Thursday, July 4

A Postpartum Healing Tool

A Tool After Birth: Postpartum Pads

Witch hazel and Lavender Essential Oil are excellent tools for the postpartum healing period. Both  are natural astringents, so they will help reduce swelling and they both assist with healing aches and bruising. They can gently support mom's with sensations and changes after vaginal delivery such as sore perineum. Not to mention, the benefits of reducing swelling of veins and hemorrhoids.

Prepare 18-24 ahead of time. 
Overnight(Cotton Cover) maxi pads
1/4 cup Witch hazel
2-3 drops Lavender oil
Aluminum foil
Small Spray Bottle

  • In a small bowl combine witch hazel and lavender essential oil, mix  thoroughly.
  • Transfer to a small spray bottle.
  • Unfold each pad, and spray each until the pad is damp
  • Wrap each pad in foil and store them in the freezer.

Take care and be kind to your spirit and body.
 This is also a time to nurture yourself as you continue on your road into building your family.

Tuesday, February 26

BRAIN Acronym - a lead in for discussion

In most instances, there is time to discuss treatments or procedure with the care provider and care team. It is an excellent tool to create and include an informed choice for the patient..   
Benefits -              What are the benefits of this procedure? How will this help me/baby/ labour?
Risks -                  What are the risks of this procedure? How might this impact me/baby/labour?
Alternatives -        What are the alternatives to this procedure? Are there other options?
Intuition -              What is my gut intuitive feeling about this?
Need Time,
or Nothing -           What if I delay this procedure? Take some time to think about it?       
                                           What will happen if I choose to do nothing for now?

The BRAIN acronym is  good to practice with as you begin to understand and prepare for laour and delivery. It is an opportunity to play with some of the questions or concerns that are in your mind. It is a constructive tool that you can use in labour yet, also at your visits with your primary care giver in the months before your delivery. You can begin to assess and create concern into possible action. Leaving your precious energy to focus on you and baby.

Tuesday, January 15

Tips for Labour & Childbirth

Shifting & Creating Focal Points For Childbirth
When the eyes focus on a specific point, the mind relaxes and breath stabilizes. We feel calmer and easeful. In yoga this is called drishti, an ancient technique used by yogis. It is also a commonly used pain management tool in childbirth.
When the eyes are overly active, pupils dilate, the body works out of the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight.”) It is a natural reaction to the eyes absorbing the whole scene, the body becoming prepared to defend itself. When the eyes are soft, muscles relax, the body shifts into the parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest"). The latter allows for a more complete cohesion between mind and body.
Using our eyes to focus on an internal or external space or object places the mind in an occupied state, distracted from pain. There are different approaches, some childbirth techniques encourage external focal points, like an object, person, or picture. Another suggests eyes closed, bringing the focus inward (yoga refers to this as pratyahara, a withdrawl from the senses.) This helps in calming the eye muscles and removing outside stimulus. As a doula, I've seen both be effective in creating a space for the mother to find her rythm for childbirth. Ultimately it is for her to practice and determine which method resonates best.

How to Establish Various Focal Points Through Yoga

An important tool in labour preperation, it can help remove oneself from the busy day to day and access awareness; connectedness to body breath and baby.
For example a relaxed yoga pose like supta baddhakonasana (reclined goddess pose) or savasana (corpse pose) accompanied by a brief guided relaxation ... "Close your eyes, with each inhale gently release the muscles, exhale resting the mind, soften the tissues of the eyes, on the exhale sinking into your mat bringing your gaze inside, continue your breath freeing your mind of distraction, allowing you to drop your breath deeper connecting down to baby."
Some women like to keep their eyes open, prefering an external focus, thus the language of the meditation changes slightly. Use terms like "watch the breath release tension, watch it move in and out of your body connecting with baby." Tweeking the language to suit the mother's focal preference is important in experiencing an effective practice.
Pranayama (Breath Exercises)
pranayama into meditation introduces the idea of control over one’s breathing pattern; connecting to breath can give directive to regulate one's state in labour. One example from yoga is Sama Vritti (even fluctuation with inhalation and exhalation). With pregnant women I practice a 4 count breath for the inhale and for the exhale. Women are inately drawn to breath awareness during the labour process, often finding themsleves counting. Counting the breath gives a specific attention for the mind (an explicit focal point) allowing space to notice and move with peaks and rests within contractions.
Labouring Poses
Modifications are important in yoga asana practice. Prenatal yoga helps women connect with the changing state of their bodies. Poses are adjusted in a way that is mindfull of the mind/body requirements of pregnancy. A relaxed state opens oneself to "being" with the different body sensations within the muscles. This focus on what is happening with the body gives it voice and purpose, giving the woman the ability to follow her body's internal rythm in the birthing process.
Shift your focal points - when overwhelmed with restless thought or sensation, go play, change the state of your body, and calm your mind on the spot. Reconnect with you - body and baby.

By: Mary Kuzniuk - Postpartum & Labour Doula
- Pre & Postnatal Yoga
- Holistic Energy Practitioner
Maternity Matters

Tuesday, January 8

Postpartum Doula

An excellent introduction to the postpartum doula - compiled from information from two training and certifying bodies: 1) DONA  2) CAPPA
The following entry is from            
Most new parents will tell you that navigating through those first few days after bringing home a new baby is anything but easy! Even for the most experienced parents, bringing home a new baby means changing routines, dividing time and just trying to figure out how to juggle it all. If mom had a cesarean delivery or any other birth complications, it can make the transition to home even more challenging. The problem that many families run into is finding the help they need to support them through these first few weeks.
This is where the help of a postpartum doula can be just the answer that these parents are looking for.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
A postpartum doula provides evidenced based information on things such as infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care.
A postpartum doula is there to help a new family in those first days and weeks and early months after bringing home a new baby. Research shows that moms, dads and babies have an easier time with this transition if a good support team is in place.
What type of services does a Postpartum Doula provide?
The postpartum doula offers many services to her clients, but her main goals are to help “mother the mother”, and nurture the entire family as they transition into life with a newborn. This would include doing things to help mom and dad feel more confident in their roles, sharing education on family adjustment and tending to the unique needs of a new mother.
A postpartum doula works with each family individually to find out their particular needs. Some of the duties that a postpartum doula can perform include:
Non judgmental support and evidence based information to assist in family development
Breastfeeding  and feeding support
Help with the emotional and physical recovery after birth
Referrals to local resources such as parenting classes, pediatricians, lactation support and support groups
Light housekeeping so that mom does not feel so overwhelmed
Running errands
Assistance with newborn care such as diapering, bathing, feeding and comforting
Light meal preparation
Baby soothing techniques
Sibling care
Most postpartum doulas provide service for a family anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks after bringing home a new baby. Families may have the doula work 1-3 days a week or as many as 5 days a week. Postpartum doulas may offer night time service to help the family transition more smoothly into the challenges of night time parenting. Each doula offers different services, so it’s important that each family decide what their needs are and find a  postpartum doula who can meet those needs.

Prenatal Gentle Yoga Hip Opener

Knee Rocking

Warm Up: Knee Rocking

1. Sit in a cross-legged position with your left leg on top. If preferred, lean against wall to support your back. 
2. Cradling the left leg with both arms, lift it toward your chest and abdomen as far you comfortably can. 3. Keeping your back straight, hold the leg as high and close to you as possible without straining. 
4. Moving from the hip joint, gently rock the leg back and forth as though rocking a baby. 
5. After rocking one leg several times, switch leg position and repeat with other leg. 

Benefits: - Helps alleviate discomfort in the hip joints caused by your growing baby's pressure on the nerves and joints in the hip area, buttocks, and thighs. - Improves flexibility in the hip, pelvic, and groin areas. Note: Do this warm-up whenever you feel discomfort in the hips and pelvic area.

Monday, January 7

Welcome 2013 - Birth & Family

Welcome to 2013 -- an opportunity to embrace and nurture being an incredible human being. In honour of that I pull up this quote from Health Canada from 2000 stating how birth, woman and families would benefit being cared for:

“Pregnancy and birth are unique

for each woman. Women have diverse
experiences and needs. Women and
families hold different philosophies of
birth, based on their specific knowledge,
experience, culture, social and family
background, and belief systems. …The
approach to caring for women and
families should involve adapting care to
meet their needs, rather than expecting
women and families to adapt to
institution or provider needs.”
Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care: 
National Guidelines. Health Canada. 2000

How are we doing as a nation?

Wednesday, November 7

What do you think about birth and human rights?