At the first of this year I started, what I call, my Monthly Mama’s Reading List. Each month I send out an email with my favorite books, articles, journals and studies pertaining to women’s health. Because I am a birth and postpartum doula a lot of the information I share has to do with conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum. However, I didn’t want to stop there. I want it to be a space for all women to learn. Many of the other topics include birth control, female sexuality, spirituality, and, because I love food so much, recipes.
For me the word mama has multiple meanings. And, according to Urban Dictionary I’m not alone in my thinking. To me, mama encompasses strong women. Whether you’ve given birth or never plan on having children, you’re a mama to me.
Definitions via Urban Dictionary:
Mama: A very attractive woman
Mama: The woman who brought you into the world
Mama: Term of endearment for a young woman. Used in replace of hunny, sweetie, babe, baby and so on.
Mama: Referring to a close friend that you care about and trust
If you’d like to be apart of my mama’s list head over to the front page of my website and enter your email at the top
All doulas have a doula bag. Some of us carry backpacks, some of us have duffles, some of us have very large purses…no matter the type we all of bag of tricks. If you’ve ever wondered what items a doula carries to a birth, wonder no more!
1. Deodorant – to keep us fresh!
2. Burt’s Bees Facial towelettes – to keep us and mom fresh
3. Breath mints – for everyone in the room, no mama likes the smell of bad breath
4. Calm powdered magnesium – Magnesium helps muscles to relax…great for doulas and moms
5. Straws!! - The most important and most used item in a doulas bag. That way when mama is lying down she can still drink water and stay hydrated.
6. Spoons – for moms to eat with (yogurt, honey, and oatmeal are all great things to eat in labor, but get messy!)
7. Almond Butter – for whoever is hungry, grab and apple or banana and you’ve got a great little energy boost
8. Essential oil diffuser – so the room smells pretty.
9. Instant coffee – for the middle of the night when the hospital cafeteria’s are closed
10. Battery operated candles - to transform any room into a spa experience
11. Essential Oils – My favorites for labor are: Peppermint, Lavender, Serenity, and Grapefruit
12. Hand Sanitizer – I don’t really trust mainstream sanitizer, but have full faith in Honest Company’s products
13. Hair Ties – from a local shop here in San Diego, Perfect Hair Ties
14. Chapstick – Made by yours truly
15. Scarf – this duels as a rebozo and something to keep me warm for chilly hospital nights
16. Earbuds – All moms should have these to tune everything else out.
Chantal Davis is a mom of two little boys and also an acupuncturist at Free Flow Health Acupuncture here in San Diego. We sat down to talk about her personal experience with healing after her second baby and how acupuncture supports the healing process after birth. Check out her blog post, Taking care of yourself: Stressed out Mama and watch the first episode of Chats below.
- Why Chantal became an acupuncturist [1:00]
- Chantal’s personal experience with healing post baby [4:02]
- Taking Care of yourself first [6:50]
- How acupuncture supports healing post baby [9:14]
- Chinese Medicine [13:30]
- Hunger and What to eat [16:20]
There’s something so special about the last day of the year. Every new year’s eve I sit down with a pot of tea, light a candle and write. I love creating a space and carving out time to reflect. It’s my way of saying thank you to what the year has taught me.
Today I feel a reverence for what these past 364 days have brought into my life, especially into my doula life. To be a witness to new life is beyond incredible. I don’t think there is a word to truly describe the feeling I get when I go to births or support a family when they just get home. Part of the reason I love being a doula so much is that there is constant growth. Every time I think I know something about birth, like really really have a grasp on it, the next birth teaches me I’m wrong. I’m such a planner, and I love to know what’s going to happen next. But with birth, there is no knowing. This is a continual lesson in my life, and one of the many reasons I believe I needed to become a doula. Supporting birth is the one area that I have the opportunity to abandon the planner in me…I really have no other option. Each baby is teaching me to let go, it’s ok not to know and to trust life. I don’t have to have all the answers, I just need to be present and observe. This hasn’t always been easy, but it’s getting easier to step back and watch life unfold. I am so grateful for each and every little being that taught me to let go a little more this year.
Ruhan, Bodhi, Kamilah, Luca, Camilla, Kate, Gage, Jai, Duran, Banyan & Akasha, Bodhi, Cali, Eliana, Jonas, Olivia, Grace, Jude, and River thank you for coming into my life this year and for allowing me to be apart of yours. (Check out all these little cuties here >)
Happiest New Year!
It was such a great turn out for the last picnic of 2014! I feel fortunate to have so many amazing families in my life and to have the opportunity to catch up with them each month. Picnic days are my favorite days : ) Here was yesterday’s menu lineup. Enjoy!
– Apricot Quinoa Salad >>
-- Paleo Banana Bread >>
– Greek Chicken Kabobs
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed into paste
- 1 TB fresh oregano leaves, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
- pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt, and pepper
- Drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking continuously and vigorously, until it is all incorporated.
- Cut 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast into 1 inch pieces. Marinade them in the dressing for 2 hours in the refrigerator or 30 min at room temperature
- Thread the chicken onto skewers and discard marinade. Season each skewer with salt and pepper to taste. Grill 8-10min turning occasionally until browned and cooked through
– Chocolate Almond Clusters with Lavender Rosemary Gray Salt
- 31/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 21/2 tsp. palm shortening, or coconut oil
- 2 TB grade B maple syrup or honey (next I would add a little more than what it calls for)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups almonds, raw or roasted and unsalted
- 3/4 tsp. coarse sea salt (I used my lavender rosemary salt)
- Bring 1 inch of water in a saucepan to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and place a heatproof glass or metal bowl over the top to create a double boiler. Slowly melt the chocolate and palm shortening together, stirring constantly. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla, then remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper
- Stir the almonds into the chocolate, then spoon mounds onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt. Place in the refrigerator to set for 30 minutes, until hardened. Store any leftover clusters in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Many breastfeeding moms have to cut out dairy from their diet (I know, it’s really horrible). The day my nutritionist told me I couldn’t have cheese anymore was a very tragic day, so I can totally relate to you cheese loving, ice cream eating mamas out there. The reason moms have to cut out dairy is because their baby may be experiencing allergic reactions to the protein in cow’s milk (switching to lactose-free options won’t help either). Cow’s milk sensitivity or allergy can cause colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, diarrhea, constipation, hives, and/or a stuffy, itchy nose. If you’re baby is experiencing any of these symptoms the best place to start is cutting out dairy. Many babies who have a sensitivity to dairy will also be more likely to have a sensitivity to soy…so their goes the soy milk idea! What’s a mom to do!?
Here are a few of my favorite dairy free recipes (I have so many, it was hard to choose). I hope these get you through your dairy detox : )
I use almond milk and coconut milk the most. When I have a busy week I will buy almond or coconut milk at the store, but if you want to make it fresh at home (it’s so easy, really!) this is my homemade almond milk recipe
Coconut Spread (I like Earth’s Balance…this one is also soy free)
“Cheese” (I have not tried this yet, but I just ordered some and have heard good things about it…plus I saw her on Shark Tank and liked her)
“Coffee Milkshake” (soooo so good)
Chicken Tikka Masala
Creamy Sundried Tomato Soup
Creamy Avocado Pasta
Vegan Egg Nog
Spiced Almond Milk Egg Nog
Vegan Cheese Cake
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (ice cream maker recommended)
So Delicious Coconut Almond Bar minis (Sprouts or Whole Foods)
Imagine you go to a spa for some relaxation and all the lights are on, the music is booming, people are talking loudly, the air is a bit chilly, and you are not given privacy while getting undressed and onto the massage table. Yikes! That doesn’t sound relaxing at all.
Now imagine you are going for a relaxing day at the spa where the lights are dim, soft music is playing in the background, everyone is talking in a whisper, scents of lavender or eucalyptus permeate the air, and you are given the time to go slow, enjoying tranquility and privacy. Being in this type of setting allows the stress to melt away, your muscles to release, and for you to become fully relaxed. This is exactly the type of environment that is conducive for birthing your baby. Whether you’ve decided to birth your baby at home, in a birth center or in a hospital keeping your surroundings calm and quiet is key to helping you remain relaxed throughout labor and for your baby to feel safe. You’ve created such an incredible home for your baby to grow in, now it’s time to encourage that little one to come out.
1. See — Turn off or dim the lights
This is the first step in creating an intimate private space. If you’re giving birth at home you have a lot of options for keeping lighting to a minimum. A fireplace, candles, tea lights, or simply leaving all the lights off are just a few things you can do. If you’re in a hospital you can turn on the bathroom light and leave the door cracked, keep most of the lights off except one, draw the curtains, and/or, my favorite, bring in battery operated candles to really set the mood. Laboring in a dark, or with a soft glow of light will help you to feel safe and relaxed. If there is a reason lights need to be on wearing an eye mask, like the Bucky 40 Blinks, will keep you in that focused space. People also tend to talk more quietly in a darker room…which leads us to the next step.
2. Hear — Turn off the talking and turn on the music
It’s really hard to stay focused on relaxing when people are chatting and phones are ringing. A great way to encourage people to talk quietly (or not at all) is to turn on soft music. I love Pandora’s Liquid Mind station (just make sure not to use the free version of Pandora for labor…nothing like a car commercial to interrupt your labor). It really sets that spa like mood. If people still aren’t getting the hint, have your birth partner or doula ask them to step outside or into the hallway to finish their conversation.
3. Touch — One minute your cold, the next minute your hot
Most likely you’re going to switch from hot to cold, and cold to hot a few times throughout labor. In the beginning stages of labor keep things warm. Being cold makes your muscles contract and you want them to release and open. At home you can control the temperature quite easily, but if you’re in a birth center or hospital you might not have access to the thermostat. Bring a warm robe and socks/slippers with you. As your body continues to work you’ll probably start stripping off the layers and enjoy a cool rag around your neck or forehead.
4. Taste — Eat & Drink
Eating and drinking in labor not only helps to keep your energy up, but it can also help create oxytocin. I’m a big foodie….certain meals have been known to make me cry (out of pure joy). In early stages of labor food can be a comfort. Eat your favorite foods! Good proteins, fats, and carbs are going to be your best friend. I once heard that in France women were encouraged to eat chocolate at the start of labor (get that oxytocin going) and drank a glass of champagne once their baby was born (the bubbles were said to help the uterus to contract after labor). I cannot recall where I heard this information, but I think it’s some of the best advice.
5. Smell — One of our most powerful senses
Essential oils are incredible for a laboring mom. Because a mom’s sense of smell is so strong in labor and we don’t know when she will get tired of a certain scent, I hesitate to apply it to her skin. However, I’ve found it so useful to diffuse a scent in the air or simply leave the cap off. Lavender (relaxation), peppermint (nausea), and grapefruit (energy) are some of my go to labor oils. Bring your own pillow or blanket if you’re giving birth at a hospital or birth center. The familiar smells will make you feel more at home. If you’re partner can’t be at the birth bring one of their worn shirts with you, or a scent they wear.
All of these things are important to make you feel safe, secure, and relaxed.
Fall is my favorite time of year for many reasons. One of them being the fall flavors, which is why I’m obsessed with this breakfast bowl I put together a few weeks ago. Feel free to add whatever sounds good to you! This is what I concocted.
1 Cup GF Oats
2 Tsp. Coconut oil
2 TBS. Almond Butter
Handful Chopped Pecans
Handful Sunflower Seeds
Sprinkle Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 TBS. Chia Seeds
1 TBS. Collagen Hydrolysate (for that bit of protein!)
Saute the apples in the coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook until they are slightly softened. Then start adding everything to the bowl. I like to mix in the collagen and almond butter first so they blend into the oats. Then top will all your favorite ingredients. Any fruit or nuts would be good on top. For a sweeter bowl my husband likes when I add cranberries and drizzle with a little maple syrup. Sprinkle cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice Enjoy!
Wow, it’s been some time since I posted for Foodie Friday. What better time to get back into Foodie Fridays than fall and upcoming holiday season!
I recently found out about a new company called Think. Eat. Live. The company was started by two former clients of my nutritionist, Diana Fatayerji. I knew that if she had a hand in helping them come up with non-GMO and soy, nut, and dairy free products they would fall right into my diet. The question was…will they taste good? I’ve gone through a number of gluten free products and also made some from scratch, but they usually turn up dry and crumbly. I’m so happy to share that I love love love their Sunpower Bar Mix and can’t wait to try out their other products. The best part is you don’t have to be a good cook to make them. They’re incredibly simple to make and great to have on hand for a little extra protein and fiber (great for a snack while your breastfeeding postpartum : ). Check out more of their products here
I’m so excited to share with you a little peak into an incredible birth I attended a month ago. It was my first time working with a birth photographer, and I have to say Amy Gray Photography did an amazing job. Thank you Kristi, Nathaniel & Gage for allowing me to be apart of such an exciting moment!