Exploring Choices: Epidural

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hey Tranquility Tribe! In the mama-to-be world, there’s always tons of focus on medication-free childbirth and avoiding an epidural at all costs. However, there are plenty of women who get an epidural and make the choice to do so from the start. Today, we’re going to explore some of the reasons that a woman may want to get an epidural - it’s as valid of a choice as the one some women make to avoid an epidural at all costs!

While childbirth is a natural part of life, it can still feel so unknown and simply be scary as heck! The pain of labor can be a huge cause of anxiety and the numbing of that pain can help relax a woman and calm those anxious thoughts. 

Feeling in control 
With the pain of birth, it can be nearly impossible to focus on anything besides either the grips of a contraction or bracing for the next one. This can leave some women with a feeling of loss of control over themselves, which can be even more anxiety-producing. With an epidural, some women may feel that they are the one in control of their body, not their uterus’ pain. 

No desire to feel sensations
For some women, they simply have no desire to feel the sensations of childbirth - and that’s okay! We live in the age of modern medicine and the opportunity to numb pain is a huge advantage of that. Some view the pain of labor as empowering - for others, it’s something that they would really rather avoid if possible. Some want to bask in the experience of birth without the pain distracting them from it, while others consider the pain to be the center of the experience. It is really a matter of preference!

At the end of the day, it’s about choice. If you want that epidural from the second you enter that hospital parking lot, that is your choice and you shouldn’t let others shame you into thinking less of yourself for it! Inform yourself of the risks and benefits long before you begin labor, make an informed choice, and advocate for yourself and that choice when you enter that hospital room.

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Is a Membrane Sweep Right for You?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hey Tranquility Tribe! When you’re an expecting mama, you’ve probably been anxious and ready to meet your baby since the day that test came back positive! Pregnancy is quite the journey, and as you get closer and closer to your due date, you may be counting down the seconds for that day to finally come. But what about when the big due date arrives and there has not even been a sign of labor starting anytime soon? Your mind need not automatically start to prepare for an induction - there’s another option too! Today we’re going to be giving you all the information you need to know in order to know if a membrane sweep is right for you!

First of all - what exactly is a membrane sweep? The name sounds a bit terrifying, but it’s a fairly low-key process! The sweep is done physically by your provider’s gloved finger, who inserts it in your cervix to physically, manually separate the membranes of the amniotic sac away from the uterine wall. The sweep is supposed to stimulate the release of prostaglandin, a hormone that aids in starting labor. At 40 weeks or more, 1 in 8 women went into labor within 48 hours post-sweep. Repeating it multiple times may be necessary in order for the effects to take place.

The sweep can be really painful for some women and can also cause bleeding or an accidental rupture of those membranes. However, most women only experience a bit of discomfort during the process, similar to what is felt during a routine vaginal examination. If the sweep does rupture the membranes and labor does not begin soon, you will most likely need to be artificially induced with medication. 

It’s important to note that these sweeps haven’t been found to be effective unless you’re over 40 weeks, and they shouldn’t be done in conjunction with other labor-inducing techniques. The process is also only recommended for pregnancies that aren’t high-risk, as high-risk pregnancies usually require immediate use of medication for induction. Also, your cervix must be dilated even just a little bit in order for the sweep to be performed, as the membranes can’t be reached without some dilation. Above all, this is not a DIY type of situation! As with any vaginal procedure, there is a risk of infection, and that risk skyrockets up if you don’t know what you’re doing!

Overall, if you’re 40 weeks or over and have been on a low-risk pregnancy journey, a membrane sweep might be just what you need to get baby to begin to wiggle on out of you! However, if this doesn’t sound like your jam, this along with so many other aspects of pregnancy and labor are, at the end of the day, up to you! Do your research, talk with your doctor, chat with your village, and make an informed choice from there! 

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Is Nanny Care Right for Your Family?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Is Nanny Care Right for Your Family?

Hey Tranquility Tribe! This week, HeHe sat down to chat with Sara Cook, founder of Cloud9 Nannies, a nanny agency serving the Boston area. HeHe and Sara get into all the real life issues that come with hiring a nanny, from establishing trust with a caregiver to the nitty gritty details of pay!

All About Sara
As a working mama, Sara knew reliable and trustworthy childcare would be crucial for her family’s lifestyle. Her first child was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth, so this made finding a nanny that would be the perfect fit extra important. Sara worked in the professional IT world for many years as a recruiter, which made her an expert in finding the right candidates for a job with a very specific skill set. She combined her motherly instinct and experience with finding nannies for her own two sons with her experience in the recruiting world to create Cloud9 Nannies, where she connects families all around the Boston area with full-time or part-time long-term nanny care. 

Starting the Search
Sara believes the most important step in the nanny search is sitting down with your partner to figure out who your ideal nanny would be: How much experience do they have? Did they study child education? Are they a mom themselves? What type of person is the best for your family?

In terms of finding the right agency to help you with your search, Sara suggests learning about the agency owner, the team, and their background. Finding an agency you connect with is essential as they’re going to be the “face” for your family as they interview nannies for the agency upfront. Even if you’ve already started the nanny search on your own, an agency like Sara’s can help you vet a candidate you have in mind.

Finding the Perfect Fit
Once an agency connects you with some potential candidates, it’s time for interviews! Sara takes care of figuring out logistical information from the nanny like transportation situation, schedule availability and desired pay so that you can spend your interview really getting to know your potential nanny. The interview is the perfect opportunity to really explore your nanny’s past experience and her values and practices when it comes to childcare.

What happens if you choose a candidate you initially loved but who turns out to not be the best fit? Sara’s agency offers a 90-day guarantee concerning satisfaction with placement which applies not only to the families but the nannies too. When a situation like this happens, she works ASAP to set up a new placement for a family at no extra cost or fee.

Safety and Trust
Welcoming someone into your home on such a personal level and trusting them with your children can be incredibly nerve wracking, especially for first-time parents. However, safety is an absolute priority for Cloud9’s nannies. Sara always checks the most recent reference that a potential nanny provides before even beginning to set her up with potential families. In addition to doing a comprehensive background check and requiring CPR training, Sara has potential nannies take a basic childcare skills assessment through the International Nanny Association. 

With safety comes the often controversial topic of nanny cams. Sara gets asked about them often and notes that if you’re going to choose to use them, it is imperative that you let the nanny know, preferably ahead of time in her contract. Sara’s stance on them is that if a nanny cam would make you feel more comfortable, that’s okay, but ultimately you need to be open to trusting the person who is caring for your children. HeHe agrees that it’s essential to have boundaries when it comes to these kinds of things, like only using the cam until the child’s first birthday, and sticking to that boundary. Otherwise, it can turn into an unhealthy crutch that may ripple out into other aspects of your parenting journey.

Getting Down to Details
Although it’s easy to view a nanny as just providing a helping hand and hopefully as a part of the family, at the end of the day, they are your employee and that comes with all the nuances that other forms of formal employment come with. 

In Boston, the going rate for nanny pay is between 20 and 25 dollars an hour for an average of 2 kids, with many families throwing in an annual or quarterly bonus. In Sara’s experience, families account for an average of 2 weeks of vacation time and 2 to 3 sick days. When you’re in a place like Boston, it’s also important to take snow days into account! It can be frustrating trying to work from home on a snow day and not have the nanny there, but if it’s not safe for you to drive into work, it’s most likely not safe for them either. Setting expectations about things like this upfront and establishing solid communication between you and your nanny is key to having a comfortable yet fair situation.

All in all, when it comes to building a successful nanny relationship between a caregiver and your family, trust and communication truly are key!

If you want to get in touch with Sara, you can check out her website at cloudnannies.com or send an email over to sara@cloud9nannies.com

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Low-Down on Plus-sized Pregnancies

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Plus-sized Pregnancies 101

Hey Tranquility Tribe! Pregnancy can be a tough journey for anybody, but if you’re plus-size, the journey can be even tougher. However, there are so many things you can do as a plus-size mama to help yourself along this journey, and we’re here to give you the low-down on that today!

50 percent of today’s pregnant moms are overweight and 1 in 4 are obese. The higher body mass index, or BMI, you have, the higher your risk for complications like pre-eclampsia, blood clots and premature birth becomes. One of the most common complications plus-size women face in pregnancy is gestational diabetes - overweight women are anywhere from two to eight times more likely to develop it, and unfortunately the condition can lead to further complications like preterm labor and increased risk of c-section. 

While this may sound frightening, it’s important to remember that being plus-size doesn’t automatically make your pregnancy high risk! You have the power to do all you can to mitigate this risk through your lifestyle choices during your pregnancy. Make sure you are keeping all your antenatal appointments and continuing to be screened for these risks - if they end up happening, it is best to catch them as early as possible. Eat and exercise as well as you can. Rather than dieting, focus on eating whole, healthy foods instead so you can nourish your body for baby. You may wish to consult a dietician to get help with planning healthy meals and snacks for the months ahead. Get your body moving every day, even if it’s just for an evening walk. Taking care of your body during pregnancy is a priority no matter your size - you are nurturing a whole tiny human inside of you, so looking out for your health by eating clean and exercising your body is so incredibly important for both of you!

Another crucial topic when it comes to plus-size pregnancy is choosing your maternal care team. Unfortunately, your size may lead to some unnecessary and just straight up insensitive shaming from medical staff. Some may doubt your ability to get pregnant at all or not have faith in you and your body along the way. On the other side of the spectrum, some providers may be uncomfortable bringing up the topic of your weight out of a fear of offense, which is not great as you need to be having these conversations in order to properly address risks. Finding a plus-size friendly provider is essential - you deserve to have someone who believes in you and your body’s ability to get through this incredible journey!

When it comes to finding the right size-friendly provider for you, use your village! Talk to other plus-size moms about their experiences, ask providers about their experience working with plus-size women and don’t be afraid to shop around with different providers until you find the one with the best fit. Often times, plus-size women are told that their weight should be “under control” before they even get pregnant. You don’t need somebody who is going to shame you for not having lost weight before you got pregnant - you need someone who is going to empower you to get through this journey the way you are right here, right now! 

Finally, you should keep in mind that your pregnancy may look a little different from the ones you see around you. Plus-size women often take longer to show than those with a lower BMI, and when that bump does come around, it may not take on that perfectly round shape you see in the media. In fact, plus-size bumps can often take on the shape of the letter B instead! No matter your shape and size compared to other mamas, know that you and your body are doing all that important work just the same!

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier Part 2!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Continuing the Conversation: Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier Part 2! 
(This is a two part episode! To catch up and check out Part 1, click here!)

Hey TBH Village! This week, we’re back to continue our super important conversation with mental health therapist Jess Vanderwier about postpartum mood disorders. Let’s dive back in!

When it comes to treatment, it all loops back into the risk factors that cause postpartum depression and anxiety issues in the first place. A professional can help you evaluate all the aspects of your postpartum life that can contribute to these issues. For example, in terms of biology, it would be important to get a physical checkup, especially concerning your thyroid, to make sure there is not an underlying issues causing symptoms. Sleep is another important factor to look at it, as lack of it can both cause and exacerbate issues - you should ideally be getting a solid four hour chunk of sleep every night, so if you need to enlist the help of family and friends to get that or even a postpartum doula, you should not be scared to do so! 

Social support should also be evaluated - a lot of mamas think they have to do everything all on their own (Jess felt this same way!). You have to recognize the incredible work you and your body just did in creating a tiny human and even if you are normally the type to always be in a season of giving, it’s important to open yourself up to being comfortable with being in a season of receiving. Finally, eating habits are something that are often overlooked but still so incredibly important. The focus after birth is often on how baby is doing with feeding, but what about mom? It’s important to be eating full, nutritious meals to fuel both your baby and your own healthy mind. 

Choosing to get psychological help is an admirable step and can be so helpful even if you aren’t experiencing explicit symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder. This transition into motherhood can be so messy - makeup streaming down your face, messy bun, spit-up all over you messy, and it can take time, but you are so capable of coming up on the other side, even if you need some help along the way. 

If you have a new mama in your life, the best way you can help them is by encouraging real and honest conversations with them - check in and see how they are REALLY doing. There is so much to talk about when it comes to a new baby and the mom’s well-being can often get lost in that - take it upon yourself to be that checkup for them! As a friend or family member, your role is not that of a counselor but simply that of support - encourage them to get professional help if needed and walk alongside them every step of the way. Be mama’s village - bring meals, show up, ask tough questions, give her time to sleep, and help her remember that she doesn’t have to do it all on her own. Remind them that their main role is to love their baby the best way that they can - all the other to do’s will eventually get done.

As HeHe says - you have permission to do what feels right for you, and you always, always have choices.

If you want to help a new mom get professional support, Jess suggests to approach it from a place of love and compassion, starting off soft rather than jumping right into finger pointing. For example, you may suggest they check out Postpartum Support International, who has a warm line that can set you up with someone to talk to about how you’re feeling and ease you into getting professional support. They have a list of clinicians who are trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and can help in setting you up with one of these people. When searching for professional support, it’s so important to find someone who has specific training in these disorders, as they can really understand what’s going on and therefore help YOU understand what’s going on. 

Finally, social media is another important point to touch on when it comes to the transition to motherhood. Unfortunately, moms often fall into the habit of guilting other moms on social media based on their own transitions and it can get nasty. It’s okay if you need to take a break from certain accounts or people on social media - choose to surround yourself with joy and encouragement instead! Your choices are yours so own them and be okay with them and don’t let what other people say get you down - there will always be haters! Build your village with the people who lift you up - you deserve it. 

Through this journey, Jess has developed her own online community - what started as a  little blog about perinatal mental health research took off with a bunch of moms becoming interested and has evolved into a safe space for women to share their experiences and talk about the real issues that moms face all while looking at it from a research perspective too! It is a space that Jess wishes she had had as a new mom - a place to both get information and to be reassured that you are not alone. If you want to join this community of over 4000 mamas, head on over to Our Mama Village.

Connect with Jess on her website Our Mama Village, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Social Call with a Newborn?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hey Villagers! Let’s be honest - there’s nothing quite like the excitement of brand new baby rolling into town. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or neighbor who has added a new tiny human to their home, you may be waiting on the edge of your seat to meet the new babe. Before you go running to get your share of baby snuggles, there are a few unspoken rules you should keep in mind when it comes to visiting a newborn and we’re going to break those down for you today.

First of all - when exactly is it okay to come knocking on their door? Ask when it would be a convenient time for them and never come over unannounced. 

Definitely come with a practical gift in tow - you can never go wrong with food for a busy new family! Maybe pick up some fruit or something else fresh as they’re probably relying on the freezer for most of their meals.

Always lend a helping hand during your visit. Offer to take care of those dishes in the sink or throw in a load of laundry or even just to wipe down the counters - it will be much appreciated! Consider some one-handed snacks for mama!

Don’t take pictures of the baby or post them on social media unless you get permission from the parents. They may not have had a chance to share pictures themselves or just may not be comfortable with having their baby’s face on the internet, and that’s okay!

Don’t push the new mama to talk about her birth experience. She may have had a traumatic experience that she’s not ready to talk about yet, and hormones and exhaustion can make talking about the birth even more upsetting. However, if she does want to talk, be prepared to be a great listener!

If there’s an older sibling around, make sure to give them some love too! All the attention on a newborn can be upsetting to the new big brother or sister and they’ll really appreciate a bit of the spotlight on them. 

Most importantly, do NOT step foot near that house if you are sick or have been recently! Newborns are so susceptible to bugs and the last thing the tired family needs is a sick baby! Even if you’re not sick at the moment, make sure to wash your hands often during your visit, and although it’s hard, avoid giving baby kisses! On this note, leave your kids at home - the presence of more children in the house can be overwhelming for the new parents, not to mention all the germs that come along with them.

Finally, don’t overstay your welcome - the new family is exhausted and is probably trying to stick to whatever bit of a routine they manage to put together. Keep the visit short and sweet while reminding the new parents that you’re only a phone call away if they’re ever in need. 

Mama-to-be? Check out our blog post on why you may want to say 'no' to your visitors, here!

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Feely Snotty in Pregnancy? There's a reason!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mucus Production & Pregnancy

Doesn't sound awesome, but doesn't sound too bad, does it?

You're probably thinking a runny nose and you're not too gar off, but it can also look like ear infections and sinus infections. During pregnancy, your hormones rage (duh!), but the specific surges in estrogen does helpful things like increasing blood supply to your vaginal area and creating your mucus plug.

Since you're pregnant, you can't take most medications. Even if you could, many people choose to limit medication consumption during pregnancy and nursing. So what are you to do? Just be a walking snot factory for 9+ months? No, not at all. Like everything else, you have some choice here on your approaches.

Here are a few remedies to clear mucus:
- Drinking lots of water
- Adding electrolytes to your water
- Eating garlic + onions
- Cutting down (consider eliminating) dairy
- Netti pot
- Drinking hot liquids
- Turmeric health shot
- Eating soup
- Rest, rest, rest
- Acupuncture

You may also experience ear infections. Here are some remedies:
- Check in with your doctor (you may require an office visit)
- Mullein Garlic (purchased at whole foods, ear drops)
- Eating garlic + onions
- Avoid dairy
- Turmeric health shot
- Netti pot
- Hydrate!!!

A neat trick that I learned recently from a nurse was to bend over and put your head below your heart. If the stuffiness drains and the throbbing stops, it is due to pregnancy. If it doesn't drain and the throbbing doesn't stop (or gets worse) it's most likely stopped up and could be a possible ear infection. *This in no way constitutes medical advice, diagnosis, or a cure and should not be taken as such*

If you get a fever, no matter how tiny, check in with your healthcare provider. Be sure to avoid colloidal silver as it is bit safe for pregnant or nursing people.

Pregnancy changes everything in your body...and I mean everything. Right down to your sinuses, your baby is already controlling you in every sense. Now that you know you have a reason to nap and decline Friday night's invite to supper club, do it. Take advantage of growing this tiny human. Take the time to honor the messages your body is sending you (rest, hydration, and slowing down).

You only get to experience this pregnancy once. Stop and enjoy it.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

(This is also an episode of The Birth Lounge Podcast, listen here for part 1 of this series!)

The transition to motherhood is an exciting time, but what’s often not talked about in our culture is how scary and lonely that transition into the unknown can be. In this two part series, we’re going to be going into the nitty of gritty of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in hopes of erasing the stigma and increasing your awareness of these postpartum possibilities. 

Jess Vanderwier is a mental health therapist and mother who experienced a pretty rough transition to motherhood herself. She had a pretty normal pregnancy until about 22 weeks, when she started feeling some really strong cramping. In the emergency room, she found out she was at high risk for preterm labor and her life quickly transitioned from one of a busy, working woman finishing up graduate school to someone stuck on bed rest. While she thankfully carried the baby to full term, she was then quickly hit with the struggles of being a new mom, especially in terms of sleep and breastfeeding issues all while having no family nearby. As a counselor, she couldn’t believe that she herself didn’t know how difficult the postpartum period could be. After about 4 months, she ended up telling a doctor about her struggles and got support by building up her village. She’s now passionate about supporting and informing other moms about these struggles so they can be aware of and prepared for them before they even have the chance to go through them and is here to help educate us today! 

In North America, 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives - and that’s just the recorded cases. When looking at perinatal women (pregnancy to postpartum) the research shows that somewhere between 1 in 5 to 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. They are the number one complication of pregnancy/birth, so even though they’re not screened for as much as things like gestational diabetes, they happen even more often.

How can two women have a similar perinatal experience but then two different very mental health outcomes? It really all comes down to risk factors - the whole pregnancy experience doesn’t happen in isolation as there are so many other factors that influence your experience. Biological factors play a big part, such as a history of mental health issues in yourself or your family. If you experienced bad PMS before the baby, that could put you at risk as well because of the hormonal link. Thyroid issues are also something to look out for, as these are often developed after pregnancy and can mimic anxiety and depression.Your social structure can also play a big role - are you living in a town with just you and your partner? If you don’t have a solid social support system in place, the transition to motherhood can be really tough. 

There are a number of other factors that can put you at risk. If you’ve had a complicated pregnancy, previous pregnancy losses, or a history of sexual trauma and abuse, you may experience difficult perinatal emotions. If you’re a perfectionist with a type A personality like Jess, the postpartum period can be very triggering as everything in life can suddenly feel out of your control. Everything from financial stressors to your relationship with your partner to your baby’s sleep patterns can play a role in your emotional experience. 

You may be feeling overwhelmed by all these risk factors, but we don’t want to scare you - we want to empower you! By being aware, you can reach out for support before you’re deep in the trenches. 

So what are the different ways that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can manifest? We’ll start with what it’s not: the “baby blues.” This is a normal part of the postpartum experience, with the height of it occurring usually 3-5 days after birth as a result of the release of a bunch of hormones. You might feel weepy and anxious, but it’s just your body adjusting to these hormones. It shouldn’t last more than 10 days postpartum, but people tend to blame mood issues on the baby blues months after baby is born. 

Now for the disorders - perinatal anxiety can make you very irritable and put you into the throws of excessive concern about baby and baby’s health. You may be afraid to take baby outside or have difficulty sleeping because you’re having racing, spiraling thoughts. You may also feel physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, a racing heart and appetite changes. 

With perinatal depression, you could experience a deep sense of hopelessness and a fear that you’re never going to feel like yourself again, never going to sleep again, or maybe even never love your baby like other moms seem to love theirs. You may feel overwhelming rage or guilt and shame, and physical symptoms such as appetite changes and difficulty concentrating and sleeping. 

Perinatal OCD involves experiencing intrusive, repetitive thoughts, usually about harming baby or yourself - but you don’t have the urge to actually act on these thoughts. For example, you may experience the thought that you’re going to drop baby onto the tile floor - you know you’re not going to do it and you’re scared by the thought, but it still continues to pop up in your mind. You may experience guilt and shame about these thoughts, hypervigilance, and a fear of being alone with baby. 

Finally, perinatal psychosis is a medical emergency and if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, medical help should be sought immediately. You can experience thoughts similar to those of OCD, but you may feel like you actually have to act on them. 1-2 out of 1000 postpartum women experience these symptoms, which include suicidal thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, extreme insomnia, and rapid mood swings.

Every birth, child, and pregnancy is different - so you can experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder even if you’ve had babies before with a fine postpartum experience. This applies vice versa - if you had a bad experience the first time, you’re not doomed to have it with your pregnancy.

Again, while this can all be scary and overwhelming, the goal of this information is to empower you, ensure you that you’re not alone and encourage you to find your tribe and love them hard to take this on! Next time, we’ll be back to continue the conversation with more information from Jess on postpartum challenges and getting and giving support. 

Connect with Jess on her website Our Mama Village, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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CBD and Motherhood with Ashley Reynolds

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

[This is also an episode on The Birth Lounge Podcast on listen here.]

Hey Villagers! Y’all requested this topic like no other and HeHe is so excited to sit down this week and talk all things CBD and motherhood! From the history and science of hemp to the stigma surrounding using CBD to get your body and mind optimized to be the best mom you can be, we’re covering it all. HeHe enlisted the help of Ashley Reynolds, mom of two and the president and cofounder of Elmore Mountain Therapeutics in Vermont. EMT is a CBD company founded by Ashley and her husband in 2017 and they specialize in whole hemp plant CBD rich extract. Using evidence-based knowledge, they’ve produced their own topical balms and sublingual tincture - HeHe uses the balm and swears by it for everything from period pain to belly aches to scrapes and cuts!

Ashley’s Journey
Shortly after the birth of her 2nd child in 2016, Ashley began to struggle with postpartum anxiety while juggling going back to work in preventative dental care after maternity leave and handling an almost 2 year old and a newborn. She couldn’t sleep despite being so tired and couldn’t eat even though she was expelling so many calories via breast milk. On top of that, she felt like she couldn’t really be present and became very sharp with her children; she simply didn’t feel like herself. She considered turning to pharmaceuticals but was reluctant about side effects and her ability to exclusively breastfeed. Ashley’s introduction to the world of CBD came by chance: she noticed that one of her patient’s had anxiety listed in his chart but he wasn’t taking any drugs for it and out of curiosity she asked him how he was dealing with it. His answer? CBD! He told her all about what CBD had done for his anxiety along with the importance of quality control and quality assurance when it comes to the products and soon after Ashley found a reputable company out in Colorado and had ordered products for herself. Within 3 days of starting them, she already began to feel like herself again: her appetite and sleep problems began to cease and she found herself being more focused, present and calm. She told all her friends about it and when she realized that so many of them had been struggling with those same postpartum issues, she thought that they shouldn’t be living like that when there’s something like CBD that could help and thus Elmore Mountain Therapeutics was born! 

All About CBD 
Cannabis has been in our culture as human beings for thousands of years. Depicted in hieroglyphics and cave walls, this plant has been a part of our everyday ethos for a whole host of things for a very long time; it’s has only been demonized in our country for about the past 50 years. However, things are changing! Legalization for recreational use is now happening in almost half the states and in the last decade medical use has become more and more acceptable. In Vermont and other agricultural states, it is also now legal to grow industrial hemp and create and sell hemp-derived products without a medical license, leading to a huge boom in sales and use.

So how does this come into play with our bodies? The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the 90’s in Israel by an Israeli physician who found that we have endogenous cannabinoids all over our bodies that are really in charge of balancing just about every single bodily system that we can name. From the cardiovascular to the circulatory to the digestive, these systems run over everyday functions and the endocannabinoid system can be seen as the umbrella system to all of them; when it’s not working, none of our other systems are going to be working their best! Just as you can take vitamin supplements to deal with a vitamin deficiency, taking CBD can serve as a supplement to the endocannabinoid system.

Ashley cannot stress enough that not all CBD is created equal! Given the unregulated nature of the industry, there are a myriad of questions you should be asking when it comes to picking a CBD company that you trust. How is the plant grown and how is the CBD extracted? Are there solvents after extraction is complete? Is what is said on the label actually what is in the bottle? For her products, Ashley uses an extraction method called supercritical CO2 extraction, which she says is the gold standard of extraction. It’s a very similar process to how caffeine is extracted out of coffee to make it decaf and provides the cleanest extraction possible. 

THC is something else to think about when it comes to evaluating a product. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, but THC has a psychoactive effect while CBD does not. Ashley’s products are whole spectrum, meaning it has both THC and CBD. Under federal law, the THC level must be under .3 percent, so it’s not going to get you high! Ashley and HeHe suggest going for products that contain both as the combination creates an entourage effect that makes the products more effective. 

CBD and Motherhood
If Ashley had known that she could have used CBD for 8 and a half months of morning sickness when she was pregnant while chasing after an 18 month old, she would have taken it without a doubt! Rather than turning to something with a higher THC level like smoking or vaping, Ashley wholeheartedly suggests turning to CBD to deal with symptoms instead. In terms of safety, Ashley isn’t a doctor, but she was taking 200 mg of CBD daily while exclusively breastfeeding her son for a year. He is now 2 years old and speaks in full sentences, has the motor skills of a 3 year old, and his emotional and cognitive skills are off the charts. She has also used CBD on her kids for bruises, bleeding, or even trouble falling asleep and has never experienced a problem.

What about the stigma? Ashley lives in an alternate universe from most of us where everyone knows what she does - her daughter is in preschool and lives in a small town and a small state and people know her face and what she’s up to. She has yet to have someone come up to her and say “how dare you?” or “you should be ashamed of yourself” or “how come DCF hasn’t come and knocked on your door?” You know you - you have to read the room when it comes to something like this and if you know that you’re going to be adding stress to your life by bringing this up, don’t do it!  If you feel like you’re ready and you have the education to take on the naysayers, feel free to be open about your use!

For all you skeptical mamas out there, Ashley has been there! She wants to encourage you to keep an open mind to how CBD can help you live a life in harmony. Who wouldn’t want more energy and patience, less aches and pains and the ability to be more present with your children? Being a mom is really, really hard - if there’s something that could maybe help you out, why not try it? We still don’t have evidence for the long term effects, but it’s a plant that has been consumed in our culture for thousands of years, and because of a few people’s opinions about demonizing it, our health is suffering the consequences. Ashley says we’re not facing a war on drugs, it’s a war on science. Be cautious in your sourcing, ask questions, get testimonials and find the best quality, clean products so they can do the most benefit for you.

Ashley is ready and willing to answer any and all questions when it comes to CBD! Connect with her at www.emtcbd.com. If you’re in the Boston area, her products can be found at Cambridge Naturals in Boston Landing and Porter Square.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Can You Avoid Birth Trauma?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Yes, You Can Avoid Birth Trauma.

Have you ever warned a child to be very careful or to not do something over and over again? But, you know deep down in your heart, that you can’t actually save this kiddo from the pain if they don’t make the choice to listen. They have to want to follow your instructions. Or they risk learning the lesson the hard way.

Birth work has really heavy parts to it and every birth worker will have different things that feel heavy to them. For me, it's watching birth trauma transpire right in front of my eyes to people that deserved better. There's a small population of women that I sometimes struggle to support. I struggle so hard when people come to me after their birth, sharing stories of struggles and trauma... yet, just months earlier I had tried to share reasons WHY their birth should be a priority, and why they needed to be more INTENTIONAL with their decision making and just how CRUCIAL it is to make sure you have the perfect birth team in place.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force them to drink. Sometimes, proverbs that seemed so dumb as a kid really have a way of gutting you as an adult. It such an internal struggle for me-- personal growth with learning to respect people's choices no matter what balanced with truly wanting to avoid birth trauma for the people I love and even their inner circles. 

It pains me to my core to hear of traumatic births stories--because I know it didn't have to be like that. 
Stop taking your birth knowledge from movies. Stop trusting your doctor to make decisions for you rather than with you. Stop avoiding exploring your choices because they make you feel a little anxious. Stop being careless when it comes to a major transition in your life. Stop using false societal expectations as your sounding board.

Before now, where has that gotten you?
"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

As much as I believe in educating women on their choices, I believe that women have MASSIVE responsibility in the way our birth world has turned. I feel so strongly that it’s 2019 and if women are going to be marching in the streets, crushing glass ceilings, and destroying laws rooted in misogynistic views, then we need to take a good deep look inside ourselves first. We have to be ready for what responsibilities come along with changing the world and the future. 

"I was my own problem"

All it takes is for someone to ask me what I do for a living and women will cross the room to share their birth story with me. All the time, I hear women say something along the lines of "I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I kind of thought would all work out," and, it did...but did it work out like you wanted it to?

No, most likely it didn't if you didn't prepare the proper way*, or worse, you didn't prepare at all for the actual birth process. If you didn't do any preparing or thinking about your birth experience before you were in labor, then how did you know what you wanted? If you didn't have any idea of how you wanted your birth to go, then what goal were you working towards all those hours of laboring?

Last week, I had a mom say to me share with me her birth story sprinkled with trauma sharp enough to pierce your ears and your heart as the words rolled off her tongue. I could feel the tears literally trying to burst through my eyes as if there were sprinklers coming up for the first spring morning after a long frozen winter. She was sharing how in the moment she trusted everything her doctor suggested and now, having done her own research, realizes that she was terribly taken advantage of.

The worst part? It was a holiday weekend and she now carries the burden of guilt because she knows that played a role in her induction and explains the rush her doctor seemed to be in to get her baby born.

After just a few simple questions and less than 30 minutes of chatting, she looked at me and said, "I was my own problem." I wanted to say, "I know," but how do you say that to a women who is wrangling with too many devils to count and is simultaneously raising a tiny human. Oh did I mention she is a very successful VP of Marketing at a well-known health food company. Yeah, add that. Instead all I said to her was, "You are such a wonderful mom. This conversation alone let's me know that you love your little boy more than the world. I really admire your strength and resiliency."

She knew she could do things differently next time. She knew she had more control already. What she needed was grace.

Ask Why

My first question to you is why would you think things would just work out without any preparing? Because society has taught you this?

Okay, let's dive into that idea: Society has taught you so much about birth, but is it true? Not really.

Society has led women to believe that labor is this grandiose event filled with emergency medicine, lots of sweating and bulging blood vessels, plus hours of screaming and pushing. Let me be clear right now, I do not believe this is normal. This is not how our bodies were meant to birth. This is a clear sign that something is not working and your birth team is responsible for being patient and trouble shooting solutions--likely the answer is more time. Now, do not confuse this to think birth never happens this way, because it does happen, but that isn't the only way to birth. Check out our blog on Fetal Ejection Reflex if you want more information on pushing with The TBH Approach.

Now, back to societal limitations--society has also taught women that birthing in the hospital has to be in the bed, hooked to monitors, and not being able to eat and drink until your baby is here. Again, just not the truth. Of course, you can (and many women do) birth like this, but if it isn't your jam, you have options. However, it's crucial you have to know what those options are when it comes time.

Society has also taught women that birthing on your back is the only way to do it. I do several exercises with TBH clients in the months leading up to their birth and through this I get the opportunity to learn about their existing ideas of birth. Nine times out of ten, women has absolutely no idea what birth can look like other than this:

Again, I want to remind you, I have never seen a birth like this.

You need to keep in mind that no one, and I mean no one, will fight for your ideal birth like you will. Also, no one is guaranteed to make the same decisions you would make for yourself. You can put together the perfect birth team to support you in getting to this goal, but at the end of the day, you are the only one who knows exactly what you want. This mean you have to speak up for what you want and expect that your team will support you in just that!

You have to take responsibility.

If women really want to change the world we currently live in and set the stage for our kids, then let's start with how we bring these kids into the world and the mental health of their moms. We can change the entire world if we begin with a solid foundation of homes that are filled with parents who are properly supported. This means emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Are you nurturing your mind? Are you advocating for yourself? Are you modeling healthy boundaries for your children? Are you constantly striving towards finding a balance that works for you? Are you getting closer to feeling fulfilled every day? If not, something is wrong. You need to take responsibility and make some shifts.

This can be a tough pill to swallow. I say it because I love you. I say it because if I don't, who will? I say it because telling women what’s we’ve always told them isn’t working. I say it because birth trauma shouldn't be an expected birth outcome, but it has become so normalized. I say it because the way women birth in America is unacceptable and our moms deserve better. You deserve better.  

So I’ll try my way. Welcome to TheTBH Approach. 

Xo, HeHe

*The proper way for you is specific to you. The proper way for your neighbor and your sister and your best friend may all be different. However, every birthing person needs to prepare with the fundamentals. 

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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