The Golden Hour: Those First 60 Minutes After Birth Are in Fact Pure Gold

The first 60 minutes after your baby is born are remarkably beneficial for bonding and attachment between mama and her new babe. What is the golden hour exactly? How can you maximize attachment and bonding in this hour? How long should skin-to-skin be established before those medical tasks and procedures are performed? These questions all point to this golden hour and its magical luster.

Congratulations! Your baby has been born. You have finally gotten a chance to gaze in their eyes for the first time after feeling all the pregnancy symptoms and baby’s movements. You are on the other side of labor and it feels so incredibly relieving.

That uninterrupted contact between mother and baby during the “golden hour” after birth is critical to the child’s growth and development. In the past, often times, the baby was whisked away from mother to perform all the essential procedures such as weight, bath, vaccinations (if consented by parents), diapering and swaddling. Mom would be waiting to receive her new bundle back once tasks were performed. Health care providers now understand and know that the more skin-to-skin mom can have with baby immediately after the birth, the better chance of bonding the mother will have and also the better overall experience the family will have as they embark on their new parenting journey.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends the following guidelines:

So what exactly are the benefits?

Expectant mothers can talk to their care provider about the standard procedures for this postpartum period. Your birth plan can also include these 60 minutes immediately following birth. Every mother and baby should have a chance to experience their “golden hour.”

 

The 4-1-1 on Breastfeeding with Katy Linda, IBCLC

We’ve got the fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable Katy Linda on the blog today asking her all things breastfeeding. With her wealth of knowledge, this is sure to be a treat for all. She is an IBCLC and a mom of 4 amazing kids. She’s the founder of The Breastfeeding Den and has three students working to assist her. The Breastfeeding Den provides personalized 1:1 support in your own home. Katy truly believes that seeing you in your comfortable space will provide the most tailored and supportive care for your individual needs. Katy and her team stay focused on the big picture of breastfeeding and help families work through unique circumstances to create a goal that works well for all.

*What is one piece of advice you would give soon-to-be new moms about their breastfeeding journey?

This is such a hard question, one piece of advice isn’t much! But, I always tell families that many generations ago, lactation consultants didn’t exist because our families were closer together physically, and we had better support systems. If there is one thing a family needs, it’s a quality support system. Find your team who will lift you up and encourage you and embrace that. Support will get you through the hard days of parenting.

*What are effective ways to build milk supply?

The best way to increase supply is to demand more. The more frequently the breasts are emptied the more milk the majority of parents will make. For many families this is through direct breastfeeding. For families whose babies are not efficient at emptying the breast, pumping with a quality (typically hospital grade) pump will likely be necessary.

There are many herbs and foods that may help with milk supply, however which herbs and foods will work for each family is very individual. Having a full health history is an important piece of recommending these galactagogues to families.

*What are ways to reduce milk supply?

There are many reasons families might feel that they should work to decrease supply. My first question would always be WHY. I want to see the parent and baby and be sure that they aren’t misreading signs from their baby. True oversupply is very rare.

If they have to wean quickly for medical reasons, we will want to look at the underlying concerns and make a plan tailor-made to their situation.

For those who are trying to wean because it’s the right time for their family, removing the feeding that the baby is least attached to, and getting into a new normal, and then removing another.

*Can pumping more than needed become a problem?

Absolutely. Pumping more than you need could increase difficulties if the milk supply becomes too much. Some babies struggle with too much milk. Sometimes the pumping parent can experience challenges such as plugged ducts or even mastitis if there is too much milk that isn't moving through the breasts.

*What pump do you recommend? Why?

There is no right pump for every person, if you will be separated from your baby for extended periods of time, or your baby has health complications, you may need a hospital grade (typically rental) pump, if you are going to be working full time away from your baby, you'll want a double electric pump, and if you just need to pump occasionally you may be fine with a hand pump. Which brand and features you need are variant upon circumstances. Feel free to reach out, I'm happy to help with pump selection.

*Should foremilk/ hindmilk be a consideration when nursing?

In most circumstances, no. Your baby is smart, and they will typically let you know what they need. We actually just posted this blog on this topic.

*Is timing breastfeeding sessions necessary?

In the early days it can be helpful to make sure feedings are lasting at least 5 minutes, and to make sure they aren't lasting 45+minutes on a regular basis. If there are concerns around your baby's feedings it can be helpful to keep track of things until all is going well. Most babies need to eat 8 - 12 times a day, and typically feedings last 10 - 30 minutes. A few feedings outside of the normal range is reasonable, if every feeding is lasting a long time, it would be wise to seek the support of an IBCLC to assess the situation.

*For new moms, what is the greatest mental/emotional challenge to overcome when it comes to breastfeeding?

Everyone has different challenges. For many moms, one of the big challenges of breastfeeding is the fact that most human breasts don't contain ounce markers, and many families find it challenging to trust that their baby is getting enough to eat. Story after story talks about those who struggled to make enough milk, and it can induce a lot of fear into new parents who just want to ensure that their baby is doing well. Rest assured, the vast majority of women make enough milk for their baby. A baby who is well fed will be content after feedings, pooping regularly, and growing as expected. If your baby is doing all of those things, you are just fine.

*For new moms, what is the greatest physical challenge to overcome when it comes to breastfeeding?

For many new parents, being needed as much as babies need their parents can be challenging. Babies are pretty helpless creatures and they depend on their adults for everything that they need. They also need to eat frequently to stay alive, which means new parents aren't getting big chunks of sleep. Being needed 24/7, and not getting the sleep you are used to can be exhausting. But, parenting is also an amazing experience, so it is all worth it in the end!

Fourth Trimester… Oh My! Tips for sanity and survival

Congratulations. You have grown a baby. The 40 or so weeks of waiting are finally over and you are wondering what on earth to expect now. While your body is no longer housing a tiny human, something still feels off. The fog has not lifted. Your energy is low, your hormones are whack, and your stamina is half of what it used to be. Life seems to be filled with endless feedings, swaddling, burping, soothing and not sleeping. The days are blurry and the nights are endless. You have officially entered the fourth trimester. These next twelve or so weeks are a completely different marathon. Below are 6 tips that I felt helped me transition into motherhood with grace and kindness towards myself and my baby.

1. Take it easy the first few weeks. You will be back to “yourself” eventually but right now, your body is healing. Healing from pregnancy and birth. It will not feel “normal” anytime soon.

2. Never say “no” to someone offering help. People, in general, want to know how they can help. Let them cook meals, buy you Starbucks, clean your house, hold/feed your baby, carry your purse… anything. You don’t have to do it all. Even ask for help if you need it. You are not weak if you ask. You just made a human. That’s pretty damn strong.

3. Do not put pressure on yourself to get that pre-pregnancy body back during this trimester. It will not happen and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things are a little more shifty and squishy. It is ok. No one is judging you and if they are, you don’t need them in your life.

4. An hour or two goes by VERY quickly. Especially realized when a newborn baby is eating that often. At the end of the day, if you are wondering where the day has gone, know that you kept your baby fed. That is a big feat in itself. But everyday, try your best to do at least one thing for yourself. Eat a cookie. Walk slowly around the block. Ask for a massage from your partner. Take a bath. Read something (googling articles about your baby doesn’t count).

5. These first three months are all about SURVIVAL. Forget ALL. THE. RULES. and trust your instincts. If you hold your baby all day for him/her to nap, fine. If you get take out for 12 weeks straight, great. If you rock or nurse your baby to sleep, job well done. There is no “right” way to parent. Your mama instincts are powerful. You have everything you need inside of you to care for your baby. Silence the judge-y noise.

6. Believe the saying “the days are long but the years are short.” Although it feels like you’ll never have poopless days, you will. Try your very best to enjoy the little moments of sweetness. The coos and giggles. The messes and madness. These times are tiring times, but bound to make our hearts and lives oh so full.

You got this, mama. I believe in YOU!

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” –Robert Browning

YUM! Milk Boosting Horchata

We've taken a timeless Mexican Horchata recipe and adapted it to support lactation in new mothers.  By substituting the rice for oats and using a plant-based milk, this recipe may be helpful with milk production in breastfeeding mothers.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup of uncooked oats

5 cups of water

1 cup of coconut, rice, or almond milk

1/2 T vanilla extract

2 cinnamon sticks

1/3 cup of sugar (more or less to taste)

 

Directions:

1. Place 2 cups of water, oats, and cinnamon sticks in the blender until the oats and cinnamon sticks are roughly ground.

2. Add additional water and place mixture in the fridge to soak overnight (or 4 hours minimum).

3. Strain mixture and discard solid contents.

4. Add vanilla, milk, and sugar.

Serve cold.

 

**This recipe is not intended as a fix for supply issues or breastfeeding challenges.  For mothers struggling with breastfeeding or milk production, we encourage you to reach out to one of our recommended IBCLCs for guidance and support.** 

What Is A Postpartum Doula?

Short answer; a postpartum doula is a cross between your mythical, awesomely helpful mother-in-law, and an expert baby whisperer! But seriously, a postpartum doula is a trained parenting, infant, and postnatal support professional. She provides education and assistance to families during the newborn period. This type of postpartum practitioner has a wealth of specialized experience and education, to help you adjust to parenthood. Think of a postpartum doula as your personalized parenting coach. Her goal is to help your family learn about normal newborn behavior, baby care techniques, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, breast and infant feeding techniques. There are really two avenues of support, a postpartum doula will provide. In the most traditional sense, a postpartum doula will help with a family-centered approach, or she can care for a growing family, by providing infant-focused care.

With a family-centered approach, a postpartum doula can guide, educate, and assist you through the parenting process. She may help you learn how to breastfeed with ease and confidence, answer questions you may have about feeding, diapering, bathing, grooming, and calming baby, and assist you with babywearing tips and techniques. Additionally, she may help you with meal planning and preparation, household organization, and give you access to trusted parenting and infant resources and referrals.  

A postpartum doula can also help your family with infant-focused care. Within this framework, your doula serves as a newborn specialist. She will be attentive to all of your baby’s needs, so you can properly rest and recover, after birth. Infant-focused care is particularly helpful to parents who are wanting assistance during the evening and overnight hours. Your postpartum doula will provide dedicated newborn care, so you can have the most restorative sleep, knowing a skilled professional is attending to all of your baby’s desires.

If you want personalized support, guidance, and resources to help you make the best decisions for your new family, consider hiring a postpartum doula! To learn more about how a postpartum doula provides practical support to families during the transition to parenthood, read this article.  Also check out The Relievery’s practitioner resource directory, or Doula Match, to find a postpartum professional in your area.

*This post was first published on THE RELIEVERY*

The Nurturing Root is honored to support and educate Northeast Ohio families. We provide Birth Boot Camp childbirth education, holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation services, and family-centered postpartum doula support. If you are looking to have a healthy pregnancy, amazing birth, and gentle postpartum recovery experience, contact us! We also welcome you to join our FREE Facebook community, Cleveland Holistic Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting. This is a great space for families and professionals interested in a variety of natural birth and parenting topics

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.

New Mothers Are Choosing Placenta Encapsulation To Help Them Breastfeed

A growing number of mothers are choosing to consume their placenta, in order to have greater breastfeeding success.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time that highlights the importance of increasing a collaborative effort to support a breastfeeding-friendly landscape. A growing community of mothers are turning to alternative practices like placenta encapsulation, to help them establish and meet their breastfeeding goals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Breastfeeding Report Card, 70% of mothers make the attempt to breastfeed their newborns, but at six months of age, only about 15% of babies are being exclusively breastfeed. This number is in stark contrast to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that all babies be exclusively breastfed until six months of life.

There are several medical, physical, emotional, and social hurdles that can affect breastfeeding success rates. Changes to policies, practices, and the ability for new mothers to access breastfeeding support is slowly helping to increase these numbers. Some resourceful mothers are choosing a more controversial route to ensure they have the best breastfeeding experience.

The placenta, the temporary organ, that grows along with the baby and serves as its lifeline until birth, is most often treated as medical waste. But it may be a continued source of support to the Mother, after she gives birth. Through placenta encapsulation, the baby’s placenta is steamed, dehydrated, and pulverized. Then it is made into pills. A new mother can take her capsules as a postpartum wellness supplement. In addition to supporting lactation and increasing milk supply, many mothers report a boost in energy, feeling emotionally well and strong, lessened severity of mood swings, and decreased postpartum bleeding. Here are some of the great experience mothers are reporting:

“I am certain that taking my placenta pills allowed me to recover from my c-section at a much quicker rate, and with no baby blues at all! My milk came in immediately, my energy level was great even after long nights establishing a nursing a schedule. I felt stable and clear headed.” Kristen Sharp

“With my first child, I didn't produce much milk - had to supplement from day 1 and was only able to produce the little I did for 4 months. I am currently 2 weeks postpartum with my 2nd [child] and feel fantastic using my placenta pills! My milk came in 3 days postpartum and my supply is really good.” - Amanda Lynn

“Not only did this help me immediately postpartum, I took my capsules again 3.5 months postpartum when I was stressed about leaving my daughter for the first time for a work trip. It not only brought a lightness back into my mood, but increased my pumping output so I could add enough to my stash to leave her. I would recommend The Nurturing Root’s services to everyone.” - Michelle Woolschlager

The Nurturing Root has been providing professional placenta encapsulation services in Baltimore, since 2011, helping over 650 mothers have their best postpartum recovery experience. Additionally, The Nurturing Root supports expectant couples with Birth Boot Camp childbirth education classes and family-centered postpartum doula care in Baltimore. If you are interested in learning more about how placenta encapsulation can enhance you postpartum recovery experience, contact The Nurturing Root here!

Introducing Solids With Baby Led Weaning

Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommend exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. As you approach this milestone, you’re probably thinking about introducing solids to baby. There are two ‘schools of thought’ regarding the the addition of complementary foods. Feeding milled cereals and puréed foods by spoon is the traditional approach. Another way to offer solids is through Baby Led Weaning (BLW).  This style encourages baby to feed herself and skip the spoon, completely. The following is a guide to help you learn about, and decide if, a baby-led approach is right for your family.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

BLW is a theory originated by Gill Rapley, a British health nurse. The word ‘weaning’ is the UK equivalent of Americans saying ‘starting solids’.  With BLW, you forgo spoon feeding, a parent initiated method, and trust your baby to nourish herself, a baby initiated approach

When is my baby ready to feed herself?

Spoon feeding is so popular and almost unchallenged in our culture. Many families choose to introduce solids prior to six months.  Before this age, babies are not developmentally ready to feed themselves. With BLW, you wait until baby is developmentally ready to eat. When your infant reaches the following milestones, she is ready to start exploring food:

Why choose BLW?

It’s progressive and instinctual! A baby initiated approach to food is an extension of breastfeeding. A healthy, full-term baby can feed herself as soon as she is born. Baby tells you when she is hungry, she nurses at her pace, and knows when she is full. BLW builds on this philosophy and applies it to complementary foods. This style is also easier. Your baby enjoys the foods you cook for the entire family.  There is no need to prepare separate recipes for you infant.

How safe is BLW?

‘I am worried my baby will choke on food!’ The BLW philosophy makes sense in theory, but many parents are nervous to try this approach for fear of choking. BLW is as safe, or safer than traditional spoon feeding. As long as your baby is ready to feed herself, as listed above, she can engage in BLW.

baby led weaning info
What food should baby eat?

For safety, foods should be served in large chunks that baby can easily grasp in hand. These are a good start:

Here are an additional 100+ foods and recipes to enjoy.
To learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out Rapley’s series of books.

What Do I Wear Now That I’m Breastfeeding?

Now that you’ve gotten this breastfeeding thing figured out, you may be trying to find the best things to wear for comfort, access and you may be worrying about coverage. Here’s a round-up list of some crowd favorite breastfeeding attire.

The key is layering! Each layer serves a purpose.

1) A well-fitting bra. This is ESSENTIAL. Don’t just make whatever cheap, half-functional nursing bra you can find work. This is a commitment and your breasts deserve to be supported for the foreseeable future! Also, keep in mind that for most women, it’s best to stick with a non-underwire option, at least in the beginning, so you’re avoiding any unnecessary pressure on your milk ducts.

First, get a good, in-person bra fitting. Some local options include, Necessary Secrets in Greenspring Station, Lingerie Lingerie at Kenilworth, and Nordstrom at Towson Town Center where they can make any bra into a nursing bra for you by sending it off.

Some favorite brands you’ll find while there include Cake, Anita and Elomi.

2) Nursing tanks. These offer support and shape all around, and are convenient as they open and close as you unlatch or latch the bra for feedings/pumping. An overwhelmingly popular favorite here is the Bravado nursing tank. Many local moms report they got 2-4 tanks in basic colors and wear them daily. Other brands include the Undercover Mama, and Cake lingerie tanks.

3) The top layer. Here, you can wear a breastfeeding-specific top or dress, a v-neck or other top. If you go with a non-breastfeeding specific top, it’s easy to do the “one up, one down” with a nursing tank underneath covering your belly and back.  You just pull up the top layer enough to access the latch on the tank.  You can always just pull your breast up and over in a v- neck, too.

Favorite breastfeeding-specific brands include Milk Nursing Wear, Latched Mama, and Momzelle Breastfeeding Apparel.  A non-breastfeeding-specific dress that some have raved about is the Lands End Fit and Flare dress. A personal favorite, is this hoodie from target that has a great side-split for easy access.

A Mama's Mailbox nursing apparel subscription is a really fun option and great way to build a versatile, stylish breastfeeding/pumping wardrobe.

4) The scarf. Finally, toss on a lightweight scarf or infinity scarf as we head into cooler weather. These provide a nice distraction for baby to play with and can allow discreet breastfeeding, providing enough coverage that many may not even know you’re feeding your baby. Bonus, they’ll add some style too.

Now that you’ve built your layers, go out and breastfeed feeling comfortable and confident!

5 Ways Partners Can Bond With Their Breastfed Baby

By Alayna Spratley

During this first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. This global awareness initiative is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an international network of organizations working to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.  Learn about World Breastfeeding Week 2016 here.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week here are five ways fathers and non-nursing parents can bond with their breastfed babies:

  1. Skin To Skin Contact

Holding a newborn baby on your bare chest has so many benefits beyond the obvious snuggles. Skin to skin contact helps normalize baby’s body temperature and glucose levels; heart and respiratory rates also stabilize.

  1. Babywearing

Successfully carrying an infant in a sling, wrap, or a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is life changing! Most babies love to nestle on mom or dad’s chest. Wearing baby provides the physical closeness infants need while freeing a caregiver’s hands to participate in daily activities. It is so empowering to accomplish any task while babywearing.

  1. Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a superb way to feel deeply connected to baby, while getting a more restful night’s sleep.

dads-can-bond-with-their-breastfed-baby-768x512

  1. Movement

Inside mom, babies spend approximately nine months in motion.  So it is no surprise that they crave similar movement once born. Rock, sway, or bounce (I suggest using a Pilates ball) that baby! You will help soothe, calm, and lull your infant to sleep.

  1. Rituals

When baby starts having a more predictable rhythm, have dad start a short daily routine. A morning ritual could include taking baby upon waking, changing a diaper and clothes, and wearing her while making breakfast. An evening routine, that implements several bonding strategies, could include a taking a bath, enjoying some skin to skin time, and having a cuddle in the rocking chair.  

Supporting breastfeeding is a cultural responsibility that begins in the home.

We want all families committed to breastfeeding to succeed. If you reside in the Baltimore area, we offer postpartum services to help all family members be included, confident, and supported throughout the nursing journey.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

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.