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The Non-Toxic Christmas Toy Guide

10:53 am|

Christmas is almost here…wow! This year has sure sped by! It feels like yesterday that it was last Christmas and I had a 4 month old who had just started to hold, chew and play with toys. Now I have a 14 month old who is tearing about, shape sorting, pulling things along behind and wanting toys to cuddle. The exponential development in the initial years is just incredible! It seems Isabella learns to do a new thing every single day.

Toys have been a huge source of enjoyment for Isabella this year. At certain periods of time, some toys have been incredible and taught her so much and then as she learns new skills, she has moved onto new favourites. Luckily I can buy toys a bit ahead of where she is at, and she can enjoy them in whatever capacity she can now, and I know that as she gets older, she’ll still be able to play with them. But in the first year, I found that I definitely had to buy baby toys as well as toddler toys…which has meant that I’ve done my fair share of toy shopping!

Unfortunately, I didn’t know about what made a safe toy and what didn’t in Isabella’s first months. As I gained knowledge, I found myself playing reverse-Santa and taking all baby Isabella’s toys away as most had potentially harmful chemicals in them called endocrine disruptors!  These chemicals are BPA and phthalates – BPA has been strongly linked to breast cancer and phthalates are linked to asthma, low sperm count and undescended testes amongst other disorders.

Having taken all of Isabella’s toys away once before, I’m very careful when it comes to new purchases. Even as Isabella gets older, still so much goes in her mouth and she could also breathe in fumes from paints/glues and flame retardants in foam. To be honest, now that I’m in the swing of it and have found where to shop, it’s become easy and enjoyable. By buying great products, not only is it better for my baby, but it’s better for the environment too.

When choosing safe toys for Isabella, I’m looking for them to be
made from the following:
Natural rubber:
I’m in love with natural rubber almost as much as Isabella is. I love how it doesn’t leach chemicals and she loves the soft, grippy, squeaky, rubbery feel. Such a winner.

Organic natural fibres:
Unfortunately we don’t know which textiles contain chemicals and which don’t unless we buy organic natural fibres. For dolls and teethers, organic cotton/hemp is a beautiful, safe option.

Silicone:
A great, safe material for teethers and toys.

Safe plastic:
No BPA, phthalates, lead or PVC. These can be plastics 2, 4 and 5 and also ABS plastic.

Wood:
Maple, walnut, poplar, ash, beech and birch can all create gorgeous, safe toys. Some woods naturally contain harmful toxins, so just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s always safe!

Bath Toys: 

With bath toys, not only is material important, but it’s also crucial for safety that the toy doesn’t have any holes in it which squirt water or make the toy squeak. These create a hidden mould trap which is impossible to dry out.
Here are our favourite non-toxic toys at home which have been favourites when Isabella was a baby, as well as the ones we currently use and ones that are on the way for Christmas (shhh!) – as well as what is on the wish list from family!

 

Guest Post from: My Non-Toxic Baby, Emily is a mother to baby Isabella, who is beginning a journey to find non-toxic baby products in a world full of disappointingly unsafe chemical filled ones. You can read more of Emily’s wonderful posts at http://www.mynontoxicbaby.com.au/

Do you feel selfish for taking care of your needs?

1:15 pm|

WHEN WE NEGLECT OUR NEEDS, WE ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO OVERINDULGE IN SOME WAY.
We might binge eat at night because we have been restricting food all day.

We might go on a shopping spree and get into debt because we told ourselves we’re not allowed to have nice things.

We might become power-hungry because we never gave ourselves the love and attention we deserved.

Our needs find a way to get met somehow, consciously or unconsciously. We may as well give ourselves what we want so we don’t sabotage ourselves later on.
AND THE TRUTH IS, WE DON’T NEED THAT MUCH.

When I first started listening to my body and eating only when I was hungry, I realized how little I actually needed to eat, which made me see how little I actually need to buy, which made me see how little I actually needed to earn, which finally allowed my nervous system to rest after years of adrenal fatigue.

We don’t need very much. But we don’t know what we need unless we pay attention to ourselves. It is not selfish to pay attention to yourself to discover what you need, as this is an essential step to taking your power back from the illusion that overindulgence is natural.
IMAGINE THE POSITIVE IMPACT WE WOULD HAVE ON THE WORLD IF WE STARTED BUYING AND EATING WHAT WE NEED, NOT WHAT WE ARE TOLD WE NEED.

Imagine how less waste we would produce, how many resources we would save, how many weight- and stress-related ailments we would avoid.

It is not selfish to discover and tend to what you need. It may be what is most needed now to heal the wellbeing of all life on the planet.

Many of us were raised with the instruction to finish our food because people are starving elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we ate less so there were more resources available to others? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could somehow create a world where we are not stuffing ourselves to bridge an economic disparity, but rather we are reclaiming our power as conscious consumers and taking responsibility for our global community?

Taking care of yourself, learning about yourself, understanding what you need, and tending to your own inner garden makes you fit to help others. It allows you to tap into your heart and discover your gifts. It allows whatever you contribute to be an overflowing from within.

And you’re far less likely to overindulge.

Many of us are so abundantly comfortable and blessed, and we have so much to be grateful for. This is no reason for self-denial. This is no reason for self-hatred, guilt, or feeling unworthy. We are allowed to feel good, to receive the gifts Life has to offer, and to let the glowing light within our hearts to be nurtured. In this way, our light gets brighter and we inspire others to kindle their own.

“Don’t be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world. Light your candle and step forward.” – Amma

Our guest writer is Allison Dryja.

Allison is an international Embodiment Counselor who empowers women by helping them love and listen to their bodies. You can download a free copy of her Emotional Eating Survival Guide here.

Allison works with women who are ready to eat with self-kindness, embrace their femininity, access their intuition, and rekindle a loving relationship with their body. Allison teaches yoga internationally, offers intuitive tarot readings, and holds sacred space in ceremonies, rituals, and retreats around the world

WHAT TO DO NOW SO YOUR BABY CONFIDES IN YOU AS A FUTURE TEENAGER

12:35 pm|

Last week my teenage son came to me with a personal problem that had been worrying him.

The topic was embarrassing for him. Yes. It would have taken a lot of guts for any guy to talk about it. And yet, he did. To me. His mum.

He trusted. Me.

He knew I wouldn’t judge him. That he’d get honest answers. That I’d go out of my way to do whatever I could to help him heal/ sort out/ come to some resolution.

This sharing was familiar territory. We’d practiced over the years sharing some of the hard stuff. In fact it started right back when he was a baby.

I was stressed with a lot of things going on personally. It was a chaotic time.

And yet I knew I wanted my beautiful baby to feel connected and close to me.

It was a priority.

I saw him as a complete human being in a little body. Fully aware and yet in a body that’s very immature and not able to communicate easily yet.
I treated him with this respect. I listened and responded. I had him close to me. I delighted in him. Together we navigated how he wanted to be in the world. Lots of experimentation. Me listening and learning as best as I could. Both of us getting frustrated. Me stuffing up.  Apologising. Reconnecting. Him learning to trust me.

Over the years we built on this. Sometimes going forwards. Sometimes backwards. Yet I never gave up. I would find a way to work through problems. To reconnect with love and fun. To repair the ruptures.

Are you worried about how YOUR baby will turn out as a teenager? Are you scared that you might stuff up now and never be able to repair the damage?

Do you crave to have a relationship that is full of deep respect and love? An ongoing connection that brings the deepest joy and fulfilment?

What you do NOW really matters. You can set up this beautiful trusting relationship right from the start. In fact you’re already doing it.

I’m here to remind you to keep doing it. And HOW to keep doing it.

Its all about relationship. Keep the focus here.
The latest neuroscience tells us that the way we respond to our baby & young child literally wires their brain. Yes. Neurological pathways are formed through the experience of your responsive connection. The way you are with her…. Is how she understands the world + how she learns to communicate.

An example is ….how you respond to her when she cries for help teaches her to know that asking for help is worth it. Someone will come. She is listened to. She matters.

Over the weeks and months I’m going to be including lots of info on how to have the best relationship with your baby + child. The latest cutting edge science combined with ancient and modern wisdom.

I’ll always give you action tips. Things you can do RIGHT NOW to make a difference. It’ll be simple + easy + hopefully fun and refreshing. It could make HUGE changes in your motherhood.

I know that you can have what I’ve got. A teenager who talks to you. A teenager who confides in you.  Loves, respects and admires you (even though it doesn’t always look like this!).

SO….TAKE ACTION NOW:

  • Talk out loud with her. If she is a baby and you’re not sure what she is wanting to then say this out loud to her. Tell her you’re going to take the time to experiment with different ways of being with her to see what she likes. Get used to talking honestly and authentically with her right from the start. “Hey sweetie, you seem really frustrated and upset. I’m not really sure what you need right now. Let’s do something different and see if that helps. We’ll work this out together”.
  • Stay in flow. Let go of controlling. Let your baby & child lead. When you do this with your heart wide open you’ll discover the unique qualities and needs of this beautiful person who will be spending many years in relationship with you.
  • Take time to love cuddle play and enjoy his gorgeousness. You can’t spoil him by doing this. The research tells us that a sensible responsive approach is the foundation of a close and healthy relationship. Basically…the more love + positive attention the better!
    When you look back in 13-19 years time you won’t care about how many hours your baby slept, what the house looked like or being judged about ‘spoiling your baby or child’.

No. You’ll just be so glad you took the time to get to know him. That you stopped + noticed + laughed + connected. That you shared + acknowledged his distress as well as his joy. That you were there to soothe, reassure, to allow trust to develop.

So take action NOW and keep building a close and authentic relationship with your baby.

I have so much love + deep respect for you. Thankyou for taking the time to do your BEST as a mother. Your baby + your future together are so worth it.

Huge mother hugs,

Mama Maria xoxo

Our guest Author is Maria Golding.

Hi I’m Maria Golding, Intuitive Motherhood Mentor & Teacher. Using the latest science & body wisdom I help mothers transform their guilt and disconnection to feeling vibrantly alive & gorgeously wise in motherhood, along with the skills to help their child embody their own unique potentiality.

I’m a mother of two amazing young men, and have 30 years professional experience (in hospitals, community, schools and private practice) from pregnancy to adolescence.

What every sleep-deprived mother really needs to know

11:31 pm|

Sleep deprivation is a bitch! And if you dare complain how exhausted and crappy you are feeling, you are sure to get the same old answer: “you need to do ‘sleep training.’

You know in your heart, your baby is going through a rough patch, perhaps he’s getting molars, maybe he has food allergies, he’s in childcare all day and he needs some extra connection with you at night. You don’t want ‘advice’, at least not unhelpful advice that undermines your confidence and makes you feel as though you are depriving your child – for life! But, if you don’t want to leave your baby to cry, you are likely to be told, “you are just postponing the inevitable,” and “you are making a rod for your back.” Or, “you are depriving your baby of an important skill.” And, the ‘kicker,’ “well, you have brought this on yourself.”

Sleep is not a learned skill like riding a bike or playing a piano – it’s a neurological process influenced by many factors, for instance:

Hunger – is your baby feeding well during the day or is he distracted? Is he experiencing a growth spurt and corresponding appetite increase? Or, have you been advised to space out feeds? Consider, your baby needs a certain amount of food in a 24 hour period so if you restrict feeds during the day, he will wake more at night to get his ‘quota’.

Separation anxiety – consider playing gentle music on a low volume or safely co-sleep;

Food allergy or intolerance – do you have a family history of allergies, asthma or excema? See here for information about foods and unsettled babies.

Practicing new mobility skills in her sleep – babies process information in their light sleep. While this is an important brain process, it can affect sleep temporarily. The good news is that when she masters the new skill, your baby will sleep longer again. See here for more information about baby sleep regressions.

Teething – elevate the head of the cot – extra circulation to the head and jaws from lying flat can create pressure);

Need to suck – check your baby’s feeding history with a relevant health professional such as a lactation consultant – babies with tongue tie, for instance, may be more prone to breathing interruptions and may need to suck (breastfeed or dummy) to re-regulate breathing;

Pain – could sore ears or some acid reflux be causing wakefulness (reflux babies usually wake suddenly with a yelp as though being pricked by a pin)?

Low iron levels – for toddlers, consider a simple blood test, as insomnia can be a symptom of low iron levels.

As your baby grows and matures neurologically through the early milestones, it’s much easier to help him sleep longer, without tears for you or your little one. Meanwhile though, this can be difficult to believe when there is so much noise about what you ‘should’ be doing. So, as some comfort to you, here are some things real life sleep deprived mamas tell us they need to know (and hear) when they are feeling exhausted and questioning themselves – you might want to print this list out and hand it to friends and family so they can support you:

I need to hear that I’m not alone and I’m not doing it all wrong!

“I feel like I’m going certifiably insane. This would all be made easier if I knew I wasn’t alone. I honestly feel as though I have the most sleepless toddler in the world right now.”

We need a safe space to lament our fatigue and a kind, reassuring ear without fear of the “Well, you bought it on yourself” & “try this great sleep trainer” comments.

“I remember feeling that when my son was waking to feed constantly, that because I wouldn’t sleep train him, it somehow meant I wasn’t permitted to ‘complain’ about my exhaustion.”

Taking care of yourself is key. (I keep forgetting that)

“The better my needs are met, the better I can deal with the nights. And, when I’m having an extra hard time dealing with it, often my iron or magnesium levels are low, so that’s something to watch out for.”

infant sleep changes constantly and there is no magic solution that works every time with every baby.

“Teething was often the cause of extra-unsettled-ness for us. There was a kind of gap of better sleep between second-last and last molars that lulled us into a false sense of security. Sleep was much better after the end of the teeth.”

It does get better and the connection you will have with your child is absolutely worth it.

They say, the two greatest gifts you can give your child are ‘roots’ and ‘wings’ By showing your child you are there for her day and night, she will develop secure ‘roots.’ As she grows beyond this intense baby stage, she will develop the confidence to ‘fly’, knowing you have her back if she starts to free-fall, whatever stage she is at.

You are doing a great job, Mama!

Every mother needs to hear this, every single day. Tell a tired mother this today.

 

Guest Author Pinky McKay is an internationally certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) . For gentle baby sleep solutions, check out her book ‘Sleeping Like a Baby’ (Non Australians can buy from Amazon), and her baby sleep seminars.

3 steps to your perfect body shape

11:21 pm|

So what is the perfect body shape? The perfect body size? What is the ideal weight for my height?

 

These questions are constantly asked by many women with many of us striving desperately to achieve its (often unrealistic) answer.

 

Your ideal body shape is not defined by a desired weight or a dress size and is certainly not determined by comparing your body to someone else’s. Like the title suggests, your perfect body shape and size is specific and unique to you; it is one that is individually yours and one that illustrates your inner-self. It is neither his nor hers; it is exactly how you feel it to naturally be.

 

Your body is as unique as you are and no two bodies are the same so how can there be a perfect body shape for all women when we are all so different? And then why is it that we strive to look like somebody else (that has a completely different set of genes, body makeup, shape and composition)?

 

Why is it that we strive to achieve an image that is outside of ourselves rather than looking within to honour and respect our bodies and its version of its perfect size?

 

Who’s version of the perfect body shape have we subscribed to? When I ask this question there are very few that can say they subscribe to their own version or to their body’s version but instead have been living up to society’s version or someone else’s!

 

So where do we begin to take back our power and how exactly do you find your ‘perfect’ body shape?

 

1 – First and foremost we must acknowledge who we are today. Lumps, bumps, extra kilos and all, we must accept ourselves as we are in this very moment. If we skip the acceptance of where we are currently at, we are forever moving forward with our choices with the message that we are not good enough and will constantly be striving to achieve a goal leaving the whole of you in the wake behind with the message that you were never good enough in the first place. Instead, as we move forward with self-acceptance we are more open to learning and to discovering of what works best for us or not.

 

2 – Once we have accepted ourselves for who we are and continue to acknowledge where we are at (and let’s not forget how far we have come!) we must then learn to self-love, deeply so! Make self-love your motivation to eat well, to exercise and to take care of your body. When self-love forms the foundation of your choices, you will always make the right choices that honour and respect your body. Self-love and listening to your body will show you what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, how much to exercise and more.

 

3 – From self-loving choices, your body will take on its own perfect shape. Not one from a magazine, not one from an advertisement, nor one that is unachievable but rather one that illustrates your essence, reflects your love-filled choices and one that stands proud for who she is and the abundance of self-acceptance and self-love that emanates her being. Let alone the plentiful energy and self-confidence you gain!

 

When we learn to stop looking outside of ourselves for the perfect body shape and start to look within we find that our body has an amazing ability to provide all of the answers we need. In fact, as I like to say, the body has  an inner-knowing or wisdom of what exactly it needs to live, love and nourish.

 

Through honouring and respecting our body do we find true self-love and ultimately our ‘perfect’ body shape. 

 

As women (and men too) we have a natural beauty that lies forever within and it is about finding that inner-spark to reconnect to and let it shine for the world to see! And as it shines and we live in respect to our bodies we open an often untouched path to allow our body to adapt and take on its ‘perfect’ shape and no one else’s.

 

May you walk confidently in your body for it is one of a kind and illustrates your essence so that our world may be filled with our many expressions.

 

And finally, learn to love who you are and the body you are in. Learn to never self-criticize but instead self- love. Don’t shy away from your inner-beauty. Give yourself permission to feel your beauty, for you are beauty-full.

Guest Author, Casey-Lee Lyons is a qualified Nutritionist and Naturopath, whole foods recipe developer, health and nutrition representative and wellness writer. With over 12 years experience in the health, fitness and wellness industries Casey-Lee is most passionate about inspiring others to feel their healthiest and best self.

Every breastfeed is a success

11:02 pm|

“I popped into the doctors’ to have my toddlers cough checked,” says Kate, mother of a just turned two year old. “I mentioned to the GP that I was still breastfeeding and was completely speechless when she told me, “you know there is no goodness in your milk after three months.”

On the other hand, there are mothers like Emma who are completely devastated when weaning happens early because of medical issues. Emma says, “I tried and tried to breastfeed for three months but I battled low supply and ended up with postnatal depression.  During this time, I was topping my baby up with formula and everyone kept telling me that the formula meant he wouldn’t be getting any protection from the breast milk, so it wasn’t worth stressing myself.”

Actually, however long you breastfeed or how much breast-milk you are able to give your baby, this magic potion made by mums is like medicine. It helps protect your baby against nasty bugs from coughs and colds to tummy bugs: breast milk is like a daily vaccination against every bug your baby comes in contact with: it is a living fluid containing healthy bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells, antimicrobials and cell wall protectors and proteins that offer protection against bacteria and viruses. If you catch a bug, specialised white blood cells will appear in your breast milk to protect your baby. Conversely, if your baby becomes sick, the transfer of germs from baby to your breast will trigger the production of specific antibodies. These antibodies will be deposited into your milk to boost your baby’s immunity and help her fight off illness.

And, it’s not just the milk your baby drinks that can boost her health and make her feel better – mothers the world over have used breast-milk as a cure-all for minor aches and pains:  with a few squirts, you can soothe rashes and itchy bites, relieve sunburn, unblock snotty noses and fix conjunctivitis. Some health practitioners even advise treating ear infections with a few squirts of breast milk every hour or two.

Some of the most recent research about human milk affirms that using breast-milk to fix these common ailments isn’t just the basis of old wives’ tales.  Studies into the antibacterial agents of mother’s milk reveal that breast milk has the ability to kill tumour cells and bacteria.   Your magic mother’s milk can kill 40 different types of cancer cells and has been shown to help reverse antibiotic resistance.  It’s all about a protein  in breast milk, ‘Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells’ (known as HAMLET).

According to researchers at the University of Buffalo HAMLET can help treat people with those nasty superbugs that cause pneumonia, MRSA, and staph infections and when HAMLET was recently tested on patients who had bladder cancer, after each treatment, the patients’ urine was tested to reveal that the dead cancer cells were excreted. HAMLET did not affect healthy cells.

Contrary to advice such as that offered by Kate’s doctor, as long as you are breastfeeding, your milk is providing your child with essential proteins, nutrients antibodies and other protective substances and will continue to do so for as long as you continue nursing. In fact, some immune factors actually become more concentrated during the second year of life – right when your baby becomes mobile enough to play with other children and is exposed to a greater array of bugs!

If you, like Emma, find yourself confronted with challenges that may mean you breastfed for a shorter time, it may help to think of breast milk as medicine. Every drop is protection for your baby’s health.   In fact, according to a brand new breastfeeding report by Save the Children, “Super Food for Babies,” 830,000 babies’ lives can be saved worldwide if they are breastfed within the critical first hour after birth.”

Perhaps, instead of judging  yourself or allowing others to judge you around the length of time you breastfeed, snuggle your precious baby against your bare skin, nuzzle into that soft downy head, breathe in  and remember, ‘every breastfeed is a success.’

Breastfeeding gives your baby and you:

The first hour:–baby receives colostrum, the most effective and potent immune system-boosting on the planet. This first feed stabilises baby’s blood sugar and protects his gut.

The first day : the slightly laxative effects of colostrum encourage your baby’s first bowel motion; helps seal his gut against foreign proteins (gut closure); boosts your baby’s immune system and helps your uterus to contract, reducing bleeding and aiding recovery after birth.

The fourth day: you have now given your baby his first “immunisation” (antibody-rich colostrum), and helped to get his digestive system running smoothly. Your creamy transitional milk contains high levels of fat, lactose, vitamins and more calories than the colostrum.

The first month: your baby is receiving perfect nutrition and immunity and because mother’s milk is so easy to digest, breastfeeding means he won’t be uncomfortable due to constipation. By exclusively breastfeeding for at least 1 month you have given your baby significant protection against food allergy at 3 years of age.

Six weeks: you have eased your baby through the most critical part of his infancy –new-borns who are not breastfed are much more likely to get sick or be hospitalized, and have more digestive problems than breastfed babies.  Breastfeeding for 6 weeks means that your child now has less risk of chest infections up to 7 years old.

Two months: Your child now has a lower risk of food allergy at 3 years old and, if you immunise your baby, breastfeeding boosts your baby’s antibody response to immunisations, strengthening the effectiveness of the vaccine. Nursing during injections will also offer comfort and pain relief.

Three months: Now, you have given your baby a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma if you have no family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction if you have a family history of asthma. You have also given your baby between a 19 and 27 percent reduction in incidence of childhood Type 1 Diabetes.

Four months: exclusively breastfeeding for

Detox your fears for an easier birth

10:27 pm|

Spring is classically the time to detox your life. I really believe toxins are to the body what fears are to a pregnant mind. You may not be aware of them or their effects, but left to breed and run rampant, they can cause problems in the long run.

Mental pollution comes in many forms. Hollywood images, the media or our collective emergency mindset that has turned a natural miracle into a medical event in our own minds and then makes that come true.

Stop feeding the fears. Turn off the box, put away the bad news, and please I beg you, stop listening to horror stories!!

 

Ask politely, is it a positive story? Let them know, “Shhhh…baby is listening!” Perhaps you can agree to swap notes after the birth so they don’t impact on your experience.

You are the protector of your mental space and baby’s home. Nobody has the right to disturb your peace of mind. This is where motherhood begins.

Research shows labour is not just a mechanical process but an intricate interplay between mind and body. A hormonal orchestra that is easily disturbed. By what, you may ask? By your own mind and emotions.

This is where other mammals have the advantage. They just rely on instincts and don’t let their heads get in the way. Fortunately for them, they don’t read newspapers and so they don’t know they should be afraid. It turns out being primitive serves us better than being sophisticated.

Want a pain free birth? A fascinating theory I talk about in my new book { A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth} is Dr Read’s Fear-Tension- Pain Syndrome. Dr Read says, “pain in an otherwise uncomplicated labour arises from the sympathetic nervous system fuelled by the emotion of fear.” By removing fear, tension is reduced and pain is eliminated or minimised. Put simply, cure the fear and pain is taken care of.

Do you hold the belief that contractions equal pain? If so, you will make that a self fulfilling prophecy.

Give it a different name.  I never used the word contractions, nor pain. All I spoke of were waves and intense pressure and therefore that is all I had during my birthing experiences.

Learn the art of total body relaxation. Get yourself to such a state of inner calm that you no longer hold any fears regarding your birth and are only filled with anticipation of meeting your baby and becoming a mother.

Affirmation of the day:  “I am EXCITED about birthing my baby.” Your mind is the most powerful ally you have – USE it!

Guest Author, Katrina Zaslavsky’s book is about “A Modern Woman’s Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth”
Empowering Birth Book: Birthing Bliss Begins with Overcoming Your Fears

Further reading can be found here.

“When birth is no longer feared, numbed or endured it has the opportunity to become one of the most powerful, positive and transformative things a woman will ever experience in her lifetime.”~Katrina Zaslavsky (Birth Goddess)

How do I ‘do’ this being at home with a baby ‘thing’?

10:09 pm|

My sister had her first baby a few months ago, she sent me a text message recently asking a question that took me back five years to when I had my first baby. It prompted a memory reel in my mind…of being stuck on the couch every day watching ‘Dr Quinn Medicine Woman’ while my tiny baby slept soundly on my chest…for hours. After Dr Quinn it was ‘7th Heaven’ and when that season ended I watched an entire season of ‘Touched by an Angel’. I spent many hours on the couch in my pj’s stuck under a sleeping baby, for many weeks, and even months.

I remember thinking;
“Am I going to spend the rest of my parenting life here on this couch? Will I ever get out of my pj’s before 1pm? Am I destined to life inside my house until my child starts school? Will I ever shave my legs again?!”

Fast forward to now – two children and another on the way – five years of being a stay at home mum – and her question is still something I grapple with at different times and in different seasons of parenting.

My sister asked me: “What do I ‘do’ now?”
She wasn’t asking me to answer what she does in a day now that she is a mother – if we wrote down all that we actually physically accomplished we’d be mind blown. She was asking me “How do I survive now – how do I do this ‘being at home’ thing?”

I don’t believe she’s alone in asking that question either. If I’m honest I wouldn’t be surprised if a large percentage of women who return to paid work do so because ‘being at home’ is actually a really tough gig. Take the kindergarten teacher I spoke to a few months ago. She returned to full time work directing a kindergarten when her baby was ten months old because she found it “too difficult to be at home full time”. Or the admin assistant at my Husband’s work who has to take her children to child care at 7am in order to be at work on time and picks them up at 6pm, every day, because she too finds life at home too frustrating, too isolating.

I get it. I really do. After years in the paid work force I understand how difficult it can be to find yourself stuck on the couch in your pj’s all day with a tiny human glued to you for hours while your life seems to be passing by around you – or at least – everyone else’s life on social media makes it seem that way!

I think we live in a society that undermines the mother who stays home to care for her children. There. I said it. I think society tells us we aren’t useful or worthy unless we’re earning dollars in the paid work force, or that we aren’t successful unless we manage to hold down a job while wearing the motherhood hat as well. Or if we have decided to be at home with our littles we really must be involved in some sort of group or hobby… what do you do with all that time unless you’re serving in some volunteer organisation and making cupcakes for fundraisers? Surely you can’t be happy just, sitting on the couch in your pj’s…can you?

I think the answer looks different for each of us. I think we each find the balance that helps us maintain our best selves for our family, for some this is returning to paid work, for others it’s slugging out the every day at home while embracing the glamorously mundane that forms part of the life of a stay at home mum.

I want to encourage you…I’ve been a stay at home mum for five years and it is actually do-able! If you’re happy to pee in front of an audience and lack adult conversation for extended periods until your spouse walks through the door, it’s totally awesome. In all honesty, childcare just wasn’t an option for our family and so I had to learn how to ‘be’ at home, I’ve read many blogs, spoken to lots of different mums and I’m convinced of this one thing…being at home with small children for any period of time is tiring, relentless, and largely thankless – but if you find the balance that’s right for you it is the most rewarding, wonderful, spirit enriching and satisfying job in the world.

I wanted to pass on some wisdom from my mama tribe – I asked them the question:
“How do you ‘be’ at home – what keeps you sane while navigating the days, weeks, and months of early motherhood?”
I share their answers with you here in the hopes that it may encourage you and give you a resource to draw on when you feel you need it. Enjoy.

Katie – mother of 2
“I would say, give baby all you can in the way that you believe is the best for bub, but also give yourself care…emotionally, physically, mentally. There are new adjustments to self-care in motherhood… For me, taking baby for a walk in the pram helped clear the ‘fog’. Also things like, having a bath with bub, having a tea outside while baby naps.”

Marley – mother of 4
“Being connected to other mums was a huge normaliser for me…weekly library baby rhyme time was my first connection point to make friends with other mums in the same position, therefore I didn’t feel as isolated. Also I walked a lot with baby.”

Kelly – mother of 2
“’Be seen” is a biggie for me at home. I want my husband to tell me I’m doing a good job. I tell him the good (and bad) stuff that happened during the day and the chores I got done. I remind him to tell me I’m awesome when he forgets. And connect with other mums, that was a new thing for me, but it really helps.”

Jill – mother of 1
“Spending time

Help! I need help to help my baby sleep. How to find help and what you must ask.

10:48 pm|

There is so much pressure about having a baby who sleeps ‘all night’ , is it any wonder you worry whether you are doing some sort of harm to your baby if he wakes in the night.

You worry:

When will he sleep all night?

By the way, ‘all night’ is defined as five consecutive hours in baby sleep studies, not eight hours or twelve hours, as some people would have you believe.

How do I teach him to ‘self settle’ ?

Most babies under four months, need a lot of help to fall asleep –newborns enter sleep through an active sleep phase and they have a strong startle reflex that’s likely to jerk them awake just as they are dozing off. Besides, what’s the big deal about having some extra cuddles to help your baby relax and go into a lovely sound sleep? Consider, what environment helps you sleep best – do you simply hop into bed, lie down and fall asleep? Or do you have a nice warm drink, read a book or cuddle your partner before drifting off? Do you have nights after a busy day, when you find it more difficult to switch off and fall asleep? Do you sometimes wake with a fright from a scary dream that seemed real for a few moments? Do you doze off all snuggled up to your partner then just as you are almost asleep, do they poke you and say, you need to self-settle, move over to your own side of the bed or we will create bad habits?

And, the big one – am I creating ‘bad habits’?

Since when did needing cuddles become a bad habit? Your baby needs touch and movement to help his tiny brain develop healthy connections and structures for later learning and appropriate emotional responses; he needs reassurance and responsiveness to help him develop trust and a strong connection with you –that lasts a lifetime.   He is learning, you are there for him, you are his safe person, he can come to you whether he is a baby, a toddler a school aged child or a teenager and you will listen and help him.

There is a lot of noise out there creating fears about a lot of perfectly normal baby behavior. However, when you are exhausted, knowing what’s normal doesn’t give you a sudden burst of energy. Sometimes you do need help so you can get some much needed rest, just so you can make out the woods from the trees. But, how do you find help ?

There are a few options to help sleepless families:

Family members– can you call your mum , sister or aunt to come and stay for a few days or can you go and stay with a family member who will support you as you catch up on some much needed rest? Please don’t worry about feeling judged because you aren’t ‘coping’ . Most people are only too glad to be involved with a family baby and, if they have had babies themselves, they will understand. You may even be giving them an opportunity to speak about how hard it was for them in their own early days.

A post natal doula – if you can afford hired help, a post-natal doula can be the next best thing to having your mum to help. And, because you are paying her, you can say what you need done without feeling you are imposing. A doula can come in for a few hours to ‘pack you together’ and watch your baby while you catch up on some uninterrupted sleep. She can cook a meal, hang out washing and make you a cuppa – just like your own mum.

A Mother Baby Unit – if you want to make some changes to the way your baby is sleeping, you may want to ask your GP or baby health nurse for a referral to a mother baby unit or “sleep school’. Just like any sort of help, you will need to do your homework: ask questions about anything that is concerning you. For instance, what do they do? Will sleep training involve leaving your baby to cry? Will you and your baby be checked for any health issues? Will you and your baby sleep in the same room or will you be separated?

Some mother baby units take a very gentle approach and encourage you to respond to your baby at all times, others will implement a fairly rigid ‘one size fits all’ controlled crying regime. They may use a less confronting name for whatever they do but it can still be a version of leaving your baby to cry. Remember, this is your baby, you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel right for you. You can negotiate with staff and expect to have explanations for anything they advise. And, if it’s not for you, you are free to leave.

A private baby sleep consultant: There are people who will come to your home and help you. This is where you need to really take care. There is a plethora of online courses in baby sleep training that give their ‘graduates’ certificates; there are baby sleep trainers with no qualifications in early childhood or infant health; there are baby sleep trainers who will come to your home overnight to ‘teach’ your baby to sleep who have been found sleeping on the sofa while the baby has been left to cry.

Consider, this person is coming into your home, she is meeting your child, she is advising you on your baby’s well-being. You need to be very clear about what you need and what you are prepared to allow before you hire this person. Ask, what qualifications do you have? Check what these actually mean and what the scope of the training is. For instance, if you have a breastfed baby, can this person assess your baby’s feeding to see whether this is impacting your baby’s sleep? Will this person do a history that includes any health issues for you and your

Strategy of Surrender

10:22 pm|

Strategy for surrender

Claire Obeid is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Teacher who inspires women to discover balance, true happiness and perfect health. She reaches women in over 15 countries worldwide through her insightful and intuitive blog, video posts and dedicated Facebook page. This is her guest post:
Since the day little Soleil was born, in fact, since she was just a bunch of little cells multiplying I’ve been hurtling down the rabbit-hole of surrender.
Over and over, day-by-day I’ve been asked to let go – to surrender.
Surrender who I think I am.
Surrender to who she is.
Surrender to the struggle.
Surrender to the sleep deprivation.
Surrender to the loss of control and structure.
Surrender to the chaos.
Surrender to the beauty, and joy and insane love.
Surrender to the god-like connection motherhood creates for me.
Surrender to the sides of me I don’t like or thought I had ‘healed’
Surrender to the mess
Surrender to the present moment
Surrender to it all…
And you know what? I’m not there yet.
How do I know I’m not there yet? Well, because I find myself trying to ‘figure out’ if there is something wrong – am I doing it right? Is Soleil OK? Have I missed something?

I find myself looking for solutions where there aren’t any. Or getting lost in those feelings of futility and exhaustion that weeks and weeks of sleep deprivation do to you. I find myself pining for ‘time’ and trying to think about how to get more of it.

I find myself getting trapped in the idea that ‘if only things were XYZ then it’d all be better”.

When I notice I’m in this heady, catastrophizing, weary mindset I know that surrender and I have forgotten to nurture our bond.
But here’s the flipside to it all. I know I’m never supposed to be and never will be ‘there’ with surrender. Not fully, completely. Not 100%.
Why? Because we, surrender and I,  have a deal.
I’m supposed to experiment with it, lose faith in it, find it again, go deeper with it, start all over again.

Becoming a mama is so much more for me than creating a life (which is a miracle) and experiencing that journey. It’s about my own soul-journey with surrender.
And this realisation always brings about the question, WHY? again..

The deeper why is because I’m meant to dance with surrender so I can share it all with you.
I’m here to help you become besties with surrender. It’s my thing. it’s my job. And everytime I mess it up, that’s another up-leveling, re-education and re-learning so I can scrub up on my surrender skills. That’s what we do as teachers and guides, we have to keep growing and learning in order to help you grow and learn.

So here I am, once again, letting go of the idea that I have to ‘fix’ things with my little Sunbeam.

She is healthy, bright, BOLD, happy, oh-so-spirited. There is nothing wrong.

Nor do I need to fix anything with myself as a mother, woman, wife, friend, daughter – I do enough, I am enough, I love enough, I care enough.

I simply must accept, embrace and let go of the expectations and need to control. It means offering up my plans and my ideas and trusting that as and when it’s supposed to unfold, it will.
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Take a deep breath with me now, because in true Claire style I’m going to flip all of that on its head. There are always two sides to every coin and this journey of surrender is much the same.

Within the realisation that I must surrender and embrace the journey of letting go, I’ve also come to realise that part of this version of surrender (in mamahood) I must also take ACTION and come up with a strategy. I don’t have to give up every dream or desire to surrender, I just have to work with it in a different way.

One of the massive stumbling blocks I’ve been facing is time. When your toddler is waking countless times each night and then only wants to nap on you during the day, well there isn’t much time left over. Domestic duties, cooking, eating, showering – these are the basics I’ve been fitting in amongst it all. Trying to fit in joyful work, creative time, spiritual practice and connecting to loved ones has been a battle. Surrender often wins.

However, I’ve come to see a massive truth that surrender has delivered to me lately.

It has said this;
Claire, you DO have time, if you allow others to support you in caring for Soleil. You choose for Soleil to be the centre of your universe and for you to be hers. It’s your choice to prioritise her over anything else. It’s always up to you how and where you create and find time.
Truthfully, I’ve hid behind being Soleil’s mama and ‘surrendering’ to her needs and the ebb-and-flow of her evolving being. I desperately don’t want to miss anything as she grows, but many of my dreams and desires with work and in life are ALL about creating opportunity, security and happiness for HER.
So how to find peace between the desire and spiritual NEED to surrender over to her and to motherhood with the need to build, create, grow, call in abundance and success?

And surrender once again answered with;
Hire more help.
Lean on your in-laws.
Hand over the reigns to your husband more.
Let go. You cannot be the only one to care for her.

So there it is. And so it is. Surrender has sent me a strategy. I now see that I can fully embrace surrender day-to-day with my little one when I create more space and time for me to take action where action needs to be taken!

It’s time that I let surrender become my strategy for life in both the moments of PAUSE + ACCEPTANCE as well as those of ACTION + CREATION.
I choose to trust that surrender will only ever deliver me into what is right and good for my soul.
Love + light,
Claire xx

www.claireobeid.com/