Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Conditioning

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Thinking about the raw, emotional complexity and physical intensity of birth, I am reminded of a past post exploring the question of whether an epidural can really be considered an “informed choice” when it is considered in the context of enforced stillness during labor?

…In this case and in so many others around the nation every day, the physiologically normal and fully appropriate need for freedom of movement during labor ran smack into the hospital’s expectation of stillness. And, medication was a consequence of that stillness, not an inability to cope with normal labor–it was an inability to cope with enforced passivity that was directly counter to the natural urges of her birthing body. Where is the ‘opting’ here? When birthing women are literally backed into corners, no wonder epidural analgesia becomes the nationally popular ‘choice’…

Thoughts on epidurals, risk, and decision making | Talk Birth.

Considering movement during labor also brings us to the idea of sound during labor. What about the implied or explicit expectation of quiet during labor?

We decided that there is a major stigma around “quiet” birth. Why is “quiet” birth synonymous with a “good” birth? Why are we praised on our ability to stay “calm” in our birthing time??? This is crazy! Now let me quickly add: A quiet birth CAN be a beautiful birth, it can be the most beautiful kind, but so can the others.We talked to a mother who explained that in her birthing time she was very “calm and quiet” she also said she was suffering so deeply but everyone kept praising her abilities so she kept on going. How many women bite their tongue, how many women feel trauma and how many women were told they were “crazy, wild and loud”? And why are any of those words bad? We are having a baby, we are doing the most instinctual and primal work we will ever do as humans.

via Blog — TerraVie.

I addressed the interesting notion of a “quiet, calm” birth as synonymous with “coping well” in this past post:

“I believe with all my heart that women’s birth noises are often the seat of their power. It’s like a primal birth song, meeting the pain with sound, singing their babies forth. I’ve had my eardrums roared out on occasions, but I love it. Every time. Never let anyone tell you not to make noise in labor. Roar your babies out, Mamas. Roar.” –Louisa Wales

via What Does Coping Well Mean? | Talk Birth.

Our expectations in birth are shaped by the cultural conditioning, contexts, and environments around them whether we are conscious of them or not. In this past compilation of articles about the role of doulas, Michel Odent makes an interesting point:

…We must add that this cultural conditioning is now shared by the world of women and the world of men as well. While traditionally childbirth was ‘women’s business,’ men are now almost always present at births, a phase of history when most women cannot give birth to the baby and to the placenta without medical assistance. A whole generation of men is learning that a woman is not able to give birth. We have reached an extreme in terms of conditioning. The current dominant paradigm has its keywords: helping, guiding, controlling, managing…coaching, supporting…the focus is always on the role of persons other than two obligatory actors (i.e. mothers and baby). Inside this paradigm, we can include medical circles and natural childbirth movements as well…

–Michel Odent (exploring the role of doulas)

Tuesday Tidbits: The Role of Doulas… | Talk Birth.

And, here are some neat resources I’ve encountered this week…

I signed up to participate in this free telesummit on womb wisdom/nourishing the feminine: Womb Wisdom: Nourishing the Roots of the Feminine with Barbara Hanneloré — Womb Wisdom. (Thanks to Mothering Arts for the link!)

I’ve linked to these beautiful coloring books in past posts. I’m just entranced by them!

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via Blissful Belly Coloring Journal: NOW until April 1st, Buy Both the Blissful Belly and Blissful Birth Coloring Books and Get 25% OFF. Coupon Code is 2blissful. Get it here

And, after participating in a free Spring Equinox event online that was hosted by the Sacred Sister Society (to which I won a year-long membership!), I’ve been enjoying different daily yoga practices using videos from Joy Fisheria from Everyday Chakras. The practice for your core strength is one of my favorites. :)

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New taller, mama goddess sculptures for birth altars!

Fivemonthababy!

IMG_3776Somebody is five months old already! How can this be?! I have a thing in which I’m startled by the realization periodically that this little person is somebody’s future grandpa…Silly, I know, but it is something that catches my heart and arrests my action to consider. (All grandpas were once some mother’s snuggly delightful baby treasure. WAHHHHHHH!) My friend linked to a classic poem by Mary Oliver on Facebook this morning: how will you use your one wild and precious life. The Somebody’s Grandpa thought serves as a similar touchstone for me, while also doubling as potential future band name.

This thought process is partially why I hold Tanner 22 hours a day. The other reason is because he doesn’t want to be put down. He also weighs 18 pounds now, which explains why I’m often heard to whine about my arms being tired and that I feel worn down and “old” lately. Parenting an infant feels considerably more physically wearing for me at 35 than it was at 24! He is also the most held baby in our entire family because when I do put him down, it is into someone else’s arms. There are four other willing family members usually around to hold him, plus grandparents and sometimes an aunt or uncle waiting too. I feel annoyed with myself that we wasted money on a little swing and bouncy seat (gift, so it actually wasted someone else’s money!) this time. I already know that we just aren’t a swing and bouncy seat kind of family, but I didn’t realize just how very not so we would end up this time around. With past babies, for whom Mark wasn’t home during the day, the bouncy seat was how I managed to shower and sometimes get some other two-handed tasks done.

So far, Tanner hasn’t seem particularly fond of baby-wearing either, leading me to wonder if I’d just gotten out of the habit (the aforementioned putting-him-down-in-someone-else’s arms thing) or if he isn’t the kind of baby that is into babywearing. My aunt bought us a wonderful new Boba that is so cute and fresh, but unless sleeping already, Tanner most often wiggles to get out of it. It also feels a little stiff to me overall, though it worked better on my back than Ergos ever have. However, on a hunch the other day when I was lamenting not being able to put him down for a good nap so I could make some new sculpture prototypes, I got out my older Ergo from Alaina. Putting it on felt like putting on a nice, broken-in shoe or comfy sweater. And, lo and behold, Tanner likes it too and has spent hours in it over the course of the last two weeks. I feel like I’m rediscovering babywearing! (And, also feeling bad about wasting someone else’s dollars on a new purchase!)

IMG_3772T-bot is our worst sleeper really. He either naps being held on my chest in the rocking chair, in the Ergo, or lying pressed by my leg in the bed while I work on my laptop (post currently being composed in a combo of the two–he is sleeping on my chest with my laptop held on the knees of my stretched-out legs, his head jostling a little with the movement of my fully extended arms trying to type. Why am I trying to type and hold a baby at the same time anyway?! Somebody Grandpa, remember?!) Luckily, I really love holding him while he sleeps, I know it doesn’t last long, and I have plenty of work I can do digitally while he types. This works because I can shut myself up in the bedroom (like a veritable nap retreat!) while Mark has an eye on the other kids and brings me lunch in bed.

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Participating in online Spring Equinox event, while in our favorite spot.

Tanner is also my first baby to have picked up some kind of virus as this young of a baby. Last week he had a fever and diarrhea. The fever only lasted one day, but the diarrhea for a whole string of unpleasant days with a plaintive, unhappy, whiny baby and stressed parents (particularly since I went back to class on Tuesday night). He has seemed somewhat fretful continuing into this weekend, but we finally realized that he wasn’t getting enough sleep (back to the bedroom nap retreat plan rather than the standing-Ergo-sculpting plan) and also that he seems to be going through a growth spurt and needs to nurse more often than I was realizing. He doesn’t dive in towards the breast yes or show other nursing cues really, so if I already nursed him recently, I thought he was just cranky and didn’t realize he was actually hungry! You’d think I hadn’t already been a breastfeeding mother for 11 years! As I’ve mentioned before, despite the many other willing baby-holders, he seems to need me more than any other baby and has even developed a wearing habit of screaming for me and stretching his arms out and rolling to the side reaching for me, when Mark is trying to change him before bed and I’m trying to brush my teeth. He does love going outside though and will happily ride away with Mark to check on the greenhouse and the chickens.

IMG_3661All this working while baby-holding prompted a new version of my “grind my corn” sculpture:

IMG_3732Despite all of the holding, he is also interestingly capable of moving himself along the ground. He is after everything and is the first to seem like he’s going to crawl any second. I’ve had a bunch of chubby late crawlers, so that’s what I expected again this time, but I think we’re going to follow a new pattern. He is also thisclose to sitting up unaided. He attempts to reach items constantly with a sort of tortured, deprived grabbing style, rather than an interested, exploratory style (more common to first babies, I think. This one is certain he is constantly missing out and that siblings are getting all the good stuff all the time, while he is forgotten and overlooked with no good stuff in his hands!). Due to frenzied grab-attacks and ability to launch self along floor and out of arms, he has now gnawed two pizza crusts (homemade, organic), one cauliflower floret, one bite of banana (gagged), and two pieces of paper (fished from roof of mouth). No fanfare or induction into the “first solid food” milestone. Just grabbed and chomped.

He is getting quite a bit more hair and remains a blondy blonderson!

IMG_3626Happy Fivemonthababy! I can hardly believe you are somebody’s grandpa!

 

World Doula Week!

IMG_3704Happy World Doula Week! In addition to offering 15% off on all items in our shop through March 28 (code: DOULAWEEK), we’re pleased to have contributed some prizes to the Improving Birth Project in honor of Doula Week this year. Make sure to check out their Facebook page for details on how to contribute your story about your doula for their World Doula Week campaign.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Soul Shine Mama, Tanya Malcolm, who is doing a neat free series with some of the world’s top doulas!

And, here are a couple of past posts about doulas for your reading enjoyment…

Doulas at Homebirths? | Talk Birth.

Book Review: The Doula Guide to Birth | Talk Birth.

Book Review: Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way | Talk Birth.

Where are the women who know? | Talk Birth.

Wednesday Tidbits: Mother Care | Talk Birth.

Guest Post: Infertility Doula | Talk Birth.

Tuesday Tidbits: The Role of Doulas… | Talk Birth.

Pewter Birth Partners Sculpture Pendant, Necklace (pregnant, fertility, doula, midwife, mother, birth art, birthing)“I believe that this is one of the important things about preparation for childbirth–that it should not simply superimpose a series of techniques, conditioned responses to stimuli, on the labouring woman, but that it can be a truly creative act in which she spontaneously expresses herself and the sort of person she is. Education for birth consists not, as some would have it, of ‘conditioning,’ but aims at giving a woman the means by which she can express her own personality creatively in childbirth.”

–Sheila Kitzinger via More Thoughts on Birth as a Creative Process | Talk Birth.

Small Business Saturday: Pewter Figurines + Sacred Pregnancy Class Supplies

IMG_3699We got our pretty new business cards this week! I have several other business tidbits to share today as well. We are discontinuing our line of pewter figurines and reduced the prices of the remaining few we have in stock. If you have been eying one, this is your last chance, because after these are gone, there will be no more made!

While we’ve sold our little “scrap goddesses” individually for while, we have some new ones available in small lots. A friend called these “gummy bear goddesses,” and that is how they look! These are very small, have rough edges, and do not sit on their own, but they would make a lovely little token to give to birthy friends, to clients, or to transform into your own projects (magnets, glued to a candle holder, etc.). These are only available by the lot and only as we happen to have them available!

IMG_3538I also want to mention that we are happy to put together small lots of items by request at a discount, particularly for Sacred Pregnancy Retreat Facilitators, but for other birth educators and doulas too. These can be custom arranged for things that we don’t necessarily have listed in our etsy shop (for example, we recently sent 12 tiny goddesses and 12 tree pendants to a Sacred Pregnancy retreat in Canada). We have “beauty” charms and goddess charms and spiral charms that aren’t available by separate listing, but that can be mixed and matched to create something nice to give to the beautiful women who come to your retreats and classes.

We do not provide these for free (though we always include secret, surprise bonus goodies for free!), but we are happy to do bulk pricing. Why not free, you might ask? We actually do make donations of our work each month to nonprofit events and organizations, but if you are a for profit business, then a fair energy exchange is appropriate rather than a donation. :) We are a small, two-person home business ourselves and we love to collaborate!

Weekly Tidbits: Birth, Postpartum, the Triumvirate, and Anthropology

IMG_3501My sister-in-law shared a link to a really potent article from The Guardian about birth, midwifery, postpartum, and supportive friends. When she shared, she brought tears to my eyes by thanking me for being part of her own “triumvirate,” described by the post author as…

I needed a maternal figure, a dedicated and present midwife, dear and loving friends. I was blessed with one out of three. It could have been worse.

The only people I know who did just fine in the postpartum period are those who score the triumvirate: well cared for in birth, surrounded by supportive peers, helpful elders to stay with them for a time. The others, wild-eyed at the supermarket, prone to tears, unable to nurse or sleep or breathe, a little too eager to make friends at baby groups – I can spot them at 20 paces. We form a vast and sorry club.

via My friend breastfed my baby | Life and style | The Guardian.

I’m lucky enough to have also scored the triumvirate (I find it takes pretty careful planning and active attention to put it into place!). When my midwife came to visit me postpartum and commented that I was looking good and I replied that people kept telling me that, she said that rather than just saying “thank you,” I should point out my looking good was directly related to having excellent postpartum care. And, she was right. I did not look, feel, or sound depleted, exhausted or overwhelmed precisely because I was being taken care of. I had great prenatal from my midwife along with six weeks of postpartum follow-up visits. I had a postpartum doula for immediately post-birth support and several follow-up visits as well as meal calendar coordination. I had my mom, who cooked for us and cared for our other children. I had my sister-in-law who came to stay for several days and helped with cooking and cleaning. I had friends who brought me dinners and took my kids to playgroup. I had my husband, who got to enjoy our new baby with me because he wasn’t trying to do all of the above!

When I think of my triumvirate, a specific moment comes to mind. I am sitting in the bathroom holding my brand new baby, still attached to me by his cord. We are waiting for the placenta to come. My midwife is close by, peeking over, but not being hands-on or aggressive. My mom leans over to take pictures. My doula is standing in our bathtub to make room. My husband is kneeling near me and my other children are gathered around to cut the cord. In the driveway outside, my friend waits with her three children to take my kids to playgroup. This is what birth support looks like. I am surrounded with love and care.

The author of the article quoted above did not have the same experience…

Two weeks later, I gave birth at home, after a 13-hour posterior, or back-to-back, labour, which the long-practising, well-respected midwife did not bother to attend. Frankly, it felt like staring death in the face, by which I mean an altogether normal and intense physiological process that has nothing to do with the ordinariness of daily life. Throughout, my husband and doula repeatedly called and texted the midwife, whom we had found privately. She told us it was “probably” early labour. From inside the grip of what turned out to be very active labour, I managed to flat-out demand that she join us, speaking at the phone while the doula held it to my ear. The midwife sounded annoyed, vaguely put-upon. It was another three hours before she arrived. Minutes later, with a great and unbridled roar, I delivered my son into bathwater.

We wept with joy, held him, kissed him, named him. Eventually, I got out of the bath. My husband lay in bed with our new son on his chest. I showered in a state of trembling, happy shock. The midwife perched on the sink and told me a story about her estranged sister. She handed me a towel, and I remember commiserating, trying to comfort her about her unfortunate relationship with her family, as though we were two cool girls hanging out in the bathroom at a party. One of us just happened to be naked and bleeding, immediately postpartum. I didn’t care; I was too ecstatic. Having just given birth, I felt omnipotent. Epic. Heroic. Unstoppable.

via My friend breastfed my baby | Life and style | The Guardian.

I wrote about the value of breastfeeding support here:

But, what happens after the birth? I’ve often thought that my role in breastfeeding support, while less “glamorous” or exciting than birth work, has had more lasting value to the women I serve. Breastfeeding is the day in, day out, nitty-gritty reality of daily mothering, rather than a single event and it matters (so does birth, of course, it matters a lot, but birth is a rite of passage, liminal event and breastfeeding is a process and a relationship that goes on and on for every. single. day. for sometimes years). Anyway, sorry for the brief side note, but I enjoyed reading this article about the celebrity culture surrounding pregnancy and birth with its obsession with who has a “bump” and then how after the birth the main deal is losing that weight and having a fabulous bod again! Woot!

via Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Thoughts | Talk Birth.

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I shared this pic on Instgram this week in honor of the theme of “self-care” in the online Equinox 15 event I’ve been taking part in.

I’ve only recently recognized that while I was surrounded by excellent support for birth and postpartum, I’m not really giving myself much credit lately for still having just had a baby. Yes, Tanner is almost 5 months old, but that moment in the bathroom was only five months ago. I still need quite a bit of help and that normal and okay. I need to recognize what I’m capable of, which is a lot, while also still recognizing what I need and what the pace of my life can be and can handle at this point in time. I also recognized that I have difficult admitting or expressing how difficult it feels sometimes to be incorporating a new baby into the family, to be working around “baby time” again, and to be physically bound to a baby again. It is hard to admit, because Tanner is such a treasure of a baby and I enjoy him so much and love having his adorable, babiest of babies self in our lives. However, it also sometimes feels hard to be doing this all again and I often feel “old” and kind of worn out and ragged lately.

This brings me to a lovely article about vulnerability as strength (something my doula reminded me of several times following Tanner’s birth):

…Today I stood swaying my daughter to sleep in my mommas group shedding tears because of the intense sleep deprivation over the last 6 weeks. My tears fell and I was held with empathy, no one solved my problems; women just heard me and held me in my challenge. We heard each other, others cried, we softened, we opened ourselves up to the wisdom that each expressed and afterwards our hearts felt happier and lighter. Something sacred unfolded. I was in a container that was safe to share my soul, to be naked in front of these women, to admit I was not perfect and I didn’t have all the answers. And I felt better. I was not alone.

The more I allow myself to be vulnerable, the more I receive, the more I soften, and the more I open myself up to support. We are not meant to mother alone. The first year of our child’s life is a raw experience. It is amazing; it is illuminating, joyful, and raw.

via Vulnerability as a Strength | Mothering Arts.

This container is so important. Though, I will also acknowledge that for my personality, being told to “take it easy” or to “lower your standards” or “don’t have such high expectations of yourself,” often registers for me as being told: You’re not capable. I don’t believe in you. Give up. So, I personally, when trying to create a container of safety or support for other women I will not usually use those sorts of phrases.

Related to the idea of postpartum tenderness and triumph, I enjoyed this photo series of newborns and mothers: Born yesterday: mothers and their newborn babies – in pictures | Life and style | The Guardian.

Bringing the discussion around to anthropology and birth though, this interesting recent article suggests that it is the mother’s metabolism (and energetic reserves) that creates the human gestation length rather than the size of the pelvis as often commonly theorizes:

We’ve been doing anthropology with this warped view of the male pelvis as the ideal form, while the female pelvis is seen as less than ideal because of childbirth,” she said. “The female births the babies. So if there’s an ideal, it’s female and it’s no more compromised than anything else out there. Selection maintains its adequacy for locomotion and for childbirth.

via Long-held theory on human gestation refuted: Mother’s metabolism, not birth canal size, limits gestation — ScienceDaily.

In a past article about the wise women behind and around us, I included this interesting quote from Tsippy Monat:

“Anthropology describes trance as a condition is which the senses are heightened and everyday things take on a different meaning. Communicative competence with other people may increase or may not exist. Facts of time and place are revealed differently than in normal everyday consciousness. This description reminded me of situations encountered at birth because birth is a condition in which the mind is altered. When I accompany births, I experience the flooding of oxytocin and endorphins. In Hebrew, the root of the word birth can also mean ‘next to God’” (p. 49).

via Thesis Tidbits: The Wise Women Behind, Within, and Around Us | Talk Birth.

And, speaking of historical experiences of birth support, I re-visited this guest post about birth witnesses:

The only way to understand birth is to experience it yourself. The ONLY way? That comment stayed with me, haunted me. I became a doula after my daughter’s birth because I wanted to be able to provide women with support and knowledge that could give them a different experience, a better memory than what I had. I just couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a way to understand birth at all except to experience it firsthand. Certainly there wasn’t always this fear and unknown around birth that we each face today. Not always. I began studying that idea. What about other cultures? What about our culture, historically? What about The Farm? There wasn’t always this myth and mystery about birth! I realized there was a time (and in places, there still is) when women banded together for births. Mothers, sisters, cousins, daughters, aunts, friends. They came together and comforted, guided, soothed, coached, and held the space for one another during birth. These women didn’t go in it alone – they were surrounded by women who had birthed before them. Women who knew what looked and felt right, and what didn’t. Women who could empathize with them and empower them. In addition to that, girls and women were raised in a culture of attending births. Daughters watched mothers, sisters and aunts labor their babies into this world. They saw, heard, and supported these women for the long hours of labor, so when they became mothers themselves, the experience was a new, but very familiar one for them. Birth wasn’t a secretive ritual practiced behind the cold, business-like doors of a hospital. It was a time for bonding, learning, sharing and sisterhood. Girls learned how women become mothers, and mothers helped their sisters bring forth life. It was a sacred and special part of the birthing process that has become lost in our institutionalized, over-medicalized, isolating and impersonalized system today.

via Birth Witnesses | Talk Birth.

And, another regarding women’s rites of passage:

“I love and respect birth. The body is a temple, it creates its own rites, its own prayers…all we must do is listen. With the labor and birth of my daughter I went so deep down, so far into the underworld that I had to crawl my way out. I did this only by surrendering. I did this by trusting the goddess in my bones. She moved through me and has left her power in me.” ~Lea B., Fairfax, CA (via Mama Birth)

via Rites of Passage… Celebrating Real Women’s Wisdom | Talk Birth.

In just a few hours, I’m headed into town for our first local Red Tent Circle. I took this photo yesterday in honor of the spring equinox and the themes of manifestation, intention, and creativity. May we walk in harmony with each other and may we be surrounded by circles of support.

Happy Spring!

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Tuesday Tidbits: Women’s Work

“The minute my child was born, I was reborn as a feminist. It’s so incredible what women can do…Birthing naturally, as most women do around the globe, is a superhuman act. You leave behind the comforts of being human and plunge back into being an animal. My friend’s partner said, ‘Birth is like going for a swim in the ocean. Will there be a riptide? A big storm? Or will it just be a beautiful, sunny little dip?’ Its indeterminate length, the mystery of its process, is so much a part of the nature of birth. The regimentation of a hospital birth that wants to make it happen and use their gizmos to maximum effect is counter to birth in general.”

–Ani DiFranco interviewed in Mothering magazine, May/June 2008

via International Women’s Day, Birth Activism, and Feminism | Talk Birth.

February 2015 020It is Women’s History Month and we just passed International Women’s Day this Sunday, so today I have a collection of posts either about International Women’s Day or the theme of women’s work in general.

The first is this article about the basics of natural birth intended for the “non-hippy” reader:

“But is that really it? Is birth so simple as that? Is it really so simple as just having faith in your body and protecting and working with your natural hormonal flow?

Well mostly – yes!

It is that simple. Natural birth occurs when women feel safe, feel loved, feel listened to, are surrounded by calm loving people, and go with their natural birth flow. In all its intensity – your body was designed to handle it. Even if you don’t know it yet.

It IS hard work. It IS intense. It does help if you’re a bit bendy. It does help if you are active throughout pregnancy and vaguely fit. But no yoga required if that doesn’t float your boat. All the drugs and pain relief you need are right inside you. All the strength you need is right inside you. If you can find birth attendants who will mirror that belief back at you in their eyes, in their hearts, in their hands, in their attitude and manner, and in their language to you – in effect, saying ‘I believe in you’, you are one step closer to discovering the greatest, and the most ordinary and yet extraordinary power known to woman – natural birth…”

go-with-the-flow » Natural homebirth – not just for hippies!

This post made me think of one of my own on the “rest and be thankful stage” that has been linked to a lot over the last few days:

I always make sure to tell my birth class clients about the possibility of experiencing a lull like this, because it is during this resting phase that labor is sometimes described as having “stalled” or as requiring Pitocin to “kick it off again” or as requiring directed or coached pushing. Also, think of the frequency of remarks from mothers such as, “I just never felt the urge to push.” When exploring further, it is often revealed that what the mother actually experienced was no immediate pushing urge instantly following assessment of full dilation. Depending on the baby’s position, this can be extremely normal. The way I explain it to my clients is that the lull represents the conclusion of the physiological shift happening in the uterus—the transition between contractions that open the cervix and the contractions that push the baby down and out.

via The Rest and Be Thankful Stage | Talk Birth.

I came across the not-just-for-hippies post when the author shared the link with me in the self-publishing class we are both enrolled in. (The current class is already in progress, but you can get information about the fall session here: Be Your Own Publisher – the self-publishing e-course.) This course was developed by Lucy Pearce (author of The Rainbow Way and The Moods of Motherhood), who recently wrote a post that really spoke to me about the “labyrinth of self-imposed limitations” we may find ourselves in when pursuing creative work (or any work we feel “called” to do):

Many of us live in a “labyrinth of self-imposed limitations” (thanks to one of my self-publishing students, Linda English, for that phrase).

Especially when it comes to our creativity.

And double-especially when it comes to owning ourselves as writers, or artists, or whatever creative pursuit or ambition we’re holding off on…

via I Will Be a Writer When… – Dreaming Aloud.

I also read this interesting post on the Fortune magazine site about mothering and working and thriving…

I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team. There’s a saying that “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.

via Female Company President: “I’m sorry to all the mothers I worked with” – Fortune.

And, I thought about my past Women’s Day posts, the first about a body prayer that I wrote, but that also quoted some information about the original intention of the day:

“International Women’s Day is not about Hallmark. It’s not about chocolate. (Thought I know many women who won’t turn those down.) It’s about politics, institutions, economics, racism….

As is the case with Mother’s Day and many other holidays, today we are presented with a sanitized, deodorized, nationalized, commoditized version of what were initially radical holidays to emphasize social justice.

Initially, International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. Yes, every woman is a working woman. Yes, there is no task harder perhaps than raising a child, for a father and a mother. But let us remember that the initial impetus of this International Working Women’s Day was to address the institutional, systematic, political, and economic obstacles that women faced in society…”

International Women’s Day: Body Prayer | Talk Birth

The second offering a prayer for mothers:

…hear your value March 2013 057
sing your body’s power
and potency
dance your dreams
recognize within yourself
that which you do so well
so invisibly
and with such love.

Fill your body with this breath
expand your heart with this message
you are such a good mother…”

International Women’s Day: Prayer for Mothers | Talk Birth.

I re-visited a past post in honor of Women’s (Birth) History Month:

“…we need to grasp an honest understanding of birthing history – one that tells HERstory not HIStory. Because birth is about Women. It is a woman’s story. And we need to also understand why and how this herstory compels women to make the choices they make surrounding birth in the present day.
People become the product of the culture that feeds them…”

Women’s (Birth) History Month | Talk Birth.

And, I did my own work creating our March newsletter covering Women’s Day, Shining Years, Red Tent Fundraiser, and More: Happy International Women’s Day! I’ve also made a lot of changes and additions to our website recently including a Womanrunes 101 page and other pages explaining more about our jewelry and and sculpture work.

I have so many ideas for what I’d like to do and create this year (we also have what feels like a lot of kids, including the babiest of adorable babies who is getting so big, so fast!) and I am trying to hard to do what makes sense and to choose wisely. It is hard to tease out the difference between self-limiting (or self-sabotaging) thought patterns and being sensible/practical/realistic for this stage in my life. I made a huge mind map today to try to help me clear some of this stuff out of my brain and I was going to share a picture of it, because it is freaking intense, but it also made me feel (or look) a little crazy, so I decided not to share it after all!

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What Should I Feed My Baby? Answers through the ages…

“My doctor said since my baby is four months old, I can start giving him solid foods.”

“My mother-in-law said that if I give my baby rice cereal at night, she will sleep better.”

“My friend says her six month old eats three jars of baby food a day, but mine doesn’t seem interested.”

“At the La Leche League meeting I went to, no one seemed interested in starting their babies on solids and one mom told me that babies don’t really need rice cereal.”

IMG_3314A lot of conflicting advice and opinions about babies and solid foods swirls around the internet and in the opinions of others around us. Why is there so much concern and conflict about what babies should eat and why? What should you feed your baby? Interestingly enough, the answer depends very much on your time and place in history, rather than on any hard and fast rules about what a baby actually needs! If you were a mother at the turn of the twentieth century, you would get a much different answer than a mother in the 1930’s!  Many contemporary people express a lot of concern about wanting their babies to try a variety of foods and sometimes a bit of a parental competition can emerge regarding whose baby has the most varied palate. However, if you were receiving advice as a parent in 1906, you would have learned from doctors at that time that eating many different foods would likely result in child death: “And how many [parents], after a time, do we hear lamenting the loss of this child saying: ‘Poor thing! He was eating everything when he died.’ They do not understand, unfortunately, that it was precisely this that caused the baby’s demise more than anything else.”*  Something that doesn’t change is the value of watching your baby rather than the calendar and listing to your instincts rather than the experts.

So…what ARE the medical answers through the ages to the question of what should I feed my baby…

When should I introduce solids?

1906: 12 months, 10 at the earliest.

1927: Six to eight months old.

1932: Eight, or better yet 10, months.

1947: six months

1979: three months

2008: 6 months

2015: once baby has doubled birth weight and weighs at least 13 pounds and is around six month olds

What should I feed my baby?

1906: At one year old—3 breastfeedings per day, plus at night after midnight. Also, gruel made with flour only (no fats) at noon + breastfeeding for dessert. At 7:00 p.m., you may give 130 g of milk.

1927: First food should be a bread and garlic soup. At one, baby should be having four breastfeedings a day, plus salty soup at noon and sweet gruel at 7:00. Salty soup contains bread, salt, and garlic and sweet gruel contains oat or rice flour and milk.

1932: Garlic and bread soup.

1947: “salty soup,” which can include cheese, chicken, or fish. At 7-8 months old some children can tolerate half an egg yolk or a teaspoon of grated cheese or a teaspoon of butter, or a teaspoon of pureed liver. Offer a different food each day.

IMPORTANT: “At one year old, it is essential that the child eat more than just breast milk. If the child is raised only on this lacteal secretion, he will become white and flabby. These are ‘curd babies.’” ( ;) )

1979: At three months, begin with two servings of flour and milk gruel and one serving of fruit. At four months, add vegetables. At six months give egg yolk and liver (you may possibly begin this at four months).

At six months to one year, for breakfast baby should have sweet gruel with crackers or bread. For lunch, soup or strained vegetables or potatoes with added meat, liver, brains, etc. Fruit for dessert or some cheese. Afternoon snack should be strained fruit or fruit yogurt or crackers. For dinner, offer sweet gruel with egg yolk or soup with egg yolk, ham, fish, or white sauce.

At one, you may begin to give cocoa, dried legumes, fruits, sauces, candies, and cakes.

2008: Cereal should be first food. Once your baby learns to eat cereal, gradually introduce other foods such as strained vegetables, fruit, and meat. Give one new food at a time, and wait at least 2-3 days before starting another. Give eggs last, because they occasionally cause allergic reactions.

Your baby can start drinking juice at this time also. Apple juice and white grape juice are well tolerated by most babies. You may want to dilute the juice with an equal amount of water, as undiluted juice can cause diarrhea, diaper rash, and excessive weight gain. Many babies are sensitive to orange juice and other citrus fruits, so they should not be given before 6 months of age.

Within 2 or 3 months of starting solid foods, your baby’s daily diet should include breast milk or formula, cereal, vegetables, fruits, and meat given over three meals.

Once your baby is sitting up, you can give him finger foods to help him learn to feed himself. Some examples include well-cooked and cut-up squash, peas, potatoes, and small pieces of wafer-type cookies or crackers.

2015: For most babies it does not matter what the first solid foods are. By tradition, single-grain cereals are usually introduced first. However, there is no medical evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage for your baby.

Though many pediatricians will recommend starting vegetables before fruits, there is no evidence that your baby will develop a dislike for vegetables if fruit is given first. Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and the order of introducing foods does not change this. (via Switching To Solid Foods – HealthyChildren.org.)

What should my 14 month old be eating?

1906: Once your baby is 14 months old, you can add one egg yolk to the morning gruel and give an additional serving of plain gruel in the afternoon.

At fifteen months, you can add egg yolk to both gruels.

1927: At 15 months, two servings of gruel made of flour, four nursings. An egg yolk may be added to the gruel once a day.

Between 15-18 months, you can introduce mashed potatoes, eggs, and pastas.

1947: four to five daily nursings, plus strained fruit with crackers in the morning and strained vegetables with liver at noon. You should also give one feeding of gruel with strained egg yolk. At 8:00 p.m., give wheat, tapioca, or oatmeal gruel and juice, plus additional gruel at 11:00 pm.The child may have 2 crackers per day or a small piece of bread.

2015: Generally, meats and vegetables contain more nutrients per serving than fruits or cereals. Many pediatricians recommend against giving eggs and fish in the first year of life because of allergic reactions, but there is no evidence that introducing these nutrient-dense foods after 4 to 6 months of age determines whether your baby will be allergic to them.

Within a few months of starting solid foods, your baby’s daily diet should include a variety of foods each day that may include the following:

Breast milk and/or formula
Meats
Cereal
Vegetables
Fruits
Eggs
Fish

via Switching To Solid Foods – HealthyChildren.org.

What should my 18 month old eat?

1906: At 16-18 months, add broth, legumes, and crackers (no more than once a day!).

1927: Between 18-24 months, meats and fish.

Pureed vegetables can be given in small quantity, they are not very nutritious.

At 18 months, you can give fruit, but only if it is cooked. Only during the 3rd year will we authorize the use of fresh fruit in small quantities.

1932: You can start bread with butter, egg yolk, tomato, grape and orange juice, pasta and legumes.

When should I wean?

1906: At 20-21 months cease breastfeeding and give crackers three times a day. At 22-24 months, you may add chocolate, fish, and brains.

At 3 years, you may give whole egg and chicken croquettes (make sure to follow special recipe). Three 10 g servings of milk per day also.

At 3 ½ you may introduce fruit and vegetables at 4 years, but only a little, the same with veal

1932: You may give fish at 2 ½ years and chicken at age three.

1979: 10-12 months

2008-2015: Breastfeeding should continue for 12 months and then as long thereafter as desired by both mother and child.

IMG_3317  *This tongue-in-cheek look at the solid food advice given by medical professionals during different decades of American history was gathered from information provided by the wonderful book My Child Won’t Eat by Dr. Carlos Gonzalez.