Saturday, November 7, 2015

Breastfeeding is a Commitment Worthy of Being Paid For!

Recommendations are to "breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months" and I have probably repeated this statement over a thousand times - always with the intention of informing women, mothers. 

But today, the day I reach this goal, I now understand the enormity of this statement. The unfathomable weight I have placed on women's shoulders when I so confidently uttered it. 

I'm sorry for my previous naivete! 

Because exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months isn't easy to do and I think for most women in the U.S., it is NEAR IMPOSSIBLE.

Let me explain...

I had it 'easy' compared to many moms when it comes to trying to exclusively breastfeed for 6 whole months. Not only am I well versed in the mechanics of breastfeeding (I've been in the field for almost 8 years), but more importantly, I work from home.

I am beyond thankful that I have been able to spend every day of this past 6 months with my precious bundle of perpetual energy and, for the last two months, my husband has been able to be home with us.

...and exclusively breastfeeding my baby was still a challenge!

Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to learn. Some moms have a rough go of it, in my case, where the only issues we faced seemed minor (thrush, nipple pain), there were still many many times when I felt overwhelmed by the commitment of it.

Breastfeeding while working full-time started to make it feel like a chore, which broke my heart. My baby deserved my attention, a time-out from the world for connection between the two of us, but so often work related topics clouded my time with her.

Trying to juggle work tasks and full-time breastfeeding was exhausting!

Babies eat often, oh so often!, round the clock. Taking 10-30 minutes every two or three hours to feed them is challenging for anyone... especially when you have a thousand other pressing things to do.

Not to mention that even when you aren't actively feeding your baby... you are thinking about feeding them. It was a struggle to slowly learn how to focus on things other than my baby. My body is hard-wired to need her near me all the time, so focusing on working was sometimes impossible. 

Working and mothering :-) Multi-tasking level: expert!
... and I can't even imagine trying to do this if you work out of the home! To me, that seems a near-impossible task.

It's worth it, don't get me wrong. I have always known I'd breastfeed my babies, rain or shine and I have loved far more of this journey than I've wished away... and even those moments I wish away, I remember to be thankful for them later!

But I'm lucky... I got to stay home with my baby...

A mother working out of the home, well she has to pump, and pump, and pump, and pump.... when she should just be able to feed her baby, to respond to her baby when he needs her, and to adapt to this new human and her role as a mother. 

But this isn't possible when over HALF of American mothers return to work when their baby is only 5 weeks old. (link)


It really isn't surprising, then, that most women don't reach their own breastfeeding goals, I couldn't even tell my right from left when my baby was 5 weeks old... and we are expecting mothers to LEAVE THEIR BABY to return to work full time!?

Oh yeah, and keep giving that breastmilk... pump, pump, pump!

Just another thing for an exhausted and stressed mother to do... and it comes at a cost. 

A cost to our mental health, to the health of our families and children - and in the end, our nation will suffer for it.

No amount of free pumps, or workplace time for pumping, or home visits from IBCLCs (all things we certainly DO need more of!) is going to get all women to this goal. 

Support means letting mothers and fathers spend time with their newborn babies. Letting them navigate the new (non)sleeping schedules and the world of rapidly, ever-changing babies from home; together.

So here's the thing... we need to stop placing this expectation, this lofty lofty goal, squarely on the shoulders of mothers, because it isn't them we need to convince. 

It isn't mothers who need to work harder, is EVERYONE ELSE!

Politicians, employers, educators, doctors, nurses, researchers, and aunts and uncles, fathers and grandparents... ALL OF US!

Breastfeeding takes work and sometimes a lot of it. It is a commitment worthy of being paid for. It deserves respect as one of the most certain ways to improve our nation's health, but also as something that isn't just a stroll in the park. 

If we care about children, if we want healthier babies and healthier families, and if we ultimately want to improve the health and well-being of our country, then PAID parental LEAVE is a MUST. 

Nursing at Denver Airport!
Plain and simple.

Babies deserve to be breastfed and mothers deserve to achieve their breastfeeding goals, but it is everyone else that needs to step up now and make that happen.

Babies deserve better than this. We can do better than this. 

Do you agree?

~Wisdom and Birth

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Home Birth Story of our Little Izzi Moon

She was born at home, on the bedroom floor of our little Florida apartment, with only her daddy, mommy, and midwife present. 

I have planned to give birth at home for years. Not 'just' a crazy hippie, it was actually my extensive education and years of work in the field of maternity care that had convinced me.

I knew that for my healthy baby and I, the care of a trained midwife at home had far fewer unnecessary interventions, more personal and respectful care, and was as safe as giving birth in the hospital. I wanted an unhindered, natural, and private birth, and I was only going to find that at home. 

And I did. Our little Izzi Moon was born with power and in peace, unhindered and naturally, in the wee hours of the morning, at home, on Wednesday May 6. 

Labor began the day before - a labor fiesta for Cinco de Mayo ;) I was 38.5 weeks along.

I had not-so-secretly hoped (like all pregnant women do) that our little squish would emerge early... though I constantly prepared myself to go 41 weeks, as a seasoned birth worker like myself knew most first-time mothers do.

Tuesday morning was certainly out of my ordinary normal routine. I woke early (completely out of character for me, especially pregnant!), spent some quality time with my husband (my dad reads this, so we'll leave it at that!), and then I even joined him on his morning walk with the dogs... seriously, usually I just lay in bed until a few minutes before I log-in to work.

I vaguely registered some cramping and tightening sensations while working that morning, but I completely disregarded any thoughts of labor, (I had at least two more weeks and could expect a loooong, slow labor... right?) 

The sensations continued and in the early afternoon I began to allow myself to hope that these could be a sign of early labor (just a few more days of these, if I'm lucky!).

It's labor! It is actually labor! We will meet our baby soon!!
A bathroom break around 2pm revealed a large amount of bloody show and for the first time I dared to allow myself a moment of elation... LABOR! I'M REALLY IN LABOR!!!!

The tightening and cramping sensations continued and I could tell they were rhythmic and seemed to be less than 10 minutes apart. I began wrapping up my work, prepping for maternity leave (in case this was actually it!), and around 4pm I sent my husband and midwife (Charlie from Barefoot Birth) a text that I may (dare I hope!?) be in early labor.

I climbed into a warm bath, enjoyed a hot raspberry tea, and began timing... they were about 7-9 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds. They picked up rather quickly while I relaxed in the tub (yep, OMG!, this is real labor!) and I started needing to pause, close my eyes, and breathe as a surge moved through me.

When my husband arrived home he tried to convince me to go to dinner with friends, as we had planned. Months ago we had agreed that we wouldn't get all excited in early labor, since it can take awhile, so we wanted to continue with our plans... but by 5pm I knew I couldn't get in the car or labor at someone else's house. The contractions were coming closer together (6-7 minutes now) and I needed to relax and get into a rhythm. I needed peace. I needed to breathe.

So he took the dogs to their babysitters (thank you dear friends!) and grabbed a few groceries - I watched half an episode of Outlander while he was gone :)

Labor continued to pick up, stronger and longer contractions coming more frequently. I labored around the apartment, on the birth ball, hands and knees, standing, and even I tried to lay down a few times and rest (like all good birth workers tell mothers to do) but the contractions were too strong in that position and I couldn't cope. I remember feeling like I was going to completely lose it both times I tried to lie down. ...I ended up laboring on my hands and knees for most of the 12 hours. 

Laboring with my doula kitty

My water broke in the bathroom a little after midnight. I was leaning over the counter and vocalizing through contractions (read: hard core moaning!). At this point they were coming about 4 minutes apart and lasting a minute. Within the hour they were getting closer to 3 minutes apart and I told my husband to call our midwife.

Around this time I realized how quickly this was actually going and told my husband to fill the birth pool - I would soon need something greater to help me cope and a tub of hot water sounded amazing!

... and then the #!$* hit the fan...

First, the hose didn't actually reach from the laundry room to the birth room (no big deal, right!?)... so my husband, Chase, moved the pool to the living room... then, the water pipe - yes, the one in the wall that connects to other apartments - BURST!!!

From my position laboring in the bathroom I heard every swear word known to man (and then some new ones) as my husband tried to fill the pool and sop up all the water pouring from the wall - fill for 10 minutes, turn off the water, and then sop up then clean up the lake on the laundry room floor, before turning the water back on ... over and over and over. ...poor husband - A true home birth, y'all!!!

All the while I was laboring louder and louder and begging for my birth pool.

Soon after this fiasco began, our midwife arrived and was able to help Chase boil water to heat the tub as she checked on me, the baby, and prepared for the birth.

Then, (oh yes, there is more!) KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK... yep, wtf!?, someone was at the door.

The emergency maintenance man became an honorary member of my birth team when he fixed the pipe (yes, because other apartments had called due to flooding) and gave us water!

RELIEF! My birth pool :) Just in time for transition ...!

Transition - my wonderful husband cooling me down

... and then I was pushing. As I began to feel an urge to push I also felt a sort of sharp contraction pain - after a few of these Charlie checked (my first and only internal exam!) and I had a small cervical lip and after pushing through one or two of the next contractions it was gone.

Pushing was certainly the most intimidating of the labor experience. I handled contractions just fine all the way to the end, but pushing was scary. The thought of a human... a head!... moving through me provoked some new-found anxiety and I needed to be reminded to breathe deeply and rest in between contractions. Charlie had me try different positions to keep me moving and help the baby down - she was having some decels and I needed to be more progressive in my pushing.

Holding tight to my husband's hands, and with my head buried into his shoulder, I pushed out our (SURPRISE!) baby girl at 4:44am on the floor of my birth room/baby room. I pushed for a little less than an hour.

She is here!

Izzi had a bit of trouble taking her first breath and needed some help from Charlie in doing so. Since she was still connected to me through the cord she was able to receive oxygen while working on her transition earth-side.

Once she came around, we cuddled and snuggled and began to foster the strongest and most fulfilling love with our beautiful little girl :) I can't believe we had a girl! 

Our first family photo!

Our little Izzi Moon was born weighing 6lbs 7oz and 20inches long. The day after a full moon!

We didn't actually name her when she was born, though, it took a few days... we had truly been expecting a boy and we hadn't picked a girl's name! Apparently old wives tales are truly just tales! 

Overall my labor was about 12 hours long and I pushed for a little less than an hour. It was challenging and, for awhile, difficult work, but it was totally worth it!

Izzi's newborn exam with Charlie

Some may say that my success birthing at home was "luck"and perhaps in some ways it was, but I also know that my preparation (and I've done lots of it!) was an important factor in my ability to cope and even welcome the contractions. I have certainly done my research and the hard-work paid off!!

I do believe that more women, with knowledge and confidence, and a great birth support team, could deliver at home!

Welcome Earth-side, precious Izzi!!!
~Wisdom and Birth

Monday, November 3, 2014

Announcement! We are Having a BABY!!!

Oh my gosh y'all ...

Enjoy our adorable pregnancy announcements, we are excited to finally share them with you!

Here is our animal pack learning the news :)

And here we are practicing our cloth diapering and looking through my library of pregnancy, birth, and baby books and movies!

Looking forward to sharing more pregnancy and birth news with you!

~Wisdom and Birth

Thursday, October 30, 2014

GERBER SUED over False Health Claims!!!

Well it's about damn time...

Gerber (a product of Nestle), and a number of other infant formula manufacturers, have long claimed health benefits of their formula and infant food products.

Reminds me of this wonderful example :)

False advertising and unethical predatory practices have undermined the hard-work mothers, health professionals, and public health specialists have put into improving breast feeding knowledge and practices.

So I know many proponents for mother-baby health, as well as ethical advertising and honest labeling, will cheer when they hear that the Federal Trade Commission has sued Gerber for making a false claim that their infant formula reduces the risk of developing allergies (haha, I call BS!).


I couldn't find any images online of Gerber being sued... so I made this one! Feel free to use this lovely image when spreading the news article, which can be found here.

Now we'll just have to see if money can buy them out of this one, because we all know they don't have any data to back up their claims!

Here's to honest adverting and labeling!
~Wisdom and Birth

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Conception Contract ~ Joining with my Spirit Baby

I've always wanted to be a mother.

At 17 I was surprised to find out I was pregnant and momentarily devastated... this wasn't how I envisioned becoming a mother. I knew I couldn't be physically and spiritually 'there' for my child and felt lost and confused about what to do. I knew the young man who fathered my child wasn't the right father and I knew that I was not yet ready to be a mother - I was needed to accomplish more for myself and my future children before bringing my children into the world.

With this knowledge I entered into an internal communication with my unborn child. I shared with them my sincere apologies for not being ready at this point in my life. I explained why and gave this child a vision of when I thought they should be born; when their mother would be better prepared to raise them with the respect and environment they deserve. With all the energy in my heart I told them that I wasn't going to bring them forth, yet, but hoped that if they felt it was right for them, that they would wait to be my child in the future.

For 10 years I have held a special bond with this spirit baby... it wasn't until 5 years after my first pregnancy that I learned about others who had communication with spirit babies and that this is a 'real thing'. I had never shared my spirit baby bond with anyone until I discovered that I was not alone.

Then I began a journey into understanding this realm of spirituality. I learned about pre-birth communication. About prenatal and perinatal psychology. Healing wounds from our own birth and how to welcome a spiritual connection with those souls who wish to be born.

Now, 10 years later, I am more than ready to be a mother and I have found the spirit, encased in my husband, that was meant to be their father. We have both prepared ourselves in many ways for parenthood and we have agreed we are ready to nurture, respect, and love a child.

I am one who follows where my heart and gut lead me. Often, I feel as though there is a energy leading me to new discoveries; discoveries which happen to be so perfectly timed that it could be nothing other than divine energetic connection leading me.

We had been TTC (trying to conceive) for just a few weeks and I tried to free myself of the sometimes manic feelings of getting pregnant. I recognized that my physical experiences and highly intellectual reasoning isn't what my spirit baby needs to make a connection ~ rather, they need my spiritual presence and an open and peaceful, loving energy to enfold them into be-ing.

It just so perfectly happened that around the time we were TTC, I came across an article about reincarnation. An amazing story about a boy who remembered so much and shocking details proving he was who he said he was, from a recent and previous life. I was so moved. I felt, again, as though I was being guided by an energy and I willingly followed.

I found a book about reincarnation and read page after page with such excitement. I shared what I was reading with my husband and we had avid discussions about the possibilities. We talked about how we will be open to listening to our child and believing in what they may say. I began to feel open to the idea that my child had a previous existence and will continue to exist after their physical time on this earth.

Then, a few weeks later, I had a dream. In this dream there were no spoken words, but so much was communicated through unspoken means. It was as though the entire conversation happened telepathically.

There was the energy of a child, myself, and what felt like a being greater than both of us. We all felt loved and cherished, bathed in energetic light. There was the feeling of many energies observing us from afar, but all that could be truly seen was the three of us up close.

It felt as though we entered into a contract. That the greater soul was over-seeing the agreement between the spirit child and myself. I remember peace, joy, and a great sense of welcomed responsibility.

I am ready to be your mother, spirit baby. I respect your past and I will guide you and stand by you in the present. I acknowledge that you have experiences to share with me, lessons to teach me, and a path of your own that you must discover. I will be here loving you every step of the way!

Blessed be, Spirit Baby!
~Your humble mother, Wisdom and Birth

*we became pregnant with our cherished baby about two months after this dream :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A (Unfortunately True) Visual Guide to American Personhood Rights

Today I reached a tipping point.

In recent news we have seen that the rights of women, especially pregnant women, are hardly considered important to the American government and legal system.

Not only do women (especially pregnant ones) continue to lose their decision-making rights and autonomy, but corporations continue to receive more and more "rights of personhood"... WTF!? 

- With decisions such as Hobby Lobby (a company) getting to claim religious beliefs and deny birth control coverage to female employees. link

- Drug-testing of pregnant women, and if they test positive for drugs, then reporting them to Child Protective Services. link

- Forcing surgery on birthing women for the "safety and rights" of their unborn child. link

- Anti-choice legislation closing down health clinics that provide abortions to women who have decided not carry or give birth to a baby. link

- The shackling of laboring women in prisons. link

- Denying women who test positive for drugs the right to feed their child their breastmilk. link

... and the list goes on and on...

So to help those who may be confused by the question "Who and What is a Person in the United States", let me help you.

Here is a visual guide to understand the convoluted, and honestly fucked up, hierarchy of American Personhood rights in the United States.

(Images were found using google images)


Being aware of the issue is a good first step. It is important to recognize what is going on with the loss of rights to anyone who isn't a rich white man, or a corporation.

Be sure to vote for representatives who stand up for 'the people' such as Wendy Davis from Texas (link) and Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts (link). Not those who stand up for big money and corporations (anyone the Koch brothers are funding).

You can also learn about, join, and contribute to organizations that work to protect the rights of women and other vulnerable populations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International (link) or groups that work to specifically protect the rights of pregnant and birthing women such as Human Rights in Childbirth (link) and

Most importantly, GET OUT AND VOTE! All voting matters, general elections AND especially the Primary elections!

Please share and help others understand our system of Personhood rights in the U.S. and how we can make it better for the people!

I stand for equality. I stand for WOMEN!
~Wisdom and Birth

Friday, August 8, 2014

10 Tips for Visiting A New Baby


Now you probably want to go bother the severely exhausted parents and rub your germy nose all over the baby's delicious smelling head... I totally understand! I'm a doula, so I do the same thing ;)

Since your desires to meet this new little human MUST be quenched, let me at least give you some tips for making your visit as seamless as possible and increasing your chances of seeing the little bundle of poop again... do you babysit?

10 Tips for Visiting A New Baby:

1. SCHEDULE YOUR VISIT. Ask the parents for a convenient day and time for them and once you agree on a time, stick to it. If you have your own children, then plan a time when you can go without them. Unless you are a very close family member, the midwife, or the doula, plan your visit after the first week, preferably after the second week - the baby will still be adorable, I promise.

2. BE HEALTHY. Do not go visit a new baby when you are sick. PERIOD. Snot running down your face, diarrhea last night... cancel your visit and reschedule when you are healthy.  

3. BRING SOMETHING. Ask the parents if they need you to pick up anything, or, if they have a craving for any favorite meals. If they politely decline any thing you offer, then think of something to bring anyway. You can never go wrong with some essential groceries such as eggs, bread, and ice cream (that's essential, right!?), toilet paper, a gift card for the parents, or something that you know they like (sushi, burgers).

4. BE QUIET. Knock quietly (for sanity's sake, DO NOT ring the doorbell!). Keep your voice low for both the parents and baby's nerves (and headaches!).

 5. WASH YOUR HANDS. As soon as you arrive. Walk into the house and before touching anyone or anything, go wash your hands. 

6. BE PATIENT. Wait to hold the baby until you are offered and then give them back in a timely manner.

7. RESPECT THE BABY. Babies have bigger thoughts and abilities than we have previously been aware and it is past time for us to begin respecting them. Be considerate of your actions and the volume of your voice. It can do no harm to ask the baby if you can hold them, and to speak kindly and respectfully to them.

8.  DO SOMETHING HELPFUL. Clean a few dishes, change the toilet paper roll, take the dog for a walk... DO SOMETHING. If you ask what you can do, they'll probably pretend to be polite again and say "nothing", so then just go wash a few dishes. 

9. LISTEN. AND SAY NICE THINGS. If the mother wants to talk about the birth, then listen. Most importantly, DO NOT GIVE ADVICE unless you are asked for it. Essentially, only speak when spoken to unless you are saying things like "what a beautiful baby", "you are doing so well", or "I'd love to do something for you, what can I help with". Any opinions or unsolicited advice can be directed to the radio on the way home.

10. MAKE IT BRIEF. Do not over-stay your welcome. A visit should last 30-45 minutes... if you've reached an hour then you better be vacuuming, doing laundry and cleaning the litter box - then leaving! 

~Wisdom and Birth