It’s Time for a Navajo First Laugh Party!

When my friend told me she had been invited once to a Navajo first laugh party, I felt like that had to be something the party-throwers had made up. So I googled it. Turns out it’s totally a real thing! I was thrilled! Even my husband – who is a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to having parties for babies when the baby is indifferent to our celebrations – jumped on board with wanting to implement this cute tradition! And now that Brett had his first big belly laugh, it begs the question – should we be throwing a first laugh party next weekend?? But really. I keep thinking we should just do it.

What is a Navajo First Laugh Party?

If you haven’t guessed yet, or think like me that it can’t possibly be as straight-forward as the name suggests, a Navajo first laugh party is, in fact, a celebration of a baby’s first real laugh, and even a spiritual event in a baby’s life.

Who throws the party??

Traditionally, the person that elicits the first laugh gets to be a guest of honor while the baby is the real host.

What do you do at the party?

Whatever you want! It’s a party! Have some music, treats, dance, make the baby laugh some more, and eat, of course. The host’s job (the baby and family in this case) is to feed each guest or give something generous to encourage the baby to continue to generously share their laughter and kindness as they grow.

When do babies first laugh?

Usually babies have their first laugh around three months old.

Why is this a thing?

The main idea is that Navajos believe that newborns are still in the world of “Diyin Dine”, or The Holy People, and laughter is one of the signs that they are moving away from that world and choosing to settle in with their family in this world.

I even found the cutest looking book on Amazon that I think I need. Just don’t tell the husband I’m buying more books until it’s here. Shhh.

So here’s the most interesting part about the Navajo first laugh party – not just the Navajos have this tradition. Across the world different cultures have different celebrations around this three month milestone. The Navajos just happened to correlate the laughing with that 90-day timeframe and make a party out of it.

You see, many different traditions believe that newborns are in a type of in-between place, where their life is so fragile that they aren’t fully committed to this Earth yet. Like a part of them is still attached to a spirit world or heaven from where they came. They are having some of their most important and identifying experiences as a newborn. Once a baby has hit this milestone and proves it’s still healthy and laughs, then parents can feel a little more confident that their child is strong enough to stay and happy enough to spread some joy to others. I’d say that’s something worth celebrating!

So if you know someone with a baby about to hit their three-month mark, and you also are aching for a social life, then step up and offer to host a first laugh party!

How Women Around the World Decide Who Should Deliver Their Baby

First of all, check out my handsome new addition in that featured photo!!! Isn’t he the sweetest little squish?!

Just like with everything else, I’ve started to notice more and more that recommendations for safe birth methods depends on who you ask. And even more specifically, the answer can strongly depend on where that person is from. Of course, this is all based on my limited perspective, but hear me out.

Californians, for example, seem much more likely to recommend midwives than, say, an Arizonan or someone from New Mexico. Interesting, right? Again, my sample size is relatively small, but that’s what I’ve seen so far. I, myself an Arizonan, am new to the realization that midwives are not “old school” or extinct. And so I went ahead and decided to see what other people around the USA and Canada think when they hear the words “midwife” or “doula”, something other than the popular OB-GYN option. Oh boy, did I get an earful! I finally just had to close the conversation down because I was getting so much information! A problem I’ll take any day. So, if you need resources and ideas of where to learn about what these different kinds of birth professionals do, scroll on down to the next heading! If you’re here for other people’s stories and opinions as well, then hang around and just keep reading.

And remember, however a baby is delivered, the celebration and community support of new life is something that everyone in the world ought to be able to share. We all share similar fears, indescribable pains, and miracles in the process that unite us. So let others have their opinions, and with a grain of salt let their stories help you consider your personal preferences.

The first thing I learned from a number of women, is that some people are very particular about their types of midwives. Like, who knew that the term “midwife” alone doesn’t cut it anymore? Not me! There are Certified nurse midwives (CNMs), Certified midwives (CMs), Certified professional midwives (CPMs), Direct entry midwives (DEMs), and Lay midwives. Most people who specified the type of midwife seemed to share experiences about CNMs.

If I were to let someone else from the group discussion answer for me my feelings towards personally using midwives and doulas, I think it would be Sharon Y:

 I have had two kids and never used a midwife. I think of them as for people who prefer to take a less clinical approach to childbirth. If you want to be able to birth in your home, if you want to avoid epidurals – get a doula/midwife. Also use if you have the money, and just want all the support you can get, want more personalized care that you’re not getting from an ob/gyn – get a doula/midwife. I don’t fit into these categories, thus I have not opted for a doula or midwife.

Well said, Sharon. I like epidurals, so I’m gonna stay in a hospital! And if I had the money, I might get a doula and/or midwife in the future.

One or two individuals stepped up to represent, what I assume, is a much larger percentage of people than actually contributed to the conversation. Like Brittany W. R. who put it bluntly,

“I have no freakin idea what they do. That’s the best answer I have.”

With all the new info and perceptions I was getting cyber-thrusted at me in this learning process, my first thought was same here, Brittany. Same.

Whitney P. M. helped clarify some of my confusion by explaining that,

“when I finish [school] I will be a nurse practitioner who delivers babies a.k.a Certified Nurse midwife. I will likely work in a hospital but some with the same training work in birth centers and a few do home births. CNM’s can prescribe medications, and do all gynecological care including birth control, annual exams/pap smears, and be a primary care provider treating things like diabetes, high blood pressure issues, and thyroid problems. I will also be able to care for newborns under 28 days old.”

Others boldly shared the type of skepticism and critiques born of personal traumatic experiences and the horror stories of others.

“My view of midwives is colored by the following: My healthy mother who had a normal pregnancy would have died had she not delivered me in a hospital. She almost did die with my brother, even in a hospital. Evolutionarily speaking, the trade off humans made for the ability to walk upright is a very narrow birth canal that leads to a high natural maternal mortality rate. Although some midwives are consummate professionals, the number who erroneously state that there is very little risk in childbirth for healthy women with normal pregnancies make me view the entire profession with a high degree of skepticism.”

Megan M.

I never even considered a midwife because I wanted to have my baby in a hospital with experts who knew what they were doing and could step in when needed. I knew two families who delivered with midwives at home and the baby had issues that weren’t caught and the babies died. 
It wasn’t until moving to CA that I learned that some midwives deliver at hospitals so you don’t have to labor in a baby pool in your living room to use a midwife. 

Ali C.

One practicing midwife contributed points to the conversation that really caught my attention. I was so impressed at the kind way this woman approached and stood up for the many totally appropriate birthing choices available to accommodate the many different kinds of women in this world.

” I am a homebirth midwife. In a sentence or two, my mission is to support women and birthing people who desire a homebirth plan for and have one as long as pregnancy and labor are normal. Long can still be normal. Midwives are healthcare providers. Doulas are support people. Implicit in your questions seem to include a question about “why home.” That is a different question. There are different risks in hospital than at home, and as a birthing woman, whose births were before I was a midwife, I wanted birth to be considered non medical. I had an OB for 1, then 2 births in hospital with midwives. My last 2 births were at home, and I finally felt like I was supported with the expectation that birth was normal. Caveat, I believe the midwives I had in hospital also had that philosophy but had hospital policies that were arbitrary and anti-normal birth. Bottom line, I believe there should be choices, and I support one sort of choice in professional capacity.”

“..statements of absolutism do not match with many, many womens experiences. How people perceive risk is different too, from all perspectives. I have clients who choose homebirths because they perceive the higher risk perspective of the hospital to be riskier to them and their preferences.”

Becky Banks, at Little Star Birth Midwifery

That last quote is pure gold. I think we have to remember that everyone has different fears, different risks, and different changes to face when welcoming a new human to their life. And each of us should be able to get the care that feels the most supportive for our situation without backlash. What kind of birth method feels right to you? Share how you decided and feel free to read more of the responses to my original post here:

Continue the conversation below by adding where you’re from and who you go to (have gone to) for support as you go through pregnancies and labor/delivery!

Resources to Learn More

If you haven’t checked out my What We Can Learn From 20 Mom-Centered Birthing Traditions then click HERE to see some of the amazing traditions people around the world use to support mothers. Each of the following women went above and beyond to send me resources, personal experiences, and kind words of encouragement in my own motherhood journey! I was fascinated by what these women do to really help families have great experiences as they grow bigger! Aside from just being a pure MIRACLE, I think birth is fascinating because those first moments of new life can tell you so much about a community and the ways people serve each other. If you’re interested in learning what your options are, then you might start by simply finding these women’s mission statements and services on their websites.

First, the Facebook world introduced me to Doula Noleen CD(DONA), a birth doula and photographer in the Phoenix area. When I first checked out her website (www.doulanoleen.com), I could tell she was a lady of many talents – combining her photography skills with her knowledge and support as a doula to give families something memorable and meaningful. Sometimes I wish I had a doula just for life in general to help me achieve my goals, and then document my miracle moments to remind me how amazing life can be at the end of hard things!

Then, Noleen connected me to Elizabeth from Matrescence! This is also located in Phoenix, AZ. Elizabeth does something I had never realized is a thing. I mean, I should have. But, I didn’t. She is a 4th Trimester Educator and Peer Support Specialist for Maternal Mental Health. She explained, “My business partner and I educate pregnant women about the time period after baby arrives and help them create a robust, custom plan of support to ease their transition.  We introduce the common elements of traditional care around the world and invite them to reimagine how that might look in their modern-day life.” I highly recommend checking out what they do by clicking HERE and browsing their website (https://www.4thtrimesterplan.com/).

Last, but certainly not least, I was searching hashtags on Instagram for cool birthing stories around the world, when I discovered @chillmamawellness! I fell in love reading her posts, so I went to her website (https://chillmamawellness.com/), and within a few days had a really beautiful – though brief – correspondence with her! Amy is an Australian Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher and Childbirth Educator. She uses all of these skills to promote healthy pregnancies and motherhood. I especially appreciate the way she brings yoga and massage to the forefront of women’s health during a time when it can be hard to be active!

Hopefully one of those types of professionals gives you an idea of where to find some support that’s just right for you. You can find women like the ones I met in all sorts of social media groups, or just by googling “doula/midwife/childbirth educator” in your area. Resources like WIC and hospitals can also point you in the direction of these types of supporters and advocates.

Don’t forget to check out “What Can We Learn From 20 Mom-Centered Traditions Around the World!”

If you found this helpful or interesting, then head on over to my Facebook, Instagram, or share your email below to learn more fun things that connect people around the world! And look out for my freebies and activities for kids coming soon!

How Can We Improve Women’s Healthcare During The “Golden Opportunities”?

If you haven’t yet, go check out “What Can We Learn From 20 Mom-Centered Birthing Traditions Around the World?” While studying up about such traditions around the world, I learned that the Chinese have something they refer to as women’s “three golden opportunities”: menstruation, postpartum, and menopause.

What Can We Learn From 20 Mom-Centered Birthing Traditions Around the World?

The thought is that during things times in a woman’s life, you can make the most effective health changes for better or for worse. Mental health can especially be affected during these times, and if women are shown appropriate support then they will be more likely to be more healthy in that cycle of their life – (whether that means until next month’s menstrual cycle, the next baby, or through their barren years). To make it quick, you can maybe even think of these times as a type of restart button for all kinds of physical, mental, social, and other goals.

Personally, I have been so blessed to be surrounded by loving family following the birth of both of my boys, and I absolutely attribute my sanity to that fact! So I’m on board with this theory.

Then, a few months ago I read something about a push in the USA to get women back into their OB-GYN or Family Practitioner sooner than the normal 6 week postpartum check-up. Um, yes please! With my first baby, I just did whatever the doctors told me, and had no complications, so I never really questioned anything. With this recent second pregnancy, there were no real complications, but I wasn’t quite so ignorant of what to expect. But no amount of preparation and prior experience can stop you from looking in the mirror, or feeling the aches and pains, and saying, “What the heck is happening to me?” So when I heard about this movement, I was totally on board. I have never had more personal health questions in my entire life than I did in the first few weeks after giving birth to both my babies. For someone who waits til the end is near before involving a doctor, these were weird periods of time when I wanted a doc on speed dial or a chat room. I could have absolutely benefited from weekly, if not daily, reassurances that what I was experiencing was (or wasn’t) normal and how to move forward in the recovery. I mean, Dr. Google is good and all, but can you really trust it like a person??? My thought – no way!

So I took to a FaceBook group to start a conversation and just see what others thought. I figured I had a lot I could learn on the topic, and boy did FaceBook not disappoint! This was my question, and I hope you join the conversation too:

“I’m curious – have any of the women here been involved in pushing for better women’s healthcare??? Maybe as a medical professional, lawmaker, or in any other capacity? If so, what did you do, and how can others get involved??”

Here are some of the answers:

“I find it interesting that there is so much more focus on the health of the baby than the mother. Sometimes even during the pregnancy. Baby gets a checkup days and 2 weeks after delivery, and frequently after that. The mother whose body is almost literally turned inside out bringing said baby into the world gets 6 weeks post partum, only more frequently if medically necessary, and only yearly thereafter.”

Kayla S. maybe didn’t answer my question, but summarized the issue well. Obviously babies are vulnerable, but moms are too , people!

“I’m a family doctor in Canada. I typically book an appointment for my post-partum parents at the same time as every well baby check. The 6 week visit is particular checkpoint for some things for me, but I definitely am not waiting until then to check in. Where I practice, obstetricians and paediatricians don’t typically provide primary care, they really mostly do specialist care (and family doctors do most low risk deliveries – we have some midwives too but not enough), so even if parent/baby is seeing a paediatrician or an obstetrician for some reason, they are still seeing me as their primary care provider. It makes it a lot easier to see them both because caring for both is within my scope of practice.”

Kathleen M. makes me want to move to Canada to have babies! I like her style. How do you all feel about this Canadian healthcare method???

” I like the U.K. health visitor option. I think the system needs to be arranged so every woman gets a few House call visits at least from a nurse or a midwife, regardless of place or mode of birth. Unfortunately in the US you only get good care if you luck out or know how to advocate for yourself!”

“I wouldn’t go to the hospital without a doula! (I feel like it’s like going to court unrepresented).” 

Erin O. had quite a few great things to say. But her second quote is what has stuck in my mind all this time. Going to the hospital without a doula (or I’ll also add midwife) is like going to court unrepresented. I thought about that a lot leading up to labor and delivery, hoping everything just worked out as smoothly as the first time. Thank goodness it did.

Some women shared with me times when they said “no” to waiting six weeks and were accommodated without hassle. Others mentioned that they happened to have very generous insurance plans that did allow for multiple appointments scheduled almost at the same rate that newborns are seen. But a real solution still needs to be found. We can each start by being the type of supporter we would want when adapting to a traumatic injury and life adjustment, and just start serving those new moms.

Now, my focus is leaning towards postpartum support because that’s where I currently am in life, but really this should be a discussion of all three “golden opportunities”! So – Where are you from and what kind of healthcare access do women have in your neck of the woods? How can we better advocate for women’s healthcare all over the world? What areas of the world need special attention in this regard right now? Let’s talk about it! Submit your ideas below to continue to conservation, and feel free to share resources and links that I can pass along as well!

I Am Malala

If you don’t know who Malala Yousafzai is by now, then it’s high time you be inspired by her.

Malala was still just a very young girl when she started speaking out against the Taliban and advocating for girls’ rights to education with her father in Pakistan. For this, she was shot in the face. But she survived and recovered remarkably, essentially making her one of the most powerful weapons against the Taliban. And today she’s only 22 years old.

I love this true story so much because it absolutely breaks down all the false images and stereotypes about Afghanistan that I had. It also explains why some of my stereotypes are actually true. She tells a very informative, yet engaging story of a beautiful countryside to which tourists used to flock, but has since been corrupted by miseducation and false prophets. As an American, it was also shocking to see names like Osama Ben Laden thrown around as if he were an insignificant player in the scheme of things, yet hear her describe other men who had turned her country upside-down that I’d never heard of. She delves into how certain ideas were spread and changed the way the people acted, effectively amplifying radical ideas and morphing an entire culture and the world’s perception of said culture in record time.

Every chapter I would interrupt my husband to describe something, or ask a question always starting with, “Did you know…!?” Those are the kinds of books that I feel like are most worth reading – the ones that make you excited to ask questions and learn more. This one certainly does that. So go get it and read it now!

To get more book reviews and suggestions of true stories from around the world follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or drop your email below to never miss a recommendation! And keep your eye peeled for some more children’s activities coming soon!

Dollar Tree Treasure Find!

I just have to share because I’m always on the lookout for good books for my boys, especially ones about different places. Today we ended up at our nearby Dollar Store looking for an activity to beat the heat when I noticed these cute little books shaped like suitcases!

On the one hand I did have to wonder if a bookcase is meant to actually support the weight of all of its shelves fully lined with books, but on the other hand I also believe that with no risk there’s no reward. So I bought all four that were available. Don’t worry, they’re fairly tiny books anyway. Just look at how cute they are on the outside:

Every page takes you on an adventure to see different landmarks, foods, and festivals popular in each country! My toddler usually won’t sit through a book if it doesn’t have a pretty energetic rhythm to it, so that was another risk in buying these. But when we got home he sat and listened to me read TWO in a row, pointing out random things on each page or repeating funny words like “Eiffel Tower, eclair, and Hatshepsut” with me! The colors are super fun, and on the back of each book you’ll find a map of the country to look at too, which is perfect for the introduction to maps and flags that my son just started!

There are so many simple ways you could integrate these books into lessons or just quiet time at home! Let me know if you pick these up at your local Dollar Store, and always feel free to share any other great books and resources you find! And don’t forget to check out the challenge #readtheworldinayear as it was presented to me!

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