Category Archives: pregnancy

Roasted Brussels Sprout, Kale, and Pear Salad (gf/v option)

When I think of fall, I think of crisp, fresh air and long walks exploring the changes of the forest. On Vancouver Island, it also means a lot of rain. After some outdoor time, I want to warm up with the fire and some wonderful food.

On one rainy afternoon while some of the children I take care of were napping, I decided we needed a heavy dose of warming greens with dinner to keep our bodies nourished. Something savoury, a little bit sweet, and most definitely comforting.

So I started roasting.

Roasting is one of my favourite methods of cooking because it has the ability to introduce textures, sweetness, creaminess, or crispness to fruits and vegetables when you may not expect it. Ingredients transform in that 350 degree box and leave the house with an arrangement of aromas that let who ever is next to come home know know dinner is going to be good.. even if it’s brussels sprouts.

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Yes, this salad will make you a brussels sprout lover. Yes, you will see that they become crispy and consume the delicate flavours of the basil balsamic tahini dressing and marry with the juices of a roasted pear.

You. Will. Love. Them.

Top with seeds (like pepita or sunflower) and a cheese of your choice like goat cheese, feta, parmesan, or white cheddar (aged white in the photo because that’s what we had on hand) or remove it and substitute the honey in the dressing for your favourite alternative to make it vegan.

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So for that next rainy day, warm up with a heaping bowl full of roasted vegetables and get your body greened up for the next storm.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Kale, and Pear Salad

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
3-4 cups thinly sliced brussels sprouts
3-4 cups ripped kale
1 pear, diced
Olive oil
Dash of salt, pepper, and onion powder.

In a bowl, toss the brussels sprouts in olive oil with a dash of salt, pepper, and onion powder. Lay out on a sheet pan and place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes  or until the edges are golden, stirring every few minutes to ensure they don’t burn.

On a separate sheet pan, place the kale and pears after tossing in olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Roast in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes until the kale is slightly crisp on the edges and the pears are softened.

Remove sprouts, kale, and pears from the oven and let them cool on the sheet pans.

Basil Balsamic Tahini Dressing

2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey (or a sweetener of your choice if vegan)
6-8 leaves of basil
Dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons of water to thin

Add ingredients one at a time into a bowl in the order they are listed, whisking together after you add each one. Add water to thin to the consistency of a cream based dressing.
Place kale, pears, and brussels sprouts (and root vegetable if added) into a bowl and coat all vegetables in the dressing. Place in an baking dish or oven friendly pan. Top with seeds and cheese of your choice. Place back into the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

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

 

 

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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!

energyballsss

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.

energyballs

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

 

 

Birth Happens: A journey of Wombs in Bloom.

One of the things about birth is that you can never predict when the baby is going to come. A due date is really just an estimated marker, but baby can come any day of the week. One of my dear doula sisters had the opportunity to be present at her sister’s birth. The catch: They live on opposite sides of the country. This is her experience of being a long distance doula and what she did to overcome her expectations of being present during the birth.

Birth happens.

As much as you may try, you cannot predict its unique process. That’s the beauty of it. Having the wisdom to accept that your baby knows when and your body knows how. Be at peace and surrender to the rhythmic waves of your rite of passage. Let others lucky enough watch in awe as you conquer each one.

I was one of those lucky ones chosen to watch another bring new life earth-side. A gift not many receive–The gift of witnessing strength and courage.

Being invited to be in the presence of the most powerful of feminine energies.

To hold space and to hold hands.

To support birth wishes and support new families.

I was chosen to be my sister’s doula.     With four years apart, I was constantly amazed by my big sister. Copying every movement she made, every word she spoke. Once becoming the middle child I came to understand this is quite annoying. But irritating or not, I was to fly back home to Ontario to be by her side. Fresh out of school and trained as a holistic doula, I had travelled to Victoria, BC to pursue a calling from my soul. A calling which had me leaving everything and everyone I knew and I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that this is what I am meant to be doing and there is nothing else suited for me out there. I had been given valuable skills. My mind filled with knowledge, my heart with compassion and empathy. It was time to put all of these to work.

We spoke over Skype and through text messages of natural birth wishes and comfort measures, herbs and skin to skin contact. I gave her resources and advice. She gave me the blessing of my very first client. She wanted a different birth experience than the previous: She wanted to feel empowered and in control. We did not need to meet every month to create a bond. The trust and comfort was already there running through our veins. We had stories and inside jokes, family vacations and family pets. We shared the same upbringing. We were children of divorce and we share the same emptiness in our hearts of an absentee father. I knew just as well as she did what support she needed, and we were both ready to learn, grow and birth together.

With signs of a preterm birth (low cramping, belly drop and already 3 cm dilated) weeks before her EDD we decided it would be best if I flew in two weeks early and we could all prepare together. But baby V was to enter this world at a pace no one could see coming. She was anxious to lock eyes with the familiar voice that calmed her growing body, the woman whose womb created safe and ancient territory. She wanted to meet her mama and no one was going to stop her.

It was settled. I was leaving work and all packed to go. I said goodbye to the animals and my partner and headed out to take part in the most intimate and sacred of moments. I felt fear and disbelief in myself. I can admit that now. The very thought of letting her down shook me to the core. I felt like I needed to prove myself. I desperately needed my family to see that going to the other side of the country had paid off. I would catch myself in this negative space and quickly remind myself of all the training I had received, all of the experienced and enlightened instructors who filled my life with wonder and curiosity. They instilled a yearning for personal and professional growth. My heart was ready whether my brain knew it or not.

Baby V was growing fast and a stretch and sweep was to be done on the day I would be leaving. A stripping of the membranes can take days, even weeks and sometimes they don’t take at all. In case of baby V this was it! Her pathway was within view and she was that much closer to meeting those who already loved her. My flight was at 9pm and I had three layovers before I could get to Ottawa. I tried desperately to change my flight, but in the end my heart knew what was happening. A call from my mother made it real.

“She’s 8cm dilated.” “But I’m still in Vancouver, my flight isn’t for another hour. This is my job and I’m missing it.” I rambled and raged. I sobbed and kicked my luggage. I didn’t care that people were staring. They’d be crying too I they were me!

I had done what I feared the most: I was letting my big sister down.

How could she ever forgive me for missing the birth? How could I ever look into her eyes knowing that I disappointed her so much?  For hours these thoughts ran through my head. I was wondering if she was coping and if she had stayed drug free like she had wished for. Did she feel safe and empowered? Were the doctors and nurses giving her time to labour? Each plane could not go fast enough. I couldn’t sleep; I just wanted to be by her side. I wanted to look her in the eyes and say “You’re doing it!” I knew I couldn’t do any of these things and I felt raw and powerless.

I finally landed in Edmonton, ran into the airport and checked my phone. My sister had birthed a healthy baby girl completely drug free just like we had talked about. She did it! Everyone was happy and safe. Despite the wonderful news, I was still upset about the situation and angry that it was still going to be another 5 hours and another layover in Toronto until I could see my sister and meet my new niece.

 And then something hit me like a ton of bricks; I was being selfish.

I was letting something so special and beautiful hurt my feelings. I was being childish and it needed to stop. As much as I tried, I couldn’t shake my grumpiness. What if I had jinxed myself and my career?

I finally passed out for the 40 minute flight from Toronto to Ottawa. I woke up feeling more like myself. My mom picked me up at the airport, bought me breakfast (finally food!) and then we were on our way to the hospital. All of my anger and resentment towards the situation and me quickly melted away once I walked into that room. I saw my glowing sister and the first thing she said to me was “I did it.” My eyes filled with tears and I replied with “yes you did. You’re a birth warrior.”

I knew I couldn’t turn back time and be my sister’s birth doula but I could use my skills and be her postpartum doula. I stayed for a week to help her and her husband as much as possible. For the first few days, I was on sibling and dog duty. Baby V’s hilarious big sister, A, kept me busy with cartoons and stories of karate. She called her new little sister “sweet baby” and always wanted to hold her as soon as she got home from school. She is in awe of this new life and she is going to be the best big sister.

Then it was placenta time. I was going to be able to give my sister back so many of the nutrients she had shed during birth. I had done a raw dehydration and encapsulated 100 pills but could have easily done another 100, I unfortunately ran out of capsules. She credits these pills for her exceptional milk supply and increase in mood.

I tried to let my sister and her husband sleep as much as possible so I would take the night shift–caring for babe from the hours of 11pm- 6am. I quickly fell in love. She is pure magic. We would stare at each other and I felt like she was looking right into my soul, like she knew who I really was. I wondered what her journey was like and if she remembered my voice from the first time I had talked to her in the womb. I played her sitar when she fussed and within seconds she was either mesmerized or fast asleep. Despite what everyone says, sleeping when baby sleeps was impossible. I couldn’t miss one second of those eyes, that yawn or those impressive farts. I felt capable and proud of myself that I was trusted with this precious being. She felt safe enough to fall asleep in my arms every night and I can never forget our time together.

It was hard leaving and it’s even harder being so far away and not continuing this bond. I love the island and I know that my heart belong to this land, but it stills yearns for the familiarity of home –like the smell of cinnamon that fills my mother’s home. Maybe one day I’ll go back, but for now I have a future to build here and I’m very blessed to know that I am being fully supported by those around me.

I will cherish my first experience with birth and even though it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, it was still powerful and unique. I grew a new understanding for my sister and what she is capable of. I had always looked up to her because of her sense of humour and for always being the cool one; now I stare up at her with completely different eyes.

She is strong, she is powerful. She is a Birth Warrior!

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A Moment of Self Realization through Doubt.

As we know, pregnancy is an exceptionally sensitive part of life. Between the hormonal and life changes, women experience a series of ups and downs that may be hard to overcome. Some women find stability in those around them while others find strength in activities and keeping busy. We all have our own ways of working through these discomforts. There is a piece to pregnancy that we might not have seen coming- the part where we doubt if we enjoy being pregnant. It’s not all we thought it would be. The ideas that have been created for us or by us around the idea of pregnancy probably won’t be how the 42 weeks actually go.. And that’s okay as long as we can understand what is going on in our bodies and learn how to work with it instead of against it.

As a 21 year old female who is just trying to make her mark in the world, I am not claiming to understand the feelings of a pregnant woman. I have never had a child, I have never raised a child, but I have experienced many ups and downs in life. I know how our minds can pin ourselves against our bodies, I know how doubt can creep through the door when you thought it was locked. I know how hormones can trigger so many different thoughts and feelings that might not be true. A dear Love in my life has even told me that I need to take a look at where I am in my cycle and dissect if these feelings are real or are they being triggered by hormones.

Well let me tell you: They are real. They are being triggered by hormones. But not every experience is based off hormones.

There are real fears and real situations that we need to understand and overcome. Some things are easier to work through and sweep off the mat, others are swept under and collect more questions and stress. But what can I do about it? What aspects of my life am I taking to the grave with me that I could usually brush off my shoulders? What realizations do I need to face to find contentment in my life?  And most importantly (in my opinion), how can my feelings and experiences change and influence the lives and reactions of the ones around me.

As a doula, I am here to help. I am here to support self realization and the growth surrounding it. I am here to improve the thoughts and feelings throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Through bad days, awkward appointments, family gatherings, over-eating at dinner, days of exploring, meditations, morning sickness, orgasmic births, miscarriage, sugar highs, mental breakdowns, everything- I am here. I don’t know what it feels like to have another set of toes kicking into your spine, but I do know what it feels like to be hit hard and what I did to understand the soreness. I’m not saying my way of dealing with these things is right for everyone, I am just saying it’s a way.

This morning, I attended a yoga class that really hit me hard. The instructor is a beautiful mother of two who makes me focus AND laugh through all the hardest poses. She makes the time pass, she makes me feel strong and most importantly she makes me realize that I have to be willing to change myself to see results. As the class was coming to a hard end she said to us

“Feelings, people, experiences- We don’t get what we want, we get what we need. The Universe works in interesting ways to give us what we need, but know that all things will pass. ”

I still can’t stop thinking about this.

Looking back at the experiences in my life that have changed me, I can truly say I have not always received what I wanted. I think everyone knows what it is like to be let down or get a different result than what you expected. But how much time do we spend exploring why we feel indifferent to not getting what we wanted? Better yet, how much time to we spend exploring the idea that the end result was what we needed? The universe works in strange ways, why can’t we accept these ways at times?

We usually give a huff and a puff and move forward or in some cases, hold onto this experience for way too long. We let it build up and struggle with letting go. We don’t fully acknowledge what is going on and then all of a sudden, time has passed. We can’t go back and change the way things were, we cannot alter our memory of the experience. Sometimes when we hold onto things, they can damage us or fill our memory with negativity- leave us thinking “I wish I could have experienced this differently.”

There may be parts of your pregnancy that you find more challenging than others. Maybe it’s overcoming morning sickness or learning how to deal with a lack of sleep and shortness of breath. Maybe these physical symptoms are challenging your mentality- Are you as strong as you thought you were? Are you cut out to be a mother? Did or did you not take care of yourself well enough prenatally?

Being pregnant doesn’t come easy for everyone: The feelings that come along with being pregnant will make you stronger if you decide to learn from them.

The feelings that come along with pregnancy will also pass.

Pregnancy is such an incredible time for self exploration- What if some of these feelings of doubt and discomfort can be relieved by actually acknowledging them instead of building resistance? I know that in my own struggles, exploration has solved a lot and has turned a lot of what would be negative experiences into ones that I have not only learned from, but enjoyed.

I was recently speaking with a Doula Sister about change and doubt, happiness and expectations. As we were talking, my love grew for the life changing pregnancy she is going through and how open she is to the physical and emotional feelings that are coming her way. The strength and understanding that she brings to each day as it comes and goes is remarkable. Each feeling, each cell as it goes, dies and regenerates, all of it. She inspires me to take a good look at the things around me and truly feel. She inspires me to find love and understanding and in talking with her, I even found the strength to understand some of the changes I am currently going through. If I can give one piece of advice to help you through your pregnancy, it would be to explore. This is what I drew from my conversation with her. I hope that you can find the guidance that you need in the universe through this.

Every pinch, twinge, and wave: It’s there to teach us something. May that be about our feelings towards how we handle things, may it be about growth itself. The important thing to remember is that these feelings will pass. Explore them while they are there- Why are you kicking like that baby? What position are you in today? Muscles: How are you working? How are you contracting to keep my body in a position that keeps me going? To my significant other- When you touch me in specific areas, how does that relieve or enhance what I am feeling? Sleep, why do you come and go as you do? Why am I feeling these certain things at certain times?

I am a firm believer in the act of writing. I write every day, sometimes even a few times a day to let out what I am thinking. So much self realization has been done by reflecting back on these writings. My biggest recommendation is to find something that lets you relieve your feelings but also lets you reflect on them to see your growth. You are always growing and improving, you are so incredibly strong. Write out what comes and goes. You can write a letter to your body or someone that you are having feelings towards. Get it out- positive, negative, questions, realizations. Write a letter to your baby, you are doing this growth together and another medium of communication can be really powerful. Even reading what you wrote can change your feelings towards a situation or stage of pregnancy. You can feel different tones, reflect as to why you felt that way- see if you can understand what was really going on. Ask yourself these questions. Talk though them with someone close or important to you. Talk to yourself, talk to your partner and definitely talk to your baby. Get into a meditative practice or relieve yourself through artistic expression.

While time passes so quickly, I want you to know that it is important. You deserve the time to understand yourself, your thoughts, your pregnancy and how you feel.

“Don’t discredit a momma-to-be for what real discomforts she has.. But finding peace within them is definitely necessary.”

If you need guidance through your pregnancy or just need someone to talk, please contact me. The universe works in interesting ways, so let’s explore how we can find what you need.

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

The Season For Sickness

Sickness is striking in my house again. I guess by this point we are all used to getting a little under the weather and finding ways to overcome some of the symptoms. My poor dad is getting hit the hardest. It seems like it has been weeks of him coughing and sneezing, sleeping for hours when he would usually be doing something else. Usually the parents take care of their children when they become ill, but the tables are slowly starting to turn. I won’t say that my dad is against natural medicine but he usually sticks to what his doctor says. This sickness is making him try new things and giving me a boost of confidence that he believes in my “kumbaya approach”.

If you have ever been in the same room as me, you probably figured out fairly quickly that my dad is one of my favourite people in this world. Any time I have the chance to switch the topic of conversation to my dad I am on it in a heartbeat. If you’ve ever been in the same room as my dad, you understand completely. My dad is one of the greatest people I have had the chance to learn from. He has so many skills from woodworking and mechanics to making the best tortellini and being a realistic human being. He has always made me think twice about my decisions and opens up a whole new world of thoughts. Not only does he help me through things but he helps my friends too. We’ve always had a house full of people and I think he’s helped every person who has walked through our doors in one way or another. Of course, if you’ve done something silly he will make fun of you until you fall asleep, but it’s all in the name of fun.

I have so many memories of being little and having him take care of me. He worked as a logger which meant he would spend a few weeks away and then a few weeks back. When he was home.. Those were the best days of my childhood. Mini golfing, teaching me how to skateboard, cooking, playing baseball, brushing my hair and reading to me at night—he was always doing the things we wanted to do. Some of the days when he would come home, we would be sick and he would deal with that too. I come from a family of three daughters so it was always triple the sickness. There was even the time when we got chicken pox and passed it along to leaving him hospitalized (sorry dad). Somehow he stilled loved us after that. Through this most recent sickness, he is still helping me heal from my surgery and making sure I am proceeding with the right therapies to get strength back in my leg. He really keeps pushing himself. It’s now my chance to make a difference in the way he is feeling. I try to hobble around and clean up after myself a bit more but the biggest difference I can make is adding in little things.

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My sister and I with my dad back in the day.

This is where anyone can make a difference in a sick household. If you have a multiple children in your house, you are aware that so many different germs can make their way back to you. If you are pregnant, you know that your immune system is slightly less effective. Little colds and a runny nose are common symptoms of pregnancy and there’s always a chance you can catch something. So what do we do about this? Little preventative measures! Here are a few things that I am doing in my own home that are really starting to help us out:

1) Essential Oil Steamers: Place 2 cups of boiled water in a bowl, add in 3-5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 1-3 drops of peppermint oil. Cover your head over the bowl with a towel and take long deep breaths. The amount of oil that you need will depend on the quality of oil you are using. Continue taking deep breaths until there is no steam left. The steam will help open your nasal passages and the combination of peppermint and eucalyptus will help relieve the pressure in your head and chest, help move unwanted bacteria and phlegm out of your passages and will provide mental clarity. This combination smells like vicks vapour rub. You can make your own rub by dropping some of the essential oils into coconut oil. The lauric acid in coconut oil will provide antifungal and antiviral healing qualities that are beneficial as well.

2) Lemon Ginger Tea: Everyone is starting to feel sick? Make a big pot of lemon ginger tea! I like to make this tea day by day depending on how I am feeling, but you can make a big pot and store it in the fridge. Take 4 cups of water and start to boil over the stove, add in 2 inches of sliced ginger, 1-2 lemons- squeeze and drop into pot and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Let this mixture boil on the stove for a minimum of 20 minutes. At this point, you can add in more honey, ginger or lemon. If I am feeling overwhelmed, I like to add in a few drops of Elm from the Bachflower remedies.

3) Thieves the house: Thieves oil is an amazing disinfectant with an aroma that I can’t seem to get enough of. I put my thieves oil in a little spray bottle and spray down my surfaces and bedding. This kills any bacteria on my pillows or couches so that the next person who comes over hopefully won’t have to meet it.

4) Make soup: Soup is the best. Easy as that. With all the rich squash coming into season right now, why would you want anything else? If someone in your house is able to make enough soup to freeze or keep in the fridge for a few days, the ill people will love you forever. It can be so hard to feed ourselves properly when we are unwell, but it is so very important for recovery. Try bulking up your soup with lentils and beans or garlic and an assortment of fresh herbs. Your body will love you for it. If you are stumped on recipes, try The Nourished Kitchen’s recipe selection. There’s something for every diet! http://nourishedkitchen.com/recipe-index-2/

5) Love and Patience: Everyone has gotten sick before and knows how frustrating it can be. Between the lack of sleep and scratchy throat, we all need someone to show us a little compassion. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it but always try and return the favor. If someone around you is sick, drop them off a hearty meal or offer to drive their kids to school. Give a little massage or unload the dishwasher.

The littlest things can make the biggest difference. I hope you can avoid the cough and flu season with success and if not, I hope you recover quickly.

With love, From Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

After the birth of your child, you begin to structure a routine with your baby– When to feed, when to sleep, when to change their diaper. These tasks are part of the bonding experience but they can come with some unexpected discomfort. With repetitive hand movements and lifting of your newborn is the chance to develop symptoms of Carpal Tunnel- an uncomfortable tingling or pain in your hand, wrist, and arm that occurs when your median nerve is compressed. Located on the palm side of your hand, the carpal tunnel is a space between your carpal bones and your retinaculum ligament that protects your median nerve as well as many ligaments that attach your forearms to your fingers.  You can think of your carpal tunnel as a safe space for the nerve that is in control of the mobility in your hand and wrist to lie within your arm. When this nerve gets pinched or compressed, many symptoms can occur: – weakness in the hand, wrist and fingers – numbness in parts of the hand and wrist – numbness or tingles usually starting in your fingertips and working its way through your hand – pain starting in the fingertips and working its way up your arm. carpal tunnelhttp://www.westwoodhealingarts.com/tendonitispg.html Although pre-pregnancy factors like obesity, thyroid disorders, arthritis and diabetes can increase your chances of Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, many women without these disorders can still experience acute to severe symptoms during post partum and in some cases, during pregnancy (around the second trimester). Some women may experience slight tingling while others have to incorporate strategies into their new role to prevent damaging their wrists and hands. But why is this happening? When pregnant, your body is doubling your blood volume to provide to your baby, placenta and daily growth. This increase in liquid can add pressure to many parts of your body, including your median nerve and that is when you start to experience Carpal Tunnel. With a combination of swelling and repetitive motions, you start to get the tingling nerve sensitivity in your fingertips and wrists. Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel tends to resolve itself in the weeks or months surrounding your labour as long as you tend to its needs. There are many strategies that you can incorporate into your routine to reduce the stresses of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on your wrists and hands: -stretching your fingertips and wrists multiple times a day- especially if you have a job that requires repetitive hand motions – massage your arms and hands to help with blood flow – stick to a clean diet free of additives and excess sodium – look into adding anti-inflammatory substances like turmeric and cinnamon into your diet – sleep with your hands by your side, not under your pillow (relieve that pressure!) – reduce time texting and typing if you can – wear a wrist brace or wrap- especially when lifting your newborn or other objects – acupuncture – essential oils with a carrier of arnica or coconut oil (try frankincense, helichrysum or lemongrass) As I always recommend, talk to your health care provider about the symptoms that you are experience and the methods of treatment you are taking. Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can leave a new mother with feelings of anxiety, frustration and disappointment. It is incredibly important to take care of your hands and wrists to prevent the tingling from over-staying its welcome and causing excess stress. The most important thing to remember is that unless you have a genetic predisposition surrounding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it will go away in time. For extra support surround Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, please feel free to email me at ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com For a video on stretches for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTxQqu9USC4   With love, from Ficus. http://www.ficusdoula.com ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

Essential Oils

Scents have always had a way of calming people and bringing them back into a moment. I can always think back to my grandmother and the sweet smell of cinnamon warmed apples baking in her oven or walking through Fernwood in the spring to find myself greeted by lavender on the street corners. I can even remember the smell of eucalyptus being rubbed onto my chest when I was a sick child and needed to clear up my air passages.

If you take the natural oils from these substances—may the oils come from the roots, leaves, bark, stems, you are creating an essential oil. The processing isn’t as simple as just collecting the oils though. They will need to be distilled and cold pressed to extract the oils and this can take a lot of work but in the end, you are left with an essential oil. Most of us will choose to source out companies that have a respectable crop and harvesting system to buy essential oils from. With these oils, you can incorporate Aromatherapy into your daily routine. Aromatherapy is used to enhance physical and mental wellbeing by promoting relaxation, pain relief, emotional support, skin support and many other aspects of life by stimulating brain function or absorbing through the skin into the bloodstream. Many of the oils have antifungal, antiviral, soothing, calming, and nourishing qualities making them a useful alternative for not only our bodies but for cleaning surfaces as well. These qualities also make essential oils and the use of aromatherapy a perfect form of alternative medicine during pregnancy.

From reducing anxiety and tension to enhancing sleep quality, the use of essential oils can be blended into any trimester and labor. With a world of oils available, most women can find at least one or two scents that resonate with them during their pregnancy and can even be useful in their postpartum period. If you find an essential oil or blend that works with you, you may find it increases your quality of sleep, reduces tension and stress, balances the body, clears the skin, minimizes cold and allergy symptoms and increases your overall mood. When diluted, essential oils are safe to use on baby as well and can even help with diaper rash or increasing milk supply.

While there are three main ways to incorporate essential oils into your pregnancy, I am going to focus on two. The third way to use essential oils is by ingesting them and I do not want to promote ingestion as there are many different qualities of essential oils available and one kind may be harmful. The other two ways of using oils is aromatically and topically.

When using Essential oils aromatically, you can inhale the oils directly from the bottle, place a few drops onto your hands or use a diffuser and fill your home with the aroma of your choice. This is great for emotional support, respiratory support and sleep support. Try taking in a deep inhale of the scent while thinking your favorite mantra or qualities and feelings that you would like for you, your baby, and your family. On the exhales, breathe out qualities you don’t need or feelings that are holding you back. This practice is a great addition to your morning and nightly routine as it can set your mind up for a day of positive feelings and relieve any stresses at night that you might have picked up throughout the day. Try stimulation scents like citrus or peppermint in the morning and calming scents like lavender or sandalwood at night.

When using Essential oils topically, you can directly place the oils onto your skin or dilute them in carrier oil. This method is ideal for spot treating pains and skin irritations. It is also wonderful for immune support or allergy relief. It is always best to test the oils on a patch of skin before applying to multiple places on your body. I only apply oils directly to the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. If I use them anywhere else, I dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil—usually coconut. Some other carrier oils are jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, calendula oil, or arnica oil (you can make a great muscle treatment for sore legs and joints). My favourite skin moisturiser is using a base of coconut oil (1/2 cup), shea butter (1/4 cup), add in two capsules of vitamin E, a pinkie nail sized dollop of rosehip oil, mixed with lavender and rose essential oils until you get a desired scent. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to water with a splash of witch hazel to make a facial toner—I like lavender, tea tree and rose.

Essential oils are a great way to enhance your pregnancy but there are some oils that come with warning. Clary sage is an amazing essential oil to use during labour but it should be left untouched in your pregnancy until you are full term. Its powerful induction properties can help jump start contractions and give baby the strength to move down the birth canal. Applying clary sage to the beautiful baby point (TCM) in my experiences can get baby moving quickly. You can also mix clary sage with coconut oil to smooth over your belly. A combination of clary sage, lavender, bergamot, grapefruit, peppermint and rose can be added into a spritz bottle to help relieve nausea during active labor and provide another wave of power for you to work with contractions. Sage can also decrease milk supply in not only essential oil form but as a culinary herb as well so once baby is here it is best to avoid it in all forms. Peppermint as we know is an amazing digestive aid especially when it comes to nausea. You can apply a few drops of peppermint to a warm facecloth and place over your eyes or around the back of your neck to relieve symptoms of a cold or headache. It should be used with caution in the postpartum period as it may decrease milk supply. That being said, if you are trying to decrease milk supply, you can combine peppermint and clary sage and rub onto your breasts as well as the highest point between your shoulders and neck and see if it will help.  Fennel can help with milk production if you apply it with a carrier oil or onto a facecloth compress onto the breasts. This essential oil should only be used for a few days at most as it may increase urination. If you have high blood pressure, it is best to avoid peppermint, rosemary and clove as they will increase your blood pressure.
If you are using essential oils on your breasts and are breastfeeding, it is important to wipe the breasts before a feeding period. Using a hot cloth, you can wipe the remaining essential oils from your skin. The oils will have already released their healing properties into your bloodstream after a few minutes of application so it is okay to wipe off if you need to feed right away.

Although essential oils are used to enhance your pregnancy instead of harm, they should always be used at your own risk. Each body will react to oils differently than the next and some scents may make you feel ill while others will invigorate you. If you are using scents during labor or having someone who is planning to make you a calming labor spray, make sure you are alright with the smell before you fill your birthing room with it. If you are birthing at the hospital, it is best to smell the oil directly from the bottle in respects to the other birthing mothers and sensitivities of staff.

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Here are a few of my favorite oils with their healing properties:

Lavender: Good for all stages in pregnancy, calming, reduces stress and tension, aids in postpartum depression, calms skin tenderness(acne, bruises, bumps, rashes), sleep support, seasonal allergy support, grounding, prevents stretch marks, helpful in healing after labor, decrease high blood pressure, mastitis, safe for household cleaning.

Lemon: Good for morning sickness, uplifting, seasonal allergy support, digestive support, aids in postpartum depression, increases lymphatic function, cools the body when applied to the feet, invigorating, great oil to use in the morning.

Bergamot: Uplifting and calming, relieves anxiety and tension, soothes muscles, cooling properties, balances female energies, aids in postpartum depression.

Rose: Promotes skin healing, relaxation, reduces scarring, promotes elasticity.

Peppermint: Aids in morning sickness, reduces headaches and tension, helpful during transition, mental clarity, helps urinate during labor, reduces nausea.

These are only a handful of oils and their descriptions. If there was an oil you are interested in using during your pregnancy, please feel free to e-mail me and I can give you suggestions on blends and application processes.

Ficus
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com