Blessingways: Why they should be on the top of your pregnancy To-Do list

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My assumption is that most of you are reading this with the same question…What is a blessingway?  My answer to you – something that EVERY pregnant woman needs to fully prepare her for birth!

Although they have been around a lot longer then we have, many women are still in the dark about these important ceremonies.  Having just come off my “high” from hosting one of these a few weeks ago, I am feeling the need to share new thoughts.  Let’s start with a little history first and then we can talk about why they are a must in pregnancy.

Historically Speaking…                                                                                           Blessingways began as Native American ceremonies to honor and “bless” a woman on her journey to motherhood.  Different in essence from a baby shower (which focuses on material needs), this deep-rooted tradition is centered around the woman and her spiritual needs through pregnancy, birth and motherhood.  A Blessingway creates an intimate circle of support that will cradle her as she prepares to give birth to her child.  Surrounded by the most important women in her life, a mom-to-be can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her, thereby gaining a sense of power, confidence, and support that will help her rise to motherhood (since this is probably the hardest, most unrelenting & yet gratifying job I have EVER had).

Ok, so why is this so important??                                                                                       My friend said it best during the middle of her blessingway…”I have never been so excited to give birth in my whole life!”  (This was coming from a woman pregnant with her 4th girl, so it’s not like she didn’t know the road ahead).  Blessingways are kind of like birth itself though, you can try to explain it in words, but you can’t really understand until you’ve experienced it.  They are about more than the rituals that are performed.  Something happens when a group of women circle around an awaiting mother…there is this calming energy, a sacred cloud that forms around us all.  I always came into mine thinking I was ready to give birth, but I left them FEELING & KNOWING that I was ready give birth.  There is a big difference!

Now, I am a childbirth educator, so I’m not going to tell you that some sort of birth class isn’t important (knowledge is power and a better understanding of what your body is about to do for you).  But again, that is the mental piece of preparing yourself.  Blessingways are about the spiritual preparation and anyone who tells me that birth is not a spiritual experience must have slept through the whole thing (which is possible thanks to modern medicine, but that’s another post).

Now your intrigued…so what happens behind those closed ceremony doors?    Well lots of things, actually, and it all depends on what the new mama & host feel like doing.  Here are some things that are pretty routine at all of them:

– Sage smudging (not just an old hippie custom): sage is known for it’s ability to cleanse, so each ceremony is opened by cleaning the area and all negative thoughts from the attendees.

– Henna: I went full tilt and had a beautiful hennaed belly while laboring with my last child.   Those not comfortable with this will often opt for for hand/foot paint – just as beautiful!

– Releasing Fears: this is a BIG ONE!  Everyone carries a fear or two (or 10) with them during pregnancy…it is normal.  I know it may sound silly & simple, but physically releasing your fears is honestly helpful.  Something about this literal act has eased every person I have seen use it.  In fact my oldest daughter uses this ritual for her bad dreams..ingenious!

– Positive Affirmations: sounds like the old Sat. Night Live skit, I know, but…these reinforce the fears that you just unloaded, buy welcoming into your journey positive thoughts and images.  Silly?  There have been hundreds, probably thousands, of studies published about the power of the mind & positive energy, so actually it’s evidence-based.

– Foot/Hand massage: do I need to explain?  Who wouldn’t want a hand & foot soak/massage (pregnant or not)!  Bonus, they usually involve essential oils and other added benefits.

Birth Necklace: The tangible item that goes home with the mama.  Made of gemstones that possess various properties, this is worn as a constant reminder of those who support and love her.  Spiritual & mental prep is fundamental, but having something to physically touch is very helpful, both before, during and after the birth.

A few other things may take place too, like prayer readings (some of the most beautiful things I have ever heard by the way), candle sharing and music.

So now that you have a better visual…Host one for your next pregnant friend, your sister, niece, or daughter.  You will certainly win the award for the best, most unique gift!  And if you are the pregnant one…tell your friends that you want one, no…you NEED one.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

About that friend of mine who was so excited to give birth…she did…2 days later, to a very healthy, very beautiful little girl.  When I asked her what she thought of the blessingway and her most recent pregnancy journey, she asked where I had been 10 years ago (when she was having her first).  That “high” I mentioned earlier is what I get out of it all.  Sharing a new (really, old) tradition with other women, passing on as much knowledge and wisdom that you can to a new or experienced mother and being a part of her journey rewards you with a spiritual fulfillment you will revel in for weeks.  Enjoy the ride!

 

(drum roll) Our newest addition…First Moon Kit!

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Many of you are aware that we are Women’s Health nurses (Labor & Delivery to be more specific) and that we like to spread the good word about healthy living every chance that we get.  Well one of our many late-night brainstorms/discussions was about young girls and the social & physical changes they go through.  Personally, as the mother of THREE future teenage girls, this is a topic very close to my heart.  Or in other words, I am trying to prepare and learn as much as possible from the wise women around me who have traveled down this road already!  Thus…the FIRST MOON KIT was born.

What is it?

A unique gift for young girls (and mothers or aunts or whoever is traveling this path with them).  The Kit includes:

– yummy Soy Candle made with essential oils to burn when she needs some aromatherapy, centering, relaxation…

– adorable bracelet or anklet (your choice) containing gemstone beads that balance hormones and possess other awesome powers!

– Handmade Flaxseed & Lavender Compress to heat for cramps (also able to use cold) *funky, fun fabrics used!

– Handmade pouch for her “first moon accessories” *matching fabric to compress

– Moon Oil, a fabulous blend of essential oils to rub on low belly or back for cramps (*where was this stuff when I was a teen?!)

– Lavender Mint roll-on to carry in her purse/bag for some on-the-go fragrance

– Informative Cards including Why you get your period, puberty info, how long it can last, internal/external anatomy, yoga positions to help.  *these cards are BASIC & GENERAL

This journey is an important one, but often embarrassing and confusing for both the adult and young girl.  We get it!  This kit will assist you both, to alleviate the stigma and embarrassment that has become the norm these days. Encouraging her to understand and respect herself and her body NOW will promote self-esteem and admiration for her body as she continues maturing into womanhood.

So spread the word, celebrate the change (or at least know you are not alone) and Enjoy giving a gift that will support everyone involved on this journey!

 

Recovery Oil: Sore Muscle & Joint Therapy

 

Our first Spotlight is (drum roll….) – Recovery Oil!  DSC_4889_edited-2

Why are we starting with this one?  Well, whether we are ready or not, summer is upon us. Warm weather, pool openings, cookouts, and lots of summer  activities.  I, for one, have just had my “season opener”, if you will, and while I try to stay in shape all winter, the first long race is always a wake-up call – so Recovery is a must on my bathroom shelf!

Why we created it:
As I mentioned, I’m a runner.  Like a million other women out there, I run to stay healthy, keep my sanity, de-stress, eat the extra 4 servings of guacamole (yes, I have a problem) and because it just feels good to me.  My legs, more specifically, my hips might disagree.  They have been cursing the long runs since I gave birth to my last little one.  I needed something (natural, of course) to use as a peace offering to them, so Recovery was born.  Along with my chiropractor, Recovery is the reason that I am able to push myself up the trail or around the last track lap and still get up & go the next day.  Three cheers for the benefits of essential oil!

How to Use:
Recovery is best used after the shower (or ice bath, ouch!) – apply while your skin is damp and then towel dry.  Double benefit: your skin will be super soft as the oil and water absorb and the essential oils in Recovery will also begin penetrating your muscles and joints to ease the aches and pains.
Feel free to use it on dry skin too (just know that your skin may feel a bit slipperier then if applied wet).

Other Uses:
I discovered that this stuff is also fantastic at fixing “growing pains”!  Now, some say these are not real, but if you have a child with these, you know all to well that they are.  The 3 am wake up from agonizing cries, gripping their shins – it’s very real.  Not wanting to stuff more Motrin or Tylenol down my child’s throat, I reached for the Recovery and starting massaging.  To my surprise, the cries stopped and snoring began.  I have been using it to treat my kids aches and “growing pains” ever since, with great SUCCESS!
*Please note that we do not recommend essential oils be used on really little ones without talking to their provider first – thanks.

What’s in it:
Little known fact that many of the “italian herbs” have anti-inflammatory properties, So…the Rosemary & Marjoram will assist your body in moving the fluid that builds up, while the Cypress & Vetiver work to help with pain relief.  There are a few other goodies in there too, which make this oil smell Clean & Refreshing!
Don’t forget…it’s “clean” too – NO chemicals, preservatives or yucky stuff either!

*even though we are a company for women, this is by far my husbands favorite “go to” after his mountain bike rides.

~Enjoy the goodness!

 

 

Duped Yet Again!..Why I can’t rid my house of bad stuff

Shock, disappointment and then flat out TICKED OFF!!  That  is how I felt standing there, water running, reading the back of the soap bottle in my hand.  There it was – Sodium Laurel Sulfates – written in the tiniest letters probably legal for a retail product.  Once again, I was duped.

I have made a conscious effort to only bring into my home products that “Do No Harm” (my home Hippocratic Oath).  I spend an extra 10 minutes at every grocery store visit, reading labels, trying really hard to raise my children in a healthy environment and maybe trying to undo the repercussions of few bad decisions I made in my twenties!  I know it is my responsibility to read these labels, to not take the word of the brilliant marketing brains behind them.  But, there are times, when I am in a rush and can’t read every one.  So I do what a lot of us do and look for the “organic looking”, “naturally-labeld” things that aren’t $20 more expensive than all the others.  This must have been one of those times.  This hand soap that I trusted for so long, was not “natural” at all!  So where am I going with this (besides venting)…Why does it make me so angry?  Why am I obsessing over words like “SLS & Paraben-Free”?  Why are they supposedly bad?  And if they are, why are companies and people still using them?                                                                          Okay, here we go…Substance 101: In Laymen’s Terms

SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfates)
What are they?
Cleaning Agents (surfactants), found in shampoo, cleaning products, toothpaste, soaps, moisturizers, laundry detergent (pretty much all the stuff you use while standing in the bathroom or kitchen!)

What’s the big deal?
Similar to car wash that removes the grease from your car, SLS dissolves the grime and oils on your skin.  Great, your clean, BUT…those oils protect your skin from dryness, and other nasty contaminants.  So they commonly cause SKIN IRRITATION, DRY SKIN, EYE/NOSE Irritation, and allow other environmental bad guys into your skin.  Let us not forget that our SKIN is a LIVING Organism (we need to take care of it so it can take care of us!).  This next issue is constantly debated, but some research claims that high levels can cause Liver & Kidney Damage and that studies have linked SLS to increasing PMS/Menopausal Symptoms, a decrease in Male Fertility & an Increase in Female Cancer.
*That’s enough for me to avoid it, especially when there are other options!

Parabens (Methylparabens)
I saved the best (or worst) for last!

What are they?
Chemicals used as preservatives (fight bacteria & fungus from growing), found in shampoos, moisturizers, cleaners, toothpaste, etc…This allows products to sit on shelves for years (if needed) without going rancid or getting funky.  Now we know why fresh food goes bad quicker and truly natural skincare products expire sooner, because they avoid these chemicals!

What’s the big deal?
Listen Up, because this is a BIG DEAL!  These HAVE been proven to mimic the hormone Estrogen.  And while normally made in our bodies, is also KNOWN to play a large role in CANCER DEVELOPMENT.  Researchers have found parabens in breast cancer tumors and believe there IS A LINK between the two.
Men, your not off the hook…Parabens can also adversely affect testosterone secretion and the function of the male reproductive system.

Hmmm, an increase in breast cancer and infertility…sounds like the world we live in today!

The Other Big Question…Why in the world do companies use these awful things?
The Answer…they are CHEAP!  Yep, it comes down to money.  These substances are much cheaper to use than healthy alternatives (which DO exist folks).  Some things do follow the rule “You pay for what you get” and I for one, am not willing to risk my, my husband or our daughters health to save $1.60 on hand soap (something that I used 23 times yesterday)!  I can hear the “eye-ball rollers” saying “it’s not hurting us now”.  True, but what about next month, next year.  What about when my girls are grown, struggling with infertility or diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24.  These are the thoughts that keep parents awake at night.  And selfishly, I may be pushing 40, but I still have a lot of things to do and I’m not going down without a fight.  On the flip side, I know grocery bills can get expensive buying all organic and safe items, but there are certain items that I just won’t save on.  Good, health conscious companies aren’t trying to rip you off, their “clean” ingredients cost a bit more, in turn so do their prices, but their margins aren’t any bigger & often less.

So, I challenge everyone for one day, one week, one month…while your bathing your kids, washing your hands, standing in the shower…READ YOUR LABELS!  See if you can count the amount of times you saw Parabens or Sodium Laurel Sulfates and let us know.  We love a good conversation!

 

 

 

Welcome

Thank you for stopping in to visit Iris Co.!

Iris Co. is focused on supporting women.  While I work hard to make “clean” products for your skin…Iris has many more facets to her too.  Education is a large part of what I do, whether I am talking about why its important to read labels, learning how to integrate healthy practices into your life or understanding how your environment effects your body.  So, stay tuned…I have lots of goodness to share!