Thursday, March 26, 2015

Looking for a doula? Here's what you need to know.

Welcome back to my World Doula Week series! Today is my last post in celebration of doulas and the world they do! Hopefully what I've shared with you so far has brought some awareness to these amazing birth workers!
Whether you're actively looking for a doula or are interested in using one in the future there are some things you should know first. I think the most important thing you should know is that you should hire a doula that suits you. The most important part of a good birthing team is having people around you who make you feel comfortable and safe. If you don't like your doula or you don't mesh well with her it will not make your experience enjoyable. Interview a range of different doulas, talk to them about your ideal birth, get to know them before you sign that contract! There are so many different types of women (and even men) that do doula work, you're bound to find someone who you get along with. Your doula will see you when you're most vulnerable, she will wipe away your blood, sweat, and tears, she will be there to comfort you and cheer you on. It's so important during your prenatal visits that you bond with your doula and that you like them. To find doulas in your area try searching DoulaMatch.Net!
I also think it's important to know that your doula is there to provide you with judgement free support. Doulas are there to support you in YOUR birthing choices. They believe you deserve the birth experience you want no matter if it's natural, in a hospital, at home, induced, cesarean, or vbac and can help you navigate your options no matter what kind of birth experience or outcome. Doulas are there to cheer you on, not to sway you or judge you. Having a doula at your birth means having someone there for you who is going to listen. Tell your doula your thoughts, fears, and wishes when it comes to your birth experience. Confide in your doula so she can better serve you!
Last but not least, know that doulas are worth it! The day you bring a child into the world is a day you will remember forever. We cannot take back our birthing experiences or re-do them. We remember them forever and tell our stories long after the day our children are born. A doula can help make your birth experience a joyful and memorable experience, she benefits your partner and the birthing team, and she helps remove stress from you. Doulas are there to help guide you and make birth as easy as possible, who wouldn't want that?
Know that when you hire a doula, you're hiring someone who cares. Doulas spend hours on end on their feet, away from their families. They miss holidays and birthday parties. They sleep in waiting rooms and on hospital couches. They stay on call for days on end and answer all of your questions and concerns. They get to know you and drop everything to be at your birth, no matter the time, no matter the day. Your doula cares about you and your birth.

"The most feminine of all women’s rights: to choose where and with whom to birth. If we lose that right, what right will we ever be able to protect?" 
-Carla Hartley

Still have a question about doulas? Leave them in the comments! For more information on my doula services or to get updates, positive birth affirmations, and more like my Facebook page!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I became a doula.

Welcome back to my World Doula Week series! I'll be blogging all week about doulas in celebration of the work they do and to educate anyone who may still be asking themselves "What is a doula?"
Today's post is about me, how I fell in love with pregnancy and child birth, and how I ended up becoming a certified doula. 
My journey started seven years ago. I was a junior in high school, about to graduate a whole year early to join the Peace Corps. I worked hard my entire high school "career" to make sure that I would get a jump start on life. I wanted to be out in the field, hands on, making a real difference in the world. I wanted to help others and make them feel as though they count, they were not forgotten. I spent most of my life being different than my peers. Some would poke fun at my "hippie ways". I remember a guy in one of my classes saying he wouldn't be surprised if in 20 years I was living in a hut full of adopted children in Africa. I was weird because I cared about people, about children, about the world that we lived in. How uncool for a 17 year old!
Right before my graduation I got one of the biggest surprises of my life. I found out that I was pregnant. I remember how shocked everyone I knew was. How could Autumn, a great student and all around smart gal, get pregnant and throw away her dreams? I pushed through the stares and awkward conversations with friends, I held my tongue when family lectured me about how I had ruined my life, I was even told that I could get an abortion and "have a real baby" when I grew up. No matter what was thrown my way I was excited for this little life growing inside of me, I was excited for this new adventure, and no one was going to take that from me or make me feel bad about it. 
Throughout my entire pregnancy I researched and read everything I could on pregnancy and childbirth. It was my mission to conquer this new challenge and make it enjoyable and memorable despite everyone's behavior and words. After all of my research I decided that I wanted a natural child birth and no one was going to talk me out of it. My OB tried to warn me of the pains of labor, my mom would joke that there was no way I could do it, my friends would tell me I'm insane but nothing changed my mind. I was going to have this baby naturally, by choice, at 18 years old and that was that.
Flash forward to the day I delivered. My grandma and her friend Tana drove up from Texas to be there for the birth of my baby girl. Tana is a licensed massage therapist and decided to bring her massage table with her so that she could give me a little love. Being close to my due date I needed the relief and I was so glad to have a moment to relax and focus on myself. About 20 minutes after my massage was over I heard a loud pop, stood up, and water rushed down my legs and onto the couch and floor. It was time, I was going into labor. 
We arrived in the hospital around 3:00 pm, I was in good spirits and ready to meet my baby. They checked me in, hooked me up to machines and monitors, and then left me to labor. I spent most of my time listening to my headphones or chatting with my friends and family that had come to cheer me on. By 10:30 I was feeling pretty intense contractions but I kept myself calm and focused, listening to my music and saying positive affirmations in my head (this was before I even knew hypnobirthing was a thing). I must have really looked calm and serene because when I finally spoke up to a nurse and told her that I was ready to have my baby she told me that because I was a first time mom I would still have 6-8 hours left of my labor and that there was no way that I was even close to meeting my baby. She didn't even check me. I broke down in that moment and agreed to an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in to prepare me for the procedure. The whole time he was talking to me I couldn't focus, I was baring down and my body was naturally pushing, I was having this baby now and no one was listening to me. Finally I yelled to a nurse and flashed her my lady bits, she looked down in horror, I was crowning. All I remember after that was a blur, there was rushing around, nurses yelling and throwing gloves at each other, my OB nowhere in sight. The nurses kept telling me not to push, to wait for the doctor on call (who was in the process of another delivery) to come and deliver my baby. I was the most calm person in the room and I was the one having a baby for the first time. After it was all said and done it was 11:14 pm, I had a horribly rough and insensitive doctor give me an episiotomy, deliver Marli, and sew me up but I had done it, I had naturally given birth to my daughter and it felt amazing. 
This whole experience molded my view of childbirth and pregnancy. Everyone wanted me to be afraid, to be panicked, no one trusted me or my body, no one listened to me during my labor and delivery, I felt alone. Through the years I have looked back on this experience in two ways; I succeeded despite everything in getting the birth that I wanted even though it wasn't exactly picturesque, but also that women are bullied and made to be afraid during childbirth. They are told that they aren't capable or that they are broken and that they need doctors and nurses to fix them and make them able to do something we've been doing since the dawn of time. It opened my eyes to all of the problems that women have to face during one of the most incredible moments in their lives. A women shouldn't feel helpless or afraid of giving birth, she should feel empowered to birth in whatever way she wants and she should celebrate the entire experience, not look back at it with regret, horror, or unhappiness. 
When I first heard of doulas and the work they do I was instantly interested. There is a career out there where I can empower moms to get the births they want? I can help them stay calm and remind them to listen to their body and trust what it's telling them? Where do I sign up?! I started diving in to books and articles and finally after a long road I received my certification. After years of telling women that birth isn't something to fear, after years of sharing information and tips with my pregnant friends I could finally apply that knowledge and passion and help pregnant women on a larger scale.
Not every woman wants natural child birth but every single woman wants to be heard and respected during such a vulnerable time and that's what I'm there for. To listen, to encourage, and to make her feel comfortable and respected no matter what type of birth she wants or ends up having. Being a doula fulfills my want to help others, it lets me share my passion of pregnancy and birth, and it's a career that I can enjoy my whole life. It is definitely my calling and I couldn't be more proud to say "I am a doula!"

“There is a secret in our culture and it is not that birth is painful, but that women are strong.”
Laura Stavoe Harm

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Let's talk about doulas...

This week is World Doula Week, a week created to help spread awareness of the work we do and how beneficial having a doula can be for mom and the whole birthing team! Doulas are invaluable to mothers during labor and postpartum and have the ability to drastically improve the entire birth experience for everyone involved. 
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, what is a doula? 
If you've ever had a baby or are pregnant currently you might have heard the term mentioned in childbirth classes, at your midwife's office, or in pregnancy and birth books. If you haven't then today is the day that you learn all about who doulas are and what they do. 
The word Doula comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "women who serves". Essentially a doula is a support person who provides information and educational support at prenatal visits, emotional and physical support during labor and delivery, and help mom adjust to her new life postpartum. Doulas are there to create a comfortable and safe atmosphere for mother and her birthing team during one of the most memorable days of their lives. Cool, huh?
During my doula training and since I've heard many misconceptions about what doulas do. Do we deliver babies? Do we replace midwives and doctors? Do we take over the role of the father or partner? To all of these questions the answer is a big fat NO! Doulas do not perform medical procedures or do anything clinical, doulas are hired in addition to an O.B or midwife. Doulas do not replace anyone on the birthing team and definitely do not take over the father/partner's role during labor or delivery. 
So what DO doulas do?
Doulas help prepare mom for birth during prenatal visits, working on positions that will be comforting during labor, preparing a birth plan, going over concerns and fears about birth, and showing her partner ways that they can help comfort mom during the birthing process. Some doulas teach their moms prenatal yoga and meditation, offer books from their personal library to help mom learn about pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and offer 24/7 on call support to mothers who have questions or concerns. Doulas often come to the hospital, birthing center, or home when labor is progressing to help mom deal with labor pains and stress. Doulas help ease pain with counter pressure, massage, aromatherapy, birthing balls, position changes, and more. They don't do anything invasive or medical, they simply provide natural solutions to the mother to help her cope. Doulas are also helpful to the birthing team. They take some of the responsibility off of the partner so they can eat or rest, which is very helpful especially during long labors. Doulas can also encourage partners during the birthing process and aid them in ways to make mother more comfortable. Doulas are the best birthing cheerleaders! After baby has arrived doulas help mom get comfortable and settled in their new role. Doulas can help with breastfeeding, teach mom ways to soothe her new infant, and tidy up for the family so they can spend time with baby. Doulas are someone a mother can confide in without judgement so during postpartum visits mom and doula will talk about how shes adjusting, any concerns shes having, and can make referrals to other care providers if necessaryDoulas also can provide additional services to help mom during this amazing period in her life. Some doulas offer belly casting, placenta encapsulation, belly binding, v-steams, holistic balms and herbs, and other pregnancy and postpartum services. 


"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."

-John H. Kennell, MD


Now that you know the basics of what doulas do would you hire one during your pregnancy and delivery? What are some questions you have about doulas?

This week I will be posting a series of posts on doulas, so if you want to learn more stay tuned!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Little Bits No.2

Lately I've just been soaking in all of the happy moments and doing what feels good. I decided over the weekend that I needed a change so we moved all of our furniture and painted our bedroom last minute. It's been so refreshing to have a "new" space. I love the color we chose, a very cool toned white. It's definitely a keeper. I've also been keeping busy with a massive reading list that is growing by the minute. I still have six books coming to me in the mail but I'm excited to dive in and soak up all kinds of wonderful knowledge. I joined a few doula groups on Facebook this week and it's been wonderful to see "doula talk" everyday and learn from all of the women who have been active doulas for a decade or more. I'll always have a lot to learn, that's for sure but I love the challenge.  We've been keeping active with plenty of yoga and outside play, enjoying the sunshine and getting the garden ready for spring time planting! I'm so happy that spring has finally sprung and we can get outside more and enjoy nature! Hooray for vitamin d!

1. My current reading list, a little for my second doula certification and a little for pleasure. I can't wait to receive the books I have on the way! I'm thinking of doing a few book reviews on the ones I love so stay tuned!
2. Gorgeous flowers from Jared's team at work.
3. Enjoying the sunshine.
4. Lemon and Purification, my new favorite diffusing duo.
5. Selfie with my little lady.
6. Pick a color, any color.
7. Fluffy enjoying an afternoon nap.
8. Marli working on her standing poses.
9.  Do you believe in life after love?
10. Enjoying the new do.
11. Meekah is ready for her morning yoga.

Make sure you like my Facebook page for updates and more! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Breaking The Silence // I had a natural miscarriage.

I'm going to be honest and say that this is probably one of the hardest posts I'll probably ever write, but it needs to be written.

Three weeks ago I had a natural miscarriage. 

It started off like any other day. I started a pot of tea, flipped through my Facebook feed, washed my face, and jumped in my clothes for the day. The kids were at the farm so I had a morning to myself, it was quiet, calm, and I was relaxed and ready to spend the day on myself which is rare and highly coveted. I spent the morning so at peace. 
I went to the bathroom around 11:00 or so and noticed a tiny bit of spotting so I figured I would keep my eye on it, because spotting during pregnancy isn't uncommon, and I went about my day. The next time I checked on it there was a significant amount of blood and I knew immediately that something wasn't right. My heart sank and I called my husband with tears pouring down my face and told him he needed to rush home. My o.b. rushed me in for an ultrasound around 1:00 before our appointment and we waited for almost an hour in the waiting room. l have never felt time move more slowly before in my life. The entire time we waited I tried to stay positive but deep down my heart was breaking. My husband just kept squeezing my hand and telling me we were going to be alright and that was the only thing that kept me sane in that waiting room, they were all lucky he was there. Finally they called my name and we went into the ultrasound room to find out if our little one was okay. I nervously got undressed and tried to prepare myself mentally for the various outcomes we could encounter. The ultrasound technician was very quiet, she did a lot of measuring, a lot of checking and re-checking and I started to prepare myself for the worst. She checked for the heart beat and there was silence. Over and over. In my mind I kept wanting to scream "Hello, I can see what you're doing! JUST TELL ME!" but I knew she was just doing her job and it wasn't her fault that I was having one of the worst moments of my life then she said it,
"I'm so sorry." 
Jared and I immediately held each other and I cried harder than I had in a long time. When I could finally breathe again I got dressed, looked over at him, said "Get me out of here." and he drove me home. It's a strange feeling to know that the life you're carrying isn't alive anymore. That morning I was blissfully unaware, I was still pregnant, I was still growing a human life and now hours later I wasn't. Everything had changed.

My doctor called me that evening and gave me my options; I could go to the hospital and get D&C, I could get medication to help me "pass the tissue" as my doctor called it, or I could naturally miscarry. I didn't even think about it, I chose to do it naturally at home and even though my doctor gave me absolutely no information on what would happen or what to expect. If I couldn't be in control during my pregnancy loss I could at least have control over my miscarriage and the environment in which I would bring my little one into the world. I started doing research that night about what I would need to do to have a successful home miscarriage and what would happen to my body throughout the process. I was so surprised at how little information there is out there for women who miscarry naturally, though I don't know why, everything is so medical these days I should have expected it. 
By the next morning I felt like I knew everything I could possibly know about natural miscarriage and that's when the process began. I started having full blown contractions around 10:00 and they grew in strength all day long. They don't tell you that naturally miscarrying is basically like having a home birth but with a much smaller baby. I had experienced natural childbirth with my first so I was using my pain management skills and meditation to deal with the contractions and my husband watched after me all day and made sure I had everything I needed to be as comfortable as I possibly could. I walked around a lot and tried to keep myself occupied in between contractions until I couldn't move around anymore. At around 7:30 that night I was having very strong contractions and a baring down feeling and decided to walk to the bathroom. That's when it happened, my water broke and I delivered a lot of blood, tissue, and my little one. By 8:00 I had gone through natural labor and delivery, but I didn't have a sweet crying baby to show for it.

Since my miscarriage I've been trying to get back to normal. My hormones are insane, my body is just now starting to heal. I'm able to do yoga again and that has been a huge comfort to me. Emotionally I am getting better everyday. I've been meditating and keeping my thoughts positive, but I've also just been allowing myself to experience everything. Surrender has been my word. I've been trying to live my daily routine, still homeschooling when I'm feeling good but I allow myself to take breaks when I don't. I don't beat myself up over it, taking things easy has been refreshing. 
Even though it was a physically grueling experience I'm glad emotionally that I decided to do it at home, naturally. I feel like actually giving birth gave me closure, it helped me to emotionally heal and say goodbye to a baby that I grew and nourished for 11 weeks, it helped me to appreciate my body and how perfectly it functions, it helped me to grow on spiritual level and to appreciate all parts of the human experience whether they are pleasant or not. No matter how unpleasant this entire experience is the one thing that I've really focused on is how it's helped me to grow. I don't like to dwell in sadness or negativity, I like to find the light in any darkness and no matter how sad I am that I won't be able to watch my little one grow I am content in the fact that this experience will help me to help others and that it was given to me for some purpose.

I know that I'm not alone. Ten to twenty percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, women go through it every day, so why aren't we talking about it? I had taken sexual education, childhood development, my doula certification, I had read books and spent hours upon hours studying the female body, pregnancy, and child birth but never once had I learned about miscarriage. I knew what it was obviously but to me it felt like a reality I would never know and I had no idea what the process was really like. Why don't we learn about pregnancy loss as women? You would think that statistically we will almost all experience one whether we know it or not and we should know what our bodies will go through and how to deal with the effects of losing a child, no matter how small, but we don't. Miscarriage is a taboo subject, a word still whispered and hidden away in the darkest corners of our society. Women are forced to grieve in silence, to labor in silence, and then they are told to move on and make another child to fill the hole the one they lost has left. We don't appreciate the strength of the women around us, we don't prepare our daughters for this tragic reality, we don't talk to those who have miscarried about their loss because it's too sad, too painful, too personal. Why? Women should be sharing their stories and reaching out to those who are hurting, helping those who are lost, we should be lifting each other up and supporting each other in a time of pain, physically and emotionally.

I hope that through my own experience I can help those women who do need a shoulder to cry on, a friend to vent to, and someone to give them the information they need to safely and naturally miscarry. When I started telling friends and family about our loss one of the biggest questions I got from females is "What actually happens during a miscarriage?" and it was always followed by "I'm sorry if that's really personal." That makes me crazy! It isn't just personal to me, it's personal to all women. We should all know the processes of our bodies, we should all be aware of the possibilities, we should not be afraid to talk about miscarriage. For some it is easier to grieve in privacy, and I respect that, but for those of us who want to speak, we shouldn't feel as though we can't. I will always speak honestly about my loss, my daughter will know about miscarriage, and my friends and family and even strangers are always welcome to ask me any question that they have. I feel like speaking out and helping others who may be experiencing loss or just want to be prepared is the best way I can honor my little one. 

I won't be silent about my loss, you can come to me. 

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." 
February 27, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Things I Love Thursday.

It has been a long time since I enjoyed a good ole TILT post. I've been loving a lot of things this week that I thought I would share. The weather has definitely been #1 on my list this week, it's been almost short weather out there, a very big difference from two weeks ago when we were in a blizzard. I'll take what I can get Missouri! I'm ready to get my veggie garden up and going again this year so hopefully it decides to stay warm, you never know when you live here.
I've also been enjoying a few good binge watching sessions of BBC's Miranda and I'm obsessed with it. I'm pretty sure Miranda Hart is my spirit animal. She's so adorably awkward and inappropriate at all the best times and even my husband has been enjoying it so if you haven't given it a chance, check it out! Haim's album Days Are Gone and Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company have been spinning almost daily this week, and I've also enjoyed a little She&Him Vol.2.
I also thought I would share this for all the mommas out there. For the last few weeks during home school we have started a yoga and meditation time and it's been so beautiful to watch the little ones really enjoy yoga and quiet their little minds with meditation. We stumbled upon this guided meditation for children and Marli has really been enjoying it. Hunter just makes a lot of animal noises, but he sits still to watch. I've really been able to tell a difference in the kids focus so that's a big bonus!

I've also fallen in love with a few other odds and ends this week, you can find them here:

1// I've been using  Grounding essential oil by Young Living for the past week or so and it is so calming and wonderful, it's a new staple. 2// I stumbled across the Noon Day Collection recently and I could rave on and on about how wonderful they are and all the great causes that they support but it would last forever so I'm just going to say check them out for yourself! Amazing! 3// The Carbon Farmer is a virtual site with real life impact. Follow them on twitter and they will plant a free tree to help repopulate Canadian wilderness. 4// Rose Water Mist has been my new go to beauty product. Goodbye MAC Fix Plus! 5// Chai Spice Hurraw! Balm, does that really need explanation? 6// Blackbird And The Owl is one of my new favorite Etsy shops, they have such beautiful handmade leather goodies. 7// This African basket, glorious. That is all.  8// This gemstone stained glass sun catcher is beautiful, I want a few to hang in my kitchen window. 9// Someone recently recommended  Woman Code to me during my doula training because I was immersed in all things woman. I'm a nerd when it comes to these things so I grabbed a copy for myself. If you're interested in taking control of your fertility, getting off hormonal birth control, or are just interested in all things lady check it out!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bake It // Banana Date Bread.

One of my favorite morning treats is banana date bread. I love making it on the weekends and filling the house up with the wonderful smell of fresh baked goodies. The kids always ask for banana bread and the other day we finally had the perfect bananas for bread making so we dove right in. I love how simple and yummy this bread is, the sweetness and texture of the dates and the cacao make it the perfect bite of everything. It didn't last long in our house, that's for sure.This recipe is kiddo approved and my husband named it my best banana bread ever so I guess it's worth sharing!

YOU'LL NEED//
2-3 ripe bananas
3 dates, pitted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch pink Himalayan salt
1/4 cup cacao bits
1 1/2 cups flour (of your preference)

For Topping:
2 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup melted butter

PREPARATION//
Preheat your over to 350 degrees and oil or butter your loaf pan. In a nice big mixing bowl add your bananas and mush them up. I like to leave some nice chunks in there for texture! Next, stir in your melted butter. We used some yummy hand churned butter we got from an Amish family, it was perfect for this rich and delicious bread. Now add the vanilla, baking soda, salt, flour, and cacao bits. Make sure everything is well combined!

Now grab yourself a cutting board, its time to chop up some dates! Dates are super sticky once you get into them so be prepared for your fingertips to stick to everything until you make it to the sink! I cut open each one and quartered it, removing the pit. Then I chopped each section up into tiny bite size pieces. Go ahead and throw those in your batter, give it a good stir, and then you're ready to get
your bread in the pan. Pour batter into pan and then grab a bowl to prepare the crunchy oat topping! Just melt the butter you had set aside and stir in the oats and sugar. Once everything is evenly combined I topped my banana bread batter with it and popped it into the oven.
Bake your bread for 50 minutes to an hour. When the top is golden brown and the inside is fully cooked remove from your oven and cool before removing from the pan. Now you are ready to slice and serve! The oat crust is really crunchy but the inside of the bread is so moist! It's exactly what you want in a banana bread.

Let me know if you try out this yummy bread recipe! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pinspiration #52

Here's a little dose of inspiration to get you to Friday! I've been dying over pretty crystals, caramel colored leather, white and gray marble, and fun positive affirmations this week. You can find more inspiration and fun by following me on Pinterest! Also hop on over to my new Facebook page and give it a like! I'll be running a special giveaway exclusively for my Facebook followers soon so hurry over! I also have a special promo for iHerb, head on over and shop all of your favorite natural beauty and food products in one place! Use code WTB634 for $10 off of an order of $40.00 or more! I just ordered a huge box of goodies recently and I'm so excited to share my favorite products with you guys! Until then...

Crystals // one, two.
Interiors // one, two.
Wear // one, two, three.
Eat // one, two.
Create // one, two.
Think // one.