Interview with Mar Oscategui of the International Maternity & Parenting Institute

To start the month of June, we give the spotlight to Mar Oscategui, founder of the International Maternity & Parenting Institute, Association of Professional Sleep Consultants and Physical Awakening, author of 'Awakening Through Sleep: A Transformational & Spiritual guide to Pregnancy, Parent and Child Sleep'.

Mar began working in the field of health and fitness twenty years ago. When she got pregnant, 9 years ago, she decided to transition her work full time to support families during pregnancy and postpartum.

As a sleep consultant, she holistically provides health and lifestyle coaching services to support adults and children who are experiencing sleep challenges.

In Mar’s opinion, her Holistic Science of Sleep Method is what differentiates her from other sleep instructors. She explained and we quote, “The Holistic Science of Sleep Method™ is an adult and child sleep system that combines Holistic Thinking and Application with the Scientific Method to provide long term and balanced solutions to adult and child sleep challenges".

The HSS Method believes that sleep is a natural function of the human body that does not need to be taught or trained. It’s a matter of addressing the things that are interfering with the body’s natural rhythms, homeostasis and inviting a lifestyle for the whole  family that supports sleep .

Mar explains that child sleep is not just a child issue, but a family sleep issue."The focus is establishing healthy sleeping habits for families. By examining the entire context for sleep – the physical, emotional, social, developmental and environmental factors – we teach sleep consultants how to begin working holistically with sleep during pregnancy, during infancy and beyond. Consultants assess the family, not just the child sleep problem, and make adjustments to sleep that are responsive to the family’s needs".

The Holistic Science of Sleep Method™ investigates and addresses imbalances in optimal human function (physical, mental, emotional) and external forces (social, cultural, environmental) that inhibit sleep and may lead to adult and child sleep challenges.

So what has been Mar's greatest achievement? Mar proudly admits that her greatest achievement is introducing professional holistic sleep support during pregnancy and postpartum. She trains professionals around the globe (a whooping 44 countries and growing) to not only successfully give parents alternatives other than behavioral methods but also spreading the holistic sleep method.

For Mar, it’s not so much of parents making mistakes but more of them being unaware that they have other options besides what they have heard or read. This might be a one size fits that doesn't not addressing their specific needs by looking for the root of their specific sleep challenge which involves holistic thinking and application.

Meanwhile, Mar’s goals for this year is to continue educating about the importance of holistic sleep to families during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.

To end this article, Mar shared with us her knowledge and best tips:

Best Tip for Dealing with Kids Sleeping Issues

As part of the holistic method, Mar wanted to explain the importance of holistically addressing questions relating to child sleep challenges:

"When parents experience a child's sleep challenge, one of the most common paths parents take to solve the ‘problem’ is one of public inquisition, usually with the general questions being asked right from the start. Quite often parents seek the support of online forums or public groups where the root of sleep issues are not being addressed, but rather general questions are asked and general answers are given by others based on the other’s experiences and probability and particular paradigm, which rarely is holistic in nature.

Most questions asked do not come along with important details about their lifestyle or health history that need to be factored in before receiving even basic advice or suggestions.  There are so many forces that affect sleep and in order to get the root of the challenge we must first investigate the strongest forces that affect sleep in order to first rule those ’causes’ out.  Anyone who is answering health/sleep questions while knowing little/nothing about the client’s health history, blood work, diet, emotional wellbeing and all the rest of it, is just throwing darts at best, hoping to knock out the main ‘problem’.  Rarely is there just one main ‘problem’ or factor, and more often than not there are many forces acting upon a family preventing them from getting good sleep.

The Holistic Science of Sleep Method provides the framework and understanding that support parents and professionals in addressing the many forces creating a sleep challenge, in order of importance.  A holistic sleep practitioner will address and analyze all these forces one by one hitting upon the major (and often overlooked) factors early on the process.  But in order to do this, a great amount of details and information needs to be collected with regards the client’s health, emotional wellbeing and lifestyle history, including their recent blood work. Often times the job of a holistic sleep consultant is to refer the client to the right health practitioners who can rule out and analyze certain imbalances. There is rarely/never just one ‘problem’ affecting someone’s sleep. It is usually a combination of many factors/forces, each one building upon the other and this is why a holistic approach is suitable in addressing sleep challenges".

In order to get to the root on the sleep challenge and address it, the consultants specialized in The Holistic Science of Sleep Method address the foundations and solutions below:

  • Rule out medical issues
  • Make sure all child’s physical and emotional needs are met
  • Make sure parents/caregivers physical and emotional needs are met
  • Assess sleep history, birth history, health history of adult and child
  • Assess quality of breath of child & adult
  • Assess stress levels, energetic tempo, rhythms, temperaments of self and family
  • Assess  self-confidence and , intuitive abilities
  • Assess quality of relationships, alignments, connections and support systems
  • Assess bedroom and home environment
  • Assess sleep/wake times, food and drink intake and activity level in a 24 hour period
  • Assess family lifestyle
  • Assess Short & Long Term Goals
  • Inquire about recent medical visits, medications, and diagnosis
  • Get a Full Blood Panel checking for any imbalances, deficiencies (iron, magnesium and vitamin d deficiencies for example may inhibit sleep)
  • Investigate food sensitivities/intolerances/allergies with a highly qualified holistic naturopath who can provide various testing options from elimination diet to blood work
  • Trace/uncover the root of child behavior
  • Understand the language of crying
  • Reprogram expectations, attitudes and beliefs for sleep
  • Trust baby knows how to sleep and wants to sleep: allow your baby to teach you to sleep
  • Consider sleep as a social and shared experience not a solitary one
  • Consider sleep as a family sleep issue and not just a child sleep issue
  • Heal trauma
  • Resourcing: apply tools/techniques when triggers and stressors Arise
  • Invite and create support system
  • Strengthen connections to self and family through play and eye to eye contact
  • Be present to maintain connection and insight
  • Be the change: understand your sleep history and role model healthy sleep for your child
  • Allow babies to play and be fully expressed throughout the day.
  • Invite and allow a transition from day to night
  • Invite a bedtime ritual/routine/family rhythms
  • Support a child’s transition of any change they are experiencing through integrating the old and new versus going cold turkey from old to new
  • Relaxation becomes your lifestyle
  • Take daily pauses: Train your body to release during the day through short pauses of breathing meditation
  • Eat an a pro-sleep diet
  • Hydrate
  • Exercise/Move
  • Ensure bedroom environment is green and create a sleep sanctuary (check indoor air quality, electronics shut off)
  • Get sunshine upon waking
  • Follow a regular schedule
Tips for Pregnancy Sleep

"From the moment a woman becomes pregnant, her body is undergoing many physiologic and biochemical changes. As a result the potential for sleep disturbances increases. Nausea, nighttime waking, bladder pressure, and fatigue issues are very common. Sleep deprivation can lead to complications such as preterm labor, extended labor, as well as other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, snoring, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia. Sleep disorders developed during pregnancy can also lead to sleep disorders in the child. With our modern day culture and expectations, the average expectant mom today is juggling quite a bit and as a result experiencing an overwhelming amount of stimulation and stress. Incorporating some relaxation into her daily life is the perfect complement to healthy sleep, her overall health and health of her baby. Pregnancy is also a perfect time to prepare and strategize for healthy sleep to continue once the baby arrives.

In addition baby’s bodies are particularly sensitive to the stimulants we put into our body, and the sensory stimulants in our environments. The number of babies being put on medications nowadays for sleep issues would surprise a lot people I think and it says a lot about the sleep crisis facing parents here in America, and in the world at large."

Some Tips for Pregnancy Sleep Include:

Keep the room very dark. If you needs to get up to use the bathroom at night, rather than turning on bright lights, use a small night light just enough for you to see where you're going but yet maintain a relaxed state that is not over stimulating to the eye and sleep cycle.

Keep a journal and pen handy by your bedside. If you have trouble falling asleep because your mind is racing, or if you wake up with too many thoughts and is unable to go back to sleep, consider doing some journaling before crawling into bed at night or when woken up at night to clear the mind so there is no residue.

Invite downtime. Make sure you have downtime on a daily basis where you can spend some time relaxing and letting go of stresses. Some examples of this include nature walks, yoga, journaling, massage, etc.

Establish a bedtime routine. Establish a bedtime routine and sleep as close as possible to 10pm. At 10pm, the body begins repairing and being awake slows this process.

Dim lights. Dim all lights, computer screens, smart phones at least an hour or two before bed. Install dimmer switches on lights where possible. Candle light is best for illuminating the house during the hours before bedtime, and many moms find it to be very relaxing.

Establish firm boundaries for bedtime. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for relaxation and sleep. Try not to work, watch television, or any other activity outside of sleep and sex.

Remove EMF’s. Remove any electromagnetic field (emf) equipment from your room as studies have shown prolonged exposure can suppress the immune system and disrupt sleep.

Get Natural Unfiltered Sunlight. Get natural unfiltered sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning for at least fifteen minutes if you can. In the warmer months or in warmer climates get sunlight on a good portion of your skin in the morning as well. This will send a strong message to your pineal gland and your internal clock. It works wonders.

Adjust Temperature. Keep the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees.

Use a sleeping aid. Use sleeping aids like sleep pillows or a mattress topper for your comfort and support. Have a mattress, mattress topper, or sleeping pillow that is equipped to support your posture and changing body. Experiment with them to find the best one suitable for you.

Eat light meals before bed. Eat only light meals before bed and familiarize yourself with anti-sleep and pro-sleep foods in order to avoid sleep disruption and encourage deep sleep.

Try to eat foods that are more easily digested. Try to eat foods that are more easily digested, like blended foods and fruits with unprocessed fats, and keep your portion sizes small as you approach bed time.

Eliminate all stimulants from your diet–This includes caffeine, chocolate, and spices of all kinds. It is also critical to eliminate foods that are stimulating and irritating to the digestive system just by their very nature—foods like grains, beans, and dairy. This is even more essential late in the day. Grains also tend to bind with the cholesterol in your gut–cholesterol that is needed to produce sleep inducing hormones and other necessary cofactors. MSG is also something to avoid and it is hidden in all sorts of products nowadays under many different names. One should also be careful of taking vitamin supplements in the evening as they can have a stimulating effect, and in many cases they are like a chemistry experiment. It’s probably best to take them in the morning and early afternoon if possible.

Learn all you can about healthy blood sugar levels. Blood sugar has a huge impact on sleep quality.

Establish healthy gut flora. Something else to consider is your gut. It is important to establish healthy gut flora and then leave it alone. Many researchers are now strongly linking the cyclical die off of bacteria in the gut with sleep cycles.

For more information about Mar Oscategui and the International Maternity & Parenting Institute , please visit her website at or or email her at [email protected]


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