Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

It’s been a while and now I am sandwiched.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I have hand written blog entries, thought about blog entries, wanted to list a few things and say a few things but, alas, it has take a few months to do it.

I, actually, had to relearn how to post.

Well, it’s a snow day and boy oh boy am I happy about that. I’ll still run my new mom’s groups but NOT HAVING to get the kids up, ready for school, dog walked  and everyone out the door (let’s add a parent-teacher meeting this morning) before 8 is a huge relief. I will also add that life has taken a way too busy turn.

You know when the baby boom media talks about the sandwiched generation? Well, here I am.  Sandwiched between my parent’s declining well-being and my kids struggling preadolescence. And this is where it sits, let alone what it feels like when i project into the future and start predicting stuff.

I asked my kids, “How do you define being a grown up”?  Their answers were “when you can tell someone else what to do”, “when you can do what you want” , “when you can drive”.  Their answers are very reminicent.  The feeling of freedom, of choice, of independence.  I think as a kid I  had those feelings, too;  “when I can wear makeup, when I can go to bed when I want”.  However as an adult,  a defining moment of being “grown up” has been caring for my aging parents. Some might say that’s strange since I became a mom years befoe that happened.  I had been in the work place and on my own even fruther back.  The  first, concrete,  glimpse at being gown up, or maybe an adult in a new way, was when my mom had open heart surgery about 8 years ago.  I remember bathing her and her allowing me to help.  Her revealing her vulnerability and letting me assist. WOW! She let me take care of her.  It was profound, sad, sweet, and moving.

Fast forward to today. My parent’s wellness is on an obvious decline. While they balance the tightrope of being able to be independent (sort of) and could easily be completely dependent on the other side.  A moment, and hour a day makes the difference. As the adult child, I am needing to shift constantly.  What my parent’s don’t realize is how much I do for them and how much more they need done. I have found a big part of  my role with them is to care with respect.  I don’t want them to think they are burdening me, I don’t want them to give up ALL aspects of independence, but there are times that they need to know this is either too much for me, or too much for them.

A great challenge to me is balancing this and the emotional (and logistical) tug  of my kid’s growing needs (school, behavioral, relationships, food/shelter etc) with my parents growing needs (0versight, safety nets, backup plans etc).While my kids are entering their middle school years, academics have taken on a new look and behavioral changes or exaggerations are precarious. If you are partnered, the relationship can be strained during this time or can be a strong piece to holding it all together.

Oh, have I forgot to mention my New Mom’s Groups, my private practice, my sleep consultations work? I have really cut down on promoting my practice.  I am fortunate I am partnered with some wonderful places that do the administrative pieces: the outreach etc (Prenatal Yoga Center, Discovery Programs, Wiggles and Giggles Playhouse and Bread and Yoga), but my involvement with pulling in people has had to give.  I have whittled my practice down to the essence, lending support, assisting new moms and parents in identifying and building on their strengths as women, moms, dads and parents.  Sometimes we just need to know we are on the right course or need some support in steering the ship from an outside perspective. well, that’s no different for moms and dads of school aged and adolescent kids, or of adults taking care of their aging parents.

Whatever adult stage of development one is  in there are challenges and joyful moments. Each needing to be acknowledged for what it is (emotional, logistic, financial, pure, muddled, whatever). I need to remember that I am not in control of all things around me and that my daily life with my kids have all these components  (sometimes in the moment and sometimes with some perspective) and even my relationship with my folks at this point still hold all of these components.  This is what life looks like for me right now.  Much I am overwhelmed by, some of which is me, some of which is the situation.

So, how do I take care of myself during all of this. It’s is very easy to disconnect, to retreat.  I feel a bit flat, socially, sometimes. Like, when you are a new mom- you’re home with the baby and it’s like WHOA! How’d this happen? Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? But as you reach out to others, talk, connect, take in the support, care, love (where you can) those feeling of self appreciation and care build. So, while you still might have struggles with nursing or your baby still might not be sleeping, the support around you helps  hold up and build your own self confidence.

I do believe reaching out for support and finding the right people to surround yourself with can give the journey perspective and insight.  Can help build one’s own confidence and to help feel cared for (while caring for all these other people and situations). Life is messy much of the time, can be uncomfortable and can require more from you that you think is possible. I need to remember I do have my limits, I will do nothing perfectly but I can do things to the best of my ability (which has its variables).

So, perhaps if I am part of the sandwiched generation, the supports and  friendships are the condiment.

Upper East Side and Inwood Groups and Events

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Metro Minis: New Mom’s Support Group- with Jessica Shapley

Wednesdays at 12pm starting April 14 at 12pm
6 session series

Bread and Yoga: New Mom’s Support Group - with Jessica Shapley

Tuesdays at 12:30 – Spring session begins April 20th

For moms and their babies, newborn-6 months

Topics in the group include: Mom and baby  wellness, breast  feeding,  bottle  feeding, sleep issues, staying at home versus working outside the home, isolation, childcare, family life, self image & more. Be a part of a growing community of new  families right here in  your neighborhood

Sleep Workshop – Tuesday, April 6th at 11am

Explore sleep solutions for the whole family. A talk for parents with babies newborn-12 months. We’ll talk about schedules techniques for calming age appropriate expectations and more……..plenty of time for questions

Infant Massage Workshop - Sunday, April 18th at 2pm

For parents and caregivers with babies newborn to pre-crawling
Massage is great addition to your toolbox of techniques to soothe and bond with your baby. Massage assists with sleep, colic, communication and relaxation.  Learn the techniques, routine and benefits of massaging your baby.
Infant Massage is taught in a relaxed, hands-on, one hour session. It is a gift each parent will be able to share with their child throughout a lifetime.
  • Please bring and extra blanket
  • dress your baby in 2 piece outfit
  • bring food grade vegetable oil (ie. olive oil, grape seed oil)

Yoga Therapy: The Pelvic Floor and More!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Yoga Therapy: The Pelvic Floor (and More!)

Date: February 28-March 4, 2010 (Sunday-Thursday)

Hosted By Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health  (Lenox Mass)

The pelvic floor is comprised of muscles that are often elusive and seem
beyond our conscious control. Yet, the perineum and the pelvic girdle are an
integral force behind most human functioning. By bringing awareness,
strength, and suppleness to these muscles, you can address incontinence,
alleviate pain in the pelvis, hips, knees, and back, breathe more
efficiently, increase sexual fulfillment, assist childbirth, and facilitate
many functional activities like lifting heavy objects, rising from chairs,
and walking up stairs.

This week, you will learn low-tech, noninvasive techniques that draw from
yoga, tai chi, qigong, Feldenkrais, and conventional rehab therapies to
guide people toward improved health and function. This accessible program
will also familiarize you with the anatomy, pathology, pain mechanisms,
physiology, kinesiology, mind-body energetics, and psycho-emotional aspects
of pelvic floor concerns.

Bridging East and West and addressing mind and body, this program is
designed for physical and occupational therapists, yoga and qigong
therapists, psychotherapists, Pilates teachers, fitness professionals,
somatic therapists, midwives, and everyone with an interest in the pelvic

Presented by: Bill Gallagher, Richard Sabel, and Jessica Shapley

Go Here to Register:
Or Call Kripalu for Details on Accomodations: (800) 741-7353

For Information on Course Content Email or call
(800) 297-3815

Presenter Bios:

Bill Gallagher, PT, CMT, CYT, is director of the East West Rehabilitation
, a master clinician in integrative rehabilitation at Mount Sinai
Medical Center
, and an instructor in clinical physical therapy at Columbia
. Bill has developed a uniquely integrative approach to optimize
pelvic health. By integrating the physical therapy traditions of the East
with therapies of the West, Bill helps his clients maximize function and
minimize pain. He sees a broad spectrum of clients with pelvic floor
concerns in his practice including incontinence, pelvic pain, coccydynia,
and prolapse. Bill can be reached at

Richard Sabel, MA, MPH, OTR, GCFP, is educational director for the East West
Rehabilitation Institute
, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and clinical
assistant professor
at SUNY Downstate’s program of occupational therapy.
Richard has successfully integrated Western therapeutic practices with
Eastern philosophy into a distinctive therapeutic approach to help clients
who have been limited by pain and disability reengage in meaningful
activities. He regularly leads community programs and works individually
with clients to address pelvic floor concerns. Richard can be reached at

Jessica Shapley, LMSW, CIH, CMT, utilizes a strength-based approach to help
women cope with physical and emotional challenges. She facilitates groups
for new mothers in Manhattan, providing a safe space to get support for the
changes new mothers face, including pelvic floor concerns like incontinence,
pelvic pain, and intimacy. Jessica holds a master’s degree in social work
from Columbia University and is certified in Integral Health Counseling by
the California Institute for Integral Studies. A mother herself, Jessica is
a certified massage therapist, a licensed social worker, and the director of She also teaches infant massage. Jessica can be contacted at

Breastfeeding:Did you know…

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

information collected from the Healthy Children Project 2009/2010

Pumping at least 8 times a day for pump dependent moms helps establish and maintain adequate milk supply.

Pumping in short frequent intervals is very effective.

Ongoing nipple stimulation is required for ongoing milk production. Nipple stimulation triggers prolactin which causes milk to be made.

If you have mastitis, it is best to keep breastfeeding frequently from both sides.

Hurried and infrequent feedings have been found to be a significant risk factor for getting mastitis.

It is important to teat both mom and baby if one of you has thrush (cadidiases).  It is also important to clean all vectors (from pacis, to bottles,  things that go in baby’s mouth, nipple shields even towels being used).

Returning to Work

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I always thought I would return to work after my maternity leave.  Why wouldn’t I?  It was a no brainer. (I also thought I could “throw” the kid in the back pack and hike the Himalayas….not so much!)

After a  fearful start to motherhood which included  lactation issues, heightened anxiety and sleeplessness (duh)- 3 months came around and I was gearing up to return to work and low an behold, I was beginning to feel more comfortable in this foreign role as mom.  While trying to wrap my head around leaving my baby for a full time job (i did not love) was daunting and I was given the opportunity (family support) not to return to work and that became the “no brainer”.

This isn’t always possible. Moms return to (outside of the house) work in all sorts of ways;  Full time, part time, staying at home, daycare,  babysitter etc. As I often tell the women in my New Mom’s Groups: “No camp is perfect”. There are often challenges and positive parts to whatever we end up doing. For example, if you are at work all day and come home at the end of the day- you have a different freshness for being home with your little one.  You are able to be in that moment with your baby that  perhaps staying home all day and trying to get anything else done at home can actually keep you out of all those “baby moments”.  While working all day and missing the details of your baby’s day can be painful, some people use skype, a communication log and phone call updates to get them through the day.  My friend, who returned to work after her 3+ months off, told her babysitter “please don’t tell me when my baby does something new.  I want to discover it for myself. “  I also will add, after a year, back at work, she quit her job and stayed home full time (she had a second baby and gave birth to a second career, since).

There is  a lot of new that comes out of being a new mom, of course I haven’t even brought up work/career/identity/identity integration (that’s another blog entry).  I also have not mentioned the logistics, including  pumping and introducing bottles for breast feeding moms.  Often thinking outside the box, can be helpful (think flexible hours and schedules or  job sharing, babysitter shares).

No matter what, when deciding to return to work childcare is one of the main issues. I will say that once this is in place (and hopefully somewhat in advance of your first day) the focus then can turn to enjoying your baby, processing your torn feelings of sadness about leaving  her or perhaps  guilt about feeling excited about returning to your work environment (one you hopefully enjoy). It takes a lot of advance thought to figure out when you’ll pump, how your day is going to look and will your baby be happy that cannot be predicted it has to be experienced.

The New York Times recently had an article about returning to work (and even being pregnant at work) that addresses some of these issues  Also a book that I recommend is Nursing Mother Working Mother by Gale Pryor.

Whatever you decide to do, whatever you have to do, you’ll make it work out.  It might not be what you had originally in mind, but it might be what evolves as your are paying attention to the details of your decisions. Oh, and by the way- it actually is not a no brainer

Healthy Children Project

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Promoting breast feeding information, support and services to moms (and families).

Did you Know: Skin to Skin baby wearing keep babies warmer, calmer, babies can hear their mom’s heartbeat, milk supply is improved and initiates a positive start to breast feeding, bonding, feeding on cue, of course if you or your baby have problem with the skin, there are always specialized doctors like Dr. Betty Hinderks that can help you treat this issues.

Did you know: Getting off to a good start at breastfeeding means nursing at least 10 times in a 24 hour period.

Did you know: When your baby is in REM sleep (rapid eye movement, when baby is not deeply asleep) is a great time to nurse baby.  This will happen beofre baby cries.  Sometimes when baby is crying they are a bit to frantic to latch on properly.

Baby opening mouth, rooting, making sucking sounds are all cues for feeding time.

Information provided from Health Education Associates and the Healthy Children Project/

What’s scarier, the swine flu or Halloween?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

OK- I need to be writing an article about Halloween for my column in Manhattan Times News, but what feels a lot scarier than Halloween is The Swine Flu.  Is it the symptoms, the death talks or the hysteria fueling my fear.  Recently the New Yorker did a good piece on the science and the fear: Oinking aside, how much purell can I buy? My apartment is littered with it.  I have decided to get the shot, my kids have asthma, my mother has COPD and cancer and I work with pregnant women and babies. I have gotten the flu vaccine yearly since having children.  When my kids developed asthma the doctor encouraged us to get the vaccine and they tolerated it and did not get the flu.

My kids have gotten really pretty good about washing their  hands when they first come into the apartment .  I send handi wipes to school with them but is there anything else, short of wearing a protective mask?

How do we protect our selves and others and not become obsessed? Our government regulating the vaccines add to the controversies that will arise as a result of a new vaccine on the market.  It’s hard to keep in all straight and clear.  There was a good NPR (National Public Radio) piece done about a month ago that addressed questions and concerns

Juliet LeBien wrote an “editorial” while pregnant, lat month.  She is a social worker who works in infectious disease: She highlights the “higher risk” groups, such as pregnant women and young people.

In NY, there have been about 81 deaths attributed to swine flu; nationwide, over 600, putting the death rate at.04%. That’s the rate of death for seasonal flu, too. But here’s a contrast: the death rate for pregnant women who have contracted the swine flu jumps dramatically, and severe disease is far more likely. Mortality occurred mostly in the second and third trimester, with the third being seen as “more dangerous”, probably because the immune system is compromised for quite a while AND the lungs are “squished” allowing for the virus to overtake the lungs easily, pneumonias to set in, etc. Six percent of ALL deaths-around the world-are pregnant women. This constitutes, to those of us in stats, “unacceptable” rate. The Infectious Disease net noted early on in this pandemic that this particular flu seems to hit pregnant women very hard, with the theory being that maybe the deep penetration of the lungs causes severe disease.

NYC stopped publishing the “underlying conditions” of people who died of swine flu, unfortunately there have been some tragic cases of pregnant women in NYC and around the country and globe. These cases are very difficult for health-care workers. Many of the New Yorkers hospitalized for in “wave 1″ were pregnant women. I also know there were stories of amazing recovery! One woman (not in NYC) was put in a medically induced coma, C-sectioned, and aggressively treated. She did recover, after about 30 days post C-section and is now home with her child. Other women were successfully treated and could carry to full term, although they were women who caught the infection early on and took medication withing 48 hours of first noting symptoms. There is also a new therapy for severely ill people that involves IV administration of medication.

Just so you know, the flu shot is always a crap shoot, no matter what formulation of virus it has in it, so the risks are always the same. The flu is constantly mutating, so every year you’re getting a new, rather untested formulation. I’m heartened that this H1N1 shot is actually being tested on pregnant women shows me that people are serious about making sure it’s safe. The fact that this disease is really striking down younger people is troublesome. And while in most cases, people are fine, I can let you know that my 16 year old nephew in Louisiana who had it earlier this month was quite ill for a good 5 days (over 103 degree fever), with a cough that’s still lingering.
-Juliet Keeler LeBien, LCSW

The decision to inoculate is only part of  the battle, getting the vaccine is the other. Schools in NYC are supposed to be dispensing the H1N1 nose spray (not good for those with asthma).  Pediatricians are to receive it, but that’s a daily call to your doctor, so who knows when. The following site is the NY Gov site on flu vaccine and treatment:
City clinics aren’t due to distribute until November.

Alternatives to the vaccine, I just don’t know. I think no matter what, boosting our immune system, eating well, sleeping well, washing hands- are common sense actions to take. I wonder if Depok Chopra or Andrew Weil would suggest their grandchildren or pregnant family members get the H1N1 vaccine. I wonder if any of those individuals had  underlying conditions if that would influence their decision. I wonder if living in NY, riding the subway, going to a public school, being pregnant, having and underlying condition would influence anyone’s decision- in either direction.

And what about our childcare providers? In one of my groups yesterday, a mom asked if she could “make” her babysitter get the flu shot (her baby was under 6 months of age). I know at hospitals, right now, staff is required to receive a flu shot.  If your childcare worker is “on the books”  this might hold a greater influence for them.  The mom decided to pay for her babysitter’s vaccine and search for a convenient place for her to get it.  To get this shot is a personal decision, to ask your employee to get the shot and offer options for her, might be helpful. Forcing your provider to get the vaccine, I don’t see how that is possible.  You might want to review with your employee some calling in sick guidelines.  If your babysitter comes to work with a bad cold because she doesn’t want to “stand you up” this isn’t always helpful.  Decide what the parameters of coming to work when not feeling well are for you and your babysitter.

What are your thoughts about the swine flu and the swine flu shot? How are you addressing this issue? I’d love to know.
momsupport: Identifying the power to embrace the journey

Overview of flu trends in NYC