BirthWays Newsletter

Calm within the Storm: Listening to Your Intuitive Sense

By: Miriam Moussaioff

“Learning to quiet the mind is essential to awakening intuition…Remember that you are learning to listen to what you already know, but that in order to hear, your mind must be quiet rather than full of the things you think you need to learn…” – Frances Vaughan, Awakening Intuition

For parents and mothers-to be, finding time to care for yourself can be challenging. When your life is full of things to do, children to care for, errands to run, meals to cook and work to be done, it’s not easy to take time for yourself (let alone get enough sleep). And yet caring for yourself is the key to staying sane and being able to manage all that is on your plate.

What does caring for yourself really mean? For many parents and mothers-to-be, self care often means taking a break and getting some rest, exercising, pampering your body and/or eating well. This kind of loving attention to the body is important, especially when you are pregnant or parenting young children. And yet there is a deeper part of yourself that also needs attention. This deeper level of caring for yourself involves connecting with who you are —your inner self.

When you make real contact with yourself, you become more present and engaged with life. Feeling present and connected to yourself makes everything easier—from making decisions to navigating the many transitions in parenting. Connecting with yourself also helps you open to intuition—or what some people call your spirit, true nature, or essence. Intuition is a wellspring of deep knowing inside of you, an inner resource that helps you make wiser choices and meet life’s challenges. Like taste and smell, your intuitive sense is available if you open to it and trust it’s guidance. I believe that listening to mother’s (or father’s) intuition is an important way to care for yourself and feel nourished from the inside. The good news is that your intuitive sense is free, very wise, and always available. All you have to do is practice listening and trusting what it has to say!

When my sons were babies, I would often take a few minutes while they were nursing or napping to shift my awareness to my breath, feel my feet on the floor, and notice what was happening for me physically and emotionally. These moments of connecting deeply with my self, however fleeting, were calming and grounding for me back then and still are now that my kids are teenagers. Taking time to connect with yourself and your body opens the door to intuitive guidance and can help you move through the day with more ease.

How do you awaken your intuitive sense? In my work as a workshop facilitator, Rosen bodyworker and professional intuitive, I have created six simple steps to help you access your intuition. I invite you to care for your inner self each day by practicing these simple steps.

May this self-care practice and your intuitive wisdom nourish you so that you can enjoy the dance of life and be the wonderful parent you want to be. I believe you will find that the rewards are well worth the effort.

SIX STEPS FOR CULTIVATING INTUITION

Step 1. Give yourself a few minutes of quiet time. Find a comfortable place to sit (turn off your cell phone). Bring your awareness to what is happening inside you.

Step 2. Quiet the mind.
Feel your breath as you inhale and exhale. Count 10 in-and-out breaths. Notice what is happening in your mind, without getting caught up in it. Let yourself be fully present—with kindness and compassion for your self. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Step 3. Relax your body and ground yourself.
Rest your feet on the floor. Notice what is happening in your body. Are the muscles in your neck or shoulders feeling tight? Listening to intuition starts by being present in your body. Take a few deep breaths and let your body begin to relax. Feel your belly, neck and shoulders soften. Notice any feelings and/or sensations that arise without resisting, trying to change or fix anything. Now, imagine that you are extending a large tree root from the base of your spine into the earth. See or sense this root anchoring deep into the heart of the earth. Feel the earth supporting you to be here.

Step 4. Imagine a protective cocoon around you.
Imagine there is a protective boundary around you. See yourself inside a golden cocoon with a gold perimeter, feeling totally safe, protected and loved. Visualize filling the inside of your cocoon with a color that feels healing.

Step 5. Be receptive.
Pay attention to feelings, sensations, messages, hunches, images, colors, dreams, and impressions. Intuition often speaks through the body as a gut feeling or knowing, or as mental pictures, telepathy, sounds, symbols, and synchronicity. Invite and allow rather than trying to make something happen. Intuition is a way of knowing that may not make sense to your rational mind. Be receptive to what your intuition says even if your head does not understand.

Step 6. Open to your intuitive sense.
Ask for guidance (about anything you wish) with an expectation that you will receive an answer. Focus your awareness on your heart or on the area behind your brow. Imagine welcoming your wise inner self or spirit to be here, the way you would welcome a beloved child into your arms. Relax and be patient.

If you get a hunch or gut feeling about something, however it comes, pay attention. The more you listen to your intuitive guidance the more it speaks. Test the information you receive. Give yourself some time each day to ground, meditate, and ask for guidance. In time, your intuitive sense will become a trusted source of wisdom and guidance.

Parenting can be hard work. While every parent needs and deserves support from friends, family, and community, you also have a powerful source of support right here inside you. So when that next decision or challenge arises, let yourself slow down for a few moments. Focus your awareness inside and ask your intuitive sense what it has to say. Take a few deep breaths to calm your mind, relax your body, and listen for a response. It might come right away or a few days later. Be patient and receptive. Caring for your self and listening to what’s going on inside—even for a few minutes each day—can help you manage the demands of daily life. With practice, you will discover some shiny pearls of wisdom right here inside of you.


 

Miriam Lelah Moussaioff is a Professional Intuitive, Rosen Bodywork Practitioner with a Master in Intuition Medicine. Miriam teaches classes in intuitive development and maintains a private practice in Berkeley, California offering individual intuitive consultations and bodywork. Learn more about her work at www.intuitivesense.org. Miriam has been teaching workshops since 1995, including groups for mothers and mothers-to-be. She brings a compassionate, intuitive and joyful approach to her work. Miriam can be reached at miriam@intuitivesense.org or 510.525.0679.

Envelop Yourself in Love with Daily Oil Massage

By: Lila Ann Frechette

Loving our bodies can help us love our lives. We can support this love with a daily practice that is as much an exercise in cultivating compassion, as it is of nurturing physical and physiological wellness. By lightly oiling your body for five to fifteen minutes, you can revitalize your nervous system and dispel stress—perfect to do right before getting in the shower.

The Practice
Massaging oil on your body can be done as a quick covering starting at your head and working your way down to your toes, or it can be done as a mindful meditation, massaging oil on the individual parts of your body and appreciating how each part serves you as a whole. A thin coating of oil is all it takes. Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes on your joints.
Hint: Warming the oil adds to the delight. Heat the oil by immersing the bottle in a bowl of warmed water, enjoy.

Dry skin is vulnerable to outside elements and irritation. This burden of irritation strains the nervous system and adds to an overall sense of distress. Fortunately, these body-oiling practices are beneficial to your skin, keeping it supple and maintaining its integrity as a source of protection. With longer practices, you will likely also experience a deepened sense of self-compassion and mindfulness.

By tending to your body in this way with oil and massage, you acknowledge and reinforce the boundary of what is yours and what is not yours. This is the ideal opportunity to choose what best supports and nourishes you.

Be selective in what you let in. Olive, sesame, and coconut oil are all good oil options. Sesame is warming and especially nice during the cool winter months. Coconut oil is a good ally for those with heat conditions, like eczema, showing up in their skin. Keep in mind that what you put on your skin is assimilated and becomes a part of you, if only temporarily.

Think of this daily dose of self-care as a blessing of compassion, wellness, and protection. In Sanskrit the word sneha means both “oil” and “love”. As you massage the oil on your body, consider the significance of this action and the effects of enveloping yourself in love.


Lila Ann Frechette works as an ally to women’s wellness. Providing hands-on healing, compassionate support, and effective self-care suggestions. It is her desire to assist you to find ease in your body, move thru challenges supported, and ultimately open up to your full potential. Lila Ann is a massage therapist, a Maya abdominal therapies practitioner and a holistic lifestyle consultant. Lila can be reached at: Lunabeebody.com or (510) 861-2572.

Ease Pregnancy Related Backaches with 9 Simple Tips

By: Dr. Ariel Provasoli

As you may know, during pregnancy many women experience discomfort from all the changes their bodies are going through. It’s not unusual to hear soon-to-be moms sharing about back pain as the baby grows into new places and their center of gravity shifts. These drastic changes can cause an imbalance in the spine and also aggravate imbalances that previously went unnoticed as the hormone relaxin increases and the body’s joints loosen.

Here are nine tips you can use to help prevent mild achiness.

  1. Move Your Body: If you are working at a desk or sitting still, get up and take a break several times an hour. You can go on a short walk, get a glass of water or stand up and do some shoulder rolls. When you sit, use a small wedge or a hand towel folded into thirds and placed under your sit bones. Using this support will tilt your pelvis forward, slightly lifting and lengthening the muscles that flex your hips and tighten as your baby grows.
  2. Lift Properly: Chances are you have a little one who wants to be picked up or if this is your first pregnancy you aren’t experienced in what your physical limits may be quite yet. When you lift, be sure to keep your spine straight and hinge at your hips, drop your behind low so your chest is close to what you are picking up and hold it close to you. The further away the object is from you, the more strain it will put on your spine. Avoid twisting to reach for something in the car or while doing laundry or loading a dishwasher.
  3. Stand Well: Your abdominal muscles are changing and the loss of their engagement can cause low back pain as well as pubic bone pain. While you’re standing you can still engage those lower tummy muscles and relieve discomfort by softening the backs of your knees and tucking your tailbone down toward the floor. This shift will create some relief by removing the curve from your lower back, which is being exaggerated by the weight of your baby.
  4. Exercise: Regular exercise during your pregnancy will help get your body’s natural endorphins going and it will also help keep your endurance up to prepare you for labor. Walking, swimming, prenatal yoga or pilates, and some bodyweight exercises and cardio are all great. Getting regular adjustments will help keep your joints moving and properly aligned so you can do these activities pain free.
  5. Rest Well:Living in the beautiful Bay Area it’s easy to do, do, do. NOW is the time to get good rest. Rest can be taking a nap, getting a massage, having a day with nothing planned, or reading a book (not being on a computer reading). Rest is equally as important as sleep.
  6. Meditation: By taking time to calm your mind or disengage from all the new information you may be getting from every angle about your pregnancy and what to expect, you are creating space to check in with your breath, yourself and your baby. Using visualization and breath can be the most self supportive things you can bring to your birth and clearly visioning what you desire will help you to create a calm, confident space for yourself before you embark on your birth journey.
  7. Sleep Right: Sleep is a common issue for pregnant women and to make it more comfortable start with your mattress: it should be supportive and not too soft. Side sleeping with a fort of pillows will best support your body. Place a pillow between your knees and arms so you have something to hug. A thin pillow placed under your ribs where your waist is, and maybe something under your growing belly will help support those areas too.
  8. Under Do It: You’ve heard people say, “I just over did it today.” A goal I like to suggest is to Under Do It. This is an opportunity for you to check in with yourself throughout each day and ask yourself where you’re at: physically, mentally and emotionally. If there’s too much going on, you are on the brink of being overwhelmed or you’re starting to feel physical discomfort ask for help or delegate a chore to someone else. And if a friend, family member or doula offers their help, accept it. Getting assistance won’t push you beyond your limit and your body and baby will thank you.
  9. Ask Me: Pain, whether in your back, pelvis, neck, or hands and feet is never normal, especially during pregnancy. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, please consult with a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care. This specific work is largely focused on assisting women feel more comfortable throughout their entire pregnancy by removing imbalances in the body. Chiropractic adjustments are gentle, safe and naturally remove interference which may be in the way of your body’s own self healing capabilities. Regular chiropractic care during pregnancy assists with reducing pain and discomfort. I would be happy to answer questions you may have or find the right person to work with you through my extensive network of perinatal practitioners.

Implementing these tips can help prevent injury and lead to a more comfortable pregnancy while creating a calm environment for you and your baby. Remember the most important way you can take care of your baby while pregnant is to take care of yourself.


Dr. Ariel Provasoli, Family Chiropractor, provides gentle, holistic chiropractic care for the whole family, specializing in pediatrics, pregnancy and postpartum care. Please contact us via our website: www.berkeleyflow.com to schedule your complimentary 60 minute phone consultation on Creating Your Ideal Pregnancy or an appointment at Flow Chiropractic and Family Wellness Center.

Five Super Foods to Support Postpartum Moms

By: Virginia Watkins

Gestation and childbirth are no easy task, even at the cellular level. Your body needs specific foods to replenish nutrient stores, help you feel more energized, and to support the healing process. If you are breastfeeding, eating a nourishing diet not only helps you feel better, it can increase the quality of your breast milk.

Besides filling your pantry and fridge with nourishing foods, it’s important to make time to eat. Ask your partner or a friend to take your baby for a walk while you sit down and enjoy a meal for twenty to thirty minutes. That simple act can feed you in many ways; it supports better digestion; the body can absorb nutrients more efficiently in a more relaxed state; and mindful eating leads to more satisfaction so you’re more likely to eat the amount that you need.

Here’s a list of five foods you can buy or easily make, some yummy serving suggestions, and how they benefit you and your baby.

    1. Cultured dairy
      Organic whole milk yogurt and kefir help replenish calcium stores. Their supply of healthy fat and protein also stabilizes blood sugar levels, resulting in more energy and better moods. While some women are not able to digest milk, cultured dairy contains much less lactose than regular milk and has beneficial probiotics. These healthy bacteria strengthen the immune system and help with nutrient absorption.
      Calcium, in particular, is used in utero for growing bones. Even if you’ve taken calcium supplements before and throughout your pregnancy, food remains the best source of absorbable calcium.
      Serving Suggestions: To reduce processed sugar intake, look for plain organic whole milk yogurt and kefir. Use bananas and berries as natural sweeteners or a spoonful of preserves, local honey, or maple syrup. Add crumbled walnuts or slivered almonds for an even greater nutrient boost.
    2. Mollusks (oysters, mussels, and particularly, clams)
      These two-shelled morsels contain more iron than liver or red meat. If you’re not a meat or mollusk eater, spinach and molasses are good sources of plant-derived or heme-iron, but they still provide less iron than animal foods, which contain more absorbable heme-iron.

      During childbirth, women commonly lose blood, which can result in an iron deficiency. Without enough iron, a postpartum mom can feel sluggish and depleted, and even become anemic. Since most postpartum moms are also sleep deprived, it becomes more important to support energy levels with adequate iron intake. After having my children, I could feel my energy levels improve postpartum when I ate liver and other iron-rich foods; I even craved them.
      Serving Suggestions: Squeeze lemon on your oysters or add clams to tomato sauce as vitamin C improves the body’s ability to absorb iron.

    3. Dark Leafy Greens
      Looking for a great source of calcium that’s not in a pill or glass? Fresh greens such as rainbow chard, beet greens, dino (lacinato) kale, escarole and arugula are some of my favorites. For convenience, look for the pre-washed varieties. These foods provide a wide spectrum of valuable minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. They’re also good at stabilizing blood sugar levels.Serving Suggestions: Steam greens gently in a covered pot or skillet with a little water or broth; remove center rib of kale or chard and chop thinly to use in salads with a 30-Second Homemade Vinaigrette (see recipe below); add to wraps; or mix greens in warm grain salads with quinoa, millet, or farro.
    4. Natural Sugars
      It’s 3pm and you need a boost. Instead of reaching for foods with processed sugar or a sweet caffeinated concoction at your local café, keep a variety of fresh seasonal fruit on hand. If you’re looking for gluten-free alternatives, try roasting Japanese sweet potatoes and delicata squash; I find these sweeter and more delicious than the other varieties.
      Fresh fruit and starchy vegetables contain important nutrients and fiber that slow down digestion, reducing a blood sugar spike. Without the spike and crash, energy levels remain more stable and less erratic.
      Serving Suggestions: Bring along a piece of fruit when you leave home for a healthy snack on-the-go. Eat your fruit with some nuts. The combination of fruit and nuts will further reduce a spike in blood sugar levels and also satisfy hunger for a longer period of time.Cooking Tip: Preheat oven or toaster oven (it cuts off automatically) to 350 degrees, scrub potato, yam, or squash and place on a tray. Cook for 30-60 minutes depending on the size. The flesh should pierce easily with a fork when done. Serve with coconut oil, nutmeg or cinnamon, and sea salt. With squash, slice open and remove seeds first.
    5. Nuts and Seeds
      Choose your favorites and keep on-hand in a container in your stroller, car, or purse. Hunger may strike unexpectedly if you are breastfeeding. Look for raw or roasted as roasting doesn’t decrease the nutrient content significantly. Choose salted or unsalted; salt is essential for proper cellular function.

      Nuts contain good-quality fats, protein, and fiber, all of which assist in stabilizing blood sugar levels. They are easy to tote and to eat with one hand for a snack if you are holding your baby with the other.

      I recommend almonds for their superior calcium content, walnuts for their high omega-3 content and versatility (soaked and toasted walnuts are my go-to nut), pumpkin seeds for their high zinc levels, which helps with tissue repair, and sesame seeds for their high calcium content.
      Serving Suggestions: Hummus contains tahini, a paste made with sesame seeds, so if you like hummus, eat it with sugar snap peas, carrots (scrubbed but not peeled as most of the nutrients are in the skin), and cherry tomatoes. These veggies are all easy to prepare and are full or phytonutrients. Personally, I prefer dipping carrot sticks in roasted salted almond butter for a yummy high-calcium snack.

30-Second Homemade Vinaigrette
Makes about ¾ cup

  • 2 Tbs aged vinegar such as sherry (my favorite), red wine, or champagne vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea or mineral salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Shake together in a sealed jar until well blended. Shake again as needed.

It does not need to be refrigerated. Both vinegar and olive oil are shelf-stable ingredients.

This week make a commitment to try at least one or two of these foods recommended here. Start with what appeals to you most and notice if you feel more nourished.


Virginia Watkins completed her post-graduate studies in Nutrition Education at Bauman College in Berkeley, CA. While an undergraduate at Duke University, she studied French cooking in Montpellier, France, continuing an early fascination with food. In addition to working with families and individuals, Virginia has spoken to hundreds of people in community talks and workshops, organizes grocery tours, and teaches hands-on, in-home cooking classes to individuals and groups. She is also the mother of a two well-fed boys, ages five and eight.

Self Care for Parents: Create a Listening Sanctuary

By: Angela Jernigan

We now know more than ever before about the kinds of social and emotional interactions that babies and young children need from their parents in order to grow into emotionally healthy, cognitively sharp, and morally adept adults. There is tons of information out there about how to nurture the connection that our young ones need in order to thrive. However, as parents we are far more socially isolated, and dealing with a wider range of stressors and demands, than previous generations of parents had to face. So we have all this great information at our fingertips about what children need to thrive, and we are alone spinning in thoughts and feelings that make it impossible at times to tune in to the experience of our children in the ways they most need. The bottom line: isolated, stressed out people cannot provide consistent emotional connection to children (no matter how much we understand that children need it). And it’s not our fault! As human beings, we are not built to parent in isolation.

When I was a single mom of a young child, some days seemed endlessly long. By dinnertime, if a tantrum, a meltdown, or a defiant streak came over my child, I wanted to lie down on the kitchen floor and cry myself.  I had done my reading about early childhood development, and I had even received training to teach parents how to connect with children.  I understood that connection breeds cooperation for little ones, but that didn’t help me when I was at the end of my rope.  Information reaches the limit of its usefulness when you are fried, coming unhinged, and alone.

I was a big believer in taking care of myself so I could be the best me possible for my child. There were lots of things I did to maintain my sanity, from great nutrition, to exercise, to regular social outings.  But there was one self care practice that blew all the others of out of the water: my listening partnership. I had taken a class where I learned about listening partnerships, and there I met another single mom who I partnered with to practice. Almost every night I would call her and we would exchange listening time. First one of us would listen for ten minutes to the other, then we’d switch. We used a timer, we kept confidentiality, and we didn’t give one another advice. This ten to twenty minutes a day rocked my whole world.

It sounds too simple to be so helpful. But what I found was that after hours and hours of being with my child, I was brimming over. I was riddled with worries, confusions, complaints, and sometimes surprisingly big feelings of my own. Usually by the time I got to my ten minutes of listening, I felt I couldn’t parent another day. I was done. But my desperate love for this little person I mothered made me pick up the phone and share my experience in the raw with this other mom—who in turn bared her soul to me.  I had close friends, and people I could be pretty open with in my life, but this practice was different from other conversations.  It was like taking a mental shower. I let my listening partner’s warm, caring attention wash over all the stuff I was carrying.  Miraculously, at the end of the ten minutes, my brain felt clearer, I felt more centered and equipped to show up again–tuned in and attentive–to the daily art of loving my daughter.

When we talk about needing a village to raise our children we are absolutely right. We need people to talk to, ask questions of, leave our children with from time-to-time, share the work with, and simply be with while we navigate family life. And we also need places where we can show the raw stuff; places where we won’t be judged or peppered with advice; where we don’t have to “make sense” or “be reasonable” or worry about how anyone else is going to feel about what we’re feeling or thinking. Raising children stirs up so much in us, and our world does not offer a spot where we get to show that, unabashed. But you can create a listening sanctuary for yourself in your life.  Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Make a list of the people in your life who are really warm with you. These might be friends, relatives, a minister or rabbi, neighbors, or even acquaintances.
  2. Identify two or three people who you can approach about creating a listening partnership.
  3. Reach out to these people and ask them if they’d like to try a listening practice with you where you take turns listening and each have a chance to share whatever you are “full” with in that moment. In person is always preferable (at least at first), but Skype, FaceTime, and phone are also fine options.
  4. Tell your listening partner that it is important to try not to mention what you talk about in your listening time outside of the designated time–even with you! You need to be in charge of when that emotional material is brought up. You will do the same.
  5. Agree to keep what you learn about one another to yourselves. Confidentiality keeps the sanctuary safe.
  6. The listener is to put all their attention on the person who is sharing, offering eye contact, smiles and warm expressions, maybe even a hand to hold, without judgment or advice. The listener trusts that the other person will find her own solutions once her mind has cleared and become balanced again.
  7. As a listener, maintain an attitude of confidence, warmth and respect. When listening, know that the person sharing is stronger, smarter, and clearer, than how she may seem right now. Know that the person sharing loves her children just like you do and that she is the best possible parent she can be.
  8. At the end of each turn, the listener can ask the person who just shared if she wants a little question about something unrelated as sort of a palate cleanser. This shifts their attention onto something else. You might ask, “Can you name five kinds of trees?” or “What three colors look great together?”
  9. Remember to use a timer and both take a turn.

If you continue doing this listening practice with the same person or people over time, you will be amazed at the trust and safety you will develop with one another.  You’ll be delighted at how healing and rejuvenating it can be to get to exhale, to be seen and known, in the throws of your life as a parent.


Angela Jernigan is a parent educator and co-founder of Parent Connect East Bay, a Berkeley organization dedicated to the mission “Every Child Heard – Every Parent Supported.” She offers classes, coaching, and listening time to parents who want to grow, heal, and connect even better with their kids.