Join our Intimate Group Sessions – Heal those festering feelings
It can take months or years to heal from breastfeeding grief – the trauma from our nursing struggles. Some mothers never heal.
I’ve worked with mothers whose children are 3 – 6 years old, and whose relationships to those children were strained: they always felt a sense of failure and remorse when interacting with their child.
We were able to release those feelings and “open the field” as it were to a renewed open-heartedness between mom and baby.
I’ve been raising the cost of one-on-one sessions over the years, because each session touches me so deeply and may take me a few hours to recover from.
So now I am offering small group sessions, for half the price of the one-on-one sessions, and here is why: I do focused work with each of the mothers in these sessions, but there is something in the group dynamic that supports me and leaves me with more energy and not less. The entire group is sharing and carrying each other’s load.
It’s been terrific, and I hope that if you are a mother going through breastfeeding grief, whether from recent or from experiences that are years behind you, I hope you’ll join us.
Being with others that understand the unique challenges of breastfeeding and all that comes with that is amazing. Then you add guidance and techniques to help the emotional impact, which allows space to begin to heal. Beautiful.
It’s been a real pleasure and helpful experience. The small group was very intimate and allowed me to open up more than I thought I would have shared. The exercises have stuck with me and I try to implement them when I can. I have started reading your other books, they bring much comfort and hope without judgment and discouragement.
Hello! I am Hilary Jacobson, CCHT, the owner of this site. I’ve been helping mothers with breastfeeding grief and birth trauma since 2013. My book Healing Breastfeeding Grief is used by mothers and healthcare providers around the world.
I want to help you understand when one-on-one sessions can be helpful. To say it briefly, if your situation is very complex, one-on-one’s may suit you better than group classes.
First though–why do some of us feel traumatized or devastated by our birth or breastfeeding experience, while others are able to sigh, shrug, and move on?
To understand, it helps to look at how the brain “codes” and “stores” painful events from the past, and “tags” them to events in the present day.
What is Trauma
First, what is the cause of *trauma*?
When a painful, frightening, or shocking event occurs, and if we are not able to respond and recover at the time of the event or in the weeks that immediately follow, the shock becomes imprinted in the nervous system.
Once imprinted in the nervous system, trauma takes on a life of its own. For instance, it can make us anxious or afraid, cause us to keep at a distance from family and friends, make us have repetitive thoughts and feelings. We may lose the ability to feel authentic pleasure, to respond with insight or humor. Parts of ourselves that previously were happy and confident now seem far away.
How we Store Memory
When we think about how the brain stores memory, we imagine that the memories, like books on a library shelf, are organized according to topics. When it comes to the rational part of the brain, this is partly true.
But when the brain “tags” events that have caused strong reactions and feelings in the past, the brain organizes these events around the way that they feel. Happy events, sad events, traumatic events–they are kept in stacks, not according to their topic, but according to how they felt to you, including how they felt in your body.
Soothing and Dissolving Trauma from the Nervous System
When a mother comes to me for a one-on-one consultation, it is often because her attempts to heal have not been successful. She may have tried to work through her feelings herself, or she saw a therapist or several therapists. As trauma expert Peter Levine explains, her problem is not psychological, it is physical: it is in her body, in her nervous system.
As I get to know her and hear her story, one thing I ask myself is whether this recent event is unique in terms of the way it made her feel, or if, instead, it is “layered” on top of similar feelings and events from her past–if it is the latest layer of a “feeling stack.”
If so, then we are looking at a history of for example feeling abandoned, feeling insignificant, misunderstood, disrespected, feeling the loss of control, feeling like a failure. Sometimes, this “pattern of feeling” extends back to previous generations in her family, to her parents or grandparents.
Recognizing larger patterns helps us understand why the experience is so very painful. And this is good news, because real understanding, the kind that “just sits right,” is one of the first steps involved in healing. When the brain discovers and acknowledges a true and deeper explanation, this brings a tremendous sense of relief.
On a Treasure Hunt for Word-Jewels and Resource States
The interesting thing about working with trauma is that we do not need to talk much to get results. We do however need to uncover the “word jewels,” the special words that encapsulate the mother’s experience.
These words are like a “tag” into the mother’s deeper brain system. They connect into the difficult feelings from her own past and possibly from her family’s past.
Then I look for the words that are the keys to recovery. These words resonate with the desired feeling, or with the inner resource that is now hidden beneath all the painful feelings, but that is actually still there, waiting to be rediscovered and brought fully into conscious experience again.
There are ways to work with these two states–to gradually soften and lighten and dissolve the intensity of the negative state, and to rebuild, re-enforce and strengthen the positive state.
A “Generative Trance” generates integration and healing
I like to cultivate a light, “Generative Trance,” called such because it allows you to generate insights and positive states of being. My job is simply to guide you into a generative trance and to give you time to do your healing work there.
Why I offer a 3-Session Package
Although the basic process typically requires only one session, sometimes two, I like to do a package of three sessions because I want to tie up any loose ends. All those weeks, months, or years of living in a somewhat shut-down state of mind will have had consequences for the life, relationships, and confidence of this mother. I want to make sure that nothing is left unsettled or festering that could be smoothed and set on a healing course.
The package of three sessions is $450.
I am also offering small group classes for mothers working through breastfeeding grief, and we do much the same work as in my one-on-one sessions. A phone conversation will help me know if one-on-one sessions or a a group class is better for you.
My number is 1 (541) 708 – 3564 Leave me a voice message and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Would you believe that the ugly sow thistle, that insufferable weed that overruns gardens and fields, is used as food around the Mediterranean, and is also used by nursing mothers to support their milk supply?
Sow Thistle – a New Super Food for Moms
While writing my book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues, I dove into the research on this totally neglected herb. To my surprise, I found that it possesses great nutritional value and is being studied for its medicinal effects.[i]
Experts in food production write: Sonchus species (Sow Thistle) are productive when cultivated on any type of land, home garden, or even roof gardens using plastic or earthen pots with minimum inputs and labor. Considering the global environmental changes, initiatives to develop new high-yielding and more stress-tolerant varieties, to extend its cultivation and uses, and to strengthen the commercial production of this novel vegetable crop, are now needed.[ii]
In other words—just as I describe in my book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues, sow thistle can be grown with little effort in containers on porches, terraces, roof gardens, balconies… they are a perfect super food for an uncertain world, growing everywhere, accessible to all, and they are perfect as a home-grown galactagogue.
To their nutritive value, the leaves are high in protein and fiber, and extremely high in vitamin C. The leaves contain high levels of potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus. They are a good source of the essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. These fatty acids, especially when untreated or processed, are essential to our health and a well-functioning immune system.
Sow thistle possesses powerful medicinal properties—liver protective, anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. They are thought to help prevent kidney and heart disease.
Main use for milk supply: leaves and stems, prepared as a concentrated broth, or as food.
Requirements: Sow thistle grows in most soils. It grows best with some shade and regular watering.
Caution: only use plants from a garden that has not been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
Good to know: There are two sorts of sow thistles: the annual sow thistle has a long taproot (a single root that extends straight down, like a dandelion’s root); this kind is welcome in your garden. The perennial sow thistle grows from a rhizome that spreads horizontally beneath the soil’s surface, shooting up new thistles as it spreads. If you find this kind in your garden, dig it out, as it will otherwise be impossible to control.
Harvest: Varieties of sow thistle have differently shaped leaves. They may be soft with rounded edges (see the photos above), or tough and spiky-rimmed. The spiky leaves are tender when the plant is young, as in this photo, but as they age you’ll need to cut away the rim with scissors and soften the leaf with a rolling pin.
Food: Sow thistle leaves are delicious in early spring. They taste like sweet chard. They can be eaten in salad, boiled like spinach or sautéed in olive oil.
My neighbor, Graziano, who first taught me to garden, explained that sow thistle is grown in Sardinia as a vegetable. The tops are trimmed off to prevent flowering and the leaves are picked continuously to use in food.
The unopened buds are also edible; they taste like hazelnuts.
P.S. The photos here are of the initial “rosette” that forms before the plant shoots up tall. They were taken in February.
Forgotten Galactagogue – Simmer that Thistle
Lactogenic diet: The ancient Greek doctor Dioscorides, 2000 years ago, lists sow thistle as a galactagogue. The British herbalist Nicolas Culpeper described its use in his herbal from 1653: The decoction of the leaves and stalks causes abundance of milk in nurses. Today, the use of sow thistle as a galactagogue is still remembered by the older generation in Italy.[iii]
My suggestion: To make a “decoction” (a strong broth) simmer the leaves and stalks in water in a half-covered pot for 20 minutes. Sip a few teaspoons of the bitter liquid. Don’t overdo it. Repeat the dose some hours later. If you tolerate it well, try repeating the dose every few hours for a few days. If after four days you notice no change, this plant is not going to have the desired effect.
Does this information intrigue you? If yes, you will enjoy my book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues, available now on amazon. It is full of planting info but also full of rare dietary suggestions and information for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
[i] Xiu-Mei Li & Pei-Long Yang (2018) Research progress of Sonchus species, International Journal of Food Properties, 21:1, 147-157, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2017.1415931
[ii] Xiu-Mei Li & Pei-Long Yang (2018) Research progress of Sonchus species, International Journal of Food Properties, 21:1, 147-157, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2017.1415931
[iii] Geraci, Anna & Polizzano, Vincenza & Schicchi, Rosario. (2018). Ethnobotanical uses of wild taxa as galactagogues in Sicily (Italy). Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 87. 10.5586/asbp.3580.
In traditional societies, the roots, stalks, leaves and seeds of amaranth are valued as medicine and food.
In the West, we are only familiar with its tiny seeds that are cooked like rice, or ground into flour for baking.
The seeds are an extremely valuable source of protein and have a cholesterol-lowering effect. The leaves are a good source of vitamins C and A, calcium, iron, and folate. The leaves are surprisingly high in protein. Their iron content is high, and increases as the plant matures and goes to flower.
Typically, the young, tender leaves are used in salad or cooked meals. The tenderer stems and stalks can be cooked as a vegetable, too. The iron-rich older leaves, too, can be cooked and are quite enjoyable.
Leaves, stems and stalks can be boiled, steamed and stir-fried, and used in stews or soup.
Cultural food as a galactagogue
The Warlis, an indigenous tribe of India whose culture extends back to 2500 B.C.E., chew the fresh roots of amaranth to increase milk production.[i]
Another tribe, the Kerala, prepare a watery concoction (soup or broth) of the whole plant to help mothers prepare for and heal from childbirth.[ii]
In many traditional Indian societies, the tender young shoots and leaves are eaten as a vegetable to increase milk supply.[iii]
An older woman from Peru recounted for me that mothers would drink the extra “cooking water” from amaranth or quinoa to support lactation – they drank the broth.
This blogpost describes a traditional, cultural food that is used to support milk supply, and that can easily be grown both outside in a container or inside as microgreens on a counter or windowsill. See A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues to learn more about cultural foods used to support milk supply that you can grow at home.
[i] Sayed, N. Z., Doe, R., & Mukundan, U. (2007). Herbal remedies used by Warlis of Dahanu to induce lactation in nursing mothers. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 6(4), 602-605.
[ii] Rajith, & Kunju, Navas & Thaha, & Manju, & Anish, & Rajasekharan, & George, Varughese. (2010). A study on traditional mother care plants of rural communities of South Kerala. Indian journal of traditional knowledge. 9. 203-208.
[iii] Karnam Chandrashekhar, A Review on Tanduliyaka (Amaranthus spinosus L) – A Weed, A Vegetable and A Medicinal Plant International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine Vol 9 No 4 (2018): October – December 2018