which breastfeeding success is nearly universal and postpartum depression is rare share some common traits. They acknowledge postpartum as a unique time, deserving of special recognition and support. They also provide abundant practical and emotional assistance to the new mother during that time. Culture, not biology, is what makes postpartum so hard for new mothers. Cultural values, and expectations of independence and control, prevent many moms from embracing continual contact with their infants, which is the physiological foundation for the thriving of both mother and baby. The good news is we can change our culture into one that is at least as supportive of new mothers and babies as it is of brides-to-be. Following Dr. Kendall-Tackett’s summary of the traits of healthy postpartum cultures, here are six suggestions.
Allison Mecham Evans, M.A., helps women make a gentle, supported transition into motherhood, create nourishing relationships, and harmonize work and family life. She lives in Omaha with the people who inspire her work: her husband of 23 years, and their teenage daughter and son. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
DROP THE IDEA THAT THE WOMAN IS “HAVING A BABY,” as if she were simply adding something to her life. Embrace the idea that she is becoming a mother: She and her life are changing fundamentally. Mothers are not women with children any more than butterflies are caterpillars with wings.
RUN HER HOUSE. Allow a person or a group to be responsible for the normal activities of daily living, such as tidying, laundry, and help with older children. Household mess can feel like an indictment: It’s too much. I can’t keep up. Well, darling, you were never meant to. Only in the last few hundred years have mothers been expected to take care of themselves, their homes, and their new babies all by themselves. With others responsible for running the house—not just “helping” to run, but running it—a new mother can focus on baby and rest.
“The greatest challenge for women today is to be who we really are.” —Jeannine Parvati Baker, Pathways 53
DROP THE IMPERATIVE TO “BOUNCE BACK” or get “back to normal,” and embrace postpartum as a time of transition. Plan for the dissolution of the old life and the disorientation and confusion that come with these transitions by organizing support before the baby is born.
RUN HER ERRANDS. Infants greatly hamper a new mother’s freedom of movement. Babies are unpredictable, and long, unbroken expanses of time will be very hard to find, which makes planning difficult. New babies are also easy to overstimulate and may appear to sleep through errands, only to be fussy or cry the rest of the evening. It’s kind to mother and baby to let others do the running around for them for a while.
FEED HER. Organize a person or a group of people to deliver hot, healthy, homecooked meals to the new family. Being fed is fundamental, fulfilling not just a physical need but an existential one. She will be spending most of her waking hours feeding the baby. It creates a beautiful economy when her community nurtures her in turn.
SIT WITH HER. Every day, in person, on the phone, or video chat, she needs someone to talk to. It’s common for a new mother to feel isolated, disoriented, unsure of herself, somewhat displaced, and slightly embarrassed: What’s happened to me?, she wonders. I used to be so together. Other mothers who have recently been where she is now can reassure better than anyone that everything is normal, and she and baby are okay.
With a bit of preparation and help—less than it takes to plan a wedding!—new mothers and babies can get the support they need to thrive. They deserve it.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 63
LIVING T HE JOURNE Y
In the Absence of the Village, Mothers Struggle Most By Beth Berry
© RYAN DEB ERARDINIS | DREA MST IM E.COM
ear Mothers, I’m writing to you today because I can no longer contain the ache in my gut and fire in my heart over an injustice that you and I are bearing the brunt of. Although this injustice is affecting everyone—men, women, and children alike—mothers feel its burden more than most. We also feel disproportionately responsible for alleviating its pervasive and deeply damaging symptoms, which adds to the weight of the world we’re already wired to carry. The injustice is this: It takes a village, but there are no villages. By village I don’t simply mean “a group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area.” I’m referring to the way of life inherent to relatively small, relatively contained multigenerational communities. Communities where individuals know one another well, share the joys, burdens, and sorrows of everyday life, nurture one another in times of need, mind the well-being of each other’s ever-roaming children and increasingly dependent elderly people, and feel fed by their clearly essential contribution to the group that securely holds them. I’m talking about the most natural environment for children to grow up within. I’m talking about a way of life we are biologically wired for, but that is nearly impossible to find in developed nations. I’m talking about the primary unmet need driving the frustration that most every village-less mother is feeling. Although the expression “It takes a village to raise a child” has become cliché, the impact of our village-less realities is anything but insignificant. It’s wreaking havoc on our quality of life in countless ways. In the absence of the village… ▪ Enormous pressure is put on parents as we try to make up for what entire communities used to provide. ▪ Our priorities become distorted and unclear as we attempt to meet so many conflicting needs at once. ▪ We feel less safe and more anxious without the known boundaries, expectations, and support of a well-known group of people with whom our children can grow. ▪ We’re forced to create our tribes during seasons of our life when we have the least time and energy to do so. ▪ We tend to hold tight to our ideals and parenting paradigms, even when doing so divides us, in an attempt to feel safer and less overwhelmed by so many ways and options. ▪ Our children’s natural way of being is compromised, as most neighborhoods and communities no longer contain packs of roaming children with whom they can explore, create, and nurture their curiosity. ▪ We run around like crazy trying to make up for the interaction, stimulation, and learning opportunities that were once within walking distance.
▪ ▪ ▪
▪ ▪ ▪
We forget what “normal” looks and feels like, which leaves us feeling as if we’re not doing enough, or not enough of the “right” things. Depression and anxiety skyrocket, particularly during seasons of our lives when we instinctively know we need more support than ever but don’t have the energy to find it. We feel disempowered by the many responsibilities and pressures we’re trying so hard to keep up with. We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need in an attempt to fill the voids we feel. We rely heavily on social media for a sense of connection, which often leads us to feel even more isolated and inadequate. We feel lonely and unseen, even when we’re surrounded by people. Our partnerships are heavily burdened by the needs that used to be spread among communities, and our expectations of loved ones increase to unrealistic levels. We feel frequently judged and misunderstood. We feel guilty for just about everything: not wanting or having time to be our children’s primary playmates, not working enough, working too much, allowing too much screen time in order to keep up with our million perceived responsibilities, etc. Joy, lightness, and fun feel hard to access. We think we’re supposed to be independent, and feel ashamed of our need for others. We make decisions that don’t reflect our values, but our deeply unmet needs.
Perhaps most tragically of all, the absence of the village is distorting many mothers’ sense of self. It’s causing us to feel that our inadequacies are to blame for our struggles, which further perpetuates the feeling that we must do even more to make up for them. It’s a trap. A self-perpetuating cycle. A distorted reality that derives its strength from the oppressive mindsets still in place despite our freedoms. Here’s a new mindset to try on for size: You and I are not the problem at all. We are doing plenty. We may feel inadequate, but that’s because we’re on the front lines of the problem, which means we’re the ones being hit hardest. We absorb the impact of a broken, still-oppressive social structure so that our children won’t have to. That makes us heroes, not failures. No, we’re not oppressed in the same ways that we used to be (nor in the ways other women still are around the world), but make no mistake: In the absence of the village, we’re disadvantaged like never before. We may have more freedoms than our foremothers, but our burden remains disproportionately, oppressively heavy. Since the beginning of time (and until very recently), mothers have borne life’s burdens together. We scrubbed our clothes in the streams while laughing at splashing
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 65
L I V ING T H E JOU R NEY We can buy into, make peace with, and conform to the way things are. Or we can exercise the freedoms our foremothers and forefathers won for us and commit to doing our unique and essential part in creating change, starting within us and working our way out. You and I aren’t likely to experience what it’s like to raise children in an actual village, but that’s okay. That’s not what this generation is about. This generation is about waking up to who we really are and what we really want, and resetting society’s sails accordingly. Playing your part in the re-villaging of our culture starts with being wholly, unapologetically, courageously you. Here are a few tangible steps you can take whenever you’re ready: ▪ Get really clear on one thing: The fact that you’re struggling is not a reflection of your inadequacies, but the unnatural cultural circumstances you’re living in. ▪ Own and honor your needs. Most mothers are walking around with several deeply unmet needs of their own while focusing almost exclusively on the needs of others. This is precisely the thing that keeps us from gaining traction and improving our circumstances, both individually and collectively. ▪ Practice vulnerability. Rich, safe, authentic
© GURU XOX | DREAMSTIM E.COM
toddlers and mourning the latest loss of love or life. We wove, sewed, picked, tidied, or mended while swapping stories and minding our aging grandmothers. We tended one another’s wounds (both physical and emotional), relied on one another for strength when times were tough, and sought counsel from our community’s wise, experienced, and cherished elders. Village life inherently fostered a sense of safety, inclusivity, purpose, acceptance, and importance. These essential elements of thriving were built in. Now? We’re being forced to create all of that for ourselves within a society that has physically and energetically restructured itself around a whole new set of priorities. It’s a profits-before-people model that threatens the wellbeing of nearly everything we mothers are wired to protect. I’m optimistic and hopeful by nature, but this dilemma has left me discouraged many times over the years. How does an entire nation of mothers shift a storyline this massive while individually and collectively weakened by the absence of the very thing we so desperately need? Major cultural shifts in prioritization, structure, and power are clearly in order (and I do believe they’re happening, however chaotically). In the meantime, each of us has a choice to make:
© RYAN DEB ERARDINIS | DREA MST IM E.COM
connection is essential for thriving. Cultivating this quality of connection takes courage, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. What you want most exists on the other side of that initial awkward conversation or embarrassing introduction. Own your strengths. What makes you feel strong and fully alive? What lights you up and gives you energy just thinking about it? Who would you be to your village if you had one? Tapping into your strengths and engaging them is one of the greatest ways to attract the kinds of people you want into your life, bless and inspire others, and build a sense of community in ways that fill you up rather than drain you. Become an integral part of something. Whether it’s a knitting group, dance troupe, church, kayaking club, or homeschool collective, commit to growing community around one area of your life that enlivens you or fills a need. Use the connections you cultivate in this community to practice showing up bravely and authentically and asking for what you need, whether it’s support, resources, or encouragement. Do your part—and only your part. It’s tempting to fill our lives to the brim with commitments that make a difference, but doing so only further disempowers us. Read Greg McKeown’s Essentialism if you struggle with this one. Learn self-love and self-compassion. In a culture of “never enough,” it is essential that we forge healthy relationships with ourselves in order to fend off the many messages hitting us about who we’re meant to be and what makes us worthy of happiness and love. In fact, I see self-love in action as the greatest gift our generation of mothers could possibly give to the mothers of tomorrow. Speak your truth. Even when you’re terrified. Even if it makes you the bravest one in the room. Imagine a new way. Where we’re headed looks nothing like where we’ve come from. Creating the kind of future we want requires envisioning that future and believing a new way to be possible. Get specific and think big. What do you want?
I’ve tasted village life: ▪ During college, when my tribe of idealists and dreamers was all within walking distance and we’d yet to subscribe to “adult” social rules that told us what was most important.
When my young adult cousins lived with us for several months at a time. I’ve never enjoyed motherhood more than those days when I knew that the needs of the children, home, and its individuals were joyfully shared among eager, loving souls. On retreat with other women, when each of us was reminded of how very similar our struggles are, and how very desperate we all feel for consistent support, everyday interaction, healing, lightness, and ease. At outdoor festivals, when the village is recreated, if only for a weekend of camping, and everyone settles into a communal way, cooperative rhythm, and lighter state of being. During the time I spent with Mayan mothers in impoverished, rural Mexico. There I witnessed firsthand the blessings made possible by the presence of a tribe, however disadvantaged.
My soul was fed deeply during those time periods. Every time I get a taste of what we’re missing, I become strengthened and hopeful again. That is the energy needed to create change. That is what the powers that be don’t want us to feel. I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know this: We’re supposed to be crying, celebrating, falling down, and rising together. We’re supposed to have grandmothers and aunts and neighbors and cousins sharing the everyday moments, guiding us, and helping us see the sacredness in the insanity. We’re supposed to be nurtured for months postpartum, cared for when we’re sick, held while we mourn, and supported during challenging transitions. And our children are supposed to be cradled and allowed to grow within the social structures we deem best for them. Find yourself, then find your people. Or do it the other way around. Just don’t settle. Don’t ever settle for a way of life created by those who don’t honor your soul and cherish your babies.
Beth Berry is a writer, life coach, and mother of four daughters. She believes that improving the state of the world begins with healing our relationship with ourselves. Follow her heart-led journey within at revolutionfrom home.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 67
A Communit y for Parents
“The more we connect with others and embrace the reality of our interconnected nature, the more we’ll live with meaning, compassion, equanimity and purPose.”
© T INA GUT IERREZ | DREAM STIM E.COM
—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Pathways 47
“Someday, women will be told that we already hold all of our own answers. We will approach childbirth and motherhood from a place of fullness and abundance, rather than from a place of need and want. We will gather in circles of women to bathe in our own innate wisdom while celebrating the gifts that our children will bring. Our transitions into motherhood will be supported, honored, and held with great consciousness.” —Laurel Bay Connell
How important is community for moms? “The research is clear: Since the beginning of womankind, mothering has been a communal effort…. So many mothers feel like something is out of joint, something is missing, and maybe the truth is that we are all just missing each other.” —C.J. Schneider
“There was one word that kept repeating itself, an echo of wisdom from deep in my womb, over and over and over again as the months of depression carried on. One word that captured what a solution would feel like. One word that spoke of the medicine a mother like me so painfully needed. Village.” —Jessica Rios
“I love the idea that it doesn’t take one person only to achieve your potential. It takes a village, it takes a community, a street, a teacher, a mother.” —Mira Nair
Find support in your local Pathways Connect groups. Share your experiences and wisdom, and make your parenting journey an empowered one!
FIND YOUR PATHWAYS CONNECT GROUP
T H E M A R K E T P L AC E
A TIME FOR RAIN Written by international bestselling author and holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan, M.D., and her daughter, A TIME FOR RAIN is offered as support for parents seeking to create room for feelings.
PURCHASE YOUR COPY ON AMAZON VISIT KELLYBROGANMD.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION
Build confidence in your body’s superb design. Have peace-of-mind about what’s happening for you and what lies ahead.
Love your pregnancy & birth with Dr Sarah Buckley
Free to Learn
29/07/2016 9:02 am
Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More SelfReliant, and Better Students for Life
PETER GRAY http://drheidiskye.com/word-up
E D U C A T I O N
Children are brilliant, natural, self-directed learners. We don’t need to educate them; all we need to do is provide the conditions that allow them to educate themselves. self-directed.org
pathwaystofamilywellness.org Issue 61
Available as paperback and e-book
THE POSTNATAL PROJECT soulful parenting, healing & living www.thepostnatalproject.com
Protect Vaccine Choices in YOUR State. Use NVIC’s free online Advocacy Portal.
HOME SWEET HO MEBIRTH LOVE YOUR BIRTH ONLINE BIRTHING COURSE Let me help you have the most exquisite birth experience imaginable! An insider’s guide to the joy and challenges of giving birth in modern times. This is a one of a kind program created by a seasoned holistic nurse midwife of over two decades who has seen everything!
It’s Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice. www.NVICAdvocacy.org
Coect with yourself. Coect with your child.
Issue 61 pathwaystofamilywellness.org 71
Mothers, be courageous. Trust your intuition. There is a source of wisdom for you to tap into,
and it is always there.
© A NDRIY BEZUGLOV | DREAM STIM E.C OM
—Jeanne Ohm, D.C.
Pathways Magazine provides vital resources for family wellness. Our articles give parents the necessary information to actively participate...
Published on Mar 15, 2019
Pathways Magazine provides vital resources for family wellness. Our articles give parents the necessary information to actively participate...