The 4th Trimester/Postpartum period is an important time that our culture does not prepare us for. In our society of go, go, go we are not usually patient enough to do it right. Most childbirth classes only touch on the postpartum period, but really, there needs to be a whole class on it. Postpartum is an important time of healing and transition, of slowing down and accepting. The ultimate goal is that during postpartum the mother gets to rest as much as possible, bonds with her baby and doesn’t have to worry about dishes and laundry. We want mothers to come out of the postpartum transition healthy and healed.Read More
1. Move Your Body
It is no surprise that exercise is important for pregnancy. There are SO many benefits to moving your body during pregnancy. Here are just a few: Increased energy, better sleep, decreased aches and pains, increased stamina for birth (you will need it!), healthier baby, lower chance of getting Gestational Diabetes, increased circulation (say bye, bye to swollen feet!); some studies even show that women who exercise regularly tend to have children who are more active as they grow up, how crazy is that!?
So yes, exercise is good for your body but it is also great for your mental health; and pregnancy can be stressful, as is any time of transition and change. All you have to do, is MOVE YOUR BODY! Adjust your day so you get more movement, take time to walk, do yoga, swim, get outdoors if you can all of these things will benefit both your physical and mental health. Don’t stress about how, or how much you need to move, just move more.
If you can, practicing pregnancy specific workouts is even more beneficial, as a good program/instructor will address all the specific pregnancy aches and pains, the movements are more specific and they can help position baby for an easier labor (optimal fetal positioning), prep your pelvic floor for pregnancy, birth and postpartum (nope, not with kegels either!), and they prepare you mentally for birth and motherhood. There are so many options, do what connects most with you, but make sure the instructor is education in pregnancy and movement. Prenatal Yoga is obviously my favorite, because it is something anyone can do (I promise!).
2. Learn + Practice a Relaxation Technique
I recommend that as soon as you become pregnant you start researching different methods. Because usually during that first trimester you are not really working out due to low energy, nausea and all that fun stuff, you have the time to get started early. Instead of binging that next episode on Netflix, you can listen to some meditation’s or practice a breathing technique for 10 minutes.
But why? Because once you find the tools that work for you, you will use them forever (who doesn’t need/want to reduce stress?) and you will for sure use them for birth! The more you practice, the easier is it to use the tools in your tool kit to help relax, breathe and get through whatever it is that you are navigating. As a mom of 2, I use relaxation techniques daily!
3. Educate Yourself (knowledge is power)
Okay, first I want to say, there is a rabbit hole here I don’t want anyone to fall down. That 2am fell down the internet hole researching heartburn and now I am super stressed (and tired) because of all the things I read. Spoiler alert! Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
I recommend that you read maybe 2 books on birth, a book on postpartum and take all the classes you can, talk to other women who you trust and are not going to sugar coat it or tell you horror stories.
If you do not know your options, you do not have any.My wish is that all women are educated and knowledgeable about birth, postpartum and motherhood. Because when we first get pregnant, most of us know absolutely nothing (therefore it can feel terrifying and overwhelming), it is our job to educate ourselves, no one else will do it for us.
4. Find Supportive Care Providers
This one is hard, and you have to educate yourself so you know what questions to ask. But first and foremost you need to feel comfortable and trust your care provider. They should spend time with you, listen to your questions, be compassionate, understanding and honest. If not, find someone else! Sometimes that takes some work, and a lot of time talking to your insurance company (not fun, I know). But it is SOOOOOO important that you are treated with respect by your care providers. How you are treated during pregnancy and birth will have the biggest impact on your experience.
5. Find Community
This one is why I created Unfold Yoga, when I was pregnant with my first in 2010 it was so isolating, none of my friends had kids yet, and it was hard to even find a prenatal yoga class. Now I see how much of an impact the community has on our clients, many of these women become friends in pregnancy and continue their friendship after birth and their kids grow up together!
When you take your childbirth classes, talk and connect to the other mamas, take prenatal specific movement classes, connect to other random pregnant women you run into at the coffee shop. We are all in this together, and we are all looking for community and connection. It is so nice to hear that other women are experiencing the same things that you are, and to know that you are not alone. If you cannot find community in person, online communities are the next best option. Find a community of moms via Facebook groups, online fitness programs, or start your own! You won’t regret it.
By doing these 5 things, you are on the way to empowering yourself to have an empowering pregnancy and birth experience.
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April is a mom of 2 girls, and the owner and founder of Unfold Yoga. She has been teaching prenatal yoga since 2011, and is very active in the birth world, working as a birth doula, childbirth educator, placenta encapsulation specialist and a prenatal yoga teacher trainer. She created the Unfold Mama Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training in 2016. April is very passionate about supporting, empowering and creating community for women through the childbearing year and beyond.
During pregnancy, we spend so much time focusing on the pregnancy and preparing for birth (as we should!) that we tend to forget to plan for postpartum. Planning for the postpartum period is a must. Learning about what to expect during this time and how to be best prepared for postpartum is essential in having a smooth (as smooth as it can be) transition into postpartum. Healing takes time, and there are some things that can help you as you move through the healing journey of postpartum. One of those things is a thoughtfully put together postpartum care kit. Below is a list of some of things you can put in your kit.
Pads (variety of sizes)
Sitz Bath (disposable)
Sitz Bath Herbs (muslin bag)
Lansinoh Hydrogel pads
Large underwear (at least 3 pairs, once size larger)
Tucks Witch Hazel Pads (for hemorrhoids)
Natural Calm Magnesium (or other stool softener)
Dermoplast Pain Relief Spray
What you need to make pad-cicles:
2 large zip lock bag freezer bags
This is just a snippet of what you need to prepare for postpartum, please make sure you do your research and prepare. The more your prepare the easier the transition will be. We have a class all about preparing for postpartum at Unfold AND there is a wonderful resource in: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality Kimberly Ann Johnson
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It was Saturday March 22nd. I was 40 weeks 5 days. If baby didn’t arrive by Monday the doctor told me I would start daily fetal monitoring checks. The last prenatal appointment indicated that I was dilated 3.5-4 cm. I was really wishing her to come soon to avoid medical interventions.
I woke up that morning feeling a little different. Everyone always says when you’re in labor you will know it. I wondered if this was going to be the day but then I had been playing that game all week and she still wasn’t here! I had what felt like indigestion pains most of the day. We went out for Indian food that evening and returned home at about 8pm. I had that feeling as if I had started my period and found that I was bleeding. This caused me to worry so I called my doula, Cathy, and Labor & Delivery to see if it was normal. I was told it was most likely the start of active labor but that if became heavier I should head to the hospital. It turned into light spotting.
At about 9pm, sporadic pressure waves began. We had agreed Freddy would get some sleep and I would wake him once I needed his help to get through them. I tried sleeping a bit myself but by 12am the waves were too strong to sleep through. My thoughts at this point consisted mostly of self-doubt about my ability to do this without medication, as I had wanted, as the pain was so intense I only imagined what it would get like later. I stopped myself from looking ahead and forced myself to stay in the moment, one pressure wave at a time.
At 3:30am Freddy called Cathy, our doula, to update her. I remember telling her “I don't feel like anything is working anymore” to help with the pain. She suggested some comfort measures like getting in the shower and asked me to call back when I wanted her to come over. In hindsight that should’ve been my cue to ask her to come, an indicator of how far along I really was in. An hour later we called her to join us. The waves were coming so close together it felt almost impossible to time them on the app we had downloaded. Once she arrived, I could no longer bear them, as there was no pause in between them. I even felt the urge to start pushing. I felt like vomiting. I was internally panicking that I had labored too long and wouldn’t make it to the hospital. I told her and Freddy that it was time to go. I dreaded the car ride. Thankfully, I managed to tune into the hypnobabies tracks that I had been listening to throughout my pregnancy, breathe and “zone out” until we made it to the hospital.
Upon arriving to the hospital and getting checked around 6am, I was found to be 10 cm dilated. What a relief! However, knowing I had labored that much at home and cut it very close was also a bit scary. We were immediately taken to a labor and delivery room to begin pushing. That is when things stalled for a while. It was becoming very mentally and emotionally difficult. Reminding myself and hearing from Freddy and Cathy that every wave, every push would get me closer to meeting Salma was huge encouragement. A nurse suggested I labor on the ball for a while and that’s when things got moving again. Those final moments were very intense. The feeling I had when Salma came out and I grabbed her is indescribable. I remember Freddy had a couple of tears running down his face which was one of the few times I’d ever seen him cry. To have experienced this with him and to be holding our daughter was priceless.
I feel so fortunate that we had this empowering, positive birth. I am extremely proud of what my body was capable of doing and of the mental strength I had to get through it. I understand the circumstances of this birth came together like a perfect storm to make it come true for me and not everyone has that experience. I don’t take any of it for granted. Salma Clarissa, born at 8:23am on March 23rd, 2014 was the best gift we could have ever asked for….until our next daughter :)
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Expectations of Childbirth:
Trust, Non-Attachment & Patience
Part of the fear many of us have about birth is the pain and the fear of the unknown. Most of us just know what we know from television and horrible stories people tell us.
There is an analogy that talks about how birth is a lot like a marathon:
They are both physical, and painful.
You have to keep focused on your end goal.
They require some serious physical and mental endurance.
There is medical staff on hand should you need it.
You may know the track, but the weather can always change on you.
Then the two begin to differ. We can prepare for childbirth, we can take all the classes, read all the books, exercise and create our perfect birth plan, yet things can take often unexpected routes.
Childbirth is 100% unpredictable. The best think we can do is educate ourselves and prepare the best we can. We must be flexible and as hippy as it may sound, simply trust the process; as women our bodies were built to do this. Birth may be 11 hours, birth may be 30 hours, we may have a natural birth, or we may have a cesarean birth. We want a healthy mom (a mom that feels like she made informed decisions and played her part) and a healthy baby.
Start to release any rigid ideas you may be holding onto about the birth process. Release fears and allow yourself to trust your body and trust the process. At the onset of labor, the best thing you can do is relax and let it happen. (Adrenaline slows labor). The more we practice non-attachment now the better experience we will have both in childbirth and in parenting. And any parent knows (and you will know soon enough), raising children is also a balance of trust, patience and non-attachment.
Who needs to take a class when we have the Internet? When we have read a few books? Maybe you are planning on getting an epidural or you trust your doctor to tell you what to do.
As a mom, a mom who became a birth professional because of my personal (less than ideal) birth experience, I am extremely passionate about educating women about childbirth. I have taken hours and hours of classes on pregnancy and childbirth; I am constantly reading and studying up on the most current issues and studies.
I think it is extremely important for mothers and couples to prepare for birth, to learn their options, to learn about the medications available to them, to learn about the procedures that their baby may endure during the labor process. As a parent, it is the first step to making informed decisions, decisions that not only effect mom but can also affect the baby. Here are my top 6 reasons to take a childbirth class.
The information you get from the educator is current and credible.
A good childbirth educator, is experienced, update to date and well versed on current studies. She can provide evidence-based information for you to go back to. So you can do your own research and decide what feels right for you.
You can ask questions that apply to your specific goals or situations.
Sure you can go to Google for this, but isn’t it easier getting an answer straight from a professional? Your instructor can usually also answer questions about your specific hospital or planned location for birth. And she can give you local resources.
Gets you and your birth coach on the same page.
We talk about a lot of things in childbirth classes that neither mom nor the birth coach may have known about, this creates a dialogue between you as you begin to plan your birth. This will provide your birth coach will tools and insight of how to best support you and your goals.
You get hands on practice.
We practice comfort measures and relaxation techniques. What is back a labor, and how can I help? Oh, I remember this from our class, counter pressure, lets try a double hip squeeze! Nothing beats hands on practice.
We learn about procedures, medications and other interventions.
Learn what else comes with the epidural (catheter, heart rate monitor, fetal monitoring, possibly pitocin…). That there is a 15% chance that your epidural will not numb you all the way. What is an internal fetal monitor and why would I need it? What if I need a c-section, what should I expect? Knowledge is power; it helps eliminate the fear of the unknown that childbirth tends to hold against us.
Your get to be around other pregnant women who are going through the same thing.
It is comforting to know you are not alone. Childbirth classes are great places to meet other moms who are going to have babies around the same age are yours.
Unfold Yoga offers a variety of childbirth education classes. Check our workshop schedule for the current dates. Don't have time to make to a class? All childbirth classes are also available on a one-on-one basis, around your schedule and at your home. Contact us for details.
It was a Saturday night and my older daughter was at grandmas , so my husband and I got Indian take out and headed to Target to get some last minute additions for her V-Day basket. While perusing Target some pretty good contractions hit. It was rather entertaining walking around Target + Sprouts having contractions, so of course my husband was cracking me up; I am pretty sure that we looked like crazy people. By the time we got home, they become mild; so I did some cleaning and headed to bed. Mild contractions continued throughout the evening, I mostly slept through them. They continued with consistency through the morning. At around 6:30am I started to time them, while the rest of the house quietly slept. At around 8am, I texted my amazing Midwife Lindsey to tell her that we might be having a Valentines Day Baby! *note: both of my children were born on the one date I would have preferred them not to be born on* They had just finished up at a birth, and would head over after they had some breakfast.
We eventually got up and started our day, luckily it was a lazy Sunday. Some other signs of labor started to kick in, but the contractions themselves began to spread out. We started to prep for the birth: blowing up the tub, calling my doula and good friend Michelle, and making plans for my daughter to be entertained. By the early afternoon the midwife and her assistant had arrived and my daughter was having being kept busy. The house was lively, my Dad even stopped by for a random visit (he did not know that we may be in labor). We all had lunch together while the midwife and her assistant took a walk and then took a much needed rest.
The afternoon continued with inconsistent contractions, in effort to get things moving we took lots of walks (It was a beautiful summerlike day), tried different positions, played with the rebozo, did inversions, did pelvic tilts that hurt like hell, took some nasty homeopathic remedies and anything else I could think of. But the house was too lively for birth to unfold. My amazing friend an acupuncturist Kristin paid me a visit to try and get things moving along. Shortly after her visit, around 5pm, everyone left, all the birth supplies littered the house, it was finally still and quiet; L was enjoying some time out with her grandparents and cousins (it was good she was out of the house, as she was a distraction to my being able to truly focus on the birth). When it comes to birth, the more people that are around the longer the birth will be (a watched pot never boils), now my husband and I were alone in a quiet, still space. It was just what I needed. (and I know this, but I would say being distracted sounded much better than birthing!).
After a long day of trying to get this moving, I tired, I decided to take a warm shower and rest. But of course, while in the shower some pretty intense pressure waves begin to hit. I made it quick and headed straight for bed, trying to rest up as best as possible between the contractions. In what seemed like just a few minutes, they were what I would call very intense. I was beginning to make deep throaty sounds to cope and keep my body relaxed. At a certain point it was too uncomfortable to lay down, it was uncomfortable to sit down, it was just uncomfortable. I started to cry (or whine really), “I cannot do this”. As I said the words, I knew deep down that I would be pushing this baby out pretty soon. "I can't do this" is usually a sure sign that things are getting challenging, and this phrase is usually uttered as a mama nears transition (the light at the end of the tunnel). I told my husband to call everyone.
There was a huge fear, stemming from my past birth exprience, that I was not capable of birthing my baby this way, how could I manage to handle these intense pressure waves for what could be hours and hours? I tried to breathe through my doubt, keeping my body as relaxed as possible. Deep, very deep down, I knew I could do this, but I was so unsure of myself. There was a lack of trust, in the process, and in my body.
Matt and Michelle filled up the tub, by the time I got in, the contractions were intense and the pressure was building and I felt frozen. All I could focus on was not holding my breath and keeping my body as relaxed as possible.
I continued to try my best to breathe through the doubt that I had about being able to birth my baby my way, the fear of being in labor for hours and hours and having to be transferred because I couldn’t hang, looming over me the whole time.
Shortly after I was submerged in the warmth of the tub, Lindsey came in the door, checked on baby E and gave me an IV (antibiotics for my GBS). The IV had barley finished, when the contraction hit that started involuntarily pushing my baby down. I looked straight at Lindsey, moaning through the wave that told her I was pushing, and that this sensation was f-ing intense. With a pop, my water broke, 10:18pm. “Where is Matt!?" I yelled, when I realized he was not in the room. He had ran outside to console my daughter as she begrudgingly was getting ready to head to Grandpa's house. My doula ran out to get him and told him that Elle needed to stay because it was just about time! (I irrationally thought I would be pushing for hours and hours and even initially refused to reach down and feel that my baby was SO close, I finally did, she was right there! That is motivation!).
With each wave, my baby made her way closer, the uncontrollable urge to push washed over me. I was terrified, I had to relinquish the doubt as well as any control I thought I had. Eventually, I got brave enough to reach down and feel her. She was right there! I can do this, I was doing it. I took a few more deep breaths to breathe her down and out. As her head emerged, I was able to pull her to my chest. What a feeling, we did it! We really did it! My oldest came in just in time to see her sister transition into this world at 10:38pm. She was ecstatic. She literally beamed with light and love as she checked out the newest addition to our family.
I smiled and sighed in relief. I overcame my doubt; doubt that was lingering from my first birth experience, a type of doubt and fear that I did not realize existed within me until I was actually in the throes of birthing. This birth helped me heal, and it also made me realize how strong I am. How strong we as women are, no matter what your birth looks like, it is some superhero type stuff. I gathered a wonderful birth team who supported me through this process and in the end I am forever changed by this experience. Birth, no matter what it looks like, is life changing. Motherhood, no matter if you are already a mother or not, is life changing. These are things we often do not understand until we have lived them, and words cannot do them justice. I embrace both of my births, and they make me better; a better mother, a better woman, a better teacher, a better doula. Birth shows us how strong and amazing we truly are, it is something that stays with us forever and is also part of our child’s story. It should feel empowering, it should feel like a team effort and we should feel completely supported by compassionate and caring professionals; that is what we all deserve. I am beyond excited to have these experiences to share in my teachings, as my two births were so very different. We are so freaking amazing mamas! You are so freaking amazing!!
Name: Thea Pueschel
Nickname: Miss Thea
Adopted Hometown: Los Angeles
Favorite Place: Southern Spain (Seville, Cardoba, Granada)
Favorite Color: Green
What’s your sign? Crab wood rabbit - Cancer
Most embarrassing moment: There are so many to choose from. When I was in my twenties I worked in a casino I was moving a food tray when my foot hit an above ground outlet I went flying, the food tray went flying. A bowl of soup flew off the tray and hit a customer in the leg. Fortunately, the soup was not hot, no one was injured. That is except for my ego. My boss at the time said to me that "working with you is like watching an old Buster Keaton film, you know something was going to be flying or falling but never know what. And always good for a laugh."
Most empowering moment: When I decided to take the leap into full time private practice as a hypnotherapist and yoga instructor. I had plotted and planned for 5 years to do so. I won my freedom 2 years ago this September. I saved and I built for those 5 years. Taking a leap toward your dream required much planning but it is worth it.
Fun fact about you: I've been a vegetarian since I was 7 years old. The only one in my family. I joke that my calling to teaching was a result of already being a vegetarian so it seemed like a good match and I already had a leg up. (I do not think you need to be a vegi head to practice yoga)
How do you define yoga? This is a very involved question. Because Yoga is so many things. If you ask me how I define asana, I would say it is the shape we put the body into. The word Yoga however to me translates into embodiment, union, bliss and actualization. I think that creating a definition of yoga is an extremely personal experience and outside of the general definition of yoke or union I think the definition can be many things for many people and all can be correct.
Why do you teach? A quick answer is that it is fun to share my love of yoga with others. The long answer is yoga is a powerful tool for transformation that can empower people as well as aid them on their healing journey. I think the greatest aspect of my work is when I get to see someone take the practice and make it their own or how their practice gives them power and the ability to stand up for themselves or take powerful leaps of faith within their lives because they are grounded.
What is your most memorable yoga moment? The first time I went back into camel I felt that my heart exploded with joy and bliss. Professionally, when I was at YogaJournalLIVE! in San Francisco in January and my teacher told me at the beginning of the first workshop (filled with primarily yoga teachers) that I was going to teach something, I wouldn't know what or when. Then I had to raise to the challenge. I know I am a operate within my comfort zone type of person, so every once in a while I need a nudge. I am so glad I did.
Thea teaches our Wednesday 5:30pm Core Flow Vinyasa and Saturday 10:30am Yoga Blend. She also teaches a variety of awesome workshops that are accessible to everyone and can help grow your practice tremendously!
Name: Isabelle Laski
Nick Name: Izzy or Iz
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
Favorite Place: At home with my hubby and my dog. Outside of home: It's a tie between San Diego, Boston, MA and Portland, OR
Favorite Color: Purple
What’s your sign? Capricorn
Most embarrassing moment? Accidentally sending a mass e-mail at work: it was an inside joke to a co-worker
Most empowering moment? When I first drove over 300 miles by myself.
Fun fact about you. I am a Star Wars Geek (and Game of Thrones and Walking Dead).
What is your favorite pastime (other than yoga)? Photography (for fun)
How do you define yoga? Yoga is a journey of going deeper than the surface; connecting your body, your mind and your soul.
Why do you teach? I teach because yoga has (and still is) doing wonders for me--it has helped me cope with stress, it has helped me learn about myself and my body and also, to accept things I cannot control; I know that there are so many people like me who are going through this. Yoga is a fantastic journey and amazing world that I hope more people can get into and incorporate it in their lives.
What is your favorite song to play in class? "Destiny" by Zero 7
What is your most memorable yoga moment? The first time I was able to do a headstand during my teacher training. I remember laughing from sheer joy and shock; everyone was cheering for me (the upside down view of everyone supporting me was pretty cool, too!)