The Importance of the Motherhood Tribe

The Importance of the Motherhood Tribe

When you think of a tribe, what comes to mind?  For some, it may bring to mind Native people in traditional clothing, beating drums and sitting around a campfire.  Tribes were what sustained the human race for thousands of years.  It would be silly to think of survival without the support from your fellow tribesmen when you struggled to find food and shelter.  Although our modern conveniences have created the illusion that tribes are no longer important or necessary, I would contend that the need for community is still great if we want to THRIVE as human beings.  We no longer need to maintain the “fight or flight” survival mode necessary when you are actually being chased by a tiger.  However, our overscheduled lifestyles create this high anxiety of not “being enough” because there is always more to do and not enough time to do it.   We function in an oversympathetic nervous system from this base level of survival that does not lend itself to joy, happiness, and contentment.  As women and mothers, I know we deserve better.  But it is not easy.  The heavy weight of mama guilt when we leave our screaming child in order to spend time on ourselves is real.  The self-judgement that we are failing as a mother when we choose to pursue our professional goals exists.  How do we manage it all?

Finding a tribe of mothers with whom you can intimately connect with is VITAL for optimal growth and expression as a woman.  We were never intended to mother on our own and although our current infrastructure makes it a little more challenging to create deep connections with others, it is worth making an effort to find.  Social media creates a false sense of connection and subconsciously may even teach us that superficial relationships suffice.  Being vulnerable and opening ourselves up to others requires courage and positive self-esteem, however, it is the first step to sharing deeply in order to learn, grow and ultimately thrive.  There is something quite unique to the motherhood journey that is hard to fully grasp if you have not traveled this path.  Therefore, seek out other mothers who share similar values and philosophies as your own and with whom you feel safe being authentic.  Although there are some closed groups online that can allow for deeper connection, meeting in person with other mamas for much-needed self-care and conversation can literally lighten the proverbial load.  For example, I look forward to my monthly “girls’ night out” where we enjoy a delicious dinner at the hottest new restaurant in town and the permission to share any current life challenges is met with compassion, sage advice and empathy.   This type of share requires deep trust and respect that I can be real, raw, and honest without concern that my dark secrets will become gossip or judged.  My tribe offers another point of view for a sticky situation that may be hard for me to see on my own (and hard to be shared from my well-meaning husband who is neither a woman nor a mother.)  As I learned from my mentor, Tony Robbins, one of the four basic human needs is LOVE/CONNECTION and when we embrace other mamas in our tribe with great love, we ground ourselves to the GREAT MOTHER and create a much more joyful life that not only benefits us first, but our partners and children also get to enjoy the glow of a fully present and awakened woman. 😊

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5 Ways to Thrive in the First Trimester

5 Ways to Thrive in the First Trimester

So, you’re pregnant?!  Congratulations!!  This will be one of the most, if not THE most transformational experiences of your life.

Being a little pregnant is a BIG deal because your life, as you know it, is turned upside down overnight…in the most amazing way possible.  You will not experience such a powerful shift in your life until you are holding your precious baby in your arms several months from now.  This baby has chosen you to be its mother, a most awesome responsibility, and it requires a level of work, dedication, and perseverance that you have not experienced yet. 

A level of intensity that only a mother can manage.

And you, my dear, are already a mother so let’s dive into 5 ways you can support yourself through this transition!

  1. You are already a mother.  Contrary to popular belief, the role of mother does not begin after the birth of your baby.  In fact, it doesn’t even begin after conception.  It begins when your soul calls for your baby, yearns for the unconditional love and connection that only a baby can provide.  The call may be conscious or unconscious, however, your baby heard the call and has made its appearance as a tiny embryo in your womb.  This mental shift of wearing the title of mother is important because it will support you in all of the important decisions you have to make for the rest of the pregnancy.  Learning how to tap into your maternal intuition and staying true to its guidance is paramount as you begin to face new choices each and every day. These choices range from what you decide to eat for dinner all the way to who will deliver your baby and provide prenatal care that is in alignment with your personal philosophy.
  2. Finding the Right Provider: Speaking of baby delivering, did you know that you can actually interview different birth providers?  Some women, after finding they are pregnant, continue to see their ob/gyn who has provided annual exams and other gynecological care over the years.  Providing gynecological care is actually quite different than pregnancy care, therefore, taking the time to research other birth providers, including midwives, along with the facility where you would like to give birth is worth it.  Find out the C-section rate for these providers as well as the hospitals or birthing centers where they work.  Check out their reviews from other women who have used their services.  Talk to local girlfriends about whether they loved their birth provider for references.  This is important to determine who is the best fit to support your pregnancy journey from a medical perspective along with actually helping your baby transition into the world on its birth day.
  3. Building Your Birth Team: Once you’ve found a provider, it’s time to assemble your birth team!  Although your birth provider is foundational to the birth team and needs to be selected first, get suggestions for birth doulas, prenatal massage therapists, prenatal yoga instructors/fitness trainers, hypnobirthing specialists, maternity chiropractors, acupuncturists, and lactation consultants.  Although you will not need to work with all of these providers right now, you can start creating a list of contacts to follow up with, especially going into your second trimester (and I’ll have a guide for you when you get there, sign-up for my newsletter to get on the list!). 
  4. How is Your Current Lifestyle Supporting Your Pregnancy?  Start a diet diary to track exactly what you are putting in your mouth throughout the day and after a week, evaluate where you can make improvements.  In your diary, take note of how often you are moving your body as well.  If you work at a computer all day, see if you can get a standing desk to allow you to encourage leg strength and open hips which definitely come in handy during birth.  Work with a fitness professional trained in maternity strength training to stay physically strong throughout your pregnancy.  Consulting with a nutritionist can help you make the best choices regarding your diet which literally is what is creating your unborn baby.  Minimizing or eliminating processed foods, especially sugar, gluten, and dairy, helps decrease systemic inflammation within your body along with learning what foods you may have an intolerance (track any symptoms you feel on your diet diary to help identify allergic/intolerant foods).  Baby’s brain needs a lot of good fats for its development so don’t shy away from avocados, flaxseed oil, cold-water fish like salmon (about once a week due to mercury/PCBs), and coconut oil.  Quality protein food like pastured eggs, grass-fed meat, and bone broth also help with your immune system strength along with energy.  Eating a plate full of color ensures that you are getting a diversity of phytonutrients from vegetables.  Lastly, enjoy fruit in moderation and to aid in digestion, eat 30 minutes before a meal or two hours after eating.
  5. Pregnancy Product Clean Out! Let’s take a look at your personal skin care products, specifically what ingredients are used to make them.  As our skin is the largest organ in our body, everything we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream and even crosses the umbilical cord to the baby.  Therefore, being a conscious consumer of products to clean your home and body, makes a big difference in decreasing the chemical load within your body (and therefore, decreasing baby’s exposure to possibly toxic ingredients).  A helpful resource in sorting through the thousands of products on the market and helping to distinguish what is actually safe (despite their best marketing angle) is the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) along with their useful app called SkinDeep that allows you to scan all of the products at the store (or even under your sink) to distinguish what is worthy of your application or deserves to be trashed. 

These five tips are meant to help you get started on your journey. For more tips, advice and to connect with moms just like you? Follow me on Instagram! And don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter to stay connected through this incredible, beautiful journey.

5 Ways to Thrive in the Second Trimester

5 Ways to Thrive in the Second Trimester

Can you believe that you have passed the first trimester?!  Women tend to feel physically and mentally better after the first twelve weeks of pregnancy because the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically and any possible morning sickness symptoms typically resolve. 

Around twelve to fourteen weeks, you may notice a tiny bump developing.  Not large enough for anyone else to notice, however, your skinny jeans may no longer want to zip up and fitted waistbands, in general, are no longer tolerable.  Baby is making its presence known and will remind you on the regular that it does not like to feel compressed.

So, let’s dive in to how to feel and look your best between weeks 13-27 of your pregnancy!

  1. Time to go shopping!  Yes, that’s right.  Shopping for some pregnancy wardrobe essentials begins now and there are a few basic pieces worth investing in that will get you through the rest of your pregnancy and into the beginning of your postpartum period as well.  Wireless nursing bras are life-changing, even though breastfeeding is still several months away, because underwires will feel quite uncomfortable for sensitive breasts and as you may have noticed, the girls have typically grown a cup size in the past few weeks so a larger bra is a must.  Belly bands will also provide mid-section coverage and allow you to keep the top button on your pants open during this awkward body transformation where maternity pants are too big and yet your pre-pregnancy pants are not working either.  High-quality maternity leggings will feel great on your growing bump and go the distance over the next several months as that bump get bigger and bigger and bigger…
  2. Start connecting with other expectant moms.  Find a local Facebook group or possibly even a live meet-up where you can safely share any concerns or challenges that present themselves.  It is also great to create these new relationships now as these women are going through a very similar and unique experience as you and it helps to not feel alone… or weird.  These connections will also help you continue to grow your birth team so that you can feel fully supported as an expectant mom with lots of questions.
  3. Revisit your lifestyle shifts from your first trimester You have already cut out of the booze and cut back on the sushi (or even possibly eliminated it), however, your baby’s nutritional needs are growing as they are literally growing inside the womb.  You may notice you need to increase your caloric intake as well as the frequency of eating.  Always have healthy snacks, like trail mix or hummus and veggies, to munch on so that you keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel.  Quality protein and healthy fats, like avocados, will keep your energy high and your mood pleasant.  This is also setting you up for success when it becomes time to take the glucose test around week 28.  Keeping on track with your physical activity and getting regular chiropractic adjustments will help you physically feel your best.  
  4. Time to lock down on the birth provider.  You have spent the past few weeks interviewing and researching who you want to deliver your baby as well as the location.  After consulting with your partner and possibly another trusted confidant, decide who feels like the best fit.  It really is a big deal regarding who has the honor to be present at your baby’s birth so the decision is worthy of conscious thought.  Settling on who your doula will be is also important now as many birth doulas start to book up quickly and may not be available for your due date if you begin looking too late in the pregnancy.  
  5. Because your baby’s daddy has his own feelings and thoughts regarding the upcoming birth, taking the time to learn what is important to him matters.  The second trimester of the pregnancy is a wonderful time to deepen your connection with your partner as your ability to work together as a team will certainly be put to the test over the next several months.  Learning how to improve communication and make your partner feel loved and valued will help minimize the inevitable stress on your intimate relationship.  One highly recommended book on learning how to respectfully disagree with your partner and have healthy arguments that allow for growth and healing for both is “And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives” by Drs. John and Julie Gottman.  Please don’t wait until after giving birth to start reading this book.

In summary, enjoy this magical period of being in the middle of your pregnancy.  The pregnancy itself can go by quite quickly so take a moment to really cherish this precious time in your life and continue connecting with baby on the regular.  Before you know it, your belly will be huge and quite naturally, your energy levels will decrease as your body conserves its energy for the upcoming birth.  Listen well to your body’s current needs for health and wellness and follow the innate wisdom that exists within you (along with the messages that your baby is already sharing with you).   

5 Ways to Thrive During Your Third Trimester

5 Ways to Thrive During Your Third Trimester

Photo Credit: Hartshorn Portraiture

After week 28, you have officially entered the last trimester of your pregnancy…and the upcoming birth is beginning to feel REAL.  There is no denying the large belly hanging out in front, the increased trips to the ladies room.  Challenges with getting comfortable to sleep.  Read below to feel strong and empowered heading into the home stretch of being preggers.

  1. Stay Active.  Although you are carrying around an extra 20 or so pounds at this point and it is much easier to get out of breath going up a flight of stairs, your cardiovascular system needs you to keep moving.  Muscles and joints appreciate movement as well and staying loose and flexible heading into birth is a must!  Prenatal yoga feels great in the last few weeks of pregnancy as it is gentle on joints yet challenges stamina which is required during the labor process.  Going for walks is another way to move without straining the body at this stage.  Try taking the stairs to help keep the hips open.  Sitting on a birthing ball (exercise ball) can also help gently open the hips and pelvis and support pelvic alignment as your approach the end of the pregnancy.
  2. Slow down.  Wait, doesn’t this advice contradict the first step?  No, you can stay active (probably not running any marathons at this point) and slow down simultaneously.  Keeping moving, but at a slower pace.  Take time to listen to your body’s needs and respect your new limits.  It can be mentally uncomfortable for women that are used to moving and shaking and getting sh*t done to switch into a lower gear, however, nature requires it for the optimal health of mama and baby.  Your body is working so hard to MAKE and CARRY a baby that is not logical to expect the late-term pregnant body and mind to function as it did before.  As with any life change, things are different and adaptability to what is new will serve you not only for the rest of the pregnancy but even more so as a new mama.  Adaptability is an important life skill that pregnancy and motherhood help to fine-tune at lightning quick speed.
  3. Keep on top of mama self-care.  Although you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed with the additional responsibilities that come along during the third tri, like setting up a nursery, identifying the best car seat, and picking out a stroller, it is of the utmost importance that you maintain the self-care regimen created at the beginning of your pregnancy.  Especially if you are still working and need to wrap up loose ends at your job prior to maternity leave, be sure to schedule in time for your health and well-being.  Get your weekly chiropractic adjustments, fit in your prenatal yoga class, and receive a relaxing prenatal massage.  If this is your first pregnancy, you will have the most time and resources to practice self-care for the foreseeable future, so take full advantage of it!    
  4. Childbirth education takes top priority.  Although you may have already been reading up about the impending birth, now is definitely the time to do your research and create your birth plan.  Ideally, you are already receiving support from your birth team (i.e. birth provider, doula, maternity chiropractor, etc) so you feel educated regarding important decisions impacting the type of birth you want to create.  Additionally, any book written by Ina May Gaskin, midwife extraordinaire, will enlighten you to normal birth culture and help you trust the innate intelligence within your body in its miraculous ability to birth.  Identifying a childbirth ed class that matches your personal philosophy is helpful in preparing you AND your partner.  When your partner understands his/her role in supporting your ideal birth outcome, they know how to best serve your needs. 
  5. Plan for the fourth trimester.  Although your life postpartum may feel like a thousand years from now, it is right around the corner.  Caring for a newborn is such a challenging endeavor, including the sleep deprivation, that it is difficult to make plans those first few weeks after delivery.  Although there will be inevitable changes required in the moment once your baby is in your arms and as you continue to progress down the motherhood journey, preparing for support is vital.  After giving birth, your body, mind, and spirit need time to recover and every new mama needs help.  Assigning specific tasks to your partner, mother, sister, friend, or even postpartum doula, can allow you to rest in bed with your brand-new bundle of joy and fully bond skin-to-skin.  Your job now is to feed your baby and sleep while your baby sleeps (making sure to consume enough calories to make milk to feed the baby).  Not laundry, not cooking, not cleaning, not walking the dog.  Have a plan in place for your support team so that the household jobs are delegated and your meals are ready to eat with minimal work on your part.  Nourish body, breastfeed the baby, change diapers, sleep, repeat.  That includes minimal exposure to the outside world.  Don’t worry about social media posts or returning phone calls to discuss baby’s arrival.  Just focus on you and baby.  

Those first three months are the fastest AND slowest time of your life.  Savor every single moment!

5 Ways to Thrive in the Fourth Trimester

5 Ways to Thrive in the Fourth Trimester

Photo Credit: Hartshorn Portraiture

You birthed a baby!?  How amazing.  Take a moment to reflect on the creation you made and the miracle of birth.  Women have the opportunity to transcend consciousness and receive massive spiritual growth during an empowered birth.  No matter what your birth story may be, now you are on the other side of your pregnancy and life will never be the same again!  The first few weeks of your post-partum period may be some of the most challenging yet also the most rewarding (funny how those two tend to go together).  Learning how to take care of your newborn whose needs are demanding yet simplistic all at the same time, takes practice, patience and perseverance.  Read below for the top five tips that will help you feel supported during the first few months after baby arrives.

  1. Ask for help, often.  New mamas need a tremendous amount of support and our current American culture does not automatically create the communal support that is present in other cultures as well as what was present for our ancestors.  Traditionally, women were shown by the other women in their tribe/family, that the only duties required of them after birthing a baby were to rest in bed with the baby, nurse on demand, and nourish their own bodies.  Nothing else.  No housework, laundry, cooking meals, replying to work emails, hosting friends, etc.  All of her energy was conserved for healing her body, producing and feeding milk to her baby, and truly connecting with her precious new bundle of joy.  Scheduling help from your partner, friends, family, and even a post-partum doula can help you delegate those other tasks and allow you to simply bond with baby.
  2. Speaking of bonding with baby, what does that even mean?  It means that you are fully present in connection with your babe.  Since babies are unconcerned with the past and the future, they are wonderful teachers to us in how to be fully present.  Not thinking about what happened five minutes ago or wondering what needs to be done tomorrow on their to-do list.  Just completely in tune to what is present.  When you take a moment to feel into their thoughts, it helps to ground mama to this beautiful state of consciousness called presence.  What a blessing to have such a pure soul in front of your reflecting this deep, spiritual lesson!  Research shows us that mamas that are able to breathe and bond with their baby experience less post-partum depression.
  3. Skin-to-skin is part of the bonding process.  Besides the emotional bonding that is occurring when you get present, now is the time to keep baby right next to your skin as often as possible.  Not only is this practice helpful for baby to regulate their temperature, heartbeat, and other vital stats, but your microbiome, otherwise known as the microbes found on and in your body, is shared with your brand-new being whose environment was mostly sterile in-utero and therefore, needs an opportunity to replicate friendly bacteria necessary for normal physiological function.  As science has informed us in the past few years, this microbiome is essential for many different processes in our body, including our immune system health, and that specific microbes are unique to specific families.  That is why your baby needs skin-to-skin time with both its mama AND its daddy.  Avoid frequent bathing of yourself and your baby, especially the first couple weeks of life, so that the microbiome is rich and fertile, like nourishing soil for baby’s roots to grow healthy and strong.
  4. Mama self-care.  As the whirlwind of having a newborn in your home begins to settle, make a plan for your self-care.  Maybe that means scheduling an appointment with your chiropractor for your postpartum check-up (and making sure to get bring in your newborn for a wellness check-up at the same time).  Maybe a massage or facial is needed.  Maybe lunch with a good friend who knows how to bring a smile to your face.  Think about what may help you feel good as you recover from the birthing process and emotionally shift gears as a mother of a newborn.  Make sure to prioritize things that help with physical recovery and a positive emotional state.
  5. Your partner needs love, too.  Most new mamas are stretched so thin with caring for their new baby that having any extra ounce of energy to give to dad may feel impossible.  As your partner is still adjusting to his new role as daddy, the intense stress of having a newborn and the lack of sleep can potentially strain even the strongest of relationships.  The massive amount of change, increased responsibility, physiological depletion from newborn care, and increased financial expenses can cause both mama and daddy to stop communicating and that break down in communication can lead the way to misunderstandings.  Take a second right now to silently thank your partner for all of the ways he has supported you and your baby.  Feel the gratitude.  Then, make sure you share it with him.  Men need to feel appreciated and letting him know that he is doing a good job as a new daddy can go a long way in giving him the acknowledgment he needs to continue to show up as the paternal caretaker in your family.