Category Archives: childbirth

Walnut Brownie Energy Balls (with a Divine superfood twist-vegan/glutenfree)

From breastfeeding to errands and work schedules, it can feel overwhelming to prepare snacks at home that are high in nutrition and easy to eat on the go. When I was making this Walnut Brownie Energy Ball recipe, I wanted to create something that was easy to prepare and tasted like a treat without the sugar crash to get myself through my daily errands. With only three steps to make, these energy balls are quick to assemble and even easier to eat!

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With the bitterness of walnuts and richness of chocolate, the base of nut butter and dates provides a creamy texture for these energy balls. The recipe itself is very versatile depending on your pallet. Try playing with the amount of walnuts and coconut flakes if you want something with less bitterness. There is also an option to add sweetener to the recipe if your sweet tooth desires!

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You can also change-up the type of nut butter you use.  I used peanut butter when I made these but the possibilities are endless: cashew butter, pumpkin butter, or tahini.

I also wanted to try out Harmonic Arts new Divine Feminine Herbal Tonic Blend so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. With a rich amount of adaptogens and hormone regulators, the Divine feminine Blend is an opportunity to reset your body and create balance within the many cycles and systems of your body.

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As each person has different needs, the addition of this blend is not a required element of the Walnut Brownie Energy Ball recipe. If you are breastfeeding, you may be interested in adding Brewer’s Yeast to turn these into lactation energy balls, or maca if you want to stick to one herb.

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The key to a good energy ball is making something that is tasty, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Try exploring with this recipe as a guideline and create something that you’ll want to make again!

Walnut Brownie Energy Balls
½ cup chopped and soaked dates
¼ cup nut butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup hemp hearts
¼ cup coconut flakes
1 tsp Harmonic Arts Divine Feminine Blend *if desired
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

*¼ cup chocolate chips if desired
* 1-2 tbsp sweetener like honey or maple syrup if desired

Using a hand emulsifier, pulse dates and nut butter together until smooth (If using a food processor, pulse walnuts until they are a desired consistency first and remove. Continue to use food processor on pulse setting as to not over-mix the batter once all ingredients are added).

Add in remaining ingredients and fold together using a spatula. Taste batter and add sweetener if desired.

Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls using the palms of your hand. Roll in coconut or hemp flakes if desired.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze.

 

With Love, From Ficus.

http://www.ficusdoula.com

 

 

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Making Informed Decisions Before Your Birth

We’ve all heard the birth stories about the parents who goes in with their ideal birth plan and end up with a number of procedures that they felt were unnecessary. They might have thought I won’t have to have a c-birth because I have had a healthy pregnancy or I am going to birth at home because that was what I was able to do with my first child. There are a number of reasons why we don’t focus on the fact that birth can change paths so quickly but it is something that needs to be recognized.
Here in the Comox Valley, I am fortunate enough to be part of the Comox Valley Doulas– a collection of empowering birth advocates who get together once a month that have worked as Doulas amongst other titles within our community. Every time I walk away from a meeting, my mind races with many ideas of how I can integrate my training to be a better doula, how can I help families recognize their strengths, how can I open up their ability to make informed decisions during their birth?
And then the answers started to hit me: It starts with the power we have as individuals to make informed decisions outside of the critical moment. If I can help women understand many avenues of birth that they are not focusing on, will they feel the power of consent when it comes to procedures? Will they feel like they are making the best choice for themselves and their baby when they say “Yes” or “no” to something because they know what their medical care is talking about before hand? Can I help them take away the fears surrounding interventions before they may or may not be approached with them so they can keep their confidence as a birth warrior?
The answer: I know I can.As doulas, we cannot speak for you. We cannot replace your consent with our own and we cannot speak on your behalf. No matter how close we become during your prenatal care, it is a line we do not cross. We can ask you questions, we can help you look for answers, but in no way, shape or form can we put our voice where yours belongs. So what can we do? We can help you search for the answers to questions about interventions, inductions, tests and monitoring during your pregnancy so you are confident in your words if these situations come up. We do not doubt your abilities to create your birth wishes (we love those wishes) but in a world where birth is unpredictable– may that be because of hospital staff, stress levels, positioning of baby or even lack of sleep, it is so incredibly important to be able to speak confidently for your body and your baby.

So where does this all begin? The minute you find out your pregnant! Our minds swirl through ideas of morning sickness, when to tell people, when to have a baby shower, who is going to be at the birth, who is going to watch previous children, what will you eat and most importantly what kind of caregiver are you looking for.
The first step in your pregnancy is not only finding a medical caregiver (may that be a doctor or midwife) but finding a medical caregiver that has views similar to your own.
This basic relationship and understanding of your body in connection with their level of care is vital for your confidence and keeping the birth power flowing during labour. You can look through your community for different practitioners and ask them questions about their intervention rates, how they feel about everything from episiotomies to c-births and what kind of medications they feel comfortable working with. If there are views or statistics they bring up that make you cringe or feel uncomfortable, you CAN keep searching for the level of care you and your baby deserve. Just like interviewing a doula, it is important to find that your birth support is on the same page as you. You want that emotional connection and understanding of the birthing body, the changes that might happen to you before you sway into transition and the choices you need to make immediately after the birth of your child. You want to understand, you want to be judgement free and most of all, you want to be empowered.

So how do you do this? It may sound like you’re going to university, but research.. And lots of it. You might groan or drift off through parts of it, but this birth will only happen once and feeling like you are prepared will keep you calm and proactive in the deep waves of labourland. It doesn’t have to be all textbooks and articles– you can ask your healthcare provider for answer, you can ask your friends for their birth stories, and your doula can guide you through materials as well(We’re really good at finding information in your study language). The goal is to remove fear associated with some of the unknowns of pregnancy and birth. If you can understand even a little bit of what doctors are talking about before you make your way to your birth location, you are removing the negative reactions within your body and keeping your labour hormones flowing (removing the fight or flight response). There are lots of resources available and I really mean lots.. So let’s work together to make your choices during birth yours!

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Here are a few questions you and your birth partner can ask prenatally about tests and procedures:

– What is the reason for this test and how will the answers effect my pregnancy and baby?
– Will this procedure be repeated through my pregnancy/birth and what are the risks associated?
– What does that “insert big word here” mean? Can you walk me through what it means for my baby and my body?
– How urgent is this treatment? What are the risks associated with waiting?
– If I consent to this treatment, how long after am I able to walk/leave the hospital?
– If I consent to this monitoring, will I be able to continue with movement?
– If I consent to this intervention, how long does it last and flow through my body? How does it effect my baby in the womb/after birth?
– This is a procedure I was strongly against, can you provide a less invasive alternative?
– How/when do you suggest episiotemies/epidurals for your patients?
– What interventions do you seem to use the most? What interventions does your back-up colleague seem to use the most?

-Can we please have some alone time to discuss this option? I need a minute to make an informed choice.

Best wishes exploring your options, and remember, this is your birth, your body and your baby!

With Love, from Ficus.
Ficus Holistic Doula Services
http://www.ficusdoula.com

10 Tips for Postpartum

The first few days after labour hold some of the most incredible and raw moments of our life. With a whirlwind of hormones and what seems like a never-ending flow of visitors, the beginning stages of the postpartum period can work new parents and baby to a whole new level. We can never figure out exactly what to expect as parents, support, doulas, other children or pets during the welcoming of a new baby in the house hold. This new human has lived the first 9 months of their lives in a universe where every motion, both physically and energetically, was understood and greeted with the most giving and selfless response from their mother. After the ceremonial shift of labour, we spend a lot more time questioning what our new child is trying to share with us. Are they hungry? Tired? Need a diaper change? In pain? Sometimes we can energetically tune into these sensations and other times, not so much—and that is completely okay!

Growing as a family and developing a routine takes time: we learn to pick up on cries, learn about which breastfeeding holds work best and try our hardest to keep the meconium off the clothes grandma and grandpa got for our newest family member. We pour energy and love into showing our babies that their well-being is the central focus of our attention. We ask our friends and (sometimes) family members what were the most important parts of developing their initial routine.
As a doula, I have had the chance to watch a lot of new parents come full circle with what can be a highly emotional transition period in their lives. Partners rely on each other and those in their close circle to give them the support they need to experience their true potential as a new parent.

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Below is my list of must do “life-hacks” to help ease some of the bumpier moments of postpartum. I hope that you will be able to incorporate some of these self-care methods (may they be for mental or physical care) into your routine.
And remember, you are an amazing parent, amazing partner, and with each passing day you will grow closer and more in tune with your baby and the new rhythm you are writing together.

1) Oily Bums: Meconium is the first stools a baby will pass outside the womb. It is sticky, it leaves stains that you will remember for the rest of your life and it can be tough to wipe off babies bum. Don’t worry, meconium will soon shift to newborn stools as they start to digest milk. Until then, try coating babies bum in coconut oil to help you wipe off the dark-sticky meconium. If there is a protective layer between the skin and feces, you can save a lot of time during changes and get that baby wrapped back up and snuggling in your arms.

2) Blow Dryers and Bodies: Does it seem absolutely insane to say that a blow dryer can be your babies first best friend? Think about it: While in the womb, babe listened to every breath, heartbeat and fluid flow through your body– it was warm, it was comfortable. My very first clients (my heart still remembers the look on their faces when they showed me) kept a blow dryer near their changing table. It was like a good ole’ Western: diaper and onesie came off, blow dryer turned on. Their “gun” was drawn and baby didn’t cry. He looked comfortable, relaxed. The slightly warm air blew over his fresh earth-side skin and the noise seemed to remind him of something he had heard before. Completely genius if you ask me—just make sure you keep a good gauge on the temperature of the air blowing towards your new baby.

3) Postpartum Pads: You know those icy-cool pads the hospital (if you birthed at the hospital) gives you after labour to help soothe your perineum? If you know what I’m talking about, you might have just made an “ohh yeah” accompanied with an exhale and the drop of your shoulders. Well, you can make them at home! And guess what? When you make them at home, they last a lot longer than your time at the hospital! Here is a link to my recipe for postpartum pad. Spend your last few days before labour prepping these comfort-saving pads or put your friends to work getting them together for you.
https://theficusandthedoula.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/diy-postpartum-padsickles/

Which leads me to #4.

4) Take Advantage of your Visitors: It doesn’t matter if they are your Mom, Dad, Friends, Cousins, Dogs. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR VISITORS! The little things during postpartum can add up very quickly. Ask your friends to set up a meal train—get a list of your favourite foods together during your last trimester and have a friend arrange freezer meals and fresh food drop off. Ask your visitors to get laundry on when they come in the door and take the garbage on the way out. It is 100% okay to ask for help or tell visitors that it would be appreciated if snuggle time had helping hands. Even if they only want snuggles, try and sneak into the shower or grab a nap—take advantage of them!

5) Have a postpartum massage arranged: Child birth is a life changing event. It changes our cells, our perception and the way that we love. Parents deserve release and massage is an incredible way to do this. There have been many days where I have crawled onto my clients beds and massaged their legs, letting them drift off, breast feed, or release whatever words or thoughts that come to mind. Reminding the mother and father that they are feeling not just for baby, but for their partners and most importantly themselves can release any trauma or tension they might be carrying. It is completely understandable to carry worry and stress when you are learning what your new family means, and it is  100% necessary to be reminded with touch of how loved your soul and the body your soul chose are.

6) Fresh air: Just do it. Walk away from technology and find the elements. Clarity comes with elimination of the unnecessary and nature is the ultimate reminder of what we need. Even if you end up parking beside the ocean or sit in your back yard, find the space to eliminate the extra waves in our world that can so easily take over our time with the moments we only experience once.

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7) Breastfeeding support: Galactagogues and pressure points, la leche league and mothers groups. The amount of resources both online and through community programs is endless. Breastfeeding can pose as a challenge for a lot of new mothers and if it remains difficult, there is a high chance of shifting straight to formula (and that’s okay IF that is what you wanted to do). I am not here to tell you that you didn’t try hard enough, but I am here to ask if you have found the support you need to feed however you choose to. It is okay to say you’re trying and it’s hard, it is okay to say you’re engorged, it is wonderful to find what works for you. That is where I want you to be, the state of euphoria where you can bond with your baby during the many times of nourishment. Seek support if you need it, there is no such thing as shame when it comes to growing with your baby.

8) Prunes, Psyllium and H20: Yep, loosen those stools. Remember pushing and all the sensations your perineum and surrounding area experienced? Well, that area needs to heal and bowel movements create energy in the same areas. If you increase your fibre and water, constipation and harder stools can be kept to a minimum allowing for optimal healing. This can be incredibly helpful if you experienced hemorrhoids or any sized tear during the actual birth. Increasing your water intake is also a necessity if you’re breastfeeding. Try sipping water all day long and enjoy more soups and fresh fruits and veggies to keep your liquids up. Herbal teas can also include galactagogues and calcium magnesium to help with cramping and milk production!

9) Comfort Measures: Don’t forget to take care of you. If you’re lying down, take a minute to stretch your legs! Use arnica oil or homeopathics to help with postpartum healing. Ask your best friend to make that cake you love and savour it. Wear those track pants with the holes, you know.. The ones you swore you would never let your partner see you in. Incorporate aromatherapy into your day to day. You deserve to be comfortable! Use pillows to get into a comfortable position when you’re feeding or resting.

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10) Write: Postpartum is a time for growth. We meet our most challenging moments and overcome them. We begin to shift into a new being with the ones that we’ve created. They teach us so much—about them, about ourselves and about the things that truly matter. One day, maybe just one day, you will want or need to reflect back on this time. Writing is one medium that can help heal and renew our spirits. Even a sentence a day can patch our thoughts back together 5 or 10 years down the road and most importantly, let us reflect back to what it was like to be in the moment. This might be beneficial for trauma healing– it could also be a way to help with any “empty nest” feelings. Doodle and dabble in language, see what comes up. Who knows, you could find a piece of your puzzle that changes your perception in a way that you never expected.

For those of you seeking extra help during postpartum, many doulas are available for postpartum shifts in the day as well as overnight. I am available for both of these services even if I was not your birth doula. Please contact me for more information.

With love, From Ficus.

Ficus Holistic Doula Services
http://www.ficusdoula.com

Cocoa Banana Coconut Melties (or crisps)

Creamy, cold, and packed with lots of flavours and textures, Cocoa Banana Coconut Melties are the perfect way to cool down after an afternoon of fun in the sun. With a base of bananas, you can throw almost anything that you want—mine are filled with chocolate, nuts and dried berries.

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These treats are gluten free, dairy free, vegan and of course paleo so they can be a great dessert option for when you have guests over for the day.

The recipe for these treats came to me the day my dehydrator broke. Usually I take this recipe and press it into rounds on a parchment sheet at the meat jerky setting for 8-10 hours. The last time I went to set my timer, I heard the dreaded noise of the motor.

And then felt my life flash before my eyes.
“Re re re re ree.. ree.. ree… .. re…. r.. ..”
My beloved dehydrator had come to the end of its life. I was expecting it sooner or later, but never thought the day would truly come.
I had to think fast as to what I could do with my nutrient packed banana mixture. I debated gearing up the oven for the long haul but the house was already so so so warm.

So I started thinking:
The days are hot, the nights are hot, and everyone is reaching for something to cool down with. Popsickles, icecream, beverages—anything.
The thing about all these treats is that they are full of refined sugars and dairy that may not always agree with you. The spike in blood sugar leaves you extra tired and wanting more.. And hungrier than before. The latest trend is making “nice-cream” but I am all about convenience and don’t exactly like pulling out the blender every time I want a treat. What if I could make the dough into little macaroon sized mounds and place them in the freezer? As a child, I used to cut and dip bananas in chocolate with a toothpick for dessert, so this could turn into something amazing.

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And I was right.

They were creamy, crunchy, flavourful and cooling. The best part was, they were guilt free and easy to make, store and eat! Try making these with your children and explore with the flavours! Banana raspberry coconut sounds great to me and with all the fruits coming into season, the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Coconut Melties

2 Bananas mashed
2 Tablespoons cocoa/cacao powder
2 Tablespoons coconut
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
2 Tablespoons gogi berries or any dried berries
2 Tablespoons Almonds
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients into a bowl and drop onto a parchment lined cookie tray in any shape you desire. I prefer to drop them by the tablespoon. Place into freezer for a minimum of 5 hours.

*For crisps: place mixture onto parchment lined dehydrator trays by the teaspoon. Flatten the mixture and dehydrate for 8-10 hours on meat jerky setting.

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With Love, from Ficus.
www.ficusdoula.com

Changing of the Month, Changing of the Moon, Changing of Ourselves.

June!? June?! JUNE?!
Where has the time gone? I feel like I am still in April, maybe even October.. But then the sun comes in and the heat hits my skin and I am reminded that the summer is here. What a beautiful life we lead.
This morning is actually all rain which here on Vancouver Island, we really needed. I was walking through a community garden near my house and the leaves looked parched and strawberries were already coming out. It is an interesting year for growth that’s for sure. I’m sure a lot of you are experiencing that as well as you transform throughout your life journeys.
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This morning has been damp and windy. I have stationed myself under my skylight so I can hear the rain tap against the glass. It is majestic and comforting. The last few days have been filled with creativity and wonder for me—going here and there: Holding space for those who need to vent and talking about parenting ideas with family and friends. I’ve even been hit with a creativity bug and have started making giant dream catchers, sun protection and a lot of nut loaves.
I have officially sent off my bios for the Pacific Rim College, Stillbirthday and Comox Valley Doulas websites. I hope you will all have the chance to check out their pages and the information they have to offer. Endless ideas about pregnancy, self care, comfort and strength can be found on any of the pages and I am so thankful to be a part of them.
It is incredible where our lives can lead us. The opportunities and challenges we come across, the ideas and choices of others that we may agree or disagree with. Oh to be an individual and to love every minute of it. We are all on amazing, unique journeys and I hope you find comfort and curiosity in the path you wander.
This June, I challenge you all to get to know where you live. If you’ve been there for years, find a way to rediscover your surroundings. Turn off that phone and stare at the wildlife, look at the details of the downtown, go into a new coffee shop. Walk through your own house and shift things just a tiny bit, see what memories come up and how you feel about them now compared to a few years ago. Look at your body in the mirror and see the beauty in your curves, in that scar on your knee, in the way you are able to move your limbs. Look through an old photo album and see the memories pop up and then think. Think about where you are now, your accomplishments, the things you place importance upon.
May June be full of reflection and growth, creativity and adventure.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

DIY Postpartum Padsickles

From dilation and pushing to a small tear and the pressure of a baby being born, our perineum’s take on a lot of stress. When you leave your birthing space, you are handed a small bottle to spray water over your perineum after you use the bathroom since you will be very tender and toilet paper/sanitary napkins will feel rough. If you are birthing in a hospital, your caretaker may give you a few cool pads to wear immediately after labour. But what about when you get home?

Postpartum pads are an amazing way to heal a mother’s perineum after labour. Easy to store and even easier to prepare, postpartum pads can be one of those items you make once your contractions begin. Better yet, you could have a friend make them for you!
They are one of my favourite presents to gift to new mamas as they may not be thinking too much about their own healing after labour. A new baby adds so much excitement to the household: How will you connect and read into signals from your newborn? How is your milk coming in? When was the last time you had a meal dropped off for you? Mom, go away! Or at least do laundry. The little things that we do to enhance our healing can make the world of a difference on our healing time.
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Enriched with aloe vera, witch hazel, a selection of essential oils for healing and the cool cool sensation from the beloved freezer, postpartum pads should be an essential item to keep in the house for the first few weeks after labour.

So here is my recipe for postpartum pads. Give your healing a hand, your body will thank you for it!

You Will Need:

– Feminine Pads (Overnight Maxi Pads work best—your body: your brand choice)
– Witch Hazel
– Aloe Vera Gel
-Essential oils ( I like to use lavender for calming the skin and cell regeneration/ frankincense for tissue repair and to prevent scarring)
– aluminum foil (optional)

Open the pads on a clean surface. With a teaspoon, pour witch hazel over the centre of the pad (don’t get too close to the edges as you will want the pads to soak up lochia still).

Take the aloe vera and spread a thin layer over top of the witch hazel.
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Drop 4-8 drops of essential oil over the witch hazel. You can use a blend of multiple oils or stick to one type and label.
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Fold the pad back together and put back in its packaging (or in tin foil if you are unable to put it back into its original wrapping). Place into the freezer for a minimum of 6 hours before using.

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With Love, from Ficus
http://www.ficusdoula.com