Birth Options: Use your BRAINS

rains(5)Have you heard of the BRAINS decision making tool? It is one birth support tool I teach to all my clients and it just might be helpful to you as you prepare for your birth and parenthood.

So, how does it work?

When you are coming upon a point where a decision needs to made, think about the following in regards to your options: What are the Benefits, Risks, and Alternatives? What does your Intuition say about it? Does it need to be decided upon Now or do you have more time to think things over? Would this decision provide you with a Safe and Satisfying result?

Big or little decisions can be worked through with the help of the BRAINS tool. It can be helpful when deciding where you want to give birth, which care provider you want, etc.

When talking with clients about their upcoming birth experiences, I see a lot of them trying to learn about everything that could possibly happen. Talk about information overload! Information can be powerful but it can also be overwhelming! Sure, I am all for being as informed as possible, but I also see value in letting things in as they happen. I mean, millions of women gave birth before our generation, and they didn’t have nearly as much information at their fingertips. So, if you haven’t studied up on every possible thing that could happen during labor and birth, you can feel confident that you’ll be able to work through your options in labor when you’re using your BRAINS. Whether you’re giving birth at home or the hospital, whether you’re planning a cesarean birth or waterbirth, learning to speak up for yourself and your baby to get the information you need if a decision is needed can make your experience so much better. Feeling informed, feeling like an active participant in your experience, can make all the difference.

The best part about this tool, it works for parenthood, too! Trying to decide which pediatrician to choose? Use your BRAINS! Should you keep your newly-five year old home for another year or send her off to kindergarten? Dust off your BRAINS!

Sudsy Addictions | Handmade Breastmilk Soap in Havana, Florida

Breastmilk Soap TallahasseeHave you ever had a bunch of expired breastmilk in the freezer and didn’t feel comfortable using it past dates? The benefits of breastmilk extends to topical uses, and a local mama-owned business, Sudsy Addictions, provides a great alternative to tossing your hard-earned milk! Owner Tiffany Dotson was kind enough to answer some questions so I could share the benefits of her handmade soaps with you all!

What made you interested in making breastmilk soap? I always viewed being able to nurse my children as a blessing. I nursed all five of them, starting at the age of 15, so I was very familiar with the benefits of breastmilk externally. One of the worst things for me was when I had to “pump and dump” or throw out expired breastmilk. I mean, come on! That stuff is hard to come by!

Mother's Milk Natural SoapNow that the Normalize Breastfeeding movement is in full swing, I thought it would not be odd to ask for a mommy to donate some of her milk for me to experiment with, in exchange for free products made with their milk. By including breastmilk in my soaps, not only can mommies and daddies feel confident that what they are putting on their baby’s skin is safe and all natural, but they can use it, too. Breastmilk soap is great for eczema, acne, and rashes. As a matter of fact, my daughter is addicted to the breastmilk shampoo I make. She has even placed her own order for 6 bars!

Another reason I like to make soap with breastmilk in it is because I found that it is a way to include fathers, partners and the whole family in the breastfeeding experience. I offer a soap made especially for dads that combines both breastmilk and their favorite beer!

Finally, and this one is sort of close to my heart, soap never expires. A mommy can save a bar of her breastmilk soap for when her little one has a little one of their own. In addition, for families that have lost little ones and still have milk, they can turn it into a truly  precious and everlasting keepsake.

Batch 2 BM (N) The Cut2wmWhat is your favorite part about making soaps? I love that I have NEVER had to throw away a “bad” batch of soap. There is no such thing as a bad batch. You can almost always rebrand it, rebatch it, or turn it into another kind of soap entirely, like laundry or liquid soap. Some of my favorite soaps come from rebatching it.

Lavender Shampoo PaintedWho has inspired you? I’ll be honest, my mom and I are estranged, but my creativity comes from her, and that is the one gene of hers that I will always be grateful for inheriting. The best times I remember with my mom were when we were making or creating something together. It’s a part of us I will always cherish.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Sulphur Springs, Texas, but I have been here in Florida for a decade, and it is my home now.

What is your favorite part about living in the Florida Panhandle? Oh my gosh, that it is beautiful year round! I love that no matter what time of year it is, there is always something blooming, always new colors to look at, and new flowers to ogle.

What is one place you’d like to visit?  I’d love to go to Alaska with my husband. It seems like such a magical place to me.

Most hated household chore? Laundry is the bane of my existence As a matter of fact, when my husband mentions he is doing his laundry, I’m always telling him to quit using such foul language, lol.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? I am a total night owl. There are nights I am up until 3 a.m. designing labels, labeling and packaging products, or working on my website.

What’s your favorite holiday? Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday! We will actually be hosting Halloween costume party this year! I love the decorations, but I really love getting all dressed up and scaring the snot out of folks!

Order your soap from Tiffany via and tell her I sent you!

Meet Babywearing International of Tallahassee

In honor of International Babywearing Week, I interviewed my friends Ashley Anderson and Stephanie Lynn of Babywearing International’s Tallahassee Chapter. If you’d like to learn more about babywearing, there are regularly scheduled meetings, typically the First Friday and Third Saturdays each month, please visit the BWI of Tallahassee Facebook Group for current event details.

Babywearing International of Tallahassee

How did you ladies meet? We actually grew up about 30 miles from each other, but we never met until ICAN and Babywearing.

BWI TallahasseeWhat is your favorite part about Tallahassee? Ashley: I love the small town feel, even though it is much bigger than where I grew up! Stephanie: FSU football! It’s a big deal in our house and my husband bought me a wrap just because it reminded him of garnet and gold.

What is your favorite part about babywearing? Ashley: I love the closeness of babywearing and helping others experience that same closeness with their children. It was very natural for me to babywear, I was drawn to it immediately. Stephanie: I love wearing babies, mine or anyone else’s! I love the newborn snuggles, the infant who falls asleep from the motion while being worn. I love being able to contain the toddler-crazy, and being able to give my preschooler a ride when his legs have had too much walking.

BWI TallahasseeWho inspired you to become a Volunteer Babywearing Educator (VBE)? Ashley: Becky Lewis, the founder of the local BWI chapter, inspired me. She easily “tossed” babies on her back while continuing to calm them while teaching another mom to do the same thing was fascinating. Stephanie: Becky also inspired me to start babywearing and helped me figure out how I wanted to parent my children. It was never a talk that we had, it was just watching her with her kids (and other kids) that told me that was something I wanted to do. I enjoy helping families new to wearing find something that really works for their lifestyle. I became a VBE and helped establish BWI Tallahassee because I wanted to connect with other families in our area. That’s still true! I am thrilled to see returning families at our meetings and I hope it becomes a place where families can come enjoy time with other families, even if they don’t need babywearing help.

What is your favorite carry? Ashley: Lately, I’ve been loving the double hammock, but it changes frequently!   Stephanie: My favorite is the Pirate Carry (reinforced rear rebozo ruck), though we don’t get to use it much lately because leg straightening is my 14-month old’s new hobby.  

BWI TallahasseeNow for the fun questions! Where is one place you’d love to visit? Stephanie: I’d love to visit Bora Bora, but unless we hit the lottery it’ll never happen.

What’s your favorite holiday? Ashley: It is a tie between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would gladly start Thanksgiving in July to have 3 full months of each. Haha! But fall is definitely my favorite time of year. The colors are amazing! Stephanie: My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It’s all the fun of Christmas without all the headache of shopping!

What’s your favorite animal? Stephanie: Kangaroo, of course because I’d we wearing my baby!

Most hated household chore? Ashley: I hate folding laundry! I’ve mastered the laundry mountain lately and somewhat miss its presence. Stephanie: I detest laundry and mopping. I do at least one load of laundry every day, but I make my husband do all the sweeping and mopping.Babywearing Tallahassee

Do you have any hidden talents? Stephanie:I have the entire carrier library memorized, including colors and most weight limits. I also easily remember number sequences.

What is your biggest moment? Ashley: Having my son Colin was my biggest moment. He is amazing. I sometimes have a hard time believe I had a hand in creating him.




Using Essential Oils Safely

Essential Oils Tallahassee

You hear a lot about essential oils in the birth world. No matter which brand of essential oils you use, or WHEN you are using, please make sure you are using them SAFELY. Like REALLY safely.

What does this mean? Do not use essential oils willy-nilly or solely based on what the manufacturing company says. Seek out what aromatherapists say about that particular oil for your particular situation – small children, pregnancy, or whatever stage your family is in.

As a doula, I am not trained to use essential oils during labor but have had many, many clients who have used them to ease labor pains and discomforts. I am totally cool with whatever families choose for themselves and I personally love using lemon oil while cleaning and even used the same during transition to help ease my nausea!

If you need more info on what essential oils are safe for your family, check out Using Essential Oils Safely​ or their Facebook group:

According to the aromatherapists at Learning about EOs, “Pregnant women need to be especially careful when using essential oils, as some oils are never okay to use during pregnancy.” Two books I’ve seen frequently mentioned while researching EO use for my family are Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child and Natural Babycare. Here are direct links for more information about essential oils for my typical audience:

Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Essential Oils and Children

The takeaway from this I really, really want you to get, is that we all need to be doing our own research on the oils we are interested in BEFORE we buy them, getting the information from sources that are not looking for our business. These oils, even though they’re natural, they have strong medicinal properties and should be treated with respect and caution just as you would any other medicines for your children – and yourselves!