Self-Care

What can I take?

On a pretty regular basis, I have clients and others asking me what they can take for a specific concern or condition, especially in pregnancy. The typical scenario is that the person has some type of temporary illness or malady–a cold, an upset stomach, a headache–and they want to take something for it. The subtext of the question, “what can I take?” is really, “what can I take that will immediately or at least very quickly make this go away so that I can get on with my life?”

I get it. I’m busy, too, and usually don’t like being slowed down by my body. But, oftentimes, our bodies are very wise in knowing what they need, and sometimes they make us sick so that we will pay attention. Perhaps, instead of reaching for a tablet, a pill, an essential oil, or an herb, we can pause and take. . .

. . .a break. Our bodies need regular breaks from inactivity and also from activity, about every 90-120 minutes. Stand up and stretch if you’ve been sitting. Sit and meditate or pray if you’ve been busily moving. Breathe some fresh air.

. . .a drink. Are you thirsty? Many pregnant clients discover that their nagging regular headaches resolve after being more mindful about drinking more water.

. . .a snack. Modern life is busy, over-scheduled, and filled with us running from one thing to the next. When was the last time you ate some nutrient dense foods? Not just grabbing convenience items on the way to your next activity or event, but really sitting and enjoying healthful food?

. . .a nap. Even just lying down and closing your eyes in a darkened room for 20 minutes can help you to feel refreshed and ready for the rest of your day.

. . .a walk. Enjoy a vigorous walk to help your body and mind re-set.

. . .a hug. Maybe that nagging headache or the cold that won’t quit is due to stress in your relationships, and seeking connection can help your body to heal itself.

Certainly, we can’t cure all of our ills with simple lifestyle choices, but it’s always a good place to start.

Some cool resources for more information on any of the above:

Dr. Aviva Romm’s blog, podcast, and classes

The Gottman Institute for evidence-based information on romantic, family, and parenting relationships

Dr. Frank Lipman’s book How to Be Well

What resources have helped you to be well?

 

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about me, announcements, Arvigo, breastfeeding, forest bathing, Self-Care

Summer Thoughts

Summer seems to be inevitably winding down, even thought it’s really still just the first part of August. But that wee bit of realization that we want to hurry up and pack some fun into the days before school schedules and cold weather starts has me feeling reflective and maybe a little bit sad and weary. There never is enough time for all the fun to be had.

I was out of town the last part of July and the first week of August, in a decidedly remote location for the first part of my sojourn, for a retreat with other Arvigo® practitioners. Remote, as in, there was barely even a little bit of cell service, and there was no way I could attend to my business–phone reception was impossible, with only texts coming through occasionally, and email and social media unwilling to download with that bitty bit of reception. I didn’t even take any pictures, except for this one of Rosita Arvigo and me, which, technically I didn’t even take.

 

It was challenging and also blissful. Such is life–a little bitter with your sweet.

The gathering of Arvigo® practitioners was informative, fun, and nurturing, as I always find those gatherings to be. Rosita lead a shinrin-yoku or forest-bathing session for us. And while I struggle with the idea that we somehow need certified leaders to help us relax, it was a beautiful exercise in mindfulness. Three mindful hours in nature can have positive benefits lasting up to a week in terms of lowered stress hormones, blood pressure and blood glucose. As someone with a history of Lyme disease in myself and in my family, and with the penchant for attracting mosquitoes and other biting insects, relaxing in the woods is a tricky thing for me. But I got all covered in insect repellent, and headed out with my practitioner friends. It was a moving experience for me, and resulted in an unburdening of worries and stress that I didn’t think would really happen.

I rounded out my forest bathing by camping with my family for three additional days at Mirror Lake, near the Wisconsin Dells. Yep. No pictures. Just the after effects of spending 5 days disconnected from technology and connected with cool people.

I had some new professional photos taken in July. Unfortunately, the day was rainy, so “humid hair” will be on display in my professional pics until I do that again. I always feel awkward getting my photo taken, but I’m pretty happy with the ones from the session.

midwife home birth water birth breastfeeding arvigo

A new testimonial was shared with me, on a day that was filled with sadness and grieving for another person. I love to hear your stories about how my ministrations have helped you, but you all should know that your kindness and positive encouragement helps me as well. Even if I don’t tell you in the moment, I treasure your cards, photos, and gratitude, and they are a healing balm for my heart and soul.

Appointments in Oshkosh have been booked pretty solidly for the first two months of them at Bartelt Holistic. Because the third Thursday is coming right up here in August, I have a few openings this month. I’m offering $25 off any Arvigo® session or lactation consult if you take one of the remaining spots on Thursday, August 16th, 2018. Call 920-659-0267 to book your appointment. Consultations for home birth midwifery care are always free, and I’d be happy to book that as well!

I’ve made a commitment to walk on October 6th for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and set a personal fundraising goal of $250. I want to give back to the community in as many ways as I can, and I have been touched and helped by the work of NAMI, personally and professionally. My 2017 summer began with the news of the loss of two beautiful souls via suicide, and my 2018 summer has been sadly bookended with two additional tragic losses. Many new parents struggle with feelings of sadness, isolation, and depression. The pain is real. I pray that all aching hearts will find comfort and peace, and that people find help and support when they need it. I hope that you might consider supporting the work of NAMI with a donation for the walk.

As always, I love to hear from you with stories of how your little people are growing, and photos, and questions. Keep in touch!

postpartum doula breastfeeding baby newborn
breastfeeding, community partnerships, postpartum, Self-Care

Why you might want a doula after your birth

written by Hanna Donati

At one time, a whole village would gather around to nourish and support a new mother. Traditionally, communities would ensure mothers could stay in bed for up to forty days to ensure optimal postpartum healing and bonding. Mothers were fed, pampered, and supported emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Unfortunately, as a society we do not place value on rest. We expect ourselves to “bounce back” without allowing our bodies precious time to heal. We expect ourselves to continue our lives as normal on our own-except this time, with a brand new baby and a body rapidly changing hormonally, physically and emotionally. We have lost the cradling support of our “village”, and the rates of postpartum depression, birth injuries, and unsuccessful breastfeeding journeys are proof that we need to reconnect to this ancient wisdom.

Postpartum doula services can fill this void. Entering into motherhood is a sacred time of a woman’s life. Birth and a new addition to the family means life altering change. Although it is an exciting, precious time, many women feel stressed about the prospect of learning how to breastfeed, care for a newborn, and keep themselves (and the rest of their family) fed and clothed! In fact, when talking with my birth doula clients, one of the few things they knew about the postpartum period was that it was “terrible.” This breaks my heart!

You don’t have to be in the immediate postpartum to take advantage of a postpartum doula. Some families have support when they have a newborn, but things get sticky when the adults in the home have to transition back to full time work after a leave, and your help seems to leave you when you most need it. Don’t hesitate to contact these great service providers to see if this service is right for you.
What does a Postpartum Doula do?

  • Emotional support; an expert in your home in real time to support you
  • Provide evidence based resources to you on newborn care, breastfeeding, the postpartum period
  • Help create biologically normal routines and practices
  • Allow time for you and/or your partner to get some much-needed rest
  • Family education and older sibling support
  • Physical support for your postpartum body, helping with lifting and
    information on how the body recovers from childbirth including surgical
    birth
  • Overnight infant care works beautifully with any way you choose to feed
    your child and you get sleep
  • Breastfeeding guidance and resource referral
  • Newborn care guidance for you or other family members
  • Prepare nourishing foods with what you already have in your fridge, within the framework of any diet you adhere to
  • Light housework including organizing baby clothes, doing dishes, laundry, and making beds

Want in?

Anja has partnered with two local doula groups so that her clients can receive special offers through Bloom Doula Services of the Fox Valley (serving Oshkosh and surrounding areas) and Green Bay Doulas (serving Green Bay and surrounding areas). Please contact those providers and mention that you are or have been her client.

 

 

 

about me, announcements, community partnerships, postpartum

Some new things. . .

What is bringing you joy these days? Summer has been delightful, and feels so very fleeting, as we quickly approach the July 4th holiday.

We’ve been up to some good work in the last little while in the office and have some updates for you.

Hanna Donati is officially on staff now and will be doing some administrative work to help me to continue to provide excellent care for you. She also has her own doula business, and teaches private childbirth education classes. You will see her at some appointments and births; learn more about her here.

I’m really excited about a new partnership with Bartelt Holistic. I will be renting a room in their beautiful location in Oshkosh to see clients once a month. They are located in downtown Oshkosh, and I have a room there the third Thursday of the month, with limited times. I really hope that this helps clients who are driving from far away to have an option that is closer to them. Call now to reserve your spot for midwifery, lactation, or Arvigo® care appointments. They have a charming classroom space, and Hanna and I are percolating some ideas for that room–stay tuned.

Have a safe and happy 4th!

about me

An Anniversary

I meandered over to my LinkedIn account the other day, and found messages in my inbox congratulating me on my work anniversary. After briefly wondering just what anniversary LinkedIn was marking, I realized that I filed the first of my legal paperwork for my solo practice on April 13, 2017. It is indeed an anniversary.

Milestones tend to prompt some introspection, an inventory of the perhaps non-tangible ground that’s been covered. So, I’m taking stock of all that has transpired over the last year and more on my journey to solo practice.

I was part of a local partnership practice since 2009 that is very busy. Prior to starting that business in 2009, I was a student midwife for about a year and a half. I’ve been mostly on call, tethered to my phone, with my brain always imagining the scenario in which I have to leave any given situation in order to quickly get to a birth, for 10 years. It is always a joy, honor and privilege to attend a birth. I still feel excited to get the labor calls; and I take enormous joy in traveling to your homes, often under the secret cover of the night, to quietly help you to welcome your little ones into your homes and families.

But, for real, 10 years is a long time to live an on-call lifestyle. And, truth be told, I haven’t been so diligent about my own self-care. For years, I have run on coffee and random snacks, little sleep and not enough exercise, and more M&Ms than I should probably admit to. Though I love whole foods and no one has to coerce me to eat my vegetables, I was often too tired to prepare healthy food and relied on not-so-healthy restaurant fare. In 2016, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, plus adrenal stress. Of course I was.

The diagnoses prompted me to start cleaning up my act and attempt to manage the symptoms of overwhelming fatigue, body aches and pains, disrupted sleep, disrupted periods, depression and anxiety. Then in September of 2016, just a month after my diagnosis, my mother unexpectedly died. At the ages of 23, 20, 19, and 14, my kids lost their sole remaining grandparent; my husband’s mother had died just a little over a year prior. Everyone grieves in their own ways, and their stories are not mine to tell; suffice it to say, I felt throughout that autumn that my family and my life really were coming quite undone.

I knew that I couldn’t keep up the pace I was going, or the pressure of a busy practice with an unrelenting overhead, all while trying to heal my body, grieve, and be there for my kids and husband. My business partner and I began discussions about me selling my share of the practice, and I began preparing for a smaller, slower paced practice. That was all finalized on June 30, 2017.

Pregnancy, labor and birth have always been powerful metaphors for my life. It’s been 26 years since I was pregnant with my first born, but the giddy, excited feeling knowing that a whole little person is forming and going to be born is unforgettable. It was similar imagining a solo practice–purchasing new equipment, designing the logo, creating my own procedures, and reveling in all the spreadsheets. (I REALLY dig spreadsheets.)

But nothing is all giddy excitement. (Did your parents say, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt,” when you were growing up? That was a favorite of my dad’s, addressing a general air of chaos brought on by a household of six kids.) A new thing also brings worries, doubts, queasy stomachs, and a whole lot of hard work. I’ve had to self-talk some of the things I say to laboring clients in the middle of the night.

home birth affirmations waterbirth appleton wisconsin green bay de pere manitowoc neenah menasha oshkosh fond du lac

“Just breathe”

“Take it one step at a time”

“You can do this”

“You are doing this”

“It will be so worth it in the end”

And you know what? It is worth it. A year on, I am delighted by

  • office mates who are filled with laughter and joy
  • a leisurely drive into the country to get to my office (it’s really not that far away, I promise!)
  • the opportunity to walk at the state park on my way to or from work
  • a slower paced practice, with time to soak all of you in, and hear your stories, and hold space for you and your babies
  • an opportunity to continue to support Heather on her way to becoming a midwife
  • a new assistant, Hanna, who is intelligent and excited and dedicated to the work
  • Arvigo® work being integral in my care
  • the opportunity to participate as part of the teaching team for two Arvigo® workshops since January
  • repeat clients who have followed me to the new place, whose kind words of encouragement and appreciation have meant more to me that you can possibly know
  • new clients–for home births, Arvigo® Therapy, and lactation consults–welcome! I am grateful for your business

The storms of life come and go. Labor lasts for sometimes seemingly endless hours. Eventually, we are delivered. Delivered into new time and space, a new sense of being, a new opportunity, a new soul to nurture and love. The stormy experience gets integrated into our beings, teaches us lessons that we can return to time and again, and helps us to create something beautiful in the present.

May it be so.

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