Simply Being A Mama

Asking for Help Doesn’t Make You Less of a Parent – Well Rounded NY

Posted by in 4th Trimester Support for Mama & Baby

 

A mom of twins explains why she said yes to every offer.

“..The longer my not saying “yes” went on, the more miserable I became. I finally realized that I couldn’t keep up at the pace at which I was going. I was tired, unhappy and not enjoying being a mom. Time to make a change, though it was not going to be easy.

I first had to realize that accepting help was ok and that it didn’t make me any less of a parent. I wasn’t failing as a mom, I had infant twins. How could I not have needed help?

I started pushing myself to say “yes:” “yes” to other people feeding the babies; “yes” to someone watching them when I showered, “yes” to babysitting them when I needed to run an errand. The more I said “yes,” the better I started to feel and the more I enjoyed being with my twin babies. I no longer saw accepting help as a weakness. It was now something that was only positive and very much needed…”

Read More At: Asking for Help Doesn’t Make You Less of a Parent – Well Rounded NY

Adjusting to Your Postpartum Body

Posted by in 4th Trimester Support for Mama & Baby

 

Originally Posted on New Mama Project By: Fiona Griffin, MS

 

ONE THING MANY WOMEN WORRY about is what will happen to their body during pregnancy, birth, and after baby.  It would be easy for me to say, “don’t worry about this, focus on the new baby and don’t make your body image such a priority,” but actually following my own advice would be hard.  The reality of our society is that women are constantly judged for their appearance. In some ways it may be empowering to see your body used with such profound purpose – creating and sustaining life.  In other ways it can be very difficult to physically care for a new baby, recover from birth, and adjust to a new postpartum body size and shape.

Beginning right after my daughter’s birth my biggest focus, regarding my body, was physical recovery. The impact that birth had on my body was quite shocking.  I had no idea that I would be so fatigued, bleeding so much,  very sore, having difficulty with incontinence for several weeks, and be out of breath and dizzy for the first few days if I stood up too long.  All of these physical challenges caught me off guard. I don’t like being caught off guard.  This made the postpartum period that much harder for me.  Everyone is different though, some women breeze through the physical recovery. I had a hard time knowing if my experience was normal during the first few days postpartum.  I remember googling frantically to learn about physical recovery after birth.

 

Becoming a mom meant shifting how I thought about the purpose of my body.  Now it was clearly meant to be used to nourish and care for baby.  When I thought of my body this way it didn’t seem to matter so much how it looked.

 

In addition to physically recovering from birth (and freaking out about said physical recovery), breastfeeding was a huge part of my new mom routine. From the moment the baby came I was nursing around the clock – I felt like the baby was attached to me at least 20 hours a day (warning: this may be an exaggeration). I felt like I no longer owned my body and that it’s purpose in the world was now to serve this baby.  Previously, I had thought of my body as sort of an outward expression of my personality and worth.  I knew that people judged me on my appearance.  But, the baby didn’t care about how sexy I was, what I was wearing or whether my legs were shaved.  She just wanted to be warm, comforted, and nursed.  It’s actually hard to express how much of a fundamental shift this was in my identity.

Becoming a mom meant shifting how I thought about the purpose of my body.  Now it was clearly meant to be used to nourish and care for baby.  When I thought of my body this way it didn’t seem to matter so much how it looked.  What mattered most was whether it worked to do its job of feeding baby. But I also knew people would still be assessing my outward appearance. On the one end of the spectrum I felt empowered by my maternal capacities, but on the other I felt like a frumpy middle aged woman in an airbrushed swimsuit spread. I am still working on how to find a balance between these two aspects of my identity, but wrestling with these ideas in the first few days of motherhood was really hard.

There are a few things that I did or wish I did that I believe can help ease the mental turmoil and physical discomfort that comes with the postpartum period. So what can we do when we’re adjusting to our postpartum body?

1. I learned what typically happens to a woman’s body after birth.  I wish I had familiarized my self with this info beforehand, but better late than never.  I found a good timeline of what to expect and checked it daily.  I also called my midwife with lots of questions.

Educate yourself about what is going on with your body during the postpartum period. I appreciated the info presented on the blog The Alpha Parent in this post

2. I tried to take care of my body during the postpartum period.  It was really hard to stay in bed all day for several days, but I found that my body let me know when I pushed it too far. I also took herbal sits bath for the first few day and used pads coated in witch hazel to soothe my bottom.  I sat on lots of pillows or laid down in comfy positions. I tried really hard to focus on taking it easy and allowing my body to recover from the 12+ hours of work it did to birth the baby.

Allow for lots of rest, take herbal baths to soothe wounds, and eat lots of healthy nourishing food.  We also recommend making a postpartum wellness plan -Taylor offers a great Postpartum Wellness Toolkit on her website http://www.taylordavisdoula.com

3. As soon as my baby was born I told my husband to call my parents and tell them to get to our house as soon as they could.  I knew I was facing a challenge that I couldn’t get through without a lot of help. For a week straight my parents and husband cooked, cleaned, helped care for baby, and comforted me however I needed it.  At times I felt guilty that I wasn’t helping out more or felt ashamed that I needed so much support, but I really could not have gotten through that first week without them.  My mom was especially great at normalizing my experience and assuring me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.

Use your support network to get the help you need to recover from birth and adjust to your new role.  Not sure what kind of help you need?  Consider signing up for our newsletter to get a copy of our Social Supports Guide. 

4. I found it really helpful to talk with supportive friends and family during the first week or two.  I found being a new mom really isolating (even with family around).  It helped me to talk to Taylor every day and share what was going on.  It also really helped to text with a cousin who had had her daughter 4 days before me.  Knowing I had someone going through just about the same thing was reassuring.  I also watched a lot of TV episodes while nursing.  Having something to entertain me for the endless hours on the couch or in bed helped me feel a little more like my old self in this strange new world.

Find self-care practices that help you feel good about your body.  Maybe this is relaxation, gentle exercise, or spending time with mothers who can relate to your experience.  Check out our Self-Care Quiz to get great ideas for self-care activities. 

5. I wasn’t sure what size clothes I would fit into or what I would want to wear after the baby was born.  So, I didn’t really have much ready.  I thought I might fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes right away  – this was not the case. I wore sweatpants and yoga pants a lot in the first few days.  I also had difficulty finding tops that fit. I had bought some nursing bras but they didn’t fit and I didn’t have any good tops.  My parents made an emergency run for nursing bras (sorry dad) and I made due with a few nursing tank tops.

It’s a good idea to plan on wearing some of your maternity clothes for a while after baby comes. You’ll probably want loose clothes that you don’t mind getting stained with various bodily fluids (yours and baby’s).  You could also consider some nursing specific apparel if you plan to breastfeed.

We want to hear from YOU!  What were some of the challenging physical changes you experienced after baby was born?  How did you manage physical recovery?  Share your story with us in the comments section. 

Please share to help us reach more mamas!

Fiona Griffin MS New Mama Project

Fiona Griffin is a mental health counselor and the co-founder of New Mama Project, an online community offering support for postpartum mothers and space for real talk about the transition into motherhood.  The site offers a social supports guide and self-care quiz for new mamas that can be found

Fiona works with youth and families in Vermont where she lives with  her husband and daughter. You can learn more about Fiona at Fiona Griffin Counseling.

New Mama Project is an online community offeringnew mama project support for postpartum mothers and a space for real talk about the transition into motherhood. In addition to a weekly blog and newsletter, the site offers a social supports guide and self-care quiz for new mamas that can be found here: New Mama Project .  


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Using Mindfulness to Overcome Postpartum Challenges

Posted by in 4th Trimester Support for Mama & Baby, Guest Posts

mindfulness to overcome postpartum challengesMindfulness & Postpartum 

Originally Posted on New Mama Project By: Fiona Griffin, MS

THE BIRTH OF MY DAUGHTER WAS A SHOCK.  Yes, I knew I was pregnant, and went into the experience as prepared as anyone could be, but it was still a surprising and, frankly, unsettling experience. Things didn’t go better or worse than I imagined, just different.

The postpartum period for me was also a shock.  It was much more challenging than I thought it would be, and I struggled to feel like a competent mother.  I had so many ideas in my head about what I should be doing and what was best for my baby.  I wasn’t sure what to do, and I was also working hard to recover from the strain of childbirth. Every day was full of ups and downs.  Each new day brought an opportunity to try to do things differently or better. After a series of perceivedusing mindfulness postpartum successes and failures throughout the day, I would reflect internally or process with my partner about how to make the next day better. Sometimes it would be better and sometimes it would be more challenging. During the immediate postpartum period I often felt like I was in a repetitive cycle of trying to be in the moment, becoming frustrated with how things were going, and resolving to do better next time.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

After several days stuck in my own cycle. Replaying an inner monologue over and over. Feeling defeated that things aren’t the way that I want them to be I began thinking on a deeper level that sounded like this: “So what is the key to breaking out of this cycle?  How can I measure success differently so that each day feels positive.  Or, should I change the game completely?  How could I exist in a way that allows me to escape a need to categorize moments or days as good or bad?”

Sometimes when I am stuck I think about what I would counsel a client to do.  I am not a practitioner of mindfulness, but it is impossible to ignore the mindfulness movement if you work in the mental health field.  And for good reason. For me, using just a few mindfulness concepts helps me break out of my cycle. Countless others find mindfulness to be key in managing a variety of mental health issue. Even scientific research supports mindfulness.  So, if you haven’t discovered mindfulness, maybe now is the time to try.

Here are my top three practical mindfulness tools.

1. Be aware of what is happening around you, in the moment. Be present. As a new mom it is really challenging to be at ease with what is happening in the moment.  New mothers are often wondering if they’re doing the right thing, or worrying about how the rest of the day will go. It can also be difficult to adjust to the pace and schedule (or lack of schedule) of a newborn.  Finding a way to settle into the uncertainty of the moment and drink up those special moments with your newborn may help you enjoy the postpartum experience a little more. Read our blog post about the secret to unlocking postpartum wellness for some ideas on how to be in the moment with baby.

using mindfulness postpartum2. Let go of expectations and attachment to outcomes.  This is always a big challenge for me.  Since the day I got pregnant I’ve struggled to accept the unknowable about birth and parenting.  During the postpartum period, managing my expectations was a huge challenge. Letting go of how I expected things to go was something I really struggled with. There’s little chance things are going to go exactly as you expect, so the more you can allow yourself to go with the flow, the happier you will be.

3. Avoid judgement. You can’t control other people’s judgements – though they’re probably not judging you as much as you think they are. You can stop judging yourself though.  If you have a negative thought, notice it and let it go. If you use harsh words towards your baby, give her an extra hug and move on.  If your house is a mess, forgive yourself and pick up when you can.  It is often said that we are our harshest critics.  How can you be a little less harsh to yourself today?

You may be wondering where the pictures of babies and mamas are.  Given that our theme this week is mindfulness I wanted to post simple and beautiful pictures that represent peace, calm, and a quiet mind. I hope they have a soothing effect on you. Maybe they will even serve as a focal point for some deep breathing or meditation. Check out Mindful Motherhood for some ideas on guided meditation.

I have to admit I don’t usually set aside time to meditate, and my experience with mindfulness is pretty elementary, but I do use these three strategies often.  To me they lend themselves so well to parenting. Things are always popping up that I don’t expect.  I am constantly wishing I was doing stuff just a little better, and I struggle to settle into the simple activities of parenting without my mind wandering.  Every day is an opportunity to breathe deep and expand my heart to love myself and my baby a little more. When I take time to breathe and reflect I am sometimes able to be more at ease with what is. I hope you can find space in your life for some simple mindfulness practices to improve your postpartum experience.

 


 

Fiona Griffin MS New Mama Project

Fiona Griffin is a mental health counselor and the co-founder of New Mama Project, an online community offering support for postpartum mothers and space for real talk about the transition into motherhood.  The site offers a social supports guide and self-care quiz for new mamas that can be found here.  Fiona works with youth and families in Vermont where she lives with  her husband and daughter. You can learn more about Fiona at Fiona Griffin Counseling.

New Mama Project is an online community offeringnew mama project support for postpartum mothers and a space for real talk about the transition into motherhood. In addition to a weekly blog and newsletter, the site offers a social supports guide and self-care quiz for new mamas that can be found here: New Mama Project .  

Finding my voice as a new mom

Posted by in 4th Trimester Support for Mama & Baby

AS A NEW MOM, the question I was asked most often, and that I never knew how to answer was “Is she sleeping through the night?” If I said yes then nothing but praise of my parenting abilities and exclamations of how good my baby was would be non-stop. (Just what a new mom needs) But if I said no… well, then out came the sighs, eye rolls, shoulder squeezes, tisk-tisks, and endless advice on how I too could have a good baby who slept through the night if I only did “xyz”. It stressed me out and completely annoyed me. I knew about baby sleep patterns. I understood, and believed in attachment parenting. I was fully informed about nursing and all its benefits. I felt empowered. I was a mama bear.

have chip, will travel

But, I was also a new mom and was just finding my way in this new world. I was trying to get to know my baby, learn how to nurse, how to sleep, how to eat, understand my new body all while not trying to loose my mind with worry and guilt. I went through my day with a general sense of bewilderment and amazement that I’m convinced we all feel freshly into our 4th trimester. So, as I was trying to be calm and mindful, to be zen in this new adventure (by the tip of my fingernails I might add), I seriously needed to find away to get these well intentioned people to leave it alone, so if, for nothing else, I wouldn’t subconsciously internalize the negative messages about myself, my parenting and my newborn. Can you say Mt. Everest?

Well, I’ll tell you, I started out by lying. “Why yes, of course she sleeps through the night, no worries there!.” Because for me, if I answered “no, she’s not sleeping through the night”, most people told me it was because we were co-sleeping and the other people told me it was because she was hungry and needed something more substantial than ‘just’ breastmilk. So I lied. I admit it. I lied. But lying took its toll on me. The very thing I didn’t want to happen started happening. The messages of not being good enough, that there was something wrong with my baby, or that these were signs that in the future I’d bring even more trouble down on my head by allowing my infant to ‘rule the roost’ were taking hold. Not good my fellow mamas. Not good at all.

So, my next approach was to lecture about all the research that’s been written about infant sleep patterns, how they aren’t supposed to sleep through the night, how even adults don’t truly sleep through the night, and anyone telling you otherwise hasn’t a clue what they’re talking about. All humans rouse multiple times during the night. It’s how we’re wired. And, truth be told, research has found that it’s this very thing, the rousing, that helps newborns regulate their breathing patterns while sleeping. You know what else helps regulate those patterns? Co-Sleeping and nursing. Yup. That’s right. Co-sleeping (when done safely – Thank you Dr. McKenna) has been found to not only allow Mom to get a better quality sleep, but it helps with breastmilk production, aids in regulating baby’s breathing patterns and heart rhythms, and, on top of that, it soothes baby so they’re more content. Yeah, so my quick “Nope” turned into a 20 minute dissertation of why I was OK and why my baby was OK – and yes, please leave that chip right there on my shoulder – it matches the other one – thank you very much!

Ok, obviously that approach wasn’t going to work very well either.

mama and baby

In the end I had to learn what every parent learns eventually, to be comfortable in my own skin. To accept the ups and downs. To be at peace with the choices I make for myself and my children because I’m the only one who truly knows best. I learned how to quiet my mind and filter the opinion of others so I can listen to my child’s cues. So that I can listen to my instincts. For us, that meant co-sleeping, nursing, waking during the night, changing cloth diapers and wearing my babies.

My wish for you, Mama, is that you’ll find your zen, and then go proudly, and confidentially. Be at peace. Trust yourself because you DO know best., and… for the record… a little chip now and again is ok too.


 

Herbs for Postpartum Care | Midwifery Today

Posted by in 4th Trimester Support for Mama & Baby, A Natural Lifestyle

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Midwifery Today | By Demetria Clark  | Herbs for Postpartum Care

Photo by Heather Long

Photo by Heather Long

THE FOLLOWING HERBS FOR POSTPARTUM support mother in a holistic fashion. If she has been given any type of drug, please properly research the drug and herb combination.

Moms will need extra nutrition, and this tea is a staple in my herbal and doula practice. Clients love it, as do the midwives and family members.

YOU ROCK! Mamma Tea and Infusion

  • 2 parts chamomile flower (Matricaria recutita)
  • 2 parts hibiscus flower (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • 1 part rose petal (Rosa spp.)
  • 1/8 part lavender flower (Lavendula officinalis)
  • 1/4 part rose hips (Rosa canina)
  • 3 parts lemon balm leaf (Melissa officinalis)

Make this by the gallon. It is rich in nervines, vitamins and minerals. Mom, family and care providers can drink this throughout the day, hot or cold.

Delayed Placenta

  • For a delayed placenta you can use angelica root extract (Angelica sinensis). Place a drop under the tongue and drink with a swig of water. This will swiftly bring the placenta.
  • Hot basil leaf (Ocimum basilicum) infusion smells and tastes great, as well as producing results. Drink this by the cupful.
  • Make a feverfew flower (Tanacetum parthenium) infusion when labor starts by adding four teaspoons of the herb to a quart jar, fill with boiling water and cap. Allow to sit at room temperature for thirty minutes, then refrigerate. This keeps the infusion fresh, in the case of a longer birth.

Hemorrhage

All hemorrhage mixtures should be made ahead of time.

  • Prepare a hemorrhage extract from:
    • 1 part yarrow flower extract (Achillea millefolium)
    • 1 part shepherd’s purse seed, leaf or flower extract (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

    Drink a half-teaspoon in warm water every half hour.

  • Make an infusion using equal parts raspberry leaf and nettle: This can be drunk as a beverage.
  • Make an extract blend using this recipe:
    • 1 part shepherd’s purse seed, flower or leaf (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
    • 1/4 part blue cohosh root (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
    • 1 part motherwort leaf (Leonurus cardiaca)
    • 1 part witch hazel leaf or bark (Hamamelis virginiana)

    Give mother two dropperfuls orally. You can follow with juice. Repeat in one minute, if needed, then again in ten minutes.

  • Or use:
    • 1 part motherwort flower and leaf extract (Leonurus cardiaca)
    • 1 part witch hazel leaf or bark extract (Hamamelis virginiana)
    • 2 parts shepherd’s purse flower, seed and leaf extract (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
    • 1 part bayberry bark or root extract (Myrica cerifera)

    Use two dropperfuls as above and repeat if needed in ten minutes.

If a woman is hemorrhaging, please follow proper protocols and seek appropriate medical attention. Transport if the herbs are having no effect.

Afterpains

Afterpains are caused by the contraction of the uterus. They are generally worse after the second child.

  • Alleviate pain by having the mother relax and nurse regularly (this will really hurt, but it will contract the uterus faster), and try the following herbal extracts or combine them in an extract blend: cottonwood bark, black haw and cramp bark. This can be prepared as a tincture and given in doses of 20 drops two to three times a day.
  • Apply the following after birth pain relief extract
    • 2 parts motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
    • 1 part lavender flowers (Lavendula officinalis)
    • 1 part chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
    • 1 part cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
    • 1 part lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

    Use 20–30 drops two to three times a day.

Night Sweats

Yarrow Photo by Heather Long

Photo by Heather Long

Yarrow

Make a tea from strawberry leaf. Drink a cup before bed.

Varicosities

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) serves as a base for many remedies for varicose veins, vaginal area varicosities and hemorrhoids.

  • 1 cup 80 proof alcohol
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup witch hazel leaves (Hamamelis virginiana)

Cover the leaves with the alcohol and water. You can add more leaves if you want. After four weeks strain and bottle. Add five to ten drops cypress oil, if desired. Apply to affected area with a cool cloth.

Hemorrhoids

  • Apply the following herbal teas, once cooled, to the area: St. John’s wort, witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), plantain leaf (Plantago major), sage (Salvia off.), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris).
  • Extracts or tinctures of these plants can also be used as a compress.
  • Create afterwipes by applying witch hazel extract (Hamamelis virginiana) to soft tissue or cloth and using it to wipe the affected area if traditional wiping is uncomfortable. These can also be used for tears and swelling. Cotton pads from the drug store placed in a small plastic food container and covered with witch hazel extract (Hamamelis virginiana) also make wonderful healing wipes for mom. I suggest using cotton flannel cloths.

Difficulty Urinating

  • Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to the toilet before mom goes to the bathroom. Relaxation and deep breathing also helps.
  • Encourage the mother to use a vaginal steam. Find an old chamber pot chair or cut a hole in the seat of a thrift store chair and chop the legs down to a foot and a half. Then when the mother feels she needs to go but is unable, place a bowl full of hot water with steeping lavender flower (Lavandula officinalis), peppermint leaf (Menthe piperita) and comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale) under the chair. Wrap the mother in blankets and have her sit over the steam. (Don’t fill the bowl completely, in case the mother accidentally urinates in the bowl. This may happen when she feels soothed and her body relaxes.) Make sure the steam is not too hot or too close, so she will not get burned. Women can also use the steam for yeast infections, vaginal infections and so on.

For Tears and Episiotomies

I suggest allowing a small tear versus a large cut. The body can repair itself much more easily.

  • A perineum wash can be made with a diluted infusion of lavender flower. To a cup of warm water add 1/4 cup of lavender infusion. Add a drop of tea tree or patchouli oil to a liter of water or the lavender infusion. Rinse the vulva after urinating. This is used to sooth swollen and sore vaginal tissues after birth.
  • Apply ice immediately after the repair to decrease swelling.
  • Apply aloe vera gel (best if extracted directly from the plant, as commercial types can contain irritating preservatives). You can break off a leaf and squeeze out the fresh gel and apply to the affected area.
  • Encourage the mother to get plenty of fresh air. Exposure to sunlight speeds healing. This is at times an unrealistic recommendation. I just encourage mom to get fresh air, as exposing the bottom to the air is not always easy or appropriate for your neighborhood!
  • Have mother decrease activity; severe tears heal faster with bed rest.
  • Increase mother’s internal dosage of vitamin E to 600 mg/day.
  • Use comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale) for compresses and sitz bath. The mother can also drink it to promote healing.
  • Calendula flower (Calendula officinalis), comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale), St. John’s wort flower(Hypericum perforatum) and plantain leaf (Plantago major) are all used as ointments or in sitz baths.
  • Recommend sitz baths with infusion of vulnerary herbs (see below).

Sitz Baths

Sitz blend:

To 3 cups simmering water add:

  • 2 tablespoons comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale)
  • 2 tablespoons St. John’s wort flower (Hypericum perforatum)
  • 4 tablespoons calendula flower (Calendula officinalis)

Turn off the heat. Allow it to steep for 20 minutes. Pour into shallow bath. Add four drops lavender essential oil(Lavendula off.) and two drops cypress essential oil. Mix well to disperse essential oil.

Postpartum Sitz Bath:

  • 2 parts plantain flower (Plantago major)
  • part calendula flower (Calendula officinalis)
  • 1 part comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinale)
  • 1 part burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • 1/2 part violet flower and leaf (Viola odorata)
  • 1 part yarrow flower (Achillea millefolium)
  • 1/2 part lady’s mantle flower and leaf (Alchemilla vulgaris)
  • 1/2 part lemon balm leaf (Melissa officinalis)

Mix well. You can add sea salt to the mixture if you wish. Add approximately one cup of herb and salt blend to six quarts boiling water, strain and add to shallow bath. You can also use as a compress.

Or try the following blend:

  • 1 part uva ursi leaf (Arctostaphylos uva ursi)
  • 1 part shepherd’s purse leaf, seed (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
  • 1/2 part myrrh gum powder (Commiphora momol)
  • 1/2 part garlic (Dried or fresh. If fresh, use 1–2 cloves. Use whole; do not cut or smash as fresh oil can be very strong and irritating.)
  • 1/2 part comfrey root (Symphytum officinale)
  • 1/2 part sea salt (optional)

Prepare in same manner as Postpartum Sitz Bath (see above).

Another popular sitz bath blend contains:

  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plantain leaf (Plantago major)
  • 1/2 cup calendula flower (Calendula officinalis)
  • Use six cups of water.

Oak bark (Quercus robur), rosemary leaf (Rosmarinus officinalis), witch hazel leaf or bark (Hamamelis virginiana)and yarrow flower (Achillea millefolium) are great for healing sitz baths. If the mother is stitched, limit the bath to once a day. Other great herbs and herbal sitz baths for the perineum are calendula flower (Calendula officinalis), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) and essential oil of cypress or lavender

Handling postpartum issues naturally gives the mother more control and is generally less invasive then going to a doctor. Make sure the mother knows when to seek additional medical care.

Originally shared and created for/on Midwifery Today by Demetria Clark


master herbalist | demetria clark

Master Herbalist | Demetria Clark

Demetria Clark writes the must have books for anyone interested in herbs or aromatherapy. Demetria is a North American herbalist specializing in herbals for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, nursing and children. She is a traditional family herbalist. She has worked with families for over 20 years as an herbalist, aromatherapist, midwife, doula and traditional medicine maker. She works extensively in the US and Europe, blending the two traditions. Demetria lectures extensively on herbal care for sexuality, pregnancy and woman’s health.

Demetria believes in families having options to self empower and have health and wellness options. She has raised her two teenaged sons herbally, she also homeschools and is a family advocate.

She is the Founder and Director of Heart of Herbs Herbal school and the doula training program, Birth Arts International.

Companionship of Women

Posted by in 4th Trimester Support for Mama & Baby

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON |  A Swift Doula

MY HUSBAND IS MY SOUL’S PARTNER, my heart, my joy – he completes me in all the grander concepts. But in the long and sometimes lonely daytime hours of raising kids at home – filled with their inevitable ups and downs, a thousand small miracles and just as many daily drudgeries – the companionship of women friends has been, at times, as essential to my life as any other relationship. 

I’m not talking about “girlfriends” exactly, those spritely angels who whisk us away from our children and households for the occasional escape. They are essential in their own way.

I’m talking about the women whose lives run alongside ours, parallel in some way or another, wherein we come to gently and happily rely on each other. Sometimes it’s just aCompanionship of women
smile, some moral support from someone who understands how harried life can get. A moment of human connection in between activity drop offs and grocery shopping. Other times this friend is the first person to know when we’ve had bad news, or when we need someone to watch the kids in an emergency. Sometimes they know more about us than anyone else.

I see people for whom this is a lifelong relationship, like a sister or best friend, though sometimes we meet equally amazing women who are in our lives for just a season. Our kids are in the same school, or we are running the local Girls Scout troop together… Whatever the duration, a camaraderie exists, and an unexplained intimacy forms in which we live our day to day lives loosely in sync.

Touching base with phone calls or texts, taking turns with carpool, and coffee runs. They help us get through a certain stage in our lives that otherwise might have been lonely or difficult. Their companionship makes the road smoother, makes the sometimes bland seem sweeter. Or when all else fails and all you can do is laugh, funnier.Companionship of women

I used to feel sad when such seasons would end. Back when my children finished preschool, I felt as if I was graduating as well – starting somewhere new, not knowing the terrain very well. A bit at a loss.

A fairly close group of us had been raising our children together for a few years, and I knew that I would see these wonderful women less and less.. I think that while we don’t all see each other with the same frequency, and didn’t remain as close, that bond still exists somewhere, there is still that sisterhood. They shared something with me – over coffees and bleary, tired, half-smiles – that I’ll always have. Their personal experiences. Advice that made me realize my own feelings about an issue. Insight into a different culture, or way of life. A laugh when I need one. They were integral to that stage of life and motherhood for me. They’ve stayed with me in many ways.

And now new friends are added to those older treasures. Traveling friends, online friends, Companionship of womenhomeschooling friends, others we meet as we make our way, being us, doing what we do. I am always amazed that I think I’ve met my fair share of kindred spirits along this road, and still more come. It’s a veritable tribe of smart, interesting, caring, funny women that I carry along with me in this journey every day.

It has been a dream of mine to host a Mother’s Day brunch for all of these amazing moms I know, to acknowledge how they give their whole hearts to mothering every day and still have time for all their acts of kindness and generosity and love for the women around them, and for me. But I could probably never gather so many people around one table. Surely my heart would burst with joy and gratitude before I could intelligently speak, but this is what I hope I would say:

“You build me up. I am better because I’ve known you. Thank you.”


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