Dr. Kolleen Gregory Focus Chiropractic

Bodywork for Babies with Dr. Kolleen Gregory of Focus Chiropractic

Dr. Kolleen Gregory specializes in infants, children and pregnancy at Focus Chiropractic, the family practice she founded with her husband Dr. Richard Gregory.

I met Dr. Kolleen and Dr. Richard during my second pregnancy, when I visited their practice due to pregnancy related discomfort. After experiencing sciatica and symphysis pubis dysfunction during my first pregnancy, I wanted to take preventative steps to avoid that happening again. Chiropractic care helped me stay pain free and active, so I could care for my young son, while pregnant with my daughter.

Dr. Kolleen Gregory

Many people do not associate body work or chiropractic care with infants. However, an initial assessment can benefit all newborns to make certain they aren’t restricted or misaligned. It’s more common than we tend to think. During my years working as a Doula, I have seen newborns with feeding issues, gassy tummies and reflux symptoms that improved after receiving gentle body adjustments. Often babies who have had difficult births, or who are twins, can benefit from this type of body work. Babies who feel comfortable in their bodies, are relaxed, and they transition into life outside the womb with more ease.

For more information about Dr. Kolleen, Dr. Richard and Focus Chiropractic, please visit their website, and follow them on Instagram.

Chiropractic Education

What type of education does a chiropractor have and what kind of special training do they receive to treat infants?

Most chiropractic colleges take about four years to complete, depending on whether they are on a semester or trimesters schedule. A Bachelor of Science is required before enrolling into a program. General chiropractic adjusting education covers how to treat patients from newborn to 100 year olds.

I trained under and have a fellowship with The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). This is a postgraduate course, which we take in addition to our regular professional training. The course covers newborn to adolescent adjusting, as well as therapeutic techniques such as cranio-sacral therapy and the sacral occipital technique. In addition, we learn how to provide pregnancy and postpartum care, including the Webster technique.

We continue to train with the ICPA annually. Last year we traveled to Chicago, to train with one of the prominent pediatric specialists in Chiropractic, Dr. Martin Rosen, who specializes in cranial work with newborns. It is very exciting to continue to learn from the best in the field and this allows us to provide families with the very best care possible. Doctors of Chiropractic who are members of the ICPA have taken postgraduate classes on specific techniques for pregnant mothers, infants and children to enhance their knowledge and skills in this field.

Common Misconceptions

What is a common misconception about chiropractic care you often find yourself educating people about?

The most common misconception about chiropractic care is that babies are adjusted the same way adults are. It’s just not true, nor is it true in any other health field. Children, especially infants, are physically and structurally different than adults. Adults have 206 bones, while infants are born with 300 bones! Adults have dense skeletal bones; children have malleable “softer” bones. These differences go on and on. Chiropractors who specialize in pediatric care use very gentle and effective techniques designed specifically for infants.

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Preparing for a VBAC with Hypnobirthing

Although down from a high of 32.9% in 2009, cesarean births in the United States have risen from 5% in 1970 to 31.9% in 2016, which was the last year of national statistics posted by the CDC.

With this rise has also come the increase in mothers with previous cesareans educating themselves about TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean delivery). While every trial of labor after cesarean won’t end in a vaginal delivery, the success rates for VBAC, according to the ACOG Practice Bulletin published in November 2017, are 60-80%.

Renee Bradfield, HPCE, of The Birth Space, is a certified hypnobirthing teacher and postnatal doula in Australia. She is the mother of two, the second of which was delivered during a TOLOC that resulted in a successful VBAC. Renee and I connected via Instagram where I stumbled upon a link to her moving VBAC birth story.

Preparing for VBAC | Renee Bradfield, Certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner

Here, she shares some tips for preparing for a successful VBAC, as well as how she utilized Hynpobirthing during her own pregnancy and delivery.

Choosing a VBAC

I’ve known many moms who would like to try for a VBAC and get overwhelmed with all of the planning, especially conflicting information. Once you made the decision to have a VBAC, what did you do next?

Once I had read all the current evidence and decided a VBAC was the safest option, I joined support groups online and read every birth story, I read books (Juju Sundin, Ina May, Grantly Dick-Read) and started to prepare my mind with self-hypnosis tracks.

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Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

I think of Sweden in the same way as Narnia. A far off place with foresty islands, magical light, mythical history, and renowned novelists with strong female protagonists such as Lisbeth and Annika. They also have generous paid family leave. I try not to think about the dark cold winters, and focus on a country that is creating policies to offer families the healthiest work life balance.

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Today, we present Emma Olevik, a horticulture journalist based in Sweden with her husband and three daughters. I had the fortune to “meet” her in an online photography class several years ago. At the time she was a mother of two and I was a mother of one. We bonded over ‘Wabi-sabi’ and have kept in touch since.

Here we talk about having and raising a family in Sweden while being a working mom.

As told to me March 2016. Emma welcomed her 3rd child, a beautiful baby girl, in October 2016. 

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Are there birth doulas and postpartum doulas in Sweden?

Yes, it exists, but it is unusual. But getting more and more common I think. None of my friends had a doula, or anyone I’ve heard of, but you can easily find one online.

During your pregnancies did you receive care from a midwife or an obstetrician?

In Sweden once you find out you are pregnant you call your local ”mother care central” where you register and get a personal midwife whom you meet regularly during the pregnancy. Once or maybe twice you visit the hospital for a scanning/ultrasound (more often if there are special needs). You don’t meet an obstetrician as long as everything is “normal.” Even during the actual birth it is most common to be assisted by a midwife and a nurse. They call on an obstetrician if there is a need for it.

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Creating Simplicity with Christine O'Brien

Creating Simplicity & Joy with Christine O’Brien

The beginning of the year brings reflection and resolutions for many. As a mother in Southern California, where it’s technically “winter” but often warm enough to go without a jacket and let the children play outside everyday, the new year still brings an urge to nest and create a cozy home.

Christine lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. She is a Parenting Coach, recently trained as a KonMari Consultant, who helps other mothers create joyful homes for their families.

KonMari is the organizing method created by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo. A method she shared in her bestselling book, “The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

Creating Simplicity with Christine O'Brien

Christine is also a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach. She teaches techniques based on Kim Payne’s book “Simplicity Parenting” which is full of helpful tools for creating daily rhythms that allow children to feel secure and supported.

Several years ago I read the book that started the KonMari craze: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” There are many aspects of the book that I find informative, however I don’t apply it strictly to my own home. I found that the book “Simplicity Parenting” was more applicable to my family’s personal lifestyle and I implemented several of the techniques it outlines.

The KonMari method was the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change for Christine. A few months ago I sent her an email to hear more about her personal philosophy and how it made her life more joyful.

Since then I’ve been following her wonderful Facebook Group, “From Chaos to Calm,” where she offers guidance to parents who are looking for peace in their day-to-day family routines. It is inspiring to read testimonials on this page from people who are making positive changes in their lives.

I can understand why the KonMari method has such a passionate following. Many people are also applying the KonMari practice to areas outside of the home and making more mindful choices throughout their lives.

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Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

A few years ago I stumbled upon Annie Kruse’s interior design blog Stylejuicer. In four short years she has gone from blogging for fun to launching her children’s clothing brand Wild Boys and Girls.

Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

Annie resides in London with her husband and two sons. Here she shares her thoughts on motherhood and what it takes to balance family life and work.

With two adorable little boys underfoot, where and how do you find time to run your business?

Ha, with great difficulty but I think if you’re passionate enough about something you will simply make time, even if that means putting on the TV for the kids for an hour, so you can answer some urgent emails or pack some orders. I don’t like to do it, but it’s a stop-gap, and as long as it doesn’t happen too often, I don’t feel I’m neglecting my children in any way.

I’ve got a little (tiny) home office which is my haven. The door is never closed and I can always hear what goes on, so if my lion cubs are getting too rough with each other, I’m there to solve any issues.

Mornings are my most productive time as that’s when both of them are off to nursery and school. Those 3 hours do fly by though and most evenings when others are settling in for a night in front of Netflix with a glass of wine, I’m heading upstairs to finish off some work, often with some dark chocolate to help me through.

I struggle with balancing work and family life every day. I feel so much is expected of us moms today. Most of us have no relatives, neighbors or friends who can help out with childcare on an as needed basis, so the pressure of child rearing is mostly on the mother and the bar is placed incredibly high.

There is so much (often conflicting) research and testament out there telling us how we should parent, what is and isn’t good for your child that you’re set up for failure in the eyes of society from the start. I always thought I’d be strong enough not to take on parenting guilt as long as I tried my best and saw that my kids were happy and developing well, but I’ve discovered that I am not immune to this burden of guilt. I constantly feel that I should be playing, singing, reading, drawing, interacting with them more and being the best mum I can, but I do know my limits and often I’m too tired and exhausted to play Mary Poppins.

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Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Sweden, land of IKEA, Elsa Beskow and Carl Larsson, is one of those Scandinavian countries known for providing generous paid family leave and being very supportive of families. Lisa Ferland, an American mother of 2, relocated to Sweden from Georgia after the birth of her first child. Then went on to welcome a second child in Sweden, which led to her book “Knocked up Abroad.”Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Last month she launched a Kickstarter for her next book “Knocked up Abroad Again.” This book will feature stories from mothers in South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. These varying stories and experiences will help us to see there are many ways to bring a child into this world.

I reached out to Lisa after hearing her speak a little of her journey on a podcast interview and I’m so glad to be able to share more of her story with you today.

Pregnancy

When you talked about the difference in prenatal visits in America and prenatal visits in Sweden, so many thoughts came to me; specifically how both models can influence a parent’s confidence. I got the sense that not having as many prenatal visits and multiple ultrasounds, as well as being told “let us know if you need additional care,” was more empowering, because its trusting you to know what’s best for your baby. Has birthing and parenting in Sweden made you more confident as a mother?

I recognize it is not the same for all mothers but for me personally, I found the hands-off approach of Swedish prenatal care as a stress-reliever. During my first pregnancy in the U.S., everything was treated as an emergency, and I was in a mild state of constant panic. With the frequent scans, I was terrified that they would find something even though they never did. Then they found white spots on the baby’s heart but couldn’t tell me if it meant anything. The increased investigations without any answers or diagnoses only made me more fearful of the unknown. My baby was born 100% healthy. All of those scans and worries were for naught. In Sweden, their approach is very much, “let us know if there are any issues but until then, go live your life as you would normally (but no drinking alcohol or smoking).”

Birthing in Sweden has given me the firsthand knowledge that my body can have a baby without interventions of any sort. I had an uninterrupted, complication-free childbirth without any pain relievers and still never experienced any pain whatsoever. A comfortable and easy childbirth experience is very possible—a concept that goes against the majority of the cultural depictions of childbirth in the U.S.

Parenting in Sweden has unquestionably increased my confidence as a mother. I don’t feel the social pressure or judgment that I see so many other American mothers facing today on Facebook or in social media. It helps that the Swedish cultural norms of child-rearing align with how we wanted to raise our children. It is culturally encouraged to breastfeed in public, allow your child to play outside unattended, climbing, exploring, screaming, and laughing in public—all of these things are seen as “kids being kids” and it is a positive environment as a parent.

Childcare

You shared in your podcast interview and tell me if I have this right, you can’t place your child in daycare in Sweden until they’re 12 months? How did you feel about this, especially after returning to work much earlier with your first son in the US?

That is correct. Swedish daycare or preschools don’t allow children to start younger than 12 months of age but if you did enroll your child, s/he would be the youngest in the group. Parents in Sweden receive 480 days of paid parental leave, and many people stretch those days, so their child is a bit older when they start daycare at 16-18 months.

Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

At first, I was surprised that daycare was so much later than in the U.S., but Sweden has free “open preschools” which are as much for the parents’ benefit as for the child. These open preschools are usually held in churches (Swedes aren’t very religious with only 5% being regular churchgoers), or local community buildings. Unlike a regular preschool, parents must stay and play with their children. Coffee and snacks are provided at a fee but the singing time, access to a safe play space, and other babies and toddlers make for a great meeting spot for parents to socialize and stay sane while at home with their child for that first year after birth.

Truly, Swedish society values family time and places it at an equal or a nearly higher priority than the career.

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Hypnosis for Childbirth Trauma with Jessica Porter

Hypnosis for Birth Trauma with Jessica Porter

Hypnosis for Childbirth Trauma with Jessica PorterMost of the time birth happens in a way that leaves a new mom feeling empowered and joyous. Although for some of us, the birth of our babies can leave more complicated feelings in its wake.

Childbirth trauma is something I and many of my clients have experienced after more challenging deliveries. Processing the birth in a healthy way, is an important step in working through the event.

Hypnosis is something wildly popular in childbirth preparation and less well known as an option to treat trauma after birth. I discovered Jessica Porter years ago through her book “The Hip Chicks Guide to Macrobiotics.”

Here she shares how HRCT hypnosis can release and shift emotions and move postpartum mothers towards emotional healing.

What is Hypnosis

Most people have this idea of hypnosis being “look into my crystal ball,” what is hypnosis for the uninitiated?

Hypnosis is a totally natural state of mind, in which we focus and reflect deeply. All of us go in and out of hypnosis several (if not hundreds) of times a day: When we daydream, space out, drive somewhere we know the route to, listen to music, dance, have sex, watch TV, or relate to our inner worlds and imaginations in any other way. We go into these little trances–as we contact our subconscious minds–and they are totally normal and healthy.

Hypnotherapy is simply using this state of mind therapeutically–and in a sustained way–because we are more open and suggestible when functioning from the subconscious. So hypnosis is not the entering of some mysterious Pandora’s box, locked away at normal times, or full of scary secrets. The subconscious is just a layer of one’s mind that we don’t normally lead with in our lives, but we do have contact with it.

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Parenting in Vienna

Parenting in Vienna with Hannah

Hannah, a mother of 3, runs a play-based home daycare in Vienna, Austria. Here she talks about minimalism, embracing her parenting choices and enjoying her children.

Parenting in Vienna

Motherhood in Vienna

What is it like being a mother in Vienna? Are there moms groups, support for families, etc?

I really like my city, so I have to say that Vienna is a good place to be a mom! There are playgroups, cafés especially for families, Yoga classes where you can bring your baby, lots of parks and playgrounds! We really have great museums and theaters with programs for kids, even for the smallest ones. There are good places to go when you need counseling and there are tons of opportunities for further education. So it’s really all there, you just have to know where to go.

Embracing Chaos

How do you manage 3 children, specifically the interaction between siblings?

Well, that’s an interesting question and I thought a lot about it. I don’t feel like I have to manage anything really, this life with kids feels really natural to me. Being a mom for 12 years and a working mom for 5 years, I accepted that life is a beautiful chaos. And sometimes it is just plain chaos, without it being beautiful. There is always laundry and a messy bathroom, beds to be made and things to be stuffed away, there is always, always something to do.

But I chose this life and I chose to have kids. I chose to work from home and I guess I chose the chaos that comes with it. And you know what helps me on highly stressful days? To simply think about how much I love my kids and my husband and that it is for them, for us really, whatever I do and that some day, when I’m old and grey, I will say to my husband: “Do you remember when the kids were little? These were the best days of my life!”

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Hypnobirthing Educator Natalie Robins

Interview with Natalie Robins :: Hypnobirthing Educator

UK based Natalie Robins is a childbirth educator and mother of one. She teaches Hypnobirthing, a style of birth preparation that uses affirmations, breathing and visualizations. Many mothers, including Natalie, have used hypnotherapy to have a calm and peaceful birthing experience.

“Words used in a positive way have a dramatic affect.”
Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing Educator Natalie RobinsMany believe Hynobirthing will give them a pain-free labor, is this true?

I wish it were, but Hypnobirthing’s only promise is enabling women to have the best birthing experience for themselves and their baby.

That said, many mothers do say they experience a pain-free labor and I completely believe them.

I have thought about the idea of pain recently and why some women experience it and others do not. My conclusion is pain associated with fear is a bad thing. The pain associated with childbirth is understandable when you learn the biology and physiology of labor. This is addressed in the very first session of a Hypnobirthing course. When you understand why labor can be painful, you can prepare for how to deal with the sensations you may experience, and there is no longer a need to be fearful.

So like all things in Hypnobirthing, it depends on how you view things, positively or negatively? That is what will have the biggest impact on your birthing experience and the level of “pain” you may or may not experience.

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Interview with Cynthia Lair :: Feeding the Whole Family

Cynthia Lair is the author of “Feeding the Whole Family”, a cookbook interspersed with really Cynthia Lair Feeding the Whole Family Foodrelevant parenting advice about food. My favorite pages are 43-48, “Parents as Role Models and Setting Boundaries.”

“Its not fair to have a strict no-sugar policy and then stay up late for some adults only Godiva chocolates!”

Obviously as parents there’s much thought in how our actions are viewed by our children. Have you always felt it was important to set food rules for children that parents also follow or did you come to this through your own experiences as a mother?

When I read research that babies as young as three months old pick up non-verbal cues about food from their parents, I realized that what parents DO around food choices is more important than what they say. If a parent hates vegetables or grabs breakfast at McDonald’s, the child will notice and want to be like daddy or mommy.

One of the primary functions of a child’s caregiver is to lead the way toward healthful foods. By designating poor quality foods as “baby food” or “kid’s menu food”, or even “adult foods” (with some exceptions) we don’t construct a bridge but create separation. Good leaders don’t talk about what their subordinates should do, they lead by example.

It is challenging as a parent when your young child won’t eat the food you’ve painstakingly prepared for them with love. Your section on “Setting Boundaries” applies to children between the ages of 3-10. What can parents do if they have a child under three who is eating solids but refusing certain foods such as vegetables?

Toddlers have a biological need to separate from their parents and begin the discovery of their selves as individuals. Some choose to exert that independence by refusing certain foods. At this age, any painstakingly prepared food should be for the parents with tastes of it offered to the child. If they refuse, so be it.

We place too much importance on (and generate fear about) toddlers eating vegetables. Let it go. Let children see you eat many different kinds of vegetables with enjoyment. Don’t force or be concerned if they don’t want any. Wait for them to ask for a bite. Many fruits contain some of the same nutrients as vegetables (like vitamin C and vitamin A) and most children are willing to eat fruit.

Always look at your child – are they growing, rosy-cheeked, smiling? Those are the best signs of adequate nourishment.

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Interview with Brian Leaf :: Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi

I’m thrilled to share this special Fathers Day Q&A with Brian Leaf, a self described parenting yogi and the author of Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting. It’s a book that will have you laughing before page one, think Larry David by way of Ram Dass and throw two kids into the mix.Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi by Brian Leaf

What have been your proudest moments as a father this past year?

So many. Watching my six-year-old expressing himself through dance. He’s like a small Billy Elliot. Watching my ten-year-olds passion for computers blossom. Giving them both space for this.

Of all the parenting philosophies you studied and wrote about in your book, which ones do you find yourself leaning towards the most?

Free Range Kids. I think it’s so important to let kids take risks and give them some (age appropriate) autonomy.

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Christie Ellis Nourished Postpartum

Interview with Christie Ellis :: Nourished Postpartum

I’m so excited to have this interview with Christie Ellis, the Seattle based postpartum doula behind Nourished Postpartum. It’s always such a pleasure for me to hear how my peers began their careers in birth work and I’m honored Christie took the time out of her busy practice to answer a few questions about how Nourished Postpartum was conceived.Postpartum Doula Christie Ellis

What inspired you to become a Postpartum Doula?

I was inspired to become a postpartum doula by my own personal experience as a new mom. Living in Seattle, thousands of miles away from my extended family, I entered life after childbirth very alone, except for the couple weeks that my parents and in-laws visited in the beginning. I was so grateful for their company, yet it didn’t take long to realize that it can take much more than a few weeks to integrate a birth experience and adjust to life as a parent. While I did have a supportive spouse, local friends and a mom’s group that I participated in weekly, the lack of in-home help led to isolation and suffering for me. After I emerged from the newborn fog of my second child, I resolved to be part of creating more positive experiences for other parents. I wanted to offer parents nourishment, encouragement, and nonjudgmental support as they find their way in those early days, and it turns out, becoming a postpartum doula let me do just that.

When we show up in parenting, tune in to the needs of our child, and respond to them in love, we are doing a great job. And that is more than enough.

Do you offer any other services related to your Doula work?

I do! In addition to being a postpartum doula, I’m also a massage therapist specializing in in-home postnatal massage. I love being able to offer soothing touch that nourishes parents’ nervous system, helps them reconnect with themselves as individuals, and places a value on self-care.

What is your philosophy?

My philosophy is that my job is to nourish and nurture new parents so that they have the energy and confidence to face the challenges of early parenting and discover their own unique parenting style. There are already many people in parents’ lives telling them how they should do their job. Instead of adding yet another opinion to the heap, my style is to step back, encourage parents to tune in to their inner wisdom, and walk with them along the way. In addition to emotional support, I also nurture new families with food designed to meet their physiologic needs during the postpartum time. By offering massage, belly binding, and support in mindfulness practices to my clients, I’m able to further support their well-being and optimal recovery.

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Jennifer Davidson, RN, IBCLC

Interview with Jennifer Davidson :: Breastfeeding Visionary

Jennifer Davidson, RN, BSN, IBCLC is a Los Angeles based Pediatric Nurse, Lactation Consultant and breastfeeding expert of nearly 30 years. She is a visionary in the field of breastfeeding, as well as the co-creator and producer of “The Milky Way” movie. She does house calls, and also works in the office of pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon. Jennifer is passionate about helping mothers, babies and breastfeeding.Jennifer Davidson, RN, IBCLC

I met Jennifer five years ago during my son’s long stay in the NICU; she was instrumental in supporting me in being successful breastfeeding a premature baby. I refer Jennifer to my clients who want to breastfeed and find her expertise and positive outlook to be both comforting and confidence building.

Hi Jennifer, so, tell me… what’s in it for the mom while breastfeeding?

A mother is flooded with natural hormones during and after birth. These are her most marvelous gift. They come from within and provide for her a sense of wellbeing, strength, and calm. They impart an inner knowing, so she can begin to trust herself and her instincts.

Then why do some moms find themselves uncomfortable with a baby at the breast?

Not all women want to breastfeed, and that’s ok. But for those who do, I think society sends a lot of mixed messages regarding breastfeeding, this can create doubt and discouragement which can cause her to distrust her instincts, and often a reduction in milk supply.

What we value in our culture is not very supportive of a breastfeeding mother.  In our western world, using our breasts for feeding our babies is in conflict with breasts being seen primarily as sexual objects.  In movies and television the thought process often boils down to: “We need to make a lot of money so let’s show some breast.” Consumerism, sexuality, and productivity are often placed above family and babies.

The problem is that women are not respected and elevated for the most vital job in the world, mothering. When mothers have to go back to work, they are eager to provide milk for their babies, but they don’t feel supported by the overall attitude toward breastfeeding in our culture, especially in the work place, and it is very undermining. Women literally have to steal away into bathrooms or closets to pump, feeling shame and guilt for this most incredible, life-giving miracle that they alone can provide. Is it any wonder that so many women say they couldn’t provide enough milk for their babies? There is a terrible lack of cultural support. This has to change!

What are some things a mom can do to create an optimal environment for breastfeeding?

Spend as much time as possible at home with your baby, skin to skin, especially in the first 6 weeks. We have been taught that babies belong swaddled in blankets with hats on in their own basinet. We have to change this cultural image of mothering. Our babies belong on our bodies, skin to skin, wrapped in the comfort and warmth of a mother’s arms. Lay your baby on your body and get to know him or her. Become attuned with one another.

It’s a big transformation from being one person who doesn’t have anyone to be responsible for and now here you are 24 hours a day being responsible for someone else. Your body transforms from who it was to what it is now… making milk, breastfeeding, and having every single minute of your day being demanded of. You need to be able to relax so your hormones will flow, which brings a feeling of contentment. It’s not just a big chore, It’s a gift and a joy.

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Interview with Koyuki Smith :: Babywearing Expert and Childbirth Educator

Koyuki Smith is a babywearing expert, childbirth educator and doula.  She lives in Harlem with her husband and two home-schooled sons. I discovered her on Pinterest almost 3 years ago via a story she was doing as part of the Sling Diaries for Sakura Bloom. I read her blog and enjoyed her stories so much, I sent her an email and we’ve kept in touch ever since.

You’re pretty dynamic as a birth professional! You teach childbirth education, you’re a doula, cloth diaper educator and elimination communication teacher. Babywearing obviously fits into the spectrum, but what inspired you to pursue advanced training in babywearing?

About seven years ago, before there WAS a significant professional babywearing world, I started working at Metro Minis, which was the first babywearing store in New York City – one of the first few in the country, actually – and the seed of what would later become the Center for Babywearing Studies (CBWS).

In order to make sure that we were providing proper instruction to our customers, Metro Minis brought Ulrike Hower of Die Trageschule in Dresden, Germany to New York to train the entire staff. The store then later sent two of us, Joanna McNeilly, who went on to found CBWS, and me, to Dresden for further training.

A couple years after that, I also trained with the Babywearing Institute to understand different perspectives and approaches within the community.

Many couples take childbirth preparation classes, if they’re lucky their class will cover babywearing, but if it doesn’t, where should they go to learn?

While a childbirth or newborn care class might briefly introduce babywearing, it’s unlikely to give parents enough information to really navigate the topic with ease. My Intro to Babywearing classes often run about an hour and a half, with extra time to try on carriers.

Expecting and new parents can find babywearing classes at stores that specialize in babywearing, and at many places that offer other baby-and-birth-related classes. They can also choose to hire a babywearing consultant to come to their home for private consultations.

Alternately, rather than looking for a class, some parents might prefer to attend babywearing support groups, just as some parents prefer to seek breastfeeding support from La Leche League meetings and not in classes or consultations. You can find local babywearing support groups at Babywearing International.

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Interview with Anjelica Malone :: Lactation Educator Mothering Naturally

Anjelica Malone is a Lactation Educator Counselor and amazing mom to two beautiful daughters. A world traveler, she’s currently based in Guam with her husband and children. She recently launched anjelicamalone.com, an online home to educate mothers around the world about lactation, as well as being a resource for moms seeking a holistically minded community.

Lactation Educator Counselor Anjelica Malone

I know you reside in Guam, how long have you lived there?

My family and I moved to Guam in July 2014. We will be here until next year, when we move again and make a new city our home.

Did you give birth to one or both of your daughters on the island, and if so, how did you navigate the fourth trimester?

I gave birth to my second daughter, Nell, here on Guam at Sagua Managu Birthing Center. My first daughter was born in Puerto Rico. The fourth trimester was very easy physically but more intense emotionally the second time around.

My husband works long hours, as a Damage Controlman, for the United States Coast Guard and leaves for days and weeks at a time every month. He was able to take off the first month postpartum but had to jump back in full force after that. At the time I was also launching my curated shop and trying to grow my lactation practice, so many times I felt overwhelmed. What I learned to do though was have complete days of no work. The whole day would be dedicated to relaxing, not getting in the car, and eating meals that didn’t require much preparation like simple sautéed veggie bowls with a protein over rice. I still implement “no work” days every now and then to help me regain focus and intently care for the girls and myself.

Lactation Educator Counselor Anjelica Malone

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The Mama Method with Lauren Weisman

Today I have an interview with The Mama Method founder Lauren Weisman, a maternity fitness expert based in Los Angeles. Her method blends relaxation, yoga, barre, ballet, pilates and cardio, to guide you through pregnancy and birth with strength and confidence.

The Mama Method

What is the Mama Method?

The Mama Method is my movement arsenal specifically designed for pregnancy and new motherhood. I started my business because I found that there was a real need for individualized pre and postnatal fitness programs. Especially during a first pregnancy or as a first time mom, there are so many questions that arise surrounding healthful movement modalities. I love that I get to guide my women toward feeling their best in this hugely transitional time.

What inspired you to focus on supporting pregnant women and postpartum mothers?

I have always been interested in birth, motherhood and helping women. As a young child I remember asking my mom to repeat my birth story frequently. As a teenager, I volunteered at a women’s’ center. I took a course in college called ‘Feminism and Fertility’. There were probably many other hints along the way that the dots might connect in this capacity. When I moved to Los Angeles six years ago, I trained as a doula with DONA’s Debbie Lavin. I knew guiding women through such a pivotal moment in their lives would be a part of my work. Combining this skill set with my history as a dancer, fitness and yoga teacher created the Mama Method.

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Interview with Kristen Beddard :: The Kale Project

Today, we have an interview with Kristen Beddard. Kristen is an American writer living in Paris. I discovered her work nearly 3 years ago on Instagram and really enjoyed her vignettes of life in France. She is the founder of The Kale Project and mother to one-year-old Grady.

She currently has a new book coming out called Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes. Below we talk about how she navigated her fourth trimester with Grady, her experience with breastfeeding and resuming a work schedule.

Kristen Beddard

If I remember correctly, you welcomed your daughter last year. I know research and development of a book can take awhile, but how did you manage to write your book and have a baby all in what appears to be the span of a year or so?

To be honest, the deadline of the book was a year earlier than I would have liked but the publisher wanted to release it in spring (Paris in the springtime!) and because the kale trend isn’t getting any younger. I worked on the proposal off and on for around a year and then signed with my publisher in November 2014. My daughter Grady was born in March 2015. I worked on the first 30,000 words or so and the chapter outline until her birth, many of which were already well developed from working on the proposal. After the birth, I made sure to be as productive and efficient as possible while writing the last 60,000 words. It was not easy because my time alone to really focus was not as frequent as it was before she arrived and she’s never been the baby who just “sleeps” while I work.

Did you plan for and have postpartum support after the birth of your daughter? In the sense of cooked meals, someone who held the baby while you showered, etc.

Yes! My mom! I’m an only child and Grady is her first grandchild and she had retired a year earlier so the timing was perfect. She arrived two weeks before Grady was born (at 41 weeks and 4 days), was present for the birth and then stayed for a month afterwards. We rented an Air BnB not far from our apartment and she was absolutely wonderful and so helpful. She is a great cook – I talk a lot about her and the influence she’s had with me and food in the book – so I was very spoiled to have her cooking for me during the postpartum phase. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have her with me for emotional and physical support.

I think that women in modern day, western society, feel this pressure to try to do this all on our own when in reality, motherhood was not meant to be done without help. For centuries, women had their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and communities all helping each other out with knowledge that had been passed down through generations, a spare hand (or even breast!) and more. I tell any of my expecting friends to hire a doula for anything they might need if they will not have help from a family member. It will make such a difference in the first few weeks.

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Interview with Erica Jago :: Co-Author of Art of Attention, Yoga Teacher and Artist

Erica Jago

One of the things I read early in my parenting journey, which really stuck with me, is our children mirror our behavior. After listening to Erica being interviewed on a podcast, where she spoke of becoming the best version of herself, in order to be the best guide for her students, I decided to reach out to her for this interview.

Erica Jago is an artist, designer and yoga teacher, in addition to being someone I’ve admired from afar since I discovered Art of Attention, a book she designed and co-authored. Although the book was written as a gift to yoga teachers, the lessons inside are universal for anyone wanting to challenge and improve him or herself.

You designed and co-wrote a beautiful book, the Art of Attention, which has inspired me so much in my doula practice; what could a pregnant mother or new parent learn from your book?

I’m so happy to hear this! Not having children myself, I can only relate to the idea of parenting. But as an adult, I find myself still learning how to nurture and care for my own inner child. The book, Art of Attention teaches ways to speak to your emotional body; feeling forgiveness as a release of tension in the body. In chapter two, we release blame in the solar plexus, which is a huge power loss. All of these universal lessons will assist you in becoming a clearer channel for yourself first, and others around you, second.

Why do you think it’s important to be your best self in order to teach others?

Conflict comes from when I’m living a contradiction. What I teach in the classroom must be a true reflection of what I live at home, otherwise I’m a fraud. Integrity is the utmost important attribute a human can obtain and a topic I cover a lot in my classes and retreats.

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Interview with Sarah Smith :: Call The Midwife

Sarah Smith is an English midwife, doula and mother of one. Recently she worked supporting women through births in Los Angeles, where I was fortunate enough to make her acquaintance.

Now back home in England, Sarah is focused on enjoying her toddler son and choosing happiness. I’m delighted to be able to share this interview and hear her point of view on motherhood and asking for support.

 

SarahSmithMidwifeInterview

What brought you to your work as a midwife?

I always find it hard to answer this question because it wasn’t a defining moment or anything in particular. All I can say is becoming and being a midwife has always been something that has felt very instinctual to me. I knew I wanted to be a midwife since I was about 14, and since then have never questioned it or looked back.

Did your approach to midwifery change after becoming a mother?

As I became a midwife at quite a young age, and therefore before I had my son, I always felt that maybe some people wouldn’t take me seriously being young, as well as not having children of my own yet.

Since having my son,  I suddenly felt like I’d earned my stripes, almost like a bit of an initiation and my confidence as a midwife grew enormously. I feel my connection to women now is stronger because of having been through the experience myself, and I feel my empathy is now much greater.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe you need to have children in order to be a good midwife, there are plenty of midwives without children who are fantastic midwives. But for me personally, I know this helped me on many different levels.

What do you wish every mother could experience or know before her own birth?

I wish for every woman to feel a sense of empowerment, in whatever way that might look for her. I would love every woman to know she has a choice and a voice in her care.

Did you have postpartum support after the birth of your son?

I had limited postpartum support, due to various different things, but I wish I had had more support and helping hands around me. I learned the hard way about doing too much too soon!

It’s all about sleep when you’re a new parent, any tips to share?

Everyone says it, but it’s so true, rest when you can, and don’t worry about the little things. Build a network of support around you, so that they can take care of you, so that you can take care of your baby.

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Interview with Lou Harvey-Zahra :: Author and Positive Parenting Expert

Lou is a mother and the author of Happy Child, Happy Home: Conscious Parenting and Creative Discipline and Creative Discipline, Connected Family: Transforming Tears, Tantrums and Troubles While Staying Close to Your Children.27650_ap

Her books have wonderful tips for connecting with your children and she empowers parents to create an environment of magic and wonder and gives you tools for disciplining without using punishments and rewards. Lou trained as a special needs teacher, worked teaching autistic children, is a trained Waldorf teacher and ran playgroups for 12 years. She travels and gives talks and workshops in Europe and Australia and is known for being a common sense educator who presents in a heartfelt way, her motto is “never to harm, only to help, I just inspire.“

She believes the most important parts of parenting take two minutes, one of the things she said that really resonated with me was “childhood is a sacred special time and children don’t know time, they don’t know minutes or days of the week and rhythms make them feel safe, rhythms hold families together.”

I know you’re a Waldorf teacher, but what inspired you to write a book about discipline and happy households?

I write to give parents new ideas to create happy homes. I know parenting isn’t easy and parents don’t have ideas unless they watch somebody, read a book or attend a workshop or learn from their own parents. I do it for children because childhood is an important stage of life and I’m passionate about childhood, I think it’s a special and unique phase. I want to give parents ways to connect with their children, so their children can have a childhood of magic and wonder. When you use creative discipline, both the children and the parents can be happy.

Lou Harvey-Zahra

Did you have any deep held beliefs about discipline you had to let go of during your training as a Waldorf teacher?

I didn’t have any deeply held ideas. I was very lucky because my parents didn’t know anything about creative discipline, but they did use creative ways. So I was never hit or given time out or grounded. When I was doing my Waldorf teacher training, I learned it’s not what you teach, it’s who you are as a person that has the most profound effect on a child. Running playgroups and having children made me more conscious about what works and what doesn’t work. My ideas have evolved based on what works without using rewards and punishments, what works without making them feel really bad. It doesn’t mean letting them get away with things. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. Teach them to self-regulate their behavior. If you punish they just learn not to get caught.

Would you say your books are for every parent or for parents that already have knowledge of Waldorf schools, Rudolf Steiner and his teachings?

Definitely every parent, a lot of people say I have a common sense parenting or heartfelt parenting approach, it’s definitely for everybody.

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Interview with Mitka :: Artist and Vintage Shop Owner

Moon In Leo Shop Mitka

I’m so excited to be sharing this interview with Mitka, artist, poetess and owner of Moon in Leo Shop, an online boutique that sells Jane Birkinesque vintage clothing. Here we talk about sustainable fashion, where to buy vintage, get inspired by a poem and learn a fail safe vegan banana bread recipe. Without further adieu…

What does making sustainable fashion choices mean?

Unfortunately, that’s a simple question with a complex answer!

Sustainability in fashion usually covers these areas and asks these questions:

What sort of reputation does the company have with environmental impact and treatment of employees?

Was the item ethically sourced?

These questions can be tricky to answer, because so often big brand companies mislead us; occasionally, research into the suspected company is required. Sadly, after researching and asking many questions, the answers are usually quite bleak. When I started trying to live a more sustainable life a few years back, it was all so hard for me to grasp. Because of this, I decided to only shop 2nd hand or, a relatively new and exciting term: ‘shop small’ (supporting small business, independent artists and makers with sustainable products that can be traced to the source). It can all be very confusing starting out. I recommend watching the documentary ‘The True Cost’ which explores the impact of ‘fast fashion’ on people and the planet.

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Interview with Elke Seyser :: Author of “The Superfoods”

The Superfoods

Elke is a Paris based, multilingual, holistic nutritionist, surfer and mother of one. Here we talk about what inspired her to write a children’s book with nutrition at its core. The Superfoods is a wonderful little read, teaching children the effects of sugar on their bodies, written in English, German, French and Spanish. The story is simple for a child to understand and it goes quickly too, something I love in a children’s book.

What sparked your idea to do the children’s book?

I work as a holistic health coach and believe food is medicine; I don’t feed myself to be full, but to nourish my body. I am also a mother and which mother doesn’t want their child to pick healthier food choices. That said, it was way easier when we wrote that book, as my son was 6 years old, now he is almost 10 and unfortunately his food choices are a lot different. I do hope I have created a healthy basis and at some point he will come back to this basis.

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