Building Your Birth Team: Part 2

Today, on the blog, we will continue the discussion about building your optimal birth team for support both before and after birth. Being fully informed and having the necessary resources during pregnancy (and beyond) could make all the difference in the beginning stages of parenthood. The previous Building your Birth Team post highlighted the importance of choosing your care provider, childbirth educator, doula and placenta encapsulation specialist. Below you will find several other supports that optimize your overall journey.

Chiropractic Care: There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. Some of these will have an impact on your posture and comfort. As your baby becomes heavier, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture will adjust (sometimes for the worse). Also, this may create added pressure and misalignment in the pelvis. A misaligned pelvis may pose complications during delivery. When the pelvis is out of alignment, it can make it hard for your baby to move into the best position to be born, which is rear-facing and head down. In some cases, this could affect a person’s ability to have a natural , low intervention birth. A balanced pelvis also means your baby has a lower chance of moving into a breech or posterior position. When your baby is not in an optimal birthing position, it can lead to a longer, more complicated delivery. Evidence points to improved outcomes in labor and delivery for people who’ve received chiropractic care from a Webster Certified Chiropractor during their pregnancy. Chiropractic care can help balance the pelvis, allowing baby the room need to get in the most optimal position possible, while also allowing for a comfortable pregnancy. In fact, chiropractic care may even help reduce the length of time you’re in labor. Locate a Webster Certified Chiropractor, one who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, today!

Acupuncture: Many people sing the praises of acupuncture during pregnancy to ease some common discomforts such as back and pelvic pain, nausea, heartburn, swelling, and constipation. So how does it work exactly? Researchers have found that acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, so that when the needles are placed, the nerves are activated and the energy flow will regain balance. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help to relieve a number of pregnancy symptoms.

Clinical Psychologist: This support person cannot be encouraged enough. This particular birth team member will allow you to prepare for the birth as well as process and heal post birth as you enter into parenthood. Benefits of a mental health therapist encompass well being, which ultimately affect baby and partner's well being. Becoming a new parent has the possibility of bringing in unexpected stress and anxiety. Having a safe space to process this can make all the difference.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist: This particular support involves biofeedback and exercises to encourage relaxation and strengthening of the muscles of the lower pelvis which have the tendency to weaken in pregnancy and through postpartum. A physical therapist measures muscle tone and the strength of muscle contractions, which give you the information you need to proceed with tailored exercises. After practicing at home, you can see the improvement at your next visit. When necessary, the therapist may use a massage-like technique called myofascial release to help stretch and release the connective tissue between the skin and the muscles and bones in your pelvic region.

Pelvic floor PT postpartum may: strengthen your pelvic floor, re-training your abdominal function, help libido levels or painful intercourse, and treat incontinence.

Adding these members to your birth team care for the entire person. Physical, mental, and emotional supports are vital in attaining the wellness you deserve.

Fall Activites in Baltimore (On the Cheap)

Fall in Baltimore is here! Summer has officially bid its farewell for the year. Around the Baltimore
area, Fall has wowed us with the events and festivities and outdoor activities it has to offer.
Below are several Baltimore-based events that will guarantee a good time for all ages!

  1.  Fells Point Fun Festival: Oct 3-5. Free Admission.
    Live music, local artistry and many vendors come to Fells Point to celebrate Fall. Four stages with live entertainment and there is even a Kid’s Zone. All events are centered around Thames Street. Fellspointfest.com
  2. Pigtown Festival. Oct. 11. Free Admission.
    Local Bands. Yummy Food. RACING PIGS. This year will even have aerial acts, strolling entertainment and even carnival games for the little ones.
    Pigtownmainstreet.org
  3. Baltimore Running Festival: Oct. 16-18. Price varies based on registration.
    Calling all runners and spectators of all ages and ability levels. This event is for you. Distances range from the full marathon for all the brave souls out there and also a kids fun run! If running isn’t your cup of tea, find a spot along the route and cheer on friends and neighbors! The marathon starts at 8 a.m. on Oct. 18. Thebaltimoremarathon.com
  4. Harbor Harvest Children’s Festival. Oct. 19. Free/ Inexpensive activities.
    The whole family will enjoy pumpkin patches, a petting zoo, hay maze, more live music and delicious treats. Join us for our 7 th annual festival in the city. Waterfrontpartnership.org
  5. ZooBOOOO at the Maryland Zoo. Oct. 24-26. General Zoo Admission.
    Kids are guaranteed a good scream at this Halloween celebration. Costumes are not required but encouraged for the daily contests. Trick-r-Treating.Crafts. Carnival Games. Food. Watch magic tricks or sing and dance along with many musical performers. Marylandzoo.org
  6. Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival. Oct. 25. Most activities free.
    Creative Alliance has once again wowed us with their annual event that showcases over 1000 colorful lanterns made by the neighbors and friends of East Baltimore. Festivities start at 3:30 at Patterson Park. Food trucks, lantern workshops, hayrides, crafts, vendors, live bands, and a costume contest for kid’s will all be present. But at 7 is when the real treat begins. Floats, stilt walkers, dancers, and neighbors walk the parade into the Annex Park on Eastern Avenue. Creativealliance.org
  7. Festival of Trees. Nov. 28-30. $13 for adults. $7 for kids/seniors.
    Kennedy Krieger’s annual fundraiser is the perfect place to get that holiday spirit brewing. Support a great organization as you walk around a “fairyland forest,” gingerbread towns and toy train gardens. festivaloftrees.kennedykrieger.org

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” –Chad Sugg

Baltimore Clinical Herbalist Specializes in Women's Health

Today on the blog, we have an interview with Melanie St. Ours, an author and Baltimore clinical herbalist who specializes in women’s health and mental health.

How did your clinical herbalist passion ignite?

Even though I'd had a lifelong interest in natural healing, I didn't have the courage to turn to herbs until I ran head-first into the limitations of our current healthcare system. It was 2008, and by day I was working as a massage therapist at a busy physical therapy clinic in downtown DC where I was the go-to person for clients with chronic illnesses, trauma histories, and other complex cases. Even with weekly treatments, I could see that they needed more options and that pharmaceuticals often didn't work for their needs. Meanwhile, I was getting sicker and sicker with Ulcerative Colitis --- and was shut out of the system because my "pre-existing condition" made it possible for health insurance companies to deny me access to a policy in those days before The Affordable Car Act had passed.

Seeing the ways that the system can fail people --- both those with access and those without --- made me passionate about becoming an herbalist so that I could teach people how to care for themselves with the medicines the Earth herself provides. I think of herbal medicine as a powerful complement to the medical system. The combination of both approaches is incredibly powerful, and we all deserve access to the best of both worlds.

How has this professional journey helped you in pregnancy?

More than anything, my herbal knowledge allowed me to enter into pregnancy in great health. I'm convinced that being well-nourished and well-supported was a big part of what made it possible for me to conceive right away at age 35 and to have a pregnancy that's been pretty comfortable and uneventful. I'm at 34 weeks today and still feeling good!

What has been the most helpful natural remedies for you while facing typical pregnancy ailments? Inflammation? Constipation? Decreased energy levels? Leg cramping? (Feel free to add any others)

It was a shock when I started experiencing constipation since I'm a vegan and am fantastically regular outside of pregnancy, but my favorite flax seed stool softener has been a huge help! (And I plan to drink this during labor and early postpartum to help make that first BM after birth as easy as possible.) If you want to try it, here's the recipe:

Flaxseed Stool Softener
(from The Simple Guide to Natural Health by Melanie St. Ours)

Ingredients:

1 heaping TBSP whole flax seeds
8oz room temperature (or cold) water

Directions:

1. Combine flax seeds and water in a cup or jar. Stir until all of the seeds are wet.

2. Let the cup or jar sit undisturbed at room temperature or in the fridge for 6-12 hours.

3. After steeping it complete, strain the seeds from the water. (You'll notice that the flax water is thickened and gel-like, especially toward the bottom of the glass/jar. This is what you want!) Drink the water/gel. You can use the soaked flax seeds in a smoothie or on food, or simply discard/compost them.

4. To prevent constipation, drink 1 serving per day. To reverse constipation, drink at least 2 servings per day -- one in the morning and one in the evening. You can increase to up to 4 doses per day if needed, and/or use this remedy in combination with Magnesium to enhance results.

I hope this will help you get some relief in the near future! If you try it for 2-3 days and don't notice much change, I'd add some liquid Magnesium (or Natural Calm dissolved in water) to the equation until you're feeling better.

I understand you have written a book that compiles your professional journey as a clinical herbalist. What inspired you to write the book? What is your hope for the book after publishing?

Well, the book isn't really about my journey as much as it's a guide to help others who are starting out on their own. 🙂 It's called The Simple Guide to Natural Health and is designed to make it easy for beginners to get the most out of all kinds of natural remedies including essential oils, natural body care recipes, healing foods (these are some of my favorite recipes in the whole book!), and homemade herbal tea blends, tinctures, and treats. We've already sold over 10,000 copies and I've spotted the book "in the wild" at Whole Foods, so really my biggest hope at this point is just that it reaches people and helps them to start experiencing how amazing herbs are in their own lives. This medicine really does belong to all of us, and I hope that my work somehow makes it a little bit easier for people to get started.

 

Spring into Baltimore!

The long awaited winter has come to an end and Baltimore is gleaming in all its
beauty. This spring, make sure you take part in all that Charm City (and the
surrounding area) has to offer. Below you will find several outdoor, kid-friendly
events that are bound to entertain the entire family.

April 26 & 27: Charm City Bluegrass Festival

Charm City Bluegrass Festival, winner of the 2016 International Bluegrass
Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Event of the Year and 2018
Best Festival by Baltimore Magazine, invites music lovers and foodies to
gather in Druid Hill Park on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 for the
seventh annual celebration of bluegrass, folk and Americana with three
stages, 20 bands and two days of family-friendly festivities including local
food, a limited release beer from Union Brewery, artists, a kids activity area
featuring animals from Irvine Nature Center, spontaneous jam sessions and
more.

General Admission varies but kids under 10 are FREE! Parking is free with
cost of admission.

April 27-30: Day with Thomas the Train at B&O Railroad Museum

Day Out With Thomas is a fun-filled event that provides children of all ages
the opportunity to climb aboard and take a ride with Thomas as well as
participate in Thomas & Friends™ themed activities. The tour, now in its 24th
year, will make 37 stops across the U.S. and Canada, and is expected to
welcome nearly one million passengers in 2019. For two back-to-back
weekends at the B&O Railroad Museum little engineers and their families are
invited to take a 25-minute train ride with their favorite engine, Thomas the
Tank Engine, meet Sir Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway and enjoy a
day of Thomas & Friends fun with crafts, photo ops, and more.
Tickets are $22-$26 for ages 2 & up. Parking is free and available on site.

April 27: Dia Del Nino/ Kid’s Day

Back for its ninth year on Pagoda Hill (Patterson Park), Día del Niño is a free
day of fun celebrating our community youth! Get excited for the many
activities, including piñatas, Folkloric dance performances, face painting,
sports and games, paper rockets, arts and crafts, giveaways, nature activities
and much more. Most activities are geared towards children 2 – 12 years old.
Bringing over 2,000 people to the park, all activities, performances, and food
are free and nothing is bought or sold during the event so that families can
enjoy all it has to offer without having to think about price! Rain date: April
28th.

May 8: Bug’s Life Playgroup

We’re going BUGGY! Join (cool) progeny for a Cool Tot Time that’s all about
bugs at Brown Memorial Preschool. Dress to be outside as we search for
bugs, enjoy a story, make a bug craft, and have a snack. Tot times are
designed for children ages 1-5 and their caregiver. Babies under 12 months
of age are free!

May 11: Annual African American Book Fair

Enjoy a fun-filled day focused on kids’ literature about African Americans and
people of other ethnicities. Enjoy author readings, illustration workshops,
live performances, and art activities. Purchase hard-to-find titles in Book
Village. 7th year. Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland

May 19: Baltimore Birth Festival

Join vendors, care providers, local businesses, birth workers, and more for a
day of family fun and information on pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting
supports available in the Baltimore area. The event includes face painting,
food trucks, Kona Ice, a kid-friendly DJ, and over $4,000 in giveaways. Event
is held at Patterson Park and is free for the community.

**These are only a few of the many events held this spring in the Baltimore area. For
more events, visit www.baltimoreschild.com.**

Veterans Moms Tell All: Advice for Moms-to-Be

In today's information age, preparing for motherhood can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting experience. It can be incredibly challenging to find  unbiased information for many topics related to pregnancy, birth, infant care, and the postpartum period, and it seems like just when you think you have the answers you're seeking, someone in your life contradicts it.

In an effort to get real life advice from moms who have been there and done it, we took to our local Facebook group, Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding and asked the following question:

What is the most important piece of advice you could give to a person who is about to welcome their first baby?

We got an outpouring of responses to share with you.  Below you will find very honest, candid, and wise feedback about those early postpartum days from moms throughout Baltimore.  If you're looking for a place to ask your own questions related to the childbearing year, join us on Facebook!

A Memorable (and cheap) Baltimore Winter

Winter days are frigid and short but children still seem to find the energy to
bounce off the wall. They don’t quite understand the beauty of a slow and relaxing
morning with a good book and big cup of coffee! Dreamy, right?
Ever wondered how to make the most of those blustery, winter months without
feeling those claustrophobic blues? This winter, let Baltimore (and the surrounding
area) surprise you with events and places to explore!

The Miracle of 34 th Street
If you don’t already know about Baltimore’s best kept Christmas secret, then
it truly is a best kept secret. Peruse the quirky neighborhood of Hampden while
sipping some of the Charmery’s hot cocoa. A crowd pleaser, for sure. Pop into Trovh
for some local gift ideas. Make your way to 34 th Street as the Christmas block truly
does shine for miles. The lights are on from November 29-January 1. It is free to the
public and makes for a great photo op.

Highlandtown’s Train Garden
Take a trip to Baltimore’s very own little neighborhood of Highlandtown this
holiday season. An impressive toy train set geared to awe any child. You will be
surprised at the attention to detail and Baltimore charm this little train garden
holds. The train runs from November 24- January 1 and is located at #41 Engine
House on Conkling Ave. Wrap up your event with dinner at the century-old Italian
kitchen and market, Di Pasquales. You will not be disappointed.
This is a free event but does accept and appreciate donations.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Got a train lover on your hands? Here’s another event promising to please.
While not in Baltimore city, this event claims to be the largest train display in the
area. Held in Ellicott City’s B&O Railroad museum, this set up includes a multilevel
Lego layout with interactive elements. This toy train is in operation November 28-
January 25 and costs $6-8 for admission.

12 Days of Science
The Maryland Science Center has incorporated activities this winter that go
far beyond checking the weather. Solstice-themed planetarium show, toy-making
workshops, “Christmas Bulb Drop Challenge” are bound to please all ages. Drop in
December 20-31 to have some interactive hands-on learning experiences. All extra,
holiday themed exhibits are free with paid admission.

It’s a Waterfront Life
This December, visit Baltimore’s very own Inner Harbor for an array of
festivities. Ice-skating (open until January 21), Christmas Village and photos with
Santa (both open until December 24) make every child excited for the upcoming holiday. Pop into Barnes and Noble for some hot chocolate and a cozy spot to read
and warm your toes. Events range in cost.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Free of charge and open all year round, this museum is an attraction worth
exploring. Browse colorful art and roam through rooms of talent. The sculpture
garden outside is interesting as well. Children will love to visualize, detect, and
discover through an artist’s eyes. Also, every Sunday from 2-5, the BMA hosts a craft
making event for children that is FREE. All materials provided. A family event that
guarantees to encourage a creative mind.

Meet Hyeon-Jin Kwon, Baltimore acupuncturist and women's health practitioner

Today we are discussing acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and women's health with Baltimore acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner Hyeon-Jin Kwon. The Nurturing Root has had the honor of serving Hyeon-Jin after the births of all 3 of her babies, and have enjoyed learning about the important work she does to help women conceive and have healthy pregnancies and postpartum experiences.

Baltimore acupuncture pregnancy
Hi, my name is Hyeon-Jin. I work at Sustainability Wellness located inside Ruxton Towers in Towson. Our office offers many different forms of healing and energy work such as acupuncture, massage, readings, reflexology, and therapeutic touch.
How were you lead to this professional path?
I've tried on many different hats throughout my career. I never quite felt satisfied with the jobs I had and was always searching for the next thing that I thought would feed my soul. One day, with absolute clarity, I knew my work would be in acupuncture. I was let go from my job at the time as a gemologist (one of my many hats) because of downsizing. I thanked the Universe and I happily packed my bags. I drove from LA to SF in the hopes I would get into acupuncture school. I didn't have a Plan B and I've never looked back.
What are you most passionate about in your profession? Why?
My passion is helping others in their journey. Patients come to my office for many reasons and at all stages of health but it's my job to figure out what is it they need in this moment and in the long term. It could be tangible like a Chinese formula or it could be intangible like encouragement. Sometimes all it takes is a small shift to make a big difference.
I'm also passionate about education. My belief is that if patients are given all the information then they can make an informed decision. Too often than not, I find that piece missing when listening to patients. I want them to feel confident and take control of their health.
What are the benefits of your practice for the pregnant woman?
I see many women during the pregnancy for all the fun things. Nausea, constipation, and fatigue are common during first trimester. Back pain, sciatica, pubic pain, edema, and carpel tunnel are just a few things during second and third trimester. If there is an issue before pregnancy, it's usually exacerbated with pregnancy so I work on minimizing if not relieving it.
At times I see women just at the tail end of their pregnancy. I help with labor preparation by working on the physical and psychological aspects of opening up for labor and delivery.
Explain how you are able to use your work to help women facing
infertility issues.
Chinese medicine is wonderful at understanding the complexities of the individual person and is not a one-size fits all. We begin with a thorough intake of their medical history which includes understanding their cycle. There is so much information to be learned from each week of the cycle. I examine where they are in their fertility journey and where they would like to go. In addition to a treatment plan which includes acupuncture, herbs and supplements; I offer nutritional and lifestyle counseling. The same approach is used for women trying to conceive naturally or with assisted reproductive treatments. Fortunately the medical community has become more open and even encouraging women going through IUI and IVF to seek out acupuncture.
What drew you to using placenta medicinally during your own postpartum experiences and how do you think it helped in your recovery?
I first learned about placenta encapsulation when I was an acupuncture student from my doula classmates. While in herbs class, I also learned placenta is part of the Chinese pharmacopeia. Placenta can not be used as part of an herbal formula that I prescribe in the US as determined by the FDA. But knowing the properties and benefits of placenta, I thought if I were to give birth then I would absolutely encapsulate - it made perfect sense. My recovery, luckily, was pretty smooth. My energy was good and my milk came in well (thank you Carmen for that reassurance) after taking the pills. I am so grateful especially for increasing my milk production which caused this new mom quite a bit of stress! Luckily, I had rather large placentas so I had enough pills to freeze. When production started to dip as I went back to work those capsules in freezer gave me peace of mind. I have happily called upon the services of The Nurturing Root for each of my 3 babies. And recommending placenta encapsulation is always on my list of recommendations to my mama-to-be patients.

Maryland Court Delivers A Hostile Ruling To Breastfeeding Mother

A breastfeeding mother in Maryland is fighting a magistrate’s order allowing the father of their infant, the right to feed the exclusively breastfed baby formula, during overnight visits.

Amber Brown and Corey Lewis, residents of Charles County Maryland, welcomed a baby boy in February 2017, but separated shortly after their child’s birth. During a custody hearing in July, Monise Brown, a county magistrate facilitated a disagreement between Ms. Brown and Mr. Lewis’ beliefs regarding how to feed their baby during overnight visitations. The baby’s mother was exclusively breastfeeding her infant, and was not able to express enough breastmilk to send with the baby for overnight visits, with the father. Mr. Lewis insisted that he should be allowed overnight visits, and has the right to feed his baby formula during that time.

Magistrate Brown agreed with the father, stating “breast-feeding is not a reason to prevent [Lewis’s] visitation, and that insisting on breast-feeding would be considered deliberate alienation of [Lewis],” according to Ms. Brown’s attorney.

The mother filed a request for exception, providing a note from her son’s pediatrician stating the baby could not tolerate formula. At a follow-up hearing, in August, a second court official, Magistrate Mitsy Metzgar, agreed with the initial recommendation, forcing the Mother to comply with the overnight visitation ruling, that includes allowing the father the right to feed his exclusively breastfed infant, formula. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization strongly recommend infants be fed only breastmilk for the first six months of life, and Maryland law protects and states a vested interest in the infant and mother nursing relationship, as a basis to promote family values and public acceptance of breastfeeding, two court magistrates support detrimental recommendations for this mother-baby dyad.

This insulting arrangement in the custody ruling, comes at a very ironic time. Throughout the month of August, several organizations and coalitions spotlight breastfeeding with National Breastfeeding Month, World Breastfeeding Week, and Black Breastfeeding Week. Huge efforts are made to highlight and celebrate the importance of increasing a collaborative effort to generate a breastfeeding-friendly landscape. It appears that our culture and courts have quite a bit of remedial work to do, if they want to support and honor breastfeeding mothers, babies, and families!

The Nurturing Root proudly supports breastfeeding mothers. The health of our families, communities, institutions, and societies, are inextricably linked to our commitment to honoring breastfeeding mothers and babies.

How We Are Improving Birth For Baltimore Families

Improving Birth is a non-profit coalition of organizations that advocates for evidence-based care, and the right for women to make informed decisions in childbirth! We are proud to share Improving Birth’s mission, which is to inform, support, engage, and empower families and community members, with strategic tools, to improve birth. Here are three ways, The Nurturing Root is Improving Birth for Baltimore families.

We are Improving Birth by giving families access to evidenced-based childbirth education!

It is an honor to serve Baltimore families with our extensive offering of childbirth education workshops. We teach a variety of Birth Boot Camp childbirth education courses. This curriculum is largely based on the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, which was written by Improving Birth, as part of, The Consensus Initiative From The Coalition For Improving Maternity Services. Our childbirth classes are intended to educate and empower families with facts, resources, and support, so they can truly make informed decisions for their pregnancy and birth. We offer classes to help couples have an amazing hospital birth, training to prepare families for their empowering home birth experience, and comfort measures workshops, to give pregnant couples tools and techniques, so they can stay positive and enjoy their labor.

We are Improving Birth by advocating for expectant families!

We absolutely love serving pregnant and new Baltimore families by providing doula support. We are an advocate for you and your birthing wishes! We provide encouragement, support, practical assistance, and information during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Our purpose is to support your desires and expectations in childbirth.

We are Improving Birth by providing access to trusted community resources!

There are several organizations and services supporting pregnant and new families in Maryland. As active and engaged members in various Baltimore area pregnancy, birth, and parenting communities, we are happy to offer referrals and recommendations to providers that are also Improving Birth for Baltimore families.

If you would like more information about how The Nurturing Root can help your family throughout the childbearing year, with childbirth education classes, doula care, and placenta encapsulation services, please contact us here!

 

Three Reasons Families Love In-Home Placenta Encapsulation

The Nurturing Root has been providing professional placenta encapsulation services to families since 2011, helping over 650 mothers have their best postpartum recovery experience. Placenta encapsulation can improve a mother’s overall postpartum wellness experience, and may help: balance hormones, support lactation and enhance milk supply, replenish essential nutrients, mitigate postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief, ease ‘baby blues’, decrease occurrence of postpartum mood disorders, and boost energy. To learn more about what hormones, minerals, and vitamins are in the placenta, and why they can help facilitate postpartum healing, take a look here.

So many families choose The Nurturing Root for placenta encapsulation because of our fantastic reputation. We have rigorous standards and practice strict safety and sanitation protocols. One policy that sets us apart, is that we always complete the entire encapsulation process in our clients’ home. Here are three reasons clients want their placenta encapsulated in their own kitchen:

Personalized Postpartum Support
Our families really value the connection we make while completing the encapsulation process in their homes. If interested, we encourage clients and family to observe the process, and welcome any discussion about the preparation method or questions regarding the placenta, birth experience, or the postpartum healing process. Additionally, our placenta encapsulation specialists are also trained postpartum doulas. We truly offer un-matched support to our families during their transition to parenthood. Our clients love that we hold a wealth of experience regarding the postpartum adjustment period. They can ask questions about normal newborn behavior, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, and breastfeeding. The Nurturing Root is happy to offer referrals and recommendations to other providers and community resources, including, chiropractors, massage therapists, support groups, pediatricians, and more. This family-centered support is a key reason our clients enjoy in-home placenta encapsulation.

Our Comprehensive Education and Safety Standards
The Nurturing Root is proud to have trained with both Placenta Benefits and the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts. We have extensive education and credentialing in placenta preparation. We also hold a current food safety certification. This ensures we have working knowledge in food hazards, proper hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitizing processes, and time and temperature controls. Most importantly, we have completed an OSHA compliant bloodborne pathogens training. This training ensures we fully understand the precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials.

A family’s house holds a special energy and unique microbiome, and we strongly believe that a client’s placenta belongs in her residence. Transporting and processing the placenta outside a client’s home may introduce unfamiliar bacteria or contaminants to the placenta. Since it will be consumed as food, the placenta needs to be handled with discretion, as it is a perishable item. Proper storage at a safe temperature is paramount. It is also critical that all tools and surfaces be properly sanitized before and after the placenta encapsulation process. When we complete the encapsulation process in our client’s home, they can witness our rigorous safety and sanitation protocols for themselves.

The Nurturing Root Complies With Regulations
Currently, placenta encapsulation services are not explicitly regulated in Ohio. Though placenta encapsulation may operate in a bit of a legal ‘gray area’, there are very clear regulations and legislation pertaining to the production and distribution of potentially hazardous foods, and the transportation of human tissues. In Ohio, it is unlawful to prepare meat in an un-inspected, non-commercial kitchen and then sell that product. This is one of the main reasons we complete the entire placenta encapsulation process in our clients’ homes. It is also important to consider that the transportation of potentially infectious biological materials is highly regulated. If a business is transporting human tissue, like a placenta, both the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Transportation require that the company hold a packing and shipping certification and use specific, standardized packing materials and labels for regulated items. This is the main reason why we have our clients transport their own placenta home. It is very clearly out of scope for The Nurturing Root to pick-up a client’s placenta, process it in an unregulated, non-commercial kitchen, and return the placenta capsules to our client. The Nurturing Root is operating with respect to, and in accordance with all applicable laws, and our clients really appreciate this!

The Nurturing Root steadfastly believes that a placenta should only be transported by the family and processed in their home. We implore those interested in hiring a placenta professional, to be quite diligent when researching encapsulation services. It is crucial that families are able to witness the sanitation protocols implemented by their specialist, and know for certain, that the placenta being encapsulated belongs to them, was processed safely, and was not contaminated by another source. We strongly encourage families to read this post, which lists six tips to consider before hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. The Nurturing Root has encapsulated over 650 placentas, to date, with a 100% safety record and we have received only overwhelmingly positive reviews from our families. We believe in absolute transparency in the encapsulation process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about our philosophy, standards, and protocols.

We want you to have a healthy pregnancy, empowering birth experience, and gentle postpartum recovery. If you want to learn more about placenta encapsulation services and reside in Baltimore please contact The Nurturing Root here!

Summer Bucket List Ideas in Baltimore

Baltimore is such a wonderful, family friendly city. We've compiled the ultimate list of our favorite summer bucket list ideas in Baltimore for family fun.  Whether you want to take a hike or explore a museum on a rainy day, we have something for everyone.  After exploring some of these spots, you'll see they call it Charm City for a reason!

Peach and Berry Picking

strawberry picking in baltimore

Weber's Peachberry Farm

Hybridoma Organic Berry Farm


Weekend Farmers Markets

Summer Buket List Guide to Baltimore

Baltimore Farmers' Market & Bazaar

Waverly Farmers' Market

Fells Point Farmers' Market


Planes & Trains
plane observation in baltimore

Thomas Dixon Aircraft Observation Park

B&O Train Museum

Baltimore Streetcar Museum


For the Nature Lovers

double rock park baltimore

Cylburn Arboretum

Ladew Topiary Gardens

Irvine Nature Center

Marshy Point

Double Rock Park

Cascade Falls

Oregon Ridge Nature Center


Farms

Gunpowder Bison Farm

Chapel Hill

Clark's Eliok

Kinder Farm Park

Gunpowder Bison Farm


Zoos & Aquarium
Maryland Zoo

Plumpton Park Zoo

Maryland Zoo

National Aquarium


Artsy Smartsy

american visionary arts museum baltimore

American Visionary Arts Museum

Holt Center for the Arts

Art with Ms. Barbara

Baltimore Clayworks

Walter's Art Museum


Science
maryland science center

NASA Goddard Flight Center

Maryland Science Center


Splash Pads
splash pad in baltimore

The Rotunda

Walter Sondheim Fountain, Inner Harbor


Eats

Paper Moon Diner

The Charmery

R. House


Fitness & Fun
parkour baltimore
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Reflecting on Postpartum Anxiety: A Psychotherapist's Journey

Written by Emily Souder, LCSW-C, Nesting Space Therapy LLC

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning. I’m snuggled up with my 2-year- old in jersey-knit sheets, his legs tucked next to my body, his hair smelling faintly of lavender from last night’s bath. Nearby, my newborn stretches and grunts, waking from a peaceful sleep. This moment is a gift, and yet my stomach has already started to tighten and acid has started creeping up in my throat. The clock has started.

During my waking moments I have often felt as if I’m racing against some invisible clock which can be heard only within my mind and body. I’m on high alert, waiting for the next time my baby wakes, anticipating the next tantrum, imagining the next time my children might have conflicting needs. There is a constant awareness of a countdown until the next mini “crisis”, accompanied by a never-ending script of what-ifs, while I’m scarfing down lunch or scrambling to load the washing machine.

Is the baby going to wake up soon? Do I have time to take a shower? What if she cries? What if my son feels rejected when I can’t play with him because the baby needs to eat?

On that Monday morning, I somehow pull one leg out from under the sheets, and then the other. I announce that we’re going downstairs for breakfast. And I feel terrified.

We’re barely down the stairs before the tears start. I feel like I’m trapped, like something terrible is going to happen, like I’m unable to handle whatever is about to come my way.

I go through the motions- getting breakfast for my son, feeding the dog- while trying to hold it together.

How do I do this? What do I do? What do I do??

Breathe.

***

After the birth of my first child, the daily anxiety I experienced and the panic I felt upon waking each day caught me off guard. Even after having a history of some generalized anxiety, I did not anticipate the hormonal shifts, lack of sleep, and other postpartum factors impacting me the way they did. Although I felt attached to my son, the anxiety impacted my enjoyment of our time together, and my ability to have confidence in being a mother. I was convinced that I would always feel that way- unable to enjoy my new baby, panicked and miserable.

This time, after the birth of my second child, I knew more of what to expect and when I noticed those familiar feelings of anxiety and panic returning, albeit with less intensity, I made sure to seek out a therapist and ask for help in other areas of my life as well. I was fortunate after the births of both children in that I had a great deal of support, as well as access to and knowledge of resources which would help point me toward wellness. I am incredibly grateful I was able to continue caring for my children despite my uncomfortable symptoms.

Though I am currently on maternity leave, I plan to return to work as a psychotherapist. My passion is working with pregnant women and new moms, and I have completed a certificate training in Maternal Mental Health. Last year, I started my own business, Nesting Space Therapy LLC, to offer in-home psychotherapy to pregnant women and new moms. May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, and I felt moved to be honest and say that I have been where so many women are and have been. I’m not really even out yet. Each day I am still continuing to heal. It’s not helpful to hide behind my profession and pretend I have it all together.

Mamas (and partners), there are resources out there for you. Please use them! Don’t feel ashamed. A great place to start looking for resources and assistance is Postpartum Support International. I wish all of you wellness. I’m on the other side of the darkness, and I can tell you that it gets better.

Yoga Poses for the Pregnant Mother

Written by: Stephanie Misanik

Yoga is one of my FAVORITE things to talk about with expecting mommas.  Whether you are an experienced yogi or brand new to the mat, prenatal yoga can be a fantastic tool to help ease moodiness, shortness of breath and swollen ankles often experienced during pregnancy.  It provides you with a sacred space to really bond and connect with your baby AND helps prepare your body for the upcoming mystery of labor.  In addition, hitting your mat in a room full of other expecting mommas really creates an energy that I have never experienced anywhere else.  There is something super powerful about expecting mothers coming together and taking time to connect with themselves, their babies and other moms.  If you are feeling all alone in your pregnancy, like nobody gets it…get to a prenatal yoga class!  It’s a safe space to share your experience (the good, the bad and the ugly) with other moms who really truly understand what it is you’re going through.  It’s a fantastic way to create community and feel supported during this beautiful time of life.

If the thought of doing any physical exercise whatsoever seems incredibly overwhelming to you, think of it like this.  Labor is one of the most physically and emotionally intense experiences you will ever endure in this lifetime.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without some physical preparation, and labor is no different.  The asanas (physical poses) of yoga help you to build your strength and stamina while improving circulation.  The meditation during savasana can help you relax and bring your awareness within.  The pranayama (breathing exercises) will be an indispensable tool that you can use to breathe through your contractions when the big day comes.

Safety is key when it comes to exploring the world of prenatal yoga.  If you have never practiced yoga before, it’s important that you only practice prenatal yoga when pregnant.  Now is not the time to check out hot yoga for the first time.  If you already had a strong yoga practice before pregnancy, you may be able to continue that practice (with modifications) during your pregnancy.  Whether you are experienced or brand new, I recommend sticking to a gentle non-heated flow during your first trimester as the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is highest.

As you hit your mat, keep in mind that when pregnant, your body produces a bunch of the hormone relaxin, which softens the connective tissue.  This is super important because it allows the joints in your pelvis to become more flexible as your uterus expands, making room for your growing baby.  Unfortunately, it also can lead to instability in the sacroiliac (SI) joints and can cause lower back pain, so be careful not to overstretch during your practice.

When it comes to knowing which poses are safe and which should be avoided, there are some general guidelines, but mostly I suggest listening to your body.  If something feels good, keep doing it…and if something feels bad, stop.  Here are some helpful guidelines to get you started:

Safe Poses:

Standing poses such as Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) and Virabhadrasana 1-3 (Warrior 1-3) are safe and a great way to ground you to the earth and build strength throughout your pregnancy.

Balancing poses such as Vrkasana (Tree) and Garudasana (Eagle) are okay too.  I recommend doing them near a wall or chair if you are feeling unstable.

Hip openers such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend), Agnistambhasana (Ankle-to-Knee Pose), Eka Pada Kapotasana (1/2 Pigeon Pose), Balasana (Wide-Knee Child’s Pose) and Malasana (Deep Squat) are great because of the focus on flexibility that will be needed later on for delivery, just don’t overdo it because the hormone relaxin is softening all the joints and they are easily dislocated with excessive stretching.  These hip openers are especially helpful in the third trimester because they relieve lower back pain and create space around the pelvis.  They are great poses to use during labor as well to release the lumber spine and open the hip joints.

Stretches on the back such as Supta Baddha Konasana (Recline Bound Angle Pose) and Supta Padagusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose – with a strap) are great during the first trimester.  After 20 weeks, I suggest placing a blanket or bolster under your upper back to elevate your upper body past 20 degrees

Poses to Avoid:

Avoid intense abdominal work like Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose) because the uterus is super delicate right now.  As you progress in your pregnancy, doing super intense abdominal work runs the risk of tearing and separating your abdominal muslces.

Avoid deep twists like Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle), Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle) as they tend to exert too much pressure on the abdominal cavity.

Avoid inversions except Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) for short amounts of time.

Safe Backbends During Pregnancy:

I am often asked if backbends are okay during pregnancy, and my answer is YES, with modifications.  It is super important to listen to your body, so if your body is telling you that something doesn’t feel good listen to it!  Here are some safe backbends to take during pregnancy, if it feels good to you:

Supported Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose)

Sphinx Pose on two blocks and a bolster underneath your thighs.  During pregnancy, the femurs shift forward in the hip sockets.  Placing a bolster underneath your thighs helps to lift the femurs toward the hamstrings, centering the thighbone in the hip socket.  The blocks give extra height to create space for you baby bump.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog) with a bolster under your thighs

Purvottanasana (Upward Plank)

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) with blocks on the outside of your legs

In addition to the asanas, breath work is a fantastic yogic tool to calm the mind and prepare you for the big day.  The two most beneficial kinds of pranayama (breathing exercises) during pregnancy are Ujjayi (long, strong deep breaths in and out, through your nose with a slight constriction in the back of your throat) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).  It’s important to stick to these two and avoid any kind of breath retention or hyperventilation because it could limit the baby’s oxygen supply.

In the end, remember that you are a powerful woman.  Trust your intuition.  If something doesn’t feel good, don’t ignore that feeling.  Listen to your body, do what makes you feel good.  Prenatal yoga is a great opportunity to bond with your baby, to meet other moms and to prepare your body for the birthing process.  I hope to see you in class!

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200

The Best Free Holiday Events in Baltimore

The Holiday Season is arguably the most hectic time of year. There are just too many obligatory work, school, and family gatherings to attend.  While planning parties, making gifts, and baking goodies can be festive, it is also exhausting. In order to maintain that high holiday spirit, it is helpful to connect with family and friends in a meaningful way throughout the season. Intentionally gathering together, in engaging activities, is a wonderful way to stay present and celebrate. Here are five, totally free and exceptionally merry, events happening in Baltimore this December. Take some time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with those you hold dear!

Christmas Village in Baltimore

November 24 - December 24, 2016 @ 11am-7pm

West Shore Park, Inner Harbor

Explore a traditional German-style Christmas village with an appearance by the luminous Christkindl. She is the ‘færie gift-giving girl’ equivalent of our modern Santa. Peruse the market stalls for some holiday treats, including: gingerbread, waffles, mulled wine, and chocolates. There is also an array of handmade ornaments, gifts, and traditional crafts for purchase.

Fell’s Point Main Street Olde Tyme Christmas

Saturday, December 3, 2016 @ 9am - 8pm

Events centered near Broadway and Thames Streets

Enjoy an entire day of family fun at Olde Tyme Christmas Festival. Watch for St. Nick as he arrives by tugboat. Then enjoy breakfast with him at Barocina and Points South Latin Kitchen.  There will be a beverage garden and an eggnog contest.  At 5pm the tree-lighting ceremony will be held, followed by a lighted boat parade.

43rd Annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade

Sunday, December 4, 2016 Beginning @ 1pm

Commences at Poly/Western High School complex; ending at Chestnut Avenue @ 37th Street.

The Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade is a 2.5 mile celebration route in the Medfield and Hampden neighborhoods. This quintessentially Baltimore event features several marching bands, dance squads, Christmas floats, Santa himself, and even a steam calliope! After the parade is over, stop by The Womb Room, and celebrate their grand opening. The Womb Room is a gathering space for expectant parents and families, hosting a variety of childbirth education, yoga, and wellness classes and workshops.

Holidays At Hampton

Saturday, December 10, 2016 @ 10am-8pm and Sunday, December 11, 2016 10am-4pm

Hampton National Historic Site, 535 Hampton Lane, Towson

Take a Yuletide tour of this 18th-Century Georgian estate, farmhouse and servants’ quarters.  Experience the various Christmas traditions of Hampton, including: a candlelight open house,  African-American storytelling, period arts and crafts, and a live harpist performance.

Winter Solstice Ritual

December 21, 2016 @ 7pm-8pm

First Unitarian Church of Baltimore

Gather friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate this earth-honoring tradition!  The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore is a radically inclusive community, welcoming all to participate in the winter ritual of light. Give thanks while enjoying songs, poetry and seasonal blessings. There will be a festive reception to follow.

Holiday blessings to your family from The Nurturing Root!

Top 10 Baltimore Date Ideas For Pregnant Couples

Pregnancy is a transformative experience for parents-to-be. You may be wondering what life will be like with a new baby or how your relationship may change. Adding a child undoubtedly augments all aspects of life. Pregnancy serves as a really great exercise in being present. While you're waiting for baby, enjoy some together time and connect. Here are ten Baltimore date ideas, that honor the now!

  1. Spa Day Enjoy a couples massage. Mom can benefit from a restorative prenatal massage, while Dad enjoys relaxing bodywork. Try Jessie Bernstein at Satori Wellness Center in Towson, The Loft (formerly Missy Kibelbek) in Hampden, or The Healing Path, which has locations in Mt. Vernon, Fell’s Point, and Baltimore County.
  2. Linger at dinner  Sitting together, uninterrupted, for a meal is a rarity for many new parents.  While you are still growing baby, enjoy dinners outside the home. My top picks are Petit Louis with two locations; Roland Park and Columbia and The Wine Market in Locust Point.
  3. Fake a Vacation Staying at a local hotel for an evening or two is the more accessible little sister to a ‘babymoon’. Kimpton Hotel Monaco, near the Inner Harbor, has great boutique hotel amenities. It is in proximity to many downtown Baltimore sites and attractions.
  4. Take a Long Stroll Taking a walk, especially in late pregnancy, can ease discomforts and even facilitate labor. For a picturesque water view, visit Fort McHenry.  If you prefer the canopy of trees, head to Lake Roland.
  5. Brunch Never overrated; brunch is perfect for special occasions. Wit and Wisdom delivers a fantastic Sunday brunch, located at the Four Seasons Hotel in Harbor East.
  6. IKEA A trip to IKEA is a right of passage for parents-to-be. Take a quick trip to White Marsh, or try the Prince George’s County store for the best selection of minimalist nursery staples.
  7. Practice Yoga The Birth Well at Baltimore Yoga Village offers two enriching options: prenatal yoga classes and a yoga for birth workshop. Both programs will help you connect and feel empowered during pregnancy and birth. Baltimore Yoga Village has studios in Hampden and Mt. Washington.
  8. Visit a Museum There are several great museums in Baltimore. Visit Federal Hill and stop by The American Visionary Art Museum.  AVAM hosts an eclectic array of works by self-taught artists. The Baltimore Museum of Art, in Charles Village, houses the renowned Cone Collection and has an exceptionally well-edited contemporary collection.
  9. Watch a Movie Both the Charles and Senator Theatres are landmark locations in Baltimore, where you can view a variety of mainstream and independent films.
  10. Picnic Relax and have a romantic afternoon picnic. Cylburn Arboretum offers respite from city life with its charming gardens. Patterson Park features a vast open lawn earning its nickname, the ‘best backyard in Baltimore’.

If you are looking for resources or recommendations during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Moms & Babies Benefit from Chiropractic Care

Pregnancy presents the perfect opportunity for us to evaluate our health and lifestyle practices. Many of us commit to achieving optimum wellness for ourselves and baby. In addition to regular prenatal visits, many moms also consider treatment from a chiropractor. Chiropractic care targets the health of your nervous system, which controls and coordinates virtually all bodily functions. It can help holistically address discomforts during pregnancy, strengthening your body for labor and birth, and help you have a gentler postpartum period.

Have An Easier Pregnancy

In just nine months our bodies transform hormonally and physiologically to support, grow, and birth baby(ies). Unfortunately, these rapid changes can be accompanied by some unpleasant symptoms.

Often an early pregnancy symptom, nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), is an ailment partly attributed to rapidly rising hormone levels and the detoxification capabilities of your liver. An adjustment targeting parts of your thoracic spine may help mitigate symptoms.

Approximately 70 percent of expectant mothers experience low back or pelvic pain during pregnancy.  Changes including the growth of baby and uterus, weight gain, increased breast tissue, and the softening and stretching of ligaments can all be sources of discomfort. A recent study shows that nearly ALL women who received chiropractic care for back pain experienced dramatic improvement in their discomfort within just one week of treatment.

Shorten Your Labor and Birth

Aptly named, labor is the work that we put into birthing our babies. A chiropractor can adjust your pelvis, allowing baby to settle in the best position for birth. A method called The Webster Technique is proven to help you have a shorter, easier birth with less medical interventions. Some of the astonishing statistics include, a 50% reduction in use of pain medication, about a 30% faster than average first stage of labor, and a significant reduction in the use of an epidural, forceps, vacuum extraction, an episiotomy, and likelihood of a surgical birth.

Enjoy A More Blissful Postpartum Period

Breastfeeding your newborn is a rewarding experience, though sometimes challenging.  According to the CDC, nearly 80% of US mothers initiate nursing their newborn, but by three months of age, less than half of babies are exclusively breastfeeding. Some early breastfeeding difficulties are attributed to our modern birthing practices. Interventions including induction of labor, IV fluids, pain medications, and separation of mother and baby can contribute to nursing challenges.  An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can examine you and baby, and may refer you to chiropractic care for help. Mom may need an adjustment to augment her milk supply. A newborn could benefit from gentle bodywork to allow for a deeper latch or more coordinated sucking.

Colic, a newborn ailment, defined by long stretches of inconsolable crying and poor sleep, beginning within the first few weeks of life, can be disheartening to parents. Adjustments can help restore proper nervous system function to your baby.  A calm, alert baby is better able to nurse, sleep, and grow.
The Nurturing Root believes that chiropractic care enhances your physical and emotional well-being during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. We are happy to provide chiropractic and other natural parenting resources for families living in the Baltimore area.

Wishing you a well adjusted pregnancy and birth!

Written by: Alayna Spratley

Breast+Skin+Sling: An interview with Austin Rees

My guest on the blog today is Austin Rees. Austin is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Babywearing Consultant through the Center for Babywearing Studies. She is the owner of Breast+Skin+Sling, and the co-founder of Sacred Milk. Austin prepares mothers prenatally with the foundations of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and babywearing. She facilitates personalized ceremonies to celebrate life’s transitions. Austin also provides one-on-one babywearing consultations in our community. (featured image credit: Kate’s Takes)

It is common today for parents to take a birthing class. Why should parents seek out a breastfeeding and babywearing class before the baby arrives?

An out of hospital birth class is essential to gaining the information on how to facilitate the process of birth and know your choices in birth. Skin-to-skin, and the breast crawl (infant independently moves to the breast to nurse) occurs immediately after birth. Understanding how to facilitate this instinctual experience before the birth is beneficial. I find mothers profit from the knowledge and foundations of how Milk works, the importance of skin-to-skin, along with an understanding of the normal newborn before the baby arrives. With this knowledge I have witnessed mothers step into motherhood trusting their bodies, their babies, and their Milk. I help mothers discover their innate instincts and wisdom so they enter their unique Milk relationship secure, confident, supported, and connected to their baby. Armed with the knowledge of how to initiate a good start is key to avoiding difficulties. I observed working with mothers postpartum that a majority of the issues they experienced could have been prevented if they had the proper information before the baby arrived. Babywearing can also start immediately, and knowing how to comfortably and confidently use a carrier can be a valuable tool.

Babywearing is commonly seen around the city. How would you react if you see someone wearing a baby improperly while at the store?

I am always excited to see another parent or caregiver wearing their baby while I am out. I usually try to make eye contact or say, “It’s great to see you wearing your baby.” If I notice someone wearing their baby and the straps are twisted, or it does not look to the carrier direction guidelines I may observe to see if they are interested in striking up a conversation. When I engage with someone who is wearing I ask how they feel. If they are happy and comfortable, I praise their excitement. If they say this is great, but xyz, I will share some babywearing tips that may help that situation.
motherblessing baltimore
mamablessing-2.jpg-photo-credit-Brenda-Amaya-Photography-300x200

On your website it lists you offer facilitating ceremonies for families in the DC/MD/VA area. What are some reasons for someone to reach out to you to create a ceremony for themselves or someone else?

I enjoy designing personalized ceremonies to create a circle of support for someone. I have been facilitating Mother Blessings for pregnant or adopting women for 10 years. In place of a traditional baby shower, a Mother Blessing is a special ceremony designed to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate a woman’s journey into Motherhood. Family, friends, and mothers contact me to create a ceremony and provide a loving place where the honored mother can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches childbirth or adoption, and mothering her first or multiple children.

I also facilitate Birth Story Ceremonies; a place where a mother can experience deep listening, and allow the power of sharing her story to heal, celebrate, grieve, release, process and acknowledge her experience, her journey. These are designed to make way for the mother to experience her birth story. We open our heart and commit our undivided attention to her. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

A Weaning Ceremony is a time we can come together to honor a Mother’s Milk relationship. We make way for the mother to experience her Milk story by opening our heart and committing our undivided attention. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

I also create customized ceremonies. Recently I designed one for a special woman who was about to undergo radiation for breast cancer. We designed activities that supported releasing fears, created personal power, and we weaved a web of support, pledging our assistance throughout her treatment and beyond.

Sacred Milk is a sister program under the Sacred Living Movement. Can you share what is the Sacred Living Movement, and more about your involvement with Sacred Milk and Sacred Pregnancy?
Sacred Milk Baltimore
teaching-add-photo-credit-Kalimana-Birth-Films-200x300
Photo credit: Kalimana Birth Films

The Sacred Living Movement acknowledges all aspects of our life’s journey need to be honored, and embraced with reverence and respect. The Sacred Living Movement was designed to bring back the age-old tradition of women sitting with one another during a time of transition, witnessing each other’s process and BEING there for one another. We have a local, active Sacred Living Movement Maryland group.

Sara Goff and I created Sacred Milk after attending a Sacred Pregnancy retreat. Sacred Milk is a movement inspiring women to trust their bodies, their baby’s and their Milk. Our mission is to nourish the wholeness of each mother’s journey and shift our culture to see Milk as a holistic practice, rather than simply a feeding choice. In the last century our culture has been saturated by marketing that has conditioned us to see breasts as sexual, and human milk as just a food source. The Journey to Milk program is focused on opening space for women to remember their innate wisdom and then surround themselves with a supportive community. Milk is instinctual, natural, normal, and necessary. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or filled with bliss. Milk is not something that can be fully learned from a book or taught on the internet. Milk cannot be told. Milk must be modeled, supported and nourished in community because it is a way of living not a way of feeding.

I recently co-hosted a Sacred Pregnancy + Sacred Milk 2-day mini retreat for pregnant mothers in our community. It was a gorgeous event full of women showing up and witnessing to each other. In September I will be facilitating a retreat to certify Sacred Pregnancy instructors in Nashville, TN. I am excited for more women to have the option to attend these classes or retreats prenatally.

Austin is such wonderful resource for mothers and families in our area and has such a beautiful way of bringing our community together. If you are looking for breastfeeding or babywearing education in the Baltimore or surrounding area, you can contact Austin here.

Postpartum Doulas Support Baltimore Families

 

Having a new baby can be a very challenging time for some mothers and their families.  Mom may be healing from surgery or a difficult birth.  Dad or partner may not be able to take any time off work, or maybe he travels a lot.  Some families don’t live in the same area as their extended family, so they may have minimal family support.  Perhaps they have other young children that need tending to while mom is healing.  Maybe they just need help stocking the empty fridge.

Many families are finding comfort and support through postpartum doulas.  While a birth doula supports families emotionally and physically during labor and delivery, a postpartum doula supports families after their baby arrives.  Postpartum doulas support Baltimore families in a variety of ways.  Their tasks may vary depending on the family’s needs, but ultimately the doula will help ease the family’s transition with baby, and help keep their home afloat while they recover from birth and bond with their growing family.

Postpartum doulas help families with light housekeeping, meal prep, sibling care, overnight support, errand running, and more.  Just imagine…

We can do all of that.  We can take care of you.

By offering non-judgmental support, families feel safe asking questions related to breastfeeding, baby care, and postpartum wellness.  Mothers and families feel secure knowing they can take the deserved time to rest and bond with baby while their doula keeps their home running smoothly.  Our postpartum doulas support Baltimore families with passion, compassion, and expertise.

 

Families Bond Through Infant Massage

Today’s post comes from Baltimore-based massage therapist, Jessie Bernstein, LMT, BCTMB, CEIM.  You can find Jessie teaching infant massage classes at Greenberries or providing therapeutic massage at Indigo Physio.

Nurture. Compassion. Intention. All of these are vital components when connecting with another form of life. Infant massage is one of the best ways to start introducing this lesson to our young ones. It’s such a fabulous way to initiate bonding between parent and infant. What I love about infant massage is that it benefits all parents and babies, including those with special needs. Infant massage is a remarkable resource for birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, single parents, and other caregivers being a part of an infant’s development.

As an infant massage instructor, one of the biggest impacts I have seen has truly been from witnessing fathers eagerly participate. Before dads attend the class, many struggle with confidence when tending to their newborns.  They want to feel nurturing, and supportive, but often feel a lack of connection since babies are so dependent on their mothers, particularly early on.

A father’s relationship with baby differs from mom’s in some ways, but they can build a nurturing relationship through different means. By learning touch, infant massage not only gives dads an esteem boost, but supports an established connection and enhances bonding. Touch is one of the most amazing forms of nonverbal communication, and is a valuable tool for the entire family to use. It’s such a pleasure to see the smiles and confidence grow in my students with each class, and the moms gleam with joy knowing their little one is connecting with dad.

Some of the benefits to the infant include:

My infant massage classes are laid back and informal to help you feel confident, and to prepare you with supportive techniques and encouragement. This 4-week series covers different topics each week and all of the supplies are included. Classes are currently being taught at Indigo Physio in Baltimore City. I also offer families private classes in the comfort of your own home. I encourage both parents or a parent and a caregiver, who has an active role in the infant’s care, to attend the series. In my experience, the whole family not only benefits, but also enjoys the class and time together.

If you are interested in learning more about Jessie and her services, she can be reached at 410.493.0196 or you can email her at  jab.massage at gmail dot com.