Sometimes I really want to say...

You know how there are times when you’re talking to someone and you just know it’s not socially acceptable to say what you’re really thinking? UMMM, me neither. 

But really, there are several statements I hear repeatedly from people who are getting ready to have babies.

And as a birth worker it can be hard to know exactly how to respond in a way that is supportive and loving, but communicates the importance of breaking through these misconceptions.

On the one hand, I know people are expressing what they feel in the moment-their perspective at that point in time. In fact, they say a lot of things I said when I was expecting my first son. And maybe it will be fine...or at least as good as they expected it to be. Sometimes that's enough for people.

On the other hand, I want to offer an opportunity to get through the paradigms that statistically put them at risk. I want to share the stories of friends and clients who had birth experiences they wish they had invested more time and effort into.

And, so I humbly offer what I am saying in my head when I hear the following:

“Our schedules are so crazy that we don’t have time for a birth class."

Make the time. That's all there is to it. Make the time as if it were required. And don't sign up for a one day class. You can't learn, absorb, and process all there is to know about your coming birth in one day.

There are resources that fit you and your schedule. Get an e-course that you can watch 20 minutes at a time, take a private birth class with an instructor that will work with your schedule, and if all else fails, give yourself permission to say “no” to anything that conflicts with making it to a class.

This is important-your active participation in preparing and experiencing this is important. Consider how much time and effort families put into a wedding. The transition into parenthood (even if it's a repeat) deserves the time. You deserve the time. Claim it. Take it.

“Morons have babies everyday and it’s fine.”

Are you friends with these morons? Or have you at least had an in-depth conversation with one about their birth experiences? How did the birth go? Is that what you want? Don’t assume these “morons” are having great or even ok births.

Keep in mind one in three babies is born by c-section in large part due to poorly (usually overly) managed labors and miseducation. Models of care that focus on a "wait and watch" approach have c-section rates well under 10%. We know it's harder to take care of a new baby and recover from major surgery at the same time. We are only beginning to understand the life-long implications of cesarean birth for both the birthing person and the baby.

 Additionally, according to research 25-34% of families identify their birth experience as “traumatic.” If you think staring life with a new baby is going to be a challenge, consider how it would be with a caregiver who has PTSD. Healthy families need healthy parents from the start.

Finally, remember that our birth-related mortality rate is the highest of all the developed nations even though we spend more on our births than other developed countries. 

Things aren’t fine in the birth world. And parents have a lot of power to change that through becoming educated including being thoughtful about choosing your provider. (That includes asking some hard questions. There are some gems here, but don’t limit yourself to this list.)

Don’t do what the morons do unless you are aspiring to be one.

“The doctors, midwives, and nurses will tell us what to do.”

(For this one, I need to take some deep breaths.) I have worked with many awesome doctors, nurses, and midwives. And I also have a “do not work with” list. The doctors who are on my list aren’t bad people, but I've seen them do things that make it extremely hard for my clients to feel safe and supported. 

Doctors, midwives, and nurses are people. People with individual experiences and perspectives. They have their strengths and they have their weaknesses, blind spots, and struggles. Just like you and me.

In the end, it’s your birth. Own it. Don’t give your power away to someone you have only known for a collective few hours (or haven’t even met yet.) What one doctor, nurse, or midwife tells you may be different from the next one. Birth is that nuanced.

Use the experience and expertise of your carefully chosen care providers, but take the time to create a vision for your birth. Even if you want an epidural as soon as you can get it, still give attention to how you want your birth to go.

"It’s going to be terrible no matter what.”

I could go into how our thoughts manifest into our realities. I believe and experience that every day. And many have done a darn good job explaining it so I won't. 

I'll just say be aware of what kind of information you're consuming about birth. Are you seeking out positive birth stories and videos? Or are you overly preparing yourself for what could go wrong and listening to the terrible birth stories from every stranger you pass? (Side note: Why do we tell terrible stories to expecting families?!)

Birth is a distinct experience. What you see on TV and in movies is not birth-or rather, it’s part of birth (maybe) but certainly not the whole. You could go your entire pregnancy (and life) seeing a lot of scary and chaotic images of "what birth is like." But it's not the truth.

I can’t really put into words what birth is like because it’s such a distinct experience. For one thing, it is experienced with a completely different side of the brain than we usually use.  So if I say, for example, there will be a point where everyone in the room has seen your vagina and you really don’t mind, your brain might not be able to compute that until you've lived it.

Birth is an opportunity to learn about yourself-to come face to face with your world view and see how it’s working (or not working) for you. Your feelings about sex, your body, your place in the world are at play here. (Can you see why it's so important to take a holistic birth class?) Sometimes these realizations come hard, but they are worth it.

And going into birth with the expectation that it’s going to be terrible is like going into your wedding expecting the caterer to skip town on the day of. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t happen, but if it’s something you’re expecting you’ll add a lot of stress to your life waiting for it to happen. 

"It’s our first time so we’re just going to see what happens…"

Your first birth experience isn’t an excuse to skip the preparation. Yes, there will be things about your birth you'll wish you could have done differently. But don’t set yourself up for the entire experience to be like this.

Lean into your birth. Lean into figuring out what you want and how to get it. Then let go of what happens. The work is worth it no matter what happens.

If you’re afraid of over preparing, over analyzing, over stressing (and yes, that happens) get some help-someone who has done it a lot (like a doula) who knows how to put it into perspective for you.

So maybe this post was only half as snarky as I expected.

In fact, maybe with a little work I could turn these responses into loving and supportive encouragement. 

What do you think? What types of comments have you heard that made you want to open the conversation?

The Emotional Lives of Babies

Tamara Blum, MSW, LCSW is a clinical social worker with a private psychotherapy practice in St. Louis, Missouri. I asked her to share some experiences and things she wished all parents understood. She honored us by putting her thoughts in a blog post.

I think a lot about the emotional lives of babies. There is a persisting notion that the events of early infancy and childhood don’t really matter since babies won’t remember.

More and more in my practice and in my life, I see how these early experiences lay the groundwork for adult love relationships, reverberating like echoes long after we leave infancy. These first experiences with caregivers are especially significant, giving the baby an understanding of how the world works and what to expect from loved ones.   

I think about my first babies, twin girls. When Twin A needed lifesaving care for a neonatal infection, she rode by ambulance to the nearest Children’s Hospital on the first day of her life. We were correctly focused on her physical illness and failed to see the emotional, social, and interpersonal traumas both girls endured.

The girls never saw or touched each other outside of the womb. The ambulance ride was done alone. From the moment she became sick, Twin A was never again held or cuddled until her life support was disconnected and she died in my arms.

Twin B has grown into a delightful and intelligent young woman, a talented musician. Yet, each time she returns to university, she cries with a deeply rooted feeling of loss, mirroring the loss of her very first transition.

I understand now, as I didn’t then, that this loss and transition was neurologically hardwired in her developing brain. This early experience continues to inform her understanding of her place in the world decades later.

One day your little bean sprout will likely have a family of their own. This family will thrive or fail based on feelings of closeness and affection with their partner.

I think about a client, left alone in an incubator for her first year of life in an overseas orphanage. 

Her adoptive parents read in her records not to expect her to cry; she would stay in a soiled diaper until she was bloody and still not cry for help. She had learned not to expect a response.  

She also grew to be an exceptional woman: quirky, funny, and high achieving. She is a performer and a pleaser and when she first presented for treatment had little ability to identify her feelings, advocate for herself in relationships, and had daily thoughts of killing herself.

Not having her needs met and enduring physical isolation as a baby led to an ingrained, neurologically hardwired understanding of relationships and basic human connection.  

I also think about a training video I watched in which a mother interacts with her newborn son. The mother suffered from depression and had just completed a course designed to help her connect with her newborn.  

In the video, we see the infant kicking and grunting with discomfort and  the mother applies the skills she learned – she coos, holds him closely, and maintains eye contact. Despite her attempts, her newborn continues to struggle.

Suddenly he freezes and presents his mother with a false smile that is more grimace than pleasure. It has the desired effect. The mother relaxes, brings him to her shoulder and starts to rub away his discomfort.  

This is jaw dropping stuff for a therapist. At just a few weeks old, the infant has learned that in order to get his needs met (be comforted), he must first care-take his mother (false smile).  

This is a genius strategy for such a little guy to have already figured out. And I imagine the implications for him of learning to ignore his needs and be other focused, possibly facing depression and failed relationships and not understanding that the seeds for that pain were sown in the first weeks of his life.

So, what do I wish parents knew about the important work of raising babies? Secure attachment.  

Secure attachment refers to an infant’s need to experience the mother (or father) as a secure base and safe haven. The term was coined by John Bowlby, whose pioneering work in the 1950s-60s advocated for the emotional lives of babies.

Children’s needs go beyond the physical, including needs for emotional attunement, empathy, warmth, and predictable loving responses from mothers (and appropriately fathers too). Based on this early research, we’ve made significant changes to how we parent and even how we view our children.  

Parents stay involved and close to their hospitalized children; we discourage corporal punishment of children; we encourage children to speak for the needs of their bodies with things like on-demand feedings for infants; and we coach parents that comforting your baby is not spoiling her.

One day your little bean sprout will likely have a family of their own. This family will thrive or fail based on feelings of closeness and affection with their partner. As parents, we can lay a foundation for healthy relational strategies in our children by giving them what we’d like from our own relationships: emotional availability and responsiveness, gentleness and generosity.

We can model how to disagree respectfully, how to initiate repair and reconnection after an argument. The hope is to raise children who have more emotional flexibility than reactivity, who will grow into adults capable of securely attached love relationships.  

Central questions that determine successful love relationships for adults and children alike include:

  • Will you be there for me when I need you?  

  • Is this relationship a source of comfort?  

  • Am I safe with you?  

These are the questions that ought to be guiding our thinking as parents. -TB

To learn more about how to develop a secure attachment with your baby, contact Tamara Blum, attend one of our lullaby groups, or contact us for private music therapy services focusing on attachment and bonding.

Do "natural" methods work for pregnancy and labor?

You know the look. The one where someone is thinking “That doesn’t really work.” Perhaps there is a comment about placebo effect or a barely hidden eye roll when we start talking about “natural” anything for pregnancy and birth.

(Just to be clear-I’m using a fairly wide definition of “natural.” I basically mean anything that isn’t made by a pharmaceutical company and doesn’t include the words stripping, rupturing, or “foley.”)

Let me just tell you-as long as the products being used are pure and high quality (others have covered these concerns so I’ll leave them out of my post) "natural" interventions are rock solid tools for labor and birth. 

But like anything, there are some things that can limit their success.

Is the person labor sensitive?

Just because you’re past the 37 week mark, doesn’t mean your body is ready to start labor. You could be days away or you could still be weeks away. There is no way to tell.

Even if you’re dilating, you could still be days or weeks away. Dilation is unpredictable (and some say random.) We know you go from closed to complete before the baby is born, but when and how quickly is anyone’s guess.

What I’m getting at is that being 37+ weeks doesn’t give you the green light to use any means necessary to induce labor, natural or not. Because if your body isn’t ready, you could be setting yourself up for a few disappointing and emotional weeks or a really hard labor of forcing your body to do something it’s not ready to do.

This applies to all induction means-even pitocin. Research shows elective induction leads to a higher risk of cesarean compared to waiting for the body to start labor on it's own. Supporting your body as it makes its way towards sensitivity is the best place for your efforts. This can be done through chiropractic care, massage, nutrition, and movement/positioning.

What are the birthing person's emotions?

Never underestimate the power of emotion. People who feel safe and calm have smoother labors than those who are anxious and fearful. Think about the way your back, neck, and hips feel when you’re overworked, tired, and stressed. You may not feel it, but you’re probably tensing a lot of other muscles too.

You’re giving your body the signals that something isn’t safe and your body knows better than to happily carry on with a birth if it isn’t safe.

I recently had a client who agreed to an induction. Her nurse was an eye-roller when she saw us using acupressure. The acupressure worked to establish contractions, but this mom had a lot of fear. She’d get rolling and enter into the fear cycle which would stop it. She was on a mental roller coaster of “What if…” “Did I make the right choice?” “Will…happen?”

So the acupressure didn’t work as well as it could have if she had felt calm, confident, and supported by her team. And guess what-neither did the pitocin or any of the other interventions they threw at her during her long labor. Never underestimate the power of emotion.

Most people don’t really know what they’re doing when it comes to natural measures.

I believe this is a huge problem. They hear "natural" and interpret it as safe and easy-no experience necessary. Maybe a friend had a good experience with an herbal tea or pressing on the toe. They might read a little on the internet or hear a passing comment from an educator. Then they try (insert natural thing here), it works improperly or doesn’t work at all, and they walk away thinking “That is a load of bull." 

Case in point: I am and was a practicing, board-certified music therapist when I had my first son. I TRIED to use music therapy principles to create my playlists. But, like many people, I got about half way through without pain meds and suddenly my music started driving me nuts. I seriously couldn’t stand to listen to it. I believe I said “Turn that sh*t off,” and asked for the epidural.

Had I not known better, I could have walked away thinking music doesn’t work. Happily I didn’t. Because that’s my job and I knew there had to be something I missed.

When I pursued specialized training in music for birth, pieces started coming together. Things that make sense, but aren’t COMMON SENSE.

For example, I didn’t know the brain functioning changes during birth-we didn’t cover that in my birth classes or birth books. And I sure as heck didn’t know how to use music to support that brain change. I just knew that suddenly my music wasn’t working and I needed it off. Once I learned those two pieces of information, I was like “Of course that didn’t work! Operator error.”

So if a music therapist doesn’t know how to use music for birth until she gets specialized training, how can we expect the average person to know? Even a doula with years of experience, but no training in music therapy wouldn't truly know.

“if a music therapist doesn’t know how to use music for birth until she gets specialized training, how can we expect the average person to know? “

The same goes for acupressure. We learned exactly one point in my doula training. We learned it incorrectly and we didn’t learn the contraindications for it.

Since becoming an acupressure comfort measure instructor, I’m blown away by the power of these techniques. Sadly, many couples learn the points from people who haven't seen the effectiveness and don’t know appropriate use (including when NOT to use certain points.)

My point is that “natural” methods are powerful, but because many don’t understand their power or how to appropriately use them, they get written off as placebo effect, tossed in the proverbial “bull” bin, or just not given the proper investment they deserve (i.e. getting information from practitioners experienced in that method.)

So if you’re interested in using “natural" methods for pregnancy or birth, invest in getting the correct information from the correct sources.

  • For acupressure go to an acupuncturist or a trained acupressure instructor (like me!)
  • For music go to a music therapist trained in birth (like me and my team!
  • For hypnosis go to a birth specialist with training in hypnosis for birth (not me)
  • For partner meditation go to someone who knows about that (not me)

Find someone who has experience to help you sort out what you need, when, and how to use it. To specifically learn about using music and acupressure effectively for your birth, register for our coming workshops here.

  

Dreaming of the New Year

I had the most wonderful dream last month. I was showering and someone was looking in (trust me, this isn't going to get kinky.) This person was telling me how amazing my body was (again not in a kinky way.)

When I looked down at my body, dreamland hadn’t suddenly given me long legs and lean muscles. In fact, there may have been a few more dimples.

And still this person was going on and on about how amazing it was. I pointed out that the skin on my stomach still was a little loose-not like it used to be. He said “Yes. It’s been LIVED IN twice!” 

And it struck me. He wasn’t trying to minimize or say “It doesn’t look that bad.” He was in love with it because of it's story. My body grew two human beings. It helps me lift and hug and care for those beings every day. Why am I trying to tell it that something is wrong?

In that dream, that man looked like someone else, but I believe it was really a part of me asking myself to recognize the amazingness of my body. And to see that variation in shape between the stages of life is normal-healthy even!

Part of me needed me to become aware of the amazing things I do with my body day in and day out. Everything I’ve learned and every time I let myself become vulnerable, I have become more real, authentic, and empowered. That makes me more beautiful-not less. Dimples, sagginess, scars tell a story about a life lived, a risks taken, lessons learned.

My dream asked me to see that nothing needs minimized or fixed on my body. Instead, my body deserves to be cared for and nourished. 

The truth is blanket weight loss through starvation or other drastic and unhealthful means hurts our bodies and puts us at risk just like extreme weight gain through drastic and unhealthful means.

So how does this change my New Year? At a time when so many of us are focused on changing our bodies to look their best-hard, sculpted, lighter.

But what would it take we to change our minds to feed our bodies so that they work their best. What would it take to see the lies we are told about weight, beauty, and youth. The lies we are told about our value as people. 

The truth is blanket weight loss through starvation or other drastic and unhealthful means hurts our bodies and puts us at risk just like extreme weight gain through drastic and unhealthful means.

The truth is what we truly deserve is an appreciation for the amazing things our body does-especially, but not only, during childbearing. Our bodies deserve whole food, nutrients, fresh water, rest, and movement. 

The truth is we are worth the planning and time it takes to learn about our bodies. We can stop creating reasons why we can’t or don’t need to eat healthfully and take ownership of the fact that what happens to our body is related to what we put (or don't put) into our body.

Since having this dream, I’ve learned that dreams of showers and baths are about something that is ready or needs to be washed away. Clearly, what I've been thinking about my body is ready to be washed away.

I’m using all of the tools I can to wash away anything that keeps me from embracing my body and it’s stories. Even my Instagram feed shows me wonderful photos and empowering messages from #takebackpostpartum, #mamadisrupt, #themilkstories, #stopcensoringmotherhood, and so many more. 

I’d love to hear about your plans for the New Year, why you chose that, and the creative tools you’re using to make it happen.

Don't touch those nipples!

So you’re finally 37 weeks and your care provider says you’re in the clear to have your baby. So let’s get it moving, right? Spicy food, nipple stimulation, sex, walking, herbs, essential oils, moving furniture, acupressure...jumping jacks…right?

Well, not quite. The best guess is that your baby will probably come somewhere between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean that after 37 weeks your baby is just enjoying a free ride and putting on extra weight for you to push out later. Your baby is still doing important work in there.

I get it-you’re totally over it. Moving around is a hassle. People are constantly texting to see if you’ve had your baby yet and strangers are asking if you’re sure there’s only one in there. You’re ready to see what your baby looks like in color and to hold your baby in your arms. 

Here’s the thing-first and foremost, your body needs to be labor sensitive to start the birth process. No amount of herbs, walking, nipple stimulation, or even medical interventions can do that for your body. It has to happen on its own. When you are trying to force your body to go into labor on your time frame, you can put yourself into “prodromal labor.” 

“No one can predict exactly when you will become labor sensitive.”

Prodromal labor looks like contractions for hours without any progress. They may stop for a while and start again later, but never move forward into active labor. This can go on for days and even weeks. It’s really emotionally and physically exhausting. How do you plan for meals or childcare when you don’t even know what the next hour is going to bring? Can you meet for coffee with a friend next week? You don’t know (and maybe you secretly hope you can’t.) 

If you go to the hospital with prodromal labor, you may be sent home or they may want to start you on pitocin. Again, if your body isn’t labor sensitive, even the pitocin may not be very effective and lead to another medical intervention and another and another... 

But what we know is that individual babies take different amounts of time getting ready for birth. Some are ready to go before 37 weeks with no delays or complications. And some are ready long after.

We accept this after your baby is born. You wouldn’t be upset if your friend’s baby said his first word five weeks before your little one. It’s just the natural difference in development. You understand that most kids fall somewhere to the left or the right of the dot labeled “average” and that’s okay. But remember, the same goes for when your labor will start.

No one can predict exactly when you will become labor sensitive. And there’s no telling when your baby will initiate the birth process. (Yes, your BABY initiates the birth process.) When it does, herbs, essential oils, acupressure, nipple stimulation, positioning, and sex can be extremely effective. Before then, at best, they may not do much at all. At worst, they could land you in the no-woman’s land of prodromal labor. 

But here are some things you CAN do while waiting:

Walks 

Going for walks each day can help keep you in shape, give you something to do, and uses gravity to help baby move down so its head can engage with the cervix-which is important for dilation and effacement.

Spinning Babies

Spinning Babies is a collection of techniques can help you establish balance in your body to stay comfortable and encourage tight muscles and tendons to relax enough to make way for baby. They also encourage baby to be in the best position for labor (beyond head up or head down.) Some of the techniques can even be used during labor. Look for the exercises that can be done daily or weekly and do one or two on most days-no need to stress at the list of daily exercises.

The Miles Circuit

The Miles Circuit is an additional set of positions a mama can do as she gets closer to her due date. It takes 90 minutes, so it’s probably not a daily activity, but it’s a great technique to have practiced a few times late in pregnancy. If you suspect you’re in early labor or if you’re having prodromal labor, this may help baby change positions enough to nudge you into active labor or stop the prodromal labor (which could be your body’s way of trying to get your baby into a better position.)

Connect with your loved ones

We hear a lot about sex in the final weeks of pregnancy, but its about much more than the action. It’s about the connection. The release of oxytocin makes us feel happy and safe. We release oxytocin after sex, but only if it's sex where you feel connected to your partner. We also release oxytocin after any moment when we feel connected to a loved one. Hugs from your partner or snuggling with older kids might be enough.

Yoga

Again, yoga can help with positioning, but what I really love about yoga is the bliss. When I’m in yoga classes, I feel strong and relaxed. When I was in week three of prodromal labor (yes, I have first hand experience), yoga was the first thing I had enjoyed in weeks. Stepping out of the stress of life and letting go is a wonderful gift to yourself anytime. If you’re not into yoga, find something that is deeply relaxing. You could also check out Float.

Come to a Belly Balancing Workshop

You and your partner will learn techniques that can be used before and during labor to relax tightness in your body and help baby shift. These shifts can help baby's head more fully engage with the cervix so when it's time for labor, your baby and your body are working together. We'll also show you some techniques for having a more comfortable labor. These sessions are available privately (just call or send an email) or see when our next group session is happening.

Those are my favorite activities for the last weeks of pregnancy, but you could do just about anything you enjoy. Favorite meals, time with friends, massage, listening to music, a great book. Can your nipples be touched? Sure. Just as long as it’s for fun.

What did you do during your last days and weeks of pregnancy?

You know you're a breastfeeding mom when...

Just as in everything, there comes a special rhythm with breastfeeding. I tapped into one of my awesome mommy networks to hear what are the oddest/funniest things they caught themselves or their families doing because of breastfeeding in their family. Thanks to the mamas who gave me permission to share their stories.

 

You know you're a breastfeeding mom when...

  • You don't even think twice about taking your breasts out in front of you friends. And maybe some of those friends wait a year or so to see you again.-Maura
  • .Your teenagers tell you, with an ornery smirk, that you can't enter a place that says "No outside food or drink allowed," because YOU are food!-Elizabeth
  • You answer the door and you have two boob leaks on the front of your shirt.-Victoria
  • You are at home and topless for the first 3 months of your kid's life. You might even become so accustomed to being topless that you could forget you're half naked when you answer the door.... luckily I caught myself just in time.-Mackenzie
  • When my toddler starts crying "My mama milk!" in public while I nurse his little sister. Or when you offer "cold milk" and they loudly proclaim "NO! Mama milk!"-Shannon
  • When you are giving your toddler a bath and they suddenly decide that's a good time for a snack and pull your shirt down (soaking it) while you now must hunch over the bathtub while continuing to wash them lol!-Katrina
  • When you no longer choose clothing for its style, but for its accessibility.-Amanda
  • When random people seeing your nipple doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore.-Victoria
  • No one in the house bats an eye when the baby/toddler likes to sit with his hand shoved inside your bra shirt.-Elizabeth
  • When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night and you feel relieved.-Victoria

What's your funniest or most surreal breastfeeding experience?

Your Food Heals-interview with a (soon to be) certified nutritionist

Being a birth worker has really taught me how awesome and amazing the body is. As I dive more into the awesomeness of the human body, I've been learning more about supporting our bodies. This led me to meet Amy from the Academy of Culinary Healing. She blew me away with information about food and the gut-a topic I thought I knew a lot about. She agreed to let me interview her so we can share more with you!

*Amy is wrapping up the requirements to complete her training and certification

"Food is an impressively powerful and a sacred source of healing."-Amy Hubbard, Academy of Culinary Healing

"Food is an impressively powerful and a sacred source of healing."-Amy Hubbard, Academy of Culinary Healing

1.     Tell me a little bit about your training and specialty? How are you different than a dietician?

Hi Maura, thank you for inviting me to interview with you on this interesting and significant topic. I am wrapping up the last few months of my masters of science in human ­nutrition program at the University of Bridgeport... I chose to become a certified nutritionist rather than a registered dietician because the scholastic programs of each profession have different focuses. Nutrition is the main focus of each program but the nutritionist program, at least at the University of Bridgeport, has a heavy basis in biochemistry and the bio-availability of foods based on an individual’s specific needs and genetics, while the registered dietician’s education as I understand it, prepares dieticians to work with the nutritional needs of individuals and large populations and prepares them to work not solely but more specifically in institutions such as hospitals, schools and even food manufacturing companies.

When seeking out the care of any practitioner, it is important to look at the practitioner’s philosophy of care, what their education was and perhaps what their specialty is, in order to make sure it matches what you hoping to find help with.

2.     What are some common misunderstandings people have about food and nutrition?

I can at least speak from my personal experience on this one. I lived 27 years of my life without knowing that the food I ate affected the way I felt everyday. Everyday of my life I was tired, fatigued and plagued with chronic illness and irritable bowel pain. I went to all of the specialists and did all of their tests and took all of their medicines and to no avail.

Only after changing my diet, did my life change for the better once and for all. Before changing my diet and before helping others change their own, it is almost impossible to imagine that food can have the affect on us that it does. Even my father would say, “It’s just food, the same food we’ve been eating for hundreds of years.” The unfortunate misunderstanding is how how our foods have changed drastically in just the last 50 years.

In just his lifetime and mine, we have seen the introduction of genetically modified foods, processed and fast foods, the widespread use of plastics, growth hormones, new pesticides and herbicides, factory farming, the x-raying of meats to kill germs, the ubiquitous use of antibiotics in animal feed and the subsequent antibiotic resistance era we have recently entered into.

It is possible to live and eat well in a world full of these new threats to our health, it just takes relying a bit less on the convenience we have grown to expect. It takes desire, time and a commitment to one’s health and sometimes this commitment comes only after someone has been sick for 27 years, like myself. No matter when it happens, your body will show you thanks.

3.     I know gut health is one of your passions. Talk a little about gut health and how it affects our overall health. 

Gut health has been a hot topic as of late and this is because it is becoming more well-known that the gut and digestion are at the heart of our health. As many as 80% of the autoimmune conditions we face today begin in the gut.

The term “gut” refers to the long tube that begins at our mouth and ends… well you know where. This tube is responsible for the digestion of our food and the absorption of the nutrients from our food. This sounds easy enough but the transition our food makes from being lunch to being a new protein in our body is a very complex and still not completely understood process.

What we do know is that in order for a person to be healthy, they must have healthy digestion. They must have adequate stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes, strong small intestine muscles and plush absorptive surfaces and a large intestine that properly absorbs water and eliminates waste.

The stress of work, the hydrocarbons produced by cars, chronic antibiotic use, the pesticides on the foods we consume and the nutrient-poor foods found in processed meals all take their toll on the gut and we can safety say that once digestion has weakened, the body weakens and becomes more susceptible to illness.

4.     What are some of the best changes women and men can make when they are preparing for pregnancy and during pregnancy?

Working with soon-to-be mothers and fathers is a passion of mine because we all wish for mother to have a wonderful pregnancy, an easy childbirth and a healthy child. We want this for those individuals and because children are our future and their health is of great importance to us all.

When a hopeful mother and father are preparing to embark on parenthood there are several ways in which they can prepare to have the healthiest pregnancy, birth and baby possible.

  • They may choose to embark on a cleanse at least 6 months before conceiving. This cleanse will rid their bodies of accumulated toxins that can impair fertility and the implantation of a fetus.
  • The couple may choose to eat less sugar, which alters sex hormones and impairs hormonal signaling between mother and child.
  • Mother and father may wish to switch to a non-hormonal form of birth control several months before conceiving in order to ensure adequate nutrients for the fetus, as some hormonal birth control can block folate and vitamin B6, both necessary for a healthy child.
  • Dad’s can prepare in the same way mom’s do, by taking a vitamin that is right for them before conceiving in order to prepare for the conception of a healthy child. Father’s actually play a role in the formation and health of the placenta which nourishes the fetus with nutrients and oxygen for 9 months.
  • All forms of stress can impair fertility and health. Mental stress can come from work or family and physical stress can come from excess weight and lifestyle. Focusing on stress relief practices such as yoga and meditation or even walking daily outside in the sun will lower stress and improve vitamin D, which will boost yours and your child’s immune system. During gestation your child’s genes will be listening and recording the signals your body is giving it. Relieving stress before and during pregnancy will make it so the genes you pass to your child are the healthiest they can be and this will determine their health for the rest of their life.
  • All pre-natal vitamins are not right for everyone. I recommend asking your practitioner to help you find out your genetic makeup before taking just any prenatal vitamin. There is a specific genetic variant on the MTHFR gene that a significant portion of the population have that does not allow those who have the variant to absorb folic acid in a prenatal vitamin and use it to make a child. Testing for the MTHFR variant is a simple blood test that can be specifically requested at your next doctors visit.

5.     What made you want to help people use food to heal their bodies?

I think many of us find the answer to the question, “What should I do with my life?” when we look at what struggles we have overcome in our own.

I knew nothing about food or nutrition until I reached the point many of us must reach before we make a change. I was sick and I was so tired of feeling sick that I would do just about anything to get better. I tried prescriptions, supplements, bodywork, and even moving and a change of career, and my health kept declining.

It was suggested that I change my diet for 3 months and when I did this I used the 3 months to educate myself on why the change in my diet fully improved my well being. Since that time, my life has changed and I want to use my experience and my health to help others. It is my belief that we can change to tides of the health epidemics we are facing in today’s world and the most influential place to begin is with the children that will someday lead us into the future.

6.     What changes have you seen in people from just changing their diet?

...I have seen such drastic improvement in not just symptoms but clinical outcomes as well, in clients I have worked with who have made changes in their diet. It is astonishing to me how sensitive and adaptive the human body is. Our bodies want to heal and will heal if given the raw material they need to do so.

The immune system is a great example of this ability. Many of those I work with suffer from some form or another of autoimmunity. In many of these cases digestion is impaired and the gut lining has been compromised and begins letting too many food proteins into the body. When this happens the immune system gets confused and become hyper-vigilant, preparing armies against and destroying friendly human cells in the body. This can result in allergies, eczema, diarrhea, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, food sensitivities and allergies, diabetes and more.

In these client’s when they change their diet and improve their digestion not only does any skin irritation resolve and bloating and gas disappear, thyroid and sex hormones normalize and autoimmunity markers disappear on blood tests. The differences can be observed, felt and measured.

Even the medical doctors I work with admit that all of the prescriptions and supplements they give cannot heal the body if the client is not willing to change their diet. Food is an impressively powerful and a sacred source of healing.

Thanks for sharing Amy!

What about you? Have you ever changed your health by changing your food?

Music to Kick Your Workouts Butt

"Music nerd" is a strong word that could mean a lot of things. I'm just saying.

Am I a nerd if I hear music when no one else does? (It's playing, really!) Am I a nerd if I can analyze the chord structure of most songs I hear? Am I a nerd if listening to music makes me wish I could drop everything, get out my guitar, and play along? (Part of the reason why I have to limit how much music I listen to at home. Kids gotta eat.) I'll leave that up to you to decide.

And my music therapy training only adds another level of "nerdiness." I may be talking to you in a coffee shop, but part of my brain is analyzing the background music (that you might not even be hearing.) Is this music intentional or random? (ie. a playlist or a “radio” station) Is the music working in this setting? Why was this music have been selected? Is it trying to get me to do something? It it working for that purpose? 

But these powers can be used for good as well.  For example, St. Louis gym Forward Fitness loved my post about creating sleep playlists. And so, I created some playlists to help their clients have more effective workouts (creating playlists might be one of my favorite things ever.)

You can access the playlists I created on Spotify.  But if you want to create your own, here are the steps and guidelines I used. 

  1. Choose the length of your work out. The length of the work out will determine the length of your playlist. Include warm up and cool down with time and music for stretching. (So you’ll actually warm up and cool down properly.)
  2. Figure out the phases of your workout. Ideally, you won't go from sitting to running full speed in a minute or two. You need to work up to that full speed. Beyond that, you may do an alternating pattern of pushing yourself and lower-key movement, ending with a hard finish. All of that sandwiched between a warm up and a cool down. I'm no fitness professional, so find one to help you map out your best routine.
  3. Pick a style. Consistency is the key to any great playlist. Sometimes you want 80’s pop and sometimes you want Justin Timberlake. Having several workout playlists allows you to pick the one that suits your mood at the time. You can be committed to your work out without having to be totally committed to one single playlist. Gather your favorite songs from this style for your playlist. (Hint: many internet music players have related artist search options and Spotify recently started suggesting songs for playlists.)
  4. Start and end with cool and relaxing music. The trainers at Forward Fitness incorporate 5-12 minutes to sit, massage your muscles, and cool down at the beginning and at the end of your workout. It helps you shift out of rush mode (fight or flight) into a more relaxed mode (rest and digest.) This allows your body to work better during your workout. Find cool down music that somewhat fits in with your style. Pay attention to what kinds of instruments are used in your selected style and search them with “relaxation” after it.
  5. Arrange your favorite songs according to your workout phases. Generally, you’re going to put your slowest, least intense songs after the first cool and relaxing songs. Your most intense song will be placed where you intend to peak in your workout. Other music will go in between. Keep in mind that you do NOT want to go from cool and relaxing to very intense music-this could put you back into fight or flight mode. Take the time to listen to the beginning 15 seconds of each song as you’re arranging them. You’ll be able to compare the pieces better to know where each should go. 
  6. Put it into action! Start using your playlist for your workout while paying attention to how you and your body reacts to each song. Is this song making your heart rate go up? Is it an appropriate time for that? Is it going up too much at once? Keep making necessary changes until your playlist is perfect.

That’s it! Now your music is going to kick your workout's butt.

Did you use this guide to create your own playlist? We'd love to hear it! 

(You can also find this blog post on The Huffington Post's web site!)

You're Allowed to Want

It’s no surprise I’m very pro-birth plan. More, specifically, I’m very pro-thinking about your birth. Whether that leads to a birth plan or not is another story.

But if you’re pregnant or if you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve probably heard things like the following...

“Write a birth plan, but write it in pencil,”

“Those moms who come in with birth plans always end up in c-section.”

“When a couple comes in with a long birth plan, we just make fun of them at the nurses station."

So can we collectively agree to stop passively threatening and punishing families who take the time to think about their birth choices?

Who wants to hear that?

Very few things in life go exactly the way you planned: School? Nope. First job? Probably not. Your wedding? Nope. Second job? Maybe closer. That last party you coordinated? Nah. Today at work? I doubt it. This blog post? We’ll see.

No one says “The families who make weekly menus are the ones who always end up eating out.” And even though I can’t even get dinner to go the way I expect it to, I still plan it. Why? Because 

  1. I have the right to go for what I want in every part of life and...

  2. Even with the surprise changes, it goes over better than it would have without a plan.

So can we collectively agree to stop passively threatening and punishing families who take the time to think about their birth choices? Can we stop assuming they are so immature they’ll fall to pieces as soon as things change? And can we care providers have empathy for parents walking into an unknown situation that is publicly associated with pain and fear?

That said, there are things that can help some birth plans be more effective than others.

You see, the value of a birth plan is not in the written piece of paper you give to your care practitioners.  The real value is in what you and your partner go through to create the birth plan. When I’m working with my clients, I have them follow several steps for creating their birth plans. (Each person in the partnership can do this.)

  1. Imagine your birth exactly the way you want it to be. Tap into your pretending skills from when you were a little kid. And by that I mean, this exercise has no limits on reality, geography, time, or people attending. If you would want to birth on the moon with your favorite Greek goddess catching your baby, then imagine it. Take it as a given that in your meditation everyone will end up healthy and safe, put on some relaxing, wordless music and close your eyes, let your imagination take you to your best birth place where only things and people you want are allowed to exist. (You can also use the meditations from DreamBirth by Catherine Shainberg) (NOTE: If you have a history of abuse or violence, please seek the guidance of a professional counselor, therapist, or hypnotist to help you with this step.) Where are you? What are you doing? Who is there?  Notice these things and when your birth meditation is finished, journal about the details. See if you can infuse these elements into your birth setting with music, nature sounds, tokens or charms, and photos of loved ones.
  2. Plan your ideal birth in adjectives. Just a few. More than one, but less than five. Something easy to remember. (Again, “safe" and “healthy" are givens.) Use these to create a mission statement for your birth. No one can predict how your birth will go. Chances are, you’re going to have to change your plan in some way. You can use adjectives or a mission statement as a reference to make decisions on any unexpected changes to your plan.
  3. Start talking to your practitioner early. Most couples choose their provider based on very broad qualities-does she attend in the setting they want and do they like her? But birth is complex and practices vary from one provider to another. After you have established that you’re socially and emotionally comfortable with a provider, you still need to check in on specific details. What is your provider's comfort level on the details that are important to you? What are routine procedures and practices for your provider? When talking about your ideal birth, does your provider say “That’s my routine/I love working with clients who are pursuing that/I specialize in that,” or “We can do that, but…” Hear her out, but also do your own research on reliable sources (and here.) More routine interventions does NOT necessarily equal safer or better care. Keep in mind you are a client (as opposed to a patient)-this means you have a right to seek out the care you feel most comfortable with. If you find some red flags that make you want to find someone more aligned with you, it’s far less stressful to change providers early in your pregnancy than later.
  4. Listen to yourself. Both in terms of your gut, but also in terms of what you find yourself saying. I’ve heard moms say things like “Assuming my doctor doesn’t screw me over…” For whatever reason, an element of distrust had come into the relationship and if that's there, (even if you can't put your finger on an exact event that led to it) listen to it! I know how hard this kind of self honesty can be. During my second pregnancy, I started talking to my practitioner about my birth early. I had been learning a lot about evidence through my doula training and I was noticing how many of my doctor’s routine practices would increase my risk for complications and c-section. And yet, I was convincing myself that I wanted to stay with him-that I liked him. With the help of some gentle, loving observations from my doula, I saw that I was setting myself up for disappointment-trying to get an OB to use a midwifery model of care for me. Once I was really listening to myself, I could act upon those thoughts and find a doctor who aligned with my birth preferences. I never looked back. 
  5. Don’t leave the informed piece of "informed consent and refusal” up to others. Take the time to inform yourself on the benefits and risks of the most common interventions (especially if your provider has mentioned them multiple times) and decide if you are willing to accept those risks and in what circumstances you may change your mind. It’s not always cut and dry, but having some understanding is helpful. Remember your providers are attending your birth, but also bringing with them recent births they’ve attended. So if one of those recent births were traumatic or worse, that provider may treat your care a little differently than if those recent births had been smooth. Providers are people too-they have good days and bad days. They work long hours and have their own stressors. Some are good at talking to people and some are better at other things. Taking the time to be informed so you’re not taken by surprise can help protect yourself during a vulnerable moment. 
  6. Don’t worry about every single detail. Some will be important to you. Some won’t. Even details that were important to your friend/mother/sister might not be all that important to you. Take the time to listen to your gut about what makes this YOUR birth. My usual response when my clients ask me what I chose for my births is “Who cares? What does YOUR gut say?” Once you’ve identified your most important plans, make it easy for your care practitioners to read and follow your most pressing wishes. Things you can use include colored paper (one color for vaginal birth, another color in case a c-section becomes necessary), large font, respectful wording. And trust yourself to work with your team to build the rest of the experience in support of those primary goals.

Remember you have a right to want. And even though we can not script pregnancy and birth, there is still value to imagining what your perfect birth would be like down to the most unrealistic detail. 

So how might you come to your birth? With a mission statement, a few items to make your room feel more home like and supportive (if birthing outside of your home.) If you want to birth on the moon with a Greek goddess-bring a little statue or picture of that goddess and use it as a focal point. Practice relaxing and guided breathing to spacey-sounding music. Create a guided imagery script with your partner to use during labor. Bring a home made piece of art with you mission statement to hang on a wall for empowerment and focus. Bring your birth plan on multi-colored paper and spend a few quick minutes talking the the nurses and doctors about it at the beginning of the birth.

After reading this, what are you thinking of adding to your birth bag? Have you taken the time to imagine your perfectly unrealistic birth?

Maura is a blogger for the Huffington Post as well! Find this blog post on The Huffington Post.

Hello Baby!

It's funny to see how our visions of ourselves change (or don't) when we are pregnant-as if we have a "pregnant self" and a "not pregnant self." Victoria shares a few of her thoughts with us.

Here I am, expecting baby number 2 (due August 7!) I’m remembering the kind of woman I am
when I’m pregnant.

I’m the kind of woman that has a prenatal development book in one hand, a purse full of essential oils in the other, and wearing hot pink pumps for as long as I can at every fancy event. I love learning about my baby, I love doing everything I can to take care of myself, but still super in denial over my growing belly.

I love learning about my baby, I love doing everything I can to take care of myself, but still super in denial over my growing belly.

It’ll be strange being on the other side now that I’ve been working for STLBR for a while now. I’m thrilled to be attending a Creative Arts Birth class and having Maura attend my birth.

I haven’t put together a playlist for myself yet, but I keep finding myself listening to the one I had for my son’s birth. I find I listen to that playlist when I’m going through any kind of big transition now. Maybe I’ll just use that one again.

Cheers, Baby!

What surprised you when you were pregnant? What were you drawn to?

What I listened to at my birth

My first birth...where this all began. I had been working as a music therapist for over 5 years. I had this music for birth stuff in the bag. I took my birth classes, read my books, and strutted into that hospital prepared to OWN that birth.

I had been practicing with my music for weeks. I knew what song was going to come next on every playlist I had. But then labor went on..and on...and on... I noticed I didn't have as much music as I had thought. My labor was going on longer than the playlists!

So we made do. We played the playlists a few times each. And they worked...for a while.

But around 3 in the morning, I hit a wall. I wasn't owning my birth-it was owning me and not in a good way. The music that had given me so much energy and endurance earlier was annoying me now. I was tired. My monitors weren't staying on. I quit. I gave up, got in the bed, asked for an epidural and slept for the rest of my labor.

But around 3 in the morning, I hit a wall. I wasn’t owning my birth-it was owning me and not in a good way.

All in all, it wasn't a terrible ending. We were all safe and our birth was gentle. But I wondered why the music hadn't worked for me. Could it be that I was a music therapist who didn't respond to music?

A few years later, I came across Sound Birthing Music's Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth workshop. I learned so much about music AND about labor. These things weren't talked about in my birth classes. And I learned how to apply music to facilitate comfortable, supportive births for all families, all birth preferences.

There's no doubt about it-music is powerful. It's all around us-in our stores, our movies and TV shows because it creates an instant connection. It communicates with you, puts everyone on the same page, encourages you.

Don't let the power of music pass you by. Learn about this amazing tool. Get my top tips for making and organizing playlists so you're prepared for whatever labor sends your way.

Join me to learn how at Cotton Babies on 2/20 at 11:00 am.


Getting your kids to eat without tears.

Kids are known for a lot of things: their innocent nature, their bright eyed wonder, their ability to help us see the world in a fresh way. They are NOT well known for being adventurous eaters or for loving vegetables.

Most of the time when adults see my kids eat they say "He eats THAT?!" But as my oldest gets older, he's become more aware of what his friends are (or aren't) eating. He's become more independent and one of the ways he expresses his newly found power.

But mealtime is no sweat thanks to tips I've picked up or discovered along the way.

1. We serve progressive meals.

This is one of my favorite tricks. "Progressive" as in there is a progression to the meal, I took the idea from Karen Le Billon's French Kids Eat Everything. I love how it simply side steps huge food arguments. Your children's hunger encourages them to eat or at least taste a food that might barely get a second glance when paired with a main course.

I create a vegetable-based first serving-maybe a small serving of peas, carrots, small salad, raw cut veggies, or slaw. I serve it by itself (very important) in a small bowl (tiny ramekin or silicone muffin cup.) While our family eats it, the other food is sitting on the top of the stove cooling.

By the time they're finished with a serving (or often two) of the vegetable, the other foods (usually another vegetable with a protein) are cool enough to eat.

I love how it creates unity within our family's meal experience. Each new course creates a little excitement as we move from one course to the next together. It create time and space for conversation and connection.

2. Present one thing at a time.

Even when all of the food is on the table, I serve my kids one thing at a time-especially the baby. He just gets too overwhelmed if I give him a mini version of my plate. He ends up playing with the food (ie. throwing it) or leaving the table all together. 

Even with my older son, if we put too many items on his plate (even one bite of each) we get a lot more whining than if he chooses one thing to go on his plate. When I give the kids a few bites of one thing and add a few bites of another, they eat more, stay at the table longer, and taste more foods. 

3. Tap into the power of play.

Let's leave behind the shame. Period. The story of "You took it, so you eat it...There are starving people in...Throwing away food is wasting money..." is a shame-based tactic that creates a power struggle. Tt makes meal time miserable for everyone.

Instead...consider playing with the power your child is using. My son loves it when we tell him "Don't you DARE eat that broccoli...I'm going to look away for a minute...but I DON'T want you to eat it...I'm going to loose my mind if I see any of that broccoli gone..."

More often than not, while I'm looking away, he giggles then eats it. When I turn around and give him an exaggerated reaction, he falls into fits of laughter. And so do I.

Some days we have to get more creative with the games. I've made mustard people on romaine lettuce boats, pepper gondolas, created characters and scenes on the plate (like bento, but not nearly as good.) When I slip into that playful world with my child, we all end up happier and our plates a little cleaner.

4. Stay with them at the table.

No one wants to be left out or left alone-least of all kids. Kids often eat more slowly than adults. They're busy using dinner time to develop their motor skills, live in the experience, and chat or talk between bites. For them, dinner is just the background for playing and connecting with their parents.

With that in mind, even though my husband and I are finished eating before my older son one of us stays at the table with him-holding space for him to finish what he wants on his own time. He gets time to eat without feeling like everyone else has moved on without him. 

5. Let them listen to their bodies.

There are days when none of the above works. Those can be the days when I want to take a bath in self pity and feel angry that I'm working so hard and my child isn't doing what I want him to do.

I take a deep breath and remind myself-my child isn't going to let himself starve. And there are some days when I just don't feel hungry either. Some days it's because I've eaten a lot of rich foods or had a snack too late. Maybe I haven't been very active or my body is battling an illness.

It's okay for me to have these days and it's okay for my kids to have them too. In fact, I want them to listen to their bodies. I want them to be able to tell when they're are hungry and when they are full and to follow those cues. I want them to be free from the idea that clean plate=good boy or that food is anything other than food.

I know the next meal will have plenty of nourishment for their little bodies and that they will be even more eager to accept it.

Remember there are people in the area with even better ideas than I have. If you want more ideas ornotice other digestive or health issues in you child, please seek professional help. One of my favorite resources is Jessica from Glow Nutrition. For determining if your child has food sensitivities beyond what is able to be found in a blood test, consider contacting Sarah from All Out Nutrition & Wellness, LLC.

 

Just doing a little reading...Want to Join?

I used to be in a book club. It was a great one. Everyone was fun, funny, smart. We drank wine, talked about the book, once we even interviewed the author! But in the last few years, I found my tastes were getting more...specific.

As I started a business, I found the only books I wanted to read were about business, birth, and babies. And while I might have been able to convince our club to read from one or two of those categories, it became clear that I needed to take a break.

But I've really missed the format-talking about a book, hearing what sticks out to someone else, and all the complex ways the themes fit into our worlds. And the topics of birth and babies are beyond fascinating. I just want to tell anyone who will listen what I've learned about our amazing babies/bodies/births.

What's more is that the information from these books would have helped me and my babies avoid a lot of frustration. I could have bonded with them more easily, read their communication more fluently, and enjoyed their first days, weeks, and months more if I had only know what was possible.

So St. Louis Birth Rhythms is offering a book club! Starting January 5, 2016;Meet us Tuesdays at Crossroads Family Chiropractic Center in Creve Coeur.

We're starting with "Babies Remember Birth" by psychologist David Chamberlain. Enroll now so we can have a loaner copy for you.


What is music therapy?

I was one of those kids-you know the kids who know what career she wants almost from birth. Well, mine wasn't from birth, but I can actually remember the day when someone told me about this thing called "music therapy."

I was 14 years old, had been in the school band for several years (some classmates called us "band jocks"), and I played guitar. My vocal coach told me about music therapy, but in her version music therapists prescribed music the way a doctor might prescribe a medication. While that's not true, even my 14-year-old self could see music therapy was perfect for me.

In the years since, my music therapy career has changed drastically. I used to work with school aged children and now I work with adults and their babies. I used to help kids learn to count, read, share toys, and talk. Now I help mothers have fulfilling, safe, and empowering births.

Music therapy during birth provides a connection to familiarity, love, and peace at an unfamiliar and sometimes fearful time.

But regardless of the location or group of people, music therapy is using music for non-musical purposes. My clients are active participants in their sessions. I don't create or play music for them, I create and play music with them.

We might write a song, talk about lyrics, use an instrument to express feelings or thoughts instead of words, or put a mantra to a tune. Music therapy creates the opportunity for clients to share their experiences and feelings or learn something new in a setting that is inviting and fun.

Music therapy during birth provides a connection to familiarity, love, and peace at an unfamiliar and sometimes fearful time. It helps women move, breathe, visualize, and connect during with their partners and with their births. And it helps parents connect with themselves and each other and bond with their babies.

When I was 14, I had no idea where a career in music therapy would lead me. But I'm grateful that my vocal coach had the insight to tell me about music therapy...even if it wasn't quite what she thought it was.


What a childbirth class could be...

What do you feel when you hear the words "childbirth classes?" When you imagine being in one, perhaps you expect to feel like this:

What about your partner? At best, he or she might expect to feel bored or left out in a class that is all about something happening to someone else's body (even if they love that person very much.) At worst, she or he might expect to feel like this:

Yep, childbirth classes get a bad rap. There are so many myths that surround them. You might wonder if it's worth the time and effort since the birth is going to happen regardless.

But what if childbirth classes were like this:

and this

bigstock-Concept-music-Music-backgroun-91515743.jpg

and this

Creative Arts Birthing classes bring couples closer as they prepare for birth. During this class, we share information, listen to and create music, and create art to prepare for birth. You and your partner will learn about birth in a way that is fun and informative.

The class meets for eight two-hour sessions. Each session has music and art. You can sign up for all eight or just one depending on your schedule.

  • Book 4 or more classes and get lifetime access to our playlist library.

  • Book 8 classes and bring a friend to one class for FREE.

You can choose to take the course privately (just you, your partner, and the music therapist) or in a group of up to four other couples.

  • Private rates: $125 per session for 1-3 sessions, $100 per session for 4-8 sessions.

  • Group rates: $75/couple per session for 1-3 sessions; $50/couple per session for 4-8 sessions.

The next series starts on January 7, 2016 at Parenting Resources in South City.

Space is limited so inquire now!