Inner Guidance

Ever get the feeling you should (or shouldn’t) do something? It might not seem to fit; it might mean making others unhappy or disappointed; it may mean going back on a commitment because you’ve changed your mind; it may mean doing something you’ve never done- maybe something a little scary.

It might not be convenient in the moment, but usually the feeling (or little voice) inside proves right in the long run.

It’s difficult to justify decisions that come from your inner voice, especially living in a world that is defined by comparing yourself to others on the outside. Your sense of defined logic and reason don’t always match this inner voice. Sometimes it may even seem a little crazy!

But when you learn to pay attention to what your inner wisdom shows you, and to trust and follow that guidance, you’ll find a limitless source of information available to you (at your mental fingertips) that you can access at any time, for any situation or circumstance.

This means that with practice you will intuitively know what to do. The practice then becomes learning to follow this guidance and learning to trust yourself.

Learning to access your inner guidance can change how you approach pregnancy, birth, parenting and life.

So where do you find this voice?

Begin by tuning in to Monday’s show at 1pm ET here: A Labor of Love

The topic is Body Wisdom 101, where I’ll share some basic information about connecting with your inner guidance that you can begin to use right now. Even if you’re not a parent (and have no plans to be one) this information can help you connect with your inner guidance system.

(Don’t worry if you can’t catch the live show. The podcast is generally available for download within 24 hours after the show airs.)


Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.


I remember the first time someone told me to cover up when I was breastfeeding my infant daughter. I was a new mom and J was less than 6 months old. Thinking about it today brought up some tears and some lingering anger and sadness.

It was difficult to breastfeed in the early weeks. Yes, weeks. I had a terrible time figuring out how to help J get a good latch. I couldn’t figure out how to get her un-latched for a long time either, so I have some experience with painful nipple abrasions. And the only thing I figured out early was that I needed to see what was going on in order to get it right.

Translated, this means I couldn’t cover up AND nurse my baby successfully. I don’t know why some women can and I couldn’t- maybe I wasn’t coordinated or experienced enough. It really doesn’t matter now but back then I was very sensitive about it. I wanted to be as modest as possible.

That particular day, as I fed my baby on the outside patio of my daughter’s daycare center, one of the staff members came outside with a receiving blanket and offered it to me to cover my baby’s head. I thought she was making a friendly offer. I declined, thanking her politely. She informed me that the center director had a complaint from a staff member that I had fed my daughter outside the day before, and that I could choose to nurse inside or cover up- period.

I didn’t know what to say. I was unprepared to be challenged in this setting. These were the women caring for my exclusively breastmilk-eating baby. These were the women who supported my choice to breastfeed by calling me when the day was near its end and my baby was hungry so I could come early and avoid a bottle-feeding that might throw off the balance of our schedule. These were women who verbally offered support and encouragement as I made the transition back to work, but maintained 2 nursing sessions in this room: at lunch break and after work. Every day.

Had the sky turned purple too? Everything turned askew in that moment.

I tried to assert my right to breastfeed in public (Florida has a law and I knew it, but was unable to fully quote it) and this challenge was met with an accusation that astonished me even further in disbelief.

“The Kindergarten class is outside playing now. One of the students asked the teacher what you were doing with your baby yesterday and the teacher was uncomfortable responding and did not know what to say. So as long as there are students playing outside, you’ll have to stay inside or cover up.”

She didn’t know what to say? Seriously? How about, “She’s feeding her baby.” Seems simple enough now, but that day, I was so astonished by the situation I had no obvious replies.

The staff member went on to say that some people are offended and uncomfortable with breastfeeding and I have to be conscious of that and take other people’s feelings into consideration.

I was angry by then. I went inside. Really, I didn’t have a choice. Remember the latch problems I mentioned? Well, because I didn’t ever use a cover, my daughter wouldn’t allow a cover. She’d just rip it off any time I bothered to try. Plus it was too hot to cover her head, whether or not she was eating, and her comfort mattered more than mine in that moment.

I asked if bottle-feeding would be banned on the porch if I complained that it offended me? They did not understand my comment or my hurt feelings. Friends and co-workers also didn’t understand. One co-worker was even offended by my comparison of banning bottle-feeding in public!

Babies deserve to eat when they are hungry and moms deserve to feed their babies however, whenever, and wherever they wish, even if it means someone might see; even if it means (gasp!) children might see. Normalizing breastfeeding means more people, adults and children, must be exposed to it on a regular basis in the course of their everyday lives.

If I had it to do over again, I might have still made the decision to go inside. But I would have asserted my legal right by filing a written complaint with the daycare center, forcing them to acknowledge their responsibility to all breastfeeding babies and moms using their service. I might also have asked to speak one-on-one with the staff member in question and give her some easy responses for the children she cared for. This is part of the bigger problem breastfeeding moms face.

The staff member was obviously uncomfortable with the idea that her students would be going home with new information their parents had not provided about feeding babies. She was worried about a 5-6 year old talking non-stop to an uncomfortable or embarrassed parent who isn’t prepared to answer additional questions about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not something to be embarrassed about. In cultures where breastfeeding is the norm, children simply don’t ask what mothers are doing with their babies, because they already know what breasts are for. And parents understand the dual purpose they can serve without embarrassment.

After this incident, I never did cover up around town, and occasionally people thought I should and told me so. (I did once, on a plane- but that was to avoid toddler distraction more than to address the feelings of those around me in such close quarters.) I made it a point to nurse both of my girls wherever we were when they were hungry- at the mall, at the park, at restaurants, at home, at Chuck-E-Cheese. I did this modestly (in my opinion) but I did not cover up. It just didn’t work for us.

Today my children often notice and remark positively on breastfeeding moms. And I keep cards in my purse to thank mothers for breastfeeding in public. These cards also include the FL statute language to help support mothers in their decision to feed their baby wherever they are. I’m glad to be part of helping other moms feel good about their decision to nurse their children in public.

**I am still nursing, but only at home these days, as it remains part of our bedtime routine, but not something we do during the normal course of the day.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Cloth Diapers

On today’s show I ran out of time before I ran out of things I wanted to talk about. So because I really wanted to talk about my favorite swim diapers and the other eco-friendly diapering options I’ve used when traveling, I’m writing a quick post.

I’ve tried several swim diapers and have two definite favorites.

Imse Vimse makes super cute patterns that pair nicely with swim shirts found online and in local stores here in Florida. (Because my kids are in the sun and in the water almost daily in the summer, we prefer swim shirts to swim suits anyway.) One aspect that’s really great about these diapers is the side snap on one side. This is great when you have a younger child who may have an accidental bowel movement while playing, because it’s easy to remove the diaper and clean up your child. It’s also great for kids transitioning to potty learning because the one-sided snap looks less like a diaper and helps give youngsters confidence of “real” swim suits. It fits trim like a swim suit bottom, with no extra bulk or elastic banding of some other versions.

Mother-Ease is my other favorite. This swim diaper has two separate layers- an outer layer with cute print options and an inner layer of mesh to contain solids. This one also fits trim, with no bulky fabric. The extra layer inside makes clean-up simple- just shake out the solids into the toilet and rinse the mesh in the sink or with a hose. This diaper has snaps on both sides and is ideal for younger children who are more likely to have bm’s while playing, but fits enough like a regular swim suit you may have to show the snaps to prove you’re complying with pool rules.

Here are a couple photos:

This photo shows a favorite Imse Vimse print we used.

Another cute print from Imse Vimse

This photo shows the inner lining I liked so much.

Another cute print from Mother-Ease.

If you are concerned about disposing of solids when you’re out at the beach or community pool, here are a few tips.

  • Plan ahead. Have an extra swim diaper to change your child into so cleaning the soiled one can be done at home.
  • Carry an extra wet bag, just in case.
  • Carry plastic or biodegradable bags. If you’re concerned that there will be nowhere to dispose of the solids (no restroom, etc) plan to shake solids into a bag and dispose in a trash can.

One last question I wanted to discuss- what about when you’re traveling?

While a lot of moms will continue to use cloth diapers and are able to access washing machines and dryers while away, this may not be the case for you. Or maybe you’re just rather not see that part of a cruise ship while you’re trying to enjoy time with your family. If that is the case, on several occasions we opted to use G-Diapers. This combination of flushable/biodegradable absorbent liner set inside a washable (and cute) reusable cover was a great combination.

After we returned home, we paired the covers with prefolds to make a completely washable/reusable diaper and didn’t have to continue to purchase their flushable liners. We’ve also shared these with other friends who have traveled, making an even greater reduction in the need for new materials.

Another hybrid option is the GroVia. I’ve seen these online but haven’t used them or seen them in person yet. If you’ve tried them, I’d love to know what you think. Add your comment below or email me directly (intentional birth (at) yahoo (dot) com.)

Cloth diapers reduce waste, can reduce your baby’s exposure to toxins, save you money, and when you’re finished you can pass them on the others- either via resale or on loan (if you’re like me and still haven’t given up on dreams of a future baby.)

Be sure to listen to the show replay here Introduction to Cloth Diapers if you haven’t checked it out yet. The information here is only what didn’t fit into the podcast, so there’s much more there including the answers to these frequently asked questions:

  • Why should you consider cloth diapers?
  • How much money can you save with cloth?
  • What are the different styles of cloth diapers?
  • What essentials do you need to buy to make it easier?
  • How do you care for cloth diapers?
  • How long do they last?
  • And more!

So download the podcast and let me know if you have questions or more tips to share with other moms!

Your life is super-busy. You may have heard about additives in food, pesticides, etc that make you wonder a little. But it seems so time consuming to figure it all out now. If you don’t have the time to sort it all out now, check out today’s show with Super Natural Mom(c) Beth Greer. She’ll be joining me at 1pm ET today to talk about her wake-up call and the steps she took that anyone can take (even busy moms) to improve their health and limit their exposure to harmful chemicals.

I’ve been on a quest for a long time to be more aware of my surroundings- to really understand the impact different choices have on my life. In my memory, the first book that made me really think was “8 Weeks to Optimum Health” by Andrew Weil. I learned about food coloring, high fructose corn syrup and trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and how these assaulted my system. That was 1995. It was more difficult back then to find processed foods with more natural ingredients. Now even my small town has a healthy market.

Somewhere along the way I learned about organics, reducing or eliminating animal products, genetically engineered foods, and labeling requirements (rather the LACK of labeling requirements). So we joined a local organic coop a few years ago and do our best to stick with organics and shop the local grocery store with Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” & “Clean 15” in mind.

We’ve eliminated most household cleaners in favor of vinegar and water. We keep trying different choices in dishwasher detergent, but haven’t had much success- but we’ll keep trying. For laundry soap, we use soap nuts (sustainably harvested) and occasionally a perfume and dye-free detergent. We’ve stopped using fabric softener at all (about 3 years ago) and the clothes still feel nice. I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle for some hot loads.

We don’t buy polyester pajamas for the kids- no matter how cute they are. I’m not willing to have my girls sleeping, curled up with a chemical flame retardant. We use other natural fiber PJ’s that don’t require additional chemical treatment. I expect as we replace worn mattresses, the new ones will be organic.

The whole family has been (nearly) water-only- meaning no shampoo- for 18 months or so. I was very skeptical about this- how would our hair get clean?! I was using spiking glue on my very short hair at the time. Would water actually get that out? It did- and now, in addition to being shampoo-free, I also don’t use conditioner because I don’t need it. I figured out a secret – shampoo is why I needed conditioner, because it stripped away the natural moisture in my hair. So I’m saving money, too!

There are other small changes- I go to CosmeticsDatabase.com before I buy makeup or creams or new/different bath soap, just to check out how the ingredients will possibly affect us. I use the EWG.org safe sunscreen guide and generally opt to go with the recommendation of long sleeves and a hat when we’re in the pool.

There are more small changes, but you get the idea. There are a lot more things I want to do, too.

This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a process for over 15 years. But one small change at a time I became more prepared for the next change and the next. And now, with my girls and their health at stake, it’s even more important to me.

(If you miss the live show, you can download the podcast here.)

What changes have you made in your life? Do your thinking change once you became pregnant or now that you have children?

A question was recently posed, in honor of Mother’s Day, “What was the best advice your mother ever gave you?”

Although my mom had lots of wisdom to offer, it only took a moment to know what classified as best.

Even back in elementary school, the kids I knew were divided- the popular, in-crowd and the others. To be in the “other” group wasn’t difficult: if you were overweight; didn’t have as much money; wore hand-me-downs; weren’t athletic; if your parents were divorced; if your mother worked; if someone popular didn’t like you.

The trouble was, I wanted to be in the popular group but I didn’t always like how they treated other people. One friend’s mom told me I had to be friends with everyone. This made me confused and worried. I really didn’t like everyone (not even all the popular kids). How could I be friends with everyone?

So I asked my mom. And she gave me words of wisdom I still carry and apply today. She said, “You don’t need to be friends with everyone. You don’t have to like everyone. You won’t always agree with everyone- even people you do like.”

“But you have to be kind to everyone, no matter how you feel about them. You have to treat them with compassion and kindness.”

So, years after her passing and years into parenthood, the lesson still applies. I may never understand the weight someone else is carrying, but I can do my best not to make it heavier, even if I can’t make it lighter. I can consider others feelings and circumstances before I react. I can also remember I’m generally not the reason someone is irritated, even if they are acting irritated with me.

By treating others with kindness and compassion, even when I don’t want to be friends, I end up being the kind of woman I really want to be. And I also model the behavior I want to help my children learn.

Thanks, Mom!

Please share what your mom taught you or what you teach your kids that you hope they’ll always remember.

Sky Diving

I awoke one morning thinking birth is like sky diving. This thought comes, ironically, into the mind of a woman afraid of heights. A woman, perhaps least likely to personally determine the accuracy of the idea, as I have no intention of voluntarily jumping out of a plane. Even so, here are the aspects of each that lead me to the conclusion:

  • With both birth and sky diving, others can witness the events, read about and discuss different options and become educated by ideas. But we can’t really KNOW birth or skydiving until you’ve been there.
  • All the preparation and education available doesn’t eliminate unseen risks, although both are relatively safe when the processes (steps involved) are understood.
  • Both are life-affirming events, and are not medical events unless and until a medical need is present.

And perhaps the most important comparison, both have dual aspects of perception:

When sky diving are you falling or weightless? This opposite-yet-simultaneous perception, this duality of experience is also present during birth.

The energy of labor, the contractions, can be painful and ecstatic at the same time. The exhilaration of the process, the overwhelm, the anticipation are merged with the ebb and flow of timeless labor. When you’re in the middle, everything takes a moment and an eternity. It’s overwhelming, all-consuming, everything.

During labor I held the most intense feelings I’ve ever experienced. But they could not be neatly labeled as one thing or another at any moment. The sensations physically and emotionally intertwined so completely that a new, unnameable experience was created in me.

Did it hurt? Yes.

But it opened me in a way I had never opened before. My body shifted. My heart shifted. My being shifted. I was no longer the me I thought I knew. I suddenly understood that my capabilities are not definite, but infinite.

I still think sky diving might be like that. (And I’m still not sure I’ll ever know.)

My Body Knew

As part of the Healthy Birth Blog Carnival from Amy Romano’s blog at Science and Sensibility, I wanted to add my two cents about this month’s topic, Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.

The first time around, I was so excited to see that my hospital was ahead of the game. They even had squat bars as part of the “special birthing beds” so women could labor upright and be in a more natural position to push. I talked to my doctor about it, got his confirmation that this would be fine, and included it in my birth plan. I knew from what I read (and instinctively it fit) that pushing in an upright position was easier on the body because the pelvis is open wider.

On the day of my labor, when the time came to push, the nurse began setting up the bed with stirrups. I reminded her I wanted to use the squat bar. She told me there were no doctors who used the squat bar, mine included. The doctor said, I won’t be able to see anything! I persisted. I insisted. (Women who have been through labor will understand that arguing can be quite difficult at this stage of labor, especially with an overwhelming urge to push.)

Although the staff agreed to let me try, I was allowed to push squatting for 3 contractions before being told, This isn’t working, and put on my back for the remainder of the birth.

(It occurred to me later that the doctor didn’t really need to see, and that if he really did want to see, the entire bed could be raised up 2-3 feet.)

The second time around, I let my midwife and doula know how important it was to me that I be encouraged (not just allowed) to follow my body, especially for pushing. I labored in the tub for about an hour before my water broke, and I quickly felt like bearing down. I went from hands and knees to semi-squatting, then back to hands and knees between contractions. It felt so natural and good to move with my body.

My daughter was born with a nuchal arm (her head and hand/arm together) and there was some tearing, but I didn’t even feel it. I felt only the power of the moment, the roar of a birth goddess within me, following intuitive guidance from the body I had learned to trust.

I learned later that many women, given the freedom to do so (both physical freedom and freedom from self-consciousness) will draw up into a semi-squat naturally, to open more fully to birth their babies.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to trust my body to birth. And I am blessed to be surrounded by women who trusted me to follow my body. My body knew exactly what to do.