Tsabary, Shefali. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children. Vancouver: Namaste Publishing, 2010. Print.
In a nutshell:
Where many parenting books focus on how to change our child's behavior, Shefali Tsabary's The Conscious Parent suggests the opposite. According to Tsabary, the first step in improving the parent and child dynamic is for the parent to move from unconscious to conscious parenting and to see the task at hand as a path of spiritual growth. Tsabary outlines the trajectory from parenting an infant to a teen in terms of how we need to accept our children for who they are while also acknowledging and accepting ourselves. When we do, we no longer tread the worn paths of the way in which we were parented. Instead, we do the important work of healing ourselves and our relationships with our children. In terms of what this looks like on a practical level, Tsabary saves a discussion of discipline for the end of the book - which she terms constraining and behavior shaping.
I found much to love in this book, particularly the way in which it acknowledges that parenting is a paradox involving both the utmost joy and a whole ton of inner turmoil and questions of self. The book doesn't cite research or offer heavy footnotes. Instead, it narrates the struggles of parenting in a manner that makes the reader feel understood, and offers examples from Tsabary's own experiences with clients as well as her own parenting journey. The the language of "spiritual awakening" and "consciousness" may not appeal to every reader - and if that is the case for you, there are other books that also examine the connection between our own feelings and triggers and the work of parenting that may better suit you. (Like this or this.)
Some quotes to consider:
"The transition to parenthood is complex, requiring us to surrender to an irrevocable loss of our identity as we have thus far known it. To create the internal space required to embrace the tending of a new spirit, the pillars of our old lifestyle have to crumble. Who we were before becoming a parent doesn't and cannot exist with the same ferocity. Once children enter our life, their impact is indelible and we are required to reinvent ourselves in response" (96).
"When you are able to respect the unfolding of your child's particular journey, you teach them to nurture their own inner voice and simultaneously honor the voice of others" (31).
Have you read The Conscious Parent? If so, I'd love to know what you think! Share in the comments below. Find more Nested Mama reviews here.
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When my work as a postpartum doula comes up in causal conversation, people often want to know about overnight visits. For those without children, the idea of bringing a doula into your home overnight may seem like a surprising choice. But, if you've ever had a newborn, you know the combination of exhaustion and bliss those hours, days, and weeks bring.
As I reply to these casual questions, I sometimes find it hard to put into words what an overnight visit looks like because the needs of each family can be so distinct, and I tailor the support I offer to those specific needs.
Because of my training, I combine knowledge and experience concerning birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, childbirth education, and sleep education. I love learning and want to bring the best support for my clients - whether during the day or night. And, I'm committed to directing my clients toward evidence-based resources and trusted practitioners - if your question is out of my scope of practice, I want to direct you to those who can answer and support you along the way.
The infographic below gives a sense of what an overnight postpartum visit looks like, but if you are considering overnight postpartum doula support, a free consultation (in phone or in person) will help you feel confident in your plans for postpartum.
As a prenatal and postpartum doula, I'm keenly aware of how moms and families need more support in the childbearing year. Head on over to the Doulas of Iowa City blog where I share my notes from Shannon Wilson, LMHC's fabulous continuing education presentation on perinatal mental health.
Birth is intimate. Birth is powerful. Birth is beautiful. Are you looking for a birth photographer to document this life-changing experience for you? I'm thrilled share with you the fabulous birth photographers who serve Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Read on to learn what makes each of these photographers so talented and unique, and take a look at some of their AMAZING birth photos!
New Creation Photography
What Laura says about birth photography,
Birth can be exhilarating AND exhausting! After photographing nearly 90 births, I've learned to expect the unexpected. It's part of what makes birth photography so exciting! The moments that I have had the opportunity to capture for clients - dad supporting mom through labor, baby taking her first breath, and those teeny tiny wrinkly fingers and toes - are sometimes indescribable, and I'm so honored to be able to provide families with beautiful photographs of their birth story to help them remember the details forever. I am Iowa's most experienced birth photographer and know well the commitment and dedication it requires to be on-call and get to a birth at 2 a.m. when necessary. This is what I do. Years of professional photography experience help ensure that the emotion and events of your baby's birth will be captured perfectly and authentically in breathtaking photos of your big day.
Katie Rivera Photography
What Katie says about birth photography,
Birth. It is one of life's most incredible experiences. There's something about the anticipation, the hopefulness, the tears, the laughter, the joy that make the breath of new life so indescribably beautiful. At Katie Rivera Photography it is my absolute joy to capture these moments and freeze them forever through the art of birth photography. All births come with a uniqueness and a story that has never before been told. Birth photography allows clients and their families to forever recall their unique story; the way moms hands gripped the bed during labor, the room quiet as it witnessed just how strong and beautiful the female body was created to be, baby's first look at the outside world. Details too unique and precious not to be told through the powerful images of birth photography.
After taking part in thousands of births as a former labor and delivery nurse, the miracle of birth never fades. This is why at Katie Rivera Photography I have become so passionate about capturing births! Ina May Gaskin once said, "Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life." Get those emotions in a photograph. I promise you wont regret it!
Stacey Schmitt Birth Services & Photography
What Stacey says about birth photography,
As a birth doula, it was easy for me to implement birth photography for my families. I am able to capture moments they want to remember and piece together a timeline of a beautiful day. When the birthing mom is in her birth zone taking on the waves of labor, the support in a firm hand grasp from her partner, to revealing the big introduction of holding baby for the first time; it is your story of transformation to motherhood. Birth photography can be something you display for all to see or keep the story personal; either way the day your baby is born is unforgettable, why not capture those images you can flip through and remember those feelings and emotions of adding a new little to your family.
Little Love Photography
What Emily says about birth photography,
Being invited into a delivery room is the the most humbling experience of my job. Birth is such an emotional and personal time that I am honored when I am chosen to capture that memory for someone. I get to go to work and capture a brand new dad seeing his baby for the first time. I document the look on mom's face when she hears her baby cry for the first time and again when she has this perfect little person placed on her chest. There are a million firsts in birth photography. The first time mom runs her fingers through a fresh head of hair, counting fingers and toes, checking out every single roll, deciding whose nose/eyes/ ears this baby has, foot prints, first diapers, and first baths. There are so many memories that no one wants to forget BUT labor is long. Labor is exhausting. No matter how much we want to remember every single moment of that entire day, some things can be forgotten. And that is why I am there. I want to be the fly on the wall that can flood your memory with every heart tugging moment that happens that day. I have a truly amazing job that gives me the opportunity to meet amazing families. I love what I do.
Rebekah Stewart Photography
What Rebekah says about birth photography,
I love birth photography because no birth is ever the same. Each of my clients comes to me with different experiences and expectations, and each pregnancy and delivery is different, as well. Whether it's a scheduled c-section or a 3 AM homebirth, birth is never boring! My approach during births is documentary or "fly on the wall" - for the most part, I'll only speak when spoken to. My goal is for my birth clients to totally forget that I'm there! Labor and delivery is such an intense time - having a birth photographer ensures all partners are able to be fully present without worrying about missing anything.
Sandi Spurrell Photography
What Sandi says about birth photography,
Priceless is the first word that comes to mind when I think about birth photography. The day you welcome your precious bundle of joy will go by in a blink of an eye! Your baby will have many firsts on this day. The first breath, the first look, the first touch, the first kiss, the first tear, the first pout and many more firsts! Your baby will be cleaned up, weighed, measured, looked over, foot print taken, dressed and then the nurses will put a little hat on his/her cute little head. Having a professional birth photographer there will give you one less thing you will need to worry about on this very important day. The moms that I have photographed for have told me they were so glad they had their births photographed and they look back at the photos often. PRICELESS!
Haley Lent Photography
What Haley says about birth photography,
I love birth photography and I think it’s really important. It is so easy to sort of “forget” all of the little moments that happen during labor and delivery because you’re just so focused. Even in the first days after my deliveries, the details of my labor and delivery experiences started to fade. After several years, things tend to just become a blur. I believe that looking through your birth images really brings you back to those things that have faded over time. You also get a totally different perspective of everything, which is a lot of fun. I feel so blessed that my clients let me into such a huge and personal event in their lives, I’ve even held a leg on a couple of occasions while shooting (which is SO cool). I have never had a client regret having me there to photograph their birth, and they are always just blown away when they see their final images. Births never get old or less exciting and are definitely my favorite thing to shoot.
As a mother of three, I can remember how the births of my babies are now a completely overwhelming blur of emotions. Having a birth story told through images captures each moment, gentle touches, first looks, and the intense emotion of welcoming your baby into the world. After photographing over 30 births, I am continuously amazed at how similar and different each birth experience is. Our bodies are amazing and powerful, and I feel incredibly honored each time I am able to witness the first breaths of a sweet babe. I take the approach of being a fly on the wall, quietly snapping away the moments that are meant to be treasured, and later can be used to provide my clients with a full gallery showcasing the story. Since I don't put a cap on the number of images I provide, each gallery is truly a collection of stills that helps to bring those blurry memories into focus.
Looking for more support as you transition into parenthood? Nested Mama offers doula services, childbirth and breastfeeding education, and infant sleep consultations. For more connections to our local community, follow Nested Mama on Facebook and Instagram.
Wondering where to take your sweet little 3rd wheel on a date? Head over to the Doulas of Iowa City Blog where I share a guest post with advice from local parents on enjoying a datenight or afternoon with baby in tow.
Looking for a way to safely regain strength postpartum but not sure where to go? To answer this question and more, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Dr. Hannah Anderson, DC, CACCP of BIRTHFIT Cedar Rapids. As the BIRTHFIT Cedar Rapids Regional Director, Hannah shares about the movement that is BIRTHFIT and how it can benefit you to strengthen your body before and after birth.
Before we talk about BIRTHFIT Cedar Rapids, I'd love to know about your background. Have you always been interested in fitness or when did that passion develop?
Sure! I was always a B team athlete if that makes sense? I've never been competitive enough to go crazy, but I've always liked sports, movement, and play. As a chiropractor I look at how people move all day long. I have a specialty certification in pediatrics and pregnancy, and care for a lot of moms during and after pregnancy, watching how they change throughout the whole beautiful motherhood transition.
Like a lot of moms, I'm also a planner. When I was pregnant I wanted a plan for working out, and had heard of BIRTHFIT through the grapevine of other doctors I went to grad school with. I love how the online prenatal programming emphasized meeting your body where it's at today, and moving with intention. Before BIRTHFIT I did the classic "hop on the elliptical for 20 min just to say I worked out today". I wasn't working towards anything and it was hard to stay motivated by anything other than being able to tell someone I worked out, which wasn't very fulfilling. BIRTHFIT emphasizes training for birth. Whether you call yourself an athlete or not, as soon as you're pregnant, you're "in season" for birth. It's possibly the biggest athletic event of your life and you don't know if it'll be a 3 hour sprint or a 36 hour marathon.
At a certain point in my pregnancy I couldn't run anymore, but I still wanted to be active. It felt wrong, and weird. However, I could lift a bunch of heavy stuff. So I would go to the gym with my big belly and nestle in with the big body builders (they got out of my way pretty fast). I did lifted and did conditioning that was modeled after contractions (work really hard for 90 seconds and rest!) and was in the gym until 39.5 weeks.
BIRTHFIT Postpartum programming was just as awesome and helpful, and an amazing reminder that healing takes time, and postpartum movement should be intentionally strengthening you for mom life and not just "losing weight". It's way bigger than that!
I love the idea of using your workout as training for birth and focusing on gaining back strength in the postpartum period. Overall, our culture sends us a much different message about pregnant, birthing, and postpartum bodies. Can you walk us through what we could expect from one of your classes? How do your classes encourage members to understand the importance of healing and the importance of, as you said, intentionally strengthening your body for this next stage of life?
Absolutely. We start every class with some breath work to engage our diaphragm, and wake up the core and pelvic floor. It's also time for a mini-mediation, or at least setting the intention to appreciate your awesome mom bod. Then we shift our focus to core strengthening, especially in a way that is safe for a postpartum body and helps moms heal diastasis recti (the abdominal split).
We do strength training based on functional movement patterns (i.e. stuff you have to do for the rest of your life: squatting, pushing, pulling, etc.). They're movements that make life easier, not vanity bicep curls. Then there's conditioning, again, movements tailored to the postpartum body, so not a lot of running or jumping, but still work.
We end with some mom chat time, words of wisdom, q&a, and homework before the next class - which might be as easy as buying yourself a coffee or making time for a relaxing bath!
It's very chill, and class sizes are limited so everyone gets individual attention. You're encouraged to move with the body you have today, not the body you wish you had. Generally, non-mobile babies are welcome, but a lot of moms love having that hour to themselves twice a week! I love babies (who doesen't!), but it's fun to be the one to turn the tables and take care of moms instead so they can keep going for everyone else.
That's fantastic that you use it as a space to encourage moms to practice self-care. I often think that's one of the hardest parts of the transition into motherhood - learning to take care of your needs, too. Has teaching BIRTHFIT shaped your own motherhood journey or are their lessons you've learned in motherhood that you bring to your classes?
It has. I (luckily) don't really know pregnancy/birth/postpartum without knowing about BIRTHFIT and having the positive influence of some bad ass women. Without it though, I could easily see myself having been that person completely frustrated and annoyed with the changes in my physical fitness after baby. I remember walking up hill for the first time outside. I wasn't even pushing the stroller, my husband was. I had to stop because my pelvic floor was so weak. I had a great birth, with no complications, and no tearing, and I was still taken back to ground zero because bringing a baby into this world is so transformative. Luckily with the whole BIRTHFIT community reinforcing the importance of a slow and steady recovery, I was able to appreciate it all (even in the midst of a colicky baby), instead of getting angry with myself.
I think a lot of moms don't understand the timeline of healing because society pushes us to jump back in at full speed after this huge life event. A lot of us either go back to work, or feel like we should be "back to normal" after 8-12 weeks, when physiologically, the tissue in our bodies takes on average 280 days to heal.... way longer than 12 weeks! I like to remind moms that they should have zero obligations other than feeding and snuggling that new baby for 2 weeks minimum. Exercise shouldn't even be on your mind the first 2 weeks, but some moms, especially ones that like to exercise, feel the pressure to lose baby weight like a celebrity. It's not reasonable and not necessary. It was hard for me to relax and just "be", instead of being the busy body, but it was a a great lesson to learn and to reinforce with other moms. If all you accomplish in a day is being with your child, nourishing yourselves, and enjoying it - that's enough. You're enough.
As a postpartum doula, I LOVE to hear other perinatal professionals sending that message to birthing and postpartum women. We are lucky to have you as a resource in our community, Hannah! Thank you so much for sharing a bit about you and the work you do with BIRTHFIT - I know so many women who could benefit from the encouragement you provide.
Want more info on pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting in the Corridor? Follow Nested Mama on Facebook and Instagram. Looking for more support on your journey into parenting? Learn about Nested Mama services here.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.