Class Theme for the Week: Doulas!

This week, each of my prenatal classes surrounded the theme ‘Doulas!’  The goal was to increase awareness of the role of the doula in birth, and also for me to get a feel for how often my students are using/considering including a doula in their birth team.

Since becoming a prenatal yoga instructor, I have met and worked with MANY doulas, and as I get to know them, they and their work continue to inspire me.  I am also blessed to have a neighbour who is currently getting her doula practice off the ground, she is just a wealth of knowledge!

In preparation for this series of classes, I emailed a prenatal yoga teacher colleague who also has a full-time doula business.  It is Taylor of Tayomi Births. She was incredibly helpful in providing suggestions as to how I approach this task of raising awareness around doulas and their work.

She gave me a number of testimonies from her practice which all speak for themselves (some can be found on her website and Facebook page), a few of which I was blessed to share in class.

As far as resources that are incredibly useful surrounding learning about doulas and what they do, check out The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin (now in it’s 4th edition).  Simkin is known as the grandmother of doulas, and her book helped me understand the role of the doula vs. midwife/doctor amoungst other things.

As I asked each of the students in my classes the question: “Will you be having a doula at your birth?”, I got some fairly interesting responses – all from which I continue to learn. I would say probably 10% of my students have actually hired a doula for their upcoming birth, and 20% have considered having a doula on their birthing team.  I am glad and hopeful to have increased awareness and clarified some questions about the doula role amidst those I teach.

Please leave me any questions you may have about this topic.

Happy birth prep!

Megan

Class Theme for the Week: Postpartum Mood Disorders

This week each of my prenatal yoga classes were focused around Postpartum Mood Disorders.  My goal was to bring awareness of Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and OCD to my students and to help prepare them for action, if and when these situations present themselves.

When I gave birth to my first child, just over two years ago, there were close to 20 other women who I know who gave birth within that year.  Was it because most of us were turning 30?  Perhaps!  But from this large amount, I have known 2 or 3 to have gone through some form of postpartum depression, specifically.

As far as my story goes, here is why I think it’s important to talk about ppd and other related disorders: Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was speaking with one of my coworkers at the psychotherapy clinic I was working at.  She mentioned how she had suffered from depression long before her first baby was born and was worried about ppd.  I mentioned that I was in a similar situation and she suggested I get hooked up with the ppd program at Women’s College Hospital here in Toronto.  They have a program called the Reproductive Life Stages Program.  Basically you get a referral from your doctor or midwife and make an appointment to see a doctor there to determine if you’re at risk for a postpartum mood disorder.  It is great because if you do have troubles after the baby is born, you’re already in the system and can more easily make an appointment to seek care (wait lists can be long apparently).  I decided to take action and see what would come of it.

After an incredibly lengthy and somewhat cathartic intake session with a psychiatrist (this ended up happening postpartum because I was late in getting the referral), I was told that more than anything, I may be at a slight risk for a Postpartum Anxiety Disorder.  This was surprising to me and my natural tendency was to put up a defense, and I did (on the inside).

But it all added up.  Since my baby was born, my house was cleaner than it had ever been.  I felt incredibly anxious when the baby was asleep and didn’t know what to do next to make myself as productive as possible.  Sleep?  Sew?  Clean?  Cook?  Yoga?  Shower?  All this amoungst other things.

This session with the doctor really helped me to see things a little clearer, and it has taught me what my tendency is toward – anxiety.  I can see my anxious thoughts and behaviours creeping up in my second pregnancy, and I will surely be on the lookout for their presence postpartum this time around.  And I know there is help out there if I need it.

In my research for my classes this week, I came across a few great resources which I’d love to share with you:

  1. The Postpartum Progress website, and specifically the checklist they provide.
  2. Postpartum Support International website (thanks Rose)
  3. This blog post from the owner of Blooma – Sarah Longacre
  4. Brooke Shields’ book Down Came The Rain (I read this during my first pregnancy and it really helped to see things more clearly)

May is Postpartum Mood Disorder Awareness Month, and you can bet I will be revisiting this topic in my classes then.  It was quite a challenge to attempt to lead a yoga class with this as the theme.  But I know the benefits far outweigh the consequences.

Love, Light, and Awareness,

Megan

Gentle Ways to Encourage Your Toddler to Eat


Of top priority in our family is that we keep intact our son’s healthy relationship with food.  This comes as a result of fully turning over my own relationship with food about 5 years ago.  After doing much research after my son was born, we decided to introduce solids to him via the Baby Led Weaning method.  I don’t know any different, but this method was quite successful for us!  It’s internal logic also seems undeniable.

All this being said, our son is in general a great eater, so no, I haven’t been in the ‘trenches’ of trying to get him to eat just something.  Is it nature or nuture?  Probably undeniable that it’s a little of both.

None-the-less, lately I’ve been finding myself searching for strategies to encourage him to eat.  Aside from extreme patience (sometimes he can just be a slow eater), and also always remembering to TRUST my son and his body above all else, I have found these strategies to work.  May you find some help in them if you’re struggling.

1. Tooth picks.  Yes, you may think it potentially dangerous or just plain silly, but if his snack or meal is ‘pierceable’, I will give my son a toothpick to pierce his food.  Most of the time it will be gobbled up in a matter of minutes.

2. Be Creative with his Plate/Bowl.  If it comes down to it, I will serve food to my son in the strangest of dishes. Tea cups, egg cups, jars, mugs, glasses, just about anything can do the trick and help him think what he’s eating is SUPER exciting.

3. Vary the Utencils.  If anything is liquid, I will 100% of the time give my son a straw.  Use stainless steel to help the environment and also for cleanliness!  He slurps up soup and broth when he’s sick, and also it helps him to drink his tinctures in juice (which can be really hard).  Also giving him big forks/spoons, or other smaller utencils can make things fun, just look for things around the house.

4. Dip.  What kid doesn’t like to dip??  Just make sure the dip itself is healthy and not ‘addictive’ (full of sugar).  Depending on what he’s eating, we love to put almond (or other nut/seed) butter, honey, mustard, vegan mayo and homemade ketchup.  If he’s having soup, he dips his rice cakes or toast fingers in the soup, often pretending they are different kinds of boats or even people going swimming.  Sprinkling can also be a ton of fun.  We always have nutritional yeast in the house and my son is obsessed with it.  He loves eating it on anything and it’s so good for you.

5. Explore Your Imagination.  At two, a serious time of creativity and imagination development, I’m always astounded at how my son dreams up what he’s eating.  He will say ‘bunny’ or ‘cow’ or ’emu’, and I will always draw it out a little more to get another few mouthfuls in!  Our favourite lately is pretending the spoon is a gondola (something we saw on our NYC trip) and well, this is just incredibly exciting as it tick-ticks down slowly into his mouth.

A last note on gentle encouragement for eating – remember to try and always trust your child.  Just because he or she is not eating to your expectations, doesn’t mean he or she is a ‘bad eater’.  Trusting your child and trusting her tummy will help to maintain her positive relationship with food.  I was met with this last week when my son didn’t eat much for dinner and then after his bath he had a HUGE bowel movement!  It was no wonder – he couldn’t fit anything else inside his body!  We all go through times of our lives or times in our hormone cycles when we eat less and eat more.  And for children this can be true when they’re going through a developmental leap.  It’s easy to be so focused in on our children and their food consumption that we lose sight of the greater picture.

All the best in supporting your child’s positive relationship with food!  It is a relationship they will have for the rest of their lives.

Megan

7 Natural Remedies for Hemorrhoids

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

May my struggles and learnings from my lovely hemorrhoids only help others!

This is why I’m posting about hemorrhoids. I never would have dreamed of talking about this publicly in the past, but these little buggers have been such a part of my life and I’ve learned so much from having them, that I’m here to say: “You’re not alone in having hemorrhoids! And here’s what might help!”

Of course the pregnant, birthing, and post-partum body can be largely susceptible to hemorrhoids. Hence why I’m posting about this now.  I’m using many of these remedies everyday to keep my hemmies at bay.  Mamas, listen up!

1. A cool shower, or even better – alternating between hot and cold in the shower. This stimulates your lymphatic system and can help with ‘closing’ things (veins, sphincters, etc.) up, the opposite of solely heating and thereby opening up the body. Do you see what I mean?

2. Topical Treatments: Venoforce, Geranium Essential Oil & Witch Hazel – A. Vogel makes a product called ‘Venoforce’ which can help.  I have the gel as opposed to the tablets in this link.  Geranium Essential Oil has been known to help as well. I use both everyday. Both products are also good to improve venous return in the case of varicose veins which can also be common in pregnancy.

Also of course, you can buy witch hazel. Please do not go to Shoppers Drug Mart for this! Their products are watered down and not effective. You can get Thayers Witch Hazel from your local health food store. Don’t get one of the scented ones, rather the original or aloe vera.

Alternatively, you can buy the witch hazel herb and steep it like you do tea.  Cool it and use that topically.  Post-partum mamas often like this sprayed onto a cotton reusable pad and then frozen before putting on their lady parts.  So refreshing right after birth!

3. Eating healthy, whole foods – I often find that when I eat something unhealthy, or when I have a lot of wheat my hemmies act up.  For example two nights ago we went out to a pub and I had a poutine.  There was very little nutrition in it and the next day I could tell because of my bottom!  Wheat also tends to ‘clog’ you up, back up your bowels, etc, so I find if I minimize my wheat intake I feel a lot better overall.

4. Pelvic floor physio/exercises – I wouldn’t have believed this in my first pregnancy, but it’s definitely true!  Your pelvic floor extends all the way back to incorporate your anal sphincter, so if these muscles are toned, you may gain great help in the hemorrhoid department.

5. Hydration – The key to life.  A healthy body is a hydrated body!  Check out the app WaterMinder for a daily reading on your water intake and what you should be drinking.  I have not used it much but my husband claims it has changed his life (and he is my inspiration!).  Water keeps our bowels hydrated.  Did you know if you’re dehydrated, your body will take it from your bowels?  We want those bowels nice and hydrated so they will be eliminated from our bodies easily.

6. Breathing down bowel movements instead of straining – I learned about ‘breathing it down’ from my Hypnobirthing class!  They have you practice before your birth by ‘breathing down’ your bowel movements.  The key is to wait until you definitely have to go (you can’t do anything else) and then just sit down on the toilet.  As you exhale, imagine you’re breathing down your bowels.  It’s incredible!

7. Elevating your feet on the toilet – The Squatty Potty is revolutionary, but you can also just use a simple stool for $12.99 from Canadian Tire.  Ours doubles for our son to get up to the toilet/wash his hands.  Your body was made to eliminate while your spine is in flexion (like cat pose, chin to chest and tailbone drawing down).  Our standard Western toilets do not support our bodies in this shape while we’re eliminating!  It brought new meaning to when I went to China and literally had to squat most of the time – the way it was meant to be!

That’s all for now!  All the best in your hemorrhoid prevention/elimination.  Do not believe what people say – you don’t have to suffer forever, and your only option isn’t just surgery!

Much hemmie love,

Megan

**Please note that this post in no way replaces medical advice.  Please consult your naturopathic doctor before taking on any of these suggestions, and of course for dosing. These remedies have worked for my body and this post is merely a summary of my suggestions.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie


This morning, my son and I crafted this tasty Pumpkin Spice Smoothie.  Well, I crafted it, and he pushed the buttons on the blender.

It went like this:

-Squash puree – 2 cups

-1 can coconut milk

-dashes of various spices: nutmeg, clove, cardamom, cinnamon

-2 tbsp bee pollen to boost immunity

-1/4 cup hemp seeds for protein

-3 tea spoons of honey to sweeten

Blend!

I found these mason jar lids at Canadian Tire, they are handy!

Wishing each of you many happy, healthy fall breakfasts.

Love,

M