In my “Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy” series, I feature different Pittsburgh mothers who have started unique grassroots-type projects within the city. These projects directly benefit the greater good of Pittsburgh and improve the lives of our children, families, and/or other mothers. The series is my humble effort to create a positive, supportive environment among Pittsburgh mothers. I hope that it will a) help make these projects a success b) motivate other mothers to help support these projects and c) inspire other mothers to make their own dreams a reality. An introduction to the series can be found here.
This time in my “Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy” series, I am featuring a Pittsburgh mother named Deena Blumenfeld. Deena is the proud owner of Shining Light Prenatal Education, an educational facility for women (and their families) located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Through Shining Light, Deena has embraced a commendable mission. She guides Pittsburgh families through the childbearing years, from the pre-conception phase all the way to parenthood. I have seen her facility several times while wandering along Butler Street, but was excited to learn more about her project! Here’s what I discovered (in her own words):
What is Shining Light Prenatal Education?
At Shining Light Prenatal Education we guide women and their families from fertility through pregnancy and childbirth and into early parenthood. We offer classes and workshops to prepare our families for their journey. We also have free community groups to encourage our families to interact and create their own support networks.
What kinds of programs do you offer to families at Shining Light Prenatal Education?
Our programs are offered by life-stage. We have a fertility program which includes Fertility Yoga for Women, Conscious Conception, a couple’s workshop, nutrition and more. Our pregnancy programs include Prenatal Yoga, Confident Birthing, Breastfeeding Essentials, a refresher childbirth class, Meditations for Labor and a host of other workshops. Our baby programs include Mommy & Me Yoga, Babywearing workshops, Infant Massage, Baby Sign Language and more. We are the only place in the Pittsburgh area that is dedicated to supporting families through their entire journey to parenthood!
How does Shining Light Prenatal benefit Pittsburgh families?
As an independent center for education we prepare our families emotionally, intellectually and physically for childbirth and beyond. We believe in continuity of care and creating community. Our core group of instructors offers the same inclusive message for all of our parents – your birth is yours. We support you if you want an epidural; if you need a c-section; if you choose to homebirth, etc. It’s our job to give parents the tools they need to be confident in their choices during childbirth and during parenthood. We pride ourselves on being a resource for all things pregnancy and baby. We have a comprehensive referral list for doctors, midwives, chiropractors, acupuncturists, cloth diapers, doulas, breastfeeding support, and so on. We are the go-to place… and we have fun in our classes!
Next, I learned how Deena developed her deep passion for prenatal education.
How did you first develop a passion for prenatal education?
Goodness, that’s a long answer. I’ll try to be brief! I first read Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery when I was 19. That book was the spark that smoldered for years before I got pregnant with my son. He’s now 8. He was supposed to have an all-natural birth at the Midwife Center, but ended up as a transfer for a c-section. If it wasn’t for his c-section, I wouldn’t be sitting at my desk in the front window at Shining Light typing these words. (Love birth stories? Here’s my c-section birth story). I knew I wanted to do it differently when I got pregnant with my daughter. She’s now 4. So, I read and read and read. I worked my tush off to have a VBAC with her – and I did! (Yep, birth story number 2, my VBAC). If it wasn’t for my births, I wouldn’t be on my path.
How did you continue to nurture your passion?
I was teaching yoga and I got my prenatal yoga certification. Teaching prenatal yoga allowed me insight into what new mothers really needed – what their questions and concerns were and how to best address them. Their questions were often out of the scope of my practice as a yoga instructor, so I choose to pursue my Lamaze certification. Then my students asked me for more and more classes–for breastfeeding and baby care, for VBAC support and for all kinds of things I couldn’t offer out of my house or other yoga studios. So the idea of a comprehensive center for the childbearing years was born. For the full story, click here.
How has your passion been realized through Shining Light Prenatal Education?
After having birth both ways (c-section and all natural), and talking to other women and hearing their birth stories, their triumphs and their regrets; I realized we had to do better for women. Women deserve to have a good birth experience, regardless of the medical interventions they may need. Women deserve to be treated with respect during labor. We deserve to have all of our questions answered. We deserve to be confident in our choices. We have the right to raise our babies as we see best. Birth is truly a transformative experience in a woman’s (and man’s!) life. Women need better than internet advice and a 7-minute appointment with their OB. Shining Light fills these needs. This venue for education and emotional support is a key component to having a good experience with birth and parenthood.
Finally, I learned about Deena and mothering her two little ones…
What is your favorite part of being a mother?
My kids are now 8 and 4. My favorite part of motherhood changes as they grow. When they were babies, I loved breastfeeding and smelling their little heads. I loved watching their development. Now, my 8 year old is an avid reader. I love seeing him enjoy my favorite childhood books. I love seeing his passion for all things mechanical. My 4 yr old is my girly-girl. She bounces out of her ballet class with such joy on her face each week. I love seeing her living freely in her body. She is my Mommy & Me yoga co-teacher. She is my climbing monkey whose imagination is limitless. So, I guess you can say I don’t have just one favorite part.
How do you balance your two different roles: founder of Shining Light and mother to your kids?
Without my husband it wouldn’t be possible. He does bedtime while I teach in the evenings. He is the one who does the fun weekend activities while I am with my students. I get every morning with them. I get my son ready for school and my daughter to ballet and preschool. I am “on duty” during the day, he’s “on duty” in the evenings.” I make sure that at least one weekend a month is free for family time and that we always have Friday nights together. Balance is about continual adjustment and readjustment. We shift and we change. We compromise and we make it work, and it’s all worth it.
After I talked with Deena recently, I really, REALLY wished I had known about Shining Light during my first pregnancy with my daughter. Like most first-time moms, I don’t think I realized how uniquely wonderful my first pregnancy would be for me. I had so much time!! Time to dwell on my excitement about our growing family. Time to savor the experience of pregnancy. Time to rest. Time to eat (and eat and eat)! I know I would have loved to share this transformative experience with other soon-to-be-parents in Shining Light’s prenatal classes. Learning about Shining Light also reminded me of the darker side of my first pregnancy. I was plagued by anticipatory anxiety about A LOT of things: birth, breastfeeding, my baby’s health, work/life balance, you name it! Shining Light’s programs would have been a godsend for me as I worked through these worries.
Plus, I really could have used Deena’s influence in my life during this time. “Why?” you ask. Because she’s…well… Zen. Deena has a profoundly peaceful vibe about her that instantly put me at ease. Don’t get me wrong! She’s smart. She’s savvy. She’s even a little sassy. After all, she has started her own business and is making a success out of it through her own sweat. However, her personality has a really unique dichotomy. She is both assertive and mindful. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect pairing for the person who is guiding women toward their ideal birth experience!
Thank you, Deena, for helping fellow Pittsburghers become the parents that they’ve always wanted to be!
Want to connect with Deena Blumenfeld and Shining Light Prenatal Education? Here are links to her website, Facebook page, Pinterest page, and Twitter page.
© Copyright 2013 Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
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