Labor Comfort Measures: Preparing for a Positive Birth Experience

Labor Comfort Measures: Preparing for a Positive Birth Experience

Because of its life-altering nature, childbirth should not be entered into lightly. Neither should it be an event to be feared. While we can never predict what they journey may entail, we can empower ourselves with knowledge, create a plan, and work toward the kind of birth we want to look back on for the rest of our lives.

education AND support

Motherhood25 (2)

What a beautiful week for us as a staff of The Motherhood Collective. On Saturday we welcomed you to the Café Express. On Monday we held both the Café and our PPMD Support Group. Wednesday brought our Grief Support Group. What a gift to have the opportunity to serve so many women in such different ways. If you are new to our programming this week, welcome. As an organization we long to advocate for a societal shift in maternal health. We feel the way we accomplish this best is through education AND support by connecting you to each other and to your communities.

Education empowers. Education expands our knowledge. Education, on it's own, can also overwhelm and leave us without tools for success. This is where we feel woman to woman support must come in.

It is within the framework of support that women discover variances of normal. It is through the safety of support that women find assurance that they are not alone.

Thank you. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Thank you for allowing us to learn what it looks like to connect you to each other and to your communities. Again, welcome to our new faces. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to further your education and support from pre-conception through postpartum.

All my love,

PS - Do you follow us on instagram? Here is a peek at what we've been up to this week!



Last weekend our volunteer staff had the opportunity to spend an entire day together. We ate, played, and spent time digging into our own stories - in order that we might be able to better walk alongside you. There was a resounding theme that echoed through the day. We, as a culture, must seek to rid ourselves of assumptions. We must validate the unique stories of the women in our lives. We can walk alongside each other in pain and in joy.

Through education and support we strongly feel there is hope for a societal shift in maternal health.

We acknowledge that we all must become better listeners. In humility and vulnerability, we must also share our stories. For often, healing begins with one person's simple bravery.

Will you join us in changing the culture? Will you join us as we seek to better the health of women from pre-conception through preschool? Change begins with individuals. Change begins with us.

All my love,


We need relationships.

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

Sending you warm and loving thoughts as we near Valentine's Day. Motherhood can be such a lonely and isolating job. I don't desire that for any of you. We need relationships. We need them on the sunshine and rainbows days and on the dark and stormy days. Sometimes, though, it takes a first step. It takes being uncomfortable. It takes effort. It takes reaching out.

Will you challenge yourself? Will you push your fears aside as we near the holiday that celebrates relationships? Text a friend. Go on a walk with a neighbor. Join us at playgroup. Practice self care and attend a support group.

I loved seeing all the new and familiar faces at the Café yesterday morning! I applaud each of you for putting in the work to make it there. I hope the laughter was refreshing and the panel educational. If there is ever any way in which we could be serving you better, would you email me at:

We are here for you. We long to see a societal change in maternal health. Will that change start with you?

Most sincerely,


"Nurturing the mother to grow the child."

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

January is almost over. Winter storms cover the East Coast. What an honor it has been to serve you wherever motherhood finds you this winter. Are you familiar with our tagline? "Nurturing the mother to grow the child." Do you know how deeply we believe this? Motherhood is challenging. Our primary goal is to nurture, support and educate you; enabling you to make the choices best for your family. We are passionate about cheering you on - helping you find your truth.

My heart was filled to overflowing as I watched so many of you play with different baby carriers at the Saturday Café Express and Monday Café. Your laughter and encouragement was contagious. For those of you who joined us for the first time, I applaud you for your bravery in stepping out to connect with women you did not know. For those of you who missed your time with us, be sure to visit the blog for recaps and valuable information.

Be sure to check out all of the upcoming events listed on the calendar. There are many opportunities for connection and support wherever you have need. If there is any way in which we could be serving you better, please let me know.

All my love,


Happy New Year from The Motherhood Collective!


For those of you who joined us for the first time yesterday morning, welcome! We enjoyed meeting each of you and truly hope you were able to connect, learn and receive support. If you have any questions about yesterday's topic, panelists, our resources, please let me know: The Café panelists covered a vast array of subjects, from adding value to our children to their methods of correction. They encouraged us to embrace today, reminding us that the challenges we face today will fade and new obstacles will arise with each year of growth (even when our children are grown!). Each season with our children is precious and brief. Eileen spoke of how she writes out a blessing for her children full of hopes for their future and affirmations of who they are today. She reads this to them on their birthday and frames them. What a beautiful idea!

Our hope for this year is to bring more depth to our education and support by serving you in love, on purpose and with focus. We are honored to create spaces where women of all philosophies, parenting theories, ages, and backgrounds can come together and support one another. Together we will "nurture the mother to grow the child".

Most sincerely,


Car Seat Safety: It's a Passion of Mine

Greetings from your Resident Safety Advisor!  I'm here to discuss all things related to child safety, but first I wanted to give you a little background about my journey into safety and a passion of mine - car seats.  If you have any topics you particularly would like to see covered (car seat related or not), please send us an email and let us know.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I spent a little time researching options for car seats.  And then went out and registered for one that came with a jogging stroller I liked (we live on a farm, those large tires are very helpful on uneven ground) and called it done.  After all, an infant seat is designed for infants, right?  What could be wrong with it?  Then my daughter was born.  Her head drooped in the seat in an unsightly and seemingly uncomfortable way.  She would scream for entire trips and upon arrival, would be drenched in sweat.  I dreaded car rides.  After one of (many) visits to our lactation consultant she followed us out to the car and noticed how my daughter slept in her infant seat once connected to the base.  She made a few suggestions and advised getting our seat checked for proper installation.

(L) One week old in her ill-fitting infant seat (with improper harness tightness and chest clip position). (R) Nearly three months old and much happier in a properly fitting and properly angled convertible car seat.


I silently rolled my eyes and dutifully went home and tried to make the suggested changes, without much effect.  A few weeks later I found myself enrolled in a car seat workshop that was followed by a member of the Lynchburg Fire Department inspecting our seats and installations.  I learned a lot from the course the instructor made some changes to my daughter's seat.  Then I started reading.  Come to find out, the very seat I had selected (remember, I liked the jogging stroller that came with it), which was rated for use in babies as little as 5 pounds, is known to be a horrible fit for newborns.  Infuriated by this knowledge, and tired of a fussy baby in the back seat, I moved my daughter into her convertible seat (and a much better fit) and had many happier travels.

My personal experience started me on a journey I never expected.  Car seats became a hobby, a passion.  I have a tendency to get stuck on a topic and read a lot (too much?) on it.  I've been reading about car seats and their use for nearly three years now.  Friends began coming to me for advice on car seats.  I relished each question because it gave me something else to research (just last night one of these inquiries had me researching the differences between Swedish and Australian rear facing tether systems; sounds fascinating, right?).  Earlier this year, I was told, partially in a joking manner, that I should consider becoming a certified car seat technician.  Three weeks later I was enrolled in a course and received the official title of “Child Safety Passenger Technician,” or CPST for short.  Car seats can be frustrating, their manuals can be confusing, and some are simply not easy to install or adjust, and the recommendations on which seat to use when never seem to stop changing.  I'm here to help.

A few facts about car seats and their use in the United States:

  • Motor vehicle injuries are the number one cause of death among children in the United States.
    • The use of properly installed and properly fitted car seats can decrease the risk of death to infants (age less than 1 year) by 71% and to toddlers (age 1-4 years) by 54%.
    • When compared to the use of seat belts alone, the use of booster seats reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 years.
    • It’s estimated that over 90% of car seats are used improperly, either due to improper installation techniques or improper fit.
  • All car seats on the market are subject to the same standards established by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and must pass the same test in order to be sold in the US.  However, there is no governing body that oversees the tests themselves; it is left up to the individual manufacturers to perform the tests and report the results.
  • There is no one "safest" car seat.  The safest car seat (no matter the brand or model) is the one that:
    • Fits your child
    • Fits your car
    • Fits your family’s needs in terms of comfort and convenience, so that you’ll use it every time

So, now that The Motherhood Collective offers our mamas a "Resident Safety Advisor," what does this mean?  I'm here to help you understand safety concerns that relate to our children and advise you on how to handle them.  As a CPST, I'm able to help educate and train parents on proper car seat use.  In the broad goals of The Motherhood Collective, we hope to eventually be able to offer car seat inspections to local mothers to ensure their proper use.  In the meantime, I'm here to serve as a safety educator and offer advice and education.  My goals are to start offering posts on car seat tips and installations, and then branch out into other safety education topics.

Montessori Moods: Your House is a Classroom

I have been dreading this post, because there are times in my life when doing formal Montessori just doesn’t fit. Either I’m tired, we’re busy, or my kids just aren’t into it (and I don’t have the patience to work with them). The thing that encourages me during these times is that my entire house is a Montessori classroom. And yours is, too. My kids put their own clothes on. They did Montessori.

They helped me mix up pancakes for breakfast. They did Montessori.

We read a whole bunch of books together and the older one sounded out some words and was reminded of some puzzle words. We did Montessori.

The older one demanded a chore to do and mopped the floor. He did Montessori!

If you are letting your children live life with you and allowing them to do things on their own as much as you can (and your patience allows), you are doing Montessori. Give them space to do things themselves and let them mess up and get things wrong. And then let them try to figure out how to get it right. This is one of the most difficult things for Mamas to do. I want to rush in and tell them what to do and fix their backwards clothes, but what they really need is for me to leave them alone and let them try to figure it out on their own.


So don’t be hard on yourself when you’re not doing anything formal! Every day has opportunities for your child to learn without you preparing for it.

Labor Pains: A note from our Executive Director

When we began this website, we posted The Motherhood Collective's "Birth Story" and we invited you to come along with us as we continued to grow and we referenced our possible, future labor pains. Well, here we are and are writing about it. The Motherhood Collective© is experiencing some exciting changes as we continue to increase awareness and network in our local community and beyond.

Many of you have been encouraged by our local outreach, The Motherhood Café. This is one of our favorite ways to serve as it brings us face-to-face with the mothers of our local community. We desire to continue this particular service for years and years to come. That said, we have had to have some hard talks about making the Café as sustainable as possible.The Motherhood Collective

Over the next years we hope to take our passion for education and support to a new level. This might mean providing scholarships for childbirth education, certificates for lactation consultants, supporting local postpartum depression groups, providing increased opportunities to for you to gather with women in your seasons of life, and even planting "chapters" in other communities around the country.

We operate on a limited, donation-supported budget and wish to employ these funds in the best way possible. Currently a large portion of these dollars is used to supply Café food and coffee. While this is a worthy "cause", its reach is not far and we feel there are needs much greater (such as those projects mentioned above).

We are not doing away with food altogether, but rather opening up a conversation. What would you, the women we serve, prefer to see? No food at all or food that costs you a small amount? We know that our incomes vary and that honestly, priorities vary. We are working on several ways to continue offering some type of refreshments, but with different options.  We've discussed providing vouchers for first time attendees, selling prepaid punch cards and gifting punch cards in our new mom baskets.  Please know that making our mothers feel comfortable and cared for on Mondays is still very much part of our intent.  We do not make these changes lightly.

We know that many of you care passionately about this organization and you are the very women we serve. So, would you take a moment to fill out this survey and share your opinions with us? We long to continue in our efforts to Nurture the Mother to Grow the Child and your help would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Home Education: School-at-Home

Courtesy of: Let’s take a look at another approach to homeschooling.  Doing “school-at-home” is what many people picture when they hear the word homeschooling.  Some of the characteristics of school-at-home include:

  •  children gathered around the kitchen table or at desks in a specified "school room" in the home with a parent instructor
  •  generally one of the more expensive ways of homeschooling due to buying large amounts of curriculum sets which typically include textbooks, study schedules, grading requirements, and record keeping guides
  • generally one the most difficult ways to homeschool due to trying to follow the set curriculum with multiple ages
  •  typically very easy for first time homeschooling parent because most of the planning is done
  •  this type of homeschooling will require the teacher/parent to do a lot of preparation work for each lesson

I would like to give you a little glimpse into one homeschool journey.  This family uses an altered version of school-at-home:

1.  What would you state is your homeschooling style and why?

I was a public school teacher, so I basically do public school at home.  We use a public school curriculum (McGraw Hill), but move at a faster pace, school year round, and include extra subjects, like Rosetta Stone Spanish. Plus, I like the fact that this curriculum teaches all three types of learners.  If I ever have to put my son in public school, I want him to be familiar with the teaching style.

2.  What does an average school day look like for you?

My son has a sleep disorder, so we don't do school at a certain time each day, but we do follow a set routine.  First, we have calendar time, where we review the day of the week, date, month, year, tell time, count money, graph the weather type and temperature, and review place value. Second, we do math.  We use manipulatives to explore the new skill and then he learns to express the concept with numbers and symbols.  There is an emphasis on word problems and choosing the operation. Third is reading.  I read a book to him that focuses on a concept we've been studying or a holiday that is approaching.  This book is above his grade level.  After we discuss it, he reads aloud from a separate reader.  Reading is concluded with learning a new skill, discussing it, reading selections that emphasize the new skill, and completing a few worksheets on the skill. Fourth, he writes about a topic.  It either has something to do with what we read, focuses on a skill, or is a journal topic of his choosing.  There is an emphasis on spelling and handwriting, as well as quality of expression.  These writings are usually illustrated, but not always. Fifth, we either do health, science, or social studies.  We rotate through these subjects doing a unit from each one.  This time may consist of an experiment, an observation, a reading selection, a discussion, or any combination of the above.  Often worksheets are completed to demonstrate leaning. We close with Spanish, art, or music.  Spanish occurs more often than the other two.  Spanish is a Rosetta Stone done on the computer.  Art is a holiday craft or a lesson on an art concept, followed by an art project during which he can experiment with the learned concept.  Music began with a study of instruments in which we read about an instrument, listened to works emphasizing the instrument, watched YouTube videos of people playing the instruments, and wrote about it.  Having completed all the instruments, he is preparing to learn to read music and play the piano and guitar. Gym is done two or three times a week.  He gets a lot of activity as a normal part of his play, but we like to try to focus on a skill as often as possible.  He takes gymnastics, is getting ready to begin ballroom dancing, practices golf and fishing with his father, is working on new swimming skills with me, and has a trampoline, a bike, a scooter, and playground equipment.  We often take walks with friends. Socialization is also very important.  We get together with other kids approximately three times a week, more often in the nice weather.  We are members of a homeschool support group and a mommy and me play group.  We have park play dates, gatherings at our homes, potluck luncheons, restaurant dining experiences, group field trips, and much more.  He has interaction with adults and kids of all ages and backgrounds because that is what real life socialization is like. We school year round and are generally “on” for three weeks and “off” for one.  This provides him with plenty of down time, but doesn’t involve any breaks long enough to allow forgetting to occur. 

3.  What resources do you utilize outside of your home for educational purposes? 

I believe that learning should be reinforced with real-life experience whenever possible.  We utilize all area resources.  We took trips to Natural Bridge and the beach after our unit on rocks, weathering, and erosion.  We traveled to Safari Park and Natural Bridge Zoo after our unit on animals.  We observed in the Emerald Isle Aquarium after completing a unit on ocean life.  We visited the White House, Capitol Building, and D.C museums after our units on government and prehistoric times.  We took a hike on a tree trail after our unit on plants.  We toured a cabinet factory to conclude an economics unit on goods and services. We are members of two different co-ops.  We take field trips with them.  They know us by name at the library. 


Visit Jessica's previous homeschool posts: Home Education: Deciphering the Information

Home Education: Relaxed or Eclectic

Home Education: Deciphering the Information

As this school year ends, and summer begins; many families are reevaluating their educational plans for next fall.  There is a tremendous growing trend of families choosing to homeschool their children.  There are many reasons as to why these families are choosing this option.  These reasons are not really for me to assume or even discuss.  What I would like to discuss is the ever-growing amount of resources and options for these families.


This is a topic that is very important to me at this point in mothering.  My oldest child is just entering the preschool age.  With our current trends in education, the topic of schooling has to begin very early.  For most of us, we begin our search for the where and how of education around age 2 to 3.  This is an even earlier endeavor for those of you in large metropolitan areas that have very competitive preschools and schools.  My goal for me and my family is to find the best educational option that best suits us for the stage of life that we are in.  As homeschooling has quickly risen to the top of my list, I would like to begin to narrow the sea of information.  I’m sure that many of you feel the same.

Through a short series of blog posts, I would like to take you on a journey through homeschooling.  This journey will encompass a brief overview of different pedagological philosophies, resources for finding more information about these differing schools of thought, resources for curriculum, resources on state homeschooling laws, personal homeschooling journeys, as well as favorite resources of families who have “been there, done that.”  Please join me as we learn the different options that are available.

My hope is that this will help people begin this life of homeschooling armed with information to help them to be successful from the beginning.  If you are currently homeschooling, my hope is that you may find something that makes this path even more beneficial to your family.  If you have no desire or interest in homeschooling, my hope is that this information will encourage you to be even more supportive of those homeschooling families in your community.

As this will be an ever expanding topic, please feel free to comment with your experiences; as well as links to your blogs concerning your homeschooling journey.

You Just Never Know (Until You Know)


tools of the trade by juliesorgeway  

I want to talk about my five-month-old, and pee, and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Nine years — almost my entire adult life — I have worked as an educator. My husband is a college professor too. Education, facts and research are a big part of our lives, and we were willing suckers for every baby book and doodad that claims to be somehow educational. Black and white brain stimulating mobile? Check. Baby sign language? Alphabet sheets to somehow ooze literacy into his wispy baby head? Check check. But even after just a few months with our little boy, I feel like, cliché or not, really it's I who have most to learn.

Most people are familiar with the paradoxical phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect, even if they’ve never heard of it before. Basically two Cornell researchers did a bunch of observations indicating that in general, the more you actually know about a topic, the more you worry that you don’t know enough. And, not coincidentally, the less you truly know, the more likely you are to overestimate your own expertise! Now, if you're like me, you can instantly, snarkily think of one or two people in your life who this just perfectly applies to. But maybe it’s more useful if we each were first to try applying it to ourselves.

Raising my hand right here: I was a classic Dunning-Kruger parenting “expert” before my baby was born. Reading and note-taking are kind of my favorite thing ever, so I researched the very soul out of every single newborn issue I could imagine. Nine glorious months of page-turning and highlighting! I knew that parts of my pregnancy, birth, and parenting journey would be out of my hands, and parts I could do my best to control. Statistics and anecdotal evidence alike were ready and confident on the tip of my tongue. I spent time reading birth stories of every possible variation of experience. And I don't regret any of that reading, or thinking, or planning. It helped me do pregnancy my way, and made so much of the unknown feel safer to me. Yet within a few weeks of my actual son’s actual arrival? Even though in fact I suddenly had much more experience, I felt so much less of an expert.

Despite having great support, I found there were so many things that felt harder than I had anticipated. It isn't that nobody warned me; on the contrary I had several honest mama friends who shared their hearts and tried to prepare me for the changes newborn life would bring. But nothing really could. So many of the shortcuts, tips, and tricks that had been “lifesavers” for my mama friends didn’t work for me, or for my baby, at all. Even some of the issues I thought I would feel most passionate about, in my prenatal fits of highlighting, ended up falling away as I found myself with a new, smaller set of certainties. Here are just a few of the things I held on to in those early days:

  • Things will get easier. Even though every age will have its challenges, newborn life is a tough adjustment for almost all new parents. The roller coaster cliché is true. But it will be okay.
  • It’s only a little pee. Let’s just say my standards of what constitutes a true midnight laundry emergency have… evolved.
  • Don’t mess with happy. Whether it’s the baby’s happiness, or my own, I have realized how much I tend to over-meddle. He's asleep with his head flopping to the side? That can't be comfortable... maybe if I just "fix" it... You see where this is going, right? It’s not always wise to try to perfect something that is already working out okay.
  • Let him see you smiling. He looks to me so often in this phase of his life. Okay, at first he mostly stared at my hairline or maybe the ceiling fan, but pretty soon he realized it's the parents who are the first center of his universe. So I don’t want to always have my brow furrowed, to always be worrying about the next thing that could somehow be better. I want him to see me smile, because really? We have a lot to smile about.

And even any of these, I know, might not ring true for any one reader in particular. My point is: Not one of them would have seemed like an important idea to me back when I was an expert. And it's this change, from the researched knowledge to the experienced, that no one could really prepare me for.

I still read a lot, when I can fit it in. I still care about doing the best I can to make reasonable decisions on issues that come up. But as my little boy grows, I continue to realize how much is probably out there that I still really don’t know. There are times when I imagine all the questions ahead of us, all the things I don't even know I don't know yet, and within me anxiety starts to rise. But when it does, I try my best to remember good old Dunning-Kruger, take a deep breath, and remind myself that maybe, just maybe, the less I feel like I confidently know “for sure” as a parent, the more I’ve actually learned.

--- The Motherhood Collective is on Facebook. Like us, then comment on our giveaway post for a chance to win a family photo shoot from Adam Barnes Photography. Our contest ends when we hit 500 Likes!