Holistic Childbirth has a new classroom! Stay tuned for an upcoming Open House and more details of new partnerships, new classes and details on the new space! We will now be located down the hall from Fine Spirit Studio at 201 Dey Street, Suite 203 in Ithaca, NY. Looking forward to seeing you in the new classroom. :) - Kate
Breastfeeding can be one of the most satisfying relationships a mother can have with her child. It is also something that women can really struggle with. I have a lot of theories on why that is- we don’t really support breastfeeding mothers, cultural taboos, hospitals send new moms home with formula, misinformation/lack of breastfeeding education, we don’t see a lot of breastfeeding happening, women often go back to work after 6-12 weeks- to name a few. In the beginning of a nursing relationship, breastfeeding can be painful while mom and babe are figuring each other out. How a mom decides to feed her baby is a personal choice and needs to work for everyone involved. Likewise, it is important to make your choices with the right information- and even better- with support.
So here is another reason why I love living in Ithaca. Especially if you are a mom who is interesting in breastfeeding or professional who support breastfeeding moms. We have some of the best breastfeeding support in the world! There are some amazing lactation consultants, counselors, birth educators, nurses and doctors who are committed to helping new moms with breastfeeding. We even have a free clinic open weekly at Jillian’s Drawers where women can stop in and ask questions.
A group of professionals who are committed to supporting women with breastfeeding have come together to form the Ithaca Breastfeeding Coalition. The Coalition is putting on their fist conference June 1st, 2012 to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn on E. Seneca Street. The conference is “A Day with Catherine Watson Genna”. Catherine is a world renowned breastfeeding expert with a special focus on tongue tie. This is a conference for people who support mothers in their early days of breasfeeding. Some of the many topics will be, Assessing Tongue Tie, The First 48 Hours, and Red Flags for the Breastfeeding Helpers. It will be a great day.
When I teach breastfeeding classes some of the things that I say will help make breastfeeding successful for a mom and baby are: education about breastfeeding, support from her family and friends (especially her partner), support from the baby’s doctor, time to figure it out, and other breastfeeding moms. This conference will allow those who support breastfeeding moms, help those moms find their own success with breastfeeding. Here is the web link for more info and to register: www.ithacabreastfeedingcoalition.org.
For the past year I have been working with the Ithaca Perinatal Loss Support Group and Ithaca Children’s Garden on a really awesome project. The two groups have combined forces in order to create a Children’s Memorial Bulb Labyrinth. Unlike the current labyrinth at the Ithaca Children’s Garden, it will be a permanent structure – and hopefully be as iconic as Gaia (for out of towners- Gaia is a huge and much loved turtle in the garden).
The garden will have three seasons of blooming bulbs, sculptures in the garden featuring work of local Ithaca artists, benches, a stone path with the help of a good friend Joel Brain of Brainstone, and a beautiful blooming tree in the center. In short- I think the space will be both magical and healing.
So here is what I love so much about this project. One – is that we have had over 90 different groups or individuals contribute to the project and we have raised almost 70% of our whole budget. The community response has been amazing- and the project has really touched hearts. Which brings me to another reason why I love this project-
Loss is something in our culture we don’t really deal with well. Outside of religious rituals, we often don’t have a cultural way to process grief and loss- particularly when someone has lost a child. When we think of pregnancy and of children, we don’t want to think about loss. Talking about perinatal losses is the hardest conversation I have in my classes. It is not common, but it does happen -and it is worth discussing.
This garden is to remember those children. This garden is to honor those parents. It is to hold them in their grief and offer a space for healing, remembering, and in time laughter and play. I like that the memorial garden is part of the children’s garden for that exact reason- children are so good at laughter and play, even when life is hard. It is nice to have the reminder of that. The labyrinth is also a way for the community to give something back to grieving families. When a child dies, everyone is paralyzed- their doctors, friends, family- and this space can offer a place or a project or something to do in the event of a loss.
On a personal level this garden means so many things. For me it is place to remember my own miscarriages, to think maybe those babies have a place to play while I play with my two kids. It is also a place where I can honor the families who have experienced a loss. A place where I can think of them and send them well wishes. It is also political. In some states (Utah, Mississippi) women can be prosecuted if they have a miscarriage or fetal demise- even by the father of the baby. I feel proud to be in a community that is working to remove shame and guilt from the grief of losing a child and at the same time educating about and normalizing perinatal and childhood losses, no matter how rare. And lastly this garden is a gift. It symbolizes what happens when a group of really committed people come together with an idea and it blooms into a beautiful garden.
Thanks to my fantastic web designer, Adam Mills of Bottomless Design, I have this amazing website and blog. This goal has been a long time coming for me and, not only am I proud of the site, I have room to grow my business without making major changes to my “look”. After completing the site, I waited. And waited. And waited.
Social media and blogging has been a foreign concept for me. I love to connect face-to-face to people, so in trying to figure out how to create that same intimate feel in a public space, I have been writing lists of how to do just that on this blog. My mind has been a perpetual to-do list about my next steps. I swing back and forth from, “That is a great idea!”- to: “Who am I to even say anything about anything?”
Needless to say trying new things can be terrifying. I am not sure about you, but I love to read the last chapter of a book just when the book is getting good. I get so excited, I can’t wait to find out what happens. I love to know. With new projects or changes in my life I often ask the following: How do I know if this next step is the right one? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I do something wrong? I don’t know what I’m doing!
In all of my pondering, I remembered that I felt this exact way when I found out I was pregnant with my son 6 years ago. In fact, when I talk to my childbirth education students or counseling clients, they often say the same thing. Without knowing what birth will be like or what having a child will be like, new parents are left with a lot of what-if questions. It is a huge exercise in trust and faith in your own ability. As excited as couples can be for the birth of their baby, many people wonder if they are enough. Will they be able to deliver the baby? Will they be able to cope with the pain in labor? Will the partner be able to help the laboring mom? Will they be good parents? How will their life change? Etc., etc.
When we get to these questions in class, I always smile and say something along the following sentiment: “No one has a clue what they are doing. Everyone just makes the best choices in the moment. And the good news is- if it isn’t working, you have time to change. When you have these what-if moments, stand in a crowded area and look around at everyone and just think, “no one knows how the book will end.” Then sigh with a sense of relief that you are actually doing okay.”
So here I am- with a sigh, it is time to take my own advice. With no clue of what the end of this book will look like, I wanted to say: “Hi. I’m Kate.” I hope we will have a great time talking about birth, parenting, childbirth education and anything else that fits our fancy. It’s nice to be here, and I can’t wait to get to know you a bit better. Until next time…
Check back soon for updates to the Holistic Childbirth Blog.