by Robyn

Approaching the Throne of God

October 10, 2014 in Fertility, Free Agency, Nourishment, Prenatal influences, Preparation, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

st-george-utah-temple-1083599-gallery

I really loved conference as always. How is it that the messages are for such a general audience but feel so personal at times?  I wanted to share a few thoughts I had while listening to “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence” by Elder Jorge Klebingat of the Seventy.

He began by asking a few questions in relation to how we would feel approaching the throne of God. Would we shrink or approach with confidence? He followed this up with six suggestions that can help restore and strengthen our spiritual confidence.

I would like to expand on the second suggestion to take responsibility for your own physical well-being. This is the excerpt from his talk,

Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (“We Are Children of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 87; Liahona, Jan. 1999, 103).

President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 2, 2003], 2; speeches.byu.edu). Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.

Diet and exercise are two factors that can affect fertility (source). The childbearing process is physically and spiritually demanding. I don’t think we will stand blameless before God if we put ourselves and our babies at risk because we were not willing to take care of our physical bodies.  I imagine we will give an accounting of how we valued and used our gift to give life.

The truth is we should be preparing our bodies to make and carry life long before we are even pregnant or thinking of being pregnant. Each woman is born with the eggs that will become their children. They are essentially carrying life all of their days. We are creating temples. We have a responsibility as co-creators to be in the best health we can be to carry life and sustain it.  What quality of food/materials would you use to build a temple?

I put together six ways we can physically prepare for birth. In doing so I, like Elder Klebingat, hope “to edify and not to offend.” If we are humble we will discard what we don’t need and put into action what we do need to change. Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice. You should discuss any of these suggestions with your caregiver.

  • Before you are even pregnant or thinking about it, take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid and a supplement with omega 3. There are a lot of brands to choose from and not all are created equal. I am not going to recommend a specific one other than tell you to look for one derived from whole foods. A prenatal made from whole foods is more easily digested and used by your body.  Some people recommend skipping the prenatal and eating a balanced healthy diet.  For most people it is not likely that your diet will supply you all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.  Our body needs replenish vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements.  Growing babies depletes the body’s stores of vital minerals.  I didn’t realize how deficient my body was in magnesium until I started taking magnesium.  I feel that I was able to carry my baby longer this last pregnancy because I had built up my mineral stores. It is not enough to assume your baby can just take everything from your body it needs. Your baby cannot take what is not there. This kind of attitude can put you and your baby at further risk.
  • Avoid unnecessary over the counter or prescription drugs. All drugs cross the blood brain barrier of your baby and can affect their development.  Some drugs are more concerning than others. You can be prayerful in your approach discussing the pros and cons with your caregiver and then taking it to the Lord.
  • Take care of your teeth.  You are more likely to have problems with your teeth and gums when you are pregnant so any issues you may have now will only be magnified if you are not taking proper care of your teeth. For more information see this post.
  • Begin exercising or keep exercising. It was harder to force myself to exercise while I was pregnant and tired but I know I felt better for doing it.  Research shows that women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to experience complications specifically gestational diabetes. This link contains tips for exercising safely during pregnancy.
  • Learn exercises to prepare your body for birth. Some examples are kegels, squatting, tailor sitting, pelvic rocks, relaxation, etc.
  • Nourish your body. Eat a balanced diet.  Choose quality foods.  I am not going to give a specific diet to follow but keep in mind the Word of Wisdom and other references to food in the standard works when deciding how to best nourish you and your baby with food.  Keep a journal of what you eat.  Look for patterns and ways you can improve.

The Lord knows we are not perfect and honors us for continually striving to do better. Do not guilt yourself for past mistakes.  I love the promise Elder Klebingat closes with,

Brothers and sisters, . . . acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.

Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings. I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments. I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy. I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction. I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

 

Further reading from the Gift of Giving Life:

Spirit-Mind-Body Connection page 220

Constant Nourishment to Body and Spirit page 236

Choice & Accountability page 140

 

 

by Lani

He will make her wilderness like Eden

December 13, 2013 in Adversity, Depression, Lani, Nourishment, Pain, Personal Revelation, Savior, Waiting, Zion by Lani

A few days ago I opened my scriptures in a random place… Jacob 5:

21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.

I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. Lamenting this weak and flawed body/mind I’ve been given. It often feels like my spirit was planted in a very “poor spot of ground,” a very screwed-up, broken body/mind. I have a crooked and sometimes painful back, very poor eyesight, multiple food and chemical sensitivities that sometimes give me head and body aches, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and other ailments. It’s exhausting living in this body. Sometimes I sincerely doubt my ability to endure to the end.

As I pondered the scriptures I opened to, I saw what God was trying to tell me. Yes, I was planted in what could be called a “poor spot of ground.” But God knew exactly where He was planting me. In fact, my patriarchal blessing specifies that I was placed exactly where I am for a reason: “It is in this environment that you have been brought forth and placed in the families that you have been raised.” And even in this poor spot of ground, God has nourished me with intellect, talents, spiritual gifts, and lots of family and friends who love and support me. Through that abundant nourishment from God, I have, indeed, brought forth much fruit.

Then yesterday, I opened up my scriptures to Mosiah 2, to the beginning of King Benjamin’s address. And I noticed a scripture I hadn’t really “seen” before:

9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, . . . hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

10 I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should . . . think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.

11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind.

I know our prophets are not perfect. I know they experience challenges just like the rest of us. But in that moment it just really struck me as a tender mercy to know that King Benjamin himself was open about experiencing “infirmities of the body and mind.” And I loved that he didn’t just say “infirmities.” He specified that both his body and his mind were affected. As one who experiences infirmities of both the body and the mind, it was comforting. King Benjamin did so much good. There’s no disputing that he played a crucial role on this earth. And he didn’t let his infirmities stand in his way. That inspires me.

 

My mom is always telling me that she never expected me to live very long. I don’t know if it was motherly intuition or just her own imagination. She often says things like, “You didn’t need to come here to be proven, but you wanted to come to make a difference in a world full of problems.” I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know how long God “will suffer that I may live.” But I pray that God’s grace will hold me up and carry me through whatever my future has in store… that I can bring forth more fruit unto the Lord, despite my infirmities. I also hold out hope in the promise found in Ether: “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (12:27).

In two days, I’m singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” with a small group of women in sacrament meeting (pray this sore throat doesn’t get in the way!). I chose the song, in part, because it felt like a very personal prayer/lament. I long for the END. I long for the reign of peace and love. I ache for the day when darkness is destroyed, when the waste places of the world shall blossom like Eden, when my broken body will be made whole. O come, O come. Please come.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

by Robyn

Breastfeeding, Sexuality and Pornography

August 14, 2013 in Breastfeeding, Motherhood, Nourishment, Robyn, Sexual intimacy, Symbolism, Uncategorized by Robyn

CCA Christensen

Seagull Monument at Temple Square

I have always wanted to expand on my previous post “Breastfeeding and Modesty” so this post has been forming in my head for quite a while.  If you have not yet read that post, this one will make a lot more sense if you read it first. To be honest, I don’t consider myself a “lactivist.”  I’m just a mommy who wants to quietly nurse her baby when needed without attracting a lot of attention.  Please keep in mind that by expanding on the importance of breastfeeding I am not trying to degrade anyone for bottle-feeding.  This is not a post about bottle vs. breastfeeding.

In the Lost Language of Symbolism by Alonzo Gaskill, there is a chapter on “Body Parts as Symbols” in which it includes the symbolism of the bosom/breasts, “In antiquity the bosom, or breast, was a standard symbol for an intimate, nonsexual relationship” (31).  In fact the people of Enoch are an example of this.  We read, “And thou has taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all creations” (Moses 7:31). Gaskill points out, “Through their consistent obedience and love for things of God, they attained to that favored status and intimacy with the divine that all people on earth have been sent to seek” (32).  So to be held near the breast is reflective of being near God.  What a beautiful symbol it is to hold our babies at the breast and nourish them, a reminder that we are to bring them back to God by teaching them the gospel.

The breast was also considered a place of security and protection (Gaskill, 32).  This is pointed out in the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, “For the child there is safety (“safe on my mother’s breast”) [Psalm 22:9], security (“Can a woman forget her sucking child?”) [Isaiah 49:15]) and consolation at the mother’s breast.  It may be for an adult, the hug provides similar comfort.  Perhaps it is not stretching the imagination too much to see John’s reclining on the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper in those terms (John 13:25, 21:20)”  (Ryken, Wilhoit, Longman, 119).  In one way or another we each yearn for the security and comfort that the Savior provides.  Our babies yearn for this safety in Christ too.  As mothers we can provide this security and protection that symbolizes our Savior as we snuggle or nurse our little ones.

Cardsten Alberta temple

Cardsten, Alberta Temple artwork (three nursing mothers)

Sexuality

So with this in mind why have we allowed breasts to have taken on a singular sexual identity in our culture when God intended that their primary purpose be that of providing comfort, nourishment and safety and symbolizing a nearness to God?

“The scriptures often refer respectfully but plainly to the body and its parts… It is the world that makes the divinely created body an object of carnal lust. For example, it makes the female breasts primarily into sexual enticements, while the truth is that they were intended to nourish and comfort children… Teach your children that they will find joy in their bodies when they use them virtuously after the manner taught by Christ” (A Parent’s Guide, 37, 1985).

Our culture teaches us that breasts are only sexual. On the other hand, God intended that their primary purpose be to nourish and comfort children.  Notice that I did not say that breasts are not sexual at all, but their intended primary purpose is that of nurturing.  Unfortunately, the most common way we see breasts represented is in a sexual manner.

“Though any part of a woman’s body can be a focus of eroticism, our era is the first in recorded history where the breast has become a public fetish for male sexual stimulation, while its primary function has diminished on a vast scale.”  (The Politics of Breastfeeding, 2)

Only rarely do we see breasts used virtuously for nurturing and comforting.  And even when breastfeeding is portrayed in the media it is often done in a sexual manner, the brunt of a sarcastic sexual joke, “I’ll have some of what that baby is having, ha ha.”  This kind of representation perpetuates breastfeeding as a sexual act instead of a nurturing act.  I have also been disappointed by some of the pro-breastfeeding campaigns showing women nursing in lingerie in an effort to make the act sexy and savvy with the new generation.  So it does make sense that there would be a disconnect concerning breastfeeding and what it represents.

“In the 20th century, women were presented with an illusion of liberation through the artificial feeding of their babies, only to find their breasts appropriated by men and popular culture.  This continues in the 21st century.  This has been expressed both privately, when men pressure their sexual partners not to breastfeed, and publicly through pornography and the mass marketing of products and information. .  . Just a few hundred years ago, most human societies found breast exposure in everyday life unremarkable.  What has happened to us? ” (The Politics of Breastfeeding, 3)

And I must apologize for the next image.  It does make an important point.

cartoon BF in mall

In contrast,

20th century

At the crux of the debate over public breastfeeding is the argument that breasts are sexual and therefore, breastfeeding is sexual and should not be a public act or at least it should be “covered.”  But is that true?  Are breasts only sexual?  Well, it depends on who you ask (many cultures scoff at the idea of breasts having a sexual function).  Unfortunately because public breastfeeding became a fairly lost art form for a time, we lost the physiologic purpose of breasts in favor of the more worldly attitude for them.

I am very grateful for how the Church is organized.  The purpose behind the organization and programs of the church are set up to strengthen the family.   In order to have families we get pregnant (therefore displaying our sexuality with the rounding of our abdomens), give birth to our babies (another expression of our sexuality when our abdomens become flatter once again), and nurse our babies (again, displaying sexuality by using our breasts to nourish and comfort).  In using the word sexuality it is different from being “sexual.” Sexuality is defined as, “sexual character; possession of the structural and functional traits of sex.”  It also refers to the “possession of sexual potency.” When we carry our babies, birth them, and nurse them we display the functionality of our traits of sex as women.  For men, this sexuality is not as visual.  This type of sexuality is expressed through their female mates.

I have a great love for the Proclamation to the Family.  We are reminded, “The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . .  All human beings are created in the image of God . . . each has a divine nature and destiny.  Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

The characteristics that define women are divinely ordained, meaning, use our bodies to give life through pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, nurturing, and other activities. Because the strengthening of families requires the blessings of church attendance, it is inevitable that the expression of female sexuality be witnessed.  Mothers are left confused about how to function when asked to serve faithfully but not put on display their sexuality (that is divine characteristics of their sex like breastfeeding).  It would be impractical to require a mother to never display her sexuality (pregnancy, breastfeeding) when striving to serve faithfully in the gospel. It is my hope that the breastfeeding mother be welcomed into meetings as she is fulfilling the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth.

Modesty

About a year ago I attended a lecture titled, “Infant Feeding as Transgressive Behavior.”  In it the speaker pointed out how regardless of how we feed our babies, it has become almost a no-win situation for mothers:

If I do Breastfeed:

  • I follow medical advice
  • I am immodest and indecent
  • I am doing something that needs to be shielded from public view

 

If I do not Breastfeed:

  • I follow norms about modesty, independence and purchasing
  • I am harming my baby
  • I value my independence and work more than my children.

 

No mother should be left feeling like this no matter how she feeds her baby.

 CCA Christensen Father Lehi blesses his children

Father Lehi blesses his children by C.C.A Christensen, breastfeeding mother in the center of painting

Of course there are times and places when discretion is required. It is important to use the Spirit as our guide.  We can always access the Spirit to determine how we will proceed.  Breastfeeding should not be blatantly distracting.  That is not modesty. We do have a responsibility to normalize breastfeeding. One woman commented on my previous breastfeeding post,

“After my first child was born, I did feel uncomfortable feeding him in public, but I also felt like it shouldn’t have to be hidden. I eventually came to the conclusion that modesty really doesn’t have anything to do with breastfeeding. To me, immodesty is about seeking attention or praise for worldly attributes like beauty (by wearing revealing clothing) or wealth (by flaunting extravagant purchases), as a substitute for self-esteem, or testimony of our individual worth. I feed my baby to take care of him, and myself, not for anyone else’s approval. I nurse without a cover, in all church meetings, even recently during tithing settlement (my bishop didn’t blink an eye). I support whatever way other mothers want to nurse, but I do feel like nursing in public without shame helps to undo some of the cultural stigma around breasts, which is a good thing.

This view of modesty has also challenged me to think more about my clothing. I always wore clothes that were generally accepted as modest in the church, but I realized how often I was hoping to receive compliments on my clothing or hair. I don’t think it’s wrong or immodest to look attractive, but focusing on what other people think of my appearance so often probably is a form of immodesty that I need to work on.”

Can breastfeeding be immodest?  Yes, if that woman is trying to attract attention to herself and present it in a way to flaunt herself.  This is not usually the case. I know that for me I simply want to feed my baby without being noticed.  The last thing I want is to attract attention. At the same time I want to participate in the gospel as much as I can.  I love the gospel.  It is my heart and soul and I hope that shows when I use my body “after the manner Christ has taught.”  It should be done virtuously. Many women are able to do this without a cover and without flashing their breasts at people.  Many others are grateful for a blanket or cover or simply want to remove themselves.  All of these women are virtuous in their approach.

Breastfeeding is an art form and took me years to perfect to where I was comfortable enough to do it in public.  But many mothers master the art much quicker.  I still remember my brother leaning over to me after a Sacrament meeting while my baby rested cradled in my arms after having been nursed. He leaned over to say, “she seems so content like she could have been nursing.”  I smiled knowing she already had and nobody around me even knew it but me and my baby.  I recently attended a day at girls camp with my infant. A member of the Stake Presidency stopped to tell me something.  He either didn’t notice I was nursing ( I was not using a nursing cover) or he was completely unaffected.  I smiled to myself as he left, just grateful it was not big deal to nurse my little one in the midst of the young women I serve.

Pornography

465169257492189_a-3ea12d09_1lcNUg_pmI have heard commented that we should be mindful of the men in our midst at church who are addicted to pornography.  Because of their addiction, we should cover or go somewhere else to nurse our babies. Some women have been told that nursing our babies in front of them contributes to their addiction.

So what is pornography?  One definition is “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.” The origin of this word being from the Greek word for harlot. A further definition offers, “writings, pictures, films, etc, designed to stimulate sexual excitement.”  So is breastfeeding pornography?  Our culture may have tried to twist breastfeeding into something pornographic but we should not be so fooled.  To equate breastfeeding with harlotry is not a fair comparison.  Breastfeeding is not obscene nor is it designed to stimulate sexual excitement.  It is interesting that the Utah code recognizes this, “(2) (a) a woman’s breast feeding, including breast feeding in any place where the woman otherwise may rightfully be, does not under any circumstance constitute an obscene or lewd act, irrespective of whether or not the breast is covered during or incidental to feeding.” (H. B. 262 (2) (a) State of Utah Jan,. 30, 1995) But in practice we struggle with this.  Somehow the bottle, with its protruding nipple in representation of the breast, is okay but the breast is not.  Maybe we should put a blanket over the bottle?

The reality is that rather than being intended to sexually stimulate, nursing actually stimulates prolactin, the mothering hormone that causes mothers to relax and take on the role of a nurturer. Breastfeeding was designed by God to perfectly nourish our babies and make us better mothers.  It is divinely ordained. It is motherly. It is using our bodies “after the manner Christ taught.”

BOM scripture reader chapter about Enos

From the Book of Mormon scripture reader chapter on Enos (babywearing while nursing).

This is a touchy subject.  Pornography is rampant.  And I have seen firsthand how it destroys families, some near and dear to me. But the burden should not be on the breastfeeding mother’s shoulders to control the interpretation of what she is doing.  Somehow society is asking that she be responsible for the dirty thoughts in someone else’s head.  Somehow removing from view the divinely ordained use of breasts will help in the fight against pornography? All the while we will continue to be bombarded by images of breasts in a sexual manner.  I feel that this perpetuates Satan’s plan to objectify the female body and weaken the God given role of women to nurture their little ones.

I have heard people say, what is the big deal?  Just use a cover.  I think breastfeeding covers are great.  However, I have often felt like I was drawing attention to myself.  Putting a cover over us seems to announce  to everyone around me that I am about to nurse my baby when usually I can do that more discreetly without.  And really, everyone knows what is going on under there and can choose to have dirty thoughts about that too.  Just because a blanket or cover is being used does not mean someone is being more modest than someone who is not.  Some babies just don’t like their head covered when they eat.  Would you like to wear a drape over your head while you eat?

A recent study revealed that 79% of moms know that breastfeeding is best for mom and baby.  40 percent of moms list their greatest concern as breastfeeding in public. 28 percent were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to breastfeed long enough. The more uncomfortable a woman is with the breastfeeding the less likely she is to continue.  We have made righteous women uncomfortable with the virtuous use of their breasts because of our culture’s hyper-sexualization and objectification of them.  I think breastfeeding rates (and the duration of breastfeeding) would rise if women felt more comfortable to nurse in public.

Let us not forget that there are many body parts that have dual functions.  In addition to doing very useful tasks, hands and lips perform very sexual functions but they are not required to be constantly unused in public.  We are not expected to not use them or cover them when they are used to consume a meal.  Sadly, if someone wants to interpret something in a lewd manner, they can.  It does not take much and is out of our control.

Is breastfeeding sexual?  It is an extension of our sexual traits if that is how you define sexual.  Is it about sex?  No.  Is it pornography?  No.  It is the antithesis of such filth.  It is because breastfeeding became so hidden that it became so taboo and misunderstood.  “Teach your children that they will find joy in their bodies when they use them virtuously after the manner taught by Christ.” Breastfeeding is using our bodies virtuously, after the manner taught by Christ.  What we need more of is breastfeeding mothers.

So, thank you mamas and babies for standing for truth and righteousness and nursing while you are doing it.

by Lani

Frankincense and Myrrh: Father and Mother

August 7, 2013 in Attachment, Dads, Divine nature, Energy Healing, Lani, Midwives, Motherhood, Nourishment, Pain, Postpartum Care by Lani

945292_10151913129351040_496511578_n1Today’s guest post comes from my friend, Morgan. Morgan has five adorable children and a perfect match of a husband. She dabbles in a little bit of everything. She is an essential oil consultant, a doula, and a birth junkie. She also loves to sew baby stuff like baby carriers and cloth diapers. About ten years ago, my brother and his wife gave us a special “magi’s treasure” box as a gift. At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate how fortunate I was to have actual frankincense and myrrh resin in my possession. I certainly do now. -Lani

Frankincense and Myrrh: Father and Mother

By Morgan Somers

I love essential oils and I have loved learning about their uses and applications. Essential oils fascinate me, both from a science and physiology standpoint and from a spiritual/emotional/energy systems standpoint, but even that comes back to science in the end. I love learning it all. Two oils that are particularly amazing to me in their characteristics are frankincense and myrrh.

IMG_1232

Frankincense is known as the king of oils. It has the amazing ability to enhance the effects of other oils when used together with them. It is a powerhouse oil that has such a diversity of constituents that it can address a huge range of issues. Some of those uses include inflammation, cancer, and depression. But energetically/emotionally, it is the oil of truth. It helps people to let go of negativity and spiritual darkness. It connects the soul with light and truth. My favorite thing about frankincense is that it supports a spiritual attachment, both with God and our earthly father. It is a powerful oil that protects while also being a gentle nurturer. It reminds us that we are loved and dispels sentiments of abandonment.

Myrrh is a wonderful antiseptic. It cleanses and purifies. It’s particularly good for healing and pain. Midwives often use it on the umbilical cord stump of newborns. It’s also used as a mouthwash because it’s great for the mouth, gums, and throat. Energetically/emotionally, myrrh is the oil of Mother Earth. It nurtures our relationship with our biological mother, our mother earth, and our Heavenly Mother. It supports and repairs a damaged mother-child bond and promotes a sense of safety and security. It fosters trust and dispels fear. Anytime there has been a division or lack of attachment with our mothers, myrrh can bring us back to a place of trust, safety, and nourishment.

“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness. . . . All thy garments smell of myrrh . . . whereby they have made thee glad.” Psalms 45:8

When I learned about the spiritual powers these two oils posses, I was overcome with awe. It gave new meaning to the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus as He left the premortal world and His Heavenly Parents to walk among men during His earthly sojourn. We too can use these oils to draw closer to our Heavenly Parents as well as our earthly parents.

Adoration of the Magi, Andrea Mantegna 1500 (Image Source)

Adoration of the Magi, Andrea Mantegna 1500 (Image Source)

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Many parents anoint their newborns with frankincense at birth to ease their transition into earthly life. Myrrh would be a reasonable choice as well, particularly in cases where mothers were unable to have a good bonding experience in the first hour of their child’s life or for families that grow through adoption.

I love the powers these two oils possess together and I love to see them work in my family. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has provided these gifts for us to use while we are here on this earth struggling through our mortal existence without Him quite so close to us as He was before we came. As a mother, I love that I can draw nearer to my Heavenly Father and Mother when I need help knowing how to raise these children and cope with the difficulties that come as a part of our mortal life experience.

Placenta Burying Ritual

July 31, 2013 in Attachment, Birth Stories, Felice, Menstruation, Motherhood, Nourishment, Placenta, Postpartum Care, Rites of passage, Symbolism, Traditions, Traumatic Birth by Progressive Prophetess

When Phoebe was 18 months old I realized that I still had her placenta in my freezer. I had just started to date (I was a single mom through most of my pregnancy), and a boyfriend found the placenta box and asked, “What’s this?” That’s when I realized it was time to do something with it.

I had always planned on burying it under a tree, but I wondered if there was some sort of ceremony I could perform. With a little help from Google I found that yes, this type of thing is well written up. So I found a template and made up my own ceremony from that. As I am preparing to move, I found the papers I wrote for the ceremony.

The whole point of the placenta burying ceremony is that it is a strong way of “closure” to the time of immersion mothering right after a birth. It can be done on it’s own or in conjunction with some milestone, such as a blessing, first birthday, return of menstruation, etc. Though I thought 18 months was a long time to keep it in the freezer, I think I did it at just the right time for us.

So here is the outline and some of the words from my ceremony.

1) First I prepared the place I would bury the placenta. I brought a candle, the placenta, a cup with some red juice and some bread.

2) I poured the juice in the cup, lit the candle and held Phoebe and told her the story of her birth. [Tell your child their birth story including any unresolved feelings. Express those.]

[If the birth was in any way traumatic for you or your baby, make sure you have a support person there with you through the process and look for other resources on line to make a part of your ceremony.]

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Here is a small excerpt from my words to Phoebe:

Phoebe [or insert your child’s name] I’m going to tell you the story of your birth. [insert your story] “On the day you were born I was so anxious to meet you…. I got in the birth tub and labored. We called Ken Carabello to give me a blessing, then Davi made me walk for an hour…I kept saying is she here yet? Then when it was time for you to be born auntie Lisa came and I breathed you down, but you were having a hard time, so after a while Davi said we should go to the hospital, so we drove fast… and you were born 20 minutes later at 3:19pm. You were tired. You nursed right away through and snuggled up with me. We went home and you didn’t leave my side the whole time… I was sad about…. But I was so happy that you got here safe and beautifully. You were born naturally and without any drugs and we were both empowered by the whole experience. For a long time afterwards I felt like I could do anything.

And I didn’t like to go anywhere without you. I wanted everyone to know that I had a baby! And I wanted respect. For a long time everyone does help you and give you reverence and respect. But then you get wrapped up in being a mom and life just becomes normal. But it’s important that we don’t forget what a miracle you are and how you got here.

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3) At this ceremony when we are about to bury the placenta is a time to heal from all of the things that were unresolved and let go of things. [make eye contact with child]

-We are letting go of the organ that held us together and nourished you.
-For 18 months now you have been nourished from my breasts,
-As you grow and become independent, you will be nurtured by the Earth Mother, God, and your Heavenly Mother.
-Just like the earth is going to nourish this tree.

phoebe_20080112_01534) Next we buried the placenta and tree. We ate a little of the food and juice.

[Name and celebrate the ways in which your experience of being this child’s mother has enriched you and made you stronger.]

Today I am celebrating being a mother:
The joy you have brought me
all the friendships
The confidence.
The closeness with our heavenly father, who is the preisethood holder in our home.
The whole pregnancy, birth, and mothering experience has made me so strong. I can do anything, and it’s all because of you.

5) Then I mixed some juice with the soil and put it on her bellybutton and said:

You will always be my baby. But motherhood is a journey and the end goal is surrender. I have to raise you to leave me and become independent. So with the burial of this placenta I now release you to grow into the person you were born to be, setting aside my own fears and expectations that I may have for you.

Although I hope that you can always rely on me, like the Mother Earth for Life long nurturing, I wish you never cease to grow in strength, love, wisdom, gratitude, your whole life and into the eternities.

6) Then I used the juice/mud to draw a heart around my own belly button and said:

I bless my womb and reclaim it as a private place belonging only to me. I am moving forward with creative projects like my pregnancy/birth book and a novel.” [Bless and thank and reclaim your women and celebrate your creativity: name any creative projects you are working on.]

Next I got out some lip gloss and put it on to symbolize the return of my sex appeal and interest in sex.

7) Closing:

I would like to close by declaring my willingness to conceive again and my openness to all the love that the universe has to offer me.

mandarinesNext, I poured the rest of the juice onto the earth and scattered the bread crumbs for the birds.

If you want to have your own placenta burying ceremony. You can search the net for ideas or copy this outline and insert your own words. I invited a close friend to video tape it and help me with Phoebe. The dwarf mandarine tree we planted is still thriving.

by Robyn

Eating for a Healthier Pregnancy and Birth

February 29, 2012 in Archive, Felice, Nourishment, Uncategorized by Robyn

I chose this post from the archives that was originally titled “I Make Milk. What’s Your Superpower?” I chose it because it goes a long with what Dr. Ellis Shipp and our prophets have told us about eating food that is as natural as possible for maximum health.  It can seem overwhelming to do a complete overhaul of your food choices.  I like to tell people to take baby steps.  Make one healthy choice at a time.  Changing our diet is easier and more sustainable when we do it in steps.  I also tell people to start with what you eat a lot of and make sure it is as healthy as possible.  Sometimes we have to sacrifice to afford making changes but our physical health is tied to our spiritual health so I believe it pleases the Lord when we nourish our bodies with natural sources of food.  Keep in mind that you can only do what your budget allows.  Two great documentaries on the subject are Food Inc. and the Future of Food. I am still learning and making changes to improve my families health. Best wishes as you make changes too.  -Robyn

At a Halloween party, my friend saw a new mom wearing a shirt that said “I make milk. What’s your superpower?”

Awesome.

But this post is not about the awesomeness of breastfeeding or of breastmilk–another time. This post is about health changes, specifically eating organic foods. I’m going to make it short and sweet and easy for men to understand, since they are ones that I find are the biggest skeptics.

  • Most people would agree that certain foods are superior to others (health and nutrition-wise). For example, a roasted carrot vs. a french fry.
  • If you agree with that, then you agree that people who eat mostly superior foods are healthier than others.
  • And if you understand that vitamins and nutrients as well as most chemicals and toxins are passed through breastmilk, then it makes sense that women (and other mammals) fed superior food will have healthier breastmilk.

I once heard a friend of a friend who is both a holistic doctor and an MD, say that “if you can make only one health change, switch to organic dairy.” This surprised me. He did not say exercise daily or any number of things I can think of that would seem like really important health changes. He said switch to organic dairy.

  • Not only does milk from organic cows eliminate harmful antibiotics and hormones, it has also been shown to contain higher amounts of nutrients– omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta carotene and other antioxidants–than from conventional cows.
  • Children are most vulnerable to the impact of synthetic chemicals. Think about it, if you accidentally eat a gram of poison, you might be okay, but a gram of poison is a lot more deadly if your body weight is 10 lbs.

I understand that organic foods have a reputation for being expensive. In reality, organic fruits and vegetables don’t cost much more, and sometimes less, if you buy them in season and from local growers at farmers markets, or if you are lucky enough to have one near you, at Trader Joe’s.

Organic dairy, however, is often twice the price of regular milk. There are a few reasons for this. The food that the cows eat has to be organic, pesticide and chemical free, and the cows themselves have to be free from growth hormones or antibiotics, so it is organic on two levels. It is also more expensive because organic dairy farmers don’t get subsidies from the government.* Therefore, it is doubly important that we support organic farmers with our dollars. I know that everyone can find a way for their budget to accommodate it, if they want to. As my friend James, the healthy chef, says, you can pay it now, or you can pay it later–to the health care system.

(*If you would like to know the political milk scandal, I highly recommend watching The Corporation. It is a very well researched documentary. There is also a great story in there about a high school for “bad” kids which was put on an organic lunch program and the kid’s behavior and grades improved markedly.)

If you want to make further health changes, try to eat as organic as possible, but if that isn’t practical for whatever reason, it is good to know which conventional fruits and vegetables are the safest and which ones you and your children should try to avoid or eat organic.

Highest in pesticides:

  • apples
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • cherries
  • grapes (imported)
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • potatoes
  • red raspberries
  • spinach
  • strawberries

Lowest in pesticides:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • corn (sweet)
  • kiwi
  • mangos
  • onions
  • papaya
  • pineapples
  • peas (sweet)

I am convinced that the increased use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional farming is one of many reasons that our prophets have counseled us to grow a garden. Of course, if you live in an apartment, this isn’t going to happen–at least not on a large scale. But no matter how urban your city, there are community gardens and farmer’s markets near you. If you have never been to a farmer’s market, they are great fun. There is usually some form of wholesome entertainment for kids and free samples of all the fresh food. The growers can also give you good cooking or recipe ideas.

To find a farmer’s market near you, visit this website:www.localharvest.org
And here is a cute Friend article about a community garden.


Me at farmer’s market. 8 mos pregnant.

Nourished by the Good Word of God

February 8, 2012 in Guest Post, Nourishment by Progressive Prophetess

“Nourished by the Good Word of God”

Guest Post

by Brittany Cromar

For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire? (Jacob 6:7)

Recently, my husband was asked to teach Gospel Doctrine as a substitute.  The lesson was on the vision of the Tree of Life.  As he was working on preparing his lesson, he and I talked about the vision.  I mentioned that I had read some interesting ideas about the background of the symbolism of the tree in an article from the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.  My husband asked if I had ever thought about why the rod is made of iron.  I said I had never given it much thought.  I said I knew iron was a strong metal.

“Why is iron important to you?”  he asked.  His point dawned on me suddenly.

During my recent pregnancy, I dealt with iron-deficiency anemia.  A small drop in iron level is normal in pregnancy because of the increase in blood volume.  However, mine dropped more than it is supposed to, and I experienced some anemic symptons—mild pica (dishwaser detergent and bleach smelled really good to me) and fatigue.  I was so tired all the time.  I felt like I couldn’t get through the day without a nap, every day.  I asked my midwives to check my iron levels when I did my glucose test.  The result came back low.  I started taking a liquid iron supplement and noticed improvement in my energy levels fairly quickly.  If I missed a few doses because I ran out and didn’t make it to the store for a few days, I noticed the fatigue beginning to return.  That iron supplement became my lifeline for energy during pregnancy.  Iron is not just a strong metal, it is also a strength-giving nutrient.

Iron in the body is essential for life.  It carries oxygen to our tissues and gives us energy.  If we don’t get enough of it, we are weakened.  In the vision of the Tree of Life, the iron rod is interpreted to mean the word of God, or the scriptures and words of the prophets.  Like iron gives us physical strength, study of the word of God gives us spiritual strength.   President Benson speaks about the strength we get from daily scripture study in his well-known quote about the Book of Mormon.

“There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book.  You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.” (Ezra Taft Benson,Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).

After this conversation, I started thinking about the other supplements I took during my pregnancy.  My midwives did not recommend a typical prenatal vitamin.  They recommended that I try to get as much of my nutrition from food as possible, and to possibly take a whole-food based multivitamin to make up for anything I may miss in my diet.  They did recommend all pregnant women supplement a few specific nutrients which are often deficient in the typical American diet, including vitamin D, magnesium, and omega 3 oils.  I realized that all of these nourishing nutrients were mentioned somewhere in the scriptures, and by examining the scriptures in the context of how the nutrients were important, I came to understand those scriptures better.

Omega 3s


Omega 3 oils are essential for healthy brain and eye development in the growing baby.  The most common source of these oils in a diet is fish.  Many people do not eat large amounts of fish, and some fish is not safe due to high levels of mercury found in large fish.  Instead, we can get these fats from a fish oil or krill oil supplement.  Peter and Andrew were fishermen, and when Jesus called them to be apostles he said,

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)

People who come into Christ’s church are compared to fish.  Just as fish oil is necessary to a healthy pregnancy diet for large brains and sharp eyes, converts are necessary to grow the church and make it better with their skills.


Magnesium

Lani has written a lot about the importance of magnesium in pregnancy and beyond.  There are many health problems associated with low magnesium, including some pregnancy complications.  Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a diet too high in processed carbohydrates and low in seeds and green leafy vegetables and by low levels of magnesium in some water supplies.   Most Americans are also magnesium deficient.  One really good way to increase magnesium levels is through swimming in the ocean or in a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfide) and absorbing it through your skin.  Salt water is a source of magnesium, and in the Sermon on the Mount, the Saviour compared his disciples to salt.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.(Matthew 5:13)

As I understand it, salt only loses savor through contamination, and  so this scripture emphasizes the need for Christ’s followers to be pure.  Magnesium is a vital nutrient to the body, much like the purity of the followers of Christ is vital to the Earth.

 

Vitamin D

This article reports the findings of a recent study showing lower rates of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and infection in pregnant women supplemented with higher doses of vitamin D.  We also know that vitamin D is necessary for bone health.  It also appears be important for immune system function.  Deficiency is also linked with depression.  I suffered from vitamin D deficiency and also with depression when I was pregnant.  I began taking vitamin D at my midwife’s advice, but didn’t realize until later in the pregnancy that I needed to take a much higher dose to raise my levels and I felt much better after I starting taking more.  The natural, and many believe the best way to get vitamin D in the body is to trigger the body to produce it through sunlight exposure.  Vitamin D deficiency is common because we spend so little time in the sun.  The scriptures often compare light with spiritual truth.

Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;  Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. (D&C 88:5-7)

Just as we need the light from the sun to feel happy and be healthy, we also need the happiness that truth and the light of Christ brings into our lives.  Sisters, may you also be nourished, both physically and spiritually, in your pregnancies and beyond.