You Do You: How a Milk Bath Session Affirmed the Importance of Unapologetically Parenting My Own Way
The moment I saw these photos, I burst into tears. It was such a visceral reaction of emotion, belonging and empowerment that I couldn't control.
That is not me or my children in the photos.
No, instead, witnessing another woman embrace her choices, her children and do something for herself that may not be completely embraced by others, made me feel empowered and, for lack of better words, all the feels.
It's hard being a woman and a mother in today's society. With a wealth of information and picture-perfect posts on social media, it's easy for people to develop strong opinions on parenting and what role you should inhabit as a mother. This can be such a toxic environment that limits our ability to really come into our own as parents and as grown women.
What I've strived to do for myself, my daughter and other women stepping into parenthood, is lay out a mantra: listen to your gut, do what you need to do and be who you need to be. When you're following your own north star, you're bound to be a better parent and a happier and more confident person.
It's not easy. We're naturally inclined to feel self-doubt. But there is a freedom that comes with making your own life choices and diving in completely. As a parent, you do this regularly.
What made me feel so hopeful and happy about this beautiful milk bath session, is how I am able to see myself in the images, even though very little about us is the same. I have one child, not two. My daughter weaned herself at two and half. I didn't have the pleasure of having our nursing relationship captured. But I did see someone who is embracing who they are, passing this to their children and giving shrug shoulders to people who may not like the way she parents. I saw a lot of love, both for her babies and for herself.
Could I be getting everything wrong? Absolutely! I can't begin to know a stranger's story. But the more we see beautiful, real and raw images of parenthood and womanhood, the more we feel comfortable sitting in our own realness.
I'm so grateful that people want to capture and share their real experiences of parenting and womanhood. It can be an eye-opening experience for many and a very validating experience for others.
I'm also so proud there are photographers like Meredith who strive to capture the glorious, beautiful messiness and imperfection of life. Photos like this help us realize it's okay to be confident in our choices and ourselves and come as we are.
See more from this amazing milk bath session and other real postpartum session at Meredith Westin Photography.
Interested in a team that will not only build your confidence for birth and parenting, but also capture it? Meredith and I partner together to offer birth support and photography for an exclusive deal. Find out more here.
Many of the Minneapolis and St. Paul parents I work with are interested in having a waterbirth. The amazing news is that in the Twin Cities, families can choose a waterbirth at home with a midwife, at one of our many freestanding birth centers, or even in a hospital.
Providers that support Twin Cities' families during birth know the evidence around waterbirth is strong, which means the option is widely available in the area. Unlike many other states, a majority of the hospitals here in the Twin Cities support a family's desire to have a waterbirth.
If you're interested in having a waterbirth, start by double checking with your provider to make sure the entire practice is comfortable with supporting a waterbirth. While most midwives are incredibly supportive of waterbirth, it can be hit or miss with OBGYN practitioners. If you do have an OB, ensure they're supportive of waterbirth as well as the rest of their team, as you never know who may be at your birth. If it's not guaranteed you'll get a supportive provider, consider switching to a different birthing location.
Many Twin Cities' hospitals offer waterbirth with certain circumstances for when it isn't advised. Double check with your birthing location to make sure you'll be able to not only labor in the tub, but also birth your baby there as well. Few hospitals do not offer waterbirth, or have very strict guidelines, these include Maple Grove Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Fairview Ridges and Southdale Hospital. Though amazing places to have your baby, if you're looking for a waterbirth, you may want to check elsewhere. Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, St. John's Hospital in St. Paul and Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis are all really well-known for waterbirth, though many Twin Cities' hospitals can be a great option!
For families looking at midwifery care, a freestanding birth center may be an excellent option! Twin Cities' birth centers really emphasize waterbirth with amazing amenities, including gorgeous, large birthing tubs! Check out the Minnesota Birth Center, with both Minneapolis or St. Paul locations, Willow Birth Center near Lake Calhoun, Roots Birth Center in North Minneapolis, or Health Foundations Birth Center on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
Lastly, if you're seeking the comfort of home, Minnesota embraces home birth options. The Twin Cities and suburbs have many wonderful home birth midwife practices! From Nourish Midwifery who serves the East and Southeastern Minnesota area, to North Star Midwifery right here in the Twin Cities, there are many choices for families looking for a home water birth. Often times, these practices will also offer birth tub rental for your home.
If you're looking to have a wonderful waterbirth here in the Twin Cities, you're in luck!
All of the gorgeous waterbirth photos included in this blog are by my photography partner, Meredith from Meredith Westin Photography.
Looking for the perfect team for your home birth? Book Birth Doula Support with me and receive a special discount with Meredith. You'll get awesome support and receive amazing photos of your mermaid baby in all their glory!
It took many years and being the busiest I've ever been to say "I think I'm just going to sit and do nothing for 15 minutes at least once a day, every day."
I started to meditate because I'd noticed I was more stressed, easier to anger, overwhelmed, scatter-brained and hard on myself. Ehhem... doesn't this sound like every parent ever?
No matter what you have going on, I'm sure you've felt the above feelings and most likely spiraled into cycles of these negative vibes that have left you wrung out, tired, eating poorly and unhappy.
I'm not trying to be super new age, but meditation yanked me out of this spiral and helped me get back in touch with the awesome things in my life and in me.
Carving out a little time each day made it easier for me reconnect with myself, think about all I am grateful for and get the much-needed me time I was craving.
I've noticed I'm much slower to anger, I have much more energy, I make smarter choices during the day, feel more creative and less cloudy, all because I took time to start my day with a blank slate.
All of the wonderful benefits of meditation not only made me happier, but it made me a better parent and partner. Who do you think was benefitting from my patience and increased energy? The people around me, especially my husband and daughter.
So how do you get started? There are so many ways to build your own meditation practice, but here's some tips on how I started mine.
Make it Routine
If you're going to commit, actually commit. Set aside 15 minutes of your day, at the same time every day to meditate.
Get your family on board. Let your partner and children know that during that small window of time each day, you're busy.
When you tell other people of your intentions, it makes it more likely you'll stick to your plan.
I meditate first thing in the morning after I've washed up. My husband and daughter both know I'll be available to them when I'm done.
Get Some Help
Starting off meditating can be really tricky, so try using guided meditation to start your practice.
You can find a lot of wonderful guided imagery videos online. I really love using the app Calm. There are several free series, including a 7-day introduction to meditation for beginners. I sprang for the subscription and am so happy I did.
If listening to guided meditation isn't your thing, at least set a timer for yourself. It will be much easier to clear your mind and focus on your breath if you aren't constantly wondering if it's been 15 minutes already?
Be Kind to Yourself
You are not going to be perfect right away or maybe ever! Your mind will wander thousands of times and that's okay! The point is that you're taking time to check in with yourself.
Focus on your in and out breath. Let thoughts cross your mind, think them, then let them go. Try again.
Nobody will ever be perfect, but it does require daily practice to get better.
Even if you feel today's meditation was a hot mess, just thank yourself for showing up and taking time for you.