As many in my life know, I’ve been working toward some new goals this past year. I spent most of the year studying to become and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Counselor) and I also fulfilled a dream of many years and completed the training to become a Reiki Master.
Yesterday, I received confirmation that I’d passed the IBCLC exam I wrote during the summer. I’m overjoyed to find out that my time and effort has payed off with a door opening in my life. The two breastfeeding conferences I attended this fall filled me with certainty that this is the path I’m meant to be on, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
Yesterday, as I was almost literally floating around my house with glee, I started thinking about all the people who have played a role in my getting to this point. The list of those I want to thank goes on and on.
To start of there is La Leche League, and in particular Fiona Audy who not only helped me out during my shaky start with breastfeeding, but also invited me to become a LLL Leader back in 2005. LLL helped me to realize how passionate I am about impacting families and how vital in-person breastfeeding support is. The families who allowed me to help them over the years have taught me lessons I don’t think I could have learned elsewhere. When it came time to apply to become an IBCLC, the clinical hours LLL earned me made the dream of certification achievable.
The ladies in my study group were also a crucial piece of my journey. Between encouraging phone calls, late-night Skype study sessions, and the sense of working as a team, this group helped me to reach essential studying milestones. Behind all of us, Linda Crawford was our gentle and inspiring mentor who kept reminding us why we were working so hard.
I also found support online along the way. From one night of wondering aloud on Twitter if I should pursue this certification, words from Annie of PhD in Parenting and Fleur of Nurtured Child helped me to commit to the goal. Fleur was also an incredible resource along the way, answering questions for me as they came up.
Closer to home, I’ve had a support system that has blown me away. Ongoing words of encouragement from friends, and in particular from my “breast-geek” buddy Erie have meant the world to me.
The one person who deserves the biggest thanks, though, is my incredible husband Liam. Liam has been endlessly patient through the hours upon hours I’ve holed up in another room or off at a coffee shop with my books while he stays with the kids. He has been the constant voice in my ear reminding me I can do this, giving me space and encouragement as needed. As always, he has been the partner who has looked at me with eyes that welcomed me to step into my potential.
So now, with the IBCLC credential and the Reiki Master training under my belt, I’m shifting gears a big. I’m making the transition from My Nature Baby to Roots of Wellness Family Services, a business that will take me into this new phase in my work. I’m looking forward to adding lactation consultant services to my line of holistic and babywearing services, as well as more workshops and classes. (I’ll be kicking off the teaching side of things with a free series on flower essences over at Birth Source next month!)
Looking forward to seeing you all in my new adventure! :)
I’m blessed to count Erin of Cosy Baby Happy Mommy among my friends. Erin is one of those people who immediately brings energy and joy into the room, and she gives selflessly to her community like few people I’ve met.
When Erin asked me to try out her new Buckle-Tai carrier to give me her thoughts, I agreed without hesitation. I I love to try out new baby carriers, and I was very curious to see this new product that Erin is so excited about.
My very first reaction to this carrier was to swoon a bit over the print. Named Sammie after Zita’s baby, this print is simply gorgeous with the big beautiful Koi fish and the bright blue of the water.
On the structure side of things, this carrier hits everything bang on. The body of the carrier is nice and wide, allowing the full knee-to-knee coverage that ensures proper pelvic positioning for the child. The nice tall body gives support fully up the child’s back. I was thrilled to see that even on my 6 year old, the carrier came up to her armpits.
The padded shoulders mean that I haven’t felt any of the pinching that I’ve encountered with other mei tais. The padded waist makes it comfortable on my hips as well, which is super important in this carrier since so much of the weight of the child is transferred onto the hips. I love this carrier’s waist clip since it means getting my wiggly kiddo up and down is that much quicker. It also means that I have less fabric to keep from dragging on the ground as I’m putting her up in dirty parking lots.
The carrier I’ve been trying out is a plus-sized carrier and I had at least six inches of length left over when I wore it, so the size range is great.
One other big thing that stood out to me was the difference in comfort compared to my Ergo. Last week, I took my Ergo for a morning of running errands. My toddler spent a chunk of time on my back as we were in and out of stores and I kept fiddling with the shoulder straps trying to get comfortable. The shorter body of the Ergo makes it more difficult to keep her weight in close to my body. My back was sore that night, and it wasn’t until the next day when I put her back in the Ergo again that I realized that the pain between my shoulder blades was the result of using the Ergo the day before. Needless to say, I was extra grateful for the comfort of the Cosy Baby Buckle-Tai the next day.
I’ll definitely be adding an Buckle-Tai in an Ollie print (named after my very own kiddo!) to our babywearing collection!
I have to add in some photos of my Cosy Baby woven wrap (aka my “magic wrap”) as well. I’ve gushed before about how much I adore this wrap, and this week I had the chance to get a dye job done on it from Shannon of Metamorphosis. I’m head over heels in love with the new look of this wrap and I’ve received so many compliments on it.
Tomorrow night, Natural Urban Mamas presents the official launch Of Cosy Baby Happy Mommy’s new Buckle-Tai. It’s sounds like it’s going to be one big fun event, and the perfect opportunity for anyone interested in checking out this new carrier in person.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the Alberta Breastfeeding Committee’s conference, Infant feeding: Best practice steps for primary preventative care. Louise Dumas and Marianne Brophy spoke at the event, and it was an inspiring day for me to say the least.
The information which Louise Dumas presented provided substantial weight to the view that the simple act of placing an infant on his mother’s skin immediately after birth has a profound, far-reaching impact. Dumas’ presentation, backed by documentation of 176 mother-baby dyads conducted by a Russian-Sweedish-Canadian team at the Karolinska Instituetet, highlighted the breastfeeding, physical, and psycosocial effects of skin-to-skin care.
Four of the papers based on this research:
I’m quite excited at the depth of evidence being accumulated from this research. I firmly believe that this information will pave the way for change in birth and postpartum care to incorporate uninterrupted skin-to-skin time for mothers and babies. In Dumas’ words, backed by this evidence, skin-to-skin is “not something nice to do. It’s something we have to do.”
Skin-to-skin care as practiced in this research is described as the nude newborn being placed vertically between the mother’s breasts immediately after birth. The amniotic fluid is dried off the infant’s back and head, then a dry blanket is placed over top of him. The amniotic fluid not being dried off of the newborn’s front is important, as is the absence of any separation at all of the mother and the infant for 1-2 hours following birth.
The data taken from the infants in this research included temperature, breathing and heart rates, cortisol and oxytocin levels in venous blood in the umbilical cord, scalp blood, weight, number and duration of breastfeeding episodes, number and type of supplements, and Reutor scale for neurobehavioral development. The data from the mothers included physical assessment, temperature, breathing and heart rate, multiple questionnaires, and a breastfeeding diary. Also recorded were the temperatures of the birthing room, the nursery and the mother’s room as well as videos taken when the infant was placed skin-to-skin, during a breastfeed on day for, and again at 12 months.
The physiological impacts on the infant were numerous. Infants placed skin-to-skin with their mothers’ and left uninterrupted for 1-2 hours always had temperatures within normal limits and they re-warmed faster than infants in an incubator or in a warmer. They had better glycemia and arterial gasses at 90 minutes of life and better oxygen saturation. In other words, skin-to-skin helped newborns to overcome the “stress of being born”.
During their first four hours of life the infants had more episodes of calm sleep and they were more coordinated and stable. They also had reduced pain reaction during painful procedures such as vitamin K injection and PKU heel lance.
For mothers, the skin-to-skin time resulted in quicker placental explusion, which results in less bleeding and less anemia.
The impact of skin-to-skin also could be seen in the breastfeeding relationship. Starting at around 10 minutes of life, infants started creeping towards the breast, turning towards mom’s voice and breast, salivating when smelling the nipple, and finally licking then attaching to the breast. In babies who have been exposed to medications during mother’s labor, these behaviors might start to take place closer to twenty minutes after birth.
This skin-to-skin time resulted in an infant with a more effective suck. On days three and four, there were more suckings, less engorgement, and more milk ingested. Babies re-gained their initial weight loss three to five days faster than swaddled babies in the nursery did, even if the babies in the nursery received more supplements with formula. There was also found to be a significant link between the duration of skin-to-skin and the exclusivity of breastfeeding at discharge.
They psychosocial benefits from skin-to-skin were also numerous. Infants were found to cry less at birth, during the first 90 minutes of life, and during the first three months. They were more alert after their first cry, they had more vocalizations, and they focused more on mother’s face and breast. At one year of life, infants who had experienced uninterrupted skin-to-skin time at birth were more able to calm themselves and there was more mutual reciprocity between mother and infant.
Mothers who experienced uninterrupted skin-to-skin were noted to have touched their infants more and kept their babies with them more. They also tended to follow whoever took her baby away, such as for medical exam or bathing. During the day four breastfeeding sessions that were videotaped, mothers were observed to be more patient with their infants. They also responded more softly to the infants’ cues, whereas the mothers of the swaddled babies demonstrated a clear tendency to be rougher with their infants.
“We should respect the baby and mother instinctive behavioral and endocrine interaction sequence.” Ann-Marie Widstrom,
So, based on this information, what does Dumas suggest? There are a few key pieces.
There should be immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin for the first one to two hours after birth, unless medical situation absolutely requires it. Any procedures such as vitamin K injection, application of erythromycin, and weighing/measuring should be delayed until after this time. The environment should be calm and respectful, and the mother should have effective support. Following the birth, the baby should not receive any medically-unjustified supplementation and should room in with his mother 24 hours a day. All exams should be done in the mother’s room.
Dumas spoke about situations where patients bringing this information to their doctors created change. Although these skin-to-skin practices might not be standard here in Canada, individual patients requesting change do add up and can result in change within the medical system.
This post marks my final piece for the Summer Blog Challenge, a 31 day challenge to blog daily. I’ve enjoyed the challenge much more this year than in years past, which I chalk up to writing on a business blog rather than a personal blog. Well, that and not giving birth to a baby part way though like two years ago. Newborns are bad for my writing mojo. ;)
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the way the SBC has pushed me back into writing regularly. I do know that writing daily is a bit too much of a time investment for me, but I’m hoping the writing momentum can carry me through to writing a few times a week. My goal with my blog is to develop a resource for clients so I can point them to information and tools, and I think the SBC has got my started down that path.
During the month, I had a few posts come together that made me especially happy.
My piece on how flower essences could be used to address postpartum depression was one that I felt did a good job showcasing the usefulness of essences, and it opened up the door to an opportunity I can’t wait to share more about soon.
The other half of the enjoyment of the SBC has been reading all the other regularly-updated blogs. I love how wide a variety of topics were discussed throughout the month and it’s been a lot of fun learning more about everyone. I’ve got links to all the blogs over on the right sidebar for anyone who hasn’t poked around on the other blogs yet.
The kids and I didn’t spend nearly as much time outside this summer as I wanted to, between dodging clouds of mosquitoes and hiding from the constant rain. I was lamenting the fact that the summer is ending so soon, with the very Canadian winter creeping nearer, when all of a sudden we’ve been blessed with a second shot at summer. A bunch of nice warm days, with none of the earlier mosquitoes left to bother us!
Today, we soaked up as much of the sun as we could. Kicking off the day with Fitmom meant I got to get my sweat on outside while the kids got to adventure around the playground.
Making the most of summer-like weather in September, we spent the afternoon out at a spray park near our home.
I’m grateful for this mini-summer, and this second chance to do all the things I feel we didn’t get enough of this summer. The weather is supposed to stay gorgeous until at least the end of the week and I can’t wait to see how many more ways we can make use of it!
I’ve been a huge La Leche League fan for years, having attended meetings for most of the past 11 years and participating as a Leader for the past 4. I love the personal impact that the organization has had on so many individuals, in matters of breastfeeding and beyond.
Some nights, such as tonight, I feel like I’ve seen all over again the beautiful things that can happen when people who are passionate about breastfeeding open up their hearts.
At our meeting tonight, we had this wide array of people, from current breastfeeders to former breastfeeders, with a “just figuring things out” pair and a “breastfeeding via donor milk” pair in the mix as well.
I love the way that all these different faces and phases represent breastfeeding. I love the way that this community has grown based on the connections formed by breastfeeding, and I love the way that a couple of hours each month can have such an impact on people’s lives. I can’t think of another organization I’ve belonged to that has influenced me so strongly, and I’m grateful for this experience.
Sending out big fluffy LLLove to all the people and lessons that LLL has brought into my life!
Yesterday afternoon I sat down with a Lifeboard project. A Lifeboard is a tool to visually represent goals and dreams. It uses the idea of The Law of Attraction in combination with the layout based on Feng Shui.
A few months back, I’d picked up a Lifeboard box set and I’ve been collecting pictures and phrases for it here and there. Yesterday I was feeling restless and unsettled, so I decided to pull out a few magazines and the kit. A couple of hours later I had this hanging on my kitchen wall:
I love it. It’s hanging on the wall between the kitchen and the livingroom, the middle of our home, and it makes me happy when I look at it. I’m a very visual person and this resonates strongly with me because of the combination of images and words.
I love the way that it’s a positive and purposeful representation of what I want in my life at a time when I’m focused on introspection and change. When I focus on the things that I do want, the things that I don’t want have a way of falling by the wayside. When I’m purposeful with my thoughts and actions, I am empowered and focused.
Many of the pieces for this Lifeboard came out of a fashion magazine. A makeup company I purchased from gave me a free subscription, and I dislike the content and images enough that I don’t even give them to the kids for craft supplies. Instead, I’ve been snipping out words and positive images and putting the magazine directly into the recycling bin. In the end, I was able to take pieces of a magazine that stirred up feelings of unease in me and made it into a positive tool in my life.
If you’ve never used this kind of tool before, I’d highly recommend it. There are different types of vision boards that you can make, and whether you approach it from a Law of Attraction viewpoint or from a goal-setting viewpoint, it’s an interesting and powerful experience.
Have you ever made up a Lifeboard or vision board? What was your experience like?
I had a couple of visualizations come up in my day today. They’re a bit different in tone but both of them have to do with creating a place of mental space.
I came up with this first one when I was trying to have a nap. I’ve been having some rough nights lately due to a certain little toddler and my brain was feeling a bit raw and ragged. This visualization followed by 15 minutes of almost-sleeping had me feeling refreshed and ready to go.
Place your body in a comfortable position. Feel your body sink further into the surface that you’re on as you relax. Notice the way that any tight areas in your body loosen up as you become aware of them. With each breath, feel your body becoming quieter.
Imagine that you have a foam insulation gun and you’re getting ready to cover your body with a layer of insulation.
At the top of your head, see how the foam insulation goes over you and puffs out. Imagine the top of your head slowly and gently being sprayed with insulation. Notice the way that this area of your body feels different now. It’s protected from the outside world and the insulation holds you in a comforting way.
Imagine that you continue to cover yourself in spray foam. Feel it going over the back of your head and down your neck, and then comfortingly over your face and down to your chest. As the insulation covers your ears, imagine the sounds of the world getting slightly muffled.
Once your whole head is covered, imagine the insulation continuing down to your body. Down over your chest and abdomen, and also over your shoulders and down your arms. Imagine it also flowing down your back all the way from your shoulders, and down your back. All these areas are now covered in a secure layer.
Feel how the foam continues down your legs, covering them entirely, down your thighs to your knees and then down your lower legs. Imagine the foam covers you up all the way down to your feet, and then all the way around your feet and toes as well.
Notice how your entire body is covered in this insulating layer and the way it gives you space from the outside world. Pay attention to how much more you can relax with this layer in place, and how it stays in place for as long as you want it there.
The other visualization is about creating space within our mind. It might be useful during times of overwhelm, or at night just before falling asleep.
Imagine that the inside of your head is a big beautiful glass jar. Inside of the glass jar are decorative glass marbles. Each marble represents a responsibility within your mind. To do lists, things not to forget in the morning, tasks you’ve been putting off, and the like. Each of these marbles is beautiful and meaningful.
Next, imagine that beside you is a big, wide basket. This large, beautiful basket is lined with smooth green satin fabric.
Imagine that you’ve picked up the glass jar that holds all the marbles. Slowly tip the jar over into the basket and feel the glass marbles gently slide down into the basket. Watch the marbles spread out inside of the basket and notice how there’s room for all of the marbles. When the jar is empty, set it upright again.
Sit back for a moment and look at the marbles. See how they’re each a bit different from the others. Notice how they have room to spread out in a way that lets you look at all of them at the same time. They’re all safely contained in the basket in front of you.
Next, pay attention to how your mind feels. Notice the way that your head feels lighter with the jar emptied out. Take a deep breath and see how much quieter you feel now.
Bring your attention again to the basket of marbles. See if there are any you want to pick up and look at. Notice the way that you can easily examine the marbles individually when they’re in the basket. Place the basket somewhere near you, maybe on your bedside table if you’re going to sleep. Remind yourself that all the marbles are safe and available whenever you need them.
Tis the season for change! From starting school to new schedules, it’s that time of year when we step out of our lazy days of summer and back into the more focused pace of autumn. From an energetic point of view, fall is the time of year to invest our attention into long-term work. New resolutions and schedules started now can be more powerful than those we make with the change of the calendar year.
Flower essences can play a supportive role in making the change from summer to autumn and overcoming any hurdles that come with new schedules.
Walnut is the hero of transitions in the flower essence world. Walnut helps us to ease through transitions with openness and grace. It fosters growth from a deep inner place, which helps us move confidently down our new path.
Walnut would be useful for families sending children to school, especially for the first time. It can help the child to feel ready for the transition into school life, and for the parents who might be hesitant about this new stage.
Morning Glory is another useful flower essence during times of transition. Morning Glory helps the individual to come back into a natural rhythm of day/night cycles in a way that is in tune with the world around them.
Morning Glory would help to support a change in sleeping schedule for a child switching from a summer to school year pattern. It would also help young children to follow nature’s shift into the shorter evenings of autumn.
Blackberry is a great flower essence to use when creating new patterns. It helps us to pin vague goals into concrete plans and gives us the energetic “kick in the pants” to set things in motion.
Blackberry would be useful for a high school student struggling to put effort into his new fall classes. It would also help a mom to get herself started on a new morning routine.
Quaking Grass is an extremely useful flower essence during times of forming new communities. This essence helps the individual to appreciate both her own individuality and her place within the larger group.
Quaking Grass would help a quiet child who feels a bit lost within a classroom full of busy children. It would also support the development of a strong group dynamic in a new workplace.
Mallow is another flower essence helpful in group situations. It helps the individual to feel warm and trusting when developing new relationships.
Mallow would be useful with a student who feels too fearful of rejection to attempt new friendships in a class full of strangers.
As we can see, flower essences can be a great tool during this season of change!
If you’re homeschooling, or considering it, “But how will they learn to socialize?” is one of the first questions people tend to ask. Liam and I have been asked countless times during the four years we’ve been homeschooling, and in all honesty it was one of our top concerns before making the leap from public schooling our children.
By “socializing” people typically mean “get to spend large amounts of time with kids their age” and “not to turn out like those weird stereotypical homeschooled kids”. With the first, we tend to look both at peers and a bit beyond. With the second…well, only time will tell how odd we’ve made them. ;)
In a typical week, we spend time with a various people in a number of settings. Some of the families we spend time with are also homeschooling families, some are families with preschool children, and some are families with children in the public school system. Between playdates, scheduled activities, and neighbourhood kids, our children get to spend many hours frolicking about with other kids. (Though sometimes the frolicking looks more like puppies wrestling in the dirt. But that’s a whole other blog post.)
Beyond playing with friends, we get to do things with people of other ages as well. On our daily outings my kids happily chat with everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to the employee at the zoo. Through their registered programs, the kids get to interact with adults in the teacher role as well. Being a volunteer steward with Alberta Parks for the past few years has offered Nick the opportunity to participate in work days and weekend retreats, where he is officially the youngest volunteer on board.
One significant opportunity that homeschooling has opened up is getting to spend regular time with my parents. With our fairly flexible schedule, the older two kids typically spend a night each week with their grandparents. The special treatment grandkids get makes for fun times like playing at the park, going to festivals, and building tree houses.
Another recent activity has involved “adopted grandmas and grandpas” and has opened up the age range even further. Cookies and Kids, organized by my friend at the extended care facility where she works, is a laid-back intergenerational program. In a large open area, the residents come out to visit with the parents and children. Between the residents cooing over the babies and the big kids running around and playing with toys, everyone finishes the morning with their hearts a bit more full.
For anyone in the Edmonton area interested in joining in the Cookies and Kids program, it runs every Wednesday morning from 10-11:30 am at Kensington Shepherd’s Care Foundation at 12603 135 ave
Homeschooling has, for our family, turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to support my little social butterflies as they explore the world they live in.