What is sophrology?

Sophrology is a combination of techniques which aims to re-balance the body and mind: breathing, relaxation techniques, simple physical movements, mental imagery and meditation techniques.

Practicing sophrology will help you restoring or reinforcing the state of harmony between what you feel, what you think and what you do in your everyday life.

And it will also help you to develop new capacities, especially for well-being, stress-management and self-development.

How can sophrology help me during my pregnancy ?

Sophrology is widely used by midwives in France, Switzerland, Spain and more recently in other countries like UK.

It is a valuable component of pregnancy well-being and antenatal preparation for birth:

  • It helps relieving your anxieties around pregnancy.
  • It can ease many of the physiological discomforts of pregnancy, by enhancing your coping mechanisms, or by altering pain perception.
  • It helps increasing your inner confidence, strength and calmness for birth.

After the birth, sophrology can accompany you as you adjust to motherhood, enhance your relationship with your baby and partner.

When can I start sophrology ?

It depends on your needs and objectives. The techniques are adapted to each woman and each moment of pregnancy and motherhood. Sophrology can be started early in pregnancy, as repetition and practice are increasing its efficiency.

For birth preparation, it is highly recommended to learn and train with a midwife who is also a certified sophrology practitioner.

After baby is born, sophrology is recommended if you feel stressed, overwhelmed or exhausted. Becoming a mum is a major identity change and transition period, sophrology can help you during the different phases of motherhood to develop self-confidence, self-awareness and capacity to feel well both as a woman and a mother.

And more concretely, how can I practice sophrology?

You can learn the basic principles and techniques either in a one-to-one setting or in groups.

  • In groups, a program of six to eight one-hour sessions is recommended to develop new capacities and you are always encouraged to practice at home.
  • In individual sessions, the support is more personal. The first session is mainly dedicated to understanding your specific needs and defining your objective.

Discovering and practicing sophrology has personally given me a new way of living in harmony with myself, body and mind and enjoying my life journey as a woman and a mother.

I hope it does the same for you.


More about the Author

Nadège Ravoux is certified sophrologist, professional coach and co-founder of Socolibris sàrl www.socolibris.com

She offers a specific support program for working mothers, who are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted by the stressful pace of daily life, or who are questioning their life choices.

She also provides coaching and training services in companies on topics like concentration at work, stress management, well-being and performance.

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“We had a Birth Doula!” – Bianca & Flavio

479A6163-PTFirstly, it is very important to say – WE LOVE LOVE LOVE MIDWIVES! 

As part of our Birth Rights Awareness Campaign, Have a Choice 2 Have a Doula” at the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl, we are interviewing families that hired/tried to hire Birth Doula Support to help illustrate the very well-studied benefits that continuous, known, exclusive, non-medical labour companions bring to the birth experience AS COMPLEMENT TO THE VERY IMPORTANT MEDICAL TEAM (MIDWIFE AND OBSTETRICIAN IN LUXEMBOURG). Our approach is to raise awareness at the level of the strongest voice collectively, the consumers. It is key that consumers understand their Human Rights in Childbirth which underlines their right to “choose the circumstances of birth” according to their individual wishes, regardless of what care providers may claim – e.g. “ you will only be ‘allowed’ 1 support person (the dad) in the birth room”.  Read more here about our campaign, your rights, how to hire a Doula and more! Lastly, did we mention we LOVE midwives? 🙂

”We had a Birth Doula!” – Interview with Bianca & Flavio, Luxembourg

Interviewed by Elfi Koufogeorgou

Elfi: When and where did you give birth?

Bianca: 7th December 2016 at CHL.

Elfi: The support from women to women during labour is age old, but the term Doulas in Luxembourg especially is not yet well known. How did you find out about the role of a doula?

Bianca: I did a ton of online research to help me prepare, and came across it on brazilian websites.

Elfi: Why were you interested in Doula support?

Bianca: Since this was our first time giving birth, we wanted as much support as possible. We also wanted a natural birth, so having the support of the Doula would help support us.

Elfi:  How did you go about finding and hiring your Doula?

Bianca: On the Facebook Luxmama group.

Elfi:  What kind of support did she offer prenatally?

Bianca: We met three times before the delivery. The first meeting was to get to know each other, break the ice and align expectations. The second time we went over the birth plan; and the third time was closer to the due date, so we focused on the pain-relief exercises and went over overall logistics. Throughout this we were in constant contact via WhatsApp.

Elfi: During your labour and delivery, how did your Doula support you and your partner’s birth experience?

Bianca: Our Doula was on call from week 37, so as soon as we got some signs of labor, she was the person to go to for doubts and questions. On the 5th of December some contractions started, we went to hospital and came back home on our own. On the 6th stronger contractions started, so she came over to our house and stayed with us throughout (more than 24 hours!).

Elfi: What kind of support did she offer postpartum?

Bianca: The Doula kept in touch, suggested ways in which to overcome the early difficulties (sleeping, breastfeeding, etc..)

Elfi: Question for Flavio specifically – Did you as a couple ever feel like the Doula was interfering with the role of the partner*? And Flavio, how did you as a partner feel about having a doula there? Did she support YOU as well?
Flavio: My role during labour was to be emotionally available for my wife, to help her navigate the roller-coaster of emotions, doubts and concerns that the experience brought her. No doula, nurse, midwife or doctor could ever interfere with that role. Instead, the doula brought comfort, a calm head and prior experience that neither of us had, much like nurses and doctors bring clinical and medical assistance. She helped clarify doubts when nurses weren’t available, or when we didn’t fully understand them. She supported me in supporting my wife.

* Many people say that if you have your partner as continuous support, why would you need a birth doula as well? 

Evidencebasedbirth.com addresses this concern:
“How is a doula different from having your partner/spouse there?
Some people think that they do not need a doula because their partner will be with them continuously throughout labor. It is true that the birth partner is an essential support person for a birthing person to have by their side. However, the birth partner will need to eat and use the bathroom at times, and they are having their own emotional journey that requires support. Also, many partners have limited knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital, while doulas have knowledge and experience about all of these things that they can use to inform and support both the partner and
birthing person. Ideally, doulas and partners can work together to make up a labor support team. 
In one landmark study that evaluated the effects of doulas and fathers working together, researchers found that combining a supportive partner and a doula significantly lowered the mother’s risk of Cesarean compared to just having a supportive partner alone. In 2008, McGrath and Kennell randomly assigned 420 first-time mothers to have routine care (including a supportive partner) or care that also included a professional doula whom they met for the first time during labor. All of the women in the study were classified as having middle- to upper-class financial income levels, having supportive partners, and in the care of obstetricians.
During labor, doulas provided continuous support, including encouragement, reassurance, and physical support. They helped the partner support the laboring person, and were careful not to take over the partner’s role.”
The Doula Book, by MD Marshall H Klaus, MD John H Kennel and Phyllis H Klaus elaborates:
“When two people share an emotional bond and an ongoing relationship, it is very difficult for that companion to remain continuously objective, calm, and removed to some degree from the mother’s discomfort and fears or any danger to her. In most cases – and this cannot be stated too often – the father will have the unexpressed but deeply felt question, will everything be all right?  Also, a father often has had little or no experience with the birth process.
For these reasons, woman in labor should have the option of not only the partner but also a nurturing, experienced person – a doula – who calmly and skillfully help her cope with labor and be a reassuring and constant presence for both her and the father. The doula gives a level of support different from that of a person who is intimately related to the woman in labor. 
These two kinds of support complement each other.  Very often the couple worry that an outside support person will take over and control the labor experience, as many individuals providing labor assistance have traditionally done. The training of a doula is quite different, emphasising quiet reassurance and enhancement of the natural abilities of the labouring woman. A doula is constantly aware that the couple will carry the memory of this experience throughout their lives.
The needs of Fathers during labor and delivery: In asking fathers to be the main support, our society may have created a very difficult expectation for them to meet.  This is like asking fathers to play in a professional football game after several lectures but without any training or practice games. Couples sometimes get the mistaken impression from childbirth classes that by using a number of simple exercises, the father can be a main source of support and knowledge for the entire labor when the nurse is unavailable.  This is true for a small number of fathers, but most fathers-especially first-timers-do not get enough opportunity in the classes to observe and practice. 
Often the dilemma for childbirth instructors is how to get fathers to be more a part of the experience and appreciate what actually lies ahead.  Fathers entering into this new role often feel nervous, joke frequently, and consciously or unconsciously wonder whether they belong in this whole obstetrical arena. Dr Martin Greenberg, an experienced physician who has done research with new fathers, commented “I didn’t realise until later how frightened and angry I felt at the staff for being left alone with my wife when having our first baby. 
In no other area of the hospital is a family member asked to take on such a significant caretaking role as in childbirth. When working in the obstetrical unit, we have often been struck by how terribly relieved fathers are when an experienced nurse or midwife enters the room and remains with them. This feeling of relief enables fathers to be much more relaxed, loving and emotionally available than when they bear the burden of responsibility alone. 
We therefore want to enable the father to be present at his own comfort level and to remain emotionally connected to his partner and child. Few fathers want to be – or should be – the sole support person in the room.  The mother gains more assured, steady emotional support from her partner if he is less worried about what he is supposed to do and if they both can relax. As one father noted “I’ve run a number of marathons, I’ve done a lot of hiking with a heavy backpack, and I’ve worked for forty hours straight on call, but going through labor with my wife was more strenuous and exhausting than any of these other experiences. We could never have done it without a doula, she was crucial for us.” His wife added “I want the doula there to assure me that everything is fine and to comfort me. I want my husband there for emotional support.” 
A labouring woman’s rapid changes of mood may alarm an inexperienced father and compound the mother’s fears. Although fathers have many positive feelings and great anticipation, these negative feelings can get in the way and, in turn affect the progress of the labor itself. Over and over again we have been impressed by the calming influence the doula has for both the mother and father as she explains what is happening, uses her experience to help the mother, and supports the parents in having the kind of experience they originally desired.”

Elfi: Please share anything you feel other women should know about your birth experience with a Doula.

Bianca: The biggest support we got from the Doula was the feeling that someone neutral, was there informing us of options.

After, there are a few other aspects that we valued, and think should be considered when choosing a Doula:
Empathy: we truly felt like she cared about us and having an outcome that suited us, which is why the 3 meetings beforehand were super important.
Professionalism: I wanted a 100% natural birth, but due to long labour and slow dilation, we had to adjust as we went. The Doula was super important to help us understand our options (for instance, having some minutes to think and decide before taking oxytocyn).
Energy: our Doula was with us through the whole process, starting at 8pm on the 6th until the birth at 11pm of the 7th; she kept strong and focused only on us. She didn’t change shifts.

Elfi: In 1 sentence, how did it make you feel during labour, having an independent, support person, looking out for your best interest by your side, continuously?

Bianca: I felt more in control of the situation, safer and less worried

 

 

More about Bianca 

Bianca Lopes is a Brazilian first time mom living in Luxembourg with her loving husband and daughter Mia. After working in Brazil and Colombia as a DSC_0412 LOPEZ DOULARecruitment professional, she decided to move to Europe with her husband and got a career break devoted to family after the happy news of being pregnant. She is still figuring out how this parenting world works, while enjoying her little baby giggles and smiles.

 


More about the Author

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Elfi joined Luxmama Club as a volunteer in 2015.  Along with her full time role in an international organization and raising her daughters, she is passionate about writing stories and helping other people share theirs. Stories that empower, inspire and create the ” you are not alone” feeling.  You can see more of her work in her recent blog koufelef.wixsite.com/elfiswritinglab but also in http://www.themamagers.gr (articles in greek) and http://www.newdiaspora.com (articles in english).

 

Sharing and Teaching the Joy of Giving

Since 1990, more than 124 million boys and girls in over 150 countries have experienced generosity and love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child worldwide, a Samaritan’s Purse project. We asked Jessica Mills to tell us more and explain how we can get involved.

Luxmama: Can you tell us about this initiative?

Jessica: I have the great pleasure to work with so many generous families and individuals in and around Luxembourg on this project. We pack shoeboxes with new, useful and fun items (and lots of love) for needy children aged 2-14 so we can bring hope and help them feel special at Christmas. There are 15 of us that co-ordinate the project in homes, businesses, churches and collection points in Luxembourg.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief and development organisation working through local churches to proclaim and demonstrate God’s love amongst communities in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

 

Luxmama: How did you get involved?

Jessica: ‘Christmas in a shoebox’ (‘Weihnachten im Schuhkarton’) has been running in Luxembourg for many years and I became involved about 10 years ago. I was inspired by the idea of the teaching my children the joy of giving in a practical way by packing a box for a child of their age and I even encouraged them to budget pocket money to contribute. Giving and making gifts is a real passion of mine so this project was particularly appealing.

The project in Luxembourg has grown exponentially, largely by word of mouth. Last year, we sent 1488 boxes to the children. For us, it’s about being positive and bringing hope and ultimately changing the world one life at a time.

 

Luxmama: Who receives the boxes?

Jessica: Our boxes go to very needy communities in Romania and Moldova. These children really have very little and are so thrilled to be given a box just for themselves. In many cases, it is the first gift they have ever received. Local churches and social workers with the organisation assess where the need is the greatest and ensure that the boxes reach the children.

We encourage people to include a card/letter and a photo to make the gift more personal and these are often treasured by the children. I have spoken to people who received boxes as children many years ago and they all remember being overwhelmed that someone was out there who had taken the time to pack a box just for them.

 

Luxmama: How can our members help?

Jessica: There are many ways that you can get involved and every little bit helps:

  • Pack a box and encourage others to do so.
  • Donate contents (only new items).
  • Donate wool for the hats we knit or knit hats, socks or scarves for children.
  • Donate new or never-used cuddly toys (15cm or less).
  • Raise money for the transport (€8 a box).
  • Pack a box online at www.shoeboxworld.co.uk
  • Volunteer to help check boxes or help at collection points in October.
  • Co-ordinate a group at school/work/your community to pack boxes.
  • Buy a packed box from us (22 Euros for contents and 8 Euro for transport).

 

Luxmama: What items should we give the children?

Jessica: Remember that these children often have nothing. We want to give them things that help them realise how special and important they are and that’s why everything must be new. Donors decide to give to a boy or girl and then choose an age group: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. We always receive fewer boxes for boys aged 2-4 and 10-14 and so it would be great if we can get a few more for these boys this year.

We want the children to receive a full box and so each box must include essential hygiene items, a cuddly toy (these are always precious to all age groups – yes, even the boys), other toys, small items of winter clothing, milk chocolate, school stationery items (for ages 5+) and a card plus €8 for transport. For ages 5+, we also ask for an A5 exercise book in every box with a few other stationery items. Many of the children have to write in pencil so that their work can be erased and the book re-used.

The full list of categories and all the other details, including deadlines and collection points, can be found on our website (address given below). We ask donors to kindly follow the website instructions as it is such a shame when we have to take unsuitable things out of boxes.

 

Luxmama: So, if we would like to make up a gift box, what should we do?

Jessica: The best thing is to get all the information by going to our website or by emailing me. Then you’ll need to find a box – a “normal” sized shoebox – and cover both the box and the lid separately in Christmas paper. You can order a box from us if you don’t have one.

 

Luxmama: And when does all this happen?

Jessica: Very soon! All the boxes and donations need to be handed in at the collection points by 28 October and they are then carefully checked. We have to make sure that every box adheres to customs regulations and that everything is new and age-appropriate. For example, we cannot send any sweets containing gelatine as this is prohibited in Muslim communities. Boxes are given to all children regardless of their religion. Although Samaritan’s Purse has Christian roots, the box is simply a gift with “no strings attached”. The distributions are need-driven and the organisers are sensitive to the beliefs of the local communities.

 

It really is a lovely, personal and direct way for people to make a big difference to a child who has almost nothing.

 


More about the Author

Jessica Mills is originally from South Africa and has been in Luxembourg for 20 years. She is passionate about education and is a qualified high school teacher and is very active in the local and international community in Luxembourg.

She is married to a South African and has three teenage children.

For more information please visit www.lux-shoebox.weebly.com or email Jessica

Hidden Gems of Luxembourg – Castle Play Park

Gemma, a Luxmama Club member, has visited many great parks in and around Luxembourg. Here, she shares her review on one of the best hidden gems her and her family has discovered.

Read her other review here.


The best hidden gem we have discovered has to be the play parks. They are just so much more than a swing, and a couple of bouncy things and something to climb if you are lucky. We have discovered some amazing parks in Luxembourg, there seems to be a park around every corner. In fact, there are 172 parks within the city some of these are playgrounds within a school that the public can use in the holidays. We have our own little park around the corner from our flat, complete with swings, slides, climbing frame, roundabouts and sand to play with.

In this new Hidden Gems series, I am going to begin by reviewing the parks while the sun is shining and we seem to spend lots of our time in them.

Castle Park (Merl/Belair)

The Castle Park is exactly that, a playground all based around the theme of a castle. The first thing you see as you enter the park is two knights standing guard outside the entrance.

The entrance is an archway which running above are the battlements. As you walk further into the park it there are many bridges and towers for children to climb up and then slide back down, catering for children of many different ages. Pook at almost 5 can happily and easily negotiate the majority of the park, Meemoo is not far behind her practising her climbing skills.

However, it is the sheer attention to detail that still after many visits you find  for the children to incorporate into their play. There is a kitchen area complete with a caged rabbit and chicken already for the pot. Around the other side where the knights are on guard there are a couple of wine bottles resting.

The castle theme has been used to create a hammock style swing between 2 horses and a rocking carriage. The detailing continues in the design with flag and its own fox emblem repeated across the castle. The park also offers a set of baby swings, larger swings, a see – saw. There are small bouncers which are rats, continuing the medieval theme of the park.  The only downside to this park is that is only one pay per use public toilet right on the edge of the park and no café.

Practical Info

  • Park is on Rue de Charlemenge in the Merl/Belair area
  • There is lots of on street paid parking.
  • It is easily reached by the number 5 and 6 bus getting off at the Orval stop and a short walk up Rue d’Orval.
  • It is also called “Spillplaatz Scheiwisschen”

The park is a dream place to have imaginative adventures in play for all, a hidden gem of Luxembourg city.


More about the Author

Hi!, I am Gemma, Mummy to Meemoo, 3, and Pook, 5, and wife to Speedy!

We love nicknames in our house. I am currently looking after my two children at home, finding time to write and create play ideas, play spaces and simple crafts to keep us all entertained! In a previous life I was an Early Years Teacher and I can be found most Tuesday reading stories at Il etait une fois asbl in Gasperich.

Find out more about The Adventures of Meemoo and Pook at www.theadventuresofmeemooandpook.co.uk

A blog with lots of ideas for imaginative adventures in play.

Passport Photos for Babies

A few months after your new baby is born and the initial fog has lifted, you start getting organized. As most of us are expats living in Luxembourg and/or we loooove to travel, we need a passport/ID card for the new little person in our life.

Here are our recommendations to how and where to get the passport PHOTOS done!

The most popular method seems to be taking the picture yourself! Once you have managed to keep the baby still and on a grey or white background (check with your embassy what is allowed as some countries can be pretty strict with their passport pictures), you can either send the photo per email or bring it on a USB key directly to the photo shop and they will print it for you.

It is very important to be clear on the requirements of your photos, for instance it is sometimes required that baby should:

  • not be smiling
  • with open eyes (fair enough but if it’s a newborn that can only stay happily awake for around an hour, impeccable timing is going to be of the essence)
  • with a closed mouth (getting tricky now…)
  • not be sucking on a pacifier or anything else for that matter
  • not be crying. And again here, timing is going to be of the essence. Therefore plan the session so baby is not overtired, or over-hungry and just freshly woken up from a good nap
  • not be wearing any hats, bandanas, glasses or tiaras… Really!

If you do not trust your own photographic skills there are a few places you can go and they will take great care of you and your baby!

Finally, you can also hire a professional photographer to take the photo, perhaps as part of a fabulous family shoot! We really love to work with the following wonderful talents (and regular photography volunteers for Luxmama):
F&G Photography www.photographyfg.com/
Laura Pakasiene Photography: www.facebook.com/LauraPhotography.Luxembourg
Neha Poddar Photography: www.facebook.com/nehapoddarphotography

Our top tip: before going to the Photo shop, check with the authorities to see how they prefer to have them done. The Danish Consulate in Luxembourg suggested we send our photo by email. We therefore didn’t have any cost regarding the printing of the photo. We did have a lot of takes at home as baby would not lie still, but we made it in the end!

What are your experiences? Share in the comments below!


More about the Author

Anne Louise is a mother of two small boys and works as a Holistic Health Coach in Luxembourg. Her passion is helping people, just like you, feel better about themselves through self-care, nutrition and exercise.  

Her dream is that we all start taking better care of ourselves, by eating better, exercising, having healthy relationships, healthy careers and everything else we need, to be at our absolute best. Her dream is that we all Get Real about lives, our health and our well-being.

Why not start Getting Real about your Health and Wellbeing today? You can join her mailing list where you will learn all about her private practice and stay up to date with her events. Sign up here: bit.ly/getrealwithanne

Anne Louise is also a blogger (click here to find her blog) and a volunteer for the Luxmama Club. You can meet her at our monthly Bellies & Booties event.