Category Archives: Post Partum

Womb Wraps

Have you come across womb wraps? I hadn’t… until only two weeks ago.

If you suffer with any of the following:

  • menstrual cramps
  • lower back pain
  • symphysis pubis
  • pelvic pain
  • chilled kidneys

either during menstruation, pregnancy or postpartum, then you will know how you long for comfort and support… but that it’s hard to find.

When Claire Taylor of  www.cherishingwoman.org contacted me to tell me about her womb wraps, I was so excited to hear that there was even such a thing, having struggled with all of the above problems over the years. Womb wraps sounded so comforting, I just had to see one for myself. Having been sick for weeks, with monster PMS and chronic lower back pain, I needed some comfort and love… and fast.

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It arrived in a flash. Ripped open by my daughters who demanded to know what it was. I didn’t lose a second in trying it on – the details that come with it are super clear. It is like a mini wrap skirt of softest fleece, with long ties. It reminded me a little of wearing a wrap sling – only much simpler and lower on the body – but it is the same feeling of being hugged. My daughters and son immediately started stroking it, whilst asking what it was for, saying that they could stroke it forever it was so soft. They each demanded a try (my daughter instinctively slinging her doll in it!). It is soothing and warming like this and gives gentle support to the whole belly, womb, kidney and pelvis area. You could wear one round the house or out and about without anyone looking twice-  they come in maroon, chocolate and leopard print.

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But that’s only half the magic! We then we heated up a hot water bottle and popped it into the integrated pouch at the back – worn one way the heat is held over the lower back, the other way and it’s over the womb. We had to readjust the tension a bit to support the weight of the water bottle.

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Holy mama, it was divine. So, so soothing. Pure heaven.

Soft, stretchy, warming – like having a perfect hug around your belly and lower back. These fleecy wraps are so nurturing. Beautifully made by hand, you can tel they’ve been stitched with love – as there’s even a little heart stitched into the back.

As you know I love supporting women in business, especially women creating and selling products to support and empower other women. These tick every box for me.They get my absolute seal of approval for a well-designed and -made product especially for women – for happy wombs everywhere – they should become part of every woman’s self-care kit.

Womb wraps are £25 from www.cherishingwoman.org

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pregnancy and Depression

Today’s post comes from Laura Wright and is on a topic close to my heart. I struggled with depression during one of my pregnancies and after two. Please do also see my articles on pregnancy/ post partum depression in the free resources section, here.

pregnant meme

Last year, someone very close to me became deeply depressed while pregnant. In fact, it was my little sister. After coaxing her through this tough time with the help of her wonderful partner and the rest of our family, it got me thinking about what advice or information to give prospective mothers who feel depressed during this time.

I am aware just how lonely and isolated women can feel when the world expects them to be blooming. While I have two wonderful daughters of my own, my experience of depression had been purely academic until my sister’s experience last year. Now, I feel called to write more on this deeply personal topic, so that women who find themselves in this situation can find the support and resources to help them, and to know that they are not alone in this and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Exploring the Treatments Available to Treat Depression in Pregnancy

While a diagnosis of depression during pregnancy is usually a shock, you are not alone; as many as a fifth of pregnant women suffer from low mood. It’s also important to remember that your diagnosis means that you will receive treatment, which won’t just protect your well-being, but also that of your developing baby.

Receiving treatment

Your doctor will advise on the treatments available to you, which will depend upon the severity of your depression and other factors in your medical history. In cases of more severe depression, they may suggest antidepressants as an option. However, as some of these drugs may pose a risk to your unborn child, they are usually not recommended in cases of milder depression, as the benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the risks. There is still plenty of help available though, as a range of treatments are effective when low mood is mild to moderate. These therapies can also be used in conjunction with antidepressants to enhance the outcome. Here we give an overview of some of the alternative treatments for mood disorders available to pregnant women.

  • Taking regular exercise during pregnancy is recommended to keep up your fitness to prepare you for delivery. However, keeping physically active is also beneficial for your mood when expecting, as it triggers a number of positive changes within your body that promote feelings of well-being. Exercise such as brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, swimming and yoga are all good activities, but check with your doctor about other suitable forms of exercise.
  • Psychotherapy can take the form of one-to-one counselling, where you may receive help you to build on your relationships or to change negative thought patterns. However, support groups designed to help people with depression may also be useful if you are comfortable participating in group activities.
  • The complementary therapy of acupuncture is an additional option to ease the symptoms of depression, as certain pressure points relieve feelings of low mood. Indeed, research has shown that this is a suitable option in pregnancy.

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Laura Wright worked in nutritional science and health provision before turning to writing for a new career. Now she combined ghost writing for a wide range of businesses and organizations with spreading the word about a number of health guides she’s personally invested in. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family and going for long hikes.

Healing Birth Trauma: Guest Post

Despite all of the working through I have done over four and a half years, it was timely really that the release of my e-book on Amazon this week coincided with a close friend’s baby’s arrival.
 
They had the ‘perfect’ hospital birth…a quick labour, minimal intervention, a placid baby, an easy beginning to breastfeeding.
 
The day we visited them, she said she would have another baby that evening.
 
I felt the bitterness rise within me.
 
How could she even say that?
Why the fuck couldn’t it have been so easy for us first time round?
Another part of me felt I should be ‘over’ the resentment and bitterness and feeling hard done by.
 
This is despite having a glorious home-birth with my second daughter…a perfect birth in every way.
 
Having finished the e-book, I (wrongly) assumed I was ‘over’ a lot of my first daughter’s birth.
 
Maybe I was feeling a little smug.
 
Just goes to show that these feelings will always be there in some way.
 
This couple have taught me again the lesson that it is OK to feel these feelings as long as I don’t act them out on others. 
 
This is my stuff, not theirs. 
 
I believe a part of me will always feel robbed of those early precious newborn days when all I wanted was to feel well, not in horrendous pain and emotional turmoil from my daughter’s hospital delivery.
 
So here it is…..my raw personal story of the arrival of my first daughter. As a mother of two and a psychotherapist in private practice, the book provides a comforting reassurance that your feelings are normal and that you are not alone. I also provide lots of practical guidelines and worksheets in order to help you in embarking on your healing journey and to support you along the way.
book cover
Nicola Hogg writes at Empowered Womyn. She is mother to two beautiful little girls and an accredited psychotherapist working in private practice in Co. Limerick, Ireland. Her passion is working with women antenatally & postnatally. She started blogging in 2012 about my experiences of birth and motherhood as a way of supporting other mothers, particularly those who have had a less than satisfactory birth experience.

For private mother-to-mother support/ counselling appointments you can call her on 087-6836922 (phone/Skype appointments available for those living a distance away) or send her an email.

Guest Post: Miscarriage as a Rite of Passage

At the time of writing, it is exactly 2 months to the day that I gave birth to my stillborn son. Perfectly formed, yet utterly helpless at just 21 1/2 weeks’ gestation. Even writing those words now brings the emotion of the whole event welling back up, but I am glad to say that it is a only a feeling of healing that washes over me with the tears. There is no blackness to my memory of that day and of the weeks that followed, no dread or fear or trauma.

Even before I ever thought of having children myself, I could not mentally compute how a woman could survive the ‘horrors’ of pregnancy/childbirth followed by an emptiness – nothing to hold and nurture, nothing to show for all of the effort, all the months of expectancy. Why would you not just fall apart completely with the grief, the torture? How could you be expected to go on living life as normal afterwards?

My son’s birth was neither one thing or the other in medical terms: too late to be deemed a ‘regular’ miscarriage; too early to be ‘viable’ as a living, breathing human baby boy. In my mind, this was absolutely the worst part. To me, he was my baby, and he was absolutely healthy and perfect – yet the matter of a few weeks meant he just wasn’t ready for the world either biologically or bureaucratically. If he had just held on for 3 more weeks, all might have been very different. Equally, if it had happened earlier, I may not even have noticed him slipping away and it would have been sad, yet understandable – it is thought that about 1 in 7 known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 8 out of 10 of those happen during the first 13 weeks.

Technically, our son was a “late miscarriage”. On our postnatal notes the midwives have recorded his birth as “stillborn”. Both terms are correct, but having spent the day giving birth to him, I feel that the midwives’ description does more justice to the event as well as the perfect little creature who arrived. We got to meet him, to say hello and goodbye at the same time. And I had all the usual postnatal recovery to go through, including milky boobs and uterine contractions. Still, it was a miscarriage, and like every woman who goes through this, my heart and head could only keep coming back to the same bewildered question: WHY?

In my case, nobody had the answer. I was ultra low-risk, had just had a very healthy looking 20-week scan, and everything looked great and bang on track. If I’d been a smoker or a drinker; if I’d been overweight or had a particularly unhealthy diet, the authorities may have pinned those down as possible factors. But no, one morning I woke up and my placenta had detached itself. Baby had died probably during the night as a result. End of story.

And this is what makes us animals. This is what takes us back to our roots. Because, hard as we find the truth to swallow, we are not infallible. Humans, like any animal, simply don’t always function to perfection, for whatever reason. Miscarriage is one of those things that just happens sometimes. Having a cerebral cortex and living in a world with the incredible capabilities of medical science cannot alter that fact.

That is why there is no doubt in my mind that any woman – and indeed any family – who goes through a miscarriage should see it as a rite of passage. The more that miscarriage is seen as horrific, as something which somehow could have been preventable, and is therefore blamed on the woman’s health, fitness or diet, the more we are denying ourselves as fallible animals. We are making women responsible somehow for these acts of nature. We are instilling guilt and fear, layer upon layer. The result is a woman, and by extension her family, who no longer trusts her body to do what is right. It must be faulty – it miscarried. Her body was not healthy enough, not experienced enough or somehow not adequately formed to be able to carry the pregnancy to full term.

This is not a healthy attitude to have, and can only result in more negative birth outcomes. One of the reasons I do not have a black tinge around my memories of my son’s birth is that, through it all, I trusted in my body. I did what I could, and although I couldn’t understand WHY it had happened, I came to accept that this time was just not meant to be. I am an animal, and I am fallible. This time I fell into the statistics of 1 in 7 pregnancies failing. There’s really no more to it – no guilt, no shame, no fear for future pregnancies; it’s just not appropriate.

Having gone through this whole process I now feel more of a woman. Yes, really. Not only have I experienced the horror myself, but I have had countless other women suddenly willing to share their own story with me. In a sad way I feel as if I have entered a secret club, something taboo and a bit shameful. I’m not really sure why nobody wants to discuss miscarriage, when it affects so many of us. If it were accepted as a rite of passage for any woman, as much as childbirth itself, I feel we’d all have a more positive outlook on all births, whatever the outcome.

 Zoë Foster is a yoga teacher and real food ambassador, following her dreams in South Devon with her husband and two small children. Read more about her exploits, experiments and adventures at www.rawyogauk.com and giveanearthly.blogspot.co.uk, or find her on Facebook and Twitter under RawYogaUK.

 

Nourishing The New Mama~ Healing foods & Herbs

“Drink tea and nourish life; with the first sip; joy; with the second sip, satisfaction; with the third sip, peace.”

I have discovered over the past few years that one of the most important things I can do for myself as a mother and woman is to focus on what I take into my body: the thoughts, the food and drinks. In my book, Moon Time, I write about creating a tea ceremony as a way of nourishing yourself with liquid, herbs, warmth and reflective time.

Never is this more important than when you are a new mama. New mamas need all the love and support they can get.

This guest post from Jen of Love and Tea really resonates with me. Jen is based in beautiful Vermont, which is where my American family are based, so I felt a natural affinity with her. She is an artist and trained herbalist who creates the most beautiful herbal teas which nourish every level of a woman’s body and soul. From the names, through the packaging and blends, they are made with a mother’s love and a woman’s wisdom. (Be sure to read to the end for a discount for Happy Womb readers!)

Becoming a new mama takes a tremendous amount of energy. After birth it is especially critical to receive proper rest and nutrition. It is crucial that you focus on…

* A balance of meals; Three full meal & nutrient rich snacks throughout the day are key to proper nourishment and keeping up the supply of breast milk. When a meal is skipped our bodies automatically produce an abundance of stress hormones. Stress hormones inhibit milk production and can lead to reflux in the infant.

*Nourishing grains include: Barley, Oatmeal, Corn Meal, Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Quiona and Amaranth.

* In Ayurvedic post-partum care, it is stressed to avoid cold/raw foods during the post-partum stage. This helps reduce gas, bloating for both mama & baby.

* Proper fats. Yes FATS!!! Healthy fats play a crucial role in the body. They are used as building blocks to create cell walls, nerves, tissues and hormonal balance. They can also stabilize blood sugars – which help protect against mood swings. EFA’S or (essential Fatty Acids) play an essential role in brain & body functions. What we eat, literally affects how we think and feel!

*Sources of healthy fats include: Organic Coconut oil, cold pressed & traditional veggie oils. Also avocados, sesame seeds, raw nuts and oily fish (avoid deep water fish such as tuna due to heavy metal toxicity). 

* Eating organic & chemical free foods not only supports your entire body, but your baby’s health too.

* Water and proper hydration: Getting enough water into your body helps heal and rejuvenate at the cellular levels. Herbals teas are another way great way to keep properly hydrated. Ayurveda recommends avoiding iced drinks.

There are a vast array of herbs to nourish, re-store and re-vitalize mamas after giving birth.

*Nettles: High in Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, Nettles is especially useful with post-partum bleeding. Used traditionally to increase and enrich breast milk.  The minerals and vitamins found within Nettles provides an excellent support in restoring and rebuilding the energy levels following birth.

*Dandelion: This little yellow flower is packed full of essential minerals and vitamins. Dandelion is very beneficial for new mamas!  Dandelion is high in Vitamin A, Calcium and rich in Iron. Dandelion also aids in exhaustion and fatigue.

*Lemon Balm: Relaxes and calms the nervous system.  Lemon Balm has been used traditionally for depression and insomnia. Lemon Balms add its hint of lemon aroma and flavor to uplift and refresh the new mama.  Lemon Balm is said to help one cope with new life situations, IE: Motherhood!!!

* Lady’s Mantle: Revered as an herb for the entire female system, Lady’s Mantle has an affinity to regulate and decrease post-partum bleeding.

* Jasmine Flowers: Have an affinity for the entire female system. Energetically these flowers increase compassion and love. Jasmine flowers are said to make the mind receptive, aid and receive while radiating vibrations of mantras.

“Lactation is the nutritional equivalent to running 10 miles a day!”

My Ayurvedic post-partum teachers would remind us this statement each class and I have never forgotten it! For those of you breastfeeding, here are some foods and herbs known to support and increase lactation:

* Roasted Cumin seeds

* Dill seeds

* Anise seeds

* Caraway seeds

* Coriander Seeds

* Red Beets

Foods to be aware of (Limit consumption)

These Anti-Lactogenic foods- these foods have been know to decrease the mother’s  milk supply and can cause reflux and other issues in the infant:

* Soft drinks & carbonated beverages; these not only decrease milk supply but rob your body of calcium.

* Coffee & Caffeinated beverages

* Chocolate

* Citric Acids in foods & juices (tomato, citrus fruits etc)

* Aspartame  (should be avoided in any case as it is highly toxic)

Potentially Anti-Lactogenic herbs:

(These herbs can potentially decrease and dry breast milk)

* Parsley

* Sage

* Rosemary

* Thyme

* Mint

Jen Lashua is a Certified Herbalist, Artist and Mama to four little sweet beings.

She is founder of Love & Tea Company, which features handcrafted organic teas, including a line of specialty teas specifically formulated for Women & Children’s Wellness.

A fusion of her two passions, Tea & Art, you will find Jen’s original paintings on her tea labels. Love & Tea Company promotes the Art of Tea; engaging the mindful art of loose leaf tea while promoting artist’s creative works. She is offering at 10% discount  at  www.loveandtea.com to all Happy Womb customers, for the next 7 days. Enter code “happy womb” to avail of this wonderful offer.

Connect with Jen via her blog: http://artfultea.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Love-Tea/153226064491

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LoveandTeaCo