"So I just...pull some out of this tank and put them in with the turtles? How many?" I ask, holding the blue net just above the water.
"As many as you can catch. Just not all of them," my client says.
Hello, I'm a professional postpartum doula, and I feed guppies to turtles. It's not uncommon for clients to make a list of things for me to do while I'm in their home. Small jobs that tend to pile up that aren't easily done or remembered when one is cuddling a newborn all day (and night) long. Usually it's something benign, like catching up on laundry, feeding a hungry toddler (or mama!), and doing some light cleaning. That day, it was sacrificing a few dozen prolifically breeding guppies to some hungry turtles. Normally I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to anything fish-related, and I'm also a bit of an animal-lover, so this was an unorthodox request I might normally balk at. But it ended up not being too hard to honor it for my client, and kind of fun to show her toddler how the turtles snapped up the tiny darting fish. In the end, I chose to support my client by helping her get something off her long to-do list while she healed and bonded with her baby.
So, what else might* your postpartum doula do for you? Check out the list below:
Are you pregnant, and wondering what to do with your placenta when all is said and done? Maybe you have one tucked away in your freezer, newly discovered after a recent spring clean of the freezer-burned leftovers (not judging, I may have done this...). Either way, here you are, searching the internet for answers.
Placenta encapsulation, placenta smoothies, placenta tacos...the internet is rife with information on how to make your next postpartum meal gourmet - with your placenta.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all about using that incredible tree of life organ to relieve or prevent postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum depression, increase milk supply, and any number of the purported uses claimed by ingesting your placenta postpartum. Personally, I've used a tincture, I've eaten placenta "truffles" (because, chocolate, hello), taken placenta capsules, even blended it raw into a smoothie. But not everyone wants to eat something that just came out of their body.
So, here are five things you can do with that awesome organ, that aren't eating it.
1. Bury it in the yard - "Planting" your Placenta
Dig a hole and place your placenta inside. Easy as burying a body. Er...It's really more beautiful than it sounds. I've seen pictures of people making special ceremonies about it - read a poem, wrap the placenta in a (bio-degradable) package or basket, make it part of your postpartum recovery. Bonus points if you ask your mother-in-law to do it (just kidding) or your postpartum doula (not kidding - they probably would!).
You could include some flower bulbs or plant a tree that will bloom over the top of it and grow with your baby!
There are actually a lot of cultures that do this, believing the placenta is the "twin" of their baby, deserving of a proper and respectful burial.
2. Make a placenta print
Not sure where you would hang this one, but it's a great conversation starter, at least.
Quips aside, I think these really are a beautiful way to preserve your placenta. Different kinds of paint/food color can be used so you can still ingest it (if you want). I love how easy it is to see the "tree of life" the placenta represents for your baby when it's printed like this.
One thing to be wary of: the print needs to be done when the placenta is still relatively fresh, so it's not possible after freezing or after lotus birth (see below).
Every woman deserves a #positivepostpartum. That's right, including YOU! I'm giving the gift of a #positivepostpartum with THREE incredible postpartum prizes!
Heartburn and sciatic nerve pain (sharp pain down your back/leg on the right side of your body) are pretty commonplace among pregnant women. I experienced both in most of my four pregnancies, and the "magic milk" recipe below relieved both and kept me going, along with regular chiropractic adjustments.
It's not the tastiest, but if you can chug it down you'll find your heartburn, along with sciatic nerve pain, pubic pain, and other pregnancy-associated aches will probably fade as well. I've successfully used it to relieve my own heartburn and sciatic nerve pain. Take the following recipe as a "might as well try it" home remedy, because it can't harm you (unless you're allergic to one of them), being entirely composed of food items. Here are the three simple ingredients:
1. Almond Milk (I like this brand)
This alone can sometimes be enough to beat heartburn, especially the unsweetened version. You can find it at the store or make it yourself in the blender with blanched almonds. If you're using it in this recipe, be prepared to use the pre-sweetened version from the store or sweeten it yourself with real Maple Syrup or raw Honey (optional...but recommended).
Everyone always talks about the benefits of giving birth in the water, how wonderful it is. They rave about it, and women go to great lengths to have the perfect water birth. Of course, from the moment I heard about it, I wanted one too.
Personally, I have had the incredible experience of giving birth four times, all without medication of any kind. (You can read about my fourth birth experience HERE.)
My second birth was my first, and only, water birth at home. There were things I liked, and it was an all around good experience, but my third and fourth babies were born on land. Here are a few reasons why water birth wasn't for me:
1. Water isn't my "safe place"
I grew up in a desert. Here in Northern Utah it may not seem like a desert, but it is. The summer (and winter) air is dry. My first exposure to humidity was my first time in Oklahoma, where I got out of the car and promptly decided the people there must have gills to breathe. Despite having swim lessons and enjoying leisure time in the water at the city pool or water park, it's just not a place I feel comfortable or safe, which are two of THE most important components to giving birth. While I enjoyed the warmth the water provided, it didn't help me get into the right head space to give birth.
There's a huge rush in our culture to get our "pre-baby body" back. On one local support group facebook page I often see the question, "I'm 3 (or 4, or 5) weeks postpartum and feel great and have stopped bleeding. Can I start working out?" And as soon as we hit that 6 week mark and get "approved" for exercising, many of us are off through the gate.
I'll start by saying this: slow down, mamas! Regular exercise is not appropriate before that 6 week mark - it could set back your healing and cause further issues (like worsening diastasis recit, an abdominal separation, or causing pelvic organ prolapse). So many postpartum cultures recommend staying indoors and relatively inactive for the first 40 days. Take this time to rest and bond with your baby. And if you're feeling REALLY restless, try these six postpartum-approved movements.
Confinement. Xuo Yue Zi. The first Forty Days. Ansei. Sitting Month. Baby Moon.
Whatever you call it, the first six weeks or so after a woman has a baby are a universally acknowledged time of much-needed recovery.
In several Eastern countries like Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, and Japan, daily abdominal massage and various forms of wrapping the abdomen (in Malaysia called Bengkung Belly Binding) is practiced, bringing warmth and support to a recovering mother.
In Russia women are given an herbal steam bath in specially built saunas.
In China, women are served dishes of pig's feet, sweet rice congee, red date and ginger tea, among others, specifically made to warm her body, keep blood flowing, and help her breast milk com in quickly, easily, and in abundance.
In Korea and India, similar principles apply: women eat and drink only hot or room temperature items, like Seaweed Soup and special curries, to avoid creating "wind" in her body that might prevent healing.
Local certified herbalist and student midwife, Bobbie, offers beautiful herbal teas, salves, tinctures, and more through her company, Herb & Owl.
Towards the beginning of my third trimester, I had the opportunity to receive some of Bobbie's "sweet child o'mine" prenatal tea blend. A tasty blend of red raspberry leaf, rose hips, nettle leaf, and lemon balm.
This tea is absolutely delightful! I love red raspberry leaf in pregnancy for its uterine toning properties. Rose hips and nettle provide nutritional support essential to growing a baby, and lemon balm is soothing and balancing for the nerves. I brewed up a batch, swirled in some honey, and basked in the yummy-smelling steam that swirled from my mug.
Tea is one of my self-care rituals. Especially when I'm having a down day, there's something so soothing about holding a hot cup filled with nutritious herbs that will support my body. In the United States, we don't turn to tea as often as I think we ought to. It's way better for you than sugary treats, just as comforting as fatty and unhealthy comfort food, and after you finish a cup there's an overwhelming sense of wellness that floods your entire being, body, mind and soul.
This delicious prenatal herbal blend by Herb & Owl is "spot-on" in my book! I drank it throughout my third trimester, even keeping some in the fridge to enjoy cold (which is the BEST way to drink it in the summer time). It's the perfect blend of great-tasting herbs, especially delightful with a spoonful of honey. All of the herbs are ideal for supporting your entire pregnant self, helping it prepare for delivery and grow a healthy baby.
Head over to Herb & Owl's website and grab yourself a bag of "sweet child o'mine" prenatal tea. You're going to love it!
Also, I'm giving away a bag of tea to two lucky pregnant mamas, along with your very own tea ball to brew it up with. There's only two steps to enter, it's easy and quick, and this bag of tea will likely keep you supplied for most of your pregnancy, depending on how often you drink tea.
The first thing you should know before reading my story is that yes, this was a PLANNED unassisted birth at home. Yes, without a midwife. I chose to do my own prenatal care, and the only medical assistance we had was a 20-week ultrasound anatomy scan. I educated myself, prepared my home and my husband, and made sure to stay 100% healthy. I had my third baby the same way, planned and unassisted, so this was my second unassisted pregnancy and birth, my fourth birth all together.
JUNE 23rd, about 9 pm - DUE DATE
Like I had for several mornings in a row, I lost a large piece of mucus plug first thing in the morning. This one was pretty large, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I went about my day as usual. After on and off tightening (“Braxton Hicks”) throughout the day, I began to notice a familiar regularity. I was bouncing on my birth ball after the kids had gone to bed, putting together my birth playlist and going through, playing my favorite songs, just trying to relax and not get my hopes too high. My last baby went to 42 + 3, and I did NOT want to have my patience tested like that again! So I bounced and relaxed and listened to my music while my husband did his own thing.
With the awareness of natural birth and its benefits spreading across the globe, more and more women are also turning to natural remedies for pregnancy symptoms. From chiropractic adjustments to herbal tinctures and teas, natural relief for physical ailments in pregnancy is now readily utilized. As the world-wide consciousness shifts, so does the awareness of emotion.
Emotional blockages can to more difficult pregnancies and labors, as evidenced in the FEAR-TENSION-PAIN cycle, where an emotion (fear) causes the body to react (tension and pain).
Midwives everywhere can attest to instances where emotional anxiety and stress in the mother led to a difficult delivery, with outcomes varying from simply having a long, drawn-out labor to an emergency c-section. This isn’t to say that all less-than-ideal outcomes are caused by emotions or beliefs, but there is significant evidence being built in the science and birth communities that high levels of negative emotion or belief has a great impact on our bodies’ abilities to perform optimally.