Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Intense" attitude study correlates nearly 1 in 4 moms being depressed

Join me parents, in generating awareness of the findings revealed by this smart new study that looks at how mothers’ attitudes about parenting affect their mental well being, and their risk for depression and anxiety.

Based on the hyper sensitive concept of “intense parenting” – the belief that everything you do matters sooo much – might actually explain this “parenting paradox” quite well.      

In my opinion, this study of (181 mothers of children 5 years old or less) is concise and refreshing because it offers five factors to encapsulate the correlations and may inspire the potential to let go just a bit (heck just choose one at a time, because if you are intense like me you just might try to give up all 5 overnite and then wearily claim defeat!)

intense parenting or whimsy?
 Essentialism is the feeling that mothers, over fathers, are the more “necessary and capable” parent.
•Fulfillment in parenting is defined by beliefs like “a parent’s happiness is derived primarily from their children.”
Stimulation is the idea that you, the mother, should always provide the best, most intellectually stimulating activities to aid in your child’s development.
•Challenging is, as you might guess, the idea that parenting is just about the most difficult job there is (participants ranked statements like, “It is harder to be a good mother than to be a corporate executive”)
. •And Child-Centered refers to the idea that kids’ needs and wants should always come before your own.
Interestingly, the higher the women scored on these factors, the higher their intensity as mothers. The authors also looked at social support the mothers got from their families, and whether they were depressed, stressed, and how generally satisfied with their lives they were. Although there were various correlations to each; across the board, about 23% of the mothers in the study were depressed, which is quite a bit higher than the rate of depression in the general public (which is about 6.7%, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health). Wow--- nearly 1 out of 4!
I appreciate this perspective from Forbes columnist, Alice Walton: It’s so easy to feel that every little thing we do will have a make-or-break effect on our kids’ development or success in life. But it’s important to remember that this just isn’t true. Putting our own mental health right up there with our kids’ – perhaps even first – is probably the best way to go. Since kids are so highly intuitive, working on own happiness and mental health is the best thing we can do – though it’s easier said than done, it’s probably the best legacy we can leave.

Keep reading... if you dare...YOU may just find a bit more humor, whimsy and find a deep seeded longing of joy in the midst of the mama journey...
attachment parenting in theory
In my short years as a parent there is so much about this perspective and these 5 factors that resonate in my soul. My family legacy of steadfast hard work from midwest farming and being raised by a single mom "essentialism" or what I have come to nickname as "self sufficiency superhuman" just to help me giggle at myself; runs deep in my blood.

This very mindset CAN be MY deepest joy sucker IF I allow it; I adore my children, anyone who knows me can see it, BUT there have been seasons in the last 7 years where I just didn't "like them all that much" and it really stemmed from me not being very satisfied with myself.  Although I embraced the theory of "attachment parenting" from the moment they descended from my birth canal and were placed skin to skin, by the time 9 -15 months rolled around, not only was I feeling suffocated and tremendous guilt from not getting enough sleep and not knowing how to adequately self care BUT my extended family & I were in denial that being overwhelmed by the simplest taskes and fatigued beyond reason could EVER happen to the super capable, cup is half full, cheerful and resilent good girl who did everything in the right "order". (READ postpartum depression)

just one child at a time

In each of my children, yes, often times I am AMAZED that I survived beyond the first one to actually go on to have more and not just 2 but now 3!  I found it was essential for my emotional, mental and physical well being that I induldge in a healthy dose of selfcare- for me it was solitude, whether it was walking 20 minutes a day by myself and carving out time either in the evening or on the weekends to actually REST by myself for a few hours by reading, crafting or visiting a friend. Because then I truly felt more in touch with myself and longed to come back and genuinely enjoy my family again.
 We all have heard Hilary Clinton's, it takes a village quote ... whether we are democrat or republican, stay at home or work or do both, many of us look down on "the village" or the associations I just referred to; if we are honest, we just don't feel like we fit into these contexts of community and at some point we didn't identify with the "clique" we were excluded from, if not at least once, then many, many times since then. Many of us are just downright awkward at socialization and we don't have high school, college or work place dynamics any more to automate the process for us. After all, making friends as a mom is so much harder when you factor in children and husband, not to mention nap and work schedules and then that dynamic of interests and personailities with tolerance or lack thereof. Oh vey! Can anyone relate?

Perservering past our "insecurities" toward maturity can be so challenging, if not now as parents, than when?  When the kids have graduated high school or college and you look at your spouse and have nothing in common because children have invaded the intimacy of your relationship? 

Playing on the floor
Seeking out connection or "stimulation" as it's labeled above is that for the weak, to not be the BEST at everything? Do we lower our mile high standards and choose humble submission that someone knows or is capable of something that we aren't, has gifts that can compliment our own? This concept that YOU, the mother, should always provide the best, most intellectually stimulating activities to aid in your child’s development, although deep seeded in my psyche too, the reality is there are about a dozen people better at playing army men on the floor than I am, my husband being the first.  This is a HUGE relief for me to admit, after 7 years of parenting and thankfully, NOT everyone is as good at making chocolate chip cookies as me, or I just might not have won my husband over with that 17 dozen home baked gift nearly 20 years ago!

In my mind; this is also where the "challenging" mindset can comes in, much like a CEO making strategic business decisions all day long, they have a huge team of people and support helping drive their success and in my opinion, that is where this home making stuff is f@?!*cking hard. Not the hardest EVER, but emotional boot camp for sure, you have to build your team WHILE a newborn, toddler, adolescent is sucking you dry? It's so vulnerable and totally a dichotomy to let anyone inside your "circle" when you are feeling totally lost and barren.

In today's business world, where I at one time earned accolades, six figures and efficiently created and managed hundreds of employees for at least 60 hours a week, before birthing my children, I noticed that every effective or the truly "great" leaders I ever met (a stark contrast to the many I met who were not so great) surrounded themselves with people "better" than themself, so that in due time, they were promotable, even replaceable, as a sign of MOST effectively equipping the culture.

Not that I need to be replaceable because I'm not planning on going anywhere soon (I reassure my husband of this often) although at times I joke and imagine the luxury of leaving on a jetplane and just not knowing when I will be back again. But I began this parenthood quest to create capable people and leave a legacy, whenever I leave this earth behind.

In my journey, God has been so gracious in these 10 years of marriage and 7 years of parenting to very slowly humble, equip me with a MORE gentle spirit AND the profound realization that the father of our children, those spoiling grandparents, the younger and "FUNNER" mom friends who make smiley faces with ketchup and put cherrios in the toilet during potty training (Kara Goldsworthy!!) and yes, even the young adults who tease, rough house and adore my kids (Gabby Leon, Stephanie VillaDavis, John Harvey, Cory Marquez, Dan Jensen) THESE PEOPLE ARE my compliment, silly, spontaneous and in so many ways downright "essential" to my orderly, responsible, at times too proper and precise homemaking. Hallelujiah!

community beyond what we could have imagined

Quite frankly the "child centered" & "fulfillment" mindset are NOT how we as humans are wired, we simply SHOULD NOT expect ONE person or even our CORE family unit of ONLY 2 or 3 people to fulfill our deepest needs, we will end up sorely disappointed, after all we all are HUMAN, falliable and it is this "enmeshed codependent" thinking that I have known for quite a long time in my own journey that propagates such staggering rates of loneliness, anxiety and depression. This is part of why best selling therapists and authors, Cloud & Townsend, have sold so many helpful books, articles and provided resources on boundaries to have healthy relationships!  Heck, I'm a loyal customer, I've found by creating firm boundaries that honor who I am and what my priorities are has enabled me to "embrace" the chaos of motherhood and actually experience "joy" not just once in a while, but in the midst of the daily quotidian before I completely miss this fleeting season that is precious and innocent in childhood!

be gentle on yourself
If it STILL feels impossible for YOU, I understand that too, depression and anxiety can be so debilitating, and I have been there, it's so hard sometimes to know where to start.

Just be gentle on yourself,     are some of the wisest words of healing and receive grace, offered for those in the misdt of the storm.    

Whether you comment publicly here on the blog or message me privately on Facebook  it would be a JOY to journey with you.  For when I'm not caring for my own family, I cameo as a postpartum doula because I take joy in equipping families with spiritual encouragment, emotional tools and physical support during seasons of change

I wholeheartedly believe in the deep seeded mission: it takes a village, but I simply had NO IDEA what it meant until I became an intense parent in need of Gods amazing grace. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Moms Share Ideas About Soothing a Fussy Baby

Ideas shared from Baby Center on Soothing a Fussy Baby

"If my baby's still crying after I've changed and fed him, I usually put him in his swing and let him be because it generally means he's overstimulated."

"Giving my baby a massage chills her right out."

"Having a crying baby can take a toll on you when you aren't sleeping much. Learn to be patient and know your breaking point."

"The more upset a mother is, the more upset her baby will get."

"If your newborn is crying a lot and you have no idea what the problem could be, try gas drops."

"I love the quote, 'The baby can't fall off the floor' ..I've been to that point. I just pull out the bottom of the play yard, toss it on the floor, put my son on it, and let him cry it out. He's usually out within five minutes."

"Remind yourself that you can't keep a baby happy all day long. When you don't know what to do, don't think any less of yourself for it. Nobody's perfect and not all babies are the same."

Click on the link above to see more...

The Postpartum Period: 6 weeks after birth (fourth trimester) for mom & baby

Excerpts from
Mothering the Mother: The Importance of Postpartum Careby Rev. Pilar (Ma’at) Grant Nov 02, 2011

What is the Postpartum Period?
As a midwife, I have worked with pregnant mothers and their families for over twenty years. I myself am a mother of seven amazing and beautiful human beings. During this time, I have witnessed as well as experienced how women are almost forgotten after the birth of their babies. 

Postpartum, also called the fourth trimester, puerperium and postnatal is recognized as the period just after birth and the subsequent six weeks that follow. Postpartum is as important as any other phase of the birthing process. During pregnancy, labor and birth of the baby, a mother’s overall health is depleted. The mother is constantly giving of her life force energy, therefore it is most important she is replenished and cared for after birth. Many elders have told me women who don’t take care of themselves in their childbearing years, especially after the birth of a baby, are sure to feel discomforts during menopause.
Postpartum is a significant time for the mother, baby and family. Many physiological, psychological and spiritual changes occur. During this time, the uterus contracts, breasts may enlarge and become tender in preparation for breastfeeding and hormones fluctuate. Internal organs that have moved to accommodate the baby are slowly shifting back to their original positions. As mothers, we need to desire and expect quality holistic postpartum care. As health practitioners, it is imperative that we are more attentive to the postpartum mothers we are serving. Caring for the mother in a loving way will help restore strength, vitality, muscle tone, mental clarity and an overall sense of well being. 

Major Areas of Concern for Mother Postpartum

There are five major physiological changes that postpartum mothers experience. 

Healing of the uterus and uterine wall
After the birth of the placenta, the top of the uterus is at the level of the navel. The uterus will remain this size for about two days and then it continually gets smaller. In about five to six weeks, it has regained its pre-pregnant size. The regeneration happens very quickly except at the placental site. Complete healing of the placental site takes up to six weeks or more.  Wise women have told me that it can take up to three months for the placental site of the uterus to heal. They suggest that mothers refrain from sexual intercourse and inserting anything into the vagina for three months. 

Vaginal restoration and healing of the pelvic floor muscles including the perineum
There are many changes in the vagina after birth. Vaginal discharge is experienced, whether it is a vaginal birth or caesarean. This is called lochia. It is much like a menstrual period and can be experienced for two to six weeks after birth. Lochia comes from blood and tissues that have built up in the uterus during pregnancy. In vaginal births where tearing has occurred, the mother usually experiences swelling and pain. The tearing may be repaired by the use of stitches depending on the severity. If this is the case they will dissolve over the course of a week. For a mother who has not experienced tearing, the vaginal lips can still appear slightly swollen. Although the vagina stretches significantly to accommodate the birth of the baby, immediately after birth, the vagina shrinks tremendously forming a smooth walled passage. The perineum, the area between the vagina and anus, may also be sore due to a tear during labor or an episiotomy.

Restoring strength and tone to the abdominal wall muscles
The abdominal wall will remain soft and flabby for a while after birth due to the rupture of the elastic fibers and the prolonged distention of the uterus. It usually takes several weeks for the abdomen to return to its pre-pregnancy appearance. For mothers of 3 or more children, the abdominal wall may have separated and will remain lax. 

Establishing a good milk supply and successful breastfeeding
The same hormones that initiate contractions in labor help to initiate breast milk.  Within 24 hours after birth, the breast produces colostrum, a golden yellow liquid that is full of antibodies that serve as the newborns first immunization to disease. Breast milk has the proper amount of sugar, fat, water and protein for the baby’s growth. Not only is breastfeeding good for the child, it is also great for the mother as well. Suckling on the breast creates a rush of oxytocin in the mother’s body. This hormone helps the body secrete milk. Suckling also helps in contracting the uterus and protects the mother from hemorrhaging. 

Endocrine system and hormonal shifts
After giving birth, estrogen and progesterone, which are released by the endocrine system, significantly lower. During pregnancy, the body produces these hormones in abundance. It takes around three days for hormonal levels to return to their pre-pregnancy state. The body experiences a shock with the sudden change in hormones, impacting the mother’s mood, body functions, digestion, and ability to sleep. 
Due to major shifts in hormones after birth, mothers may experience mood swings. In the first week, postpartum women usually start out happy and joyful because of the high of the birth. However, in a few days the joys of birth can turn into depression and or a sense of melancholy. This is due to the physical and mental stress of birth, a breakdown of tissue components and a withdrawal of estrogen and progesterone leading to an imbalance of electrolytes and hormones.  

Without proper care, many women develop postpartum mood disorder. Postpartum mood disorder is a mental health disorder striking within the first year of giving birth. It can occur in any woman after birth whether she is a first time mom or not .The postpartum mood disorders can range from Baby Blues to Psychosis. 

Baby Blues is a condition that affects 80 percent of new mothers, with the onset between 3-14 days postpartum. Twenty percent of women with baby blues will go on to develop Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression affects up to 25 percent of new mothers. Symptoms can be exhibited right away or several months after delivery. Prior incidents of postpartum depression sometimes may put a woman at a 50 to 80 percent higher risk of recurrence. Postpartum Psychosis is the most severe postpartum mood disorder. PPP is rare, believed to affect only one to two new mothers in one thousand. Treatments of these illnesses may require medication, psychotherapy and, in extreme cases such as Postpartum Psychosis, hospitalization. 

Calcium Magnesium help after birth pains and Insomnia

Excerpts from Mothering the Mother: The Importance of Postpartum Careby Rev. Pilar (Ma’at) Grant, Nov 02, 2011
After birth pains
I did some extensive research and discovered the benefits of calcium and magnesium.  
I took 1000mg of calcium and 500mcg of magnesium as soon as the baby was born and I didn't feel the afterbirth pains. I was aware of the afterbirth uterine contractions yet experienced no pain. I took one to two tablets a day for 1 week. 

Calcium magnesium taken one hour before bed helps you to sleep soundly. A nice cup of raspberry and chamomile tea will help the mother to rest well.

Adjusting to Mothering Two

These excerpts are from Baby Number Two By Christina Schmidt via

When we had our second baby, I secretly feared we'd made a terrible mistake. My older son had just entered the notorious Twos. The new baby demanded constant attention and required maddeningly little sleep. I'd wanted my children close in age so they would be friends, but I often doubted we would survive to see that day.
As the months passed, I anxiously awaited any sign of sibling bonding, but for the most part my older son regarded his baby brother with nothing more than curiosity, boredom, some jealousy, and occasional disdain. I'd envisioned the second baby bringing us into balance as a family, and imagined all the wonderful things my two sons would experience together. What I got was extreme sleep deprivation, resentment, and excessive guilt, as I struggled to meet everyones needs and to remember why this had once seemed like such a good idea.

But I've learned to appreciate life as a mother of two and the chaos that naturally follows. You have to be more observant -- the joyful moments are usually brief, unexpected, and tucked obscurely within everyday life, but invariably they are off-the-charts adorable. One minute I'll be thinking that my children are aliens bent on the destruction of mankind and all I want is to beam them back to their mother ship. Then suddenly they'll trot down the hall with their arms around each other, singing and laughing together, and I marvel at the magic of their interactions.

Dr. Harvey Karp's 5's to sooth a crying infant with the calming reflex

According to Dr. Harvey Karp, to sooth a crying infant, recreating the womb environment helps the baby feel more secure and calm. Dr. Karp recommends:
  • Swaddling: Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support your baby is used to experiencing within the womb.
  • Side/stomach position: The infant is placed on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. “But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep,” cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a new baby is in a stomach down position do not leave them even for a moment. 
  • Shushing sounds: These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.
  • Swinging: Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother’s womb, so entering the gravity driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. “It’s disorienting and unnatural,” says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.
  • Sucking: “Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system,” notes Karp, “and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain.”
Karp’s system initiates and maximizes a babies natural calming reflex through swaddling, placing the baby on its side or stomach, using “shushing” sounds, swinging and sucking.

Colic occurs in approximately 1 out of 10 babies. It usually begins a few weeks after birth and is defined as crying on and off for more than three hours a day, three or more days a week. The crying is characterized as screaming, complete with a purple face and flailing arms. The fits typically happen in the late afternoon or evening. Colic generally peaks at about six weeks and improves around three to five months.

These tips offered by Dr. Harvey Karp is a nationally renowned pediatrician, child development specialist for over 30 years, award winning author of Happiest Baby and Toddler on the Block as well as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day... to EVERY mother I've ever known...

Schedule a time to capture the sweet, intimate, unscripted moments that seem to go by SO fast just by including StephVillaDavis-Photography in whatever YOU choose to do.... and yes you can afford it... it's like a month worth of Starbucks... simply give her a call... she has Mother's Day specials or time customized for you thereafter.

How does Mom share joy in YOUR family?  Why not give her the BEST you have to GIVE...
a little bit of quality time to just BE together.   Don't like getting your picture taken?  Not sure it's for you?  
Learn more about my own mothering journey and first hand experience in the midst of lifestyle photo sessions... here on my personal blog:

Happy Mother's Day... to EVERY mother I've ever known...
I admire YOU for WHO you are and ALL you do.