Mind Body Medicine

Mamas on Bedrest: What Freedoms Do You Desire?

July 3rd, 2011

My friend Maddy wrote an awesome blog post in honor of The 4th of July. She posed this question,

“What do you want independence from? Or I really prefer to ask… what kind of FREEDOM do you desire?”

She then proceeded to list her desires for herself, her family and her ife.

I pondered her question and posted my desires in the comments to the post. This is what I desire for myself and my family:

  • I want to live where ever I want in the world.
  • I desire to create a warm, comforting home for my family and a haven for loved ones to visit and to always be welcome.
  • I desire to do work that I love, to create a career that not only satisfies my intellecutal needs but also provides financial stability, abundance, independence and freedom so that I can support myself and my children comfortably.
  • I desire to choose healthy, nutrient dense foods, healthful supplements and integrative health care to maintain a healthy, strong body.
  • I desire to engage in regular, health enhancing exercise such as cycling, NIA dance, yoga and strength training.
  • Finally, and most importantly to me, I desire the freedom to love with reckless abandon, wholeheartedly and  free from judgement.

What do other mamas, mamas on bedrest in particular, desire for themselves, their families and specifically for their yet to be born babies?

If you have never considered your deepest heart’s desires, I encourage you to take some time and do so now. What do you want for yourself?  What is your vision for your life? What do you want for your baby? Start a desire journal and write your desires down. Writing down your desires helps to speed them to you. So don’t delay.

Please share your desires in the comments section below.

Mamas on Bedrest: What Do You Desire?

November 16th, 2010

I went to a “Desire Intensive” this past weekend with “Mama Gena” Regena Thomashauer. The intensive was just that and along with much pageantry, there was a lot of substance. Mama Gena kept bringing the focus back to, “What do you desire?” It was a question that left a lot of us dumbfounded.

What do you desire? For many of us, the immediate answers are “a good life,” “lots of money” or “a mate”. And let’s not forget the favorite, “I just want to be happy.” But what does that really mean? As Mama Gena pointed out, when we answer “a good life,” we have a vision in our minds of what a good life is, what it looks like, where we’d be living, what we’d be doing and with whom. What is lots of money? Does that mean the ability to no longer live paycheck to paycheck or that you want to be a global economic force? And as far as a mate, do you want a legal spouse, someone with whom you share your life yet may never marry, or a companion but not an intimate partner? It’s these specifics that Mama Gena forced us to gaze upon and to ruminate over to discern just what we want out of our lives.

So I’m taking a page out of Mama Gena’s book. Mamas on Bedrest, what do you desire for the child (or children) that you are currently carrying? When I was struggling with my own pregnancies, my response was simply “I just want a healthy baby”.

It’s true that we all want our children to be healthy. However, most of us have a dream, an ideal, a desire of the type of life we want for our children. Perhaps we want them to be able to go to schools that we were unable to attend, to have clothes or toys or other opportunities that we didn’t have.  Maybe we want to share experiences with them that gave us great joy or to teach them certain things about our families or life. Whatever our desires for our children may be, I would be willing to wager a large sum that it’s more than simply being “a healthy baby.”

I feel this most acutely with my daughter. She was my first successful, and most difficult, pregnancy. I did want her to be born healthy. I believed that once she got here everything else would take care of itself. But in truth, I wanted so much more for her. Yet, when I was pregnant with her I was so worried that I would lose her that I rarely if ever focused on her future-not even the near future just after her birth.

There is a saying in my tradition that goes, “The mother’s temperament during pregnancy will be transferred to the baby.” I have no evidence to back this statement but my if my daughter’s personality and behavior are any indicator there is some truth to the statement. While I was pregnant with my daughter I lived totally in fear of losing her. I spotted early on and had cramping early in the second trimester. I was nauseated for the entire pregnancy and had a barrage of aches and pains. By the time the third trimester rolled around, I just wanted her out. The way she rumbled and roamed around my belly, I think she felt the same way and at 36 weeks and 6 days, we were both obliged by intractable labor and an immediate cesarean section delivery.

Now, 8 years later I have a beautiful and smart little girl who is friendly and outgoing, but lacks confidence and often fears something bad is going to happen. As I have said, I have no evidence that my thoughts during my pregnancy with her somehow transferred to her personality, but I can’t help wondering if there isn’t some truth to the sayings of the wise women in my family.

If I had it to do over I would have focused my energy on being strong and confident in the fact that I was finally pregnant and that despite many of the “road bumps”  I was doing well. I would have focused on the positive aspects of being an African American woman in this often cold and unfriendly American culture. I would have collected mementos and trinkets from family members like my grandparents that had already passed on, who possessed wisdom and experience and who lived such extraordinary lives in the face of adversity and as a result she now benefits from their acts of courage. I was unaware of the mind/body connection then. Rather than lament missed opportunities,  I act from where I am now doing my best to infuse her with all the bits of wisdom that I have amassed.

Mamas on Bedrest, you have a golden opportunity. I understand your fears and concerns about your pregnancies.  However, I want to encourage you to shift your focus from fear and worry to desire. What do you desire for your baby? Dwell on it, dream about it. As it says in the bible,

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

If you want your baby to have a strong foundation in your family history, ask older family members to record their stories-either in print, via recording or best of all, via video. Read your favorite books to your baby. Play your favorite music to your baby. As the saying goes, if you can believe it, you can receive it.

There has been much written about the power of the mind to create. I believe this to be true. So Mamas on Bedrest, with your abundance of time to create, give in to your dreams and dwell on the desires that you have for yourself, your family and your new little baby.

Mamas on Bedrest: Your Love is The Medicine Your Little One Needs to Survive

August 31st, 2010

The Most Heartbreaking News

It was almost too heartbreaking to read. After 20 minutes of trying, neonatologists had to tell Kate Ogg that her tiny little son Jamie, born at a mere 27 weeks and weighing only 2 lbs, was gone.

A Mother’s Loving Touch

Despite the fact that twin sister Emily was doing well, Kate Ogg and her husband David clung to each other and tiny Jamie completely absorbed in their grief. “I couldn’t let him go,” says Ogg. She stayed there, clutching the tiny body to her chest. Miraculously, after two hours of being hugged, stroked, talked to and kissed by his mom, little Jamie began showing signs of life.  First, it was just a gasp. The doctors assured Ogg and her husband that this was simply reflex a breath and that little Jamie was in fact gone. But when the infant began to stir a bit more, Ogg put a drop of breast milk on her finger and little Jamie drank it. Ogg could hardly believe her eyes. Then little Jamie opened his eyes, lifted his hand and grasped her finger. He finally turned his head from side to side. Even the doctors stared in disbelief. Little Jamie was alive, safe and secure in his mother’s arms against her chest.

Kangaroo Care

Numerous research studies have reported on the effects of a mother’s love and touch on infants, especially premature infants. Kangaroo Care, the position that Ogg unknowingly assumed with little Jamie, consists of placing a diaper clad premature baby in an upright position on a parent’s bare chest – tummy to tummy, in between the breasts.  The baby’s head is turned so that the ear is above the parent’s heart. Many studies report that this position soothes the infant; steadying heart rate, calming respiration, alleviating tummy upset and soothing colic. This soothing position has also shown to help babies sleep, gain weight and thus progress enough to leave the NICU and go home. Some researchers dispute the efficacy of kangaroo care, stating that data is too subjective and there are few measurable endpoints.  Most studies have proven that Kangaroo Care has a major, positive impact on babies and their parents. Some studies have proven there is no change, but no study has proven that Kangaroo Care has hurt either parent or baby.

The Mind/Body Connection, A Mother’s Love and Mamas on Bedrest

Jennifer Gunter, MD, gives a wonderful explanation of Mind-Body medicine in her book, The Preemie Primer.

“Mind-Body medicine is the idea that our thoughts and emotions influence physical health, and harnessing this connection improves both emotional and physical well-being.”

Gunter further explains that chemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones send messages all over the body. These chemicals can either stimulate a stress response or be controlled and used to effect positive health outcomes. While thoughts are not enough to cure disease alone, they can certainly be complimentary.

So what does this mean for Mamas on Bedrest? It means that your thoughts can influence your pregnancy outcome. Bed rest is never anyone’s idea of a great way to spend pregnancy. Unfortunately, about one out of every five pregnancies ends up on bed rest for part of the pregnancy. You may be feeling somewhat discouraged on bed rest, worried and afraid that things won’t turn out well. Stop those negative thoughts-NOW! Because your thoughts affect your body’s chemicals, negative thoughts send out negative brain chemicals and hormones and can have a negative effect on your health and the health of your baby. Start now to tell your baby how much you love him or her. Sing happy songs to your baby, read to him and envision holding your little darling. While this may seem silly, you are actually changing the chemical make up of your body and the chemical make up of your pregnancy. But don’t believe me, look at what soothing words and loving thoughts did for little Jamie Ogg!

How have you used positive imagery and soothing thoughts to get you through your bed rest experience? Share you successes as well as you challenges in our comments section.

Do finances have you worried while on bed rest? Stay tuned to some exciting news coming from Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.