Should or Could

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Noticing again how often SHOULD is running behind my thoughts and everyday functioning.  All the things I SHOULD do are worthwhile. But Should Do carries such a weight of judgment when I don’t manage to pull it all off. Of course, since it is the endless To Do list.

When I slow down enough to notice Should running behind the scenes, I feel how much tension builds up in my body.  Where it shows up for me is shoulders, neck and a little headache.  Then I recognize, Oh this is grasping in my body, muscle tension.  Oh, this is grasping in my mind at the future. Along with a little load – or a heavy load – of judgement.

Then I feel the fear under the judgment.  Fear that I won’t get accomplish everything on the To Do list.  Fear – what happens when I don’t do it all? Then, when I am able, I ask the mind to PAUSE and NOT run amuck down the familiar path of concocting a myriad of bad consequences, and instead to notice, Oh, this is fear. Then I feel how shows up in my body.  How my mind flies around in multiple directions with the sticky, panicky fear gloming onto whatever floats up into the mind.

Now I notice that spell check does not recognize gloming onto.  Glooming onto fear works pretty well too.

When I can get this far in awareness, keeping my mind awake, I can invite this mind to consider: COULD do. Along with that invitation, I have begun to ask myself: What is a choice of peace for this mind? I really would like more peace here at home in this being.

Right next to this entire process is the judge, sitting on the side, saying, Ugh, you should know this by now, because this is a lesson you’ve had to learn before. The hard, hard way.  So, you SHOULD know this.  Oh, oh, catch that thought. Another Should, a very potent one, SHOULD KNOW BETTER. Old familiar friend, I see you behind the scenes, playing puppet master of this mind.  Shake off those strings and take a walk, dear judge.  I will call on you when I need you to make a decision.  You are valuable for discerning when I need you. Not just now.

Now, instead, begin again with the most humble intent to be kind to this one, this mind that runs along its habitual, well worn grooves.  A mind that once again find itself stressed, or being a trouble maker.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. … There is no thought ‘I have attained something’….. So the most difficult thing is to always keep your beginner’s mind. ……  The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion.” – Shunryo Suzuki Roshi





Babies are money makers

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In his research on infant care, and especially premature infant care, Dr Nils Bergman is working assiduously to debunk the mythology that premature babies are more healthy in incubators.  The whole emergence of incubator use was a great money maker of “Dr” Couney, who set up his Infant Incubator exhibits at World Fairs and amusement parks, including Coney Island, and all across the US in the late 1800s.   Martin Couney was not a doctor, he was a promoter, and put himself in the position of being the ‘rescuer’ of babies who were failing in the hospital.
Follow this link that gives us a Minnesota historic participation in ‘modern’ care for babies. Scroll into 1:37 to see the Infant Incubator House at the Wonderland Amusement Park.  While you are watching, please consider: What were the conditions and choices for these vulnerable babies and their mothers?
To begin, please note that the ‘research’ that is claimed to be behind Couney incubators is highly questionable. What practices are being compared to what other conditions of care?

As Dr Bergman says, it all depends on what we are comparing.  So:  Are we comparing premature babies in an incubator with premature babies in an isolette (isolated box!!!) in a nursery separate from the maternity ward where mothers are laying in?  This was modern hospital care in big cities from the late 1800s through mid-century 1900s and beyond. Or are we comparing premies in an incubator with premature babies who are carried skin-to-skin on their mothers?
Guess which of the three groups has the most excellent outcomes for both survival and for long term development.  Yes, premature babies held skin-to-skin (also known as kangaroo care) have better vitals on every measure (breathing, heart rate, temperature, glucose levels) as well as a hugely improved arc of development for physical, social/emotional and cognitive outcomes.
So, why does history matter? The incubator continues to be treated as a superior piece of technology and as the gold standard of medical care that still trumps mothers holding their own vulnerable babies.  This is reflected in the way that almost all neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are set up in the USA.
In order to carry out effective skin to skin care, babies need to be held basically all the time on their mothers/fathers/primary person.  Mothers/parents needs to live and sleep with their babies – called rooming-in – with a bed and care for the mother.  Rooming-in is very rare in NICUs.  Most NICUs have zero beds for mothers.  Or a hospital has one bedroom for mother-baby – then the medical center can claim that they have rooming-in.  Hospitals will also say that they have kangaroo care for premies, but then only ‘allow’ babies to be skin-to-skin for an hour a day or intermittently. Most medical centers only allow babies to be skin to skin with mother IF baby’s vitals are good.  However, Dr Bergman’s research clearly concludes that babies’ vitals are better in skin to skin.  In other words, incubators destabilize premature babies and hinder their development, compared to skin to skin care.
Dr Bergman’s strong recommendation is that NICU’s must be totally redesigned to place baby AND mother at the center of care, with all the technology and medical staffing support adapting to the best practices for best outcomes for premature and fragile babies.
And of course, additionally we need social policies that support women financially in being with their premature babies during this vulnerable time, and to provide care for their other children at home.  Otherwise many, many mothers are not able to be in the medical center with their babies.
This is also a social justice issue, as babies of African American descent are at higher risk of prematurity.  And their higher risk of prematurity is due to several reasons that are also social justice issues.  Among the independently contributing variables are stress of family economics, and racism as it own stressor (independent of other variables, all by itself).
And let us look at the history source of separation of mothers and babies. This is a phenomena of European aristocrats and wanna-be upper class folk.  Separation of mothers and babies includes the demeaning of women who breastfeed and carry their babies as low-class, inferior, dirty peasants, and discrediting them as spoiling their children. There is still a lot of shaming going on towards mothers along these lines in parts of American and European culture.  So history matters, because it is still playing out with assumptions and attitudes embedded in families, cultural values, in medical institutions and in direct medical care.

Breastfeeding Friendly childcare

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New MDH Breastfeeding Friendly recognition program available

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has launched a program to recognize family child care homes and child care centers that have taken steps to become Breastfeeding Friendly.

Child care providers can play a critical role in supporting breastfeeding mothers and their babies. It’s important to recognize their successes and efforts to support breastfeeding in their child care programs.

MDH has tools available here to help get child care providers on the path to recognition. Applications for family child care homes and child care centers are posted on the MDH website.

The Breastfeeding Friendly designation is valid for three years; child care programs need to reapply after their designation expires. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

For more information about the recognition program or application process, email

Triplet tales: It took a village

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Cat w triplet ABreastfeeding: Slow beginning…..

We were committed to breastfeeding, and we needed everyone’s help to make it possible.  Breastfeeding was affected by so many variables.  Each baby had his/her own little challenges in the beginning. I began bringing them to breast from the first day, but they were born early, so the babies weren’t quite ready to fully feed at birth.

All three babies were snuggled tightly together in utero. Babies P and A were heads down, while baby W was head up.  I began having contractions in the month coming up to their birth. The month of prelabor along with their individual positions in the last two months shaped each head and ability to latch differently.  Their grandma Gigi urged us to get craniosacral therapy to help with the displacement of their cranial bones evident for each of their newborn heads, especially to help with breastfeeding and calmness.

Full on triplet feeding

Our babies also had variations in maturity and temperament.  Baby P was the largest and first to find an easy breastfeeding rhythm.  Initially the boys tired quickly at the breast.  Craniosacral therapy helped their bones line up better, and to open their latch for easier, more efficient feeds.   All the babies relaxed deeply during session and were calmer overall.

Stroller snooze sml

We were able to gradually increase the length of breastfeeding sessions and arrive at full breastfeeding for all of them. Although it took three months before all three babies were reliably breastfeeding, we all felt it was well worth giving continuously to make it eventually happen.  The village came through to help do laundry, cook food, change diapers and to cuddle, so I was able to focus on being with my babies, breastfeeding and keeping myself as well fed and rested as possible.   – mama J

My mobility is back

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Happy sacrum sml

My sacrum felt amazing all weekend – like I wasn’t even pregnant. It’s feeling a bit tighter now but no pain. Because it’s unstable, I’m combining movement activities at home with alternating chiropractic and myofascial release help. I feel like I have my body and mobility back. Thank you. – Kim K

Triplet tales: Easy vision for future reading

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Early on we noticed that one of baby P’s eyes seemed smaller than the other.  Catherine suggested that gently guiding the bones around the eyes to even alignment would make her vision easier for long term, future reading loads.  Since cranial bones are the most mobile in the first years, we could now make a big difference for her down the road.

With a few sessions and our home program, we saw her eyes even out gradually.  This seemed like it was all worked out.  Then 2 weeks after we had seen Catherine, her left eye again looked smaller.  When we talked about it, we realized Phoebe had had a growth spurt. As Catherine described it, we had gently moved her bones into better alignment, but not perfect alignment.  So when P had a growth spurt, the slight displacement became more apparent.  With continued gentle craniosacral therapy we saw her eyes become even again.   —  Mama J

Watch for more Triplet tales to come

Pacing with his own inner rhythm

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As a toddler Gavin has an initial healthy hesitation in allowing me, as a practitioner, to touch him.  With play and slow approach, Gavin gradually settles in to feel safe in the room and with Lakeshore learning shape sort puzzleme.  He can play with shape sorting puzzles while I give him gentle, light craniosacral therapy.

Then Gavin pauses to track how he feels inside while I support internal movement. He stays with this body awareness as I touch in each area, continuing into his play.  The great value of him tracking his own inner world is to continuously stay connected with himself, as he so busily explores the big world around him.

Among many skills, this enables Gavin to pace himself in activity. Inner awareness contributes to a lifelong capacity of being true to himself in any situation, also sourced from his trust in relationship based on the respectful care his parents have given his little person.



Desperate for sleep

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We’ve had the pleasure of working with Catherine on and off for about a year and a half now. We first sought her out for her craniosacral services when our son had colic and we were desperate for sleep and answers. Other options had provided him no relief. However, one session with Catherine and he was colic free!

If we had any doubts about craniosacral therapy and its benefits they were long gone after that! We continued regular appointments for several months for breastfeeding support, as he had always struggled with that as well, and having had no problems with breastfeeding out first child, I had no idea why our son was struggling or what I could do to help him. Again, Catherine was an invaluable resource! We saw signs of improvement immediately, and after a few weeks he was nursing like a champ!

We have continued to seek out Catherine’s expertise to help him through growth spurts and difficult teething times. The benefits of craniosacral therapy, as well as somatic movement therapy, have proven virtually limitless. I am so thankful to have been connected with Catherine and to learn from her as she has helped my son navigate some tough times. Her knowledge and skill works would be beneficial to parents and children of any age! – Rachael Gallagher

Your inner world wide web

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Everything is connected to everything

Fascia is a web material throughout the body, forming wrappers and slings for every organ and every muscle.  Your heart is suspended in the chamber of your ribs.  Your uterus is suspended in your pelvic by a fascia hammock connected to the bones.  Each muscle in your back, small or large, has wrappers and connectors.

Wrappers & slings

In the great internal web, each wrapper & sling is connected to adjacent wrappers and slings.  Just like a suspension bridge, when bones are in good alignment and muscles are well toned in full range, everything functions in balance.  But if bones are out of alignment, then soft tissues of muscles and fascia are pulled out of place.  And it goes both ways.  If muscles and fascia are either (1) tight and short or (2) lax and stretched out, then these soft tissue imbalances can pull bones out of alignment.

Connections are specific

Just as muscle can be pulled/pushed out of alignment, fascia can be affected by specific high impact events or by chronic repetitive use patterns.  Muscles and fascia can get out of alignment when we are born or giving birth, with a fall off a bike or skis, or by prolonged daily activities like sitting at a desk with poor posture or repetitive use of our bodies, as for carpenters, musicians and cashiers.

Muscles and fascia together are called the myofascial system.  They function together to hold everything in place Rope swing2dynamically, rather than in fixed or rigid relationships.

Membranes and mini-tramps

Fascia comes in various degrees of density.  The thinnest, light fascia is thinner than saran wrap, with some of the same qualities of toughness and slight elasticity. The strongest, thickest fascia is trampoline strong.  People who eat meat have handled fascia while eating chicken and eggs.  Sometimes you see a super thin, clear wrap on the meat.  You also see the thin wrapper inside the egg shell.  These are each fascia at its thinnest.  On the continuum of fascia, there is a whole range of density and strength.  An example of the strongest fascia is the respiratory diaphragm.  The whole structure is like a mini-tramp.  The outer rim of the trampoline is like your ribs.  The coils of the tramp are like your muscles which can coil and stretch.  The jumping surface of the trampoline is like the strongest fascia.  It has a little give, but it is dense and resilient.

Alignment matters

Myofascial release can be accomplished through several kinds of activities: stretching, movement and bodywork.  We can do a lot through self care to unwind our restrictions – or the restrictions in our baby’s body, imprinted from birth.

Sometimes specific bodywork is needed when we can’t work out all out on our own.   Myofascial release is gentle (vs a very harsh technique called fascia stripping.)  Somatic bodywork includes hands-on bodywork on the massage table, movement & stretching activities on the floor, and a home program for you to continue to maintain your own alignment. You can approach these activities with simple focus on the movement and release, and you can choose to deepen into internal awareness incorporating mindfulness practices and movement.  Begin where you are now, and let it all unwind.

Mind the gap, part 2

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During pregnancy women voraciously read books and blogs.  You’re talking to anyone and everyone in your circle of friends and family who has had a baby.  Probably selectively, since Aunt Agnes just tells horror stories.  The women in your world help you define what is normal, what is possible, and your vision of birth and baby.  Perhaps you are going outside your immediate family, or have no near friends, to find women’s stories on the web, or to search for a new/old way to birth as naturally as possible.  You are talking with your health care providers.  Your choices about who joins you on the prenatal journey are also deeply influenced by your community, your values and your health status.

So, what are dads thinking?  Or moms might feel, What is this man thinking!@?%?!!!! You’re way behind on the learning curve! There’s a baby on the way!!!

What are dads thinking?  They are, but often their focus is on the family economy and on safety in birth.  These are valuable and important.  Dads don’t feel the physical changes inside their own bodies.  And dads are usually not talking birth with their buddies and co-workers.  But, it is nearly impossible to make generalized statements about what men are doing these day and how they are in relationship, because men’s identities as partners  and fathers are completely in flux these day.  Men’s roles and women’s roles are being reinvented as we all continue along in our grand cultural experiment of more openness and flexibility.

Still we each bring our own history and our own direct experience of being in the body we each inhabit.   Everything is up for renegotiation in relationship, especially now our friends in the GLBT world are giving us notice that sexuality and gender are actually not rigidly binary.  Yet most of us do live in our bodies that are distinctly female or male.

Among the most distinctive markers of our sexuality and gender are our hormones.  Hormones affect everything in our functioning in everyday life, as well as peak experiences.   Our physical states and our moods are all influenced by hormones.

We have a confused cultural construct that women are hormonal.  Many women do experience hormonal roller coaster rides every month.  During pregnancy and birth, a woman’s hormonal rhythms and configurations radically change. She is busy creating a baby – with essential hormonal activity.  During pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, hormones are specially configured for creation and sustenance.

Lest we misunderstand, men are just as hormonal.  But hormones run differently for men. Hormones are part of sexuality and of every day life. You can’t digest your food without hormones, or fight off the cold that’s going around without hormones.  Men’s hormones vary up and down with experiences and with major life events.  Running a marathon and its runner’s high ramp up multiple hormones.  A stressful day at work, as well as the satisfaction of a job well done, each are hormonal events affecting our minds and moods.  In fact, we all have the exact same hormones, just in different ratios and rhythms.

Hormones of imagination

So what does this have to do with what moms are thinking in pregnancy, and how dads are participating studying up for birth?  Hormones are at play, and deeply influencing where your attention is focused.  Let’s call these the hormones of imagination – a body-mind crossover of chemistry and thought when a baby is on the way.

During pregnancy women have hormones that trigger their minds to focus thoughts on the coming baby.  Women visualize the baby and taking care of him/her. So along with all the sensations of a changing body and little kicks inside, a woman is hormonally prompted to create an internalized image of her child.  In the world of pediatric psychology, researcher Linda Mayes describes this focus on baby as preoccupation.

Women experience huge variations in how much they think about baby.  Some women are deeply absorbed in baby thoughts, talk and web searches.  Some women are so busy with work or young children that they might feel they have barely given the coming baby a thought.  Yet for most women the image of the baby fills in during spare moments.  Hormones play out differently for every person, and for every pregnancy.

Men don’t have these hormones running as high as women initially.  So when a new dad’s first response is, We need to start a college fund, he is functioning from a very different hormonal care-taking place.  Still hormones!  Hormones motivate many essential behaviors, including long term planning.  Dads come on board as the pregnancy becomes more tangible when mom gets full bellied and he can feel those kicks.

In her research Mayes finds that preoccupation with baby is a parental mind state for both parents.  Baby preoccupation begins during pregnancy, increases enormously during birth and continues through the neonatal period. This natural state of arousal includes heightened sensitivity to the baby and sustained attention for the continuous care that a new baby requires.  This period is hormonally and psychologically prime time for each participant; essential for mother, baby and father in bonding and attachment. Just wait until dad is showing off photos of baby to everyone in range, and extolling the wonders of his little guy or gal when someone asks him how is doing, coming into work blurry eyed with lack of sleep.

While you and your partner have differences in experience and in timing during the pregnancy, you get to talk it all over so that you can together find the common ground for your next steps together.  Here we are at the beginning of being in gratitude about having two different people in relationship, and of having two different views in creating a family, and of having two parents for this child, each who will love and relate to this child in his/her own personal – and hormonally influenced – style of parenting.