Can you say “b…”?

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Dear Leakies,

Can you imagine hiring someone to take care of your children who didn’t take care of their own physical, emotional, and mental health? From their depleted state, the care they could provide your children could be compromised to such an extent that your child may not receive the attention and safety they need. Most of us would want our child’s caregivers to be taking care of themselves to ensure that our children are well cared for.

Yet, as mothers, many of us regularly neglect our own care. Busyness, fear, and even shame keep us from taking care of our bodies, minds, and spirits leaving us depleted and run down. And it’s not surprise, life with children rarely goes according to plan, it usually looks more like this. Still, we need to remind ourselves that our children deserve healthy, happy, cared-for moms.

This extends to our breasts. Read more here.

____________________

arden credence

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More Than Baby Blues, Mommy Blues and a Giveaway

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Dear Leakies,

Can you come in close? I want to tell you something very important:

Your life matters.

It’s not just because you care so well for you children, (even when you don’t feel like you’re doing a great job).

It’s not because your family depends on you to be unfailingly strong, (even when you feel so weak you cannot fathom getting out of bed in the mornings).

It’s not because of anything you do or don’t do today. 

This nurturing, giving, feeding, parenting journey is hard. Sometimes unbearably so. 

18 months ago, my son was diagnosed with a rare syndrome that made him allergic to food. Not just a few things, but about 99% of all foods. He had a traumatic, life-threatening injury at birth and we came so close to losing him. We were just starting to get our footing back when he was diagnosed with FPIES

My rope, the one I had been hanging onto for 7 months, the one that was frayed and just starting to strengthen again? That one. It broke. And I broke with it. I felt shattered. I was in emotional/psychological free-fall, the pieces of me scattering across the ground that felt impossibly far away and also like it was rising up to swallow me. (See Feeding Echo, here.)

I struggled periodically with some anxiety and depression in the 34 years before I gave birth, as well as PTSD, although I would never have labeled them at the time. I was under the very harmful and mistaken impression that any sort of mood, personality, or mental disorder or imbalance meant that my life would stop and I would forever wear a scarlet letter for the Crazy I carried around in my brain. And if I was Crazy, it meant that nothing I said or did mattered anymore…continue reading here.

____________________

Carrie Saum, headshot

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Fennel and Sausage Breakfast Casserole for the Milky Mom

by Carrie Saum

Mornings are nightmares in my house.

Even before having a baby with some extra needs, I struggled to feel like a human before 10:00am. I know now that I need thyroid support. I need extra vitamins B and D. I need sleep. I need no talking until coffee has kicked in. I need to wake up slow with a silent, sweet cuddle from my toddler.

LOL. I know. These things will never happen.

But I do know what I absolutely need to be a good person during the rest of the day: Breakfast.

I also know I need extra protein and veggies in the morning. I have a hard time taking care of myself. This is NOT NEWS. But I have a specific behavior that pops up when I start to feel overwhelmed and stop taking care of myself.

What is it, you ask? Well, I eat trail mix. For every meal. With a side of coffee. (Or maybe coffee is my main meal and trail mix is a side?)

I started the trail mix/coffee routine when I was exclusively pumping. I ate a limited diet in order to help my son thrive. Nuts, beans, and seeds, thankfully, were never an issue for either of us, so I kept a bag of homemade trail mix next to my pump and snacked while I pumped. I also ate other things, like gluten-free toast and quinoa and oats with a side of salad for breakfast. I ate bags of frozen veggies sautéed in olive oil and topped with an over-easy egg, (until my son reacted to the egg through my breastmilk).

When the challenges I faced far outweighed my capacity to cope, the first thing to go was breakfast. Those simple, warm, fueling meals turned to snack and convenience foods. Which was TOTALLY OKAY for that season in life. I was in full survival mode and I give myself a total pass.

But the reality is this: I need a hot breakfast to be at my peak, and really to even start climbing that mountain. I can handle prepping and eating a hot breakfast every morning, now. I have the capacity.

So, last week when I started eating trail mix, a tiny warning bell went off in my head. Taking care of myself often gets filed to the bottom of the pile when work, family, and community are all scrambling for my attention. Which is crazy because food is kind of My Thing.

I have compiled a list of ways I can restart and ensure my path to self-care. Yours might look different, or there might be more steps, or there might be fewer.

  1. Eat a hot breakfast.
  2. The end.

The easiest way to I’ve found to consistently care for myself is to eat a hot breakfast. I prep a breakfast cassarole on Sunday and portion it out for the rest of the week. Then I reheat it in the toaster oven and eat it while it’s piping hot not ice cold.

FrittataCloseUp

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup cheese (I prefer parmesan or asiago, but any cheese will do)
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or milk of your choice
  • 1 lb of browned sausage or cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer mild Italian sausage, but you can skip meat altogether to make this vegetarian.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced and sauteed
  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced and sauteed
  • 12 oz chopped broccoli
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard or spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 Tbsp dried herbs. (I use rosemary, basil, from my garden, and fennel fronds from the bulb if available.)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix in shredded cheese.
  2. Add protein and veggies, and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large, greased baking dish, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the middle is cooked all the way through.
  4. Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Cut into individual portions and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  5. To reheat: Place in the oven or toaster oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees and eat.

I am a better person with this method.  I am a nicer mom and functional human for at least three hours of the day. Until it’s lunchtime, but that’s another post for another day.

Take Good Care,
Carrie

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

______________

If you like this recipe, check out this  recipe for Garden Vegetable Frittata or Brown Butter Apple Crumble Cake  over on Our Stable Table.

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CarrieHeadshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Green Goddess Lactation Smoothie

 

 

by Carrie Saum

GreenGoddessSmoothie

After all of the shakes, parfaits, cookies, cakes, and bowls of oats, you might be ready for some green.  As it turns out, this is just the thing.

For weeks, I started my day out with this tasty green smoothie.  As a working mom who also pumped exclusively, I found it difficult to make good choices for breakfast.  The convenience foods were much easier and took less effort, and on mornings when I was struggling to stay awake, (much less gather all my pump gear and my baby and my baby’s gear and leave the house before 8:00 AM), I found that too many extra steps made me crazy.

In an effort to fuel my brain, my body, and my baby, I decided to make a slight shift.  I still grabbed my convenience foods for nursing snacks, (because, holy moly, making milk makes you HANGRY!), but I started my day with this instead.

The reason why I call this smoothie the Green Goddess? Well, I felt like a goddess when I drank it.  I noticed that I moved more easily through my work day, my brain seemed to fire faster, and my milk more plentiful.  It provided a necessary punch of energy, essential vitamins, healthy fats, and amino acids.  Plus, I felt really good knowing that my baby was getting all of those fantastic nutrients, too.

This takes FIVE MINUTES to prepare and you have great morning fuel.

  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, tightly packed (or a pretty healthy handful if you aren’t into measuring…like me.)
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 green apple, seeded and cored, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fresh basil leaves (optional, but great for milk and taste)
  • 1 tsp (heaping) flax meal (optional, but great for milk)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup water

Directions: Combine everything in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth. Chill in freezer for 20 minutes or drink immediately.

Let’s keep ourselves fueled, mamas.  Feeding babies and taking care of ourselves is hard work.

Channelling The Inner Goddess,

Carrie

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.
__________________________________________________________________________

If you love this smoothie recipe, you might like this recipe for Paleo Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies or these Grain-Free Crepes Florentine over on Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge.
Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management.In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and author. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

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More Than Mommy Exhaustion: How I recovered my energy and health

by Carrie Saum

Mommy exhaustion.

I know you’ve felt it. Too many nights waking up with your tiny baby, fussy toddler, or insomniac older children. Feeding on demand, pumping around the clock, midnight and 2am boob snacks that stretch to 4am. School projects, sleep regressions, a few minutes of Me Time between 11:31-11:57 pm after all the dishes are done, lunches are made, and housework is sort of caught up.

You pour another cup of coffee at noon, after reheating your first cup approximately six times in the microwave. You try an energy drink mix that your friend is selling. And still. You are so worn out, you can barely string five words together to create a coherent thought.

You resolve to take walks, get outside, or try that pilates DVD you’ve had for ages. You feel good about your choice, but you are wiped out for the rest of the afternoon, trying to recover your shaking muscles and push through the exhaustion until you can climb into bed.

You resolve to eat better, cut out the junk and convenience foods, and maybe that will help you feel more energetic, too. After a few weeks, you see a marginal improvement, but it’s not enough of a pay-off for the sacrifice you are making.

And let’s not even talk about the weight gain.

You wonder if maybe you’re missing something but chalk it up to this season in life where sleep is scarce, demands are abundant, and time for self-care is at a high premium. Of course you’re depleted. Who wouldn’t be?

A few months ago, I brought up my debilitating exhaustion to my doctor. Being a mom herself, she’s familiar with all that goes along with it. She encouraged me to see if there might be an underlying problem in addition to this season of life. She told me about a blood panel called The Boston Heart. The Boston Heart tests multiple vitamins, nutrients, and hormones using a fast blood test. Many insurance plans cover it 100%, even if you have high deductibles. I checked into my insurance coverage, and sure enough, it was covered. No money out of my pocket to get some information about unidentified issues I might have which would paint a bigger picture of my health, instead of just chalking it up to parenthood.

When my results came back, I was shocked. Even though my thyroid was in surprisingly good shape, (which I thought was the culprit), my niacin levels were incredibly low. And you know what happens when your body doesn’t have enough niacin? Your muscles shake when you exert them. Daily tasks wear you out. Do you know what makes it worse? Not getting enough sleep, too much stress, and eating processed foods.

Magnesium, Omega 3, Vitamin D3, and my progesterone were also very low, all of which are easily depleted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hello, depression! So, no matter how much sleep, good food, or exercise I was getting, I still felt like crap because I was drawing from a dry well.

I began supplementing with food-grade vitamins immediately, on the recommendation from my doctor. My trusty pre-natal vitamins weren’t enough for my specific needs, and I sealed them up tight and put them in my refrigerator for future use. I strategized to get veggies in every meal, and keep seasonal fruit on hand for when the sugar cravings were too much. I added as many healthy, unadulterated fats as I could. I whipped up a salad dressing using hemp seed oil, which is full of Omega 3, and a little apple cider vinegar. Buttered coffee was always on hand. We stocked our refrigerator with grass-fed meats and veggies to lightly sauté or roast as the main course for all three meals.

OvereasyFriedEggSalad

My go-to meal for quick, easy nutrition: Two sunnyside up fried eggs over greens with hemp seed oil, ACV, and dried herbs. Perfection.

Oh, and I put a total moratorium on strenuous exercise, eating out, and plans with friends before noon and after 5pm on the days I wasn’t working. I also went to bed at 9:30. It meant less Me Time. It meant I often went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, my floors unswept, and wore the same pair of jeans six times before washing. But it was only for a few weeks and it was vital for my recovery.

I found that watering and weeding my garden while my toddler played close by was enough exertion for me. I also found that I relaxed on a deeper level than I have in years because I gave myself permission to stop trying to do it all. I just did some, accepted what I was capable of in that time frame, and waited until I felt replenished to rejoin the world.

GardenPlay

We happily kept it low key in the community garden.

After the three week moratorium was over, (and believe me, it was hard saying no to things), I started slow. I worked hard to begin refilling my very limited well. Being gentle with my body and my psyche was my number one priority. This is how I came back to the world:

  • A walk in the park.
  • Running up and down the stairs to the basement doing laundry.
  • Vigorous weeding and replanting in my garden.
  • A pilates DVD, increasing by 5 minutes at time.
  • Doing something fun before doing work. On purpose.
  • Saying yes only if it felt 100% doable and okay.

These little things added up quickly. But I want to be clear: I stopped when I was tired. Not exhausted. Not beyond my limit. Not when I was shaking and close to dry heaving. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn’t work in recovery mode.

Last week, I took a very long walk, pushing my two year old in a stroller the whole way up and down hills that would have had me shaking with exertion after 10 minutes a few months ago. I walked at a pace I felt comfortable with. I stopped and pushed my son on a swing and then stopped again a little later to get an iced decaf coffee at one of my favorite neighborhood places. As I pushed my son up the final, excruciatingly steep hill, I huffed and puffed but I did NOT slow down. My brain wanted to quit but my body was up for the challenge. I spent the rest of the afternoon working, cooking, and playing with my son. I’m not joking when I say that has never happened before on the days I worked out.

And later that week when we braved a trip to the beach, I chased my toddler all over the beach, splashed with him in the water, and played soccer on the hard packed sand without getting winded.

MommyandEHugPoint

Playing hard at the beach with my little boy, feeling super energetic, happy, and proudly rockin’ my bikini.

These bodies of ours are amazing. We are resilient. We are tough. But being exhausted all the time is not normal. Even for you, mama. Be gentle with that body. Be kind to your skin and your bones and your blood and your squishy places and your soul. And find what works for you to feel like yourself again.

 __________________________________________________________________________________

If you like this article, check out Peace In The Passing: Why My Early Miscarriage Was A Relief and her series on #TinyTriumphs over on Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

 

 

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“The One Where We Nurture The Nurturer <3” The Leaky Times Newsletter, Vol. 4

Welcome to The Leaky Boob’s latest newsletter: “Weaning and Beyond!”

Some of the formatting didn’t adjust to our website just right; to see it in a new window the way it was meant to look, click here!

Tell us what you think in a comment below! How do you like it? What feature would you include in future newsletters? What is your favorite feature?

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The following is a little preview of what’s included in this week’s newsletter:

Hey there, Leaky! This week we’re talking about Nurturing the Nurturer. YOU. Taking care of yourself so that you can thrive in this season of your life! We have some fantastic interactive links and articles designed to encourage you in self-care and celebrate in anticipation of Mother’s Day on May 10th! Keep scrolling for some YUMMY recipes, new Leaky Comic, our upcoming MILK conference, and our LAST giveaway for TLB’s Birthday celebration. You don’t want to miss out! 

In The One Where We Nurture The Nurturer you will find:

Newsletter exclusive: letter to the Leakies from TLB founder, Jessica Martin-Weber.

Our BEST articles and advice on taking care of YOU.

Information on MiLK: An Infant Feeding Conference.

Ask The CPST Feature.

Boobs and Bottles Around the Web.

Leaky to Leaky Tips for Self-nurturing.

Leaky Chronicles.

A special recipe from Our Stable Table.

Highlights from our sister sites.

TLB Comics.

To access all this and more, read the newsletter here and be sure to sign up to have it delivered directly to your inbox.

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The Mothering Oxygen Mask- 4 Steps To Breathing Normally Again

by Jessica Martin-Weber
Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography, Portland, OR.

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography, Portland, OR.

See those 4 darling little girls enjoying a magical tea party outside? They are precious and 4 out of 6 of the most amazing people that I get to have call me mom. I’m lucky enough to breathe them in deeply daily. I’m crazy about them. Crazy. Sometimes I’m crazy from them too. Sometimes I end up breathing rather labored because of them.

Sometimes I need to breathe in deeply away from them.

This is a little risky to admit. The internet loves to judge mother who admit they find, well, being a mother can be… difficult. Even more so loves to hate those that admit they don’t always like being around their own children all the time. But I’ll take the risk.

On commercial passenger airplanes, safety instructions are given each flight before take off on what to do in the case of an emergency. Flight attendants (or a video) explain that in the case of pressure changes, oxygen masks should drop down and passengers should place them over their mouth and nose and breathe normally. For those flying with small children or someone that would need assistance, instructions are given to secure your own mask before helping someone else with theirs. The reason for this instruction isn’t given but should you help someone else before securing your own mask, it is very possible that you could end up deprived of the oxygen your brain needs and pass out before your own mask is in place. Should that happen, you wouldn’t be able to help take care of anyone and worse, would be at even more risk.

Are you breathing normally?

Do you know where your oxygen mask is?

When was the last time you did something for you, truly for you? For many parents, particularly mothers, doing something for ourselves can be very difficult. It feels selfish, wasteful, extravagant, unnecessary, and laden with guilt. If we can pass it off as being for the whole family, such as a family vacation, then it is ok, but when taking care of ourselves really is just for ourself it can get much, much more difficult.

Parenting requires sacrifice, it’s true. We give up a lot for our children, getting in exchange such beauty and joy. But are we really able to care for our children if we can’t breathe normally ourselves? If we lose our selves? For a long time I believed that being a good mother required not only sacrifice but a sort of martyrdom, losing one’s self to build up one’s children. That was what I saw modeled for me in my own mother and what I thought I would need to do as well. Some women are able to do this and find it quite fulfilling, maybe even more in touch with who they really are. I was not one of those women. Losing myself, sacrificing so much I didn’t even know who I was any more, being constantly burnt out, led me into a deep and dark depression and instead of being a good mother, I was too lost to care for my children.

I needed an oxygen mask.

I needed to be able to breathe.

As admirable as it is that my mother gave up so much for her children, the truth is to this day I don’t really know her. What I know is the woman who loves me and did her best to care for me as a child even when she was constantly depleted of much needed air herself. As depleted as she was, she gave so much but often it wasn’t what my siblings and I really needed as much as it was what she thought we needed. She was too spent to assess what care was actually required. Our family suffered. Realizing I was headed down the same path, I knew something needed to change. I needed to nurture the nurturer.

My 4 steps to finding my oxygen mask

1) Change wasn’t easy. It would require asking for help. Asking for help would require admitting I needed help. Admitting I needed help would require letting others know that I couldn’t handle it all on my own. I saw that as failure. Failure to live up to a standard of motherhood of a perfectly decorated and cleaned house, perfectly cooked healthy meals, perfectly executed crafts, perfectly planned parties and play dates, perfectly perfect children, perfectly perfect family, perfectly perfect life, perfectly perfect me. This was hard, in fact, it ended up being the most important sacrifice I would ever make in my motherhood journey: sacrificing my pride in presenting a perfect facade by admitting I needed help.

2) Equally challenging admitting that the help I needed was so I could have a break. Time away from my children. Space to do something just for me. A break. In my head it sounded like I didn’t like my kids and the truth was, from my burnt out place, I didn’t. But it was way more than that, it was finally recognizing in myself that there really isn’t anybody I can be around 24/7 and not get tired of them and, for me, that though I seem like an extrovert, I actually get energy from being alone with my thoughts and having time to be creative by myself. What I would come to discover is that I actually really, really like my children but I needed some space from them from time to time to be able to truly appreciate that connection more.

3) At first I didn’t know how to make that space for me, I wasn’t even sure where to find my oxygen mask. With no family close, who could watch my children? My husband was more than willing to equally parent, it wasn’t him that was a barrier, it was me. I felt as though I was slacking, being a lazy mother to let him. Or that he wouldn’t do it as well as me. It wasn’t until I realized that he could parent differently and still not only be capable, given how burnt out I was, he was probably better. Now I love that we have different approaches and styles with our children, agreeing on certain non-negotiables and being flexible on grey areas. Beyond my own partner though, how could I find the space? We couldn’t afford sitters at the time, we didn’t have family near us, and we struggled to trust others. Eventually it was in intentionally finding and cultivating community, finding space for myself in friendships and gradually building trust. Today our family has several dear family friends that are like family, stay with our children for short and long periods of time, join us for meals and events, and swap helping each other find space as parents needing oxygen masks. This parenting thing isn’t meant to happen on an isolated island, being alone isn’t healthy, it isn’t what we would want for our children, we need to be aware of what we’re modeling for them in our own lives. Be it family or friends, we need to put effort into finding our tribe, not just online, but in real life.

4) Eventually I realized that my oxygen mask had some variety. There were big ones and small ones. Some were actually easily accessible right in front of my but I could only see them once I had a shot of fresh air. Making my own self-care a priority gave me the energy to grow as a person and a mother. The little daily hits on my oxygen mask rejuvenate me, giving me the clarity I need to care for my children in a sustainable way. Many of these 22 ways are a regular part of my self-care now.

Now, with my children, I teach them the importance of self care as well because there are times when everyone needs their own oxygen mask.

There is no one-size-fits all and what you may need during one season of parenting may change in the next season. Find what works for you and consider how you can be in community with others and help them find their’s as well. There is no firm how to use it or what it looks like for you, what’s important is just that you use it.

Your children will thank you one day and will know you not only as their loving, sacrificing mother, but as the thriving individual of value that you are.

__________________

Are you burnt out? Even as you love your children and enjoy parenting them, are you ever in need of a break? What steps have you found to making that possible?

__________________

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Nurturing Life Giveaway – After Birth

Nurturing Life

These two words define and drive everything that Motherlove does, from their organic farm in Colorado, to their herbal care products, the educational classes taught by founder Kathryn Higgins, to the Nurturing Life Foundation, Motherlove’s non-profit which supports mothers and children all over the country.  So it’s no surprise that Motherlove has had such a beautiful, long-standing relationship with The Leaky Boob, extending their support of mothers and children to our Leakies and their breastfeeding journey with their babies.  The Motherlove website sums it up well:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.06.13 AMWhat is Nurturing Life?
It is fostering an environment where development, growth, and health are encouraged, and doing so in each facet of our life, including each stage.  True beauty can emerge in your life and others’ as you nurture life in yourself, your friendships, romantic relationship, through pregnancy, birth, in your relationship with your children, and more, and yes, even your garden.

“At Motherlove, we use Nurturing Life as our mission statement because nurturing moms and babies together is essential for both to thrive.  During pregnancy, moms are reminded minute-by-minute of this relationship and we typically focus on our health and wellbeing because it’s tied to our child’s life.” (Nurturing Life – Self Care for Mothersby Motherlove Herbal Company)

Last week we focused on the stage of life that creates new mothers: pregnancy.  Ushering new life into the world is such a beautiful thing, but is often accompanied by challenges and changes.  With the many changes and new sensations that new mothers experience, it can be such a natural time for her to focus on her health and well-being.  But what happens once the baby is born?

It is so easy to think that, other than adjusting to caring for a new person in the family, everything else immediately returns to normal.  But that is often not the reality of new mothers.  The parts of their body involved in growing a baby do shift back toward the way they were, but some of them will remain forever altered.  Others require a little patience and eventually some hard work, such as toning ab muscles to tighten the postpartum abdominal gap.  But a new mother’s body isn’t done changing either: now that one set of hormones is subsiding, another floods her body as she produces milk to feed her new baby.  We often treat birth as the end of the journey, where changes end and all is back to normal.  But this far from the experience of most women.

Moreover, beyond stretch marks, curvier hips, extra baby weight, and lactating, there are other completely natural and normal challenges that new moms face.  But very few like to talk about them, and so many moms don’t have the support that they need to welcome and experience the postpartum changes as they come.  Instead, they are rushed back to work and/or housework, and they feel the unrealistic expectation that they just be “ok” because their beautiful new baby is there.

Postpartum depression doesn’t just go away because there is a new baby.  Traumatic birth experiences aren’t healed by adorable baby sounds.  Hemorrhoids don’t just disappear because a bundle of cuteness has been born.  These and many more issues are considered too embarrassing or shameful to discuss, and many new mothers feel that they don’t have permission to take the time to find help.  They must bounce back immediately, and so they hide their real struggles and end up struggling with self-loathing and depression much longer than necessary, if they ever recover at all.  Silence is no healer.  Stuffing feelings down and clamping a lid on them only serves to incubate them and grow them into much more serious issues.

Let’s talk about the empty womb, the sense of emptiness inside, the fears we have, the struggle to fall in love with our babies, the dislike of our bodies, the anger, the horrors of the birth experience, the dark thoughts, the painful hemorrhoids, along with the rest.  These are the realities of postpartum, just as much as baby cuteness, breastfeeding, dirty diapers, and sleepless nights.  You are not alone in dealing with these things.  Look for understanding and information from those around you, from trusted online resources, and if you just can’t find the support and information you need in those places, get in touch with a professional who can.

And partners, friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers who think new mothers should just get over whatever is bothering them, they are the ones who need to get over themselves and provide helpful support for the new mother.  Nurture her so that she can feel free to nurture herself.  Self-care is deeply impacted by those around us, either for better, or for worse.  As a new mother adjusts to caring for another little person and her body heals from giving birth and keeps changing in the postpartum, how can we show her the kind of support that allows her to nurture life within herself so she can share that nurturing life with her baby and beyond from a place of health and well-being?

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Motherlove is giving away a Sitz Bath and Rhoids Balm to 3 lucky Leakies.


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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from August 1, 2014 through August 8, 2014.  A big thanks to Motherlove for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page or follow them on twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is restricted to U.S. residents only.

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Nurture the Nurturer: A Multi-Sensory Approach

by Monette Chilson

Nurture the nurturer

Every time we fly, we are reminded to put our own oxygen mask on before we help our children with theirs. But how often do we heed that advice in our earthbound lives? At some point, we’ve all fallen into the trap of doing for others (usually our children) until we collapse exhausted, like a fish gasping for breath on the beach. How did we end up beached, and more importantly, how can we unbeach ourselves?

Parenting is inexorably intertwined with acts of nurturing, but what kind of example are we setting for our children if we neglect ourselves in the process? With Mother’s Day fast approaching, there is no better time to reflect on your own presence in the world and seek out way to be more fully engaged in the life-giving opportunities that fill our days.

One goal of mindful self-care is to fully connect with our inner life, so that our outer life can be enriched. Nurturing implies a sustenance that is sensory in nature, one that feeds our souls on many levels. With that in mind, let’s take it one sense at a time.

Seeing… We take in more visual stimuli in one day than people a hundred years ago did in a year. Unfortunately, much of this stimuli is in the form a digitized reality. To counterbalance this virtual reality of ours, we must intentionally notice the simple profundity of the actual world we live in. We can do this by stopping to cultivate just one moment each day to acknowledge the beauty we encounter in our everyday ramblings. How much easier could this first exercise be? No need to do anything but open your eyes and appreciate what’s already there.

Your vision of simple beauty can be related to your parenting life, nature or anything that strikes your fancy. You can meld your online world with your real one by snapping a photo of your moment and sharing it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #simplethings. If you have so lost touch with what constitutes a moment of simple beauty for you that you find yourself at a loss for where to start, take a peek at what other people have hashtagged as their simple things. You’ll find everything from children’s feet to a single exquisite orchid blossom, the perfect cup of coffee and plenty of sunsets.

As Glennon Melton so eloquently conveyed in her blog post Quit Pointing Your Avocado At Me that captured the attention of moms everywhere, your day doesn’t need to be chock-full of these moments. No one’s life is like that—contrary to the sugar-coated lives spun on social media. And please do not feel guilty about that! One moment of simple beauty a day will suffice. The rest of your hours may be complete and utter chaos. Find your one moment and see it. Really see it.

Hearing… We have experienced a proliferation of sounds that rivals that of visual stimuli. We can plug in and tune out so easily—maybe too easily. Earbuds, Beats and Skullcandy are all super-hip, cool ways of insulating with a self-selected soundtrack. A little like living in our own little individual juke boxes. No more communal, “What station do you want to listen to?” “What’s on the radio now?” Try this little retro activity on for size. When you’re in the car with the kids, play your own version of Name That Tune, humming a ditty while the others try to guess what it is. Or if you want to tune in together, play the bumper sticker game where you tune into whatever station you spot first on a nearby bumper sticker. We listened to some awesome classical music that we would have otherwise missed while playing this one recently! In those non-carpool moments when you’re out in nature, solo or with kids in tow, play the quiet game for five minutes, bringing your awareness to all the sounds you hear that you wouldn’t have noticed in the midst of life’s usual chatter.

Tasting… We will take a page from the Slow Food movement for this assignment. Pick a food, any food. Do not eating it standing up. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t eat it while chasing after a toddler, dog or other wayward creature. Don’t multi-task while you do it. That’s right. No scanning your emails. No swiping of counters between bites. No throwing a load of laundry in halfway through. What’s the point in this lavish gift of dedicated nourishment? It’s to learn how to nourish yourself. To make the time. And to remember that you’re worth it.

Smelling… Seasonally, you just hit the jackpot on this sense. The fragrance of nature is at its strongest right about now. Just walk outside and inhale. The smell of new beginnings is intoxicating. Do this regularly and you’ll begin to discover olfactory nuances that will plant you firmly in the here and now. You’ll reacquaint yourself with the summery smell of fresh cut grass, fall’s slight pungentness and winter’s invigorating crispness, so clean in its absence of aroma.

Touching/Feeling… Though the fifth sense is usually interpreted as touch—as in the sensation we experience when we touch something—I interpret it as a kinesiological experience. Nurturing ourselves via this sense means doing things that feel good to our physical bodies—going for a walk, doing yoga, sitting still, dancing around your living room or turning a cartwheel. My kids have an agreement with my mom that they will never consider her old as long as she can turn a cartwheel. She still can, much to their delight. So, keeping turning cartwheels, metaphorical or literal. Keep doing whatever it is that makes your body sing like no one is listening.

Use this Mother’s Day as a starting point for a new sense of self-nourishment rather than an isolated day in which nurturing the nurturer is allowed. Go out into the world ready to see it in new ways that go beyond what your eyes typically take in. Listen to it. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it in your bones. Your will feel more alive, and so will your children. They are learning from your actions so much more than they are from your words. Teach them well.

 

Monette ChilsonMonette Chilson is the author of the award-winning book Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom Through Yoga (Bright Sky Press, 2013). She is a contributor toYoga Journal, elephant journal, Integral Yoga Magazine and Christian Yoga Magazine. You can find out more about her melding of yoga and faith at www.SophiaRisingYoga.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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