Friday, March 22, 2013

Relaxing While in Labor

Today is the beginning of World Doula Week - Happy Doula week to all the amazing doulas out there!!

So, I was reflecting on birth and babies this morning, because - you know - I reflect on birth and babies a LOT. I am a doula, birth options advocate/activist, and working on my Childbirth Education certification, afterall. Anyway, I was reminded of something that happened last week that made me think about birth. Because, well, you know...

So, we were all sick last week (except for hubby). We suspect it was Influenza A because my sweet baby nephew and his older sister (my darling niece) got diagnosed with it and we spent the previous weekend with them (they didn't know that's what it was at the time). Anyway, bottom line is that the kids and I felt like crap most of the week. Thank goodness we know some home remedies and have good friends who help me with stuff like this!

One of the things we did was take regular Epsom salt/baking soda/peppermint oil baths. On the particularly bad days I gave the kids a couple of them a day. They always felt better afterwards. Since it worked so well for them I decided to take some too. After they were in bed I would run mine and spend as long in there as I could.

One of the evening/nights I did this, Randall wasn't working late - he was home. Usually we have the radio or some kind of music going, and my husband particularly likes his music loud so he can immerse himself in it. Well, for some reason when I got in the tub, the whole house was quiet...I don't even remember what he was doing, other than that it was quiet.

So....I got my relax on. And I mean relaxation to the max. I was definitely tired from fighting for my health all week. My nasal passages were just beginning to clear out/swelling to go down, so I was finally able to breathe out of my nose (almost completely). I sank into the tub and just let my body go. I was in such a state that I was reminded of those tubes that I've heard about where you float in some warm water and it's completely dark and comfortable...I think they are supposed to replicate the feeling of being safe in the womb or something. I don't know...there I go again bringing pregnancy into it ;)

Anyway, you get the idea. I was r.e.l.a.x.e.d. It felt so good. Clearly I needed it.

Then something happened. Randall turned on some music. It wasn't even loud. It was a nice song even. I wasn't expecting it, though, and it jarred me. And I do mean jarred. I jumped, my heart started racing, and no matter how hard I tried to go back to that relaxed state, I wasn't able to - completely, anyway - I was still feeling good, just not to the point I was before he turned the music on. Then he started doing dishes - good for me so I don't have to do it, bad for me while I'm trying to sink into the water and let my body heal. Then he did the most jarring thing. He came into the bathroom to talk to me. Don't get me wrong - I love talking to my's just that him opening the door and coming in to talk to me completely and totally killed any remaining relaxation left in me.

So this whole experience got me thinking. About birth. Specifically about hospital birth.

You know how you've heard that it's SO important to relax during labor? That it helps you have less pain, it helps your baby move down, and generally over-all helps you birth your baby? Well, all that is true. It's *super* important to be able to relax in labor and throughout your birth.

Me in my "birth zone"
So, what if you are in your own "labor-zone" during labor, lights are dim, you are doing a great job at not tensing up during contractions, etc, etc. Your room is quiet with only your awesome support team (husband/partner, doula, etc), maybe some soft music, and everything is going beautifully.

Then something happens. Your nurse comes bustling into the room, flips on a light, and starts talking to you and asking questions, hooks you up to a monitor, and has to take your blood pressure.

You are jarred. Just like I was last week. Your adrenaline starts pumping, and guess what? Your contractions get more difficult to handle because the adrenaline counters the endorphins and hormone cocktail that your body creates and  uses to reduce the pain during labor/birth. After all the bustling around you (and to you) is done, you are allowed to get back into your zone, which can definitely take awhile - honestly it depends on how much practice you have getting into that deep relaxation "place". Depending on your provider, different risk factors you have, etc, you might go through this up to every half hour. Hopefully it's not that often, but it certainly could be. If labor gets more and more difficult because you aren't able to get back into your zone, it's pretty easy to ask for an epidural...

Now, imagine how much quicker and easier labor would be if you were just left alone and if something did need to get checked, there were no physical interruptions (like lights flipped on, monitors beeping, talking above a whisper, etc)...or at least minimal ones. When Randall turned on the music, it really snapped me out of my relaxed state, but I was able to get back almost to where I was relatively quickly. It was each additional thing he did that made it more and more difficult to get back there, and I finally gave up.

I know not all nurses do the "bustling thing". Many of them are totally respectful of laboring mamas. They still have a job to do, though. There are certain things they need to record, hospital protocols to follow, etc. I guess all I'm saying is that if more of them would be a little more gentle in their approach to care for laboring women, it could go a long way. I would go so far to say that it could actually contribute to lowering c-section rates - you've heard of the domino effect of interventions, right? If there were less epidurals, there would be less pitocin augmentation (epidurals often slow down contractions), which would lead to less babies in distress, which would lead to less cesarean deliveries.

Yes, I know it seems too simple, but I wonder what true impact something so simple could actually make. At any rate, I think it would be worth it for your birth to talk to your provider and when you go into the hospital, your nurse(s), about minimal and only gentle interruptions when they need to do something. Because in a state of relaxation and "birth zone", interruptions to mama can be a very big deal.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Childbirth Professional Day - Meet Sara Hansman

What is your Childbirth Profession? 
I am a Certified Birth Doula, Postpartum care products provider, and Placenta Encapsulator

Describe your profession and why someone would want to choose your profession for support in pregnancy and/or childbirth. 
A Birth Doula provides emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. I advocate for and provide support to expecting couples in preparation for childbirth. The birth of a child is something that can only happen once. My job it to help make that experience as fulfilling and wonderful as possible. Along with acting as a doula, I also provide placenta encapsulation services and I make and sell Postpartum Sitz Bath herb teas (Organic Peri-tea) and postpartum healing spray (Peri-Spray). These products all help to improve the healing process after childbirth.  Placenta encapsulation provides an easy way for women to consume their placentas after childbirth. The consumption of one’s placenta, placentophagy, is a wonderful way for women to prevent postpartum depression, increase milk supply , replenish Iron and other nutrients,  and provide mothers with extra energy and improved sleep.

Why did you get started in your profession? 
In 2008 I became pregnant with my first child. During my pregnancy, I began to research my options knowing I wanted a natural, intervention-free childbirth. In the process, I started to feel very connected and passionate about women’s options during childbirth. In that process, I realized I felt called to become a midwife in the future. The timing wasn’t right, but it is a dream of mine. After a c-section due to having a breech baby, I began conducting more research and getting more involved in the birthing community. I had a successful VBAC in 2011 and my passion grew more. I started reaching out to other birth professionals. I met a midwife and she suggested I get my feet wet as a doula. The skills would be valuable to me no matter what area of birth I would get into. I jumped right in and love it!

The postpartum care products started when I realized the friends around me were dealing with the normal discomforts after childbirth and looking for natural options to combat swelling, pain, prevent infection and to speed healing. I made a few sets of Peri-Tea and Organic Peri-Spray and gave them to friends.  They started asking for more to give to their expecting friends, so I started selling them on Etsy.

Recently, I started encapsulating placentas. I believe in the benefits of them and knew a few people who did it. After learning the process, I decided to start offering it myself.

In detail, what is your personal childbirth philosophy? 
I believe that birth is a natural process, that should be left to unfold on its own. Women labor best when they are in a loving supportive environment where they feel safe and trust their bodies. There is no one-size-fits all labor or birth, so it should not be treated as such.

If you could tell all pregnant women in the world something, what would it be? 
Trust your body, your baby, and birth.  Oh, and hire a doula!

How long have you been in your profession? Are you certified? If yes, by who? 
I attended my first birth in 2011, but have only officially been involved as a doula for about a year.  I recently received certification from Childbirth International.

Do you have a business name? How can people contact you for pregnancy and childbirth support?   
My business name is Sister Birth. It grew from the idea that a sister is the best type of birth supporter you can have. They are tough when they need to be, soft and sweet at the right times and they can anticipate what you need as well as provide comfort and unwavering support. People can reach out to me at or on Facebook at My Etsy shop address is

Where do you practice? 
Eastern South Dakota

Friday, March 15, 2013

They Come First

So, the past week we have been sick. Yes, it's been the same thing that's been going around...fevers, aches, super-tired, coughs, congestion, etc, etc. We are finally all starting to feel better, though the kids are still coughing more than normal and I've still got some dumb plugged up sinuses. Bleh. Other than that, though, we are on the mend.

During the time when the kids were feeling their worst, I had to check myself often. Since I have the flexibility and awesomeness of working from home, I also have the challenge of balancing it all. Sometimes I have a difficult time putting the computer away and just being with the kids - reading to them, snuggling with them, playing, coloring, etc, etc. It's really easy to just work all. the. time. I mean, there's *always* something to do, and it's just RIGHT THERE. **sigh**. Sometimes it seems like if I'm not on my computer, I'm on my phone, or at my sewing machine, or doing laundry, or dishes, or....take your pick of things I could be doing instead of spending time with the kids.

Well, that didn't fly this week. They *needed* me. I didn't have a choice, and I took my job as their mommy very very seriously. I took care of them. I snuggled with them as much as they wanted. I watched movies with them. And I was available.

Now, at this point I feel the need to clarify. I don't ignore my kids. I just know that sometimes I get wrapped up in stuff and don't give them all the attention I want to (or that they want me to). I mean, they are my precious miracles, and I love them more than anything on this earth. I don't want to miss their growing up. I don't want to miss being able to teach them something, encourage them, show them something, play with them, or answer a question for them.

Pretty recently I made a re-commitment to myself and to them that I would purpose to spend more time with them every single day. I've done pretty good with it, I think. We have dance parties in the kitchen, we color together, I showed Vienna how to cut fabric, we clean out the dishwasher and pick up the living room together, and most of all, I had decided that if they have a question or need to talk to me about something - anything - I would stop what I was doing and either answer their question or ask them to remember what they have to say and we'll talk about it when I'm done with what I'm doing (if it's something that can't be interrupted).

It's tough! Being a mom is tough! It doesn't matter if you are a Stay at Home Mom, Work at Home Mom, or a Work out of the Home Mom - Especially in this day and age where there are SO MANY distractions - technology, kids' lessons, a hundred different activities, school, a gazillion things on your plate. I know I just have to remind myself that they are the most important job I have right now. They come first. Everything else is just details and can wait.

I saw this on facebook awhile back, and unfortunately I didn't write down who wrote it, shared it, or where it came from. If any of you know, please let me know so I can attribute it correctly! I think it very eloquently says what I need to remind myself of daily. My husband and my kids come first. Period.

Dear Mom On the iPhone,
I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.
But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her. 

You aren’t.

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way. 

He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing. 

Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.

Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!

Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time. 

Because they know…

You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..

I know that’s not true, Mommy.

I know your heart says differently.

But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly. 

May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.

So, I've gotta go...Vienna needs me to braid her hair and Porter wants to snuggle. I'll catch ya'll later.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sleeping or Screaming? How to Breastfeed Your Baby for Either

The following is an excerpt borrowed from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by Le Leche League International.

Sleeping or Screaming?

If you are able to have rooming-in or at least nurse your baby on demand, you won't be bothered with problems that can be caused by hospital feeding schedules. Still, there may be times when baby is not waking up to be fed as often as he should. A newborn needs to nurse at least 8-12 times in twenty-four hours.

If your baby has been sleeping for more than two or three hours, try gently to awaken him. Rough handling is very disturbing to a newborn, but you can jiggle him a bit, rub his head, talk to him, stroke his cheek with your nipple; try rubbing his feet or blowing on them.

One suggestion is to sit baby on your lap with his chin in your hand and bend him forward at the hips. Usually he awakens in just a few seconds. If not, try walking your fingers up and down his spine. Or gently bring him from a horizontal to a vertical position, one hand supporting his head, the other holding his bottom.

You can also try undressing him or changing his diaper. If nothing works to awaken him, you may have to give it another half hour or so and then try again. If the nurse comes to take him back to the nursery, be sure to let her know the baby did not wake up to nurse, and should be brought back for a feeding as soon as he wakes up. Make it clear that you do not want your baby to be given a bottle in the nursery.

If for some reason your baby is crying very hard before you get a chance to start feeding him, a little patience may be needed to calm him down before he's ready to nurse. Try rocking him or putting him over your shoulder and patting his back. Sing a soothing melody - baby will be calmed by hearing your familiar voice. Then try offering him your breast and see if he calms down and starts to suck. If he's not ready yet, try a few more minutes of calm mothering to help him relax.

With either the sleeping or screaming baby, squeeze a few drops of your milk onto his lips to give him a taste of what he's missing. We do not advise putting anything else, such as honey, on the nipple to entice the baby to take it. Anything other than your milk can cause a reaction in a sensitive baby. Also, these products may have impurities in them which could cause problems for baby - a certain type of botulism spores, for example, has been found in honey and can be very dangerous. Honey should not be given to babies under one year old.

Don't forget that this Thursday evening (14th) at 6:30, Educated Mommy hosts Sioux Falls' La Leche League, and all breastfeeding (or soon-to-be breastfeeding) moms are welcome!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Anniversary Giveaway Time!

So, who's ready for an awesome giveaway??

How about your choice of items to enter for a giveaway??

Check out the photo album on our facebook page entitled "Anniversary Giveaway 2013", and you will find some awesome donations from local businesses that you can enter for a chance to win!!

Follow the entry steps carefully - if something is missed, you will be disqualified, and we would HATE for that to happen!!

Simply choose the item(s) you want to enter to win and follow the directions on that picture for your chance to win! The only thing you need to do first, though, is follow the directions on Elegant Mommy's picture in that album (It will be the same picture that you see here)

Easy peasy.

You will have until Friday, March 15 at about 4:00 p.m. to enter. I will be announcing the winners soon after that (I'll email the winners, too)

Please note that you can only enter one time per item. If you win, you will also be responsible for any shipping or upgrade costs if they apply.

Good luck to you!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ok, ok, ok....You're Coming to the Store Tomorrow, Right??

After's the final day of our big Anniversary celebration, including your chance to win one of TWO $100 Elegant Mommy gift cards!

Not only that, but how can you forget Educated Mommy's WAHM vendor fair?? It's going to be SO much fun with amazing and quality merchandise!

Check out these simply adorable items from one of our vendors!

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow at Educated Mommy's Vendor fair (from 12-4 p.m.), and in the store while you enter to win one of the $100 Gift Certificates!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where We Are Going

As I am sitting down to write this post, I’m figuring out that the title of this post is sort of deceiving. I honestly can’t tell you where we will be in five years. Had you asked me five years ago where I would be in five years, I would never have imagined we would be in such a wonderful place. The past five years have shown us to have faith in God and trust the path that He leads us down. When a good friend and I started discussing this idea almost 6 years ago, we had no intention of opening a retail store. I loved my corporate job and thought I’d never leave. However, after our 3rd child was born I had such a strong tug to spend more time with my children and not let that time slip away. Little things kept happening to make me realize that the big picture was telling me that our children were a gift that He had given to us and I needed to raise them, not a daycare center. My family has been the motivation to start this, but our community is really the motivation that keeps us going every day. Seeing the joy, frustration, and bewilderment all mixed into one emotion on a new Mom’s face has grown to be one of the highlight of my days. Every one of the Elegant Mommy crew absolutely loves making a difference one family at a time.

The next five years as I see it, will continue to hold growth in our presence in the community. We want to look back on our 10 year anniversary and know that we have helped thousands in our community start their family, grow their family, and nurture their family. We will continue to aim to keep our prices affordable and carry only high quality merchandise that we all can feel confident in standing behind.

We will support families in our communities by showcasing local families who run small businesses. Over the past five years we have had over 25 different local businesses have their items for sale in our store and our website. Those sales have helped families be able to raise their children in the way that they see appropriate.

We will continue to find new programs and classes to expand educational opportunities for parents. We have always believed that knowledge is power when raising your families. Understanding the issues that you are facing and then fully understanding what all of your options are empowers a family to make the best decision for them.

And lastly, we will serve you in any way that we can. We come to our store every day ready to serve those in our community and give back to our community in our own little way. There are days/weeks that are tough, but then one of our awesome friends/customers comes in and we get that gentle reminder of why we do what we do. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me and the Elegant Mommy family to do this for five years!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More Awesomeness for this Weekend! saw the super-cute and useful 31 bags that I posted yesterday, right? You know, the ones that you will be able to get on Saturday at our WAHM vendor fair? about these for other completely fantastic things you might find there? personalized chocolate bars and other gifts from MasterCreative Designs?

....or.....simply amazing breads from Sioux Falls' newest bakery?

Oh, yeah.....that's what I'm talking about ;)

I'm so not kidding - you DON'T want to miss this fair! It's gonna be....well.....awesome :)

Where Has the Time Gone??

In case you haven't heard, THIS MONTH WE ARE CELEBRATING OUR FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!!! Yes, ok, I'm maybe just a little excited. But why shouldn't I be? Five years is kind of a big deal, right??

Whether you just discovered us or have been with us since the beginning, we thought you might enjoy taking a look back at the past five years. It's always fun to take a trip down memory lane, right?

Here goes:

We started out in a very small space

Our vision from the beginning was to give mommies and families a place to come not only for super-cute maternity clothing and pregnancy/baby/breastfeeding items, but a place where parents can come to get the support they need to help with their pregnancy, breastfeeding, and natural parenting needs as well.

In 2009 we joined the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce:

As part of our goal to be a resource for our community, we have held classes and hosted events - things like childbirth classes, BOLD Red Tent birth-story-sharing, movie viewing, prenatal yoga, breastfeeding resource groups, belly-casting, and so many others!

We have been featured in the Argus Leader and on local TV Stations. We have had a presence at awesome events like FamilyFest, Etc Expo, SD State Fair, LifeLight, and many others!

In 2010 we got more space for our store!

On the retail side of things, we have been passionate about being an outlet for Work At Home Moms to showcase their quality work, and we have been honored to carry so many items in the store that are made at home by mamas who are working hard to help support their families. Last month here on the blog we featured many of the WAHM vendors we currently carry in the store...we encourage you to check them out and support these wonderful families! Here are just a few examples:

In January of 2012 we moved into our new, permanent location at 207 W 37th here in Sioux Falls. It was a long, arduous process getting the space ready, but we did it, and have been so happy here since then! Seriously - you should stop in and see us (particularly this weekend *wink*)!

Not only did we move our retail store to a new permanent location, but we also started our sister-organization, the non-profit Educated Mommy, whose space is in the back of our building. Educated Mommy has taken our goal of being a constant resource and support for area parents to a whole new level. They offer support groups for moms of newborns, moms heading back to work, meeting space for the local La Leche League and Babywearing International chapter meeting, and have an abundance of classes that go more in depth with all kinds of issues surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and natural parenting including a Cloth Diaper 101 class and a Babywearing 101 class. If you haven't already, you should totally check out their lineup of classes and events - they're great!

We have also hosted many fun events - some big and some smaller - anything from the Great Cloth Diaper Change and the Big Latch On (both world record events) to Last Minute Pictures with Santa and Halloween Costume Contests.

One of the best things about the past five years, though, is the relationships we have built. We have made many, many new friends since we set up shop in 2008. Even if we don't get to see you on a regular basis because you live in a different part of the country or world, we can't even begin to tell you how much you all mean to us! We absolutely adore seeing the pictures you have shared with us through the years...

After all....we are here to serve YOU!!

So, hat's off to an amazing first five years, and we look forward to many, many more!

~Elegant Mommy

P.s. We have always liked hosting giveaways for our readers too, and you can look forward to a great one coming up next week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Check out These Super Cute Bags!!

Come to Educated Mommy this Saturday (3/9/13) and you could snag some awesome items at our Work At Home Mom Vendor Fair (come between 12 noon and 4 p.m.)!

You will be able to pick up some things like this:

Or These:

I'm not even kidding - you don't want to miss it!! These are all going to be quality items that you can be very happy about purchasing, because not only are you supporting Educated Mommy in our mission to Nurture Families through Breastfeeding Support and Education, but you are also helping support local moms and their families. You can definitely feel good about that!

We hope to see you on Saturday!!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Bring on the Fun - We Just Turned FIVE!!

What a milestone!! We (Elegant Mommy) turned FIVE YEARS OLD today!! Woot!!

We obviously couldn't be here without you, our awesome customers, friends, readers, followers, and fans, and we want to thank you with some super fun events to celebrate our FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!

Check it out:

First of all, next weekend (March 7-9) we will be celebrating in style with all kinds of opportunities for our customers to win one of two *$100.00* Elegant Mommy gift cards:

Next weekend (Saturday) Educated Mommy will be hosting a Work At Home Mom Vendor Fair, too!

Lastly, we will be partnering with local businesses and work at home moms and will be hosting a big giveaway featuring some AWESOME prizes!! This will take place the week of March 11 - 15, so be watching for all the details then.

"Thank you" doesn't even come close. There are no words to express how truly grateful we are to all of you for making the last five so very wonderful! We look forward to serving you in the coming years, and we can't wait to see your smiling faces next weekend!!