Kerry Meath-Sinkin: Transitions

As I reflect on this past year with Mamayurveda, a project Sunny and I started almost a year ago, I feel so much joy and gratitude for what we have accomplished. We both took on Mamayurveda because of our strong love for Ayurveda and desire to help provide accessible information to women during the childbearing years. I have personally enjoyed and learned a great deal from our journey together and feel so much gratitude for the experience to learn and grow with Sunny and our readers. During this past month an great opportunity has presented itself to me. A transition in my career that will leave little time for me to stay as invested in Mamayurveda, in the way I believe it needs to continue to grow in it’s own way. There is so much Ayurveda has to offer women during the childbearing years. I will stay on as a contributor, but I am handing off the reigns to Sunny who will lead the charge from here.

Thank you to everyone for your love and support, and sharing this journey across the past year with me. I will continue to write a few additional posts about the third trimester, and preparations for birth, but they will be much more limited as I need time to move inward and prepare for my next journey.

With so much love and gratitude,

Kerry Meath-Sinkin

Get Gingered this Holiday Season!

gingertea

This is a reminder to chew and enjoy your food! It's really step one  - the less we overindulge and the more we eat slowly and consciously, the more we can allow our digestion to do its job. But, if you're feeling rushed or end up eating too many types of foods at the workplace potluck, or just want to keep your digestion moving - then a ginger, lemon, honey tea is a helpful sidekick. Ginger Lemon Honey Tea

  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, sliced or grated
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 quart water

Boil ginger and water 10-20 minutes. Once it has cooled to lukewarm, add 1/2 - 1 squeezed lemon, and 1/2-1 teaspoon of honey (honey should never be cooked or added to very hot recipes). Enjoy!

Healthy Fall Eating: Basic Tips

root_veg

As we move into Fall, the dry, light, mobile, clear, cold and subtle qualities in our environment naturally increase. These are the qualities of Vata and can lead us to feel more scattered, anxious, cold, tired, and constipated. So what can we do? This is the perfect time to start slowing down, and simplifying life. It’s time to naturally let unnecessary activities or thought patterns things that aren’t serving us fall away, and incorporate more of those juicy hydrating activities that allow us to feel nourished and relaxed. Easier said than done as parents, especially with holiday season looming. But here are some tips to get started! For a longer explanation visit a local youtube video Kerry just created for Yoga Illumined Ayurveda. Overall Focus on: warm, nourishing, and hydrating foods that have a little kick

Roast Those Roots: Favor lots of local root veggies like yams, squash, carrots, beets and pumpkins.

Sautée Up the Greens: Greens are always great, but cook them up with oil & spice.

Cook Them Apples: Apples are a great local fall fruit. In addition to that raw treat, try cooking apples. Cooked apples are more digestible, and especially good when experiencing cold or constipation in the system. You can bake them or stew them, for example.

Add a little kick: Add digestive spices such as ginger, clove, black pepper, turmeric, fenugreek, fresh dill, cumin, saffron, cardamon, and hingvastak churna (this is great for gas and bloating that often shows up in the fall).

Warm & Spice Up Your Drinks: Warm spiced milks, chai, and digestive teas such as fennel, fenugreek tulsi, and ginger. Draksha (Ayurvedic spiced wine) is a great digestive with meals.

Tastes to Emphasize: Sweet, sour, and salty tastes

My Pregnancy Week 16: My Birth Journey with Kris

IMG_0112

For some reason this past week my mind has started to explore and think about this little one's birth. My last birth was certainly a wonderful journey, and one that I think was a necessary part of my experience, but also one that I would rather not repeat if I don't have to. My son Kris's birth happened at a very nice hospital in North Austin. I delivered with an amazing midwife/obgyn team, who I trusted completely. It was that trust that I think got me through what was a rather difficult labor...

My water broke on Saturday evening, and by Sunday morning I still had no contractions. My midwife suggested that we start inducing that morning, because I would likely have more energy at that point than after a day of waiting around. By law, a hospital has to start induction within 24 hours of a woman's waters releasing. In an effort to simulate natural birth as much as possible, we decided to start a very low dose of pitocin that morning. Unfortunately, by about 2-3 AM on Monday morning I was still only about 5 cm dilated. It was getting to the point where an epidural or even C-section might be on the table. From what I can remember at about 4 AM the contractions were really intense and Kris's heart rate dropped. At that point they stopped the pitocin for a short time, and let me get some rest. They started the pitocin up again and finally by about 4 am I was 7 cm dilated, and by 5:30 am I was fully dilated.  Somehow I was able to push my beautiful Kristopher out by about 6:00 am on Monday morning. I am extremely blessed that pitocin was the only medical intervention I needed during the birth, but certainly felt constrained, constant fetal monitoring, non-stop IV's, pitocin, and very little food if any. Walking to the bathroom and hospital bed were about the only movement options I had. In looking back I think I can honestly say that was my journey with Kris, but also that I would love to at least set an intention for a more natural experience this time around. One that allows my body to go through the journey without an induction.

Given my ease of pushing last time, and my health last time, so far during this pregnancy I am a good candidate for a home or birth center experience instead of the hospital. So this time my husband and I are planning to use a birth center located directly across the street from a great teaching hospital in San Antonio. I will admit that I did and still have a few personal fears about avoiding the hospital model because of my ingrained thoughts growing up, but the more I learn the more confident I feel in this decision for our family. I was able to listen to a great interview with Dr. Aviva Romm, and read her blog about choosing a birth location, and feel that at least so far this is a great choice for me.  I think and know for myself that being able to relax and surrender completely is crucial in my birth journey, and unfortunately, something I didn't feel I was able to experience in my last birth.

If you are on the fence about where to birth, I highly recommend checking her out, and becoming empowered to make the right decision for your family.  Stay tuned to my next blog for more about birthing options, and some great insights from a recent set of workshops I was able to listen to.

With Love, Kerry

My Pregnancy Week 14-15: Surrender

IMG_2542

I'm sitting down to write another post for Mamayurveda, and today I am having a harder time than normal. Usually there is something obvious that is easy to write about in one simple post. However, today I truly feel all over the place, and pretty emotional. Maybe that's why writing seems a little bit harder - because I haven't felt as balanced as normal. But I'm figuring that is also helpful to share. Hope so??! The last few weeks have been filled with more stress than normal, and left me feeling more confused and cloudy around my pregnancy. I received borderline high TSH level results, which upon further testing were almost normal, but certainly left me with a few days of worry over the best way to address the imbalance. I have always had functionally high thyroid levels, and even my teacher Dr. Lad mentioned hypothyroid problems in my future, but addressing that issue during pregnancy felt pretty overwhelming. Like I said, it turns out I can make some diet adjustments, and keep an eye on it without further measures at this point...whew.

Also, my husband and I, after weeks of frustration, felt that we needed to move care providers. Which isn't a huge deal, but still annoying and stressful when you feel fear and discomfort around where you are going to have your baby. Luckily, we just found a birth center that feels much better! I am blessed that these were all pretty minor blips in the pregnancy journey, but in the moment they felt very real and very stressful to me...especially with all the emotional swings that can happen normally during pregnancy.

While I can't give any profound advice about how to keep life and your mind relaxed during pregnancy, I have noticed that during these times it always helps me to honor and acknowledge the emotions or changes, instead of trying to suppress them.  AND this is pretty much true in my life as a mother, or human being on the planet. I noticed (once again) that during the moments of stress or a racing mind, some of the best actions I could take was actually to honor the process. The more I tried to rationalize or push away what I knew were irrational thoughts, the harder they came back at me. The more I honor my emotions, the more I am able to give them freedom to move out of my mind/body, instead of lying dormant or suppressed in my system. I say this because I think often as pregnant women we try to stay calm and healthy for the baby, worried that any negative emotion might cause them irrevocable damage, but I think that babies are more resilient than that and I think they need us to experience the reality of our life. So what does it mean to surrender to our emotions? I love the following quote from our teacher Dr. Lad, and hope you find the words helpful anytime your emotions feel they are getting the best of you.

"Half an inch behind your suffering there is bliss. Give complete attention to your grief, your sadness, to your anger. Let it flower. Don't counsel it, suppress it, or analyze it. Your grief is your reaction. Your grief is your projection. Suffering is within. It does not come from without. The moment you realize the real relationship between yourself and suffering, it ends. Suffering comes to you to awaken you. Use your suffering as a springboard and dive deep within. Be with your emotions. You can't avoid pain by pursuing pleasure. I do not know the name of the pleasure which does not end in pain, Look at your sadness, your anger, your jealousy. They are but a mirror. Look at the emotion and look also at the looker of the emotion...As you feel the emotion, observe the movement of your consciusness and let it pass. Then you are born again, anew. Out of the womb of that anger, out of the womb of that grief. Before the emotion can pass, it must be thoroughly digested. Emotions which are unripe cloud the thinking and block awareness. How to ripen uncooked emotions? Bring total awareness to the sensation. Give yourself totally to the sadness, to the grief, to the fear. Ripen the emotion with the flame of awareness. The moment you become aware your reaction flowers and melts into nothingness. Swallow the hurt, digest it completely and let it yield pure awareness. Emotion is reaction. Love is total action." ~Dr. Vasant Lad

With Love, Kerry

Sunny's Chai

-MG-1811

I make chai every day with rare exceptions, and with seasonal variation.If you are sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing I recommend Red Rooibos tea substituted for the traditional black tea. Rooibos is also very high in antioxidants, even higher than green tea! If you're aiming for a little kick, Organic Assam is my favorite black tea to use. It's tough to find an organic black decaf, but if you can, you'll preserve the classic flavor of traditional chai.

Ingredients: *amounts are approximate. play with the recipe over time until you find your perfect quantities without any measuring, it's a lovely chai meditation. i like my chai strong both from a spice and tea standpoint, if you do too and it's not strong enough for you as is, you know you should add more spices or tea the next time.

  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups whole raw milk (or organic, non-homogenized milk such as Kolona or Strauss)
  • 2 Tbsp loose organic black tea or decaf black tea, OR 3 Tbsp red rooibos tea
  • 5 whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, sliced thin, grated or minced
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon bark, crushed or 1/2 tsp cinnamon chips
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds (these are the little brown inner seeds, green pods removed), crushed
  • fresh grated or powdered nutmeg to taste
  • Sucanat, rapadura or coconut sugar to taste
  • optional: pinch of pink organic rose petals, small pinch of saffron, 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions: Bring the water and all spices to a boil. Leave out the rose petals and saffron for now. Simmer until reduced to 2 - 2 & 1/2 cups Add the tea and allow to steep about a minute (don't boil) Add milk (and rose, saffron, and vanilla if desired) Allow to warm until tiny bubbles form and you reach your desired color of rich golden brown (don't boil the milk) Serve with sugar of your choice. I recommend coconut sugar for its caramel-like flavor and low glycemic index.

Makes 3 - 4 servings

An Ayurvedic Overview: The Second Trimester

15-weeks

We wanted to provide a brief overview how Ayurveda views the second trimester of pregnancy and provide some simple and safe recommendations during this second phase of the pregnancy journey. For an overview of the basics of pregnancy and general guidelines, visit our last post on the “beginnings of pregnancy.” What's Happening with Your Baby During the fourth month, the vital organs are formed and start functioning. By the 4th month the fetus starts to express its desires through the cravings of the mother. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends to honor these cravings as much as possible, within reason. In the fifth and six months focus is placed on nourishing the uterine muscles and nourishing the embryo.

By the end of the 6th month the baby is about 15" long and weights about 2 ½ lbs. The hairs have developed, facial expressions begin, and the fetus begins to gain strength and resemble a miniature human.

What is Happening in Your Body You may begin to notice some of the discomforts of the first trimester disappearing such as nausea and fatigue. Additionally, since the uterus is rising into the abdomen with the growth of the baby, there can be some temporary improvement in that feeling of having to pee all the time (it does tend to return later in pregnancy however!) Around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy you may begin to feel your baby moving for the first time!  Be gentle with yourself in the realms of exercise - the hormone Relaxin is causing your ligaments and joints to be looser, so it's easier to overstretch or injure yourself, especially with the change in your center of gravity.

Around 24-28 weeks a typical growth spurt occurs in the baby and you may gain 5-10 pounds during this time, as your blood volume expands considerably. You may notice an increase in your appetite and possibly your fatigue level due to the increased needs of the baby and your body's need to expand your blood volume. Be sure to eat lots of iron rich foods during this time such as dark leafy greens, stewed dried fruits, and if you eat meat it's a good time for meat soups and iron-rich meats. Check with your care provider to be sure, but if you have been needing iron supplementation, this is the time to step it up. We recommend Floradix or Blood Builder. Also be sure to eat enough calories, with ample protein (70-100 grams/day), healthy fats and plenty of veggies.

During 2nd trimester you will probably also begin to experience toning contractions. This is the normal healthy way that your uterus begins to prepare itself for labor.

It's very common to go for an ultrasound around 20 weeks to determine the sex of the baby. From a midwifery perspective, I encourage women to wait until at least 23 weeks, and longer if possible, as prior to that time it's much more common for "problems" to be found. The reason for this is that the baby is developing quickly and not fully developed. Sometimes couples are unnecessarily frightened by unclear pictures that show up in earlier ultrasounds and further testing is done, often with the end result that in fact, all is well. Some needless worry can be saved by waiting a few more weeks to catch a glimpse of your babe.

Second Trimester Suggestions for Almost Everyone By the second trimester the fetus gains stability, and the vital organs are developed and start functioning! It is believed this is also when the mother’s cravings should be satisfied as a way to nourish and welcome the divine soul in, which is expressing itself through cravings. As the fetus becomes stabilized, we naturally have more energy, and want to get back to being more active. In addition to what is mentioned in our first trimester post, this is a great time to start a prenatal yoga practice, begin daily walking if you haven’t, and engage in more pranayama.

Food:

  • Remember fresh, local & organic
  • Continued emphasis is placed on liquid nourishment, lots of warm herbal infusions, warm milks, and water
  • The Ayurvedic texts also recommend eating ample amounts of rice, milk, butter, ghee and curd, fruits that are orange and yellow, and leafy greens
  • Generally speaking it's important to eat a pitta pacifying diet
  • Remember that if you are suffering from imbalances it is also helpful to remember to eat foods balancing for your dosha (See below for a reminder)

Ayurvedic Lifestyle Tips:

  • Continue to avoid hard, uncomfortable seats; suppressing your natural urges; too much or too intense exercise; lengthy trips (long periods in the car on an airplane without movement); very loud sounds; and sex until the 5th month.
  • General massage with a trained practitioner or gentle abhyanga is now a beneficial practice. See our previous post on abhyanga for more information.
  • Prenatal Yoga. Visit a local class, check out Shiva Rea's prenatal yoga DVD, or Yoga Mama Yoga Baby by Margo Bachman. We'll have a later post with some nice routines.
  • Deep breathing and/or pranayama including gentle alternate nostril breathing. If pranayama is new to you, start by observing your breath, and practicing some deep breathing.
  • Deep Breathing Instructions from Yoga Therapist Genevieve Yellin
    • Place your right hand on your chest, your left hand on your abdomen. Break the inhalation and the exhalation into two parts.
    • Inhalation: The first half of the inhalation is drawn into the abdomen (expand the abdomen), the second half into the chest (expand the chest). Make the count for the first and second part equal (e.g. a count of 3 into the abdomen, and a count of 3 into the chest).
    • Exhalation: Reverse the process of inhalation, first expelling air from chest, then abdomen; at the end of the exhalation, draw the navel in toward the spine to complete the exhalation. Keep the same cadence as was counted for the inhalation.
    • Walk Walk Walk!

General Ayurvedic Changes During Pregnancy & How this Impacts Diet

From a doshic or elemental perspective a woman’s body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. The more we understand our constitution, the more we can use diet and lifestyle to bring balance. We are providing a brief overview of the doshic changes below, but if the word dosha is new to you, we strongly recommend getting our booklet to learn more about where you fit.

VATA Vata dosha is responsible for the expansion and intense transformation happening inside. This can also mean excess Vata dosha (too much of the dry, light, mobile, cool, or clear qualities), which may lead to constipation, dry skin, nervousness/anxiety, absent mindedness, or difficulty sleeping.

PITTA The changes in metabolism and increased bodily heat are due to Pitta dosha (hot, sharp, light, penetrating, or oily qualities), which may also lead to irritability, anemia, morning sickness, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, bleeding tendencies, or trouble falling asleep.

KAPHA Finally, the increase in bulk (especially later in pregnancy) is due to, and can lead to excess Kapha (slow, heavy, dull, sluggish, cloudy, cool, and oily qualities), this may contribute to excess weight gain, fluid retention, excess congestion, yeast infections, or excess sleep.

This information helps us to understand, at least briefly, what we may be experiencing at a given time, and how to begin finding balance. Yes, food can help us alleviate some of the annoying pregnancy ailments. For those who want more detail about doshic diets during pregnancy, we strongly recommend checking out the pregnancy booklet, which we will make available within a few weeks.

My Pregnancy Week 13: Dry Itchy Skin

P1010139

As fall hits, my skin is getting dry. No Matter how much water and oil I drink and eat, I am finding I still need more lubrication on my skin. Specifically, my ankles, knees and elbows are getting dry and even itchy. Per first trimester Ayurvedic recommendations I have avoided abhyanga for the last three months, but this dryness is a huge reminder that I am ready to bring it back. While dry skin isn't a huge deal, it's kind of a pain in the butt. So what is going on? From an Ayurvedic perspective, dry skin has several causes, too many to go into in detail here. However, we do know that when the liver has to process an increased hormonal load it can get overworked and cause the skin to be itchy. We also know that extra sweating and decreased bowel function can cause the skin to have to work harder to eliminate toxins. I could go on forever, but instead I will just list some of the suggestions from Dr. Lad and Dr. Aviva Romm.  I have already been incorporating the diet and hydration and movement piece, but I am certainly going to make up a nice mixture of cocoa butter and coconut oil and make abhyanga part of my life again. Let me know what works for you! With Love, Kerry

Tips for Dry Itchy Skin

1) Exfoliate: Try cleaning your skin with no soap, just a cloth to exfoliate. You can use a loofah or fine salt or sugar scrub to gently to stimulate circulation and clean away dead cells (don't scrub vigorously in pregnancy, just gently)

2) Get moving: Daily exercise improves circulation, which among other things can improve bowel function and lesson the burden of accumulated wastes on your body.

3) Eat Well: Lots of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains with minimal processed, fried or foods high in saturated fat.

4) Drink Well: At least half a gallon a day!

5) Essential fatty acids: A combo of 1500 milligrams of omega-3 acids daily (Directly from Dr. Romm in The Natural Pregnancy Book)

6) Cocoa/Shea/Coconut: Rub cocoa butter, coconut oil or shea on your dry skin. Try mixing either cocoa and coconut or shea and coconut together. Oh and by the way, when I asked Sunny about her favorite belly butter for pregnancy, she highly endorsed How Now Brown Cacao and Butter Me Up Body Butter by Simply Divine Botanicals. She uses these to prevent stretch marks and bring skin comfort in her clients and used them herself in pregnancy.

7) Calendula oil: Can be helpful to reduce itching and irritation.

8) Reduce Stress

9) Light Abhyanga: See Instructions below

Abhyanga:

For those familiar with the practice, the major difference from normal abhyanga application, is that we only want to spread a light coat over the body, aka DO NOT massage the oil in.

For those who don't remember, we have included some instructions below.

Abhyanga in 2nd and 3rd trimesters of Pregnancy

  • Follow the directions below, only DO NOT massage the oil in, simply spread it over your skin.
  • Allow the oil to soak in, and follow with a warm shower.
  • Do not do if there is any sign that the pregnancy is threatened in any way
  • Not recommended for the first trimester

Abhyanga Routine

  • Put about ½ cup oil in an 8 oz. glass bottle. Make sure the oil smells fresh and isn’t rancid.
  • Place the bottle of oil in a pan of hot water until the oil is warm.
  • Sit or stand in a warm room, on an older towel (one you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation). Make sure you’re protected from drafts (turn on a space heater if needed).
  • Apply the oil to your entire body, and use a generous amount – 1/4-1/2 cup.
  • Gently spread oil over the body.
  • Give a little extra time and attention to applying the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week.
  • Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger and apply to the opening of the ear canal. (If there is any current or chronic discomfort in the ears don’t do this without the recommendation of your health care practitioner).
  • Enjoy a very warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, but it’s best not to soap the oil off your skin. Enough will soak in and then rinse off that you shouldn’t need to use soap.
  • When you get out of the bath, towel dry. Keep a special towel for drying off after your Abhyanga because it can eventually get ruined, due to the accumulation of oil.
  • Put on a pair of cotton socks to protect your floors/carpets from the residual oil on your feet.

Clean-up and Maintenance Oil can accumulate in your tub and drain over time. A couple of times each month, pour approx. ¼ cup dish soap into the drain, then pour 2-3 cups of boiling water into the drain. Let sit for 15 min. Run hot water down the drain for a couple of minutes to flush out the residue. Baking soda can be helpful as well. For laundering oily towels, add ¼ cup grease-cutting dish soap along with your regular laundry detergent. Let sit in very hot water for at least 30 minutes, then wash. You may need to repeat this. Experiment as needed. Caution: do not dry oily towels in a hot dryer as they are easily combustible and may catch fire. Oil towels stored together can build up internal heat in warm environments to the point of catching fire. Be sure to store them in well-ventilated, cool areas. Never store them in your vehicle trunk.

Contraindications for Abhyanga:

  • After eating and if there’s indigestion
  • Acute conditions such as fever, chills, common cold, diarrhea, flu
  • Chronic high systemic ama. This can show as a heavily coated tongue.
  • Immediately after taking emetics or purgatives
  • Under a doctor’s care for medical condition
  • During pregnancy without consulting health care practitioner or in threatened miscarriage
  • During menstrual cycle
  • Infected or open lesions
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Blood clots or bleeding disorders
  • Hangover
  • Extreme emotions
  • Acute hypoglycemia
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes
  • Dehydration
  • During chemo therapy

References: Welch, Dr. Claudia. (2009). http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/ayurveda/abhyanga.html Lad, Vasant. (2005) “Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage”

My Pregnancy Week 12: Our Breath

IMG_2541

The more I practice the more convinced I am about the power of meditation and pranayama (breathwork) during any stage of life, but especially pregnancy. As my energy levels increase, I feel a renewed energy and desire to get back on my cushion. I allowed my body rest as much as possible for most of the first trimester, and that's pretty much all my body let me do. However, with my renewed energy I am once again experiencing the benefits of practice. Not only does it help calm the mind, but it clears the channels in my body and moves the stuck energies out. This is HUGE during pregnancy. With the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy I have noticed that my temper is a bit quicker and sharper than normal. I am also noticing many of the irrational and annoying ramblings of the mind such as "is the baby okay" things that are fine to think about, but when I let them get the best of me or cause anxiety, I know it's not productive. While I can’t always catch myself in the moment before lashing out at my husband (as much as I want to), I find that taking time to get on my cushion makes my overall demeanor and experience less volatile, and my mind less agitated. Whatever tradition you practice, I think this is a great time to begin deepening your connection.

I have also recently noticed that I am finding myself breathing more often, but maybe not as deeply as I would normally (pre-pregnancy). There are several scientific reasons for this including a shift in hormones, and increasingly cramped organs (including LUNGS) to make room for an enlarging uterus. My husband the other day actually commented about my less "full and deep" breathing, and my increased irritability. It may be coincidence, but as I am consciously engaging in deeper breathing and prana practices, I am feeling more embodied and less anxious about inconsequential annoyances. I know deeper breathing moves me more into my parasympathetic nervous system, but it has been really interesting to experience this more viscerally during my pregnancy.

I personally feel that taking this time for internal connection is one of the best ways we can prepare for the birthing experience. My personal spiritual practice (Tibetan Buddhism), was by far the best childbirth prep I could have had before my last birth. I tried taking a childbirth class before the birth, and found that it paled in comparison to what I was already practicing with pranayama and meditation.

If you are interested in learning, developing and incorporating some breathing practices in your life I love the following resources:

1) Dr. Claudia Welch and her Prana CD (found here)

2) Genevieve Yellin and her Guided meditations (found here). Gen leads more guided sessions, especially designed for those who need the guidance when addressing anxiety imbalances.

As always we would love to hear from you!

With Love, Kerry

My Pregnancy Weeks 10 & 11: Broth Love

photo (55)

The return home from retreat was a little tough, but I am slowly reintegrating. One of the biggest challenges in returning was once again finding food that was easy to make, and that I wanted to eat. I am still not wanting to cook, which makes meals challenging. This week to help with meals, we decided to make a huge pot of chicken broth. While it may seem like an odd choice to help with preparing meals it worked really well. I had been enjoying soup on retreat, and having the broth around allowed me to make quick meals that I could tolerate. I could easily put rice, rice noodles, some cut veggies (broccoli, green beans, kale, carrots, zucchini) and protein (chicken, beans etc.) into the soup for a quick easy and nourishing meal that was easy on my stomach. All of these foods are very bland in flavor which I am finding very soothing to my system. The bland flavor doesn't aggravate my Pitta, and the cooked vegetables and warm broth is very soothing to my Vata. In terms of nourishment this month from an Ayurvedic perspective, we want to continue having lots of liquids. In addition to medicated milks, Ayurveda suggests adding honey and ghee to cow’s milk. Since I have a mild allergy to cow’s milk, I haven’t incorporated this drink as much because it hasn’t sounded appealing, but if it sounds good to you, go for it!

But the bone broths feel great! You might be surprised to hear that Ayurveda recommends animal products during pregnancy. Garbhini charyas are the regimens for pregnant women in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. Each rshi (sage, seer) had particular advice. For example we see that Sushruta recommends eating food with jangala (wild meat) during the 4th month, and by the 8th month we see a recommendation to eat meat soups of wild animals until delivery. I am finding the broth extremely nourishing and balancing, and if you are open, we highly recommend giving them a try.  As I was talking to Sunny after I wrote this post, she said she "really" wanted to emphasize bones soups for pregnancy and postpartum because if they are one of the BEST forms of nourishment you can bring into the body. We are both using them on a daily basis. If you don't like to eat meat, just use the broth to make a veggie soup - Give it a try! We've provided a recipe below...

Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (or frame of chicken, we often get backs from whole foods if we can't find them at a local market)
  • 2 sweet bay leaves
  • any vegetable scraps you have to throw in
  • filtered water

Instructions:

  • Place one whole chicken or frame into a slow cooker with sweet bay, black peppercorns and any vegetables you have on hand. Cover with filtered water and cook on low 24-48 hours.
  • Another recommendation, which comes to us from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen, is to have warm broth on hand all week (She calls this "perpetual soup"). So you keep your slow cooker on low and after 24 hours take from it as you like! This means that as you need it remove some broth, strain it through a mesh cloth to clarify, and replace the same amount of liquid removed with filtered water. At the end of the week, strain off remaining broth and discard or compost the bones. You will notice they are pretty soft at this point, and may crumble between your fingers.
  • Enjoy!!!

As always we would love to hear from you!

With Love, Kerry

My Pregnancy Week 9: Role of Stress

photo

I just had the amazing opportunity to go away on retreat to see my teacher in upstate New York. I was reluctant to go on retreat and leave my son for five days (for the first time), but my husband lovingly forced me. He knew, even if I couldn't see at the time, that seeing my teacher and having space to reflect would be really good for me. Let me tell you, I have never had so much gratitude for his urging, and the ability to take that time away for myself. There are so many aspects of this experience that have been amazing, and honestly really surprising for me in relationship to my pregnancy. Before heading on the retreat, as you know, I was exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. The two weeks leading up to the retreat were tiring for me, and certainly increased the amount of upward moving wind in my system (Ud?na Vata), leading to more anxiety and stress. This increased anxiety lead me to have thoughts I normally wouldn’t, such as, "would flying be okay?, would something terrible happen on retreat?" and other irrational ramblings of the mind.

What was amazing to me, was that within a day of arriving on the land with my teacher, my body felt different in a good way! My nausea subsided a bit, and my energy level increased. By the end of the week I felt great. I felt a sense of energy, clarity, and radiance that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and certainly hadn’t felt since being pregnant. This, of course, encouraged me to reflect upon what had changed. How could I go from being exhausted and anxious to completely happy, and energized within a few days?

First and foremost, I know it was seeing my teacher. I hadn’t been able to see him physically since before I was pregnant with my first child, and it allowed a deep surrender in me that I know transformed everything. But in addition to that, I think several other factors contributed to the experience. Factors that we all know are good, but that I sometimes forget about, or at least forget the power of, when faced with my busy life.

Changes that Made Me FEEL GREAT!

1) I did a lot of SPIRITUAL PRACTICE AND MEDITATION. This is always helpful for me, but having a container to practice in, was huge, and helped all the little stuff naturally fall away. As women, we need to make time for this every day...or at least as much as we can.

2) I had time to REST. At home I have a two year old to take care of along with my work and household obligations. While this may not seem like a lot when you are used to it, it really is. On retreat I had the opportunity to lay down and sit a lot, my body desperately needed this. Finding more time to rest is tough, but at least setting the intention can help.

3) I had NO STRESS. This goes along with rest. I would say I have a pretty stress-free life most of the time. But even the daily stressors build up, and tax the body. Stress reduction techniques, and minimizing stress is important!

4) I had MEALS COOKED FOR ME. Like many pregnant women, I am having a tough time cooking in the first trimester. The smells and whole general cooking experience make me sick, and I generally LOVE to cook. On retreat every meal I had something fresh and healthy waiting for me. I didn’t have to make a decision about what sounded good, or what to make. This was HUGE for me. A major take away from this was my need to ask others for help, and to encourage my husband to make more decisions around food. I think the decision about what to eat at home was almost the hardest part.

5) I was in COOLER WEATHER. As we know from an Ayurvedic perspective, heat increases nausea and diarrhea. During pregnancy our heat naturally rises in the body, and living in a climate that is HOT (90-100 degrees every day) builds even more heat in the system. Cool weather helps to cool the body down, which allows the heat to naturally lessen. Nothing to do about this if we live somewhere warm :(

6) I WALKED A LOT. At home it’s so hot I am having a hard time getting outside to walk. On retreat I walked a lot through the forest every day. Nothing difficult, but simple walking and stretching. It felt awesome, and I think it helped my body. Walking is good, I am going to try and do more in the morning or evening.

It’s funny because all of these changes are generally advised during pregnancy, but I don’t think I understood the magnitude of their importance, and the HUGE difference they all make together. Specifically, how much stress (even minor stress) affects us physically, and the power of being cared for, nourished and stress-free. Upon returning home, I asked my sister-in-law (an obgyn) what she sees in her clients during their pregnancies relative to stress, and she reiterated that it makes a HUGE difference in a woman's health during pregnancy.

I obviously can’t take the next 9 months off and go on retreat in the mountains, but I can remember that nourishing myself, resting, breathing, and doing spiritual practice really helps me stay balanced AND helps me feel better. I can remind myself that, Yes, these changes help with all the physical imbalances! They really do...

As always we would love to hear from you!

With Love, Kerry

Your Post Baby Belly & Pelvic Floor: Help is on the way!

So, if you're anything like me, you had your baby (maybe even years ago). You oiled and bound your belly for weeks, then you started to exercise some, maybe even a lot. Maybe you did planks, chaturangas, maybe you did Pilates or something specific to get your core strength back, and perhaps you did kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor.But... something still doesn't feel right and really doesn't look right. You still look as if you could be a couple or even a few months pregnant. And if you have a big sneeze or a good laugh with friends... sometimes [gah!] you might even pee a little.

One day, one of the clients in our midwifery practice came in for a post partum appointment and told us about a system she had followed that really helped to heal her diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and get her flat tummy back. "What was it!?" I had to know immediately. "It's called Mutu System," she said. I looked into it, but didn't have time just then.

Then one day about 4 weeks ago, I was ready. Well, I am loving it! And I've seen what it's done for other women, so I wanted to share it with you. This is going to be one of our top recommendations post partum. After the classical 42 days of rest and rejuvenation...start your Mutu program. I could tell you all about the science behind this program, but the founder, Wendy, has everything set up to explain this very nicely, so I'll leave that to her. What I will tell you about, is a few things I love about the program:

  • You can sign up and get instant access to do everything online OR you can order the DVD
  • Once you sign up, you have lifetime access to the videos and the support
  • You can use some of the recommended tools such as dumbbells, resistance band, etc. or you can completely improvise with household items (saving you money)
  • Mutu supports Hamlin Fistula, which supports the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia (HFE), opened in 1974 by Drs. Reginald and Catherine Hamlin. They raise awareness of obstetric fistula – a debilitating childbirth injury, and also take care of many women who have suffered this injury.

Check out the video below to learn more, or go to the "About Mutu" page now to learn more now.

Go to the Mutu homepage now to explore the options. And as always, we would love to hear what experiences you're having with this as other suggestions.

Much Love, Sunny