Saturday, November 20, 2010

Young Women's Visioning Fast

I've been contemplating the nature of women.... Women's ability to create and nurture life and our innate desire to be connected to others.

I thought of the issues voiced by 3 young women, who are about to go out on a vision quest in the wildlands of California. Their concerns about women's urge to merge, and how we so often–– in subtle or dramatic ways–– lose ourselves, give ourselves away,

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Proven Benefits of Touch During Labor

By: Meridith Bradshaw

Each laboring woman is unique in the type of support she may want during labor. It is important that each woman be supported in having the kind of birth experience

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Benefits of Massage During Pregnancy

INCREASED BODY AWARENESS: Helps her develop skills in relaxation, self-care and self awareness.

Relieves fatigue, stress, insomnia, and encourages the release of endorphins. Touch stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping Mom relax and simultaneously increase attentiveness.

MUSKULOSKELTAL EASE: Helps alleviate stress on joints and muscles and improves their function.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When I Became a Mother

"I remember vividly the moment that I became a mother. Not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. It wasn’t the moment of conception, or the day that I found out that I was pregnant. It wasn’t when I felt the first kick of my precious child’s little foot, nor was it when they lifted her and placed her in my arms, still wet and screaming after her exit from my womb. It was in a moment of blinding joy the evening after she was born." Reflections on motherhood: Deana's story,,452j,00.html
iVillage Pregnancy & Parenting ©1995-2006 iVillage. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fact or Fiction? The Dangers of Ankle Massage During Pregnancy

By Leslie Stager RN, LMT
Published in Massage and Bodywork Magazine Sept 2009

Most massage students have heard the warning, “Don’t touch a pregnant women’s ankles,” yet few can articulate definitive reasons for this contraindication apart from a generic fear that it will trigger contractions. Considering the high percentage of miscarriages each year, perhaps there is good reason for caution, yet the warning

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A poem by a massage student's mother about her son. She carries oils relevant to pregnancy. Her website is:


L. Whitlow 4/2002

Should I be found worthy

to live again your childhood,

I would wake up earlier

to spend more daylight with you;

I could show you the magic of sunrise

and rock you to sleep by starlight

and moonrise;

I would stay up late into the darkness

just to watch you dream;

We would play more on the floor

and clean the house less;

We would carve pathways through the hours

on our knees

and invite more butterflies to afternoon tea.

Sundays we would play dress up together

and let the laundry go;

I would fill my great, wide bed with your battles

and surrenders,

and dust the cobwebs off your crib;

I would travel the universe of your enraptured gaze

as you lay undisturbed at my breast

until you slept,

went off to play,

or outgrew my lap.

If I could live again your childhood

I would hold every moment captive

inside the heavens of my heart;

I would breathe your essence,

and the memory of every smile

would course through my veins

and my dreams;

I would laugh more through your eyes

and worry less over your frowns;

I would abandon sleep and ambition

and be secretly glad you were playful at midnight.

And though we were all this and more,

my midnights now are far too peaceful.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Storytelling Through the Body

This morning, Sister T came by and we shared stories. Three years ago she had become suddenly paralyzed. She could speak, but could not otherwise move. After some months of suffering, she finally had surgery for a disc in her neck, and now wanders about the compound trying to walk away the continuous nerve pain that wracks her limbs. We relate to one another in our pains, and in our ways of trying to find meaning with it.

She is Catholic nun, but she speaks about

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birth in Uganda

As I massaged a woman in labor at the clinic today, the words "Musawa, musawa, (nurse,nurse)" began to sink into my consciousness. Someone was calling from down the hall. I ran to the delivery room to see another young woman climbing onto the delivery table. When she spread her legs, a baby's head was emerging. I had gloves in my pocket luckily since the clinic's box of gloves had been emptied earlier and not replaced. As I put them on, preparing to help catch this baby, the midwife came in. Pushing her knees together and telling her to Close her Legs, and began to don his own pair of sterile gloves and prepare instruments for delivery. He did not have time though. The baby emerged, without any extra help from him... Perhaps a thankful thing, as it seems that many women, especially first time mothers, end up with a large episiotomy as well as possibly a laceration on top of it. This in turn results in a 1-2 hour repair, usually without adequate lidocaine to numb the tissue for the procedure. I'm convinced that the repairs after birth, are more painful than the birth itself, as that is when many women can no longer hold in their sobs and screeches, as is expected of them during labor.

Meanwhile, the first woman labored for many more hours, begging me not to leave her. The massage was helping her so much, she said, and "no one else can do it right". A massage to my own ego that then encouraged me to go beyond my own energetic capability after a recent back injury. It was 8 pm, 11 hours later, after two hours of holding my flashlights aimed at her bottom, so that the midwife could stitch her up, that I finally went home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

MAternity clinic Ideas needed

Here in Uganda there are no garbage dumps. Everything you use and produce must be disposed of by dumping it on your land. (or on the street). Here at the Asili clinic, placentas are buried in small concrete holes in the ground all around the property. Usd needles are burned in a pit and left in the open for any child to come across. Then buried again in a shallow pit after burning. Women birth withoiut sheets on the bed as there is no way to do all the laundry, to prevent the spread of HIV, to have enough water. Mattresses are too hard to clean with all the body fluids at birth, so are not used.

At Shanti Uganda birth center, where they are building on their one acre of land, they are trying to come up wtih solutions to this situation. How to dispose of placentas that may carry hepatitis and HIV; how to be able to clean sheets and cloth when they may only have rainwater cachement; how to filter the water they have so it is drinkable; how to be able to have mattresses that can be cleaned and how to clean with something like bleach that will kill all viruses and bacteria, but perhaps is not so toxic to breathe and be in contact with for those who use regularly.

Here one must really be extremely aware of what you choose to use and throwaway! An interesting point, is that in Rwanda, they have outlawed plastic in the whole country. When you arrive, they confiscate any plastic bags you have with you at the airport. Every Saturday is designated a cleanning day. Everyone must clean their houses and their yards. "It is a very clean country" said the stewardess when I asked for more clarification about the plastic bag announcement before we landed there (en route to Uganda).

Anyway.. If anyone knows of ways that other clinics do gentle births with limited water, few disposables, and little laundry, please let me know! IT seems that everything we do here is by our own ingenuity, as is true of the way all people live here. but I'm sure others have already figured this out! Somewhere!

A Little Girl

I don’t have a lot of time to write on this computer, and internet connection can fade out at any moment, like the electricity and the water.

Today another bit of reality struck. A young girl, perhaps 12 or so, came in with one of the volunteers, Christine, from the clinic to visit Brigitte, another German volunteer who is now laid up with potential malaria or typhoid. Brigitte was too ill to visit, and so "D", the bright eyed wide-smiled beautiful girl sat at our table as Marva the midwife and I ate lunch. She had a bright scarf with silver sequences wrapping her head, she lit up our hearts with her smile. Are you going to school, I asked? Today is the first day back to school after a 3 month break for all those who do go to school. No, she said, she is going home today…. She continued, “but I am not studying now. My mother, who paid for my school is dead.” “Oh, how very sad, “ I said. She nodded and swallowed. Apparently, she came here with her sick mother 3 months ago in November. Her mother died and now she is being sent home.

“ Who will you stay with? “ I asked. “My stepmother.” Her face became grim. “But she abuses me,” she said. She tried to hold back tears, touching her eyes. “It must be scary then to go back there. “ She nodded. I didn’t know what else to say. Of course, I wanted to grab her and not let her go back there, conscripted now to a life of likely abusive servitude to the step mother. I ran through numerous scenarios.. adoption, finding a home, taking her away, talking to Dina whose organization is helping 5 poor go to school. But there are 1000’s, 10,000’s of children also in this predicament.

“Do you read?” Marva asked her. “Yes.” “What books do you like?” “I like science,” she replied. “ My favorite book was a story about the earth.” But she will not likely ever be able to continue her interest. Instead, she will do chores for her stepmother, and be bought by some man, who will cause her to have one child after another, to prove his status and wealth. It is an ancient traditional belief, said the Ugandan midwife. From long ago, it was a symbol of wealth to have multitudes of children, and multiple wives who bear them and care for them. The wife herself is not important… only in that she bears plenty of children. Birth control can only be done in secret, if she has the means and access, but nothing permanent without a man’s consent.

I tried to come up in moments with any potential possible scenario of rescuing "D" from her certain fate of servitude and abuse to her step mother. I thought of adoption, of just grabbing her and having her stay here, or contacting Dina whose organization is paying for 5 poor children to go to school. She was too cute, too bright, too open, to end up in this situation. But there are 1000's, no 10,0000's of children all in the same predicament. Their fate is sealed and there is really nothing I can do. Only to be kind. In that moment though, I did not know what else to say. I was trapped by my own emotional sinkhole.

"D" left, and I sat and cried over my lunch remains as I watched her walk away into the life that she knew, too, would be terrible.

The issues is too prevailing, too big for me to be able to really do anything at all, but just share in the kindness that also prevails amongst most of the people I am meeting.