Co-occupations: the Importance of the Mama + Baby Bond

Written by Contributing Writer, Victoria Briltz, OTDS

As an occupational therapy student, one of my favorite topics is co-occupations! Occupations are anything that you do in your life that occupies your time. Anything from happy hours with friends, brushing your teeth, or working – if it’s occupying your time, it’s an occupation. What’s really amazing, is that we can participate in occupations together, which then become co-occupations.

Textbook definition – co-occupations occur when people perform an occupation in a mutually responsive, physical and emotional interconnected manner.

During a co-occupation, both participants (mama and little one) are actively engaged. Maternal-infant co-occupations happen all the time when a mother is in a caregiving/maternal role.

Co-occupation in action:

  • A mother is engaging in the reciprocal occupation of breastfeeding (mother feeds, baby eats)
  • A mama is helping her baby to go to sleep (mother comforts, mother-baby complete nighttime routine, baby sleeps)
  • Even perinatal doctor appointments are a co-occupation (mother attends appointments, baby is healthy)

Per definition, co-occupations are mutually responsive in a physical and emotional manner.


When a mama is connecting emotionally with her baby, it is a reciprocal response to her child’s emotional tone (i.e., mother and baby smiling at each other). Why is this so important? Co-occupational engagement greatly influences a child’s brain and overall development.

Let’s talk maternal-fetal attachment and how it affects mamas

Maternal-fetal attachment is an emotional bond between a mother and her unborn child. Maternal-fetal attachment begins and evolves during pregnancy. It has been positively associated with the over all well-being of the mother and the fetus. The quality of the maternal-infant relationship is directly related to both the physical and emotional health of mama and baby.

As a future health care professional who plans to work with mother’s and their babies – knowledge about attachment, how to promote healthy attachment, and how to prevent a lack of attachment, is very important to me!

I have an opportunity to promote an optimal relationships between moms and babies and I take that responsibility seriously. When a insecure attachment forms between and a mother and her child, children can be significantly impacted in the way they are able to participate in every day occupations such as feeding and sleeping.

A lack of a secure attachment can also lead to children having trouble regulating their environment – this may look like a child getting overwhelmed more easily than other children, or having trouble processing every day emotions like disappointment or anger.

What does research say we can do to promote secure relationships between mama and baby?

Handling and holding babies

There are ways to hold a baby that creates more of an attachment. Any position where baby can see mama and feel securely held, can held lead to a feeling of safety and security. Communicating or singing to your baby while holding them is even better!



Everyday activities (occupations)

Bathing, dressing, diaper changes, feeding – you do to help your baby maintain their health and hygiene is a co-occupation and an opportunity to promote a secure bond.

Playing in the bath, singing a song while you change their diaper, and allowing babies the space to lead their feeding activities, can all be ways to increase your bond with your child.



Leah Foreman, OTDS, COTA/L wanted me to make sure I included a piece on communication, here is what she feels on the importance of communicating with your little one:

“Your infant knows what you are saying, and they understand more than you may know! Communicating with your baby is vital for a healthy bond and attachment. They understand your tone and they understand when you are paying attention to them and when you are not. They know how to read your facial expressions as early as 2 months. So communication matters! Tell your baby what you are doing when you are changing them. When they are crying for food, tell them you are working on it and you hear that they are hungry. When they are sad, tell them it’s okay to be sad and that you are right there with them. All of these are ways to help increase the health and security of your bond with your baby.”

Great point! Have you seen this video? It’s an amazing example!

There are so many ways to promote a healthy and secure attachment with your little one, I hope this blog provides some ideas on how to get started developing a bond with your child that will last a lifetime. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions!



Beetz, A., Winkler, N., Julius, H., UvnäS-Moberg, K., & Kotrschal, K. (2015). A Comparison of equine-assisted intervention and conventional play-based early intervention for mother–child dyads with insecure attachment. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention, 8(1), 17–39.

Evans, T., Whittingham, K., Sanders, M., Colditz, P., & Boyd, R. N. (2014). Infant behavior and development: Are parenting interventions effective in improving the relationship between mothers and their preterm infants ? Infant Behavior and Development, 37(2), 131–154.

Johnson, S., & Marlow, N. (2014). Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine Growing up after extremely preterm birth : Lifespan mental health outcomes. Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 19(2), 97–104.

Karin, J., Britt-Marie, T., & Jens, S. (2003). From alienation to familiarity: experiences of mothers and fathers of preterm infants. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 43(2), 120-129. Retrieved from

Lazarus, K., & Rossouw, P. (2015). Mother ’s expectations of parenthood. The impact of prenatal expectations on self- esteem, depression, anxiety and stress post mothers’ expectations of parenthood: the impact of prenatal expectations on self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. International Journal of Neu, 3(August), 102–123.

Maas, A. J. B. M., Vreeswijk, C. M. J. M., Braeken, J., Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M., & van Bakel, H. J. A. (2014). Determinants of maternal fetal attachment in women from a community-based sample. Journal of Reproductive & Infant Psychology, 32(1), 5–24.

Muller–Nix, C., Forcada–Guex, M., Pierrehumbert, B., Jaunin, L., Borghini, A., & Ansermet, F. (2004). Prematurity, maternal stress and mother-child interactions. Early Human Development, 79, 145–158

Pierrehumbert, B., Nicole, A., Muller–Nix, C., Forcada–Guex, M., & Ansermet, F. (2003). Parental post-traumatic reactions after premature birth: Implications for sleeping and eating problems in the infant. Archives ofDisease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 88(5), 400–404.

Pizur-Barnekow, K., & Erickson, S. (2011). Perinatal posttraumatic stress disorder: Implications for occupational therapy in early intervention practice. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 27(2), 126–139.

Spittle, A., & Treyvaud, K. (2016). The role of early developmental intervention to influence neurobehavioral outcomes of children born preterm. Seminars in Perinatology, 40(8), 542–548.

Treyvaud, K., Inder, T. E., Lee, K. J., Northam, E. A., Doyle, L. W., & Anderson, P. J. (2012). Can the home environment promote resilience for children born very preterm in the context of social and medical risk ? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 112(3), 326–337.

Occupational Particpation with EazyHold Universal Cuffs

As an Occupational Therapy Assistant, my job is to make it possible for my patients to participate in their daily occupations. An occupation is anything that occupies your time. This can be anything from brushing your teeth, feeding your dog, or participating in a hobby like painting. In order to participate in occupations, we often need to use our hands to grip objects. Sometimes, my patients need a little help when it comes to grip because their ability to hold objects has been affected in one way or another.

Over the years, I have begrudgingly used traditional universal cuffs for years with clients. A universal cuff is an adaptive device that helps patients grip everyday objects when their grip has been affected. They allow patients to participate in everyday activities, which as an OT, is what I am all about.

I’ve been hesitant to recommend the traditional cuffs because they weren’t the best solution, yet there wasn’t really another option — they are made from rigid vinyl or leather with tough Velcro that can cause blisters and sores on some of my patient’s skin as they were adjusting to using the cuff. I used them with all ages and populations, including children whose skin really couldn’t handle the sharp, thick material, let alone the sharp Velcro.

I remember I had a patient once who needed to use a universal cuff to eat, brush his teeth, and use his cellphone — following a spinal cord injury, he needed the cuff because his arms and hands were affected. His universal cuffs would wear down or get too dirty to use any more, at least once a year. We would order him a new cuff and I remember when it came in the mail, we would have to bend it and work the leather like you would a baseball glove when it’s brand new. The material is hard and needs to be worn in so they are comfortable. The cuff was hard to clean after meals, and having one cuff for meals and for oral care and for everyday cell phone use, was just too much. He preferred to use one cuff for all activities but realized how unsanitary it was. Imagine wearing a glove to shop at Target then having to go home and use that same glove to eat, all without being able to wash it — no thank you!

I only wish that during my time with this patient that EazyHold’s universal cuffs were on the market. They just get it!

“We did have some knowledge of the assistive devices on the market and particularly how they’d not changed in 40 years. They were made of hard plastic, leather, elastic, and scratchy Velcro; all were neither sanitary nor adaptable. We knew that ours should be soft, comfortable, hygienic, and most importantly, super adaptable. We decided to use silicone which had just those qualities”

– EazyHold’s Founders

As an OT; here are all the reasons why I love EazyHold grips for my patients:


Not only do these grips make daily life more accessible for my patients who experience issues with grip strength, but they are easily ordered through so many amazing online vendors. I have ordered them from EazyHold’s website and from Amazon — each way is great. EazyHold offers free shipping on orders over $100 and with a Prime Membership, they ship free in 2-days. They are also an affordable price point which is important to me — when I recommend a product or an adaptive piece of equipment, it is refreshing to know I am recommending something that most of my families can afford — and if I need to donate one to a client, it’s very inexpensive for me to do.


EazyHolds are silicone and easy to clean after meals or fun messy play activities for little ones.


EazyHolds are easy to switch between objects and come in so many sizes, they really can fit anything! I have provided them to patients to use for everything from cooking to playing with toys.


EazyHolds are soft silicone, so I worry much, much less about my patient’s skin developing sores or blisters like I do with traditional cuffs. Traditional cuffs are abrasive on little one’s skin, these grips were a game changer for my pediatric clients.


They come in fun colors! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation where we had to figure out whose flesh tone cuff was whose before mealtime. These are bright and easily identifiable!

Using Mindfulness in OT Intervention — my ever-evolving opinion

updated: 2/8/2019

I date this because, my goal in this life is to evolve — to always be changing, learning, growing — to always be a student of this life. So naturally, by tomorrow, this opinion I will share with you may shift, change, evolve — I hope that it does, for this will mean I am shifting as well.

I write this at the one-year anniversary of me discovering and beginning my mindfulness practice. I have been intentionally seeking myself and healing through a mindfulness practice for an entire calendar year — and oh, what a journey it has been.

I have healed things and traveled through pains that I was previously terrified to touch. I’ve touched true emotions of sadness, joy, and yes — even true anger in their purest forms for the first time in my life. I have observed patterns I was stuck in subconsciously, due to old wounds and childhood traumas. It’s been a heavy and beautiful, challenging and rewarding, work.

This is me — finding mindful space in my meditation practice on a sunny Christmas day last year in Colorado — always a student…

When I was recording an episode of The Occupied Podcast, with Brock Cook — we started talking about a brochure I received in the mail advertising a two-day mindfulness course for occupational therapists. We asked the question, “Can OTs use mindfulness with clients if they do not practice mindfulness themselves?”

I left the question open during our podcast recording, and recently I posed the question to all my followers (mostly OTs) on the Life’s Occupation’s Instagram page. The overwhelming answer I got back was, “no” — they said, “no,” “nope,” “no you can’t do that,” “no that wouldn’t be safe,” — interesting…

After a year, I’ve just begun to feel slightly comfortable using my experience and my mindfulness with those around me — family, friends, and my occupational therapy clients. Which is why this “2-Day Mindfulness Course” offering really threw me.

What are these people teaching in two days — after I have been through weekly meetings with my teacher, Kristina, and a year of dedicated, challenging daily mindfulness practice, and I am just BEGINNING to feel ready to lead others and hold safe space for their mindfulness.

I turned to my teacher, who herself has been practicing mindfulness for 20+ years. Her response sums it up for me and her words feel good to sit in when I am considering using mindfulness with my clients —- she says, “Ah — I strongly believe and the research I’ve found is that it needs to be integrated and practiced on a daily level to then guide others best. A two day course is a great start — and as we (you) know from your work, it’s a more complex system”

For me, the integration portion of her message is the most important. You see, mindfulness is a process. First, there is awareness, then there is work that is done to integrate what you learn out of your awareness.

Which leads me to more questions, big questions;

How am I to hold and guide someone through anger and grief, if I myself have not held my own anger and grief?
How am I to hold and guide someone’s pain — emotional and physical, if I myself have not held my emotional and physical pain?

If I do not know myself, how can I maintain groundedness while diving into the deep of someone else’s journey — grounded enough to end that connection when the session is over and show up for the next client as fully as I did the last? (this is my current work and practice!)

And, this is my dilemma with mindfulness in OT practice.

It’s a dilemma I am constantly ebbing and flowing through, and sometimes battling with — on a daily basis. In my OT practice and my life — there are constantly opportunities and conversations I am ready for as a mindful practitioner, and even more consistently, opportunities I am not prepared for. I find beauty both moments — as my awareness means I am showing up to my mindfulness practice with a heightened awareness of the present moment and heightened awareness of my beautiful, newly formed skills. All of this while finding and maintaining my boundaries, which protect not only myself, but those I am serving.

This is why I (currently) believe that in order to safely utilize mindfulness with our clients, we first, need to have a daily, integrated, mindfulness practice — “Healer, Heal Thyself.”

Message me if you have your own mindfulness practice that you have been able to use in your client’s sessions. Message me if you feel you are ready to find a practice, or if you just have questions. I would love to connect. My practice changes my life daily, and I feel it changing my occupational therapy practice with every new client interaction and connection.

Therapy Resumes: How to Build One That >Stands Out

Whether you are a new grad, looking to move to a new company, or looking to change settings completely; there are things you can do while writing your resume that will support your aim and help you to stand out!

As a COTA and soon to be OTD, I have had many jobs within the healthcare and therapy field. I have worked in 6 settings (both adult and pediatric) and I have had input on the hiring of new therapists in a couple of these settings!

I may be an odd duck; (actually, I know I am) but I really love writing and formatting resumes! I wanted to take this interest and love and combine it with my husband’s expertise as a recruiter! Although, I think I’ve got a handle on my resumes for the most part, I always ask him for his input. We both have some tips and tricks for you to make resume writing easy, with the end goal of getting that position you are hoping for! I’ll also be answering some FAQ’s that you submitted through the Life’s Occupations’ Instagram page.

First thing is first.

Formatting the Document

  • Margins can be decreased to 1/2″ which will allow you to include more information on one page.
  • Choose a font that is easy to read, but a little different than your typical Times New Roman or Arial.
  • If you’re having alignment issues — use a Microsoft Word template or use LiveCareer Resume Builder to get your format down. You pay for a subscription to LiveCareer, but what I have done in the past is use it for the month I need then end my subscription. With the subscription you can download your Resume in a Word Document and then save that formatting for future versions.
  • ALWAYS SUBMIT YOUR RESUME to an electronic database as a PDF DOCUMENT — this will prevent your handwork in formatting your resume from shifting in the uploading process.

Now the important stuff:

Headings Ideas and What to Include or Omit

Personal Information

I personally like including an Interests section at the bottom of my resume. Many will advise against this citing that even though it is illegal, hiring managers may discriminate based on their opinions of your based on your personal information. I would prefer to work for a company that sees my interests and sees them as an asset. If I include my interest in natural living and life-long learning — and the company judges me based on this, then I don’t really want to work there. That being said, at the beginning of my career when I had less experience and I wanted THAT job, I felt differently. I was willing to curb my personal opinions and preferences to get the experience I was eager to get. All in all, this is going to be at your own discretion! Here is an example of how you could format a section like this.

The Heading

This is where your name and contact information lives. You will want your name to be something that stands out but is not over stylized, but should be the biggest item on the page and call attention to the resume. Recruiters and interviewers see some of the most bizarre email addresses come across their desk — make sure your email address is professional and easy to understand. will be the best choice.

Professional Summary

This is a short, well-written sentence, summing up who you are and what your goal is in submitting your resume. Ex: Doctor of Occupational Therapy student seeking to gain a fieldwork opportunity in an area of interest of challenging setting OR Occupational Therapist seeking to apply skills as a feeding specialist within a pediatric setting which is sensory-based. 


This is where you will list the schools you have attended and the degrees you have earned. Make this part simple and short, the only thing an employer will want to know is where you went and when you graduated. I have never met an employer who cared about my GPA and seasoned therapists will not have this on their resume. I would recommend omitting this from your resume. If you are a stellar student, that is awesome! Highlight your honors society membership at the bottom of your resume in a Community Involvement or Awards section.


This is one of my favorite sections. I like to include experience in two formats; 1) Core Qualifications and Experience and 2) Past and Current Employment.

My Core Qualifications and Experience are at the top of my resume, right underneath my Professional Summary. I like these two sections to live together because I want to grab the readers attention with a summary of myself right from the start. Here is who I am and my intentions (Professional Summary) and here is what I can do (Core Qualifications and Experience). My Job Experience comes underneath the Past and Current Employment section.

Past and Current Employment

In this section, you will want to include the name of the company of facility you worked, the dates you worked there, where it was located, and BRIEF description of your role. If it is more than one sentence, use bullet points to organize the text and consider making the sentences one line of text each. In this section you will want to include relevant employment history. Example: if I am applying for a job as an Occupational Therapist, I will not include my time spent as a student worker on campus sitting at the front desk. I will however, include a Teacher’s Assistant Position in Anatomy Lab from school because this is more clinical and shows that I am strong in Anatomy. If I am not a new grad, I am not going to include that I am a flight attendant 4-6 days a month — this is not relevant and is only going to take up space.

New Grads: This is where you highlight your fieldwork experiences (Level I and II), volunteer experiences and shadowing that you have done on your own outside of your academic program. If you do not have experience in the setting you are applying for, I would get some! Shadow, volunteer, find a mentor — do whatever you can get expose yourself to the setting you want to work in.

Certifications and Competencies

This is where you list your NBCOT license #, state license #, whether or not you are CPR/BLS/Infant CPR certified, FIM Certified, and any other certifications you have obtained throughout your career. If you are looking to switch settings; take a continued education course in the setting you are looking to switch to and list that here! Show that although you may not have opinions of in that area, you have taken initiative to seek out knowledge about that population/setting on your own.

New Grads: This is where you can shine from your fieldwork experiences! If you become competent in an assessment tool, list this here! In Colorado where I practice, these are called “service competencies.”

Tips and Tricks from a Recruiter:

My husband is a recruiter and these were his quick 5 tips on writing resumes for the job you really want. Some of these I need to do to update my resume (which you’ll see in the screen shot examples 😉)

  1. The 1-page rule is a myth, but definitely do not have an excessive amount of information.
  2. Make the resume as relevant as possible to the job you are applying for. Tailor your resume to that job. Don’t make anything up, but look at the job description and to the best of your ability, relate your experience to what they are asking for in a candidate. It is perfectly okay to have multiple resumes, in fact I recommend it.
  3. Keep work experience to the last 10-15 years.
  4. Quantify your experience and accomplishments (led a 15 person team, carried a 45 patient caseload).
  5. Get on LinkedIn and network. Connect with as many people in your field as possible. Connect with hiring managers of the jobs you are applying for and send them simple professional messages when you apply. See if you have a mutual connection with others who already work there to see if there is a potential for a personal or professional referral; these will always increase your chances of getting an interview and getting the job.

Your FAQs:

  1. How do I showcase the important things as a recent graduate and keep it to one page? Per my (recruiter) husband and in my experience, it is not important to keep it to one page! I know some keep a condensed one-page version of their full resume just in case, it’s not important unless that’s what the application requires.
  2. How do I make my resume reflect my passion for life-long learning and advocacy? Reflect this amazing quality throughout! List it in your positions of a role as a teacher and as a leader. Under Certifications and Competencies, list all of your accomplishments and courses you have attended. Consider including a Community Involvement heading a list your advocacy. i.e. Capital Hill day 2019, Lobbied for Bill xxx in the Colorado Capital.
  3. How do I organize my subheadings? However you want! But I personally like to include things that will make me stand out at the top. I don’t think anyone is going to keep reading if I start with listing my alma matters. I choose this order typically; Name/Contact Heading, Professional Summary, Core Qualifications and Experience. Like this:

4. What is more valuable? Experience vs. GPA as a new grad? Experience, always. List your fieldwork opportunities, Level I and II. List shadowing opportunities you completed, volunteer hours — any experience that has exposed reading to the population you want to work with. If you don’t have it to list, I would recommend completing some typically outside of your academic program!
5. I’m a career switcher, I just became an OT. How do I tie in non-OT experience? It’s all about how you frame it. Your prior work experience has prepared you for a career in OT more than you know. I would head my husband’s advice and frame your current experience in terms of the OT job you are applying for’s Job Description. List your prior jobs (if you can make it relevant) and frame your job description this way. But make sure you list your Fieldwork experiences and volunteer hours as well! The fact that you have already held positions in a career is a plus for employers because you are not the typical 24-year-old new grad looking for their first job — own that!

More Questions?

Please reach out! My husband and I would love to answer them, and if you have input you think would be an asset to this post, please contact me! I would love to amend this post to include it.

My (personal) Beef with Chemicals

A quick tip for reading this blog: when there is a linkclick it!

Read the research/article then or bookmark it for later. My research is linked throughout this blog and I made sure to include resources you could read and use. I also encourage you to do your own research on sites like PubMed with keywords like (“phthalate“, “paraben“, “triclosan” “personal care products”). THEN, research your current products — use the EWG (Environmental Working Group) and Think Dirty apps to scan your products and see what’s in them. This will help guide you if you decide to take action after reading all of this!

Let’s start with how I got here — writing a blog about the not so joyous topic that is chemical safety.

As many of you know, I have been on a dedicated mission over the past 5 years to rid my household and my beauty products of harmful chemicals and toxins. I initially started down this road because I was breaking out with contact dermatitis and dermatographia — two condition that cause welts to form on your skin — your skin itches, you itch it, and then welts start to form wherever you scratched or made “contact.” This prompted me to switch out my laundry detergent to Seventh Generation and from there it all began.

To be honest, at first, I thought it was just me and the fact that I have sensitive skin. I figured that chemicals are cool for everyone to use unless you had sensitive skin. But after going down the rabbit hole that is chemical safety research — I found the absolute opposite to be true.

Slowly but surely I began switching to safer products. I was doing pretty well and I was content with where I was at. I figured you can’t protect yourself from everything and I became complacent, to be honest.

THEN, Last year, after falling ill and spending hundreds of dollars of testing to figure out what was happening in my body, I discovered I have autoimmune issues. I struggled for months to get everything under control, I could not believe with how conscious I was with my health, that this was happening. During this time, any products that remained in my home with harmful chemicals were out — some of them literally went down the drain. I again dove into the research — I wanted facts on what was true, data-based, and proven about what was in my products and what they were doing to my body.

Here’s a summary of what my research found:

How Environmental Toxins Can Impact Our Health

Not all chemicals are bad… In fact, the human body is made up of many chemicals – it’s the toxic or harmful chemicals that we need to be educated on.

These are substances that can cause neurological, immune, and biological toxicity, altering how our body functions in a biological manner potentially causing numerous conditions from autoimmune disorders, endocrine disruption, hormone imbalances to cancer and issues with fertility.

Personal Care Products Enter our Bloodstream

through our skin + the air

Our skin is our largest organ and is accepts whatever we put on it! This includes everything you put on your skin, eyes, nails, etc.

Chemicals can also enter through the air and can be as toxic as second-hand smoke. (Don’t get me started on Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle, it gets ugly — but read more about it here — there are research articles linked throughout). Candles are a great example of airborne chemicals, so are face (makeup) and baby powders — when you apply it you naturally inhale it.

This is NOT About Skin Irritation

Most products will not cause an immediate allergic reaction unless you are allergic to a specific chemical.

It’s about the chronic long-term exposure of using multiple products each with dozens of chemicals that add up and cause biological harm on our systems.

Some statistics about our current health:

Our Government and the FDA look out for these things, right?

WELL! you would think… but here are some not so fun facts;

There is Regulation

(but don’t get too excited…)

Current Regulation in the United States

  • It is currently completely legal for companies to use thousands of harmful chemicals in our personal care, cosmetics products and home cleaning products. Even if the ingredient is linked to cancer or autoimmunity or reproductive harm – there are no repercussions from the government for selling these chemicals to consumers.
  • The last time a major federal law was passed governing safety regulation was 1938 for this modern day $60 Billion industry.
  • Over 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into the marketplace since then, the vast majority of them have had no or very limited safety testing
    • Less than 1/3 have publicly available safety data
    • Less than 2% are verified safe for use on children
    • The current regulation is only 1 ½ pages long and only bans or restricts the use of 30 chemicals (1 ½ pages of regulation for over 80,000 chemicals… what?)
    • FDA is unable to verify safety before a product hits the market
    • FDA is unable to issue product recall for known harmful products – you read correctly — if LEAD IS FOUND in a batch of children’s lotions or in women’s lipsticks, the company is not required to recall the product and the FDA cannot call for the products to be recalled either — SO who is in charge here?

What to Look For in Products

  • Supplier screening and consistent quality audits – the supplier needs to be screening their own final products because if they are not, no one else is. 
  • Heavy metal testing
  • EWG Skin Deep Database Verification (Download the App or visit their website)
  • B Corp certified companies
  • Safe Packaging – BPA (bisphenol-A) free and safer plastics, FSC certified paper, and glass

With 80,000 unregulated chemicals, where do I start?

Here are chemicals that are easy to check for on labels and are some of the most harmful:


(Most often found hiding in “Fragrance”)

Endocrine and reproductive hormone disruptors. Commonly found in personal care products like lotions, moisturizers, body wash, hair care, and nail polish. They are one of the more toxic ingredients in PVC plastics which you find in shower curtains.


Parabens are used to prevent the formation of bacteria and mold. Brands source seemingly innocuous ingredients such as grapefruit seed extract or aloe vera that have been preserved using parabens. The ingredient label does not have to disclose this, and it can still legally state the product as preservative and paraben free


Fragrance goes by many names — Parfum, Perfume, Scent — listing “Fragrance” as an ingredient is an industry secret. This works because the industry can currently legally list thousands of undisclosed and untested chemicals under the term “fragrance”. It’s best to source products that contain natural fruit or plant extracts as the scent and have them clearly disclosed on the label.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are most prominent in makeup, face paint, and children’s toys. They are often found in cosmetics like mineral makeup which is likely to pick up heavy metals during the sourcing process.

WHOA – so much.

If you just need to process all of that for now, I get it. It took me weeks to process and it made it hard to use anything in my home or on my body for a long time — I was truly paranoid checking labels and just felt so overwhelmed. It took a while before I could act.

If you would like to make some safer switches, head over the Clean + Conscious Products blog to start the process. It was a slow process for me at first because of the cost. But I’ve got some great ideas on where to start and some amazing product recommendations to make it easy for you.



Human infertility: are endocrine disruptors to blame?

Endocrine and Hormone Disruptors

BPA + Endocrine/Hormone Disruption

EU’s Ban on Phthalates

Little Ones

Exposure to Environmental Endocrine Disruptors and Child Development

Childhood Cancer – More Evidence Points to Chemical Exposure


Breast cancer + Personal Care Products

Chemical Safety in the Mainstream Press

CBS: Phthalates: Are They Safe?

TIME Magazine: The Hidden Dangers of Makeup and Shampoo

TIME Magazine: How the Government Can Help Prevent Your Makeup From Harming You

COSMO: 10 American Beauty Ingredients That Are Banned in Other Countries

Sensory Toy Ideas for Littles

The following is a list of toys I typically send to parents and fellow therapists around the holidays. There are all great ideas to get some movement and sensory play in while the weather may be keeping kids inside. These ideas are great for holiday shopping but can really be used year round!

Parents typically like to pass this list along to grandparents, or anyone asking for ideas on what to get their little one. Most are sold on amazon, but a simple Google search of the toy name may provide additional purchasing options. Please feel free to reach out with any questions at


Great for sensory breaks, joint compression, and a make shift swing for small spaces if hanging a swing from your ceiling at home isn’t an option! If you want the swing feature get one with handles — I found this one on Amazon.

WEIGHTED BLANKETS and VESTS from The Sensory Project

**please collaborate with a therapist or a staff member of The Sensory Project for selection of weight and guidance in use **


Texture, fine motor skills, pretend play, all of the fun things with Kinetic Sand, one of my favorites!


Provide deep heavy input and auditory input for the movers and the seekers. I got mine on Amazon but I’ve seen them randomly in Dollar Stores too!


Great wiggle seat for meal time or table time activities. Two sided texture depending on the child’s preference of level of input seeking.


These are wonderful fidgets, car time activities, and amazing for finding calm. I also love that these address fine motor skills, finger isolation and strengthening, enhancing tactile awareness, and so many cognitive skills! Great buy.


Fine motor strength, joint input. These are so fun to put on a window and pull off, build towers — there are so many games and activities to play with these and kids just love them!


For walking and balancing on. They make them in a smooth version as well depending on your child’s preference on texture.


If you are able to hang this swing in your home (maybe from a basement beam?) — they are awesome! Great for sensory breaks and for those who calm with swinging. IKEA has a similar version.


For sensory seekers who may also need to work on coordination and impulse control. Can be used with adult safety supervision to stand or as a wiggle seat.


For oral sensory seekers (chewing or mouthing everything!) and low oral motor tone/strength or kiddos working on feeding. *these are typically used under the treatment plan of a feeding therapist (Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist). It is best to at lest collaborate with a therapist on effect and safe use of this product*


For bouncing and providing deep pressure during sensory breaks or within an OT prescribed sensory diet. There are many options on Amazon but make sure to buy child size, not adult. Most come with hand-pump.


For color and shape learning and great for heavy work/proprioceptive input.


These are awesome for interactive play or sensory breaks. Amazon also has some with ball pits in the tunnels! So cool.


Upper body strength and joint input for calming, strengthening — also helps with motor planning. And they’re just fun for the whole family.


Awesome for use with sensory diet or before kiddo needs to attend to activity or family outing.


For kiddos who love to spin! This one can be used with a friend or by themselves.


Similar concept to weighted blanket or a weighted lap pad.

Sante Fe Birthday

This birthday was one for the books. Okay, maybe not The Books, but in my book it was the best one yet. I promise you, I do not say this every year.

My birthday is very close to Thanksgiving, sometimes falling on the actual holiday, and typically it gets kind of shmushed in with family time and celebrating Thanksgiving. None of which I mind — having pumpkin pie for your birthday cake with all of your favorite loved ones is a win win for me.

But this year was different. We again, chose not to travel home for the holiday so celebrated my birthday just the two of us this year. Don’t let me fool you — there was a big November birthday celebration earlier this month that involved wigs and breweries and bikes that I wont go into here (Brendan’s 30th was celebrated there as well! — so fun).

So this year I decided to plan my own birthday weekend with exactly what I wanted to do and my husband helped make it happen. We ended up doing what we do best — roadtripping — and headed from Denver down to Sante Fe.

Our first stop was Meow Wolf which I have wanted to visit for a couple years — it was beyond expectations. If you don’t know, Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience/installation. It is so big and so cool. I am almost speechless, big and cool are the only words I can use. It was just beyond words. It was 10,000% worth the the 2 hours we waited in line (holiday weekends, it just is what it is).

As soon as we thought we had seen the entire thing, we stumbled upon a new room. There is a story/mystery that goes along with it that you can find clues to solve — we were there for almost 4 hours and barely made a dent. I had read online prior to our visit that some spend 2-3 days in Sante Fe, going each day to Meow Wolf and I thought this was a bit much, but now I can see why. I wish we had more time to explore and we will absolutely go back a second, maybe even a third time. I chose not to post too many photos of the exhibit so you can go support the artists and see for yourselves!

That evening we stayed in Madrid, about 30 minutes outside of Sante Fe in the most amazing Earthship. If you don’t know what an Earthship is (I didn’t until a few years ago) — it is a house that uses passive solar for energy and does not have plumbing or any reliance on fossil fuels. It is “off the grid” living at it’s finest.

Typically they are built from resources from the surrounding earth. The one we stayed in was built from earth and straw with upcycled pieces used for cooking and access to water. The water source was rain water they collected and filtered and all of the lights we used throughout the night were solar charged battery powered which had been charging all day for us.

The house was rented to us through AirBnb and one of many structures on a 38-acre plot of land. The owners run a sustainable living school — Ampersand — where they host students and volunteers to share how to live sustainably. It was hard leaving and going back to our normal routines — it truly made our level of consumption evident after leaving such a simple way of living. And when I say simple — there wasn’t anything that was simple, really, everything was rigged in a creative way that created as little waste aspossible. Even the bar that you held onto to climb up into the lofted bed was an upcycled old road bike handle bar! It was obvous the work it would take to sustain a property like this, but it seemed to run flawlessly.

You can proabably imagine the stellar desert views from their property — but they were truly awe inspiring, the photos do none of it justice. The best view however were the stars at night. I have never experienced such a vast, glowing sky. We had fun with a healthy balance of quiet meditation and using our skymapper app to guess and check which constellations and planets were which — so much fun.

The next morning we hiked around their property to take it all in before we headed out. We stopped to have breakfast and shop in Taos. SO MANY BASKETS. Thankfully I only ended up buying two, but I could have bought eight — easily. I also found a beautiful piece smokey quartz that I cannot wait to add to my set-up in my reading room at home.

This trip was as much as a birthday trip as it was a getaway retreat for my husband and I. We are both learning more about ourselves and about our relationship together. Having the semi-unplugged time together was really beautiful. We had beautiful conversations about what we are learning about ourselves and about how we show up in the world. I think this these conversations were by far my favorite part.




Re-applying to Graduate School

To be honest, the process of applying to OT school may have been more stressful for me than actually completing the program. As many of you know, it took me 3 application cycles to finally get in!

If you are re-applying next year because you didn’t get in this year — check out this short blog discussing what to do in between application cycles if you did not have success on your first try.

Part of talking about this is in my efforts to decrease the stigma around not having success in something on your first try! Our culture praises success, not effort — but there is beauty in the effort and process. 100% — growth does not occur when we are not challenged.

Here are some pieces of advice to consider while you’re waiting for the next cycle to start:


Volunteer or work in a rehab setting to increase your experience and your hours that you add into your application.
⇢There are opportunities available for Rehab Aids and OT Aides that can get your foot in the door somewhere and also increase your listed experience hours on apps.


Call the school(s) you are trying to get into and talk to the admissions staff.
⇢Ask to go over your application and ask which areas you can improve in. If you are applying for the first time — call and ask what they focus on for applications. I found that some schools favored prerequisite GPA’s and some focused more on the essay! — tailor your application accordingly.


Become enrolled in your local community college and retake prerequisites.
⇢If you have any prerequisite grades that are a B or lower, you can take them online while you work. I retook sociology, psychology, abnormal psych, biology, and psychics to improve my grades which then increased my overall prerequisite GPA. I found out this is something schools look at even more so then your overall GPA


Yes, be patient but also be KIND to yourself
⇢When we are pursuing something that we are passionate about, and we are not immediately having success, we can get wrapped up into others opinions of ourselves and even our own opinions of ourselves. Most do not share all of their failures or denials letters, only their acceptances and the announcements of their successes.  Looking back the only regret that I had was the negative self-talk each time I was denied! Be good to yourself and try your best to trust the process!

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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Series #1 – Introduction

Welcome! This is the introductory post for the Pelvic Floor Health blog series. In this post, we will be discussing the Pelvic Floor – what it is, what dysfunction in the pelvic floor looks like, what the symptoms are, and the anatomy behind the dysfunction.

I am an Occupational Therapist (OT) and a Certified Low Pressure Fitness Instructor.  I completed continuing education and training through The Core Recovery Institute. The Low Pressure Fitness protocol I am trained in addresses Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) with the use of hypopressive exercises as treatment (intervention). If this topic interests you, be on the look-out for follow-up blogs in the upcoming months!

Introduction to Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that have many, many, MANY jobs. Some of those jobs/functions include:

  • postural control
  • support of organs
  • support for the hips
  • support of the spine
  • support of respiration (breathing)
  • lymphatic drainage
  • sexual function
  • control of sphincters that control urine and stool

For my fellow healthcare practicioners — the pelvic floor consists of three muscle layers:
(1)The Superficial perineal layer: innervated by the pudendal nerve. Bulbocavernosus, Ischiocavernosus, Superficial transverse perineal, External anal sphincter (EAS) (2) Deep urogenital diaphragm layer: innervated by pudendal nerve.  Compressor urethra, Uretrovaginal sphincter, and the Deep transverse perineal. (3) Pelvic diaphragm: innervated by sacral nerve roots. Levator ani: pubococcygeus (pubovaginalis, puborectalis), iliococcygeus, Coccygeus/ischiococcygeus, Piriformis, and Obturator internus.

Why does Pelvic Floor Dysfunction occur?

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can have many causes — but the underlying cause of PFD is increased intraabdominal pressure. Intraabdominal pressure is the amount of pressure that is in your abdomen/torso (the area between your ribs and your hips).

Naturally, there is always some pressure in your abdomen — if there were not, our organs wouldn’t be contained! Typical intraabdominal pressure at rest is 5mmHG. Certain activities and events increase this pressure.

These activities can be anything from:

  • coughing (90mmHG)
  • sneezing
  • valsalva — (bearing down) during child birth (60mmHG) or during defecating (35mmHG)
  • constant poor posture
  • running (34mmHG)
  • laughing
  • abdominal/core exercises like crunches (50mmHG!), bicycle crunches, leg lifts, etc. 

**any activity that compresses the abdomen will, in turn, increase your intraabdominal pressure**

When intraabdominal pressure is increased on a consistent or repetitive basis, this is what happens within your body (anatomically):

  • The organs are pushed down and move out to the sides and out to the front (the occurs due to Pascal’s Law) Pascal’s Law states that when pressure is applied to an enclosed system, that system will then disperse that pressure equally in all directions within that system. Think of squuezing a balloonwhen you squeeze and apply pressure, the pressure tries to escape through the areas that are not being squeezed by your hand. pascal baloon.jpg
  • The pelvic floor is already naturally heavily weighted by our movement and organs; it reacts to this weight by contracting. When muscles contract they shorten, and when they are always contracting they can permanently shorten and become what is called, ”hypertonic.”
  • The pressure also causes blood flow to decrease to the pelvic floor muscles, and when muscles are not receiving proper blood flow, function is impaired. This impairment may look like leaking urine or an organ prolapse.

Another metaphor…

In my training at The Core Recovery Institute, the instructors explained it this way; ‘You can think of your pelvic floor like an elevator – it job is to be move freely betweeen floors (body stuctures) to stop or start an action (hold urine or release urine). Our pelvic floor is meant to be healthy enough to be so mobile it can go to where it is needed as soon as it is needed. When our pelvic floor is dysfunctional it does not make it in time to where it needs to be, or it is not working at all.’

Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Possible symptoms of Pelvis Floor Dysfunction include:

  • Incontinence (urine leakage) with exertion, coughing, laughing, etc.
  • Dysmenstria (irregular or painful menstration)
  • Organ Prolapse (seen as uterus, bladder, rectum poking through vagina in females and hernias in males)
  • Frequent urination (more than every 2-3 hours or 6-8 trips to restroom a day)
  • Trouble releasing urine (needing to push or strain to begin stream)
  • Irregular bowel movements (1-3 times a day is typical)

Impact on Occupational Performance

As an OT, I have to break down why this impacts our lives from an occupational standpoint. It seems a bit obvious to some, but I think what struck me the most, is how many individuals are willing to live with these symptoms and allow them to interfere with their daily lives and occupations.

There is a general consensus that if you are a runner or a mother than you just will have problems holding your urine — that it comes with the territory. It may come with the territory if our pelvic floors are not healthy, but it does not have to be an accepted norm!

Pelvic Floor Dysfucntion can interfere with so many occupations; toileting and toilet hygiene, dressing (needing to change or wear extra items to manage in continence), fucntional mobility (standing or sitting a particualt way to prevent leaking), personal hygiene and grooming, sexual activity, care of others (child rearing or petcare), home establishment and maintenance, religious activities and expression, shopping, sleep ppreparation and participation, formal education particpation, job performance, employment, volunteer particpation and retirement preparation for our senior cilents, play particpation and social particpation with loved ones or peers. Just to name a few!

As you can see, this is a real issue for our human population. In the following posts in this series,  I will address evaluation and treatment options for this population. Please comment below or email me with your feedback, thoughts, or if you have expereince in this area — I would love to hear from you!

Information within this blog is based on education and training in Low Pressure Fitness through The Core Recovery Institute and within the following articles; Thompson & O’Sullivan (2003). Levator plate movement during voluntary pelvic floor muscle contraction in subjects with incontinence and prolapse: a cross sectional study and review. Int Urogynecol J, 12, 84–8. Sugrue M. (1995). Intraabdominal Pressure. Clin Intensive Care. 6,76-79