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Posted in Birth Stories, Natural Childbirth, Positive Birth Movement, Pregnancy, Western Birth Practices, Your Questions Answered | Leave a comment

What is an Empowered Birth?

“For me an empowered birth is one where I am the one who makes the decisions for me and my baby. Where I am in an environment of love, support, and respect for the power within my body to successfully birth my baby. Where I can be free to express anything I need to express; sound, movement, fear, love, ecstasy in a place that my expression will not lead to interference from the outside. I believe women have the ability to create an empowering birth experience regardless of if the birth outcome is natural, medicated, or surgical.   When women are making the decisions for their bodies and their babies out of education, faith, belief and confidence in themselves and not out of fear or manipulation they will be empowered.  I believe in the human body, in it’s power, and in birth’s ability to transform a person, woman, wife, and mother.”

Dr. Nancy, Your Birth Coach

If you, too, want an empowered birth – join the community at

Natural Birth, Baby, and Beyond is an online childbirth empowerment course and online community where you can get all the information and resources you need to create the best birth for you and your baby.

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Natural Birth, Baby, and Beyond Podcast

I am planning to start a podcast to discuss issues around pregnancy, birth, parenting, sexuality, natural living, and women’s rights.

Does this sound like something you would be interested in listening to?

What topics would interest you most?

What questions would you like answered?

THANK YOU for taking the time to leave your answers in the comments!

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for the podcast at:


Posted in Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Activism, Family Life/ Relationships, Informed Choice, Natural Living, Parenting, Podcast, Pregnancy, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I am Choosing Compassion

It is all over social media this week, an Alberta family is being charged with failure to provide the necessities of life after their toddler died following a battle with an infection.

This family is being judged and vilified based on media articles that are presenting part of the story, a false story in some cases, and presenting the information with a clear bias against the family. Reading these articles, I can see why it would appear that this family was neglectful but before we judge we need to step back and get the facts or at least both sides of the story.

The media is reporting that this family treated their child with maple syrup and juice. Anyone who understands parents who chose natural remedies as their first line of defense would see this as a obvious hole in the media’s reporting. No one who understands natural health, normal physiology, or the immune system would give their child something with simple sugars when they are clearly fighting an infection. Simple sugar weakens the immune system and feeds bacteria. So this leads to the question of how truthful is the media being? According to the parents, not so much. They are considering suing CBC for defamation of character as they are now being crucified in the court of public opinion because of CBC’s article. I think, as a society, we are still under the illusion that much of what is reported in the media is investigative journalism but often it is simply publication of press releases without further detective work into the source of the information.

They are saying this child needed medical care sooner, but did he? According to the parents, their kids were both sick with a mild run of the mill sickness, possibly croup. It is not advised to see your doctor for every illness just ones that your child cannot cope with on their own. The child was coping fine and getting better. It suddenly took a turn for the worse and the sought emergency care right away. Called an ambulance and didn’t wait for it to arrive but started driving to meet the ambulance to get to it sooner. They didn’t know that the dispatcher did not send the closest ambulance and they passed an ambulance on the way to meet the one that was coming from far away. The ambulance assigned to them did not have the tubing to intubate a child of his size so they could not help him effectively. Before this sudden turn for the worse, where they did seek medical treatment, he was not having any signs of anything severe from how the story is being reported by the family. A very different picture than the one painted by CBC, this is why we cannot judge this story based on one biased news report.

Regardless, our kids get sick. You can never know it’s too late until it’s too late. Can you look for signs? Yes. But if your child is coping it is better for them to stay home and move through the infection on their own. If they clearly cannot fight it off themselves then seek medical treatment. It is a fine line that we must all balance. Some reports have said there is no confirmed cause of death, others have suggested viral meningitis, and still others bacterial meningitis. If it had been viral, antibiotics would not have helped this child and actually weakened his defenses. If it was bacterial, it is well known that the timeline is short between signs of a problem and death and those signs are not always clear. Under perfect circumstances you cannot always get to medical care in time with bacterial meningitis.

This family has suffered a loss that no parent wants to suffer. This was a loving family, according to the crown prosecutor. Compounding their loss they are now being tried criminally for their choices. One can only imagine how heart wrenching that would be. Now to throw gas on the fire, people are coming out of the woodwork to call these loving parents murderers. They have received death threats and even threats of rape. The RCMP has suggested that they get police security to protect the family’s safety.

I cannot begin to imagine the nightmare that this family is experiencing. I could choose to judge their decisions and actions or I can choose compassion and understanding and I call on others to do the same.

I believe that this is something that could happen to almost any parent. They could have easily been the parents who took their kid in and been told it’s just a virus, go home and let it run it’s course. It happens every day. At some point you need to make a decision. You cannot know if it’s too late until it’s too late and you don’t want to risk being exposing your already vulnerable child to more and stronger pathogens by running to a medical clinic or hospital at every runny nose or change in body temperature.

It is all about risks and benefits. At some point, the risks of medication outweigh any benefit and at some other point, the risks of going it alone outweigh any benefit. Weighing that balance and seeking alternatives, that often have a better risk to benefit ratio, is not irresponsible. It is actually quite responsible and shows that the parents are trying to make conscious and thought out decisions about their child’s health. They were not being neglectful, they were taking active steps to support their child’s health.

They did seek care from a valid health care provider. A naturopathic doctor is recognized by Canada and the province as a valid health care provider and primary health care doctor under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. If it was outside the naturopath’s scope of practice they should have referred the child to someone whose scope of practice included this specific issue. But again this was apparently a mild sickness based on symptoms. Not anything that would cause alarm.

May there have been warning signs that the family missed, dismissed, or ignored? Maybe. I wasn’t there, so I can only take the family’s word for it. I can only assume they were working diligently to care for their child.

Medicine is not automatically the right answer, very often it is the wrong answer. The effects of properly prescribed drugs and surgery account for a significant number of deaths in Canada, children being at higher risk than adults. Each time a child is ill you could run to a doctor and risk over medicating and putting their life and health at risk. There is a time and a place for medical intervention. Maybe this situation was that time, but we cannot know if it would have even made a difference. Children die under medical care every day. Medical errors cost lives, yet those care providers are not criminally charged with failure to provide necessities of life to the children under their supervison.

Every decision carries risk and the one they chose didn’t work out. They are the ones hurt by this. They will live with the outcomes of that decision forever. Prosecuting them does nothing good but puts all parents at risk of being liable if you make a parenting decision that goes awry. We make risk:benefit decisions for our children every day. Can they ride a bike, play hockey, do gymnastics, go tobogganing? All decisions carry risk and being criminally responsible for those decisions is a scary thing. Again, it is a matter of assessing benefits and risks in the specific situation. At some point a decision is made in either direction, it appears they made a wrong decision. A precedent in a case like this could be really scary for parents because they will not be safe to make health decisions for their family. Make the wrong decision and you go to prison.

We all are sourcing info by which to make decisions. The info is often biased if it comes from medical sites like the CDC and also biased if it comes from holistic sites. We each need to assess that information for ourselves and make judgement calls. Sometimes the decisions we make end up leading to an undesired outcome. That could be a decision to seek medical care which leads to your child’s death or it could be to seek alternatives which lead to your child’s death. There is no risk free option and no “right” answers. Just decisions and outcomes.

I feel deeply for this family because we had a similar situation with our own child at the same age. My son was 19 months and had a runny nose, no fever, fully functioning and as energetic as always, simply a runny nose. It was Halloween night and we went trick or treating. We went to bed that night and I noticed his breathing was a little labored, nothing he hadn’t previously experienced and recovered from with a cold. Did he react to something he ate or was it simply progression of the mild cold he seemed to have, I don’t know. We watched him carefully to see if it was going to pass. I lay with him all night as he slept, watching to see he was OK. At some point, I felt it was getting worse and too much for him. I felt that if we waited longer he would be in distress so I took him to the hospital. It was where he needed to be as he needed medical treatment. I fully believe that had we waited too much longer he would not have made it. I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time and thankfully we had a good outcome.

I believe this could have very easily gone in another direction. It was 4 am when I left for the hospital. Had I fallen asleep, maybe I would have never known how distressed his breathing got in the night, maybe I would have woken up to a dead baby. I am so very thankful that we cosleep so I was able to be present to see just how much he was struggling.

Had this happened during the day and I had put him down for a nap, I would have never known that his breathing was an issue at all and I could have discovered him in bed not breathing just like Ezekiel’s parents did.

Had we lived further from a hospital, maybe we wouldn’t have made it in time. Had we hit traffic, maybe he wouldn’t have made it to the hospital and died in transit. Had I medicated my child at home, maybe it would have masked his distress and it would have been too late to seek emergency care.

In our situation, we made a choice and had a good outcome. There are many factors that could have altered the timing of that decision. When I arrived at the hospital he was is distress. It progressed quickly.

When I told a family member about what had happened their first reaction was, “You should have gone in sooner.” Really, should I have? Sooner he wasn’t having a problem, sooner he wasn’t in any foreseeable danger or distress. When exactly “should” I have gone in. An hour sooner, 2, 3 the day before when he appeared totally healthy apart from a runny nose? Sooner and we would have been laughed out of the hospital as over vigilant parents.

At some point we need to make a decision. In a perfect world we would always have time on our side but that is not always the case. Could Ezekiel’s family gone in sooner? Maybe. Maybe there would have been no cause for care had they arrived sooner. Or maybe it would have saved his life. We can only know in hindsight and I do not believe these parents should be prosecuted for not having a crystal ball.

What happened to Ezekiel and his family could happen to anyone. Especially if it was bacterial meningitis without clear symptoms. Even with obvious signs, people do not always get care in time. You have 24 hours at best to be treated or death is a likely outcome. This is a family who deeply cared for and loved their child. They wanted him alive and well. They were taking active steps to help him. They ended up victims of time and possibly a series of unfortunate events (the ambulance mishap) or decisions. How can they be held criminally responsible for something they tried to prevent? How can people in our community of fellow parents not see the tragedy of this situation and feel deep sorrow and compassion for this family? They lost the one thing we all fear losing more than anything else, their child. Now the rest of their family may be torn apart if they are forced to serve time in prison. (Note that children’s services has never found their other children to be at risk, they have kept all of their kids because they have been considered good parents).

When observing with the benefit of hindsight we can all say we would have acted differently, made different choices. They didn’t have that advantage when in the moment of crisis with their child. Try to put yourself in their situation; a lost child, parental guilt that will last a lifetime, other children to protect and care for, and now criminal charges. The last thing the need is judgement, vindictiveness, and threats, please show these people some mercy.

Posted in Family Life/ Relationships, General, Informed Choice | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My Mummy Tummy Journey Week 7 Until Now

Life has officially broken my routine of getting my MUTU system exercises done.

It took me 2 weeks to complete the exercises for week 7, which I was OK with. In week 8 everything fell apart. I managed a few days of exercises and then it all went down hill.

The kids started there fall activities and our schedule has been packed with 2 trips out of town in the past 2 weeks.

I am committed to getting back on track starting this weekend.

Two weeks ago a friend sent me a private message regarding the MUTU system.
“Hi Nancy, I’m really considering the Mutu program. You are honestly recommending it?”

This was my response:

“I think that it is well produced, easy to follow. I think the exercises that are recommended make sense. I think I have made improvements but am not quite where I want to be yet. I am working on week 8. Life has started to get in the way the past month so it has been taking me two weeks to complete 1 week of the program for the past little bit. I am happy that I am doing the program. I knew i had an issue with my core and needed to do something about it. I knew that doing standard abdominal exercises could make it worse. I am happy to have something to give me direction and guidance on what I can and should be doing.”

So I am recommitting to getting back on track as I really want to complete this program and see what the complete results are.

You can sign up for the MUTU system yourself by clicking HERE.

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My Mummy Tummy Journey Week 6

Week 6 of the MUTU system starts with a pep talk from Wendy, the founder of MUTU mams. It seems as though this was perfectly timed.

I started the week off fine and then completely fell off the wagon. In Wendy’s pep talk she said to just pick up where you left off and keep going. No need to beat yourself up about it, just keep going.

So I didn’t dwell on missing a week of the MUTU system, I just decided to start week 6 again last week. This time around it was a success.

I did miss some walks due to rain but I did get in all my core and intensive exercises, even if it meant staying up late, long after everyone went to bed, to get them done.

I should probably make a routine of doing the exercise in the morning but have fallen into a routine of leaving it to the last thing of the day.

My dog has had some noticeable results thanks to the MUTU system. Our (almost) daily walks are showing on her frame as she has lost some of the weight she gained when we had kids, even friends have noticed.

This has been really nice for our whole family. My husband has now joined us in most of our walks so we are all spending some nice time together. Before kids we took the dog on a nature walk every day and life has just been so busy since that it is easy to forget how valuable that time was.

Week 6 was a mixture of exercises from phase 1 and phase 2 of the core and the intensive exercises. I am looking forward to week 7 where a new set of core exercises will be introduced. I also want to make a greater effort to focus on my pelvic floor this week.

Here is some more information about the pelvic floor.



My previous posts about using the MUTU System 12 week program:

Tired of Looking Pregnant

Week 1 Summary

Week 2 Summary

Week 3 Summary

Weeks 4 & 5 Summary

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Breastfeeding Art in China

china imageMy dad is in China and thought of me when he saw these statues. Breastfeeding is normal around the world. I hope that soon it will be seen as just as normal here in North America.  I would love to see statues like these popping up in parks.

I feel very happy that I have helped to normalize breastfeeding in my family. Thanks dad for sending these my way.



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My Mummy Tummy Journey Weeks 4 & 5 Summary

Sorry for not posting my experiences with the MUTU System last week. Due to a technical error I was locked out of my site.

I will include both week 4 and 5 experiences here.

Week 4 Summary

I have made it one third of the way through the MUTU program.

The dog is getting walked, the kids are spending more time outdoors, and my diastasis recti has started to improve.

The MUTU frequently asked questions page says that more visible results will be after 6-8 weeks, so I am not quite there yet.

One of the things I am happy to see is that the exercises change. After 2 weeks of doing the same intensive exercise routine, I am ready to change things up. This week coming I will be on Core Phase 2 and Intensive Exercises Phase 2.

The simplicity of following a system is, so far, the best thing about the MUTU system in my experience.

Measuring the gap between my abs is showing improvement. When I started the program the gap between my rectus abdominis muscles was 5 fingers across 2” above my belly button, 6 fingers across at my belly button and 4 fingers across 2” below. At the end of week 4 my measurements were 4 fingers, 5 fingers, and 3 fingers. So I am seeing some progress, about a fingers width.

If you want to learn more about diastasis recti, you can get more information on the MUTU site my clicking “Your Body” then “Diastasis Recti.”  There are videos that explain what a diastasis recti is, how to test for it, and how to correct it.  Also, check out this infographic by MUTU.

Week 5 Summary

This week I almost fell off the MUTU wagon.

The walk and core exercises are to be done daily and the intensive exercises at least 4 times each week. I have been trying to separate the intensive exercises so that I have a day to rest between and  not do 4 days in a row. I also didn’t want to leave all 4 intensive days to the end of the week in case something came up making me unable to do them. Well…. I gave myself a break the first day of week 5 and just did the core exercises and a walk, then I gave myself a break the next day and also only did the core exercises and a walk, then I gave myself a break and only did my walk on the third day. So I left all the intensives to the last 4 days of the week, including an over scheduled weekend. It seemed about the natural time to just say, “Screw it, I’m done, pass the chocolate.” (Dark chocolate of course, possibly dipped in natural peanut butter.)

Knowing I have to report back to you helped me push through the last 4 days of the week. I made up my missing day of core exercises and stayed up late to get the intensives done each night. I usually end up going to bed with the kids, so my partner had to take over some bedtime duty for me to get my exercises done. Thankfully, everyone has been supportive in making this happen.

I have missed 2 walks though due to our crazy, busy weekend, so I will be trying to plan a longer family hike to make it up.

The change to a new set of intensive exercises was really nice, once I got my butt in gear and did them. This week I have the freedom to mix it up and do a few days from each of the phase 1 and phase 2 intensives and each of the core series also. Change is good.

Someone asked me if I ordered any special equipment to do the MUTU system. I haven’t and just made due with what I have at home.

IMG_5577I am using one of my kids toy balls or a cushion when the kids hide the ball from me, a resistance loop my partner already had (dark green), a rolled up towel, the strap from my yoga mat (light green), instead of dumbbells just weights that we had in the basement, we already had a 10 pound medicine ball but a backpack with books or something heavy would work also.  (The medicine ball seems to be photo shy, it has disappeared at the moment, so it’s not in the picture.)

I did order some five finger barefoot shoes (on sale from an online retailer) a couple of weeks ago and am waiting patiently for them to arrive.



My previous posts about using the MUTU System 12 week program:

Tired of Looking Pregnant

Week 1 Summary

Week 2 Summary

Week 3 Summay

Posted in Exercise, Family Life/ Relationships, General, Natural Living, Post Birth Body, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Humanizing Cesarean Birth

As much as we would like to see Cesarean birth rates decline, there will still be moms and babies who need a Cesarean to make it safely through childbirth.

It is possible to create a more personalized, human, and family centered experience. I hope that this will one day become the norm for Cesarean birth in our society. That can only happen through advocacy and women asking for what it is they want for their births, their bodies, and their babies.

You will notice in this video there is no screen separating mom from the birth so that she can watch her baby emerge. The baby is birthed slowly and passed to the mother for immediate skin on skin. He clamping of the cord is delayed so that the baby can gain as much of its blood black from the placenta and stay oxygenated.

Posted in Caesarean Section, Childbirth Activism, General, Informed Choice, Western Birth Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

W.H.O. States: Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically necessary

“Caesarean section is one of the most common surgeries in the world, with rates continuing to rise, particularly in high- and middle-income countries. Although it can save lives, caesarean section is often performed without medical need, putting women and their babies at-risk of short- and long-term health problems. A new statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) underscores the importance of focusing on the needs of the patient, on a case by case basis, and discourages the practice of aiming for “target rates”.”

“Since 1985, the international healthcare community has considered the “ideal rate” for caesarean sections to be between 10% and 15%. New studies reveal that when caesarean section rates rise towards 10% across a population, the number of maternal and newborn deaths decreases. But when the rate goes above 10%, there is no evidence that mortality rates improve.”

Read more here:

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“He’s Only Mean to You Because He Likes You”

There are a list of phrases we grew up with hearing and may be passing on to the next generation that are disempowering our kids.

This meme posted by Hot Moms Club is a great reminder that we need to be conscious of the lessons we are teaching our kids when we dismiss inappropriate behavior.

Actress and birth activist Robin Guy explains, “The point is, telling girls that boys being asses is somehow a compliment to the girl sends the wrong message. A boy being an ass needs to learn to behave better. Girls are asses too sometimes, they also need to learn to behave better.”

What lessons are our girls internalizing when we say to them that it’s OK for boys who like them, to be mean? Are we setting girls up to expect poor treatment from those who are supposed to care about them? What are we telling the boys about appropriate ways to treat a girl they have feelings for?

I understand that it can be hard to communicate our emotions, especially when we are young. Instead of dismissing and condoning it, why not give boys some strategies for better communication?  While we are at it, let’s give girls a framework to speak up for themselves and create boundaries of how they expect to be treating by others.

Jacqueline Adderley adds, “We need to teach our little boys to show affection in other, more direct and appropriate ways.”

Adderley continues with, “I would like to delete the phrases “boys will be boys” and “you X like a girl” from our lexicon. One is a catch-all phrase for bad behaviour and the other, in spite of well-meaning attempts to empower the phrase, is derogatory.”

Just like the above meme, saying phrases like “boys will be boys” is giving boys permission to not be responsible for their behavior. At the same time, we tell girls that they need to accommodate their comfort and possibly safety so the boys can express themselves or be comfortable.

The whole thing about saying to a boy “you throw like a girl” or anything else “like a girl” is insulting girls and making it “lesser than” to be in any way like girls. Girls throw perfectly fine and it should not be an insult to say “you throw like a girl”.

It also tells girls that they are not as good as boys and should strive to be male to be good enough. This is something we are seeing en masse right now as women have been taught to throw away femininity in order to be seen as strong and capable. You can be feminine and perfectly powerful.

The whole thing puts males on a pedestal and females below them.

It’s not about trying to make boys into girls. It’s about treating both sexes with equal respect and each individual with respect. An individuals worth is not determined with how closely they resemble their gender stereotypes or how ungirl like they are.

As guardians of these impressionable, young beings who look to us to be models of how to be mature and respectful members of our community, we need to think about what we are teaching in our day to day interactions with our kids.

We cannot condone certain behavior when they are 8 and expect them to suddenly act differently when they are 13 or 21. The whole point of maturation is to learn how to be a mature being. Those lessons are taught piece by piece along the way, not a sudden flip when you hit the age of majority and become legally responsible for your actions.

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Dancing Your Way Through Birth

Do you love to dance?

A great way to work through the intensity of labor is to dance. Often that ends up being more of a slow dance, swaying with your arms hanging around your partners neck, but this looks entirely more fun. This would be a great way to distract yourself from the intensity, help move your baby through your pelvis, and have a positive birth.

Did you laugh or dance your way through contractions?

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