Daily Hope: A new email support service

For me, the nation’s most trusted online resource supporting families with postpartum mood disorders (PPMDs) is Postpartum Progress (www.postpartumprogress.com). This week they started a new email support service called Daily Hope. It’s a daily email you can sign up for that gives you a few words of encouragement as you move along your path of parenting.

“This service is specifically for those of you who are currently suffering from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, antenatal depression or related illnesses.  I know that many of you don’t have access to support groups or the best specialists.  You may not have people around you that understand.  Need some extra hope each day from people who DO get it?  Someone to shine a light towards the end of the tunnel?  That’s Daily Hope!”

The emails are free. You can sign up at the link above. I did, and as far down my path of recovery from postpartum anxiety as I am (feeling great!), I’ve found that each daily email has given me a moment to check in with myself and have renewed energy.

Won’t you give yourself this little gift, too?

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Postpartum Tip #12: Safe Babywearing

Around Olympia babywearing appears to be really popular. Out-n-about you can see practically every style of carrier. You can see mamas with tiny babies snug in Moby wraps around downtown. And the Farmer’s Market seems full of parents carrying babies and toddlers around in Ergo carriers. Old school ring slings, made popular by the Sears baby book experts, are still a standard, as are Baby Bjorns, external frame backpacks, Mei Tais, and many others.

As a postpartum doula, I’m frequently asked about safe babywearing, especially after the spring 2010 recall of Infantino SnugRider slings and Consumer Products Safety Commission warning about the use of slings with small infants. Unfortunately, this recalled resulted in drastic warnings about babywearing, as if the practice – in general – was full of risks. It’s not. Done with care and common sense, babywearing is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, respond to her immediate needs, gain mobility and free up your hands for practical life.

My general guidelines for safe babywearing include the following guideposts:

1) Does it feel right? If mama or papa feels uncomfortable and worried that baby is in a compromised position, that’s reason enough to get help adjusting carrier position, find a different carrier or stop.

2) Can you see baby’s face clearly, with it turned slightly to the side? An upright, accessible face indicates baby has a clear airway.

3) Is baby upright, not slumped over? A vertical position with baby at or above your bellybutton and bottom seated is safest. Note that front-facing and cradled positions are not recommended by most experts, even if product manufacturers suggest it.

4) Does the carrier feel snug and supportive but not binding or constricting?A snug fit is important – we don’t want baby sagging down at your belly or slouching position. But you should be able to move about without feeling like a strap is cutting into your shoulder or circulation is slowing.

The following article does a very nice job of outlining how to safely wear your baby and includes fabulous illustrations using a variety of popular carriers. Peaceful Parenting’s Babywearing: Safe Positions. Please read it!

I believe that it’s valuable for parents to test drive at least 2 types of carriers before settling on one that works for their family. In my family’s case, my husband preferred the Moby, a wrap-style carriers while I choose 2 front-pack style carriers: the Bjorn (with extra lumbar support) for my son’s earliest months and then the Ergo, which we started with as a front pack and now use as a back pack. Even if you plan to buy online, there are local shops that will be happy to have you take test drives with the products they carry. Some will have “practice babies” (dolls or stuffed animals) you can experiment with. Also, look to family and friends with small children to try out styles they own. Veteran mamas will be proud to show off their babywearing chops.

(photo courtesy of ERGOBaby)

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Postpartum Tip #11: The Boobie Shirt

This post would have been more appropriate around Halloween. Why Halloween? Cause the picture you’re about to see is SCARY! I hope you can have a laugh with me about The Boobie Shirt.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then motherhood necessitates invention. The Boobie Shirt came about one middle-of-the-night when my son was just a couple of weeks old. My breasts were leaking and my son was nursing practically non-stop through the nights. But I was getting so cold having my shirt off and the covers down (so not to cover my son’s head). On the fateful night I stumbled out of bed, grabbed to first t-shirt I could reach in my husband’s dresser, and Edward Scissorshanded two holes approximately at breast level.

And thus was born The Boobie Shirt. I loved this shirt for weeks. It comforted my shoulders through cool nights. It sopped up leaky milk. It gave my son easy access. But, gosh, was it horrendous to look at!

Many, many months have passed since I needed The Boobie Shirt, but I’ve kept it folded up alongside my son’s tiniest onesies and receiving blankets. I guess it’s a sort of talisman of my survival and ingenuity in the throes of sleep deprivation, postpartum anxiety and cold shoulders.

I can imagine that each of you have your own version of The Boobie Shirt – an invention born from mothering necessity that has gathered mythic symbolism for you as you grow into motherhood. I just hope your talisman of motherhood is not so scary to look at as is mine!

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Postpartum Tip #10: The 5 S’s – Calming Techniques

Since I just reviewed Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block (see “Reading List”), I wanted to share a couple of videos that do a nice job of showing the 5 S’s for calming a fussy baby (actually, ANY baby).

The 5 S’s are:

1)    Swaddling – tight wrapping

2)    Side or Stomach – holding or laying baby on her side or stomach (NOT for sleep – just for soothing)

3)    Shushing – loud white noise

4)    Swinging – rhythmic, jiggly motion

5)   Sucking – sucking on nipple, finger or pacifier.


Baby Calming Magic: A papa swaddles, side-lies, shushes and swings his baby girl.

Dr. Karp Demonstrates 5 S\’s on Live TV: This clip shows Dr. Karp demonstrating the 5 S’s in real-time.

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Postpartum Tip #9: Simple herb teas are soothing

This season has brought me back to a nourishing tea that I started drinking last autumn at the suggestion of a wonderful local herbalist, Carol Trasatto. It’s really simple: oatstraw* and nettles. I get them in bulk at Radiance, which is an affordable way to buy many herbs. I steep equal parts of each herb (about 1/3 cup of each) in a French press for 1/2 hour  and enjoy each cup with a splash of rice milk. Leftovers go in the fridge and are yummy ice-cold with even more milk added in. I find this combination of herbs to be a nice way for me to get centered and it feels quite nourishing in my body. If you’ve never tried herbal teas with a little cream or milk, you’re in for a treat. I think it makes them taste sweet and even more soothing. I’m guessing herbal enthusiasts and those who use strong herbal infusions might disagree with me about using milk.

The other tea that I absolutely love is peppermint with rice or soy milk. My husband swears by it as a tonic for general happiness. I think he’s on to something! Peppermint with milk is becoming my favorite nighttime beverage.  Note for breastfeeding mothers: Peppermint taken in large quantities has been cited as reducing milk supply. Perhaps at this time you can enjoy your favorite nursing tea and your partner can enjoy some peppermint!

There are many soothing herbs that can be beneficial during a mother’s postpartum time. Since herbs are powerful, it is wise to do a little research before consuming herbs in any great quantity or regularity. There are many herbalists in Olympia who can provide information to you about safe herbs during pregnancy, lactation and postpartum times. And KellyMom.com has a nice section on herbs and breastfeeding.

Cheers to good tea and soothed feelings!

Precautions: I’m not an herbalist. This blog post is not intended in anyway to represent medical advice or diagnostic information. While herbs have been used throughout human history for healing and well-being, they can be powerful medicine and have potential contraindications with certain medical conditions and medications. Please consult a trained herbalist and/or medical professional about how to safely use herbal remedies given your own conditions and circumstances.
*Usually I wouldn’t link to a commercial website, but at the moment this is the best and, really, only non-sensationalized description of oatstraw I can find.
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OlyBabies: A Social Network for Mamas & Papas

Online social support for local parents is just a click away at www.olybabies.net!

Social support for new parents is proven to reduce the duration of postpartum mood disorders and makes adjusting to life with baby a whole lot smoother. Social support is anything that gets parents together in an environment where they can safely share their stories, worries and discoveries. It can include support group meetings, meet-ups for play and walks, parent-baby classes and online chats and forums.

Many of us are using social networks, like Facebook, to keep in touch with friends and socialize. While Facebook’s the biggest, social networks come in many shapes and sizes. OlyBabies is a little social network for mamas and papas in the South Sound area of Washington State (the “Oly” in OlyBabies is for Olympia, our home town).

OlyBabies was created in March 2009 as a way for our childbirth education class to stay in touch. From there it’s turned into a sweet and supportive community of parents of young children.  It includes discussion forums, personal blogs, web links and events. And it has a archives of discussions about diapering, sleep, breastfeeding, green poop and on and on!

OlyBabies welcomes visitors and new members. It’s free! Parents and loved ones in the South Sound area are welcome. Commercial memberships and promotions are not permitted, except for local sponsorships by baby-focused businesses that are invited to help pay the costs of Internet hosting (so no one’s going to try to sell you on a pyramid scheme there!).

Please come check out OlyBabies! Expectant parents and those with newborns are especially wanted to create discussion forums that will meet your needs as you take the plunge into parenthood.

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Meet the Doula Nights!

Are you considering hiring a doula or just want to learn more about what they do?  Meet the Doula Night is an informative night for anyone interested in learning about what a doulas are and how they can support families before, during, and after pregnancy.

The October 8 date will be presented by two outstanding Olympia doulas – Diksha Berebitsky and Nicole Heye. Future nights will include a panel of local doulas so that you can start your selection process right there and save some time!

Here are some of the specific questions we will answer:

  1. What are doulas, and why would you want one?
  2. What if you already have a husband or partner who plans to be actively involved?
  3. How can you find the right doula for you and your family?
  4. Can you afford one?
  5. Can doulas be used in any birth environment (hospital, home, birth center)?
  6. Are doulas only for natural childbirth? (No!)

This is an ongoing event. Here are the upcoming Meet the Doula Nights:

October 8, 2010 6:00-8:00pm
December 3, 2010
February 4, 2011
April 1, 2011

Location: Around the Circle Midwifery, 2120 Pacific Ave SE, Olympia

Contact for more information:

  • Nicole 360-485-3512 redraspberrydoula@gmail.com or
  • Diksha 360-455-4566 ananddiksha@hotmail.com
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Unexpected Postpartum Tip

Unexpected Postpartum Tip: A cabbage patch kid is a pretty handy substitute for the real thing when assisting a new papa with a Moby Wrap!

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Exciting new parenting classes at Waves Studio!

I’m so happy to see this new offering from a community treasure – Tammy Putvin. Tammy is a therapist and facilitates the Thurston County Postpartum Support Group (meeting every Thursday 10am at Heart of Wellness in Tumwater). Now she’s offering integrated parenting classes at Olympia’s Waves Studio:

Integrated Parenting
with Tammy Putvin

Holistic Psychotherapist & Parent Educator
Fall Series: Finding “Your” Way in the Journey of Early Parenthood

Focusing on who you are, what your gifts, strengths & dreams are as a parent. We will identify our personal gaps: and create resources, build bridges, maps, and networks to fill them full. We will also focus on the powerful dynamic of your unfolding child: who are they, what do they need, and how can we support & nurture them.
For Caregivers of Babies-4 yrs old
Most Fridays (no class on October 22nd) October 8th-November 19th
5-6:30 pm
$20 single person
$15 each if you bring a mate, friend, grandparent, other interested person
Call Tammy if you are interested in creating child care for this class
For more information:
Call Tammy @ Labyrinth Living Counseling 360-349-2346

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World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Are you surprised to see this topic on my blog – a blog dedicated to postpartum life – a joyous and deep time with our beautiful babes?

The reality is that postpartum mood disorders (PPMDs) can lead to thoughts of suicide. PPMDs can lead to specific plans for suicide. And PPMDs can lead to suicide.  And we need to talk about it.

Thus, I’m so thankful to see Katherine Stone talk about suicide in today’s Postpartum Progress blog post:

You Could Save A Life: World Suicide Prevention Day.

Please read it and remember: If it’s a crisis to you, it is a crisis. Help is out there. Call for help. You can get better.

Suicide.org (a non-profit prevention site) provides some more information about PPMDs and suicide in this article:

Postpartum Depression and Suicide

Note this this article says 10-15% of women (mothers) experience postpartum depression. Current research indicates the rate in the U.S. is higher – 20% or beyond. I want to highlight this because we need to be aware that PPMDs – including a spectrum of depression, anxiety, psychosis and obsessive-compulsive disorder -  are common and run a spectrum that is broader than depression.

If you need help, contact your local crisis clinic or suicide prevention hotline. Thurston and Mason County residents can call the Crisis Clinic at: 360-586-2800. You can also phone or text a friend or relative. If you need a comforting voice to talk to, Washington State’s Warmline for parents needing support for PPMDs is 1.888.404.7763. You might have to leave a message for a return call – it’s worth it!

If you or a loved on are in the process of attempting suicide (e.g., took some pills or cut on self), call 9-1-1.

Hugs, Carolyn

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Postpartum Tip #8: Give yourself permission…

This tip is really simple as a concept, but maybe more complex to implement:

Give yourself permission.

For me, giving myself permission is about letting go of competency and exactness. And a bunch of other things.

A month before having my son, I retired from a fast-paced career in workforce & economic development. My days were full of meetings with state legislators and policy pros, collaborating with endless stakeholder groups, and negotiating how policies would be implemented. Ten hours would fly by and my ego got stroked many times each week – “so detailed, so productive, so smart, so competent…” I was exhausted but felt really great about myself – this was where I “fit” in the world.

And then, there I was – a month later with a newborn baby, leaky breasts, postpartum anxiety and not an ounce of self-confidence about what to do from moment to moment. People would inquire: “What did you do today?” Ah…Um…Well…I changed a few diapers, nursed my baby, and asked my husband for lots and lots of help.

Another few weeks later, husband back at work, I’d try to account for my productivity when he arrived home. Um. Eight diapers, 7 feedings, and remembered to eat lunch…I’d make lists of all the things that needed to be done and never accomplished any of them. And I felt pretty lost many of those days.

My husband was great, telling me he knew how incredibly busy I was caring for our son, and that I never needed to account for my productivity.

So my husband gave me permission to just be. Just be with our son and care for him. No other expectations. Giving myself the same permission was so hard! It took me several more weeks of list making, diaper accounting, and wishing-wishing-wishing I could do more.

And then I came across this tip, somewhere – I don’t know where:

Give yourself permission…

And so I did. No lists. No accounting. No expectations except giving my son all the good loving I had to give him. And it worked! I slowly learned that, in my new “career”, accomplishment was to be found in subtlety – in a milk-intoxicated burp from my baby, in a shared nap, in peace of mind that I am present with myself and baby – each new moment washing over the last.

So why not try creating a mantra of giving permission to yourself? Repeat however often you need to.

Give yourself permission to:

- Not fold laundry, leave the dishes for your next visitor to do, ask a friend for a meal, not scrub the sink, not be perfect, not know what you’re doing, not worry about how you’ll get it all done.

Make a list of all the things from which you’re gonna let yourself off the hook! Put it down and walk away!


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What if…

What if you knew that everything was working out just perfectly?

Denver Doula posted this question on her Facebook status a few days ago. I could write pages and pages of answers to this question. It absolutely captures my imagination and inspires me to shrug off self-doubt. I’ve dedicated myself to asking myself this question for a week and see what happens.

How about you? What if YOU knew that everything was working out just perfectly?

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Beautiful Inspiration – Inside & Out

Thanks to this link from Black Women Do Breastfeed, I was inspired by this powerful story of how Juanita Ingram lobbied for and established a lactation program with her corporate employer. It’s a great read. Being that she’s a lawyer and beauty queen, Juanita had the chops to research her rights, assemble a convincing case and get access to decision makers to make her presentation. I hope that lessons learned by corporate America in stories like Juanita’s tell the rest of corporate America to pay attention! Working class and low income mothers might have a much harder time gaining access to corporate decision makers…

Here’s a link to Juanita Ingram’s complete story as posted on Best for Babies.org.

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Whip ‘Em Out! National Breastfeeding Month

Well, there are a couple more days left of National Breastfeeding Month here in the good ol’ USA.

You know, breastfeeding is free, burns 500 calories a day, safeguards mama & baby from many illnesses (saving $ on dr. appts), and requires no mixing, packing or bottle washing…But it IS something that is learned, not necessarily instinctual. Mamas need support and encouragement to learn to breastfeed. Papas and grannies can be their #1 cheerleaders in this new and life-giving skill. And even with the best family support, mamas need technical assistance. Ask for help as soon as you have questions. Your OB, midwife or doula can help. You can also get more in-depth help from a certified lactation consultant.

If you need help reaching breastfeeding support in Thurston County, please contact me or your OB/midwife.

And now here’s a fun public service ad urging us all to:


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Podcast: Baby Boot Camp!

Pea in the Podcast presents: Baby Boot Camp!

Want to get a reality check about life with baby? Sleep deprivation…self care…and the case for hiring a postpartum doula. Here’s a fun and not-too-scary podcast that may help.

I personally beg to differ with a couple of the sentiments expressed in this show, but overall I can recommend it.

You can download it on iTunes or here:


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Blow dry to prevent diaper rash!

Postpartum Tip #7: Blow dry!

Keep the upper hand against diaper rash by GENTLY drying bebe’s bum with your blow dryer. At each home diaper change you can gently dry her bum using the COOL setting on your hair dryer. NEVER USE THE HOT SETTING and always keep the dryer at least 12 inches from her skin. Many babies like a cool breeze in their bottom area after being damp.

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New Mass. law takes postpartum depression out of the shadows

Good news coming from Massachusetts this week with a new law that takes postpartum depression out of the shadows:

Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill designed to help new mothers struggling with postpartum depression. The law requires health insurers to submit annual reports on their efforts to screen for postpartum depression. The legislation also calls on the Department of Public Health to develop regulations and policies to address postpartum depression including creation of public and professional education programs and the use of screening tools. (AP)

Source: Boston.com August 21, 2010 BOSTON

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Postpartum Tip #6: Patterns & prints!

Postpartum Tip #6: Patterns & prints! In those early weeks of nursing you’ll have some wet spots on your tops, thanks to leaks, spit-up and who knows what else. These spots are easily camouflaged by wearing shirts with lots of patterns or prints. Yeah, it’s totally not my style, but I came to LOVE my patterned t’s sinc…e they saved me from everyone seeing wet circles around my, well, you know.

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Postpartum Tip #5: Save $ with reusable diaper wipes!

Postpartum Tip #5: Save $ with reusable diaper wipes! If you’re washing cloth diapers yourself, it’s easy to do the same with cloth wipes. For about $.60 each you can get baby washcloths or, for even less, cut up flannel receiving blankets. I’ve used the same 36 clothes for 12 months – total cost $20. Disposable wipes …cost $3-6/pack!

Check out this link to great cloth wipe solution recipes.

My personal favorite is the Castile Soap solution using Bronners unscented and jojoba oil from Radiance (in Olympia). Avoid essential oils and water down the recipe for newborns. And use only pure essential oils (no synthetics) when the time comes.

UPDATE: Hat Tip to Katrina Kirkwood (In the Womb & Beyond) on this awesome recycled wipe source: http://www.thesustainablestitchery.com/wipes-napkins-and-towels.html

This is a way better deal than buying new wipes! Sustainable, small biz and more affordable!

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Postpartum Tip #4: Paper cups!

Postpartum Tip #4: Paper cups! If your infant has busy hands and you forgot to bring toys on your adventures, grab some paper cups at your next coffee shop stop. They’re great temporary teethers and safe for baby to fiddle with in her carseat.

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Scar tissue on the cervix

‎”Huh? Scar tissue on the cervix? Why had I never heard of this?” Read this link to learn about how scar tissue on a woman’s cervix can impeded dilation during labor and how to massage away adhesions. Hey health care practitioners: Do you already know about this? I’m interested in your comments.


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Postpartum Tip #3: Get yer granny grinders on!

Postpartum Tip #3: Get yer granny grinders on!

Granny grinders – those over-sized, white 100% cotton undies are the perfect lounge wear for your tender postpartum under areas. Get them several sizes larger so some healing breezes can get in there. Since they go up to your naval they’re very gentle on Cesarean wounds.

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Postpartum Tip #2: Pecs Around the Clock!

Postpartum Tip #2: Pecs Around the Clock! If you’re a breastfeeding mama, your pecs, biceps and shoulders might be hunched and sore.

Try this exercise daily: Stand with one side to the wall, about a foot away from the wall. Place the hand closest to the wall against the wall at the “12-o-clock” position. Rotate your ar…m (with hand gently pressed against the wall) around to all the clock positions, pausing longest at 2-3-4-o-clock. Repeat facing the other way for the other arm. Pictured in the link below: 3-o-clock position.

HAT TIP: Kristen Rubis, Sacred Transitions. She saved my life with this move!


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Postpartum Tip #1: Outsource your laundry for a day

Postpartum Life Tip #1: Outsource your laundry for a day. Yep – you heard me! Many laundromats provide wash-dry-fold service, charged by the pound. If you’re overwhelmed with the laundry pile from hell, take a break by taking it somewhere else. Remember to bring your own scent-free detergent so you & baby aren’t inundated with unfamiliar smells.

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