The past two years I have been stepping away from the crunchy mom way of life and stepping into wild mothering.
For me, the transition was a natural part of my healing process. The last three years, especially the two after leaving my marriage, have been primarily focused on healing. I let go of bad habits, hurtful people, and primarily, mindsets that were impeding me from stepping into my power and flow within life.
Wild mothering for me, is allowing myself to be untamed and unimpeded in my flow. My intuition, my joy, and my love for my life and love for myself lead the way – not fear.
It sounds like common sense – to live aligned with our intuition and out of love – but fear is so prominent in our current society it’s challenging for it to not get a hold on us.
When I had began my journey into the crunchy mom life, I was deeply influenced by fear. If I’m being honest, fear ran my life.
As soon as I was pregnant, the fearful comments poured in. Hospital birth is dangerous, home birth is dangerous, this and that problem can happen in pregnancy, etc., etc. No one ever asked what I intuitively felt was the best path for me, but rather tried to influence me towards what they thought was best using fear.
I’ve always said, I went into motherhood knowing too much. I had a BA in developmental psychology, an MA in child development and nearly ten years of experience working in the field. And while yes, that had its benefits, it also had its downfalls. I knew all of the research and was hyper aware of developmental milestones, typical development, developmental disorders, and the causes behind things not going “typical.” It was a lot of pressure and rather overwhelming feeling fully responsible for every little aspect of my child.
While outsiders projected their fears onto my motherhood experience, I also created a lot of fears around not be able to fully implement the “optimal parenting” I had learned getting my masters degree. But there is no optimal parenting – there is only healthy and aligned parenting. Once I released the idea of some optimal, perfect, way to mother, parenting became a lot easier with more flow and space to find my own ease with my children.
One of the first big life changes that led me in the direction of Wild mothering rather than crunchy mom life, was my free birth. I had made parenting decisions from my intuition previously, but they were also decisions made from fear, research, and outside influences. My free birth was a decision I made purely from wisdom. It just felt right for me.
Having a free birth that I truly loved seemed to free me in motherhood, and while I still had a lot of healing and learning to do after my free birth three years ago, it was the beginning of unraveling my fears and the control they had over my life.
“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
To love motherhood, to be present within motherhood without resentment and without burnout, we have to release the hold our fears have on us and begin parenting from a space of trust. We have to trust ourselves to show up, to know what’s best, and to know that when we’re having trouble showing up in a way that’s aligned, we’ll learn how to become aligned.
Once we feel untamed and unimpeded, we can feel confident, secure, and even at peace within motherhood.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience. There’s the amazing experience of first kicks, your growing bump, shopping and preparing all the cute baby items (checkout my non-toxic baby registry), and, of course, meeting baby! However, some women experience anxiety when nearing labor.
It’s no surprise many women experience anxiety about labor when we commonly hear and see horror stories about birth in the media and from others. However, many women still have easy and uncomplicated births and you can too! Whatever your desired birth, natural homebirth or uncomplicated and gentle hospital birth, it is important to prepare your body. There are many natural and easy methods to prepare your body for birth!
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What to Put in Your Body
Proper nutrition throughout your pregnancy is the best thing you can do to keep your baby and body healthy and ready for labor. A good balance of of vitamins and minerals allows the uterus to contract effectively and prevent difficulties during labor such as hemorrhage. Easily absorbed prenatal vitamins and a balanced diet will help ensure your baby and body are healthy and ready for labor.
Dates are a delicious and nutritious treat that can benefit you greatly in preparation for labor and postpartum. Dates can provide you with antioxidants, high levels of magnesium (which can also lower blood pressure), and choline, a key vitamin B. They’re also a great source of iron, calcium, copper, manganese, and fiber! Not only will dates give you a great nutritional boost, research has found they can lower your need for induction, lower need for interventions, and lower risk of complications.
Women who ate six dates a day from 36 weeks until birthing dilated more quickly, had intact membranes (water hadn’t broken) more often, and needed induction far less frequently (96% went into labor spontaneously) compared to the control group which ate no dates.
If you’re not a big fan of dates, but want the awesome benefits for labor, you can try this tasty organic date syrup. We use it for baking or topping waffles as a great low glycemic alternative!
Nettle Leaf Tea
Nettle leaf tea is amazing for the last few weeks of pregnancy. It’s important to not use nettle tea before 35 weeks because there’s not enough research to decipher if it may cause preterm birth since it encourages the uterus to tone and contract. However, consuming Nettle Tea during the end of pregnancy may decrease risk of complications and increase chances of a shorter and easier labor.
Nettle leaf tea is also beneficial in preventing hemorrhage due to it’s high iron and vitamin K content.
Nettle is a superb source of vitamin K, and increases available hemoglobin, both of which decrease the likelihood of hemorrhage.
Red raspberry leaf tea, probably the most well known herb used for pregnancy, is a great tool to prepare your body for labor. Similarly to Nettle Tea, it is recommended to only use this tea after 35-37 weeks because it’s ability to tone and contract the uterus, possibly increasing risk of preterm labor. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is a delicious and easy way to tone your uterus in preparation for an easier labor.
The fragarine compound found in red raspberry leaves is known to help tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, including the walls of your uterus, which can help make delivery easier.
An exercise or birth ball is really helpful in preparing your body for labor. Using a yoga or exercise ball during pregnancy can help strengthen the back and abs, open up the pelvis, and increase your chances of a shorter and easier labor.
Sitting on the ball in an upright position can also encourage the opening of your pelvic muscles, allowing room for the baby to descend into the pelvis in preparation for birth.
Being a new mom and experiencing postpartum was, and is, one of the strangest and most difficult transitions I have ever experienced. As someone already familiar with the world of parenting and childbirth due to my education (masters degree in infant and toddler mental health and 8 years as an infant and toddler teacher), I thought I had some slight idea of what postpartum would look like. Oh, how wrong I was. Most likely, your body will look nothing like your pre-pregnancy body and really it shouldn’t. After all, you just created another human. It takes a toll on your body. From the fun and oh so stylish adult diapers to the roller coaster of emotions, postpartum can be a challenging and life altering experience.
Having a home birth with my first, I had a supportive group of midwives to guide me and attended monthly childbirth classes. We discussed the process and what to expect regularly. Regardless of the support and education, there were things I just had no clue about, especially regarding the postpartum body.
First off, I felt like I had been hit by a car after birth. Every muscle in my body ached and I couldn’t walk unassisted for a few days. To be fair, I had an unusually long labor, 75 hours, with around 7 hours of pushing, but I had no idea I would be so physically exhausted and aching after birth. I knew birth was hard and would be painful in its own regard, but I didn’t realize the residual pain it would cause, and not just in my nether regions.
Pregnancy and birth completely changed my body. Everything looked and felt different. Fluids were coming out of literally everywhere. I would wake up drenched in sweat, breast milk and other fun fluids everyday for weeks. (Apparently heavy sweating is a postpartum thing?!). I didn’t recognize myself or my emotions. I would swing quickly from one mood to the next even though I had some lovely bliss hormones from meeting my new baby. Postpartum is different for everyone, but if no one shares what really happens, how can any of us really prepare for this crazy time? I had endless numbers of people attempt to tell me what to expect from the baby, but no one told me I’d be in diapers icing my nether regions for a week or so.
Thankfully, my midwives, tips I picked up from other moms, and my own research helped me to make it through postpartum and heal my body. After what felt like endless months, I found my balance and my identity as a mother. I began to feel healthy and whole again. As I prepare to bring my second child earthside, I’ve decided to compile a list of helpful tips for postpartum to make the transition less dramatic and easier for myself and hopefully for other mamas who face the transformative time of postpartum.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliate, I may receive a small stipend for any purchases made on links with no additional cost to you.
Tips for Postpartum Recovery
Magnesium and Zinc Supplements
A few months into postpartum, I found myself still struggling with the baby blues and mood swings. I struggled to regulate my emotions. Looking for solutions, I took to the internet and dove into the research. I was so thankful to have actually found somewhat of a solution. It turns out, depression or depressive symptoms can actually be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. I even heard a few other moms mention it helped them during their postpartum period. I decided to try it out and within a day I found it easier to enjoy daily living and not so hard to regulate my emotions.
“Magnesium deficiency could cause abundant psychiatric symptoms including depression, behavior disturbances, headaches, generalized tonic-clonic as well as focal seizures, vertigo, tremors, irritability and psychotic behavior”
“In pregnancy, the fetus and placenta absorb huge amounts of nutrients particularly magnesium from the mother; this depletion of magnesium with not enough intake of magnesium by the mother is hypothesized to be the cause of postpartum depression.”
Although I personally did not try zinc supplements during my postpartum time with my first, I plan to try it with my second. Similar to magnesium, this mineral may play a key role on postpartum mood disorders.
“Zinc as a trace element has the second highest concentration of all transition metals in the brain, and its deficiency is associated with behavioral disturbances. Lower zinc blood concentration was found in women with postpartum depression.”
Herbs have endless medical and healing properties and are a great resource for healing during postpartum. From sitz baths to teas, herbs can play a key role in healing after giving birth.
For a sitz bath or peri bottle to promote healing after birth, there are some great recipes of natural herbs to prevent infection, soothe pain, and speed up healing. My favorite recipe is from Wellness Mama:
If you are interested in a calming cup of tea rather than a soak, there are a few great options that will help you heal and recover.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf tea strengthens the uterus, helps it to return to it’s pre-baby size, and eases postpartum cramping pain.
Chamomile tea regulates digestion and promotes calming relaxation to ease anxiety and promote better sleep.
Ginger tea promotes breast milk production, relieves nausea, and reduces stomach cramps.
Nettle Leaf Tea
Nettle leaf tea helps restore iron levels, calms the body, and boosts breast milk supply. It also replenishes the body because it is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Even if this seems like common sense, it needs to be said. Getting outside during the postpartum period is pretty low on any mamas priority list, but it’s necessary for you and baby. The sunshine will replenish your Vitamin D, as well as babies, and regulate both of your hormones, especially sleep hormones. The more natural light baby gets, the more likely they’ll jump on a day/night sleep schedule and you’ll all get more sleep. Not to mention, the awesome happy hormones the sunshine will help you release.
“The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin.”
As much as you may think you will not need support during postpartum (me thinking i could be a super mom), you WILL need support. If you don’t have family or friends available to help, try to set aside money or request as a gift from your baby shower practical support like a maid or food service.
Enlist those who are willing to help with the daily duties, not the baby, while you recover and bond with your new baby.Although I didn’t really want my mother to be present after having my daughter so I could enjoy my new time as a parent, I actually ended up being really thankful she did show up. She was happy to help with the grunt work like laundry, dishes, and walking the dog while I focused on my new role of being a mom. Also if possible, have your partner take off as much time as possible. You’ll both want to be present for these new days and learning together what works makes you feel more like a team.
Postpartum, or the fourth trimester, is a substantial time in your new experience as mama and while no one can predict how it will go, it is helpful to have natural healing remedies on hand to face any challenges that may arise as well as ease the basic aches and pains that come with giving birth.
Please note I am not a medical professional and this information should not be substituted for medical advice.
As a mama who wanted an unmedicated birth herself, I was curious why other moms took a similar path, whether a home birth or hospital birth. I surveyed the moms of Green Mama Life and here are the REAL answers!
Not Enough Time
Fast labor, also known as precipitous labor, is defined as labor that lasts two or three hours. Many women noted they had planned to have an epidural, but were unable to due to quick labor. When quick labor occurs, women may jump into the end phase of labor quickly or arrive at the hospital too close to delivery to receive an epidural.
The hospital being understaffed was definitely my least favorite answer. The epidural is a choice so I find it upsetting, as I’m sure many women do, that hospital staffing is a factor in women’s birth choices. Although women noted they were usually happy with the overall experience of not receiving an epidural, I do believe we need to do better to support women in birth.
Owning The Power of The Female Body
Some women mentioned their desire to really just see what their body was capable of. A few women who skipped the drugs found they felt more empowered after experiencing natural childbirth as they really saw how amazing and capable their bodies are.
Wanted The Experience
Along with owning the power of the female body, women noted they wanted the whole experience. Women were curious about what birth felt like without numbing and wanted full control over their pushing and movement.
Some women mentioned their previous experiences made them want to skip the epidural. A few women noted bad experiences with the epidural leaving them with no desire to do it again while others noted experiencing an epidural with one birth and not with the second and preferred the birth and postpartum recovery experience without the epidural.
Fear of Epidural
Many women, including myself, noted our fear of the epidural. Their fears ranged from a literal fear of needles, fear of it leading to a c-section, to fear of it harming the baby. All of these fears are valid. As mentioned in the “Previous Experience” section bad experiences withepidurals do happen.
Common symptoms from an epidural include itching, nausea and vomiting, fever, soreness, and a drop in blood pressure, while more uncommon, yet still prevalent, symptoms include difficulty breathing, severe headache, infection, seizure, and nerve damage.
Parenting is hard. Yes, there are ways it can be easier and times it can be easier, and people who say it’s easy (are we really buying that story?), but can we just all agree parenting is hard.
If you are an attachment parent, I am pretty sure you’ve already heard “you’re just making it harder on yourself,” or some other variation of that.
First off, not cool. No one wants to hear criticisms on their parenting ESPECIALLY when you are just trying to do what feels right and what you feel is best for your baby. Yet, I don’t think this will be changing anytime soon.
An argument can be made that attachment parenting makes parenting harder, and basically, everyone (who doesn’t follow as an attachment parenting style) wants to make that argument, but it doesn’t have to. If you go about it with a few things in mind, attachment parenting can actually make parenting easier. Ya, that’s right, EASIER.
If you haven’t heard of it or are just starting to learn your options as a new or expecting mom, attachment parenting is basically an approach to parenting that aims to support your baby’s attachment to you (and possibly other caregivers) as well as meeting baby’s needs promptly (aka responsive caregiving).
This all-natural style instructs parents to be in tune with their child’s needs . . . Attachment parents . . . respond to an infant’s demands immediately and respectfully.
As an attachment parent myself, as well as a parenting coach, I decided to share my tips on making attachment parenting easy!
1. Follow Your Gut
Stick to what feels right. Do not let people push you around or guilt you into thinking you are doing the wrong thing for your little one. As long as you love and are connected to your little ones, your gut will know what’s right for them. Mom instincts are real and you should trust them.
2. Stay Connected But Promote Confidence
It is great and a part of attachment parenting to be responsive and available to your little one. I have found a lot of parents get confused on how to both be attached and responsive but also promote confidence and independence in your child.
The key is to maintain your responsiveness but encourage them to problem solve and engage with the world on their own with you as their safe base. Contrary to common belief, attachment parenting actually promotes independence as children feel safe to explore when they have a secure attachment.
3. Surround Yourself With Like Minded Mamas
Friendships and like-minded individuals are more necessary than ever, especially if you are a stay at home parent. It is important to connect with others who share your view on parenting because attachment parenting is not a mainstream form of parenting, so you may feel criticized or like you are going against the grain often. Having mamas with these similar experiences allows you to share your real experience of motherhood without feeling judged and also connect on a deeper level.
4. Self Care & More Self Care
I have always been bad at self care. I love being productive and doing things for others, so it has never been my strong suit, but becoming a mom has made me realize how important self care is. I now practice self care more than ever because it truly makes me a better mom.
Self care can look any way you want it to, but make sure you are taking time for yourself. As an attachment parent, we put our child’s needs first, but don’t forget your child needs a calm and collected parent as well. Also, practicing self care will be a great life-long example to your child on how to care for themselves.
My self care includes solo coffee shop time or with a close friend, bubble baths, going on a run or hitting the gym. Part of attachment parenting is having a small circle of care for your child.
If you do not have a present partner, try to find a family member or occasional nanny who is supportive of attachment parenting and can step in occasionally so you can get some time for yourself as well. Although we exclusively breastfed, we made solo mom time possible by dad being close by at a park or on a walk so we could still feed on demand when needed.
5. Find Relevant Resources
Find resources for attachment parenting. Stick to resources for parenting that you know will be kind and friendly to your parenting style.
As an attachment parent, you can’t pick up any random parenting book and expect it to work for you, in fact a lot of parenting books make suggestions contrary to current research and attachment style parenting. Ask experienced attachment parents or find groups on Facebook. I also love these resources!