Tag Archives: labor

10 Inspiring Quotes for Labor Day!

Faces from the St Patricks Day ParadeToday is the day we stay home from the office, enjoy the company of our loved ones, and pay tribute to the incredible work people throughout this country do every day. Many in our communities won’t even be resting from work today – the bus drivers, the janitors, the supermarket cashiers, and many others. Today is for them, and for you, and for everyone who works so hard to keep this country going.

Here are 10 amazing quotes on the virtue of work and the real meaning of labor:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

~Confucius

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Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

~Theodore Roosevelt

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All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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All things are difficult before they are easy.

~Thomas Fuller

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Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.

~Albert Camus

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Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

~Rumi

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The only way to enjoy anything in this life is to earn it first.

~Ginger Rogers

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To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.

~Pearl S. Buck

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No one can arrive from being talented alone, work transforms talent into genius.

~Anna Pavlova

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The greatest teacher I know is the job itself.

~James Cash Penney

New Motherhood: 5 Ways to Thrive in the Postpartum Period

Vanessa's Sunshine!!! Emilía.

By Zoe Etkin

In America we desperately need to let go of “super mom” syndrome. The expectation that women should be back to work, back in shape, and somehow managing everything else, in 6 weeks or less is just not a realistic portrait of new motherhood. I propose a new way, well, an old way, really, of viewing the postpartum period. One that honors the mother just as she is in her unique journey. The number one issue is the length of maternity leave in this country—6 weeks doesn’t cut it. But I won’t go down that rabbit hole, as government reform is what is required to make that change possible. There are, however, things we can do, as new mothers, and as those who support new mothers, to make the postpartum period less stressful and more enjoyable.

  1. Enlist family and friends for support, but set clear boundaries. Moms: give your friends (family too) specific hours that they should visit. Make it brief—2 hours tops—enough time for them to throw in some laundry, grab you a snack, and hold the baby while you shower. Friends/family: When you visit a new mom, focus your attention on her. Often people get wrapped up in the excitement of the new baby (totally understandable—babies are amazing), but at the exclusion of the mother. Let her know what a good job she is doing, then moon over the baby when she’s taking a little “me time.”
  2. Part of recovering from your birth, and producing milk to feed your baby, is maintaining good nutrition. Sitting down to eat a full meal is often not possible for new moms, so it’s important to have healthy snacks and water available at all times. Simple snacks I recommend are avocadoes, almonds, eggs, trail mix, fruit, and smoothies. Preparing meals before the baby comes is a great idea too. Prep a few homemade veggie lasagnas, soups, and other easily reheated meals for the first weeks home with baby. You’ll probably be offered meals from friends and family as well. Streamline that process by choosing someone to set up a Meal Train for you. This website allows you to state food preferences, times you’d like food delivered, and if they are to just drop it off (rather than come in). Fresh meals at your doorstep are such a blessing to families with newborns.
  3. Diapering/Nursing Stations: If you have a larger home, particularly multi-level, you don’t want to be trekking up and down the stairs to change baby’s diaper, or feel tethered to one spot for nursing. Purchase a few small baskets and stock them with water, nuts, diapers, nursing pads, burp cloths, a clean onesie, wipes and nipple/butt cream. Place one basket by your bed, one in baby’s room, and one in the living room/where ever else you’ll be nursing. I highly recommend these to women who’ve had surgical births, as stairs can be uncomfortable to navigate during recovery.
  4. Hire a postpartum doula. No really, I’m not just plugging my own work! What we do as postpartum doulas is focus on the mother’s needs, emotional and physical, assist with breastfeeding, give newborn care instruction, watch siblings, perform light household maintenance, and provide resources and referrals, among other things. With many new mothers’ partners away at work, the doula can provide relief, support, and encouragement. Our hearts are so open as doulas, we absolutely love watching our clients grow into confident, amazing parents. We’re there to support the partners as well, and the siblings, making sure the household is running smoothly, but our number one and two priorities are mother and baby.
  5. This is for you, mama: make time to take care of yourself. I know it seems impossible with a newborn, but schedule it into your day. When your friend, relative, postpartum doula comes over, make sure one thing they do is hold baby while you nap, exercise, eat, shower, meditate, or whatever else feels good to you. You’re not super woman, and we need to stop making our mamas feel like they need to be. It’s okay to be exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed. It’s also okay to accept help when it’s offered, and ask for it when you need it. We’re a society of hard workers, but we must balance that work with self-care.

Finally, set up your postpartum support system prenatally, making the transition into new motherhood more easeful. Take the journey one day at a time. It will get easier. Your baby is only this small for a short part of her entire life. You are doing an amazing job, right where you are in this moment.

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76773_582146197395_8154608_nZoe Etkin is an LA-based CAPPA trained birth and postpartum doula, poet, and teacher. She earned her MFA in Writing from CalArts, where she earned the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts. She is the editor of Red Sky: A Literary Journal, and her own poetry can be found in many print and web publications. She is committed to educating and empowering women, supporting families, and promoting good writing.

 

Photo credit: David Terrazas

Heart Disease and Pregnancy: Mom Dies, Delivers Baby, and Then Comes Back to Life

A miracle if we ever heard one: Erica Nigrelli, a high school English teacher, collapsed inside her classroom at 36 weeks pregnant. A school nurse, assistant, and athletic teacher quickly began CPR and used a defibrillator to restart Nigrelli’s heartbeat. She was rushed to the hospital with her husband – a fellow teacher – at her side, and her baby was delivered by emergency cesarean. But Erica was essentially dead; there was no heartbeat.

Watch this video to hear how both mom and baby ended up surviving this horrible incident, largely thanks to the three heroes who jumped to Erica’s aid:

Erica had an undetected heart defect that caused her to collapse at 36 weeks. Though we don’t know exactly the condition Erica suffered from, there are several things to note about heart conditions during pregnancy.

According to Heart cardiology journal, congenital heart disease is the most common heart defect, with roughly 1% of newborns diagnosed with this condition. Thanks to modern methods in cardiac surgery, more infants than ever  – over 90% – survive to adulthood. There is a population of at least 1 million adults in the United States living with congenital heart disease. Due to the dangers of this disorder, many patients are advised against pregnancy, altogether, though many are able to carry babies to term. Consider, though, that pregnancy already entails increased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and increased blood volume – all of which can put strain on the heart and exacerbate existing conditions. The challenge isn’t necessarily insurmountable, but it is definitely something to discuss with doctors and partners.

What can you do to minimize the risk?

  • Schedule an appointment with a cardiologist before conceiving (or early in your pregnancy so that you’ll know what you’re dealing with)
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Minimize stress as much as possible
  • Pay attention to any warning signs – shortness of breath, fainting, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, bloody coughing
  • Adequately prepare for labor, which might include planning to deliver at a birth center that specializes high-risk pregnancy, temporarily moving or staying closer to your place of delivery (to minimize labor stress), and hiring a doula for extra support

Do you have any experience with heart defects and pregnancy? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Related Articles:

The Truth About Medications during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Pain – The Aspects of Motherhood No One Told Us About

Positive Birthing: 5 Practical Steps to Optimize a Joyful Birth Experience

Positive Birthing: 5 Practical Steps to Optimize a Joyful Birth Experience

GeborgenheitBy Ana Paula Markel

In this day and age of media and busy schedules, first time parents are bombarded with images and articles about childbirth. It becomes very hard for one to prepare for the birth of a baby without images on TV that most of the time portray the birthing process as either medieval torture or ridiculous comedy.

The United States has one of the highest induction rates, in some hospital nearly 50% of women do not go into labor on their own, and with that a very high epidural rate and cesarean rate (approximately 34% in the US); more than double of what the World Health Organization recommends (10-15% in developed countries). And that is not even the worst. Not only are the cesarean rates high but our NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) are full, so whatever we are doing here… it is NOT working.

Luckily, not all media is bad, and women are learning that the childbirth movement is a human rights issue. Women do have the right to:

  1. Be treated with respect
  2. Be informed with evidence about their care in labor and in postpartum

Women are finally understanding that birth belongs to them and their families. Childbirth is not a medical event. A woman is never healthier than when she is pregnant. And yes, of course complications could arise, but that is when appropriate medical or midwifery care becomes important, mostly if the mother and her caregiver have an open, honest, and clear relationship.

Here are some of 5 things a woman can do to optimize her chances of having a joyful experience:

1) Choose your care provider carefully.

A midwife or a doctor are ultimately the ones who will make the medical decisions regarding a woman’s care during labor. They are the ones that sign the birth certificate and are in charge of the well being of the mother and baby. Research the best care provider for you, the one that matches your philosophies about the birth process. Some care providers have a very paternalistic relationship with their patients, and that is not wrong or bad if you want someone who will take charge of the experience and make decisions for you…

I do have to say that as a working doula, that is definitely not where the majority of women are these days. Women want to have a voice and say in their care, so hiring a provider who listens to your needs, respects your views, and explain things in terms you can understand will definitely impact how you feel about your experience.

Ask potential care providers how much time they spend with women in prenatal visits, how they view women’s position in making decisions for their care and birth, and mostly if they enjoy attending births even if in the middle of the night, on weekends and holidays. Share your views on childbirth and note how they respond, not only what they respond. Do they seem excited by your questions? or annoyed? Are they defensive or appreciating the dialogue. Ask your friends, ask women on random pregnancy lists and lastly, ask the doulas in your community. Doulas know all and tell all, which brings us to number 2…

2) Hire a doula.

Evidence is clear that doulas have an immense impact on the woman’s experience of her birth. Studies have shown that the presence of a doula (professional labor support and information) will decrease cesarean rates, induction rates, and medical interventions.

But mostly, doulas help improve birth satisfaction by asking mothers what they want and listening to them. Doulas are also incredible facilitators and mediators of conversations between the woman, her family, and her medical team. They do not make decisions for clients or they speak for the woman, but they certainly inform women of pros and cons and risks and benefits of every possible option, allowing the mother and her partner to make informed and conscious decisions. Doulas are supportive of the woman and her wishes regardless of whether she chooses medications or medical procedures or not. Doulas do not judge. They inform, support and mostly listen.

3) Choose your birth nest wisely.

Humans are cute and fancy mammals because we can think and that is fabulous… until we go into labor. Other mammals seem to have shorter and less complicated birth than ours and mostly because they do not think, but rather act on instincts. In order for a woman to allow this primal self to come out she needs to feel SAFE. Mammalian birth is all about safety. Women birth better where they feel safe – and that is why hospital birth is not for everybody and homebirth is not for everybody.

A woman needs to consider what does she need in order to feel safe? Quietness, prayer, people she trusts around her, equipment, skilled professionals, an OR next door? Regardless of what her answers are, they do not mean anything if the place she is planning to birth does not offer that. Most women these days are somewhere in between – they want freedom to move and cope with labor and reassurance that the baby is coping well with labor. That is common sense. A simple hospital tour may answer your questions, but asking the community is vital for you to be certain your birthing location is just right for you.

4) Create a sense of community.

Find a supportive community that trust birth, that listens to and honors your wishes. Think about our ancestors, regardless of where we come from. Women have always surrounded themselves with a village of support. Aunts, grandmothers, cousins, neighbors. In our modern lives we are focused on tasks, schedules, and work. Pregnancy is a time to reclaim your village, to connect with other women who are going through similar situations and the ones who have gone before us. Birth is a right of passage, and even big city, evolved, accomplished professionals need the support of their community

5) Practice flexibility. There is a lot we can plan about birth, but there is a lot we cannot. One of the most beautiful things about birth is that we do not control it. We can’t control nature, we respect it, protect it and allow it to amuse us. It is the same with birth. Every child comes with a unique story that will ultimately equip parents with tools that they acquire in labor.

And lastly, enjoy yourself. Take time to do research, read evidence based information but do not let this process consume you as if birth was a college course. Childbirth is a very simple process, by hiring a team and place you trust you will find time to enjoy this unique and special time in your life.

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AnaPaulaOriginally from Brazil, Ana Paula Markel is a childbirth educator, a certified doula with DONA (a leading doula organization), a DONA-approved birth doula trainer, and a certified childbirth educator through ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association). She is the founder of Bini Birth, a center in Los Angeles dedicated to childbirth education classes and workshops, doula training workshops, parenting
classes, doula referrals, and green pregnancy retail. Ana Paula created Bini to fulfill her life’s mission to comfort and spread evidence based information and joy about the birth and parenting process. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and four healthy, happy, and vibrant kids.

Happy May Day! 10 Funny Ways to Celebrate the First of May

Elmenhorster MaibaumAh, the first of May. Late spring, maypoles, dancing, and merriment. A remnant, perhaps, of ancient pagan summer festivities, still observed by many around the world as the holiday Beltane, May Day gives us a chance to rekindle that childhood fervor for sunshine and play.

As was immortalized in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “The Maypole of Merry Mount,” many communities around the globe will be celebrating May Day as they have for decade – by dancing with ribbons around the maypole, crowing a May queen, and decorating their homes with leaves and flowers. For others, this day commemorates the efforts of a century-and-a-half long international labor movement that has fought tirelessly to reduce workers’ hours and increase wages. The combination of bloody labor protests and whimsical summer dances makes May Day at once a complex, significant, and still very relevant holiday.

To connect with that long and fascinating history, here are 10 unique ways you can observe May Day this year:

  1. Beltane, the original holiday May Day derives from, translates as “Day of Fire.” So light some candles, build a bonfire, dance around a flaming cauldron, or something along those lines to tap into the fiery roots of this holiday. (Just be sure to have plenty of water and a fire resistant blanket handy.)
  2. It’s a summer holiday, after all, so why not pretend the season’s truly here already and have a barbeque or a beach day this weekend? So what if it’s still snowing where you live? (Sorry Minneapolis…)
  3. If you’re more intrigued by the labor side of May Day’s history, then take the opportunity today to stand up to your boss. Never get that full hour of lunch? Dying to practice casual Fridays?
  4. May Day is actually called “Garland Day” in some parts of Britain…Connect with your inner child and pick some flowers and grasses for a homemade garland! Make a daisy chain! For the lazy ones out there, tuck a flower behind your ear and call it a day.
  5. If you don’t have a maypole at the ready to dance around, pick the first street sign or telephone pole you see and have a Singing in the Rain moment.
  6. In Central Europe and Scandinavia May Day is called “Walpurgis Night” in honor of an English-born nun who was said to have a knack for curing illnesses. So go hang with some nuns today, perhaps?
  7. For a tamer celebration, enjoy the bounty of spring and summer with a big feast of delicious, local foods.
  8. Some report a common May Day superstition that washing your face in May dew makes your skin beautiful and youthful. As city dwellers we’re not even sure what “May dew” looks like, but if you try it let us know how it goes.
  9. The day’s significance to the labor movement makes this holiday particularly revered in socialist and communist circles. So when you get home from work today, enjoy a cup of tea over your copy of Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
  10. As a holiday that, originally, was probably intended to celebrate the lengthening days, warming weather, and increasing fertility of the fields, there is perhaps no better way to enjoy the first of May than to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Go for a walk, cook a meal, have a cuddle, and enjoy the summer ahead!

 

Photo credit: Flickr

Can Birth Be a Spiritual Experience?

Pain, bloating, and nausea aside, birth can be a truly spiritual experience. For those who have witnessed the phenomenon, or been present in the precious moments after, the experience may rank in the holiest, most magical moments of their lives. Sure, for some it may include fear, anxiety, pain and adrenaline, but the cry of new life can usually dispel even the sharpest of concerns.

In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores the spiritual sides to birthing, from fertility rituals, to belly dancing, to placenta burial. With fertility rites and deities dating back to ancient times, reproduction has likely played a prominent role in religious traditions throughout human history.

Before the wisdom of midwives and modern science became the mainstream, pregnancy and birth were nothing short of miracles, explained only by the mystery of the universe. This same mystery made the sun rise, the rain fall, and the earth bear food to sustain life. But even knowing how the sperm fertilizes the egg, the fetus grows, and eventually the cervix dilates and the baby is born, does it change the magical quality of birth?

Harshitha...my angel..i love you...Many mothers, partners, midwives and other birth workers speak of the sacred atmosphere of the birthing room. For an unmedicated mother, the high levels of oxytocin and endorphins naturally secreted during labor can induce an almost ecstatic high (evolutionarily crafted, of course, to help her withstand the strain of contractions.) And for all in the room, regardless of medical intervention, witnessing a tiny human where previously there was only a big belly…well it’s something you just have to experience.

It is no wonder people have developed such elaborate rituals surrounding birth. Gotham describes some particularly interesting ones in the episode. Did you know belly dancing originated as a method for women to ease the pain of labor? That’s right, it wasn’t intended to be a sexy dance women do in front of men… Kind of puts things into perspective. And cultures around the world find fascinating uses for the placenta, or “afterbirth”, believed by many to hold both spiritual and nutritional properties. Some bury the placenta with a fruit tree, while others grind it up and put it in capsules as post-labor supplements for the mother. Do you know what your parents did with your placenta?

They don’t call it “the miracle of life” for nothing, and clichéd at it may sound, we heartily agree with the sentiment. The human body can do some extraordinary things, and birth and reproduction certainly rank at the top of the list.

Was your child’s birth a holy experience? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more “Holy Facts” every Monday!

Pregnancy, Birth and Babies: 5 Articles We Love

We love babies. And women. And women who have babies. Here are some articles that touch on several aspects of pregnancy and birthing. Some stories, some tips, and a video that will melt your heart. Enjoy!

Imagine if one day all types of female bodies – including the pregnant ones – were respected enough to be featured regularly in the fashion world?

Raffaella Fico Pregnant On The Runway: Empowering Move or Publicity Stunt? (Blisstree)

Here are some pregnancy tips – take from them what you will. We’d add: do what feels right and be compassionate with yourself!

Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby: 6 Ways to Stay Strong & Sane During Pregnancy (MindBodyGreen)

This volleyball player competed in the Olympics while she was five weeks pregnant. She won. And now she’s 11 weeks pregnant. True story.

Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings was Pregnant During Olympics. Still Beat Everyone (Yahoo! Shine)

Ina May Gaskin, the country’s leading midwife, argues that a woman’s choice goes far beyond the right to choose an abortion or not. Many have to fight for their right to labor, too.

When Delivering an Infant, Women Deserve Choice (Care2)

And for some extra baby love, watch this video. Please. You won’t regret it.

Life: Captured in 5 Minutes (Positively Positive)

Music for a Spiritual Birth

Music, like birth, is an enigma. Neuroscientists can’t pin down a specific part of the brain that is dedicated to music. Music moves like an apparition through our brain, lighting up neural circuits here, disappearing, then reappearing elsewhere to work its magic. Similarly, we can’t seem to come up with a scientific way to predict how a birth will unfold. Part of the miracle of childbirth is that it is always a surprise. Like childbirth, music’s impact is far-reaching. Music touches our physical bodies, stirs our emotions, and awakens our spirits. Birth and music are deeply connected by their ability to transform us long after their tunes have been played.

I’ve been a student of music for most of my life, and when I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was to create a playlist for my iPod. It was the only way I could express the enormous joy, fear, and anticipation I felt. Words fell short, but music offered a means to express the complex brew of emotions stirring within. The songs I chose were jubilant (“To Zion,” by Lauryn Hill), contemplative (“Swirling Beyond Belief,” by Dean Evenson), and profound (“Landslide,” as performed by Fleetwood Mac).

About midway through the pregnancy, I began working on my labor playlist, as I was sure that music would play an important role in Ayla’s home birth. I worked at it for months, listening to my old favorites as well as following others’ recommendations into undiscovered musical territory, and eventually settled on a soundscape befitting an experience as profound as childbirth. I chose otherworldly instruments—singing bowls, harmonium, flutes—and female singers with ethereal voices: Snatam Kaur, Morgan Doctor, Hayley Westenra. During labor, each song on the playlist helped me release my grasp on the outside world so I could listen to my body and tune in to my daughter’s spirit. Music led me within, to the place where I had the strength and courage to birth my daughter, and myself as a new mother. (See sidebar: “Taz’s Labor Playlist.”)

Scientific research is divided on the topic of music and childbirth. The introduction of music into childbirth education is believed to prepare mothers and fathers for childbirth, but so far the effects are considered not quantitative but qualitative—that is, unmeasurable. (See “References” for studies by Caryl Ann Browning and M. E. Clark et al.) Similarly, researchers who have studied the use of music during childbirth overwhelmingly agree that music offers effective relief of pain and stress, but the devices used to record changes in a woman’s heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs have produced statistically insignificant data. Do we need better science and more precise measurement tools? Or are we to conclude that music, like childbirth, can’t be precisely measured by science?

As a childbirth educator, I’ve coached women before, during, and after childbirth. I have a wealth of anecdotal evidence demonstrating that music can have a powerful and positive effect on childbirth. One of my clients, Sarah, who had chosen to birth in a hospital but wanted a natural childbirth, had, on the advice of her doula, packed in her hospital bag an iPod filled with calming music. She was “overdue” and was therefore advised to stay at the hospital and receive prostaglandin treatments to ripen her cervix. During the first two treatments, she nervously chatted on the phone with friends, paced the hospital corridors, and took short walks with her husband. Feeling frustrated that the drugs weren’t working, she turned to her iPod for help. After Sarah had listened to violin concertos for several hours, she spontaneously dilated to four centimeters. While the prostaglandins certainly played a role in advancing labor, Sarah felt that they worked better when she was more relaxed and psychologically open to going into labor. In this regard, music was as important to Sarah as the drugs.

Another of my clients, Willa, explained that listening to the guttural chanting of Tibetan monks during childbirth gave her permission to make her own primal sounds. Nancy, who gave birth last month, found that music helped her to quickly establish a rhythm for managing each surge or contraction. Even after a distracting cab ride, hearing music helped Nancy reestablish her laboring rhythm in the new environment of a hospital labor room.

Most childbirth practitioners have had similar experiences with their clients. Music can calm a woman’s nerves during an uneasy pregnancy. It can help soothe her fears when the first contractions hit. It can coax her into labor at moments when drugs and words fail. Even during the transition phase, when the outside world has largely dissolved and she is exclusively focused on birthing, music can slip through the cracks in her consciousness and quietly allay her deepest fears.

My own experience with laboring women echoes the findings of a small body of research that I find fascinating: the use of music during the postpartum phase. I, too, have discovered countless ways in which music can help ease the transition to motherhood. In my own life, music helped me manage physical pain, calm my child and myself, and establish my own rhythm of parenting.

There were several scenarios in which music helped me cross a difficult threshold. The first occurred in the first weeks of my daughter’s life. There were countless moments when she was unsoothable: Diaper changes, nursing, bouncing or walking in a sling—nothing offered comfort. Each time one of my calming techniques failed, I grew more impatient. Finally, in tears, I put aside my checklist of baby-soothing techniques. I breathed deeply, then spontaneously began to sing. I chanted “Om.” I sang “Kum Ba Yah.” I hummed Vivaldi’s Spring concerto. I felt myself relax. And just as in the in-flight oxygen-mask scenario—first you put on your own mask, then you put a mask on your child—I sang myself into a state of calm in which I was capable of soothing my newborn.

Another personal experience with music therapy unfolded as I suffered through a prolonged period of blocked milk ducts. Listening to music while nursing helped me transcend the physical pain and focus instead on the life-giving exchange taking place. When I nursed without music, I found myself oscillating between crying from the pain and worrying that I couldn’t breastfeed. Music helped me rise above my pain and my fears to a place where I could envision my ducts slowly opening. For the first 12 weeks of Ayla’s life, I used one hand to cup her head in nursing position and the other to hold the remote control for the stereo. When the music flowed, so did my milk.

A third experiment began once Ayla had begun to settle as a baby and I had emerged from the bliss bubble of new motherhood. The calls of the outside world were urgent—friends wanting to catch up, unanswered e-mails, grant proposals waiting to be written—and distracted me from mothering Ayla. On some days, instead of mothering Ayla, I felt as if I were merely managing her with the aid of such devices as her bouncy chair. When I felt myself drift away from her, music helped bring me back. African folk songs, Celtic lullabies, and the gentle sounds of Zen flutes and waterfalls became the soundtrack to our playtime. Music helped me tune in to my daughter rather than being distracted by the noise of everyday life.

Oliver Sacks has published scientific papers and popular articles and books about music and the brain. In his book Musicophilia, he writes of music’s capacity to unlock our creativity and intuition. Although I aspire to parent intuitively, as a thinking person, I’m susceptible to the seductive “answers” offered by parenting books. Here again, I’ve found that music is an important enabler. When Ayla’s behavior baffles me and I’m not sure what to do, music helps set the tone for intuitive exploration. With a soothing tune playing in the background, I try this, then that, without succumbing to anger or frustration. Eventually, I do something that works. My daughter ceases to make dissonant sounds. She laughs. My heart sings with joy. And in this way, we make music together.


TAZ’S LABOR PLAYLIST

Snatam Kaur: “Ek Ong Kaar,” from Shanti
Morgan Doctor: “Drolma-La,” from Is This Home
Dean Evenson: “Swirling Beyond Belief,” from Healing Waters
Krishna Das: “Om Namah Shivaya,” from Heart Full of Soul
Caitlin: “Om Mani Padme Hum,” from Sacred Mantras
Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté: In the Heart of the Moon
Various Artists: Dream Therapy
SoundScapes: River


TAZ’S BREASTFEEDING PLAYLIST

Michael Maxwell: The Elegance of Pachelbel
Kikujiro: Original Soundtrack (Various Artists)
Putumayo Presents: French Café
Ry Cooder & V. M. Bhatt: A Meeting by the River
Everything But the Girl: Amplified Heart
Ismael Lo: Iso

TAZ’S POSTPARTUM PLAYLIST
Putumayo Presents: Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs
Louis Armstrong: The Best of the Decca Years
Les Nubians: Princesses Nubiennes
Dean Evenson: Healing Waters
Van Morrison: Days Like This
Gotan Project: La Revancha del Tango

 

REFERENCES
    Caryl Ann Browning, BEd, BMusTh, MTA, CD (DONA), “Using Music During Childbirth,” Birth 27, no. 4 (December 2000): 272–276.
    M. E. Clark, R. R. McCorkle, and S. B. Williams, “Music Therapy-assisted Labor and Delivery,” Journal of Music Therapy 18, no. 2 (Summer 1981): 88–100.
    Lynn Durham, RN, and Mike Collins, EHD, “The Effect of Music as a Conditioning Aid in Prepared Childbirth Education,” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing 15, no. 3 (May 1986): 203–274.
    Sharon L. Olson, RN, PhD, “Bedside Musical Care: Applications in Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Neonatal Care,” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing 27, no. 5 (September 1998): 569–575.
    Elizabeth A. Geden, PhD, RN et al., “Effects of Music and Imagery on Physiologic and Self-Report of Analogued Labor Pain,” Nursing Research 38, no. 1 (January–February 1989): 37–41.
    Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia (New York: Vintage, 2008).

Taz Tagore is a mother to Ayla (17 months); the founder of the Reciprocity Foundation, an award-winning nonprofit; and author of a music and mothering blog, “Labor of Love”.  This article was originally published in Mothering magazine.

Image by LeePhotos

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