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 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 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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Motherhood, Stress and Meditation

Motherhood, Stress and Meditation
Motherhood and Stress

Being a mother can be stressful. Children are full of surprises, and although we try to anticipate their needs, it’s impossible to head off every challenge. After a long day, it can be difficult to unwind our nervous systems and go to sleep. It’s also especially hard to fall back asleep when a crying child has woken you in the middle of the night, and your heart is pounding from the adrenaline rush. It’s easy to end up surfing the internet in an attempt to zone out or worrying about tasks that need to be done.

Meditation and Mindfulness

One technique I’ve found to be helpful in clearing my mind is meditation, even if it’s while laying in bed trying to go back to sleep. Meditation has been shown to help our brains process stress and how we respond to stressful situations. A mother’s nervous system can become tightly wound after a day of crying children, lack of sleep, and juggling work and home life. We are constantly required to be non-reactive when our children do things that can be frustrating, and it’s important to find healthy ways to relax. One of the quickest, easiest and least expensive options is taking a short moment to meditate or practice intentional breathing techniques.

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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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Summer Sleep

Summer is officially here and now that the sun is setting later in the evening, it’s important to check in with our schedules and ensure everyone is still getting enough sleep each night. We need all the rest we can get to enjoy these long and sometimes very hot midsummer days.Summer Sleep

Brain

Our brain has an internal clock called the circadian rhythm which modulates sleep and wake times. Inside our brains is a very tiny regulator, called the pineal gland which tells us when to go to sleep and when to get up. The pineal gland is the size of a pea and functions to secrete a hormone called melatonin. This hormone serves as nature’s timekeeper and is produced at night beginning around sundown. Melatonin secretion is inhibited by light, which is why summer and other time changes like daylight savings can throw off sleep habits for both you and your children. If for any reason our circadian rhythm becomes out of sync, there are simple lifestyle changes we can make to realign it.

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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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Bedtime Stories :: Annie Haas

Annie Haas singer/songwriter, artist, and photographer

Annie Haas

Annie Haas is a mother of 3, singer, artist and all around inspiring mom. Here she shares her bedtime routine, which is very much in the spirit of Dr. Sears Attachment Parenting philosophy. When you’re a parent, getting your child to sleep is important, and there are myriad ways to achieve this. So, while Annie’s family sleep routine has me looking for some lavender rub, remember every family’s style is based on their personal values and philosophies. There isn’t one right time or way to get your baby to sleep. You can find Annie on Instagram and visit her website for more information about her art, parenting and Waldorf home.

What ages are your children?

My children are very spread out! They are 15, 8, and 4.

How do you help them slow down towards evening?

My teen reads before bed, and I read and sing to my younger two. Sometimes they have a bath first but not every night. I use a lavender rub on their chest or chamomile tea especially if they need to calm down but sometimes they are so tired they don’t need it!

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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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