Wednesday, September 26, 2012

haiku wednesday

wouldn't trade expert
design for handmade gifts and 
legos any day

Friday, September 21, 2012

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart.
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

It never gets old. Having the privilege of witnessing the very moments a baby enters this life is one I cherish. New parents are in awe for days after the birth of their child, but nothing compares to those very first seconds of wonder. Thank you, Courtney, Scott for inviting me into your moment and becoming {my moment}! Welcome to Earth, Baby Ava. You are beautiful and blessed!

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment.

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

haiku wednesday

much work done, much more
to go. my love out of town.
just us three tonight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Taco Soup

It's been a while since I've posted one of my recipes, and with the weather changing I thought it was about time to post a Fall favorite!

There's just something about a healthy and hearty soup that is comforting when there is a chill in the air or soggy weather. Taco soup is easy and seems to satisfy even the pickiest eaters in our house.

I've found the secret to good soup is how you start it. I always start with sauteing a base of vegetables called a mirepoix ("mir-a-pwah"). Generally this is a mix of carrots, onions and celery, or onions, celery and peppers (very popular in Louisiana cooking). Either way, starting a soup, sauce, or stew with fresh root vegetables that are sauteed to soften and bring out the flavors will give your soup a rich and fresh flavor. Even if you later add canned elements or prepackaged seasonings, the finished product will still taste like REAL food!

The other trick is a good quality stock or broth. Homemade is going to be best, but even canned, carton or water and bullion cubes are fine.  If you start with the mirepoix and deglaze afterwards (you'll see below) with a flavorful broth, you really can't screw it up!

So here we go with Taco Soup!

Start by chopping up a medium onion. Any color will do. Then saute in a stock pot over medium high heat in a good quality olive oil, or olive oil and butter mix. I don't measure olive oil. Eyeball it. Don't cover the whole bottom of the pan; a few turns of the pan or a few tablespoons will probably do.

Next, chop up about a cup of mixed sweet peppers. You could also use a combination of bell peppers, or kick it up with jalapenos, or any others you like.

Toss those into your stock pot to saute with the onions, and add about a half cup (or more if you like) of chopped mushrooms. We love baby portobellos, but I just used button mushrooms for this batch. Season liberally or to taste with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Once your onions start to get translucent and brown a bit, add in 3/4 to a pound of ground beef. You could use ground turkey, chicken, or even leftover steak if you like.

Once the meat has browned (don't let it get crispy - you'll want it to continue cooking in the broth), open one can of diced tomatoes with green chilis (your preference of heat - we like mild) and one can of corn. Drain the corn, don't drain the Rotel, and dump in the pot.

Then, add about a tablespoon of minced garlic, or about 2 cloves and give everything a good stir.

Next, add your broth. If you've used chicken or turkey, you may want to use chicken stock. Since I used beef, I used four cups of water with four beef bullion cubes in it. I generally have these in the pantry, and I buy reduced sodium. If you've made fresh broth or have canned broth or stock in a carton, these will all do just fine.

Next, add in your taco seasoning. I like to buy McCormick. There's no MSG or preservatives, just spices, which makes me feel better about buying something prepackaged. Use your own combination of chili powder, onion powder, garlic, etc. if you like. The prepackaged combination just makes it a little easier!

Give it all a good stir, and bring to a simmer.

Once you're simmering, put the lid on and let it do it's thing for about 20 minutes.

Serve over tortilla chips and top with freshly grated cheddar cheese or monterrey jack and a nice dollop of sour cream! If you've got fresh avacado chunks, those would take it to the next level!


Missy's Taco Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of sweet pepper variety, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3/4lb-1lb ground beef
1 small can diced tomatoes with green chilis, with juices
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 package taco seasoning
4 cups beef stock
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Sautee all vegetables until onions are translucent and start to brown. Add beef to brown. Add canned items. Add broth and taco seasoning. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with freshly shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, green onions, avacados for toppings!

Love and Honey,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Is Breastfeeding Normal?

"That's not normal!"

This was the response I heard from my stepson recently after he overheard his father and me talking about the issue of breastfeeding in public. I brought up the topic (surprise, surprise) after noting a mother nursing her toddler in a public setting that day. I was celebrating the scene, since it's so rare in our culture that women choose "extended breastfeeding" at all, let alone brave the public eye in doing so.

My stepson, who is eleven, was most certainly just mortified at hearing the word breast thrown around repeatedly more than anything else, but his statement startled me on a deeper level. "Can we PLEASE stop talking about breastfeeding? That's not NORMAL!!" he shouted again as he ran upstairs, red in the face.

But, isn't it? Isn't breastfeeding THE most normal way of feeding an infant?

breastfeeding, tulsa doula, breastfeeding education, breastfeeding is normal, honeybee mama

Is Breastfeeding Normal?

When I really think about it, I think we need to differentiate between what is common and what is normal. When we look at breastfeeding worldwide, statistics show only 51% of infants are exclusively breastfed at 4 months, and only 38% at 6 months. These numbers exist though The World Health Organization suggests that all infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, then they should receive complimentary foods (not formula) to accompany breastfeeding up to 2 years of life or beyond. So, it is evident that breastfeeding isn't necessarily common, though it is on the rise in the U.S. according to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card.

Breastmilk is human milk for human children. Therefore, physiologically speaking, it is the normal way of feeding an infant. The components of breastmilk are perfectly composed to nourish human babies. There is no substitute that comes close to providing what each mother is capable of providing for her own child. Infant formulas in all forms are merely imitations and substitutes for human milk, derived from other animals and vegetable sources.

What's So Great About Breastmilk?

For one, breastmilk is completely unique. As much as science has studied the components of it, we still don't know everything that is in it or how to accurately imitate it. In addition, each mother-baby pair is completely unique. If you line up cups of expressed breastmilk from ten mothers, you will see ten different colors, thicknesses, smells and textures. This is because each mother produces exactly and precisely the very formula of human milk her specific baby needs.

What many people don't know is that as the baby nurses at the breast, she shares the germs and bacteria in her mouth with her mother. The mother's body is then able to adjust and create antibodies she and her baby both need to protect them from infections and illness. So, breastmilk changes from day to day, and from feeding to feeding to meet the needs of the baby. Not even breastmilk fed through a bottle can imitate this, though it is the second best alternative to nursing.

Also, have you ever watched how different babies look when they're feeding at the breast as opposed to a bottle? The jaw, lips, tongue and throat all move completely differently than they do when a baby drinks from a bottle. This is crucial in the development of the jaw and dental structure of infants. Children who never breastfeed are much more likely to require orthodontic care at some time in their life because of this deficiency.

Children who are breastfed have:
  • Fewer instances of ear infections
  • Fewer instances of asthma and eczema
  • Fewer gastrointestinal infections
  • Lower risk of respiratory tract diseases
  • Fewer instances of Type I and Type II Diabetes
  • Lower risk of Leukemia and other cancers, both in childhood and later in life
  • Lower risk of becoming overweight and obese
What Are the Risks of Formula Feeding?

As a doula, I am an advocate for parents having a choice about everything involved in the labor, birth and care of their children. This does not exclude the method of feeding their children. But as with every other choice, I believe it's imperative that parents have ALL the information about their choices before deciding on a plan of action.

Breastmilk and formula are too often presented on equal playing fields as an either/or choice. The method of feeding your baby is often seen as one of convenience or an emotional response. The truth is, baby formula and breastmilk are in no way equal choices. Infant formula was designed to be a substitute in cases where a child is unable to breastfeed for medical or other reasons. It's not even a second best option. First best is breastmilk fed from the breast of the baby's mother. Second best is pumped or expressed breastmilk from the baby's mother, fed through a tube, syringe or bottle. Third best is donated breastmilk from another woman. Only then, when all other options have been exhausted and there is no other way to nourish a baby should formula be considered.

The risk of formula feeding includes increased risk of the diseases and disorders described above, and more importantly the risk of death. There is a 21% reduction in infant deaths for babies that have ever breastfed (See Baby Bond for more information). Also, there are often formula recalls, formula contamination, improper preparation (did you know you're supposed to boil water and not allow it to drop below 70C before feeding?), unsanitary conditions and many other factors that make formula a risky choice.

Infants who are formula fed experience:
  • More diarrhea
  • More constipation
  • More colicky behavior
  • More acid reflux
  • Reduced cognitive development
  • Higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or death from other causes
The Real Issue 

Before you misconstrue this blog post as saying that infant formula is poison, please read on.

The real issue here is not about presenting the benefits of breastfeeding. Most people know "breast is best" as much as they know smoking is bad.  The real issue is lack of breastfeeding support and knowledge. Since only about half of mothers breastfeed at all and many of those only the first few days or months, the number of knowledgeable women most mothers know is few. Who do women turn to in those first hours after birth when they are exhausted and know their baby needs to nurse but don't really know how to accomplish the task? How do they remain steadfast in their decision when baby seems tired or uninterested or can't get a good latch when the nursery nurses are so quick to offer infant formula as an alternative "just to make sure baby eats something?"

Moms who give their babies formula are NOT bad mothers. They are mothers who want the best for their babies. They may have all the information available and have made an educated choice to feed their baby with formula. They may have significant challenges in breastfeeding because of previous breast surgery, sexual trauma, stress, postpartum depression or many others. More often than not though, they are women who have been given little information or misinformation, or simply do not have enough resources and people around them to encourage them to keep trying until they get it right, or to problem solve when there are setbacks.

Breastfeeding IS normal, and it is far more common in our culture than we realize. Many women feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public not because of their own discomfort with it, but because of others' discomfort. I hope more an more men and women can do more in our society to welcome breastfeeding mothers and remove the weirdness attached to something so very "normal."

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart.
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

"Baby" as sung by Justin Bieber, performed by the ACA Trio.

The ACA Trio is a relatively new band to hit the scene, comprised of five year old Alec, nine year old Corrinne and six year old Aidan. Alec takes care of percussion. His instrument is a toy drum and he uses Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bow staffs for drum sticks. Aidan and Corrinne take turns on the mic (hooked up to our portable PA system) and sing along with "The Bieb" in the background. During instrumental breaks, Aidan dances and Corrinne does a unique form of what we call "Body Drumming."

It's a stellar performance. We don't get much notice when they perform, but if we every know their tour schedule ahead of time, we'll be sure to let you know.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment!

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

haiku wednesday

sometimes i think it's
a wonder i seem to get
some things done at all

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Inspire Me - A Letter to My Clients

Dear Sweet Mamas,

I see you. I watch you. I know you have strength, courage and endurance for everything that comes your way. I know you can give birth. I know you can endure long hours without sleep and the many changing, intense, and sometimes frightful sensations of birth. I know you can feed your baby. I know your baby can learn to nurse and you can become a pro breastfeeding mama. I know you can endure the endless feedings, diapers, and sleepless nights.

I know you can do it.

I know you can because I have watched mamas before you do it. In the face of pain, loss, fear, struggle, exhaustion and people telling them they couldn't, I have watched them conquer their own demons and the naysayers.

I know you can, because I can. I did, and I do.

Though I've given birth to two babies and did not get epidurals, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about my own every day life, the good, the bad and the ugly. In particular, my athletic life.

First off, I am not an athlete. I never have been. In grade school, I made good friends with the wall during Dodgeball to avoid any need to dodge anything. I was mocked by my gym teacher when I couldn't do one single pull up. I was laughed off the kickball field after I ran in the WRONG direction after kicking the ball. I wasn't even very good at boogie-boarding at the beach because I was constantly distracted by the sand in my swimsuit. But I continue to try and persevere.

I do not run. I don't even quite jog; I trot. But I have completed two 15k races without walking, and a half-marathon. I may have "jogged" the half-marathon at the exact same pace as a friend who "speed-walked" it, but I finished, and might even do it again one day.

I exercise usually six days a week, and every minute of every workout I am usually wishing I had a cup of chai and a scone to munch on instead of sweating and grunting and feeling like I'm going to barf for 45-60 minutes straight. I do hard workouts, with instructors that push me to run faster, lift more weight, not give up, and do more push-ups (which they deceptively call "Bonus" push-ups, gross). The other day during a boot camp class, we were doing a really difficult floor exercise, and during one repetition I heard myself utter the words, "I can't."

Immediately my mind went to every mama I've been with in labor and the moments that every single one of them have told me, "I can't." I remembered my teen moms, at the tender ages of 15, 16, and 17, bravely and beautifully conquering childbirth and entering the world of parenthood in the face of massive adversity. I thought of every mom who advocated for her baby in the face of unnecessary interventions and medications. I remembered each mom who was wheeled off to a surgical birth she didn't want but knew she needed who embraced her destiny with open arms.

When my clients tell me they can't, I always reply with, "You can and you are!" At that moment in my workout I knew I could, and I knew I had a new and compelling reason to keep pretending I'm an athlete.

Today I did a Spin class. I'm terrified of bikes going fast, even stationary ones. I imagine crashing and being catapulted over the handlebars and skidding across the road with spokes going through my eyeballs. In class, the excruciating workout and monotonous circular motion of my legs not taking me anywhere is mentally draining to say the least. In fact, this instructor at one point came over to my bike and grinned and leaned into my face saying, "I'm your friend," while cranking my bike up to a higher resistance (what the hell?!).

But it's a really good workout, and I know that if I can push myself to not only endure a Spin class, but also push myself to work harder, then YOU can birth your baby with confidence!

I do it for you, sweet mamas. I endure and I push myself, my legs, my arms, my lungs, my muscles, my mind to remind myself that I can. I sign up for boxing classes (ewe), weight lifting classes (ouch), boot camp classes (barf), Zumba classes (I'm seriously too Molly Ringwald for it), and "run" long races for you. I do it to keep myself strong to stand with you, sit with you, massage your back and rub your feet, squeeze your hips, crawl on the floor, climb on the bed, lean into the bath and stay awake with you indefinitely. 

I do it so I can say with every fiber of my being that YOU CAN.

You can, you are, and you will.

See, there I am after completing the Rt. 66 Half-Marathon in 2010. The medal proves I finished!

Thank you, sweet birthing mamas, you Inspire Me.

Love and Honey,

Friday, September 7, 2012

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart. 
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

I went to have lunch with each of the littles at school the other day, which in and of itself is always fulfilling. Waiting in the hallway for your kid to walk by while all the other kids wave at you like a celebrity. That moment when your kid notices you and wasn't expecting your company for lunch. The thrill and excitement as he tells all his friends that you're his mom and you're eating lunch with him. I'll relish these days while they last, before that fateful day when they will pretend they're not related to me in public.
My Kindergartner eats first, then my First Grader. I had a lovely lunch with Alec, then moved to the other table where Aidan had saved me a seat. As I sat down, he stood up to whisper in my ear, "That's the girl I was telling you about who's pretty." What? Right next to me? Oh my goodness. I look over to see this radiant little girl just smiling sweetly at me with her turkey sandwich in hand. I quickly say, "Oh, are you Grace?" then realize I may have just embarrassed my son or her by revealing I know her identity. Then I remember they're First Graders and I probably don't need to worry too much about their investigatory reporting skills. She answers, "Yes." Then I compliment her DARLING pink sequined TOMS shoes and she tells me, "These shoes are called Grace and my name is Grace too!" I almost cried. "Oh, that's very special. I wish I had some shoes like that."

It was a special lunch. The three of us visited about our favorite vegetables, the daily activities and whether we like ham or turkey sandwiches. As I walked Aidan back to his class, he informed me he'd already done something kind for Grace today, "like you told me to, Mom. Our class needed more paper and I volunteered to go to the office to get it, and you know, one of those papers was for Grace. And I was a gentleman. I held the door for our whole class to walk through, and Grace went through so I held the door for her like you said."

I hope I didn't embarrass them asking to take their picture. I positively couldn't help myself.

If you are inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment. 

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Babywearing Info and Tips

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a...

wait...that's not a baby carriage!

Historically in the U.S., the image of parents with babies has evoked scenes with them pushing baby in a stroller surrounded with bottle and pacifier icons. But in response to more recent research about attachment needs of infants, babywearing has become less of a fad confined to crunchy hippies and more of a respected practice of intelligent and intuitive parents. 

History of Babywearing

Babywearing isn't new. From the beginning of time, parents have utilized a variety of carriers and techniques to keep their baby close and safe. Only after the advent of modern contraptions like strollers and car seats did researchers begin to take interest in attachment patterns in infants and children. From the early 50's with John Bowlby's research on maternal deprivation, to Dr. Sears more recent coining of the term Attachment Parenting, history has seen an increase of attention to the developmental needs of babies.

Besides the scientific evidence which supports physical touch and encouraging bonding between parents and babies, more and more parents are finding that wearing their babies provides convenience for every day tasks as well as caring for their children.

Babywearing Safety

Many people wonder if babywearing is safe. It certainly is, but there are things you should keep in mind when wearing your baby: 
  1. Always make sure baby can breathe. Your baby's face should never be covered to the degree that he or she cannot get adequate access to air. Neither should he be in a position where his airways are constricted because his face is pressed inward toward your body or curled up on himself.
  2. Never run, bounce, jerk, jump on a trampoline or engage in activities that would compromise your baby's immature neck muscles. Think of it like whiplash. Your baby's neck should always be supported by you or the carrier, and should still be treated carefully even once she can hold her head up independently.
  3. Never wear your baby in a moving vehicle. When traveling, your baby should always be in a secure car seat with approved restraints. 
  4. Use appropriate carriers for your child's age and weight (described below).
  5. Make sure your baby sling or carrier is "up to code" so to speak. Fabric should not be worn to the point of ripping, rings on ring slings should be specifically designed for babywearing, and wraps and backpacks should be secure enough not to stretch or slide allowing baby to fall out.
  6. Use common knowledge. While being hands free is a benefit of babywearing, it doesn't mean you will never make a mistake and not adjust your sling properly, or that your baby might be extra squirmy one day. Always be prepared to support your baby's neck, readjust a mal-positioned baby, catch your baby if she's falling out of the sling or care for your baby in any other way she might need.
  7. Make sure to use correct babywearing positioning and choose quality carriers (below) that encourage developmentally appropriate alignment of head, neck and hips. Baby's legs should be in a frog position, not dangling. Your baby's head should also be "close enough to kiss" if wearing on your front, which means baby should be high on your chest, rather than swaying near your waist.
Types of Baby Carriers
  • Ring Slings - One long piece of fabric that folds back in on itself with the use of two rings, creating a seat or pouch for baby. Ring slings are worn over one shoulder and are completely adjustable, can hold baby in a variety of positions and can double as nursing covers. Newborns can be carried in ring slings, but wearer should be careful that neck is well supported and hips are protected as described above. Ring slings can be used through toddlerhood or until your child is too heavy for them to be worn comfortably.
  • Pouches - One piece of fabric sewn together to form a tube-like shape by folding back on itself and is worn over one shoulder. Pouches MUST be specifically fitted to your shirt size but preferably to your exact measurements. Pouches can be used for newborns up to early toddlerhood, but in my experience they are best for newborns. This type of carrier is most commonly worn incorrectly, with fabric way too loose and baby swaying and shifting at waist level (which is far too low and unsafe). If you have to use your hands to keep baby in place, pouch doesn't fit right or just isn't the right carrier for you. It is also very easy for airflow to be restricted for infants in the cradle hold, mostly because it can be so difficult to get the size and fit right on pouches.
  • Mei Tais - One rectangular piece of fabric with four straps that go around waist and over both shoulders. This type of carrier is not ideal for newborns, as baby can get lost in the fabric and should be able to hold his head up independently. Ideal for older babies and toddlers, even heavier ones since weight is supported over both shoulders. Baby can be worn on front or back, and some carriers can even readjust to simulate a pouch or ring sling.
  • Wraps - One very long piece of fabric, usually somewhat stretchy, that is wrapped around mom and baby several times, creating a very secure hold as if it were truly a piece of clothing. Wraps can be used for babies of any age. Some wraps are not ideal for heavier babies or toddlers because they are so stretchy and won't hold as tightly. For some, they can feel cumbersome with so much fabric or constricting or hot since they cover so much of the wearer. However, they are very versatile and are the best bet for breastfeeding hands-free and sleeping babies.
  • Buckle Carriers - These can be pouch, sling, mei tai (Ergos are great) and doesn't allow baby's legs to dangle (Baby Bjorn and others are not ideal). Also make sure if it is a pouch/ring sling style that you can get it tight enough that baby is secure and flush with your chest, rather than swinging or swaying near your hips or waist. If you cannot tighten your buckle carrier tight enough to be secure, consider a ring sling, wrap or mei tai so you can get a proper and safe fit.
If you're interested in trying out babywearing for the first time or need some new gear, check out my products!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

haiku wednesday

trying to keep the
hamster wheels moving steady
so we can jump ship

What is Babywearing?

Put simply, babywearing is a way of carrying your baby with a soft baby carrier, close to your body. Carrying your baby in this way enables you to go about your daily activities hands free, while keeping your baby close to you for comfort, bonding, breastfeeding and ease.

Culturally, babywearing is socially accepted and expected in most cultures of the world. Especially in countries not as developed as ours, it is very common to see women going about their daily duties with their infants strapped to them. When it is more common to walk to your destinations and less common to have accessible childcare, you will likely see women and children continuously together throughout the daily routines of life.

Of course, it's less common in the U.S. for women to wear their babies to work, so I'm not suggesting that necessarily. But think about all the times you feel like you can't get anything done because your baby doesn't want to be left alone or set down. Many parents find their lives simplified when they can carry baby close with a baby sling and continue their daily routines of errands, exercise, cooking and housework.

Why Babywearing?

Many parents find babywearing both convenient and comforting. Studies show that babywearing promotes physical, emotional and social development in infants. Babies are generally happier when they're held than when they are sitting in strollers and car seats. I know when my littles were babies, I was happy when they weren't crying which usually meant I was holding them or wearing them in a baby sling!

Carrying my infants in a baby sling also made stressful errands so much easier. Babywearing in crowded stores is far less stressful than navigating bulky strollers or lugging a heavy car seat on my elbow! I also felt in tune with my babies and their needs and was confident that they felt secure being able to see my face, hear my voice, smell me and feel my heart beat.

Babywearing at the Improving Birth Rally in Tulsa

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Improving Birth Rally in Tulsa alongside fellow Tulsa doulas and birth workers in our area. One of the fun things about the event was that I've never seen so many babywearing moms and dads in one place before! Baby slings aren't just for moms; take a look at the babywearing daddies in this picture!

For more information about babywearing and various types of carriers, take a look at the following links:
Also, see my post on Babywearing Info and Tips.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Perineal Massage for a Better Birth

    Today, I'm wrapping up my series on Five Steps to a Better Birth with some information about perineal massage.

    What is the Perineum?

    Your perineum is the small area of skin between the opening of your vagina and the opening of your anus. This tender piece of anatomy is very sensitive and before birth is generally very tight and non-elastic. Though it is designed to stretch during childbirth, many women experience some degree of tearing in the second stage of pushing. In some cases, doctors or midwives may introduce a small cut to the perineum, called an episiotomy to widen the vaginal opening in an effort to hasten the birth process.
    It is important for your perineum to remain strong both to ease the birth process and increase overall health in relation to urinary and digestive health as well as reproductive and sexual health. Kegel Exercises during and after pregnancy strengthen the perineum and the pelvic floor to protect them from injury during childbirth. In a similar fashion, perineal massage can help prepare the perineum to adequately stretch to allow for a vaginal birth, and can also help avoid an episiotomy. Since extreme tearing and episiotomy can be painful to recover from, and also cause lasting difficulties with incontinence later in life, it's important to do all you can to protect yourself from injury.

    What is Perineal Massage?

    Perineal massage is away of gently softening the muscles of the perineum to enable them to stretch during childbirth and recover more fully after birth. Beginning in the 36th week of pregnancy, the expectant mother can, either individually or with the help of her partner, apply gentle pressure to the area daily in order to prepare for childbirth.

    In order to perform perineal massage on yourself or your partner, first make sure your hands are clean and your fingernails are trimmed. Then apply a small amount of a natural oil, like olive oil or an all natural massage oil, to your finger tips. Rub some of the oil on the perineum and surrounding area of skin to begin the process. Then, insert your thumbs into the vagina, near the bottom of the opening leading to the perineum. Pull downward, toward the perineum and anus, until there is tension but not to the point of discomfort. Gently keep the tension and move your thumbs outward toward the sides of the vaginal open and repeat the motion several times. Imagine you are rubbing the oil into that area of skin as you would lotion.

    Some women prefer for their partner to help them with this process, especially since reaching around their growing belly to their vulva can be difficult! Some partners may feel uncomfortable with this process. Remember to communicate with each other and remain calm and relaxed. Mothers should be vocal and honest about any discomfort and partners should be sensitive to this as they help with the process.

    This is a great time to put to use your relaxation techniques for labor and birth. If you need to, take a warm bath to relax beforehand, and play some relaxing music. If you have a play list of music for your birth, listen to those songs and breathe deeply as you focus on your perineum and give attention to relaxing it in order to make way for a smoother and better birth experience!

    More pregnancy info!



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