Monday, April 29, 2013

A Window into My Birth Classes

My classes weave heart learning, intellectual learning and physical practices together in a careful balance of caring, fun, creativity and stimulating thoughts. As a doula in San Luis Obispo for twenty years I know women birth best when all of these areas are nurtured to expand and grow during pregnancy.

Birth rehearsals are always a fun part of class! I do a class devoted to LOTS of different labor/birth positions. Then at another class I ask each mom the position she imagines giving birth in and that is what we practice. This pregnant mama chose the classic hospital birth position because that was where she was planning to birth. Getting over a woman's natural shyness or sense of modesty is an important part of the process. What a good sport she was to let her photo be taken. We were all having such a good time we failed terribly at holding still for the camera.

Creating an atmosphere which allows couples to feel safe is important. When we turn on music, light candles and practice focused relaxation or visualize giving birth women tune into their own intuition about their body and birth. They in turn can communicate to their partners what they can do to help them through the process.

Potlucks are part of the process! To break bread, talk and laugh together builds community. Pregnancy is a time of growth and connection between partners and the world of parenting. Nothing beats a home environment for learning about birth no matter where you are planning to have your baby. For this St. Paddy's Day class couples where greeted by the smell of fresh baked Irish Soda bread. Dads brought Guinness beer and moms supplied plenty of good healthy greens to eat.

Friendships blossom as moms blossom. Connections are strengthened through a private Facebook group and moms are invited to join my "Whole"istic Mamas group to continue these supportive relationships after babies come.

Thoughtful discussion flows after simple creative drawing or word association exercises help everyone tune into their interior life. 

Crafting concrete personal positive affirmation cards to post around their homes help couples stay positive and empowered as the big day draws near.

The reading homework in Special Delivery is helpful to fill in any missing pieces. Reading birth stories from Ina May's book fills women with the knowledge that women ARE designed to do this work and they can do it too! Notebooks full of additional information are loaned to be used as much or as little as desired. My extensive library of books and movies are also available to my clients. 

I enjoy teaching a mixed group of in and out of hospital clients because of the thought provoking discussion. A balanced respectful discussion leaves everyone feeling more confident in their choices.

A mix of real props to see and touch, communication practices and role playing in my Becoming an Educated Consumer, If a Problem Arises and Facing Our Fears classes take the fear of the unknown away and teach couples what choices may come their way during their birth. Accurate unbiased consumer information is key to creating the birth you want.

My years as a doula have taught me beautiful positive births are possible everywhere!

And then there's love. Lighting my birth mama candle sets the mood for an intimate chat about the role oxytocin, the love hormone, plays in labor and what you can do to encourage it to flow. Simple tools that speak to the 5 senses enhance birth energy and are easy for partners to master. Tuning into our partners through touch, dancing, and simple massage teaches the partners their most important labor tool, loving connection.

The last 2 classes are devoted to parenting. What could be better than answering all the questions expecting parents have about parenting a newborn?

I love teaching new parents about all the amazing things their new baby will be capable of right from the start.

I demonstrate how to get breastfeeding off to a great start and invite all my clients to join me as I lead La Leche League meetings.

Graduation Potluck means learning from the experts; couples who have become parents in the last few months. Telling their birth stories in the sharing circle help couples process their birth. Sharing the highs and lows of their labors gives a realistic window into birth for the waiting couples. Giving real world common sense survival tips on how to get through the first weeks of parenting is mutually beneficial, expectant parents become more prepared and new parents get to see how far they have come in just a few short weeks.

The private Facebook group serves many purposes, simple communication of class logistics and reminders, potluck sign-ups, or recipe sharing.

Pregnant mamas are encouraged to find and post their own images of power, flexibility, and strength to help them keep the faith during labor.

I post many inspiring images and quotes, as well as, links to the latest studies. After the classes end we all post words of encouragement as moms wait for the big day to finally arrive.

And of course baby photos! Each baby is welcomed by all. The leaders in the class give pep talks to the moms still waiting while the waiting moms send warm wishes and way to goes to the couples who have already birthed.

Reunions are fun! Whether the group chooses a park, a home or the beach, joy and pride fills the air.

Themed reunions seem especially delightful for everyone.
Now it's on to La Leche League meetings and "Whole"istic Mamas park days for the mothers. All of my class and doula clients are invited to join my Becoming a Family support group; the only parenting classes for moms AND dads in the county.

Let's connect and talk about when, where and how you can begin classes!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Listen to National Experts: What the Birthing Women of San Luis Obispo Need to Think About!

These posts originally appeared as my Food for Thought series on Facebook. I wanted to provoke the women of San Luis Obispo county into thinking about their birth and parenting choices. By quoting directly from books I wish to stimulate discussion and encourage women to seek out information and become more educated. My hope is you will empower yourself through this process.

“Our lives begin to end 
the day we become silent about things 
that matter.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 
from his unforgettable
 "I Have a Dream" speech

Doctor or midwife: How to choose which is right for you.

Baby Bonding and Attachment: Getting Parenting off to a good start.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Parenting Poem

If I had my child to raise over again,

I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.

I'd do less correcting, and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less, and know to care more.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I'd run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging, and less tugging.

I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I'd teach less about the love of power,

And more about the power of love.

It matters not whether my child is big or small,

From this day forth, I'll cherish it all.

    From 100 Ways to Build Self-Esteem & Teach Values by Diana Loomans (c) 2004 New World Library