‘It Takes a Village’ Maternal Wellness Series for Mothers

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Photo provided by Salt River Schools

The “It Takes a Village” Maternal Wellness Series is coming to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community virtually via MS Teams on August 12, 19 and 26 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The free workshop series is produced and hosted by author, curandera and natural foods chef Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz (Xicana/Tewa) with assistance from the Arizona Department of Health Services through their Tribal Maternal Health Innovation Program. It is brought to the Community by WIC, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. and the Salt River Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC).

In the workshop, Ruiz will emphasize holistic approaches to overall wellness and will be discussing how foods, aromatics and breathing techniques are all part of Indigenous living. “Everything I teach is rooted in the elements,” said Ruiz.

Three main topics will be introduced throughout the weekly series: “Creating a Postpartum Plan,” “Fourth Trimester Foods” and “The Medicine Pouch for Stress and Anxiety.”

According to ECEC Family Services Coordinator Jessica Begay, with “Creating a Postpartum Plan,” the goal is to connect the past and present. Having a postpartum plan is a way to help new mothers prepare for those first few days and weeks after giving birth—optimizing support during their recovery. With many different tribal nations, and each one having its own practices around birth, this workshop will help participants create a plan linking their own cultural identities and healthways with current postpartum suggestions, such as setting boundaries and creating parenting preferences.

With “Fourth Trimester Foods,” the program focuses on postpartum nutrition. All across the world, traditional cultures put great emphasis on postpartum foods to help rebalance a new mother’s system after giving birth. With many Indigenous Americans no longer living on their ancestral lands, or losing their cultural knowledge of postpartum foodways due to assimilation, more food knowledge is needed to support new mothers in their postpartum journey.

And through “The Medicine Pouch for Stress and Anxiety,” mental health issues will be discussed such as postpartum depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, which continue to affect the Indigenous populations at higher rates compared with other groups.

With a health and wellness background spanning more than 25 years working mostly with women and sharing natural medicine ways, Ruiz has a unique perspective on Indigenous maternal wellness.

She said, “Culturally relevant maternal wellness classes are something we as Native people don’t see offered. Or at least very few. I put this series together to help new mothers, mothers-to-be, or any person wanting to support and help a mama on her mother journey with the tools and support that make sense for us. It’s interactive, it’s fun, and we go over a lot of useful information!”

The sessions will be two hours long and open to 25 people. For more information on the Maternal Wellness Series, call (480) 362-7300.

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