birthing mom holds nitris oxide mask over face

How Parenthood Transforms Us

Isn’t it amazing how becoming a parent transforms us? In this first episode of The Navigating Parenthood Podcast, I share how my personal parenting journey evolved my brand, Navigating Parenthood, and how I help families through pregnancy, postpartum, and of course, parenthood. 

Join me as we dive into how your birthing experience doesn’t end when you give birth to your baby, the impact of experiencing birth trauma, and the importance of connecting with your baby in the womb. I also touch on neurodivergence, which is a topic you can expect in future episodes. I hope that you enjoy this vulnerable episode and remember you are not alone on your parenting journey!

Listen to This Podcast Episode

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

[01:46] How Navigating Parenthood started

[05:58] Perinatal mood anxiety disorder

[07:00] The impact of experiencing birth trauma 

[09:27] The fourth trimester is an extension of pregnancy

[11:57] The importance of touch 

[16:04] Becoming a lactation consultant, oral ties, and torticollis

[20:34] Having a mother blessing ceremony 

[22:39] What does a baby and parent wellness practitioner do?

[24:20] Why I created this podcast – helping you to eliminate the phrase “I wish I knew this when”

How Navigating Parenthood Started

Ever since I was a child, I have had an entrepreneurial heart. I grew up with my dad owning his own business and trying out different inventions, concepts, and ideas. I even started a local kids club where we would go door to door selling paintings or candy. Later down the road, I became a certified nursing assistant. I did this for a few years but did not feel like this was my passion. I loved helping people but I wanted to be more creative. I found myself wanting to write books, publish poems, or write for TV. This led me to go to school for creative writing and I eventually worked for a newspaper and then got a job at The George Lucas Educational Foundation. This was an amazing opportunity where I learned how to build websites.

After my contract ended and I met my husband, I started freelancing. As I was freelancing, I thought back to a time when I worked at a company called Pop Sugar. During this time, I learned what blogging was and I thought to myself “I can do this”. So I started a general parenting blog, that I named Savvy Everyday after my daughter. After doing this, I realized that I wanted to do more than just have a blog. I started to think about how hard it is for families to go to the hospital and do parenting classes. Moms are usually there by themselves because both parent’s work schedules usually do not align. I thought there had to be a better way. I wanted to create an online course that parents could access together and both be present during this important time. I knew that I needed training to bring this expertise to life so I trained as a birth doula to create this course. 

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

During the time that I was training to be a birth doula, I also learned that I had perinatal mood anxiety disorder (PMAD). This disorder impacted my life in many ways including lost friendships. It was hanging over me for six years and I felt so much shame because I could not openly talk to people about what I was going through.

Being able to put a name to what I was feeling was life-changing for me. Even though I went to therapists and counseling, they were not trained enough to know what this was. Once I found this out, it started my path to healing and eventually led me to learn about postpartum doulas. 

The Impact of Experiencing Birth Trauma 

In my 20s, I had a very easy first birth experience. I had an epidural, and catheter, and did not look like I was ever pregnant even just a few days later. Then I experienced my first-ever natural birth, which you can learn more about here. With this birth, I was the heaviest I had been in my life and it was a lot on my body. I was swollen, achy, and very uncomfortable in my body.

I ended up having a very fast birth which was amazing but then I started to have sweats, cold flashes, aches, and pains, all of which I never experienced before. I did not know what was going on so after I was discharged, I spent the entire day in the ER. They did internal ultrasounds and at the end of the day, they told me that I was having normal birth pains. This was a pivotal moment for me because it took them all day to figure out that this was normal postpartum stuff. From then on, I realized more parents needed to be informed about this. 

The Fourth Trimester

After going through that experience, I created the first-ever postpartum prep course where I brought in other doulas, baby sleep experts, lactation specialists, and mental health therapists. I wanted parents to know what to expect before having their baby because your birthing experience does not end when you birth your baby. It is called the fourth trimester for a reason – this is an extension of your pregnancy. Your baby does not know that they are a separate being from you.

You need to know what to expect and what you will be going through. I saw that many people did not, and this was unfair because it is your body. It has been a long road trying to educate people on reframing their thinking on postpartum. How you care for your body when you are trying to conceive and through pregnancy, affects how postpartum will go. Even simple things like getting your padsicles ready makes a world of difference in postpartum. 

The Importance of Touch 

As I continued down this path, I was being led in many directions. I learned about infant massage which was wonderful and led me to train in craniosacral therapy. In recent years, I have learned about how tense babies’ bodies are and everything that they go through in the womb before they are born. If you then add in a traumatic birth experience or an accident, there is an even bigger need for bodywork. 

It is also important because the sense of touch is the first thing that babies experience. At eight weeks gestation, they can feel. This is why rubbing your belly and connecting with your baby is so important. Skin-to-skin is also important because it helps them to co-regulate, they can smell you and be reminded of who you are, they hear your sounds, and they feel you. 

There is a study that says kids need a minimum of eight hugs a day for a better quality of life. I honestly think we all need extra hugs. When we are burnt out, sometimes just a hug from our partner or child can melt away so much tension. So as I learned how important the sense of touch is, I have integrated that into working with my children and every other family ever since. 

I also wanted to say that I am neurodivergent. I have ADD, OCD, and I am sure by today’s standards I would be considered autistic in a way. All of my children are neurodivergent as well and in future episodes, you will hear me talk about the traumas related to being neurodivergent and the ways that parenting and life may differ.

The Tongue Tie Journey

As I went on, I learned that I wanted to become an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). I breastfed my 13-year-old for 4 and a half years (the last year being nighttime weaning). I also learned how important it was to have the ability to take trainings at home. 

When I had my now five-year-old, I was training as a lactation educator counselor — which is one of many educational steps toward becoming an IBCLC. Most of my trainings coincide with having a baby because my nesting phase always includes me hunkering down and learning something new. My creativity surges and I get excited about new things and creating as much as I can before baby is here and I have less time. 

As I was training as a lactation educator counselor (LEC), I was learning about torticollis and looked at my daughter to do a demo evaluation and sure enough spotted torticollis! She did have oral ties that were revised and I had been doing infant massage with her since birth, but I did not know she had torticollis until that moment. We ended up going to physical therapy (PT) for a long time and she was one of those babies who wanted to stand more than she wanted to crawl. At nine months, she was walking around holding onto things and started walking solo at 12 months old. I am now training in primitive reflexes and it is interesting to look back on this because I did not realize how important crawling was back then and how detrimental encouraging her to walk — per advice I was given by her care team— versus spending more time in crawling was. 

The Last Baby Concept

It was also when I was pregnant with my now five-year-old that I decided to have a mother blessing instead of a baby shower because she was supposed to be our last baby and I needed a gathering of support and advice about the having that “last baby.” My mother blessing ceremony experience was amazing. I felt strongly about not appropriately Navajo culture or any other culture so my mother blessing looks very different from others you will find via an online search. This was a gathering focused on community and self care of everyone there, not just me as a way of saying thanks for being on the pregnancy journey with me. 

What is a Baby & Parent Wellness Practitioner?

I went from publishing to becoming a baby and parent wellness practitioner but it wasn’t a quick switch. I started with birth doula training, then postpartum doula training, became an infant massage instructor and lactation educator counselor, then I trained in mother warming followed by a different postpartum doula certification, becoming an infant and adult craniosacral therapist, becoming a breastfeeding specialist, training in oral ties and airway and reflexes, and my journey just keeps going. I am training in myofunctional therapy next and am also starting more primitive reflex and neuroplasticity trainings because it’s all connected and an amazing rabbit hole that just gets deeper and deeper as you go.

And because everything is connected and I am trained in all of these areas, I address the entire family ecosystem with each client from a whole person, functional care perspective. When you come to me, I am thinking about polyvagal theory, looking at your emotional and mental health, and your body because I know that tension relates to the neurology of a person. I also want to see if your baby is bottle feeding or body feeding and if there is any compensation in their mouth as they feed because that is going to affect them down the line. When you work with me, I am looking at the entire picture.

Why I Created This Podcast

I created this podcast because I cannot go back in time and make all the changes I wish I could for my own health, but I hope I can save another family from spending years searching for answers. With each of my children, I am learning lessons and am taking the knowledge that I have learned along the way and sharing it here.

I have spent thousands of dollars training in many different areas that people do not normally train in. I know that everything within the body is connected and I want to help you as much as I can. I know what it feels like to think “I wish I knew that” and feel the guilt. If I can help you learn something just in time, that would mean everything to me. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback while opening up more conversations to help you learn more!

Resources mentioned:

Birth Story One

Birth Story Two

Mother Blessing Ceremony

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