Tuesday Tidbits: Postpartum Planning

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My post from last week about recovering from childbirth sent me on a blog-excavation mission for all the posts I’ve written about postpartum care. This is just a sampling (I’ve written a lot on the subject):

“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.

Source: Weekly Tidbits: Birth, Postpartum, the Triumvirate, and Anthropology | Talk Birth

Other, experienced women can be our most powerful source of support:

Women around the world and throughout time have known how to take care of each other in birth. They’ve shown each other the best positions for comfort in labor, they’ve used nurturing touch and repeated soothing words, and they’ve literally held each other up when it’s needed the most…

–The Doula Guide to Birth

Source: Tuesday Tidbits: Postpartum Recovery | Talk Birth

I’ve spent a lot of time talking and writing about the culture that surrounds us and the resultant impact on our birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting experiences:

The United States are not known for their postpartum care practices. Many women are left caught completely off guard by the postpartum recovery experience and dogged by the nagging self-expectation to do and be it all and that to be a “good mother” means bouncing back, not needing help, and loving every minute of it.

Source: Tuesday Tidbits: Postpartum Mamas | Talk Birth

It isn’t just me writing about the impact of culture on maternal mental health, this post calls it like it is:

Let’s stop torturing mothers. Let’s stop ignoring the problem of expecting new mums to get back to normal. They are not normal, they are super important, and we need to value them and treat them with the greatest respect, if we don’t want them to break into a million pieces, shattering the lives of all those around them.

Source: Torturing new mothers and then wondering why they get mentally ill. | Mia’s Blog

This insightful article full of helpful tips for supporting postpartum women by my friend Summer got a lot of attention when I re-shared it on Facebook last week:

An unfortunate by-product of our society’s refusal to see birth as a monumental event is the lack of a babymoon or restful, supported postpartum period. Most of the time, moms and dads are expected to pick up with their everyday lives almost immediately.

The Incredible Importance of Postpartum Support | Midwives, Doulas, Home Birth, OH MY!

I offer some survival tips here: Postpartum Survival Tips | Talk Birth

And, one of my favorite guest posts that I’ve ever hosted on this site is this one about postpartum planning: Guest Post: Mothers Matter–Creating a Postpartum Plan | Talk Birth

When considering postpartum planning as well as talking about it to others, I find that visualizing the placental site that is healing can be a helpful jolt reminding us how important good postpartum care is:

“Remind them that a true six-week postpartum window allows for the placenta site to fully heal and supports minimized bleeding and stronger recovery.” An excellent tip for educators and doulas from Barbeau is to illustrate size of placental site healing area with hands like small dinner plate—if this was outside the body, how would you care for yourself…

Source: Timeless Days: More Postpartum Planning | Talk Birth

And, some final reminders about good postpartum care for women themselves and for those who love them:

I recently finished a series of classes with some truly beautiful, anticipatory, and excited pregnant women and their partners. I cover postpartum planning during the final class and I always feel a tension between accurately addressing the emotional upheavals of welcoming a baby into your life and marriage and “protecting,” in a sense, their innocent, hopeful, eager, and joyful awaiting of their newborns.

This time, I started with a new quote that I think is beautifully true as well as appropriately cautionary: “The first few months after a baby comes can be a lot like floating in a jar of honey—very sweet and golden, but very sticky too.” –American College of Nurse-Midwives

Source: Some reminders for postpartum mamas & those who love them | Talk Birth

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Tuesday Tidbits: Placentas, Of Course

“…Lately under the lunar tide
Of a woman’s ocean, I work
My own sea-change:
Turning grains of sand to human eyes.
I daydream after breakfast
While the spirit of egg and toast
Knits together a length of bone
As fine as a wheatstalk.
Later, as I postpone weeding the garden
I will make two hands
That may tend a hundred gardens…”

–Barbara Kingsolver

via Two Birth Poems | Talk Birth.

February 2015 096This week I enjoyed this interesting article about the placenta:

The picture draws attention to an organ that, while ephemeral, once sustained us all. “The placenta really is a marvel of design,” says Barker. “It is the only organ designed to be disposed of after it performs its function.”

via Picture of the Week: Human Placenta.

I keep hoping to write a post about Tanner’s placenta and its velamentous cord insertion, but keep running out of time to develop it. Someday! I did write about the placentas in general and how to honor them in this past post:

…I think the reason the placenta might not get as much acknowledgement and appreciation as it deserves is because it then pales in comparison to the miracle of a whole new person suddenly showing up on the earth as well. Forget growing a new organ, I just gave birth to a new person!!!! And so, the placenta may be cast aside with hardly a glance or even much thought to its powerful role in pregnancy and the sustaining gift of life it offers.

via Placenta Magic | Talk Birth.

Not related to placentas, I was also extremely interested by this article about medicating women’s feelings:

…Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives. We have been taught to apologize for our tears, to suppress our anger and to fear being called hysterical.

via Medicating Women’s Feelings –

In my classes, I tell my students that it we must be aware of whether we are putting people into untenable situations and then expecting them to cope “normally.” When their coping with a completely abnormal, unbearable situation isn’t “normal behavior” then it is pathologized (and may be medicated). The thing that really needs to change on many occasions is the environment surrounding the stressed person, not the fact that person personally is experiencing stress.

It makes me think of my own past article about the “Of Course” response:

You feel healthy and beautiful, but now your doctor tells you that you’ve “failed” the GTT and are now “high risk,” of course, you feel stressed out and…like a high risk “patient.” You tried really hard to labor without medications, but you were “strapped down” with IV’s and continuous monitoring, of course, you felt like a trapped animal and like you had no other choices but medications. Of course, you feel upset and discouraged that your baby is ‘rejecting’ you and your breast after having been supplemented with bottles in the nursery. Of course, you are crying all the time and wondering if you are really cut out to be a mother, when your husband had to return to work after two days off and you are expected to be back at your job in five more weeks. And, so on and so forth.

“The ‘Of Course’ response affirms that those who feel crazy, powerless, alone, confused, or frustrated within unhealthy systems such as patriarchy are experiencing just what one would expect of them.”

via The Of COURSE response… | Talk Birth.

An example of what I mean can be found in the same article about medicating women:

But at what cost? I had a patient who called me from her office in tears, saying she needed to increase her antidepressant dosage because she couldn’t be seen crying at work. After dissecting why she was upset — her boss had betrayed and humiliated her in front of her staff — we decided that what was needed was calm confrontation, not more medication.

via Medicating Women’s Feelings –

Maybe it is okay to be upset when things are upsetting. What a revolutionary concept! 😉

Talk Birth passed the 800,000 hit mark earlier in the week. I plan to have a special giveaway to celebrate this milestone soon, but I have to finish up my end of session paper and exam grading work first.

Despite all the grading, I did manage to get some of our new line of mindfulness bracelets up on etsy this week though and I just love them!



More Adventures in Placenta Craft

I’ve meant to share these pictures for a couple of months. After making my blog post about our adventures in placenta jewelry crafting, I eethe time has come to share about past placenta projects 😉

IMG_0095Yes, this would be loving hands at home placenta craft at the request of my four-year-old. After Tanner’s birth, she was fascinated by placentas and asked that I make a placenta for each of these little babies. The cords had to be taped on just so as well.

I also got out the placenta (and uterus and baby) that I used to use for my birth classes:

IMG_0097My mom made this placenta for me. Apparently, placenta-craft spans the generations.

Adventures in Placenta Craft

IMG_0482For the past several weeks, we’ve been trying to make a placenta jewel using some of the leftover encapsulated placenta from Tanner’s birth. Why, you may ask? Three possible explanations come to mind:

1. Why not?
2. Freaking awesomeness
3. Awesome freakishness

As my oldest son said when he saw it, “yeah, that’s totally normal.”

It took several attempts before we got a result we were happy with. First, we used our regular clear casting resin and it turned out extremely bubbly:

IMG_0497Mark also poured some into one of our pendant molds and made a little placenta scrap-goddess:

IMG_0483The dehydrated placenta “sunk” in the resin and concentrated at the bottom (front) of the mold. The bubbles of this initial attempt make it look “fizzy” and opaque rather than clear and jewelly. Mark hadn’t put the first attempt into the vacuum chamber he built (which reduces bubbles) and so the next attempt he did put in the chamber. Additionally, we added some russet pigment to it to see if that would look cool…

IMG_0494-0Not only did it not look cool, but it bubbled up in an extremely dramatic way that we’ve never seen resin do before and created a very weird mutated effect.

IMG_2431The back of the puffed-up jewels looked a little cool, but not cool enough.

IMG_0488We hypothesized that the weird bubbling must have been a reaction to having organic material in with the resin. We almost gave up, but I did a little research and decided to give jewelry resin a try instead of the casting resin we’d been using. It was expensive for only a small bottle of jewelry resin, but it gave us much better results!

IMG_0495There are still some fine bubbles, but it is much clearer and better looking. The scrap goddess turned out better too:

IMG_0499 Finally, we had a placenta jewel good enough to set!

IMG_0500Returning to the question of why do this, I come back to a quote I use at mother blessings:

The memory of [my child’s] birth has become a talisman that I hold in my heart as I journey deeper and deeper into motherhood. For these moments come again in every mother’s life—the times when we are asked to walk straight into our pain and fear, and in doing so, open up to a love that is greater than anything we ever could have imagined: all life’s beauty and wonder, as well as all the ways that things can break and go wrong…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. In that sense, the labor with which we give birth is simply a rehearsal for something we mothers must do over and over: turn ourselves inside out, and then let go…

via Blessingway Readings & Chants | Talk Birth.

Birth art and birth jewelry can be a tangible “talisman” of our birth journeys. We can draw upon past moments of strength for inspiration and encouragement and affirmation during current struggles. During the day, I am fond of carrying around the birth goddess sculpture that I held during my labor with Tanner and I usually set her by the bed at night. She reminds me of what I am capable of. A placenta jewel pendant offers the same affirmation and connection.

You know how it is said there is no medal for giving birth?

I disagree…


*We’re not really planning to market these for sale, but are willing to consider special requests for friends or friends of friends. Due to the multi-step casting process involving multiple days of work, a pendant like this would be $45. 🙂

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Tuesday Tidbits: New Babies

“Breastmilk is the bio-available, species-specific food which is perfectly crafted for human babies. It is delivered by the elegant and nurturing act of breastfeeding. Literally organic, it is made by the mother’s body, and delivered to her baby via her breasts. In contrast to artificial baby milk, human milk is a raw food that does not require processing and distribution. It does not use valuable resources nor does it pollute the environment.”—Máire Clements RN IBCLC (via

“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth.” —Pamela K. Wiggins

via Breastfeeding USA.

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New pregnant + nursing mama goddess for a friend.

New babies are on my mind as I prepare to attend the birth of my nephew and as I continue to tie up loose ends in preparation for my own new baby in a couple of months. I know I’m only 24 weeks pregnant, but I feel a powerful and almost obsessive drive to get organized/squared away in order to make the space for him that he’ll need from me and that I’ll need for myself. I’m in serious “planning mode” right now and I’m pretty sure I can be exhausting/frustrating for people around me when I do that, but I have to do it. I know what I’m like, I know what postpartum can be like for me, I know what having three kids is like, I know that the new school session starts on my due date (and I’m still planning to teach my online class like usual. Not in-seat. I’m not that crazy!), I know that I push and push and rev and rev and speed myself up to get it all done. So, Planning Mode On. I WILL be resting in November, no matter what, but for me that means making smart, mindful choices now. I’ve retired from a couple of writing commitments, finished several projects and followed through on some obligations that have been on my mind. Mark and I are working hard on preparing and building our business to carry us through the reduced income we’ll have when I’m not teaching.

So, anyway, I read this article and it touched my heart with its sweet, bittersweetness! I look forward to being a temporarily perfect mother one more time…

I was looking at you today and thinking about how right now, today, the day you turn 3 weeks old, I’m a damn near perfect mother to you. I think this is why I love, crave, the newborn stage. Maybe it’s just biology, evolution. But for me, I think it’s more, because for me, it’s the only time I truly feel like a 100% capable mama. Like I’ve got this shit IN THE BAG. I’m a knock-it-out-of-the-damn-park newborn mama.

My job is defined. My role, clear. I nurse, clothe, bathe and hold you. I give you the breast to comfort you, whenever you want. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to wonder. I don’t believe it can be done “too much.” In fact I think that’s the biggest crock ever. I wrap you up and carry you against my chest. For hours. Sometimes I lay you on your back so you can kick and look around and I can watch you and coo at you and smell your head. This is what we do, round and round, I know it and love it and own it completely because you’re my 4th!. I’m tired, oh, so tired, but I know how to mother you now.

I know just what you need. I know what to try.

And this, I know, will fade…

via A letter to my newborn, while I’m still a damn near perfect mom – renegade mothering.

Reading this also reminded of why parenting the first baby can be so particularly hard—because with that one, you don’t necessarily know what they need or what to try. The learning curve is steep and you’re a one day old mother with a one day old baby. For me, I put a lot of pressure on myself with the first to love and cherish the newborn experience all the time because I knew how important and precious and brief the newborn time is. But, I severely underestimated the “trauma” involved with becoming a parent for the first time:

…Several weeks ago my husband was bouncing our screaming daughter in his arms as we half smiled to each other about how it is almost endearing that infants get so worked up for seemingly no reason. Over her screams we reminisced about what was hard with each of our children when they were this age–our firstborn not latching; our second with an undiagnosed dairy allergy.

This playful, patient banter was so different than the days and weeks after our first son was born. I remember sobbing tears of inadequacy as my husband looked at me through bleary eyes and said, “Why didn’t anyone warn us about THIS PART?”

The part where you think you are supposed to have all of the answers. The part where you take home a helpless human with no instruction booklet. The part where you have to go back to work after six weeks and restaurant owners ask you to feed your baby in a bathroom. The part where you forget how connected you and your husband once were as you fight over bath temperatures and take turns waking each other up with irrational nightmares that your baby is buried amongst the pillows in your bed…

via The Trauma of First-Time Parenthood | Raising Kvell.

The post above is a response to one on the New York Times:

Given the ideology of parenting, it’s not surprising that we typically blame biology for the experience of postpartum depression. But the circumstances parents face are often demonstrably miserable. The fact that postpartum depression rates are much higher among the poor than among the wealthy, who can purchase peace of mind through hired child care, supports the idea that the phenomenon is, in most cases, more circumstantial than biological.

As a recent parent myself, I urge you to consider this the next time someone you know greets the transition to parenthood with hopelessness or even despair. Pursue kindness over ideology. For a person whose suffering has been met with judgment, a sympathetic ear can make all the difference…

via The Trauma of Parenthood –

I also thought about the information feeding frenzy of pregnancy and early parenthood when I read this article from Lamaze:

There comes a point when a trickle of helpful information becomes a flood. The process of teasing the facts from the fiction can you leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated. So what’s an information-hungry pregnant person to do?

Find a tour guide. Would you travel to the Amazon without a guide? And yes, I AM comparing pregnancy information with the rain forest — it’s dense, sometimes scary, and incredibly difficult at times to see the forest for the trees. A “tour guide” in pregnancy comes in the form of a childbirth educator, doula, and respectful care provider. These trained professionals can help you make sense of the information and opinions you uncover, and while their job is not to make decisions for you, they can provide evidence based information to help you determine the best path for your pregnancy and birth…

via Lamaze for Parents : Blogs : Birth in the Media – How Much is Too Much When You’re Pregnant?

Which then reminded me of my favorite article on the subject from Pam England:

However, a pregnant woman, with only months or weeks before giving birth, does not have time to gather, learn, and assimilate all the information out there. Many women are conditioned to believe that if they have lots of information, then they will “pass the test” or be able to control their birth outcome. Gathering birth information sometimes becomes a kind of addiction; parents can feel the adrenalin and endorphin surges as they learn, learn, learn by surfing the net and reading. There is often an extra surge when their eyes are glued to the medicalized birth shows on TV.

via Birthing From Within – Information Frenzy.

I was contacted today by a jewelry artist in Australia wanting to pair some of our goddess pendants with her own work making breastmilk and placenta jewelry. I’m so incredibly excited about this idea and can’t wait to have a co-created piece once my new baby is born!

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This is one of ours with a red jasper stone, but OOH, I can just SEE the placental possibilities now… 🙂

I had my placenta encapsulated with my last baby and I’ll be having the placenta encapsulated with my new baby as well. I wrote about my past experience here: Placenta Encapsulation—Three Days Postpartum Comparison…

You can read a recent e-newsletter from Midwifery Today about placentophagy here: E-News 16:13 – Placentophagy.

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