CBD and Motherhood with Ashley Reynolds

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

[This is also an episode on The Birth Lounge Podcast on listen here.]

Hey Villagers! Y’all requested this topic like no other and HeHe is so excited to sit down this week and talk all things CBD and motherhood! From the history and science of hemp to the stigma surrounding using CBD to get your body and mind optimized to be the best mom you can be, we’re covering it all. HeHe enlisted the help of Ashley Reynolds, mom of two and the president and cofounder of Elmore Mountain Therapeutics in Vermont. EMT is a CBD company founded by Ashley and her husband in 2017 and they specialize in whole hemp plant CBD rich extract. Using evidence-based knowledge, they’ve produced their own topical balms and sublingual tincture - HeHe uses the balm and swears by it for everything from period pain to belly aches to scrapes and cuts!

Ashley’s Journey
Shortly after the birth of her 2nd child in 2016, Ashley began to struggle with postpartum anxiety while juggling going back to work in preventative dental care after maternity leave and handling an almost 2 year old and a newborn. She couldn’t sleep despite being so tired and couldn’t eat even though she was expelling so many calories via breast milk. On top of that, she felt like she couldn’t really be present and became very sharp with her children; she simply didn’t feel like herself. She considered turning to pharmaceuticals but was reluctant about side effects and her ability to exclusively breastfeed. Ashley’s introduction to the world of CBD came by chance: she noticed that one of her patient’s had anxiety listed in his chart but he wasn’t taking any drugs for it and out of curiosity she asked him how he was dealing with it. His answer? CBD! He told her all about what CBD had done for his anxiety along with the importance of quality control and quality assurance when it comes to the products and soon after Ashley found a reputable company out in Colorado and had ordered products for herself. Within 3 days of starting them, she already began to feel like herself again: her appetite and sleep problems began to cease and she found herself being more focused, present and calm. She told all her friends about it and when she realized that so many of them had been struggling with those same postpartum issues, she thought that they shouldn’t be living like that when there’s something like CBD that could help and thus Elmore Mountain Therapeutics was born! 

All About CBD 
Cannabis has been in our culture as human beings for thousands of years. Depicted in hieroglyphics and cave walls, this plant has been a part of our everyday ethos for a whole host of things for a very long time; it’s has only been demonized in our country for about the past 50 years. However, things are changing! Legalization for recreational use is now happening in almost half the states and in the last decade medical use has become more and more acceptable. In Vermont and other agricultural states, it is also now legal to grow industrial hemp and create and sell hemp-derived products without a medical license, leading to a huge boom in sales and use.

So how does this come into play with our bodies? The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the 90’s in Israel by an Israeli physician who found that we have endogenous cannabinoids all over our bodies that are really in charge of balancing just about every single bodily system that we can name. From the cardiovascular to the circulatory to the digestive, these systems run over everyday functions and the endocannabinoid system can be seen as the umbrella system to all of them; when it’s not working, none of our other systems are going to be working their best! Just as you can take vitamin supplements to deal with a vitamin deficiency, taking CBD can serve as a supplement to the endocannabinoid system.

Ashley cannot stress enough that not all CBD is created equal! Given the unregulated nature of the industry, there are a myriad of questions you should be asking when it comes to picking a CBD company that you trust. How is the plant grown and how is the CBD extracted? Are there solvents after extraction is complete? Is what is said on the label actually what is in the bottle? For her products, Ashley uses an extraction method called supercritical CO2 extraction, which she says is the gold standard of extraction. It’s a very similar process to how caffeine is extracted out of coffee to make it decaf and provides the cleanest extraction possible. 

THC is something else to think about when it comes to evaluating a product. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, but THC has a psychoactive effect while CBD does not. Ashley’s products are whole spectrum, meaning it has both THC and CBD. Under federal law, the THC level must be under .3 percent, so it’s not going to get you high! Ashley and HeHe suggest going for products that contain both as the combination creates an entourage effect that makes the products more effective. 

CBD and Motherhood
If Ashley had known that she could have used CBD for 8 and a half months of morning sickness when she was pregnant while chasing after an 18 month old, she would have taken it without a doubt! Rather than turning to something with a higher THC level like smoking or vaping, Ashley wholeheartedly suggests turning to CBD to deal with symptoms instead. In terms of safety, Ashley isn’t a doctor, but she was taking 200 mg of CBD daily while exclusively breastfeeding her son for a year. He is now 2 years old and speaks in full sentences, has the motor skills of a 3 year old, and his emotional and cognitive skills are off the charts. She has also used CBD on her kids for bruises, bleeding, or even trouble falling asleep and has never experienced a problem.

What about the stigma? Ashley lives in an alternate universe from most of us where everyone knows what she does - her daughter is in preschool and lives in a small town and a small state and people know her face and what she’s up to. She has yet to have someone come up to her and say “how dare you?” or “you should be ashamed of yourself” or “how come DCF hasn’t come and knocked on your door?” You know you - you have to read the room when it comes to something like this and if you know that you’re going to be adding stress to your life by bringing this up, don’t do it!  If you feel like you’re ready and you have the education to take on the naysayers, feel free to be open about your use!

For all you skeptical mamas out there, Ashley has been there! She wants to encourage you to keep an open mind to how CBD can help you live a life in harmony. Who wouldn’t want more energy and patience, less aches and pains and the ability to be more present with your children? Being a mom is really, really hard - if there’s something that could maybe help you out, why not try it? We still don’t have evidence for the long term effects, but it’s a plant that has been consumed in our culture for thousands of years, and because of a few people’s opinions about demonizing it, our health is suffering the consequences. Ashley says we’re not facing a war on drugs, it’s a war on science. Be cautious in your sourcing, ask questions, get testimonials and find the best quality, clean products so they can do the most benefit for you.

Ashley is ready and willing to answer any and all questions when it comes to CBD! Connect with her at www.emtcbd.com. If you’re in the Boston area, her products can be found at Cambridge Naturals in Boston Landing and Porter Square.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Can You Avoid Birth Trauma?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Yes, You Can Avoid Birth Trauma.

Have you ever warned a child to be very careful or to not do something over and over again? But, you know deep down in your heart, that you can’t actually save this kiddo from the pain if they don’t make the choice to listen. They have to want to follow your instructions. Or they risk learning the lesson the hard way.

Birth work has really heavy parts to it and every birth worker will have different things that feel heavy to them. For me, it's watching birth trauma transpire right in front of my eyes to people that deserved better. There's a small population of women that I sometimes struggle to support. I struggle so hard when people come to me after their birth, sharing stories of struggles and trauma... yet, just months earlier I had tried to share reasons WHY their birth should be a priority, and why they needed to be more INTENTIONAL with their decision making and just how CRUCIAL it is to make sure you have the perfect birth team in place.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force them to drink. Sometimes, proverbs that seemed so dumb as a kid really have a way of gutting you as an adult. It such an internal struggle for me-- personal growth with learning to respect people's choices no matter what balanced with truly wanting to avoid birth trauma for the people I love and even their inner circles. 

It pains me to my core to hear of traumatic births stories--because I know it didn't have to be like that. 
Stop taking your birth knowledge from movies. Stop trusting your doctor to make decisions for you rather than with you. Stop avoiding exploring your choices because they make you feel a little anxious. Stop being careless when it comes to a major transition in your life. Stop using false societal expectations as your sounding board.

Before now, where has that gotten you?
"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

As much as I believe in educating women on their choices, I believe that women have MASSIVE responsibility in the way our birth world has turned. I feel so strongly that it’s 2019 and if women are going to be marching in the streets, crushing glass ceilings, and destroying laws rooted in misogynistic views, then we need to take a good deep look inside ourselves first. We have to be ready for what responsibilities come along with changing the world and the future. 

Did you know that some studies show up to 70% of women experience birth trauma during their labor and delivery? In 2019, the New York Times featured an article that highlighted how traditional childbirth education fails to accurately prepare women for birth. If you’re an expecting parent, you’ve no doubt noticed the overwhelming information and fear-based education surrounding having a baby! I am a FIRM believer that with the right education and support, you can avoid 99% of birth trauma. This article shares very well just how easy it is to prevent birth trauma...and that's not being intentional about how you prepare for your birth. This means giving women the control to make their own choices after they have been presented with all  of their options, free of outside influence or persuasion. The's my goal. That how's we have grown to have amazing stats in our birth community like an average pushing time for a first time mom of 30 minutes and a 3% c-section rate in four years. 

"I was my own problem"

All it takes is for someone to ask me what I do for a living and women will cross the room to share their birth story with me. All the time, I hear women say something along the lines of "I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I kind of thought would all work out," and, it did...but did it work out like you wanted it to?

No, most likely it didn't if you didn't prepare the proper way*, or worse, you didn't prepare at all for the actual birth process. If you didn't do any preparing or thinking about your birth experience before you were in labor, then how did you know what you wanted? If you didn't have any idea of how you wanted your birth to go, then what goal were you working towards all those hours of laboring?

Last week, I had a mom say to me share with me her birth story sprinkled with trauma sharp enough to pierce your ears and your heart as the words rolled off her tongue. I could feel the tears literally trying to burst through my eyes as if there were sprinklers coming up for the first spring morning after a long frozen winter. She was sharing how in the moment she trusted everything her doctor suggested and now, having done her own research, realizes that she was terribly taken advantage of.

The worst part? It was a holiday weekend and she now carries the burden of guilt because she knows that played a role in her induction and explains the rush her doctor seemed to be in to get her baby born.

After just a few simple questions and less than 30 minutes of chatting, she looked at me and said, "I was my own problem." I wanted to say, "I know," but how do you say that to a women who is wrangling with too many devils to count and is simultaneously raising a tiny human. Oh did I mention she is a very successful VP of Marketing at a well-known health food company. Yeah, add that. Instead all I said to her was, "You are such a wonderful mom. This conversation alone let's me know that you love your little boy more than the world. I really admire your strength and resiliency."

She knew she could do things differently next time. She knew she had more control already. What she needed was grace.

Ask Why

My first question to you is why would you think things would just work out without any preparing? Because society has taught you this?

Okay, let's dive into that idea: Society has taught you so much about birth, but is it true? Not really.

Society has led women to believe that labor is this grandiose event filled with emergency medicine, lots of sweating and bulging blood vessels, plus hours of screaming and pushing. Let me be clear right now, I do not believe this is normal. This is not how our bodies were meant to birth. This is a clear sign that something is not working and your birth team is responsible for being patient and trouble shooting solutions--likely the answer is more time. Now, do not confuse this to think birth never happens this way, because it does happen, but that isn't the only way to birth. Check out our blog on Fetal Ejection Reflex if you want more information on pushing with The TBH Approach.

Now, back to societal limitations--society has also taught women that birthing in the hospital has to be in the bed, hooked to monitors, and not being able to eat and drink until your baby is here. Again, just not the truth. Of course, you can (and many women do) birth like this, but if it isn't your jam, you have options. However, it's crucial you have to know what those options are when it comes time.

Society has also taught women that birthing on your back is the only way to do it. I do several exercises with TBH clients in the months leading up to their birth and through this I get the opportunity to learn about their existing ideas of birth. Nine times out of ten, women has absolutely no idea what birth can look like other than this:

Again, I want to remind you, I have never seen a birth like this.

You need to keep in mind that no one, and I mean no one, will fight for your ideal birth like you will. Also, no one is guaranteed to make the same decisions you would make for yourself. You can put together the perfect birth team to support you in getting to this goal, but at the end of the day, you are the only one who knows exactly what you want. This mean you have to speak up for what you want and expect that your team will support you in just that!

You have to take responsibility.

If women really want to change the world we currently live in and set the stage for our kids, then let's start with how we bring these kids into the world and the mental health of their moms. We can change the entire world if we begin with a solid foundation of homes that are filled with parents who are properly supported. This means emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Are you nurturing your mind? Are you advocating for yourself? Are you modeling healthy boundaries for your children? Are you constantly striving towards finding a balance that works for you? Are you getting closer to feeling fulfilled every day? If not, something is wrong. You need to take responsibility and make some shifts.

This can be a tough pill to swallow. I say it because I love you. I say it because if I don't, who will? I say it because telling women what’s we’ve always told them isn’t working. I say it because birth trauma shouldn't be an expected birth outcome, but it has become so normalized. I say it because the way women birth in America is unacceptable and our moms deserve better. You deserve better.  

So I’ll try my way. Welcome to TheTBH Approach. 

Xo, HeHe

*The proper way for you is specific to you. The proper way for your neighbor and your sister and your best friend may all be different. However, every birthing person needs to prepare with the fundamentals. 

We love connecting with our readers! To connect with HeHe and our team, be sure to join us in our Facebook community, hop in The Birth Lounge if you're expecting a baby, or follow us on Instagram (@tranquilitybyhehe)! You can also tune into The Birth Lounge Podcast

Mindset is 90% of the game

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mindset is 90% of The Game 

Have you ever done something and thought "I'm going to die. This is it. This is how my story ends and I meet my creator!" Well, I believe that 'impossible' is just an illusion and it's really about mindset and grit! 

Recently, I went to Core Power Yoga for the first time ever recently and I thought I was going to meet Jesus himself.

I try to show up as authentically as possible for our audience. I want everything I do to be a reflection of this hard work that you and I put in everyday. I want the world to know that it is a choice to birth better and to take control of your experience. In doing this, I am so often trying to think of the takeaway points that I can share with our tribe to serve them deeper.

This event started off great and fun. I was laughing and poking fun at my friend (my "birth partner" if you will) much like early labor. Then things started to really take off and I thought "oh shit, I was not prepared for this in the least bit." The teacher then introduced herself and said, "welcome to class." Yep, as in that "really taking off" business that I just spoke of, was a soft hello. Cue the thoughts of dying and hellfire, brim stones, dragons.. you get the picture.

During this 60 minute rendezvous with death, I realized this was the sneakiest sneak peak that one can have into a glimpse of labor. Not to reduce labor to 60 minutes of physical activity that any 27 year old should easily be able to do by any means, but to say that the same exact techniques that I teach my clients are what I used to get through. From mantras of "I'm bigger than this," and "I'm almost there, I can do this," to concentrated breathing techniques and willing myself to make it the next 10 seconds.

The way we transform our clients' lives is the same way I transform my own. I am showing up for our tribe by walking, and doing, right alongside you. What I ask of you is also what I ask of myself. So my takeaways that I wanted to share with you that are also relatable to the journey you're on as you transition to motherhood. You can use these as reference points along this journey in various places.

Motherhood is hard, but remember, you can do this.

1. I was caught off guard and quickly prepared myself for a journey that I had not previously thought I'd be on. It wasn't ideal, but I knew in the moment that the only control I had was the way I reacted to this sudden change in plans. This means I could stay and try it or I could walk out and never even attempt to conquer this mountain.

2. I set my intention with plenty of grace to spare as I knew I came to this class utterly unprepared and completely blindsided. I decided that I would give my all, but that however I showed up was good enough for me. Remember, the alternative was me walking out of class before it even started.

3. I never stopped moving. I knew, from watching countless labors over the last few years, that if I ever stopped moving, I would need that much more encouragement and umpf to get back up and going again. I knew that once my body stopped moving, it was probably game over from that moment on. I knew that momentum was my friend and I was careful not to disrupt that flow of energy.

4. I repeated my mantra over and over again. Even when I thought I had reached my breaking point, I would ask myself, "10 more?" and that meant 'can I give 10 more seconds?' Turns out, I could.. and I DID consistently.

5. "You've made it to your mat." This was the equivalent to "You're baby is right here." Any mother can tell you that the moment your healthcare provider says, "gimme one last push and your baby is going to be here," is quite possibly the sweetest words you'll ever hear. After hours, days even, of hard labor, there's nothing that can compare to finally seeing your new baby you've been growing and waitin for for almost 10 months.

The teacher said "find a Shavasana that is comfortable to you." As I laid there in fetal position, sure that I was dying, the teacher said "if you're on your back, it means this. If you're in child's pose, it means this. If you're in fetal position..... it means you are about to go through a huge rebirth." I've lost all control of my emotions now and I'm lying in fetal position crying like a newborn being told I'm going through a rebirth.

Alright Universe, I hear you loud and clear, my friend. Loud and Clear.

I stopped breathing for a moment. I don't know about you, but I take these things as big ole' signs from the universe. Throughout each day, I get these tiny and subtle messages that let me know I am supported by a force that bigger than me. These messages allow me the reassurance that I am on the right path, that I am making an impact. That women are reclaiming their power in the birth sphere.

My hope is that you can take these takeaways to heart and transform the way you approach your upcoming birth. I also hope that you take this as a message from the Universe that you can do this. You are doing this. Welcome home, mama.

The mindset you choose to approach parenthood is important. Click the image above to find a list of quick and simple things you can do to hit reset! I've been there. I know exactly what it's like to feel completely overwhelmed and wish there was a pause button. I've got your back.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Is your IUD poisoning you?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Could your copper IUD being causing your body to be overloaded and in need of a serious detox?
(This is also a podcast episode on The Tranquility Tribe podcast, if you prefer, listen here.)

Hey Tranquility Tribe! This week, we’re getting educated about a little-known, big problem that affects thousands of women around the world: copper toxicity. HeHe has had a copper IUD for about a year and loves it, but when she started experiencing some funky symptoms, she came across the topic of copper toxicity and knew she needed to do a deeper dive. There’s no one better to educate us about this than someone who has experienced it themselves, so HeHe enlisted the help of Kirby Costa Campos, who has made it her life’s mission to educate herself and others about copper toxicity and help women face the reality that the copper IUD may be playing a big role in occurrences of this poisoning. 

Kirby had been ill on and off for many years and had been given all the diagnoses in the world, from epilepsy, lupus, and even bipolar disorder. However, when she would get treated for these things, she would feel good for a month or two and then crash, with new symptoms coming up. It turns out that was because she was never being treated for the underlying cause of her issues, copper toxicity.

It wasn’t until a gynecologist she saw in the UK mentioned that she had been seeing a lot of patients with copper IUDs experiencing the same things as Kirby whose symptoms would go away once it was taken out that Kirby discovered what had been ailing her all along. Because  the toxicity is passed in utero and she was born in a toxic metal zone in Germany, she realized much of her life’s medical history could be explained by that initial toxicity that was exacerbated by the fact that she grew up drinking water in a home with copper piping and has been vegan/vegetarian, which means her diet was extremely high in copper and low in zinc. 

So how does this copper toxicity come to be? When it comes down to it, our bodies are made up of water and minerals. Copper and estrogen work the same way in the body, so when you use something estrogen-laden like birth control, it can throw off your copper balance and potentially deplete your zinc levels. Zinc and copper are antagonists so when you don’t have enough zinc to balance out copper, your copper levels can continue to rise and you may become toxic. Because of the rise of hormonal birth control and the decrease of zinc levels in our food supply due to industrialization, it is estimated that 80 percent of women are going to have some sort of copper imbalance in their lifetime. 

There are two types of copper out there: bioavailable and unbioavailable. Every living thing needs bioavailable copper, the type found in food, to live. The problems arise when you have too much of that bioavailable copper or if your body has unbioavailable copper, which can be released from the IUD and absorbed when you drink water from copper piping. Unbioavailable copper acts like a “tiny hulk” in our bodies, destroying everything it can touch and causing tons of inflammation and further throwing off your mineral balance. 

Kirby says the most common symptoms are mood swings and hair loss, but other symptoms include reproductive issues like cysts, rashes, fatigue, depression and/or suicidal thoughts, allergies, and anorexia. It can be hard to go to your primary care practitioner with concerns about copper toxicity, as nutritional concerns were not taught in medical school core curriculum until very recently, leading to a lack of knowledge in mainstream medicine. She suggests seeing a nutritionist or naturopath rather than your primary care practitioner if you’re concerned. If you think you could be copper toxic, Kirby highly recommends getting a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis test, which can tell you a lot more than any blood test can. This is especially important if you’re planning on getting pregnant, as the test can help you catch copper toxicity before it it spread in utero to your child. There’s even a theory that postpartum depression is just copper toxicity that isn’t diagnosed in the right matter. When you’re pregnant, you’re not processing out minerals as everything is getting stored in the body for your baby, so when you have your baby and don’t do a proper detox, it could lead to the psychological effects associated with postpartum depression.

Kirby suggests consuming a maximum of 1.5-3 mg of copper each day, but it all depends on your body’s ability to detox. For a copper toxic person, she recommends completely avoiding copper until their body can detox and then slowly introducing low levels back. 

While copper toxicity sounds frightening, the good news is that it is both preventable and treatable! Copper toxicity is not a life sentence, but the healing process can be long and hard. Besides symptoms of the actual toxicity, there are symptoms during the detox and even during the healing that can be worse than the symptoms of the toxicity themselves. However, with an open mind and perseverance, copper toxicity can absolutely be overcome.

If you want to get in touch with Kirby, you can find her at https://www.kirbyamour.com/.

Tranquility by HeHe, A Maternity Concierge, Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Ma.
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