Five things that helped me recover from my miscarriage

I experienced a miscarriage in July 2020. My husband and I got married earlier that year, and we were thrilled that I was pregnant. I was 10 and a half weeks along when I lost the baby. In the week that followed, I processed a lot of emotions. During that process, I created this list.

Losing a baby is an incredibly isolating experience. I found so much comfort and healing in reading the experiences of other people online in the days that followed. I want to share this list as a way to pass along my story and to hopefully, in a small way, help others who find themselves on the other side of the trauma of miscarriage.

  1. Tell at least one person you trust everything. There is power in saying it out loud and telling your story, unfiltered, as you begin to heal and process your emotions. You might be surprised by what you say. If that approach feels too uncomfortable, try writing it down instead. Either way, breaking the silence can be empowering.
  2. Find a creative outlet. You might find yourself wanting a creative outlet at this time. I felt a need to channel all of the nurturing and care I’d devoted to my body and my baby, and I found that baking really helped me feel like I could create something beautiful that brought me joy. You might try art, poetry or gardening. Whatever you choose, check in with yourself to ensure that this feels like an emotional outlet and not a distraction. Staying busy and glossing over your feelings is not a long-term solution. Be kind to yourself and take it slow.
  3. Feel the full range of emotions in your own time. I tried to be strong for everyone else, including the doctor and nurses who provided my care. By the fourth day, I cried all day long. You’re allowed to go through the list of “at leasts” (“at least I could get pregnant,” “at least I wasn’t further along,” “at least I survived”), but try to do it after you’ve felt anger, sadness, regret, denial, guilt and anything else this experience brings up. Regardless of the circumstances around your miscarriage, you owe it to yourself to grieve. This is a loss that you will mourn the rest of your life.
  4. Benefit from postpartum care. At the time of my miscarriage, I had never been a mother, but I did an extensive postpartum doula training that helped inform my recovery. A miscarriage is a traumatic even from an emotional standpoint but also a physical one. Rest as much as possible. Stay warm. Wear comfortable clothing. Avoid over stimulation, social media and violent or upsetting content. I found that belly support felt comforting to me. Stay hydrated and eat easy-to-digest foods. Focus on nourishing your body and your soul.
  5. When you’re ready, find ways to reconnect with your body again. I struggled with trusting my body and felt like it was a totally separate being that had betrayed me. Yoga was an incredible tool for me. Below is an excerpt from my journal in the week following my miscarriage. It describes the moment that I reconnected with my body. Disclaimer, this is very raw, so please don’t read this if you have recently experienced a pregnancy loss.

While I was doing yoga, I realized that I felt at odds with my body – a duality of sides. One side wanted the baby and the other side murdered the baby. I know that’s not logical. Actually, I guess there’s truth to it. The part of my body that keeps systems running and that knows how to create a baby also realized that the baby wasn’t going to survive. It was merciful. But there was another part of me that loved being pregnant and daydreamed about finally holding our baby girl and that rested my hand on my belly all day because I felt connected to her, and that part doesn’t know anything because I was completely blindsided by the miscarriage. I put my hand to my belly for weeks without knowing that everything in my belly was dead. In that moment, I tried to connect with my body and integrate the two sides. As I sobbed, I could finally feel the cells in my uterus again. And they were mourning, too.

It’s been a year and half since my miscarriage. In that time, I got pregnant and had a healthy baby girl. But the fear and sadness of losing a child is still very fresh within me. And I think that’s okay. Healing will take a lot of reflection and self love. I hope that you have the resources you need to help your recovery and that you are able to find the time and space you need to grieve. And if it all becomes too much, please please seek professional help. You have my love and deepest sympathy.

5 suggestions for an empowered birth

When I found out I was pregnant, I did the only thing I knew to do: made an appointment with my OBGYN. I waited anxiously until I was seven weeks along so that I could go in for my ultrasound to confirm that I was pregnant. During the appointment, I asked my doctor — who I adored — what I should do to stay healthy during this critical time. Her response? Take your prenatal vitamins and stay hydrated. That advice seemed superficial to me. I was two months removed from a miscarriage and determined to do everything in my power to support this new life. Also, my body was creating a new human from scratch…surely there was more to it than a multivitamin. 

Three months later, a cross-country drive changed my entire outlook on pregnancy and the medical system intended to support childbirth. During the journey, my husband and I stumbled upon the Free Birth Society podcast, and episode after episode, my mind was blown as women shared their experience with traditional Western hospital births that led them to leave that system behind and free birth children. At the time, I wasn’t even aware that people still gave birth at home; the idea that you were allowed to free birth (give birth without a birth worker present) was totally unnerving. This was the foundational concept of my breakthrough — which in hindsight seems completely ridiculous: you have the right to give birth how and where you want to, you don’t need permission from anyone, and no one has the right to take that from you. The same goes for every step of your pregnancy, too.

That realization sent me on a journey of deep research, self reflection and deprogramming of many of my beliefs. For the last two trimesters, I devoted myself to creating an informed pregnancy and a birth plan that was customized for me. In this article, I’ve tried to summarize what I learned to help other birthers on their journeys. The details of when and where and how are irrelevant; what matters is that each birther has the information they need to create an empowered birth.

1. Know that you have a choice. When I got pregnant, I assumed that going to an OBGYN and having a hospital birth were my only options. Once I started doing my research, I realized how uninformed I was. You have a choice on who delivers your baby (doctor, midwife, doula, yourself, etc.) and where (hospital, birth center, home, etc.). But more importantly, you also have the right to informed consent. That means you can and should have the right to choose every aspect of the type of care you and your baby receive and that each decision is ultimately yours to make. 

Once I started to do my own research, I began to question the standard of care practices of typical prenatal care and the labor itself. I wrongly assumed the practices were all evidence based, and I was disappointed to find out that they’re not. I’m not here to build a case against Western medicine, and I have a deep respect for healthcare workers. The care team where I delivered my baby was outstanding. But as birthers, we often put all of the responsibility of our prenatal care and birth in the hands of medical professionals. Going into my pregnancy, I had the mentality that I didn’t need to do anything in between prenatal appointments with my doctor and assumed that when the time came, my doctor would deliver my baby. In this scenario, my doctor was doing 95% of the work, and I was contributing 5% by showing up, taking my prenatal vitamins, and staying hydrated. During the last two trimesters of my pregnancy, that ratio reversed. It is our job to take ownership of our own well being. The first step in taking ownership is by becoming informed. 

2. Do your homework. Admittedly, this is the hardest and most time-consuming step, but it’s the foundation for everything that follows. I’ll categorize the homework I did into two buckets: the care given by medical professionals and the at-home care I gave myself. In the first bucket, I looked at prenatal care as well as labor and delivery. In my own research, I found that several standard of care practices are considered controversial and that I could decline them. Here is a starter list for your consideration: 

  • Ultrasounds, particularly the 20-week anatomy scan 
  • Glucose test during the third trimester to test for gestational diabetes (There are alternatives to the typical formula; my midwife gave me grape juice.)
  • Daily baby aspirin (81 mg) for birthers over 35 years old
  • Hepatitis B vaccine for newborns, administered immediately after birth
  • Vitamin K shot for newborns, administered immediately after birth
  • Eye cream for newborns, administered immediately after birth

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope that it illustrates the point: you have the right to question what goes into your body and the body of your baby, particularly if your gut instinct says no. For instance, my OBGYN told me at the end of my first trimester to start taking Baby Aspirin every day. She said that it has been shown to decrease the risk of preeclampsia in older birthers. Preeclampsia is a very serious condition, but one that I don’t fit the risk profile for. And as someone who rarely takes medicine when I’m not pregnant, the idea of taking medicine every single day for my last two trimesters made me very uneasy.  I followed her advice and began taking it but stopped after a couple of months because I had a nagging feeling in my body that it wasn’t the right thing to do for me. Listen to that voice and find resources that help you make informed decisions that are right for you. My doula recommended Evidence Based Birth as a resource, and I found it incredibly balanced and helpful. 

Doing your homework is critical, regardless of whether or not you follow medical advice. One decision that was especially complicated for me was the  20-week anatomy scan. Ultimately, the uneasiness about exposing the baby to the ultrasound outweighed any benefits of the scan for me..It was a difficult decision. In fact, I scheduled and then canceled multiple appointments. I was torn because at that point in my pregnancy, I found a  birth center where I wanted to deliver, but they couldn’t take me as a patient unless I agreed to the 20-week anatomy scan. (The birth center made it very clear that their requirements were set by the state, and that in most cases, not evidence based), but knowing that one decision would change my entire birth plan made it complicated. Make sure you know in advance so that you can make those tradeoffs for yourself. 

Now, let’s move on to the second bucket of at-home care I gave myself. Let me start by saying how disappointed I am at the lack of information I received from my OBGYN on this topic. I don’t expect doctors to proactively tell every patient what their lifestyle choices should be in between visits because that might be overwhelming for some people. But when a patient asks “What should I be doing to take care of myself during my first trimester?” or “What should I be doing to support my health before I get pregnant?” like I did, that should open the door to a conversation beyond “Take prenatal vitamins, and you should be fine.” That answer implies that there’s nothing else you could be doing, which is just flat out wrong. And it’s dangerous because it reinforces the idea that birthers should rely on medical professionals alone for their care. 

A more systematic example of this hands-off approach were the weekly emails I received during my pregnancy from my healthcare provider. Each email covered what I could expect for that week in terms of the baby’s growth and changes in my body, as well as tips for staying healthy that week. The email overall was too basic for my taste, but the tips for staying healthy were especially lackluster. They included advice like “drink plenty of water,” “rest when you get tired,” and my favorite: “use gentle cleanser on your face to prevent pregnancy-related acne.” I compared those emails to other resources like Mama Natural’s Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth that I came across in my second trimester, and I realized just how much I had missed by relying on my healthcare provider. After I found those resources, I began cooking foods with nutrients that my baby needed that week, I took supplements customized for me, and I did exercises designed to prepare my body for labor and delivery. I also reevaluated my personal care products. More on that here

3. Define what works for you. Once you’ve gathered information and found resources that you trust, now is the time to dig deep and determine what works for you. Do you have a low pain tolerance? Anxiety? Need to be in control? How much time do you have to prepare for your labor and delivery? Are you comfortable in a hospital setting? Take a long, hard look at your lifestyle and get very honest with yourself about what you might struggle with in any scenario. An issue that I hear often is that soft spoken birtheres can get railroaded in a hospital setting; I was concerned about that for myself and knew I would need an advocate to help me fight for the birth I wanted. If that’s you, consider hiring a midwife or doula. Spend time visualizing what feels right for you, then do everything you can to create it. Remember, it’s your body, your baby and your choice. That doesn’t change, no matter where you give birth. 

4. Build the birth team you want. Pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period are incredibly vulnerable, raw and transformative times for birthers. Now is not the time to settle with substandard care. You should feel supported, safe and free to be honest about your questions and concerns. If you aren’t happy with your provider, find a new one. And if you have the resources, consider building a team of support, or at a minimum, do your research so that you have contacts on standby as needed. Several you might want to consider are: 

  • Midwife
  • Doula 
  • Chiropractor – Can help with baby’s birth position, back pain and pubic pain during pregnancy, postpartum recovery, pelvic positioning, etc.
  • Postpartum doula 
  • Physical therapist – Highly recommend finding a pelvic floor specialist 
  • Lactation consultant 
  • Therapist – This time can bring up a lot of unresolved trauma, family issues, conflict with your partner, etc. 
  • Acupuncturist – I started seeing an acupuncturist postpartum to address my depletion and regain my vitality. It alleviated my sleep issues and exhaustion and helped me feel like myself again . It also can help with morning sickness. 

5. Plan for postpartum, then plan again. Several months before I got pregnant, I was trained and certified as a postpartum doula with a focus on Ayurvedic principles. The course was incredibly thorough, and I felt fairly prepared for and curious about my own postpartum journey. It was my chance to put all of my learnings to the test. As I’m writing this, I’m almost six months postpartum and probably still processing my experience. My main piece of advice is that there are so many factors that contribute to your postpartum experience — your labor and delivery, the health of your baby, the resources you have at home, your physical and emotional state — and there’s no way to predict the outcomes. I was determined to stay in bed for at least two weeks after the birth of my daughter, but my airtight plan was thrown into a tailspin when my mom, who was staying with us to cook for and care for me, broke her foot within 24 hours of us coming home from the hospital. My partner and I managed to feed ourselves, but in hindsight, I wish we had found a caterer or prepared meals in advance. In the moment, we went into survival mode, and I ultimately cut my two weeks down to seven days. 

That said, a good framework for your postpartum care plans is the core belief that a baby can only be happy and whole if its mother is happy and whole,  and there are several primary ways to support a mother to ensure her physical and emotional recovery and wellbeing. As you devise a plan that works for you, consider these tenants: 

  • Rest is key, particularly in the 42-day window following birth. Stay in bed as long as you can, and avoid the urge to clean, entertain guests, go outside or look presentable. This is an important time to practice setting boundaries. Plan ahead by setting expectations with loved ones, preparing your bedroom and discussing chores and other household duties with your significant other and/or loved ones.
  • Plan to eat nourishing, healthy food that’s easy to digest. (Your digestion likely will experience a bit of a setback after childbirth.) I made a full menu and grocery lists for my six week postpartum window. Have recipes ready to give to loved ones who offer to prepare meals for you, make and freeze meals in advance and brainstorm other ways to reduce the time and stress of cooking.
  • Make a list of self-care practices that feel nourishing to you. It might sound ridiculous, but I found myself struggling to think of self-care activities to do when I had short breaks, usually during my daughter’s nap times. Without a clear purpose, I defaulted into doing housework or worse, mindlessly scrolling on social media. I created a list in my phone as a constant source of inspiration. If you decide to do the same, I recommend including the typical self care activities (doing an at-home facial, taking a bubble bath, enjoying a cup of tea) but also consider what feels replenishing to your soul (a morning devotional, journaling, calling a close friend). Interestingly enough, the things I thought I’d want, like a massage, weren’t appealing to me at all immediately postpartum, so make sure your list is long and diverse! 
  • Ensure that your significant other and/or loved ones know the signs of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. They will likely recognize a change in you before you see it in yourself. The Postnatal Depletion Cure is an excellent resource. 
  • Have a care team in mind, even if you don’t end up needing them. While I was pregnant, I found a physical therapist who focuses on women’s health, particularly the pelvic floor and core muscles.She was an incredible resource postpartum, especially in helping me heal my diastasis recti. My acupuncturist worked miracles in helping restore my vitality. And my chiropractor addressed the neck and back issues I felt from my weakened core and carrying a baby around all day. 

In closing

Out of all of the books that I’ve read, specialists I’ve met with, classes I’ve taken and personal experiences I’ve had, one truth emerged for me, connecting them all together: pregnancy and childbirth have the potential to be deeply transformative. Not just the change from a woman into a mother, although that is incredibly profound. From the day I found out I was pregnant, my experience has continued to challenge me in specific ways to help me grow and set new habits. Being present. Slowing down. Letting go of control (or the illusion of it). Existing more in my body and less in my mind. Although I hope you find the information in this article empowering, I hope that it doesn’t distract you from this equally important aspect of your experience — the amazingly transformative and magical gift of bringing life into the world. You will likely be tested, pushed to your limits, elated, and so in love that it terrifies you. But through that, I hope that you feel powerful. That you embrace your inner goddess. You are a microcosm of the Universe. You are Mother Nature, personified. Even though babies are born all the time, the experience is anything but routine, and every day that my daughter gets older, my awe of the female body and our ability to create life increases. Taking care of ourselves and setting ourselves up for success through this transformative time is a gift to ourselves, our families and the world. Many blessings to you in your journey! 

Helpful resources

Mantras in unlikely places

One of my favorite podcasts over the years has been Happier with Gretchen Rubin. You might know Gretchen from her book The Happiness Project, which is one of those classics that I revisit from time to time. It’s the kind of book that you vow to read every year but never do.

Luckily for me, Gretchen and her sister host their Happier podcast every week, and it’s chock full of thoughtful tips, reminders and practical ways to help make life more manageable, simple, meaningful, and ultimately, happier. One of my favorite habits that they’ve introduced in recent years is identifying a theme for the year, in the same way you’d commit to a New Year’s resolution.

The theme is intended to be something simple like “Connect” or “Rest” that’s easy to remember and that captures the essence of what you want for the year. During a recent episode, they shared hacks for ways to build in daily reminders for the themes…ideas like creating a playlist or having an inexpensive piece of custom jewelry made.

One really simple idea that I love is to create a screensaver for your cell phone so that every time you unlock your screen, you’re reminded of the theme. Mine is “Joy is vulnerable,” a quote from the amazing Brené Brown. You can download the wallpaper from the link below.

Surprising personal care products that are no-nos during pregnancy

I’m currently 17 weeks pregnant, and over the past few months, I’ve done a ton of research about what I should and shouldn’t be doing to protect my baby. Admittedly, I’ve been pretty frustrated that the care from my doctor has focused so much on testing and risks — which might be because I’m 35 and considered a “geriatric” birther — and much less on the day-to-day decisions I make that really define my overall health.

When my partner and I first started to think about even thinking about conceiving, I asked my doctor what I should be doing to prepare my body. She said “take prenatal vitamins.” End of list.

Similarly, I’ve been advised by my doctor to stay active, hydrate and rest, but honestly I would’ve done those things anyway. Don’t get me wrong; I love my doctor. Her bedside manner is incredible, and I never feel rushed or silly asking her questions. But I have been disappointed with the overall healthcare system and its lack of a more holistic approach.

An enormous body of knowledge exists ranging from diet during pregnancy to which positions to sleep in to advice on the best exercises to prepare you for childbirth. One category that was a huge aha moment for me was the safety of personal care products.

Switch to all natural personal care products

Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscientious effort to switch to all natural products. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that you consider it, particularly if you’re planning a future pregnancy. Based on everything I’ve read, you should make this change prior to getting pregnant to give you body time to process the chemicals and toxins before conceiving.

Go through your bathroom cabinet

Aside from whether your products are natural or not, you should evaluate everything in your beauty arsenal through the lens of pregnancy. I can’t tell you definitively what is and isn’t right for you, but there are a few products that you should be aware of so that you can make an educated decision for yourself. I wish someone had given me this list when I first started trying to conceive!

  • Sunscreen — Skin protection is incredibly important to maintain throughout pregnancy. You might want to consider switching from a chemical- to a mineral-based formula. I found this article helpful in understanding the risks.
  • Any type of skin or teeth bleach — Many women see a rise in skin discoloration during pregnancy and turn to skin brighteners. Be really careful with the treatments you choose. One active ingredient in skin lighteners and dark-spot treatments that should be avoided is hydroquinone.
  • Retinoids — You’ve probably heard that retinol isn’t safe to use during pregnancy; this goes for oral as well as topical treatments.
  • Sunless tanner — I haven’t been able to find conclusive answers one way or another on the safe use of sunless tanners during pregnancy. Some sources say that sunless tanner sits on top of the skin and isn’t absorbed, so it’s safe. I’ve found other sources that say dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, could penetrate the skin. Without long-term studies that indicate otherwise, I’ve decided to avoid sunless tanner altogether.
  • Nail polish — The good news is, many mainstream brands are now offering 3-free nail polish, which means they omit DBP (dibutyl phthalate), toluene and formaldehyde. Each of these chemicals has been shown to be dangerous to both birther and baby. Here’s a great reference on brands and formulas that are okay to use.
  • Essential oils — This is another controversial topic because there haven’t been enough studies to indicate whether or not essential oils are safe during pregnancy. But there are a few things to keep in mind. First, pure essential oils are highly potent and effective therapeutic treatments; just because they’re natural does not mean they’re safe to use for everyone. Be sure to do your research before using them while pregnant or breastfeeding or around children and pets. According to Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, an Introductory Guide, you should avoid essential oils completely during the first trimester of pregnancy and consider avoiding them throughout your entire pregnancy. Anecdotal evidence links some oils to miscarriage, and the hormonal content of some oils can disrupt a pregnancy or affect the development of a fetus. That said, I’ve listened to podcasts of very experienced doulas and midwives who swear by the use of essential oils to treat morning sickness and various aches and pains throughout pregnancy. Bottom line: Do your research and decide what’s right for you.

When in doubt, check with your dermatologist

I read this tip from the blog Chronicles of Frivolity, and I thought it was so smart. She recommends that you make an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as you find out you’re pregnant so that you can check the safety of the products you’re using with a professional. Reading tiny product labels with confusing 18-syllable chemical formulas is incredibly overwhelming, particularly when you feel like one wrong move could have a serious impact on your growing baby. Do yourself a favor and book that appointment!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so I encourage you to do what I’ve done: when in doubt, Google. I can’t always find the definitive answers I’m looking for, but I usually can decide whether a specific product is questionable, and if it is, I stash it away in my dedicated “open after breastfeeding” bathroom drawer.

I hope this helps as you’re navigating your own pregnancy beauty routine!

5 festive fall rituals

Fall is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Sweater weather. Hot apple cider. Pumpkin bread. Fall foliage and that crispness of the air. Cozy socks (who am I kidding?! those are year-round staples). Since we won’t be traveling or going out and about as we normally would because of the pandemic, I’ve been more conscientious than ever of making the little things more special. Here are a few of the fall rituals I have in mind for the season.

Not shown: launching into October with a Harry Potter marathon, reading a book on the Salem Witch Trials, and trying my hand at Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal with warm applesauce.

The best lemon recipes to try this summer

When I think of summer, I imagine myself rocking on a front porch listening to ocean waves and drinking lemonade. I don’t think that particular fantasy has ever actually happened, but regardless, my association between the long, lazy days of summer and lemons is strong.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve tried all of the lemon recipes I’d been hoarding during the winter months. Because of the pandemic, our local supply of lemons has been limited, which makes me cherish them even more. The following recipes are by far the best I’ve tried this summer…maybe the best I’ve ever tried.

  1. Camille Style’s Lemon Ricotta Poundcake. The presentation of this cake is simple and rustic, but with a little bit of summer flair. Whatever you do, don’t skip the candied lemon slices. They absolutely make the cake. Make this cake as a hostess gift, to welcome new neighbors or to celebrate Mother’s Day.
  2. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake. Trust me, you will not make this cake just once. It’s incredibly versatile…perfect for brunch, an afternoon snack or after dinner with coffee. If you don’t have almond flour, get creative; I substituted it for cornmeal instead.
  3. Sunday Morning Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes. The first time I ever heard of lemon poppy seed pancakes was at Saint Michael’s Alley in Palo Alto, Calif. The restaurant offered them as a special breakfast item, and once I tried them, I ordered off menu every time I went for brunch. It dawned on me years later that I’m actually quite capable of making pancakes at home, even flavored ones. Serve these with fresh blueberries and powdered sugar. They’re always a hit.

A refreshing summer luxury: floral beauty water

Over the past year, I’ve become fascinated with the medicinal and healing benefits of plants and how they can play a bigger role in my overall wellness.

The spark of interest led to research which eventually led to buying a few high-impact flowers and herbs to experiment with. So far, I’ve made salves, elixirs, and healing body oils and bath salts. But the first floral recipe that I tried was for a floral beauty water. What can I say? It called to me. The presentation is absolutely gorgeous, it’s easy to make, and the list of ingredients sounds like a special edition Jo Malone candle. All you need is Citrus peels, Rose petals, Calendula, Chamomile, Lavender, Hibiscus and still or sparkling water.

I got the dry floral ingredients from Raven Moon Emporium on Etsy. The shop is well stocked, orders ship quickly, and almost everything they sell is USDA certified organic.

I used this recipe for floral-infused beauty water by Rachelle Robinett, herbalist and founder of Supernatural.

Summer crafting: lavender wands

I absolutely love a good seasonal craft. A couple of months ago, I happened to run across a reference to “lavender wands.” I immediately Googled the term and read everything I could find about their history and how to make them. That same day, I bought a lavender plant and began patiently waiting to harvest its flowers.

To spare you from having to piece together the History of Lavender Wands from 15 websites, here are the highlights I found:

  1. Lavender wands were made famous by Victorian women who were known for their love of nature, flowers and handicrafts.
  2. They are made by weaving ribbon patterns into long-stemmed, fresh lavender flowers.
  3. Since the wands are aromatic, they can be placed in dresser drawers, closets or cars. They also make lovely hostess gifts, party favors or decoration for wrapped packages.
  4. They’re fun to make with friends and are an easy craft for older children as well.

You can find plenty of descriptions of how to make them online, although this video is my favorite.

5 ways to spring into summer

It’s SUMMER! Because of COVID-19, vacations and days at the beach aren’t an option for everyone (at least not in California at the moment). Because we’ve barely left the house since March, I haven’t felt the season change or the passage of time. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to embrace summer, connect with nature and feel nurtured. I like to set aside aside one seasonal activity for every week — something to look forward to and help me stay present. This is a snapshot of my summer list, but there are so many other options…design a seasonal wreath, make homemade ice cream or select a summer reading list…whatever gives you that summertime feel!

The postpartum paradox

For most women, the first weeks after ushering new life into the world are arguably the most difficult times they will face. Physically depleted. Emotionally raw. Exhausted. Vulnerable. Scared.

Yet this is when we ignore mothers the most. At least, that’s the case in Western countries.

We do a marvelous job of supporting women during pregnancy. Special vitamins, baby showers, babymoons, prenatal massages, endless birthing classes, books and other resources.

But as soon as the baby arrives, the focus shifts. Is the baby on schedule? Has the baby regained its birth weight? How much is the baby sleeping? Sadly, this is where our care and compassion for the mother ends.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, in most places, it isn’t this way at all. Dating back many centuries, cultures around the world have focused on offering their most comprehensive care postpartum, and the focus is on the mother. The ancient knowledge, passed down through the generations, states that to take care of the baby, you must take care of the mother first. A supported mother means a thriving baby.

Serving as an advocate for the mother can take many forms, but postpartum care could include:  

Facilitation of her physical healing. Childbirth is physically exhausting, and few women take the rest their bodies need to heal and restore. While sleep is an important factor, additional support like herbal sitz baths and massage can help the body begin to repair itself.  

Support for setting boundaries. Self expression is difficult for most people in the best circumstances.  In this vulnerable state, many woman struggle with what they want to do as opposed to what they believe they’re expected to do. Hosting visitors. Listening to criticism from family members. Getting dressed to look presentable. Many women could use an advocate to help them set boundaries, act on their behalf and help navigate this stressful time.

Permission to feel her emotions. Some new mothers suppress their emotions and suffer in silence. Some have a preconceived idea of what a “good mother” is (maybe modeled after their own mom), and they criticize themselves for not living up to that ideal. Some new mothers don’t connect with their baby the way they believe they’re “supposed to.” Regardless of what she’s going through, she needs permission to feel that frustration, sadness, insecurity or anger, address where it’s coming from and process it. The postpartum window marks a significant transformation and no one should feel expected to love every minute of it.

Space to adjust to motherhood, at whatever pace she needs. This transition feels different to everyone, and it brings up different emotions and struggles depending on the mother, the baby and their circumstances. The mother should feel supported to adjust when and how she wants to, based on what feels natural to her. Obsessing over timelines from books, expectations from others, or what’s portrayed as real life on social media will only lead to disappointment.

What happens when a mother finishes her transition into motherhood confident, empowered and whole? She is equipped to operate at her highest potential and show up for her family in a way that’s loving and sustainable for years to come.