Category Archives: Natural Pregnancy & Birth

NEWBORN SKIN CARE

The Little Guy just turned 5 months and I still can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  I swear I was just pushing this little guy out just a few days ago.  I had someone ask me about skin care products for use on babies…so I figured why not blog all about it!

Popular lore would love for us to think that every baby needs pink lotion slathered on their skin, baby oil on their cradle cap and baby powder on their bottoms.  Don’t get me wrong, my first kid used it all.  I loved the smell of a squeaky clean baby.  The smell of baby wash will forever be etched in my mind.  The doctor actually smeared it all over as he was being delivered.  I have no clue why, I guess to make his exit smoother?  Knowing what I do now I would have smacked her mid-push…having a Doula during that delivery would have been priceless, oh well, live & learn.

In this blog I will go over my little guys skincare routine along with products that I recommend and ones I definitely avoid.  I will focus primarily on the first 6 months but most of this information will be great for your older children as well as adults.  Please keep in mind that skincare is not just limited to soaps & lotions.  Chemicals, fragrances, detergents and dyes in clothing can cause irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes.  If you are breastfeeding your food choices can effect your little ones skin too.

SKINCARE AT BIRTH

It’s important to remember that a newborns skin is very sensitive and requires little intervention when they first arrive.  Some babies are born with a white coating called vernix caseosa, which protects their skin from the constant exposure to amniotic fluid in the womb. Babies born after 40 weeks are born wrinkled and with little to no vernix caseosa.  This is perfectly ok but if your baby is born with the vernix caseosa, rub it into the skin, do not wipe it off.  It will protect the baby’s skin from infection outside of the womb too.

Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby's skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.
Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.  This baby was born at 37 weeks..
Kihre was born at 42 weeks w/ no vernix.
Kihre was born at 42 weeks w/ no vernix at all.

It is a common practice in hospitals to wipe off the vernix.  Then again there are a lot of hospital practices that I do not agree with, exactly why Kih was born at home.  I won’t get into that in this blog but here is a link to an awesome blog on Natural Newborn Care.  It discusses everything from waiting to cut the cord to the best way to administer Vitamin K.  Check it out, it’s well written and informative.

WHAT TO AVOID

Before I get into the specifics of newborn skin care, I need to tell you that everything that we have been programmed to believe about skin care comes from a multi-million dollar industry.  I know it is hard to believe but the unsurprising irony is that none of that is necessary. Your baby’s skin is far better off with minimal intervention. The fewer soaps, shampoos, and lotions that you apply to your little one’s incredible new skin, the healthier and more perfect it will be.

Mainstream baby products contain numerous toxic ingredients that will enter your baby’s body if used. The best option is to stick with natural, nourishing, and edible ingredients such straight oils (olive, sweet almond, coconut) and fragrance-free bar soap, although omitting soap and rinsing just with water is usually fine, too. (If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t use it.) Your baby may not have that stereotypical baby-powder smell, but he or she will be healthier in the long run, and that’s all that matters.

That being said, when you do buy baby anything you should avoid these ingredients without fail.

  • Talc-used as a drying agent, mostly used in baby powder, it is a natural mineral however it is carcinogenic.  In recent months it has been linked to Ovarian cancer because of use to keep the female nether regions dry.  My mom used Baby Powder daily and died from Ovarian cancer, not a scientific study but I’m convinced it played a role in her death.
  • Fragrance-The problem with fragrance is that it’s a catch-all term for whatever secret ingredients companies wish to add (they are not obligated to reveal what’s contained within ‘fragrance’), and are generally made of coal- and petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals.  Most of these chemicals are known to cause problems in every system from the nervous to digestive systems.
  • Propylene glycol-This chemical is a penetration enhancer that is easily absorbed by the skin and may be carcinogenic. Its job is basically to open up all the pores and let the other chemicals in. Propylene glycol is used in wiper fluid and to de-ice airplanes, and yet it is often found in baby wipes, which is not safe. Look out for polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polypropylene glycol (PPG) on labels, too.
  • 1,4-dioxane and Ethylated Surfactants-The Environmental Working Group found that 57 percent of baby soaps are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. Although it’s never listed as an ingredient, 1,4-dioxane is often present in beauty products because it is a contaminant or by-product that occurs when “ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh” (There’s Lead In Your Lipstick).If you see any ingredients that contain the letters eth, then that is an indicator of the presence of 1,4-dioxane. Stay away from polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG.
  • Mineral Oil or Baby Oil-is essentially mineral oil mixed with fragrance, what a nasty combination to call Baby Oil.  Mineral oil is a cheap byproduct of petroleum processing and works like plastic wrap on the skin.  This inhibits the skin’s natural ability to release toxins and breathe.
  • Parabens-these nasty little things are in everything from soaps, body washes, shampoos and moisturizers, including the ones marketed as baby safe.  They are neurotixins and are linked to reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption and skin irritation.  Avoid anything with the word paraben in its name, as well as benzoic acid and propyl ester.
  • Triclosan-If it says ‘antibacterial’ it likely contains triclosan, which is a carcinogenic endocrine disruptor.  Although it makes sense to keep babies away from unnecessary bacteria, it is the wrong approach to raise them in completely sterile environments.  By doing this we inhibit their ability to create a naturla resistance and immunity, increase the likelihood of allergies, and render antibacterial treatments less effective for when we truly need them.  It is not recommended to use antibacterial soaps and body washes.

Ok so now that everything you have ever known to be good for a babies skin is basicly poision, what should you use?  Below I have broken out different areas of skin care for newborns from diapering to cradle cap and back to bathing.

UMBILICAL CORD CARE

While the umbilical cord performed the magical feat of nourishing your LO in the womb, it is still kinda yucky as it dries up and falls off.  The good thing is that it requires little maintenance.  Here are a few tips to help it heal and fall off as quick as possible.

  • Keep the area dry at all times.  There is no need to fully immerse your newborn into a bathtub before the cord falls off.  If you need to bath the baby simply use care to keep the cord as dry as possible.  If it gets wet it is not the end of the world but it can slow the drying process.
  • Keep the area clean.  It is important to keep the diaper from sitting on the stump.  This can introduce urine bacteria and cause infection, it will also keep the area moist and unable to dry.  Air is super important for scabbing process to take place.
  • Apply Goldenseal Root Powder.  Goldenseal Root is a natural antibiotic that will help the scabbing.  You can simply dab a bit of the powder onto a clean cotton swab and apply to the stump, paying special attention to the base.  Be sure that you do not “double-dip” the cotton swab into the powder.  Do this 3x a day until it dries up.  Make sure that when the stump falls off you discontinue use, as long term use is not recommended.  Also please note that this bright yellow powder will stain so please take care.
  • Keep baby in loose fitting clothing so it doesn’t rub the cord.  This is again so air can flow freely to the area.
  • Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not remove the stump.  No matter how badly you want to , do not remove the stump.  It can cause bleeding that will not stop.  This can be serious.  Trust me, it will fall off when it is good and ready.

DIAPERING

I must admit that I did not make an investment in Newborn cloth diapers.  I did receive 2 as a gift but obviously that isn’t enough for a full day.  You should actually have enough for 2 days incase something comes up and you can’t get to the wash, that means 24 minimum.  I did use the NB cloth diapers I had daily along with disposable ones.  Ok so this isn’t a blog about diapers (I’m working on that one too…so many blogs so little time) but I do need to address possible diaper allergies.

Contact dermatitis

Disposable diapers are quite possibly the reason for your little ones red bum.  No seriously, they are filled with materials that are not only possible allergens but also known to be toxic.  Irritation caused by constant contact to these irritants or allergens is known as Contact dermatitis.

Common Allergens in Disposable Diapers that cause Contact dermatitis:

  • Dioxins-the residue left over after using chlorine to make the diaper material white.  According to the WHO (World Health Organization) Dioxins are highly carcinogenic and exposer can cause skin reactions, altered liver function and disrupts the immune, endocrine, nervous and reproductive functions.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate-this super absorbent compound is a mixture of cellulose from trees and crystals from polyacrylate.  You may have seen it before, it looks like little jelly crystals on the baby’s skin.  It was removed from tampons because of toxicity concerns, only to be reintroduced in diapers.  There are not long term studies but it is said to be linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT)-according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)-These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs are even suspected of causing cancer in humans (EPA.gov).
  • Other Yucky Stuff-Other skin irritating chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics, latex and petrolatum’s. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.

There are a few ways to tell if the irritation is caused by Contact dermatitis.

  • The rash can take up to 2 days to appear after contact with irritant
  • Redness is accompanied by bumps, puss or blisters that cannot be resolved with diaper rash
  • No matter how many times you change your little ones diaper or how dry he/she is, the irritation will not go away
  • Irritation is not limited to areas that pee and poo are present, ie the area on the tummy where the waist band rubs
  • Irritation is only present on contact areas and does not spread

This can most easily be remedied by changing the brand of diapers that you use.  We have been using Babyganics brand diapers, they are free of chlorine, latex, petroleum and fragrances.  I started with Honest and they work about the same but Babyganics is more pocket friendly.  Of course the best, most earth-friendly option will be the cloth diapers.  Cotton or Bamboo fabrics are best for babies sensitive skin.

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis better known as Diaper Rash

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis or Diaper Rash is caused when moisture is trapped between two skin surfaces.  It is due to infrequently changed diapers, diarrhea, new foods and allergies.  My lil guy goes through about 8-12 diapers a day.  I simply change him as needed when he is awake and every time he wakes up from a nap.  That being said, he still sometimes has a little red on his bottom after a poo.

Diaper rash usually clears up in 1-3 days when diaper is kept dry.  Topical ointments can be applied to provide a barrier from the moisture and to help soothe the irritation.  Most over the counter products will contain petroleum jelly.  Harmless right?  Wrong!!  Although it has been used as a cure all for many years, it is a by-product of the oil industry and has been known to have carcinogenic effects.  This simply stated means that it has the potential to cause cancer.  Its purity cannot be guaranteed as the refining is not regulated.  Petroleum jelly also clogs the pores not allowing skin to breathe, one of the skins most important functions.  So my take on this is stay away from it.  There are plenty of unharmful and renewable natural alternatives.

I like coconut oil because it is anti-bacterial  & anti-fungal and use it on a regular basis just for general maintenance.  It works great for minor irritations caused by wet diapers.  When my LO has his poopie days (breastfed babies do not necessarily go #2 everyday) he gets a little irritated on his bum.  On those days I use Baby Bee Bum Butter from Walnut Hollow Workshop.  Love this stuff, it makes his bum go from red to taupe in no time flat.  Even better all the ingredients are natural & beneficial.  You can get it from the Fredericksburg Farmers Market.

BABY BEE BUM BUTTER
BABY BEE BUM BUTTER

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are full of the nasties…there are some good brands that have natural ingredients with out all the toxic ones.  I found an awesome blog from Safe Mama, that goes over all of the ‘Safer’ baby wipes.  These are however very expensive.  An alternative is to just make your own at home.

I don’t use anything special to wipe his bum only simple ingredients.  I mix some castile soap and water on a baby wash cloth (I use different wash cloths for diapering and bathing).  I wipe his bottom, let it air dry and toss the soiled wash cloth in a wet bag for washing within 48 hours.  I like this option for two reasons, 1) It is earth and tree friendly and 2) It is inexpensive.

That being said, disposable wipes are so convenient, especially when you are out and about and they still save tons of money.  Here is a recipe for Natural Homemade Baby Wipes from Wellness Mama that I just love.  I actually recommend you bookmark her site, it is great.  The most important thing to remember is that you need to always make small batches.  Enough for 1 to 2 days only, after 48 hours water will start to grow bacteria even with essential oils.

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE…BOYS!  Just not their circumcisions…Ouch!!

No seriously!  I’m glad I have 2 boys.  Ok well except for the circumcision part…ouch!  I’m not going to get into my opinion on this but since it is such a common practice and it is skin, I will get into the care.  When my first son was born, he was circumcised in the hospital.  I can only imagine being whisked away from your mothers arms and taken into a room with strangers that hold you down and cut off a piece of your skin.  Only to be left with a raw, tender wound that is left to sit in a closed diaper, stinging every time you pee.

I’m not judging either way….one of my boys is circumcised, the other is not.  If you do choose circumcision it does require special cleaning & care for the first 7-10 days.  Since the wound will most surely come in contact with urine & poo, it is imperative that you clean the area well.  Do not use soap.  All you need is warm, NOT hot, WARM water.   You should come home with a peri bottle.

PERI BOTTLE

If you did not, you can get one from your local drug store.  Please don’t take the baby in a drug store, ever if you can avoid it.  Obviously because sick people go there to get medications & prescriptions.  Just put warm water into the peri bottle and squirt the area to remove any yucky bits.  Please be careful not to get the umbilical cord wet.  It is important that it dries, as noted earlier.

Let the area air dry, you can fan with a diaper too.  Change the diaper constantly,  sitting in urine is the worst thing for irritation.  It is very important to apply a lubricant that will keep urine off of the irritation as well as keep it from sticking to the diaper, ouch!  As noted previously I don’t use petroleum based products because of its carcinogenic nature.  Besides it is not a renewable resource therefore not earth friendly.  I don’t know about you but I would like my LO to have a planet to live on.  Anyways, enough on my tree hugging tangent…yes…I hug trees and so will my LO.

There are a few natural remedies to help calm the irritation and help the wound heal faster.  As I wrote earlier, Coconut Oil is like magic for irritation because of its calming & anti bacterial properties. You can simply dab some on a cotton make-up pad and apply to the tip at every change.  This will keep the area moisturized and from sticking to the diaper.  It will also keep the area germ free.

Coconut Oil & Organic Cotton Make-up Pads
Coconut Oil & Organic Cotton Make-up Pads

You can also melt some beeswax in a double boiler & add coconut oil for an extra barrier from moisture.  I would use a mixture of 1 part beeswax to 6 parts coconut oil.  You can adjust the formula but don’t make it too hard because you want it to smooth on easily with out much resistance on the skin.  Make sure you melt the beeswax first as it has a much higher melting point than the Coconut Oil.  Then add the Coconut Oil at the end.

Beeswax Melting with Coconut Oil
Beeswax Melting with Coconut Oil

Give it a good stir and pour into an airtight glass lid and it will keep for a year or two as long as you don’t introduce any water into it.  This mixture is great for a diaper rash ointment as well.

Beeswax & Coconut Oil Mixture Cooled
Beeswax & Coconut Oil Mixture Cooled

THE DREADED CRADLE CAP…

Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis better known as Cradle Cap is a greasy, yellowish scaly rash that is very common within the first year of life.  It doesn’t seem to cause discomfort to the baby and is fairly easy to remedy with some coconut oil or olive oil and a soft baby brush. Most of the sites that I read said it was normal and wasn’t a clue to the health or cleanliness of the baby.

I still had to wonder if it was linked to some sort of nutrient deficiency or allergy.  I couldn’t help but think that there had to be some underlying cause.  After a lot of research I found that cradle cap is associated with a number of different factors including hormone breakdown, yeast in the digestive tract, food allergies and inflammation.  So obviously nutrition or lack of is a contributing factor.  It makes sense since a properly working and nourished digestive system is imperative to health.  I did a whole blog on the Newborn Digestive System that will give you great information on how it works.

Cradle cap is often the first sign that your baby may be having trouble processing what they are ingesting.  Babies on formula have higher incidence of cradle cap because it is tougher for them to break down.  Breastfed babies who suffer with cradle cap may be having difficulty processing mother’s milk due to an allergen in her diet.  It is important to identify what is causing the cradle cap because the inflammation in the system will often progress beyond the scalp and cause eczema.  This puts the baby at higher risk for allergies and asthma in the future.

My LO had a slight instance of cradle cap at three months, it was very slight but was directly linked to me eating dairy products.  About two weeks after I stopped consuming dairy, mostly cheese & kefir, his cradle cap & eczema cleared right up…I will get to the eczema later but it was also directly linked to the dairy as well.

While I patiently waited to see if my diet changes would remedy the cradle cap,  I simply applied coconut oil or olive oil and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.  If it is severe enough you can put a baby cap on to heat up the oil and get it deeper into the skin.  I also expressed breastmilk and applied liberally on the cradle cap.  Let me tell you, breastmilk is like magic for any skin ailment that your LO may have.  I did not have to use a brush to remove any flaky skin because it was so slight but you can use a soft baby brush to gently loosen the flakes so they can be wiped off.

Best Oils to Use on Cradle Cap

  • Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Shea Butter

Most of the research I found said to use a gentle shampoo to remove the cradle cap.  I find that shampoo, especially most commercial shampoos dry out an adults hair and skin so I know it is even more damaging and irritating to a babies sensitive skin.  I use an unscented handmade bar soap from Walnut Hollow Workshop for my LO head to toe.  Then again my LO is still bald at 5 1/2 months.

BATHING

At first your infant will require little bathing.  A sponge bath with warm water is enough until the umbilical cord falls off, this can mean the first “real” bath won’t be until one to four weeks after birth.  After that they can graduate to weekly or bi-weekly baths in a baby tub or a sink will work just fine too.  You don’t need to use a large amount of soap on their delicate skin, they really aren’t getting dirty at this age.

I used my Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Baby Body Wash & Shampoo initially.  It is great for quick washing since it foams.  It is Castile Soap based so it is very gentle but it is not tear free.  I was just very careful when I wiped him clean.  At this point I still don’t dump water onto his head, I find simple wiping to suffice.  If your LO has cradle cap and needs a good rinse then simply lean him/her back and be careful not to get in eyes.

I stopped using the product after he started getting eczema around 3 months.  I am not saying the product caused eczema, I actually know now that it was caused strictly by my diet since it healed with my dietary changes.  I did however change to an unscented hand made bar soap while I waited for his skin to heal.  I didn’t have any of my Shea Honey Oat Organic soap made so I had to buy something else.   I fell in love with it, it is very simple, pure and effective.  I get the soap from the Walnut Hollow Workshop.  Yes I love their products, so simple, effective and  so baby perfect.  I love it just as much as the soaps that I make but I love to support local businesses, especially when I know the owners personally.  I know they live by holistic principals and ensure only the purest quality ingredients go into all of their products.

I still go by the weekly, bi-weekly schedule unless he has a diaper blow out, I definitely bathe him afterwards.  Other than that I just wipe him down with warm water on the off days.  Remember what I said at the beginning, Less is Best.  Too much washing will dry out skin whether you are 0 or 95 years old.  Your skin creates its own moisture glands that produce sebum.

Sebum makes its way to the skins surface through the pores and keeps it waterproof.  It’s a barrier in two ways: It keeps too much water from getting into your body, and it prevents you from losing too much water through your skin. Sebum also protects skin from bacterial and fungal infections.  If you constantly wash off the sebum, your babies skin will lack this natural defense.

Once your babe is over 6 months he/she will start to be more mobile, possibly crawling.  You can also begin to introduce solid foods slowly at this age, the WHO suggests 6 months as the earliest that anything other than moms milk should be given to your LO.  As you can imagine these milestones will bring a whole new level of mess to clean up.  You will find food particles everywhere from the creases of their neck to the folds in their chubby little thighs.  At this stage you should use your own discretion, if your LO is messy, give him a bath but no more than 4-5x a week.  It also helps if you simply do a quick wipe down with warm water and a wash cloth after each feeding.

HAIR CARE

Hair care is very simple early on.  Just as the skin needs sebum for moisture, so does your hair.  As noted before it is very important that you don’t strip away these oils.  It is also important that whatever you use doesn’t get into the babies eyes, whether it says tear-less or not.  Especially since the eyes are still in the early stages of development.  I say better to not take chances.  In the beginning you can simply use a wash cloth with warm water, wring it out and wipe the baby’s head during his/her sponge bath.

FullSizeRender (3)

I still do the same thing not that he is in the baby tub.  There is still no need to douse or dunk his head into water.

Once he starts eating foods, which I don’t know how much longer I can prolong.  He so intently watches as I cook or prepare foods.  I’m trying to hold to the saying that “Food before one is just for fun!”.  It’s hard when he is practically yanking the food from my hands.  Solid foods are a monumental step and a very messy one.  You will definitely find food particles on the LO hair and everywhere else you can think of, even places you can’t imagine.  In this case you may need a gentle cleanser to remove the particles.  I use the same soap that I use for his skin since it is very gentle and cleanses very well.  I use a very small amount, so little you can barely see the bubbles, remember less is more! I know you are thinking ‘My gosh did she really say that again?’  Yes…because it is important to reprogram your thought process and that takes repetition. I still use the wash cloth to gently massage the area.  I then rinse the wash cloth and wipe off.

When they get to toddler stage and have a little more hair, there are lots of natural easy options.  You can make your own with castile soap and a little bit of water.  I found a great blog site, Gimmie the Good Stuff and they have a great post on Non-toxic Baby Shampoo, The Good, The Bad & The Sneaky.

BEST MOISTURIZER FOR BABY

So after we give the LO a bath, we have to replenish the oils that we have stripped in the cleaning process.  If you use a good, natural cleanser you will minimize the need to apply moisturizers.  There are tons of natural moisturizers in the form of butters, oils and even waxes.  I try to use ingredients in their raw form before mixing.  For example if you use Sweet Almond Oil and your LO has a reaction to it, then you know to keep ’em away from almonds.  When using products that have numerous ingredients it is hard to tell which ingredient is the culprit.

So far we have used Coconut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil & Shea Butter.  Since I know that he doesn’t react to them, I can mix them interchangeably, depending on his needs.  Coconut oil is by far our favorite, with Jojoba & Avocado coming in close second.  Below is a list of the beneficial moisturizers that nature provides.  This is far from a complete list however these should cover the majority of your LO needs.

  • Apricot Kernel Oil:  The perfect choice for babies, this oil is quite similar to Sweet Almond yet it does not generally pose an allergy risk. This oil is also expeller pressed with a light yellow tint. Odorless and can be used undiluted as a base oil. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Avocado Oil:  Avocado oil is mild, nourishing, semi-fatty oil, rich in lecithin and vitamins, including A, B and D. It is ideal for relieving itchy, dry and sensitive skin and works well blended with light oils such as Apricot Kernel Oil.  Shelf life: 1 year.
  • Castor Oil:  Castor oil has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties and is high in Vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and Omega 6 and 9 beneficial fatty acids. Its unusually high ricinoleic acid ratio makes it beneficial to skin and hair.  In fact, castor oil has traditionally been used topically for acne and other skin conditions, as well as hair loss, rashes and more.  This is another highly viscous oil and blends well with lighter oils.  Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Coconut Oil: If you want ultra soft, smooth and non-greasy skin, use coconut oil! Highly absorbent, antibacterial and soothing, this oil is perfect for all skin types. You should only use unrefined raw Coconut Oil. Solid at room temperature, this oil is white (clear as a liquid) and smells just like a coconut. The perfect base oil, it can be used 100% undiluted except when needing a liquid-at-room-temperature base, then it should be blended with another oil. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Jojoba Oil:  Thick and mineral-rich, Jojoba makes a wonderful addition to a carrier oil. However, this oil is not to be used undiluted as it can either be too thick/sticky or slightly irritating. This oil is a deep yellow and generally odorless. Should not make up more than 10% of an oil blend. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Olive Oil:  Olive oil has long been the standard for herbal alchemy, although this heavy-weight oil is quickly being replaced by more absorbent mediums. This oil is thick, greasy and does not absorb easily. It is best used for conditions that need serious hydrating, like ultra dry hair or skin. Even still, it is best used diluted in another carrier oil, making up 10% of the final product at most. This oil ranges from light yellow to dark green depending on the press and variety. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Shea Butter:  This vitamin and mineral rich butter comes from the Karite tree in Northern Africa.  It has a distinct nutty smell and is a great addition to any skin care routine.  It has a 6 spf and is generally safe for all skin types as long as it is unrefined.  Word of Caution, Unrefined Shea Butter ranges from ivory to yellow, it will stain clothing.  Simply make sure it is fully soaked in before dressing and use a very small amount.  Shea Butter does pose a risk to those with tree nut allergies or latex allergies, use with caution for young children or anytime where allergies are unknown. Shelf Life: 2 years.
  • Sweet Almond Oil:  A wonderful base oil and highly absorbent Sweet Almond Oil hydrates and softens without clogging pores. This oil is odorless and can be used as a base oil without dilution. Look for expeller pressed oil with a light yellow tint. Sweet almond oil poses a risk to those with nut allergies, use with caution for young children or anytime where allergies are unknown. Shelf Life: 2 years.

Severely Dry, Flaky Skin…better known as Eczema

Eczema affects the skin in flare-ups. Your baby’s skin may have dry and itchy patches of skin most of the time, but during flare-ups, these areas worsen and become inflamed. This happens as his immune systems overreacts to substances he’s allergic to.  Both bottle-fed and breast-fed babies can have eczema.

I won’t turn this into a lesson on nutrition.  I will say that most of the information that I found on eczema states that it is not based on the nutrition of the baby.  I don’t know if I can fully stand behind any of these claims.  Especially since it is  so closely related to allergens.  I do know that breastfeeding is best, if you are able.  It is specifically designed for your baby and it is great for mom’s health too.  I also know that babies that are breastfed can get eczema just like formula fed babies.

That being said if your baby is breastfed and they have eczema, there are many things that can be a factor.  My LO is breastfed and had eczema and digestive issues in his early months.  I went through the whole elimination diet to see what if anything was causing his issues.  I ended up discovering that he had an allergy to dairy.  When I eliminated dairy from my diet his digestive issues and eczema only slightly improved.  It was only after adding pro-biotics to my diet, did his digestive issues clear up, but he still had eczema…

So I was back to the drawing board and very sad that I could no longer eat cheese. I had read somewhere that Vitamin D deficiencies could lead to eczema and other skin related issues.  Made sense to me because he was born right when it started to get cold outside so he had not gotten much sun exposure, neither had I.  Only one week after taking 2000iu of Vitamin D daily, I noticed a drastic reduction in his flakiness and in two weeks his eczema had cleared up completely.

I’m not saying that Vitamin D and Pro-biotics will clear up eczema,  I tell you my story because I am convinced that eczema is linked to deficiency and/or allergies.  If you are breastfeeding please consider an elimination diet along with getting a complete work up from your physician to see if you have any Vitamin or Mineral deficiencies.

If you baby is formula fed, you may want to consider changing the formula that you are using.  I want to emphasize that no matter milk or soy based, formula should be Organic.  Non-organic formulas are mostly made of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) ingredients, these cause an entirely different set of issues that I will blog about later.   Below is a list of ingredients that you should always avoid, so do your due diligence and read all labels.

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Click Here for an awesome Blog on How to Find the Safest Organic Formula by FoodBabe.com.

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So as usual, what was supposed to be a quick blog has turned into a mini novel.  There is so much information out there and I’ve only helped to scratch the surface here.  I do hope that the information is beneficial for some new mommies out there.  If you have any questions or just want to chat about the info in this blog, please contact me at stephanie@edensbalance.com.

As always please discuss everything with your licensed physician as I am not a physician.  I do think natural is the best way to go but please see full Medical Disclaimer here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BABY KIHRE’S BIRTHING TIME

So this blog is way over due.  I was actually hoping to have a video blog done.  To be completely honest the only reason I have not is because I barely have time to do my hair let alone put on make-up for a video.  Since the story is way too cool not to share, here we go…

As most of you know my due dates were all over the place.  Two sonograms at the OB gave a date of date of September 9th and the Hospital sonogram gave me a date of August 28 (which matched my last menstrual cycle)…needless to say…it is all up in the air.  It’s usually difficult to determine the time of conception if you are in a relationship and not writing down every time you get frisky.  We had been dating for years and living together for years.  I calculated closer to Early September because I think the actual conception was while Papa Bear and I were on vacation after the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I saw the rainbow in the sky that I have been seeing for our entire relationship.   You can kinda see it reflecting off the clouds in the photo below.  Papa Bear would tell me later that he saw the same rainbow the day before Kihre was born.

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My intention was to have the baby in my oasis on the back porch.  I had everything ready for his arrival: the birth tub, the sheers, lots of potted plants, mats & everything you could possibly need for a comfortable birth.  Everything was set and ready to go by August 21st…now we waited…and waited…and tried lots of other stuff.  Sad part is that even though I didn’t birth in my oasis, I could see it from my actual birth location.

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As all moms know…the baby comes when the baby wants to come.  “Normal” Gestation for human infants is anywhere between 38-42 weeks.  This is important because when having a home birth, the midwife is only allowed to deliver in that 4 week time frame.  She stands the chance of losing her license if she delivers out side of that time.  This because of possible complications to mother and baby that can arise when the baby comes too early or too late.  So to be safe, we went with the September 9th date to make sure that we “complied”.  Although we knew it could be anytime around the two dates.

To help tone my uterus for my lil guys birthing time I drank Eden’s Balance Feminine Toner Tea.  I sat on the balance ball.  I saw the chiropractor 2x a week.  I never reclined in a chair.  I always slept on my left side…blah, blah, blah…everything you are supposed to do to help the baby get into position & stay in the perfect LOA (Left Occiput Anterior) position.

I did have to discontinue the Feminine Toner Tea because my body is very sensitive to the Red Raspberry and caused me to start losing my mucus plug at 32 weeks.  This isn’t abnormal but isn’t uncommon either.  I continued the rest of my routine and managed to keep him in the right position from week 35 to 40…

That’s right…he was still in there at 40 weeks.  So what does this mean for mom & baby.  Well mom is probably really, really ready to meet her little one & really, really ready to pop.  I know I was, I felt like every day I was putting on more pounds and craving more cake.  As for baby it means that the vernix caseosa (cottage cheesy substance that forms in week 18 and protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid) starts to come off and the baby’s skin is no longer protected.  This will cause the baby to come out “cleaner” when delivered & with dry flaking skin.  The earlier the baby is born, the more vernix will still be on the baby.  Below is a picture of a baby born at 38 weeks gestation with most of its vernix still in tact.  You will see in later pics of Kihre how “clean” he came out compared to the baby pictured below.

Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby's skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.
Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.

Your little one is also getting heavier & longer.  Don’t worry though, he is just as happy as can be.  Just pay attention to movements, be aware that they will be smaller because he has no space left to move.  He should still be moving.

At approximately 41 weeks I was ready to have the baby by myself in the middle of my bedroom floor if necessary to avoid the hospital.   I decided to start holistic methods of labor induction since going to the hospital was not an option.  After getting the ok from my Midwife, I visited my Acupuncturist, Dr. Choi, for an acupuncture induction.  I can barely understand the guy but I love the results I get everytime I see him…this time was no different.  I went to the office around 12pm on September 11th and had the procedure and went home to continue circles on my balance ball.

By 6pm I started to have pressure waves (contractions), I would only describe them as medium on the intensity scale.  They were 30 minutes apart but what I thought were intense enough to call my birthing team.  I had my Midwife, Doula on standby & two of my girlfriends at the house for comfort.  I was ready to get this baby out!  By this time Papa Bear & I had not been together for 4 months and we had decided to only peacefully co-parent.  For reasons that I will not get into in this blog I wasn’t planning on him being there for the delivery so I didn’t tell him that I was trying to induce naturally.  Little did I know, Kihre had other plans…because he waited until Papa Bear got back from his business trip to arrive.

By 12pm the pressure waves were still 30 minutes apart & I was exhausted.  Since I was able, I decided to get some rest and see what happened.  By 11am the next morning they had stopped completely and my lower back was killing me.  My Doula, Amy with Rosebud Doula, informed me that this was because the baby had adjusted his position and was no longer in the optimal position.

The best advice that my Doula gave me: When you feel pressure waves in your lower back, simply lift up your tummy firmly and tuck your pelvis.  It helps the baby position himself easier.  Thank you for this bit of info Amy!  It actually ended up starting my birthing time but I am getting ahead of myself.

I had only a few pressure waves over the next day.  Then SURPRISE! On Sunday morning guess who was watching TV on the couch when I woke…yep…Papa Bear.  I was kind of fuming that news of my coming birthing time had gotten out.  I am however very glad that it did, but I will get to why shortly.  The rest of the day I only had approximately 5-7 pressure waves, all only mildly intense.

My next course of action was to see the Chiropractor, Jill with Momentum Chiropractic on Liberia Ave  (love my Chiropractor).  Chiropractic adjustments are known to help the baby get into the LOA position.  I figured even if it didn’t get him out, it would surely help put my rib back into place (he kicked it every day for the last 6 weeks he was in there…owe).  My appointment with Jill was at 11am.  I had my normal adjustment and went home to wait again.

By 4pm there was no change so I decided to lay down and take a nap.  I remember thinking that nothing was going to get this kid out.  I woke up abruptly at 4:48 and headed to the bathroom, which was my most unfavorite place in the world since I spent to so much time peeing.  I went potty as usual but this time there was a huge glob of mucus plug, not streaks or even spots like in the previous weeks.  Anytime now I thought.  Still no strong pressure waves.  I washed my hands and headed out to my bedroom.  I looked at the clock and it was 4:50.

Right then I had the strongest pressure wave that I had had so far.  I lifted my belly & tucked my pelvis.  Immediately his head locked & loaded into position.  All I could do was drop down to my hands & knees…and crawl to my balance ball.  I laid my head on my ball for support and looked at the clock again…4:55 uhoh…another wave was coming….”OHHHHHHHHH, AHHHHHHH, OHHHHHHHHHH” were the only sounds I could get out.

By this time it was 5:20 and I remember thinking oh god…how will anyone know what is going on if I can’t even say anything…My oldest son was in his bedroom right next to mine and Papa Bear was in the living room.  I figured my best bet was to yell my son’s name as loud as I could.  Luckily he got Papa Bear before he came to me.

I managed say with labored breathing “Call Parveen, It’s Time, Now!”.

Parveen is my Midwife with Birth Traditions Midwifery.  I knew by that time it was already way past time to call.  Luckily he had heard the intensity of my moans & had already sprung into action calling all the numbers on the call list.  Unfortunately he called the Midwifes home number and not her cell phone.  Luckily he did get through to the Doula who was able to contact the Midwife and another backup Doula, this was all just in the nick of time since my the birth was progressing along very quickly.

The whole time my awesome & amazing oldest boy was sitting by my side with a cold wash cloth and holding my hand.  He was so calm and I am so proud that he was able to see the things that he did and still remain clam & in control.  He was a great help.

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At 5:45 my water broke. I still had on my yoga pants when I felt this huge gush that in my mind sounded like a gigantic balloon popping.  I later asked the kiddo if he heard it and he said no he didn’t hear anything.  I guess it was the sensation that gave me the impression of the noise.  By this time I was in a totally different place than anyone else in the room.  I could feel that it was almost time to start pushing.  Here we were…go time and it was still just the boys & I…that was the only terrifying part.  Especially since Papa Bear was frantic even though he really did try to remain calm.  I was fine with the thought of getting him out by myself (I had to do that anyways) but none of us were prepared for what to do once the baby actually came out.

Around 6:00 I had to push, it couldn’t wait any longer.  I reached my hand around and felt his head along with some other gooey substance that I am glad that I did not see (later they said it was just membrane from the amniotic sac).  Papa Bear had washed his hands & arms and was ready to delivery the baby himself.  He later told me that he wanted to put me in the car and take me to the ER.  Hah…good luck getting a pregnant woman into a car in the late stages of labor, I couldn’t even make it to my back porch.

I recall thinking how lucky that I had previously given birth and remembered the sensation of burning when you push and your skin is not ready.  I had to slow down even though the sensation to push was so strong.  This is what prevented me from tearing my perineum.

All I could say was “PLEASE, SOMEBODY HELP ME!”. I was so worried that Papa Bear would have to catch my lil guy when he popped out.  Although he has lots of birth experience it has never been this hands on.  He would say later that this one will go down in the record books as the most exciting, fascinating & frightening.

One more push and his head was out.  By this time I was swimming in the euphoric cocktail of hormones that were being produced by my body.  This was something that I had not felt when I gave birth the first time.  Unfortunately when medically induced and on epidural the body isn’t able to create the correct mix of hormones to put you in LaLa land.  I was in a place of complete Vulnerability & total Power.  It is a feeling that is very hard to describe and I recommend that every woman experience it if she is able…Very Empowering!

At this time the Doula arrived.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because the baby’s hand was stuck on my pelvis.  She had to insert her fingers to help it move through.  That was most possibly the most intense part of the birthing time outside of the initial burning.  Once she moved his hand, I pushed and he slid right out at 6:22.

By this time I was exhausted.  I had been on my hands & knees for the entire 82 minutes.  This was the moment that I actually noticed that the Doula was not Amy and a back up named Marilyn.  Luckily it was Marilyn since she was well versed in how to get his little hand out of the way.  The delivery could have been much longer had she not been there.  I had to apologize to Marilyn since I called her Amy the entire time.  Told you I was in LaLa Land.

The Midwife arrived shortly after he came out.  It was a great relief for me when she arrived.  I knew everything was fine but having her there to check everything gave me peace of mind.  I don’t remember who but Papa Bear or the Midwife passed my little guy to me under my legs as I sat on the floor.   It was the first time I had rested and the first time I saw him…the most precious little old soul.  It is amazing how you fall in love immediately and any pain that you were in melts away.  I held him in my arms and stared down on this little perfect combination of me and his father.

I moved from the floor to the bed with assistance from Papa Bear.  I wasn’t sore or in pain just very tired so I did need help.  My little guy was still connected to me for a while as the placenta continued to beat.  I held him for what seems like 30 minutes but time had stopped for me so I don’t know if that is accurate.  It was so nice to take my time with our first introduction.  My oldest had been taken from my arms minutes after being born and the placenta cut while still beating.  I will get into the importance in another blog…

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After the placenta stopped beating, Papa Bear had the honor of cutting the cord.

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He got to hold the baby for the first time when It was time for me to deliver the placenta.  He is so proud to have a son that is his spitting image.

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I did have some trouble getting my placenta out.  It is amazing how tired your body is after birth, it is like you just ran a marathon while standing in place.  I finally just imagined pushing and it falling out.  It worked even though everything was numb and I couldn’t even feel the sensation of the pushing.  It is in the deep freezer now waiting to be dehydrated & encapsulated.

Everything from that evening was pretty much a blur…overall our birthing time was perfect.  Little man came out weighting 7.5lbs & measuring a whopping 22″ long.  His APGAR Score was 8 at delivery and 5 minutes after he was a 9.  He had only minor symptoms of his late arrival.  He was very clean when he came out since the vernix had all come off.  His skin was a bit cracked on the creases (fixed that right up with olive oil.  They also attribute his length to his extra time in the womb. Most babies are between 19″-21″ when born.

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So although I did not birth in the water as expected and I almost birthed unassisted, everything was perfect.   During my Hypnobabies studies they emphasize that your birthing time will be exactly perfect for you and your baby.  If you keep that in mind and remain flexible with your birthing plans everything will go much smoother.  I would have loved to be able to tell everyone what it is like to have the baby outside and in the water…I even wanted to have pictures and video but since he came out in 82 minutes from start to finish, none of that happened.  All I have is a perfect little angel and a cool birthing story.

In conclusion I would totally recommend a natural home birth as well as the idea of getting to the water tub in time.  Hypnobabies was very helpful, I would recommend to everyone that isn’t familiar with meditation.  Definitely look into Birth without Fear and just remember how strong and powerful you are!!  Good luck & please contact me with any questions or comments…

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THIRD TRIMESTER POSITIONS: Sitting, Standing, Sleeping, Stretching & Sex…Oh My!

Congratulations…you made it to the home stretch!  Good news is you will have your little one in your arms & your body back to yourself very soon.  Bad news is the symptoms of the Third Trimester can be very taxing as your baby continues to pack on pounds & your body adjusts for the final round of pregnancy.  Sitting, Standing, Sleeping, Stretching & Sex…OH MY… it is hard to get comfortable with a watermelon inside of you.  Here are some tips on tried & true methods to ease the physical discomfort as you wait to meet your little pumpkin!  These are also important positions that can help your body meet the upcoming demands of delivery.

PREGNANCY ANATOMY

Here is a mini anatomy lesson to help you understand where the discomforts are coming from.  As your little one grows, every other organ in your body has to shift and make room.  Everything from your diaphragm to your bladder is being squished.  Your intestines are pushed upward toward the diaphragm, with pressure on the colon in the back and the bladder in the front. The diagram below shows how this progresses through each of the three stages of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Anatomy by Trimester

In the first trimester the uterus still fits snugly inside the pelvic bone.  As you can see, there isn’t space for anything by the third trimester.  That on top of the plethora of other symptoms:

  • Shortness of Breath-Your baby is growing quickly now and competing for space with your lungs & diaphragm as well.  This will ease in the 9th month as the baby engages and moves into position.  Lift your arms when you feel out of breath.  Use extra pillows to prop you up in bed and when lying down do so on your side.  It is always recommended to lay on your left side because it is less taxing on your organs & the vein that supplies blood & nutrients to your little one.
  • Fatigue-You are carrying an extra 20-30lbs around by this stage (more or less depending on your pre-pregnancy weight).  That is very taxing on the body.  It is great to take breaks and naps whenever possible.  Light exercise such as swimming, prenatal yoga or even walking is beneficial to boost your energy.  Be sure to eat small healthy snacks through out the day.  Protein & complex carbohydrates are a must for both you and your growing baby.  If your energy is really low you need to speak to your midwife or OB as you may have an iron deficiency.
  • Back Aches-Your ever expanding belly along with the hormone relaxin will inevitably throw off your posture.  Don’ fret…there are ways to make these adjustments more bearable.  Go to the spa and get a prenatal massage.  Visit a reputable chiropractor and get a prenatal adjustment.  I’m excited to have my first chiropractic adjustment this week.  I will get back with you and let you know how it goes.  Stretching does wonders…see below in Stretching Positions for awesome back & hip stretches.  Don’t lift anything, always get assistance…you deserve all the help you can get at this stage in the game.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, everyone will be happy to help a pregnant lady…if not they will do it anyways.
  • Frequent Urination-I can’t tell you how tired I am of peeing….ahhhh, late night bathroom breaks are the worst.  As you can see from the photo above, the uterus & baby’s head are pressing down quite a bit on your bladder.  This is why you have to go so often and sometimes even leak a bit when you cough or sneeze.  Make sure you avoid caffeine as it is a diuretic.  It is very important to continue drinking the recommended eight 8oz glasses of water every day.  It will be tempting to cut back but you cannot…hydration is very important for both you and the baby.
  • Heartburn-This always seems to plague me between 1am and 3am in the morning.  No matter what time yours hits it is brutal.  I would almost rather just throw up than have it sit in my throat.  TMI…The heartburn comes from the increased hormone cocktail in your body…it relaxes everything from your bowls to the flap that keeps everything in your esophagus.  This allows the days meals to easily come up…yuck!  Try to avoid fried, fatty, spicy or highly seasoned foods.  Avoiding caffeine can help too.  Eat small meals through out the day so your stomach has time to process the food. Be sure to sit up while eating and don’t eat too close to bedtime.
  • Swollen Feet, Legs & Varicose Veins-Swelling is caused by fluid retention in the lower extremities….legs, ankles & feet.  Swelling should subside but should also be monitored by your Midwife or OB.  Varicose Veins on the other hand are blood vessel valves that become soft or weak and allow blood to pool and form bulges.  These can be painful and permanent so it is best to try and avoid them all together.  Change positions from sitting to standing and prop feet up often.  Try not to cross your legs or ankles if you are experiencing swelling or Varicose Veins.  A cobblers pose is a great alternative to sitting cross-legged and also a great hip opener.  See Sitting Positions below.  Baths are also a great way to reduce swelling.  Add some Epsom Salt and/or Himalayan Salt for added purification & swelling reduction.  Just be sure that the water is not too hot.  Consult your Midwife or OB on safe bath temperatures.

SITTING POSITIONS

When seated in a chair it is important to sit up straight with knees bent at  90deg angle and your pelvis tilted slightly forward.  Do not cross your legs or ankles, it’s bad for circulation and can lead to swelling & varicose veins.  Changing & adjusting positions frequently is imperative for good blood flow so try not to sit for too long.  Try and stand up at least every hour to do a quick stretch & then resume what you were doing.  It only takes a moment.

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As comfortable as it may feel, do not slouch.  Slouching in recliners or on the bed will only encourage the baby to lay in the posterior position.  This is when the baby’s spine is closest to your spine.  Anterior is the optimal position for labor and will help to avoid back labor and make your baby’s transition into this world easier.  Remember birthing is like running a marathon for them too.

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When sitting on the floor is more preferable it is best to sit in cobblers pose.  Simply sit straight up with your sit bones on a mat or blanket.  Bend knees & put bottoms of feet together.  Adjust for comfort and relax.  This pose is also great for readying the hips for labor.  It will help keep you nice and flexible for birth.

Sitting cross legged or indian style is a great hip opener too.  Though it may be more comfortable to sit in cobblers pose.  Either way don’t over stretch. Remember those hormones already gave your tendons & joints a chill pill and it is easy to over stretch so move slowly into positions.   Most importantly listen to your body.

My most favorite sitting position is any position that involves my balance ball.  It is my favorite must have pregnancy comfort item.  You can purchase them online or in stores easily.  Just make sure that you get one that is right for your height.

The balance ball is great for core strength and stabilizing your pelvis.  It is recommended to spend as much time sitting up on a balance ball as possible in the third trimester.  It will help to prepare your pelvis for labor & even help the baby get into just the right position.  If you have to sit at a desk you should replace your chair with a balance ball.   Some employers will even cover the cost, though it is well worth the expense to just buy on your own if they will not.

STANDING POSITIONS

Standing for long periods of time during the third trimester is not recommended for circulation reasons.  Your body is circulating over 50% more blood than normal & it is hard work on your body.  So as much as possible you want to be in an upright seated position.  Elevating your feet as much as possible is great for circulation too.  When you do need to stand, here are some tips to keep your body in alignment.

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SLEEPING POSITIONS

In the first two trimesters it is a lot easier to find comfortable sleeping positions, but by the third trimester sleeping can be near impossible.  Your belly is way to big at this time to sleep on your front.  Besides the baby will definitely be kicking and punching if you put too much pressure on him.  Sleeping on your back is also a no-no.  The extra weight of your uterus will put pressure on your spine, back muscles, intestines & vena cava-a major artery that runs in between your spine and your placenta.   This can lead to muscle aches and impaired circulation, see diagram below.

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Laying on your left side, some say,  is the optimal position for most mommy’s in every trimester but is especially useful in the third.  You will however need to switch from your left to right side.  If you spend too much time in one position you will cause undue aches.  Sleeping on your left side will help babies in the posterior position to re-position the mothers left side facing toward the right hip.  This is the easiest position for the baby to be in for labor.  I will further refer you to an authority on this, Spinning Babies.  This site is full of information & they have classes you can attend too.

Placing a pillow behind you will help stabilize you.  Use either an extra firm pillow or body pillow to place between your knees.  This will help keep your hips in alignment and avoid unnecessary aches.

Knee position

You can find specialized pillows for pregnancy but I have found that they tend to be super expensive and extra firm pillows work just as well.  I didn’t buy anything fancy but if I had…here are some that have gotten great reviews & I would have loved to try…maybe I will get them for the next pregnancy.

The Holo-Lilo allows you to get some tummy sleeping in.  I also think this would have been very comfy for lying on the beach or by the pool.   http://www.holo-lilo.com/

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The Mumanu is another one that I would have liked to try.  http://www.mumanu.com/

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STRETCHING POSITIONS

What better time than pregnancy to adapt a new, positive & wholesome approach to life?  Yoga is an awesome way to do that. Smooth pregnancy and a natural childbirth are just some of the benefits of yoga. But more importantly, yoga does wonders on the physical and mental development of the fetus.  Below are some yoga stretches that are generally considered safe in the third trimester.  Do these poses slowly, there is no rush.  If you feel any discomfort, ease out of the pose slowly and try one that is more comfortable.  Make sure you consult with your Midwife or OB before trying any new stretches or exercises during pregnancy.

HALF BUTTERFLY is an excellent practice for loosening of hip and knee joints, which shall enable faster delivery.

Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee.

Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. Movement of leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Repeat with left leg. Slowly practice about 10 up and down movements with each leg. DO NOT STRAIN.

FULL BUTTERFLY helps remove tension & tiredness from inner thigh muscles and legs.

Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to the body as possible. Fully relax the inner thighs. Clasp the feet with both hands. Gently bounce the knees up and down, using the elbows as levers to press the legs down.

Do not use any force. Repeat up to 20-30 times. Straighten the legs and relax.

SLEEPING ABDOMINAL STRETCH removes constipation, improves digestion. Relieves stiffness and strain of spine caused by prolonged sitting.

Lie in the back. Interlock fingers of both hands and place hands beneath the head. Bend knees, keeping the soles of feet on the floor.

At the same time move the head towards the left, giving uniform twisting stretch to the entire spine. Repeat on the other side by bending legs towards left, and head towards right.  If this is too deep of a stretch, you can look in the direction of the bent knees.

SQUATTING All over the world, women give birth squatting. It is the most natural and beneficial posture. This posture widens the pelvis and, with the help of gravity, encourages the descent of your baby in the birth canal. Squat exercise mobilizes the entire pelvic region, widening it as much as 25%!  That being said, if your baby is not in the correct position do not do deep squats.  Once the baby has engaged it is hard to back them up so don’t over do the squats.  Speak to your Midwife or OB about the baby’s position in relation to your squats.

CHAIR SQUATS-Stand upright and relaxed while facing the back of a sturdy chair. Step your feet slightly farther than hip-distance away from each other with your toes pointed out. Hold the chair back and tighten your abdominal muscles, loosen your shoulder muscles and lower your body down as if about to sit down on a chair. You will feel the tops of your thighs putting in a lot of work.  Push back up through your legs to stand back up. Repeat as often as you comfortably can.

GODDESS SQUAT-Begin standing in Mountain Pose athe top of your mat with your arms at your sides. Bring your hands to rest comfortably on your hips.  Turn to the right and step your feet wide apart, about four feet. Turn your toes out slightly, so they point to the corners of your mat.  On an exhalation, bend your knees directly over your toes and lower your hips into a squat. Work toward bringing your thighs parallel to the floor, but do not force yourself into the squat.  Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height with your palms facing down. Then, spiral your thumbs up toward the ceiling, so your palms face forward. Bend your elbows and point your fingertips toward the ceiling; your upper arms and forearms should be at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your tailbone in slightly and press your hips forward as you draw your thighs back. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Soften your shoulders. Gaze softly at the horizon.  Hold for up to 10 breaths. To release, slowly return your hands to your hips. Keeping your spine upright, inhale as you press firmly into your feet and straighten your legs. Step your feet together and come back to the top of your mat in Mountain Pose.

This pose can be difficult if you have not practiced it before.  If you find squatting very difficult, you can put your buttocks on a bolster or on a block or two! You can also do a squatting pose with your back resting against a wall.

  • Rest both hands on the back of a chair.
  • Rest one hand along a wall to the side of the body.
  • Do the pose with your back against a wall.

EXTENDED TRIANGLE strengthens the legs, knees, ankles, arms, and chest.  It also stretches and opens the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine.

Stand upright, then exhale and step your feet about 4 ft. apart from each other. Lift your arms out to the sides, making them parallel to the floor below and turn them palm down. Slightly turn your left foot toward your right foot, turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right, then tighten your thigh muscles and turn your right thigh until the right knee cap aligns with the right ankle. Lean your torso right, over the right leg, bending your body at the hip rather than at the waist.

Keep your balance by strengthening the left leg muscles and planting the heel onto the floor. Place your right hand on your shin or ankle, depending on what feels comfortable and turn your torso to the left. Extend your left arm straight above at the shoulder and follow it with your eyes, gazing up at your hand. Hold for 30 seconds, inhale and return to standing. Reverse foot positions and repeat on the other side.

These are only a few of the beneficial yoga poses for the third trimester.  Remember that each persons body is different so you may need to make adjustments to make sure that you are comfortable and not over stretching.  Pregnancy Yoga Resource is an amazing website that will give you tons more poses & information on yoga and its pregnancy benefits.

SEX POSITIONS

Let’s be honest, sometimes you won’t feel like doing anything, let alone having some sexy time with your partner.  However; there will be those times that you start feeling frisky.  As long as you are not high risk and you are up for it, sex in the third trimester can be awesome!!  It is also a great way to get labor moving since orgasms create the hormone Oxytocin and semen contains prostaglandins which are known to soften the cervix.  Finding a position a comfortable sexual position in the First and Second Trimester was easy…Third Trimester…not so much.   But let me tell you, it is totally possible and is just as hot and steamy as when you were making the babe in the first place.

As you can see from the graphic below the most important thing to remember is to leave plenty of space for your baby.  The baby will most certainly make adjustments so he/she is more comfortable too.  It is fine, you are not hurting him he is just readjusting to your position just like when you turn from left to right while sleeping.  My tried & true favorites are A, B & C below.  My little man doesn’t like D so he moves like crazy and it is super uncomfortable for me…may work for you though, so try ’em all.

Sexc

The best position for all three of us seems to be with my bottom to the side or foot of the bed and lie back with your knees bent and feet perched at the edge of the mattress. (After your first trimester, wedge a pillow under one side so you’re not completely flat on your back.) Your partner kneels or stands in front of you.

post4 (1)

If your partner is scared that he may hurt the baby, simply inform him that  no penis is large enough to dislodge a baby.  His ego may be touch a little bit so tell him how endowed he is first and how much you love his penis.  Then he will probably be all too ready to go.  So get to it…why not end the pregnancy with all the love & affection that got you all here in the first place…Especially since you have to wait 5-6 weeks after the baby is born to have sex again.

While sex is generally considered safe, there are some conditions or complications with pregnancy that may impact having sexual intercourse. Your health care provider may advise you to limit or avoid sex if you have one of the following conditions:

  • A history of miscarriage
  • A history of pre-term labor
  • Vaginal bleeding or cramps
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid or breaking of water
  • Incompetent cervix (the cervix or opening of the uterus is weak and opens prematurely, which increases the risk for miscarriage or premature delivery)
  • Placenta previa (the structure that provides nourishment to the baby is in front of the cervix or in the lower part of the uterus, instead of the usual location at the top of the uterus)
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Infection

 

BABYMOONS: Who, What, When, Where & Why

I have been MIA for most of my second trimester but for good reason…I have been Babymooning!

So what is the hell is a Babymoon & why should you take one, two or three if you can.   A Babymoon is defined as a relaxing or romantic vacation for the mommy or both of the new parents to be.  My definition would read more like this: Time for mommy to enjoy the second trimester before she gets to big to even find a comfortable position to breathe let alone sit or laydown; a time of rest, relaxation & reflection.  Why should you take one…well first of all why not?  Second of all because you won’t get free time like this in a long time once your baby comes.  So my suggestion…get in as many Babymoons as your time & budget allow.

With my first son I never even fathomed something like a Babymoon.  I worked feverishly up until the day before his induction.  I worked through morning sickness, exhaustion & extreme mood swings, not to mention gaining over 60lbs.  Taking time off for anything other than doctors appointments was unheard of.  Making money & career advancement was the theme of my life at the ripe age of 20.  I was even taking a full course load for most of the pregnancy.  Now that I look back I don’t even know how I managed, amazing what women can do.

Luckily I am in a much different place in my life.  I worked through the first 2 months of my pregnancy but my job for the past six months has pretty much been growing my little guy.  Which I must say is hard work.  I always knew that I wanted to be able to be home away from outside stresses when I carried my second child.  It’s one of the reasons I waited so long to even have this experience again.  I knew that I wanted to be in a comfortable place and not be in a position where I was the sole provider, either financially, physically or emotionally.  After years of persuasion from Papa Bear…here we are now…with our little bear on the way.

I digress, let’s get back to the fun Babymoon stuff.  Here are some Tips by Trimester.

FIRST TRIMESTER: During your first trimester you are generally ok to travel.  Most women will encounter nausea & exhaustion in this stage and it may not be the most comfortable experience for mom to be.  Also be aware that risk of bleeding & miscarriage is the highest in the first trimester.

SECOND TRIMESTER:  This is the best time to Babymoon!  The nausea & exhaustion from the first trimester should be waning and you are not as big as a house yet.  At this stage I could still hide my belly with the right clothes, even on the beach.  You will feel your best and you will have the most energy.

THIRD TRIMESTER:  Travel in the third trimester is very uncomfortable.  By this time your belly & baby will have more than doubled in size from the second trimester.  It is also not a good idea to be too far away from your OB or Midwife in case of complications or pre-term labor.

BABYMOON TIPS

  1. FLYING:  Generally you can travel up to 6 months with out a problem but after that you will have to get  permission from your OB or Midwife.  Some airlines require a physician statement written within 72 hours of travel.  Not that I could imagine sitting on a plane for 5+ hours in the third trimester…let alone sitting anywhere for an extended period of time with out adjusting.  If you do have to travel in the third trimester make sure you travel first class for extra space.  If you cannot afford first class opt for business class.  An isle seat will be preferable so you can get up and move around easily.  Sitting for long periods of time is bad for your circulation.  Be sure to stay hydrated as high altitudes tend to cause dehydration.  Close proximity to a restroom is also preferable.  Bring a neck pillow or small lumbar pillow for comfort.
  2. DRIVING:  Short trips close to home are generally considered safe during all three trimesters.  Anything farther than 1-2 hours away should be limited to the first and second trimesters.  Be sure to take breaks every 1-2 hours and walk around.  Also be sure to stop whenever needed to take restroom breaks.  This will help avoid any urinary infections caused by holding your urine.  Bring a pillow to support your lower back.  You are recommended to wear a seatbelt but I can only wear the shoulder harness as the lap belt cuts off circulation.  Don’t try this at home kids!!
  3. BOATS OR CRUISES: Boating is great as long as you wear a life vest and you stay hydrated.  It is easy to dehydrate when out on the water.  Cruises on the other hand I can’t say ya or nay to.  If there is no outbreak of some known or unknown disease then you are good.  Who knows if your ship will be the next in quarantine or not?  I personally will wait until after the babe is born to take any cruises.

MY BABYMOONS

PRE-BABYMOON: DENVER & VAIL, COLORODO  (Thanksgiving 2014-Nov 26th-Dec 4th)

Since the lil guy was conceived on Thanksgiving vacation I couldn’t help but include.  Just looking at the pictures and knowing that my lil peanut was inside of me growing makes me smile.

Oxana & I being chauffeured through the Rockies
Oxana & I being chauffeured through the Rockies
Oxana & I Resort in Vail
Oxana & I Resort in Vail
Colorado is so beautiful...this was taken at Red Rocks the natural amphitheater
Colorado is so beautiful…this was taken at Red Rocks the natural amphitheater

BABYMOON #1 SEAL BEACH, CALIFORNIA (May 6th-10th & 15-16th)

I chose this location because I wanted to visit one of my best girl friends.  She just so happens to live in one of the cutest little beach towns in Southern California…how convenient.  I stayed in one of the cutest little hotels, The Pacific Inn.  It didn’t look like much on the outside but it was fully renovated & the closest place to stay near the beach.

Debbie & I at Seal Beach Pier
Debbie & I at Seal Beach Pier 6 months Prego
Science Museum Los Angeles, California 5 months prego
Science Museum Los Angeles, California 6 months prego
The Pacific Inn: Cutest Little seaside hotel with open air pool area
The Pacific Inn: Cutest Little seaside hotel with open air pool area
Palm trees in Seal Beach
Palm trees in Seal Beach

BABYMOON #2 KAUAI, HAWAII (May 10-15th)

Now anyone that knows me knows I have a special affinity for Hawaii.  Ever since I first visited in 2005 I have been hooked everything from the climate to the vibe to the people.  This is definitely a place that I am able to reflect, relax & completely release any stresses…lets face it, who cares what is going on anywhere else when you are in Hawaii!  This trip was a solo one for many reasons.  It was last minute, I mean I was already in California…why not fly a few more hours and spend a few days in heaven.

Fresh Coconut...my absolute favorite treat
Fresh Coconut…my absolute favorite treat
Kamokila Hawaiian Village-Traditional Birthing House
Kamokila Hawaiian Village-Traditional Birthing House
Enough Said...
No words to describe the sheer majesty of Hawaiian Beaches

BABYMOON #3 COROLLA, NORTH CAROLINA (June 20th-July 9th)

This was the last and final Babymoon on my agenda.  Over two weeks in the Outer Banks, in our cozy beach house in the woods, Toad Hall.  The beach, the woods & a few of my best girlfriends for some much needed R&R.  I didn’t spend much time doing anything but napping on the beach.  I did manage to get in at least 6 miles a day walking on the beach for most of the trip.  I was early in the third trimester though & exhaustion started taking its toll.  That and it was super hot outside.  Excessive heat and pregnancy do not mix well so I had to cut back on my walks toward the end of the trip.

My best girl Teenie gave me henna belly tattoo before my trip!
My best girl Teenie gave me henna belly tattoo before my trip!
7 months Prego
My Happy Place-The Beach 7 months Prego

Now we are very close to meeting our precious little one.  Less than 2 months to go so I won’t be doing any more lavish trips.  I must say I feel like a beached whale now and much prefer to stay home in peace, quiet and most importantly AC.  Which can now be accomplished since the teen siblings have gone home.  Love the kids but I love my quite too!

Oral Hygiene in Pregnancy

Oral hygiene is always very important at every stage of life, but especially so during pregnancy. During pregnancy every part of your body working harder to sustain the life growing inside of you. Pregnancy hormones make you more susceptible to gum disease which can cause problems for the developing fetus. Remember for baby to be at optimal health, mommy needs to be in optimal health.

Yeah right…good oral hygiene? During the first trimester I could barely put anything in my mouth let alone a toothbrush. I did the best I could to rinse my mouth out and even swish around some fluoride-free Toms Peppermint Toothpaste. That usually made me throw up again.

Now that I am out of the all day sickness phase of pregnancy I have gotten back on my normal oral hygiene routine & I was introduced to the best toothpaste that I have tried yet.  My oral care routine started years ago since Papa Bear constantly has teeth problems.   He was prescribed some kind of prescription mouthwash but I knew we could to better.  With natural care he has actually avoided having to get root canals.

I did tons of research to find out different natural ways to help with the pain but also healing the gums.  I found that most oral care products are laced with toxic fluoride.  For the longest time we used Tom’s Fluoride Free Toothpaste and peroxide.  We added a technique called oil pulling, this is used as a way to purify the body and it is also great for the gums & teeth.

We have since graduated to an even more natural form of tooth paste that has Neem as the main ingredient.

Oral Health

Oral Health 1

My routine consists of coconut oil, Neem toothpaste & food grade peroxide. Below are the benefits of each & my routine.

OIL PULLING: Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy that helps cleanse the body by detoxifying and cleaning teeth and gums. This is a wonderful, all-around home treatment for oral health.  Oil pulling will also make your teeth whiter while it removes harmful bacteria and reduces inflammation. What’s not to like?

Oil pulling has been used in India and Asia for 3,000 years, where it is used to treat about 30 or more systemic diseases. This natural remedy was only introduced to the West about 20 years ago.  It is safe, easy, and inexpensive.  Source:  http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/oil-pulling

While it is possible to use many different oils for pulling, I prefer Coconut Oil for the many added benefits.  I like Better Body brand Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.

oral health3

COCONUT OIL:  Coconut oil is known as a natural antibiotic and it has been found to destroy the bacteria that causes tooth decay.  If you are searching for a natural cavity fighter then you should consider making coconut oil a part of not only your oral care routine but also your diet.  Just check out these benefits:

  • Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
  • Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it may  prevent the spread of cancer cells while enhancing the immune system)
  • Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
  • Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)
  • Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)
  • An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
  • Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
  • Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)
  • Anti-retroviral (may reduce the viral load of HIV-AIDS patience)
  • Anti-viral (may kill some viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
  • Effective at improving nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
  • Has no harmful for discomforting side effects
  • Infection fighting
  • Nontoxic to humans and animals

NEEM BARK:  In the old days the people in India did not use neem toothpaste. They used neem toothbrushes instead.  Chewing on a neem twig has for many centuries been the commonly preferred way to prevent gum disease and maintain healthy teeth.  These rural people had never used a “real” toothbrush, didn’t know Crest or Colgate, yet they had perfect teeth. A perfect natural solution.  Researchers believe the tradition of using neem twigs for dental care has helped Indian villagers to avoid cavities and tooth loss, although they have no access to modern dental care facilities or products. 

And where did the controversial fluoride get us? Holes everywhere…

And then the other evil: plaque, tartar, gingivitis, periodontitis… You heard all about it. Gum disease is a recognized public health problem in the western world. The widespread chronic infection of gums (gingivitis) is even believed to contribute to heart disease. Check out this link for more information on this wonder plant.  Source www.Discoverneem.com

Neem Bark & powder
Neem Bark & powder

FOOD GRADE PEROXIDE:  Not only is hydrogen peroxide a proven weapon in the fight against bacteria, it’s also been shown to fight gingivitis, or inflamed and bleeding gums. When used as a mouth rinse, H2O2 prevents bacteria buildup and plaque, both contributors to gingivitis.  This is also great news for bad breath: Better oral health means fresher breath, and the oxidizing action of hydrogen peroxide really enables it to get into the crooks and nooks of teeth, gums and the tongue where bacteria tend to hang out and multiply.

oral health peroxide

It is however very important to use a good quality food grade brand of peroxide.  Not the brown bottles you can get from drug stores.  I get most of my hard to find supplements & products from Swanson.  While I do not recommend a lot of the products they sell, they also have a wide variety of great raw ingredients & non-toxic, beneficial products.  Do your own research or message me if you have questions on something before you purchase.  I’m always happy to assist if I can.

dca-blog_pregnancy-oral-care

DAILY ROUTINE x2:
1) Swish 1tsp of coconut oil in mouth for 10-20 minutes. DO NOT GARGLE. Spit oil into trash can. DO NOT SPIT OIL DOWN THE DRAIN. It will clog both toilet & sink drains quickly so don’t get in the habit.
2) Brush teeth with natural fluoride-free toothpaste. We like Theraneem Naturals.  I only like the cinnamon flavor so far. We picked up the peppermint on accident & it made me gag so I stopped using that.
3) Gargle with food grade peroxide. Peroxide is great for oral hygiene. Swish & gargle for a minute or so. If it starts to burn spit out immediately. This is important since coconut oil brings out toxins, this way any germs left from brushing are rinsed away.

This simple routine should be followed 2x a day for maximum benefit, not only to your body but to your health as well. If you have an achy tooth or gums, you should follow this routine 3-4x a day until well after the pain is gone.  Remember it takes time for our bones & teeth to break down so it will take some work to get everything back in order.  Don’t fret…it is well worth it!  Think how much money you will save when you only have to see the dentist for a yearly check up!

As a very important side note I would like to add that fluoride in any form is harmful to you.  I always refuse for me & my son when at the dentist, did I mention how little we actually need to go since taking care of ourselves naturally?

 

Nesting: I Totally Can’t Stop

One of the most exciting and productive parts of my pregnancy (outside of growing a baby of course), has truly been nesting.  It happens at the weirdest times, I get a rapid burst of energy every morning around 5am.  I can’t stop.  One Morning I noticed the dust on the floor boards and had to wipe them down throughout the entire 2,800 sqft house. In the process I see something that needs to be done in every room.

I love my home.  The perfect place to raise my lil men! Lots of nature and lots of space.
I love my home. The perfect place to raise my lil men! Lots of nature and lots of space.

I start and nothing could stop me, it was a nonstop cleaning marathon!

  • Vacuum, Clean Floors, Vacuum Vents throughout
  • Dust blinds & remind maid to dust blinds
  • Hang painting in sewing room
  • Organize sewing room
  • Clean off desk in office
  • Wash baskets of laundry & piles of towels & blankets in the laundry room from when we had all the kids and family over for spring break
  • Organize Eden’s Balance work kitchen, everything from basket supplies to herbs and packaging…oh my
  • Organize entire two car garage for easy access to everything & sweep (something I’ve needed to do since we moved in last August)
  • Clean out the broom & linen closet
  • Clean out entire refrigerator

All these tasks were accomplished between the hours of 5am & 12pm. I woke up my poor son at 7am to help.  He grumpily obliged.   I tried to explain to him that mommy was nesting and these tasks could not wait.  When we were finally done we both sat down and sighed, amazed at what we had accomplished. We still had the full Saturday ahead of us.  We even decided that the kiddo was old enough to sleep in the empty bedroom downstairs.  In his own words, “It will be better down there, the baby won’t wake me up!”

Then my mind started racing, now I can use the kiddos old room instead of the guest room for our Baby Bear.  It’s almost double the size.  Furniture, I need furniture.  Lucky it’s a boy since the room is all blue.  Ewe his carpets are gross, yep, one more thing to do.  Call in the carpet cleaners.

Oh did I mention the outside, I have ideas for everything from the tree house, the flower beds, new paint for the shed & a good power washing on the exterior of the house.

I love this tree house.  It doubles as a secret fort covered in trees.
I love this tree house. It doubles as a secret fort covered in trees.

So yes…this girl who is anti all things domestic, is NESTING!!

pregnant-nesting

What is nesting you ask?   Nesting is a period of organizing, clearing out clutter & making way for the new addition that usually occurs for the first time in the second trimester.   The second trimester is the easiest for most women, it is often called the honeymoon trimester of pregnancy.  The woes of first trimester nausea & fatigue are gone and your belly is only in the way a little bit.   It is for a very specific reason that our hormones almost force us to do this.  All mammals crave a safe, secure & calm environment to give birth & raise the coming newborn.  So istinctually both mother and father will exhibit nesting tendencies.

“All new mothers have a nesting instinct, even human mothers who haven’t any idea how to build a nest. While human mothers are waiting for their babies to be born, their nesting instinct causes them to do the silliest things, such as taking all the pots out of one cabinet and all the pans out of another and switching them. Human mothers don’t know why they are doing this except that some little voice in their heads is saying, ‘Keep busy! Keep busy!’

—excerpt from the children’s book Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant

What hormones cause the nesting instinct?  Both Progesterone & Prolactin are responsible for the Nesting Instinct.  They are  associated with kinship, bonding & warm fuzzy feelings.  I will do another blog on hormones specifically.

  • Progesterone is one of the most important hormones for sustaining a viable pregnancy. It thickens the uterine lining & keeps it in tact.  Levels of this hormone rise after conception and remain high through pregnancy.
  • Prolactin makes us calmer and lowers the sex drive in some people (thankful not to have that problem). It turns our focus to house, home, family & friends.  It is required for breastfeeding & rises quickly in the last few months of pregnancy

Psychologically Nesting helps us brace ourselves for the upcoming edition. Having a baby is a beautiful and fulfilling experience but it is no small life change.  Being in control of your own well-being is hard sometimes & soon an old soul in a little body will need you for life support.

So next time your partner mentions your weird cleaning & organizing tendencies at 3am, tell him that there is scientific evidence that supports your weirdness.  Don’t forget to ask for help! It is important that you don’t over stress your body or mind during pregnancy, it isn’t good for the bun in your oven.

As I finish writing this blog I am sitting here thinking that I should rearrange my office…oh yeah & my daddy is outside landscaping my flower beds for me…and when I return from my vacation, mulch for all of my beautiful trees & of course a few hibiscus bushes for the back yard.  Wow Nesting & in Springtime…Oh my…I feel a nap coming on.

NFESTING3

NESTING4

NESTING5

 

 

Poem: I Will Cherish This Moment

image
When I feel the sensations of pain in my belly, I am in awe and wonder of what is happening inside of me
As the nausea creeps up, I honor my bodies ability to create the hormones necessary to provide life support until the placenta is formed
Lightning bolts of pain race through my breasts and I imagine how they will one day feed & nourish your tiny body
My stomach grows and I see the tiny outline of you that will soon be the size of a watermelon, it makes me smile to know that my body knows exactly what you need to grow to that size
Aches & pains race through my back & hips in preparation to bring you into this world and tears of joy come to my eyes
I’ve known you for so long, I will cherish this moment as I will you, every month in my belly & everyday of our lives

Stephanie Phillips

Why I Maintain a Healthy Pregnancy Weight to Avoid Complications

Since your lifestyle before conception is so important,  I am glad that we started changing our eating habits many years ago and quit smoking over 2 years before the conception of Baby K.A.M.   We drink smoothies for breakfast, eat lots of fresh fruits & veggies,  salads,  avoiding processed & pre-packaged foods.  Now that there is a beautiful baby boy growing inside of me I know how important it is to keep up my healthy lifestyle and eating habits.  This is a great way to relive any stresses you may have about pregnancy, avoid habits that will cause complications.

fruit granola chia
Granola, Chia Seeds, Yogurt, Fresh Fruit for Breakfast
Baby K.A.M.s Brother said he wants my belly to get bigger so he grilled my favorite veggies.
Baby K.A.M.s Brother said he wants my belly to get bigger so he grilled my favorite veggies.

I will flashback for a minute to my first pregnancy since nothing was healthy about that pregnancy.  I gained 68lbs, way over the recommended 25-35lbs.  I ate everything fast & processed, hell it was easy, fast & inexpensive.  Can you believe my son was only 5lbs 13oz of that weight.  I was very lucky to have a complication free pregnancy & easy delivery.

icecream

Now I consciously make my food choices, hormones or not.  I give myself 3 sweet cheats weekly so I don’t go nuts and if I have 4, it won’t kill me.  Like yesterday when I had to have that chewy chocolate brownie for desert.  That is the beauty of having a healthy diet & lifestyle.  Occasional cheats are OK.  Its the daily cheats that become a problem.

Some women are under the impression that you can eat as much and however you want when you are pregnant.  The old saying that you are “eating for two” is a common misnomer that should be addressed.  You don’t necessarily need more calories in your diet, especially in the first trimester.  In the second & third trimesters you will need to increase your nutrient intake but only about 200-300 calories per day.  You and your baby will require more of certain nutrients at different stages of your pregnancy.  Folic Acid is very important during the first trimester since the majority of the body systems are forming at that time.  Later on in pregnancy protein & iron  very important so the baby can grow larger & continue to develop.  I will get more into the development needs during each trimester in a later post.

Piling on pounds causes complications to both baby & mother,  you can see why this is so important & not just a superficial need to be a certain size…I know that with all of the hormones raging & cravings it is not easy, but be sure to have lots of healthy foods readily available.

Lots of Fresh Fruits to snack on
Lots of Fresh Fruits to snack on

Keeping junk food snacks out of the house is important too, outta sight, outta mind.  Oh yeah…and occasionally…have a cheat.  Just not everyday.  It also helps so much if your partner is on the healthy band wagon too…although Papa Bear has sweet cravings.  I’m good as long as I don’t see it, but I think it is cute that dad’s have cravings too.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF OBESITY FOR THE MOTHER

Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of various pregnancy complications, including:

  • Gestational diabetes. Women who are obese are more likely to have diabetes that develops during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) than are women who have a normal weight.
  • Preeclampsia. Women who are obese are at increased risk of developing a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys (preeclampsia).
  • Infection. Women who are obese during pregnancy are at increased risk of urinary tract infections. Obesity also increases the risk of postpartum infection, whether the baby is delivered vaginally or by C-section.
  • Overdue pregnancy. Obesity increases the risk that pregnancy will continue beyond the expected due date.
  • Labor problems. Labor induction is more common in women who are obese. Obesity can also interfere with the use of certain types of pain medication, such as an epidural block.
  • C-section. Obesity during pregnancy increases the likelihood of elective and emergency C-sections. Obesity also increases the risk of C-section complications, such as wound infections. Women who are obese are also less likely to have a successful vaginal delivery after a C-section (VBAC).
  • Pregnancy loss. Obesity increases the risk of miscarriage.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS TO THE BABY

  • Macrosomia. Women who are obese are at increased risk of delivering an infant who is significantly larger than average (macrosomia) and has more body fat than normal. Research suggests that as birth weight increases, so does the risk of childhood obesity.
  • Chronic conditions. Being obese during pregnancy might increase the risk that your baby will develop heart disease or diabetes as an adult.
  • Birth defects. Research suggests that obesity during pregnancy slightly increases the risk of having a baby who’s born with a birth defect.

I am now 21 weeks and have gained 9lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.  I am right on track for the recommended 25-35lbs.  The baby’s development is perfect & I feel so good!  I have tons of energy & am very much looking forward to meeting our little miracle.   Even more importantly helping him to stay the pure conscious soul that I know him to be.

BABY K.A.M. 21 Weeks
BABY K.A.M. 21 Weeks

Midwife vs OB: My Experience with both

Before Baby K.A.M.s conception I knew that my next child would be born naturally. Since I have led a very conscious lifestyle for quite sometime, making the decision to have a natural birth was a simple one. Ensuring that my baby has a healthy conscious entrance into this world is my number one priority. I will digress and say that I did not have the same experience with my first son. I was young and invincible. I knew nothing of being natural or healthy. I was still young and not worried about weight so I ate pretty much however I wanted. I ate meat, fast foods, processed, prepackaged meals like they were going out of style. They were cheap and I was out living on my own at 20.

This time I was sure that I wanted to have a water birth so the baby would have a smooth transition from womb to world. But that was all I really knew about natural birth, well that and that you didn’t get to use drugs. Drugs like Pitocin to induce contractions & Epidural to ease the pain. My first encounter with the OB was fine, sterile & cold but fine. Peed in a cup, got blood taken, all the basic stuff. It was still too early for a sonogram or heartbeat. All was well until I mentioned a water birth and having an all natural pregnancy. I remember her giving me a look like I was a silly child. That would be the first of many health professionals to completely discount my wishes to honor my bodies ability to grow a child and give birth with out the help of modern medicine.

After my first OB visit I started looking into getting a midwife. I did not take the plunge at that point to go from OB to Midwife but I wanted to learn more. I sent a few emails and waited for responses. In the meanwhile I started to be taken over by what I thought at first was normal morning sickness but turned out to be Hypermesis Gravidarum. 4 days into not being able to put anything my mouth, I called my OB and she immediately prescribed Zofran. I refused to take it. Zofran is a drug created to help chemotherapy patients with nausea, it is commonly used in early pregnancy to treat nausea as well.  By day 6 I thought I would die. I called the on call OB and explained my plight. Can’t eat or drink, not for days, urine is brown, dehydration symptoms set in, blah, blah. He told me that if I did not take the medicine there was nothing he could do. He even informed me that going to the emergency room was pointless, you will see later he was right. This doctor just could not understand why I would not just “help” myself by taking medication.

Four days later I thought I was going to die, 10 days, no food, no water. Needless to say I landed in Urgent Care for a moment until they immediately sent me to the ER. This after not being able to find my blood pressure (yes it was pretty bad). Both Urgent Care & the ER stressed the need to take some kind of anti-nausea medications. All I would allow them was to give me a saline (salt & water) IV so I could get some strength back. After this encounter I was done with doctors. Especially when I saw the lawsuit for Zofran on TV 2 days later: SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE: heart deformities, cleft lip & cleft pallet when taken in first trimester of pregnancy.  I went straight to nearest Midwifery center without passing go or collecting $200.

The birthing center was fine. Comfortable atmosphere, nice nurses, midwives & staff.  I would actually recommend this setting if you don’t want to birth at home or in the water.  I got to hear Baby K.A.M.s heartbeat, did blood work, original dating sonogram (ended up being totally wrong, another blog) & got lots of questions answered.

Baby K.A.M. Approx 8 weeks
Baby K.A.M. Approx 8 weeks

I unfortunately ran into a speed bump when I found out that the Midwifery did not offer care for home appointments or births. I also found that the practices of the center were very similar to the regular OB. It was definitely more informal but I still got a very medical vibe.  I will say that if you want a more laid back experience and a medical setting makes you more comfortable, a birthing center is the way to go.  You can labor in the water there but not actually give birth.  The midwives at the practice will not attend a home birth either.  I am so glad I continued looking because I found the perfect alternative to hospitals & birthing centers, the Private Midwife. So let’s discuss the actual difference between an Obstetrician and a Midwife.

WHAT IS AN OBSTETRICIAN?

Obstetricians are physicians who have completed four years of medical school and an additional four years of an obstetric residency program.  They must take a written and oral exam to be board certified. Obstetricians deliver in hospitals and are prepared for major pregnancy complications. More often than not these complications arise from too much intervention.  Obstetricians are able to perform Caesarian sections if the need arises.  They tend to use medical interventions: induction, episiotomies, forceps, Caesarian section, etc.  Being in the hospital also means that you can have epidural, a body numbing drug that virtually removes all of the pain.  You can get Pitocin to speed along contractions if the doctor doesn’t feel like your body is moving fast enough. Only problem is when using those drugs  your bodies own natural cocktail of oxytocin & endorphins don’t kick in like they should but I’ll get more into that in another blog about pregnancy hormones.

WHAT IS A MIDWIFE?

Midwives are traditional care providers for mothers & infants. They are registered nurses and most have completed an additional two year masters degree program in midwifery.  Certification exams are required by most states.  The word Midwife comes from the old English words Mit meaning “with” and Wif meaning “woman”. Midwifery is an empowering model of maternity care that is practiced in most countries around the world. The care includes preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum care and beyond. Midwives must be certified in most states and are able to conduct physical exams and order laboratory, screening & other diagnostic tests. Midwives tend to be more holistic and a good choice if you want to have an unmedicated natural birth.  They tend to avoid using medical interventions: induction, episiotomies, forceps, Caesarian section, etc…

Midwives regard birth as a natural process that the female body is designed to handle instead of a sickness in need of a cure.  Your appointments can be conducted in the office or in the comfort of your own home. Better yet, you can give birth wherever you want to in the hospital, in birthing center or at your home.  There is a strong focus on emotional support, health & wellness.  If you want someone that has a more laid back natural approach and supports you in making your own decisions about birth, a Midwife may just be right for you.

Sculpture of women giving wirth with help of midwife & doula
Sculpture of women giving wirth with help of midwife & doula

TYPES OF MIDWIVES & REQUIRED CERTIFICATIONS

Midwives can be either Clinical or Private. Clinical Midwives tend to work in hospitals and birthing centers, your appointments will be held in a clinical office. With this option you will probably work with a midwifery team as opposed to one specific midwife.  Private Midwives can attend both hospital and birthing center deliveries; however you also have the option to give birth at home or even outdoors.  Your prenatal appointments can be in a private office, the home of the midwife or in the comfort of your own home.  Below are the types of Midwives & the required certifications.

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): an individual trained and licensed in both nursing and midwifery. Nurse-midwives possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): an individual trained in midwifery who meets practice standards of the North American Registry of Midwives.
Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): an independent individual trained in midwifery through a variety of sources that can include: self-study, apprenticeship, a midwifery school, or a college/university program.
Certified Midwife (CM): an individual trained and certified in midwifery. Certified midwives possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives
Lay Midwife: an individual who is not certified or licensed as a midwife but has been trained informally through self-study or apprenticeship.

Since I have no complications  & labor easily, this is a no brainier for me.  I made an appointment as soon as I could with my midwife. My first visit with my midwife was at my home free of charge. She spent over an hour giving me info, answering questions. She has had children of her own naturally and also has many years of experience in both hospital and home births. Her certifications include CPM, LM & CEIM.  Not only that she is half British & half Indian (she is so little & cute) both cultures that have not gotten away from the natural way of birthing.  And she lives 15 minutes from my house, how convenient is that?  Her company is Birth Traditions Midwifery, click on the link for more info.

PARVEEN-MIDWIFE
PARVEEN KELLY-BIRTH TRADITIONS MIDWIFERY

My first appointments was delayed because another mom was giving birth, you have to be flexible. Parveen, Midwife & Tone, Birthing assistant & Doula, were kind enough to meet us at our home later that afternoon to have the appointment.  I had my entire appointment on the couch. I even got to be greedy and eat.  Baby K.A.M.s brother was home for spring break and got to hear the heartbeat. The teen boys were not impressed and continued to play on the Playstation while I got my tummy measured on the couch. I got a wealth of information & tea recipes to help with nutrient intake, nausea & overall health.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, even Papa Bear liked the experience, though I can still tell he has his doubts a out having the baby at home.  As can be expected, fathers usually worry too much.

I feel so empowered and strong doing this process naturally.  Having a strong team of powerful women, who have given birth themselves really makes me confident in my decision.   I know that my child’s entry into this world will be be calm, peaceful & full of love. The benefits to my child will be tremendous. I plan to listen to my body and get through this challenging yet rewarding process one contraction at a time.

In the meanwhile I will be posting more on Baby K.A.M.s conscious journey into this unconscious world and tons of other healthy lifestyle & nutrition information.  So excited to change the world one mother & baby at a time.  Subscribe and check back soon. ❤️❤️

Why I’m Choosing to have a Home Waterbirth

The first time I gave birth,  I would have said an un-medicated birth was for crazy women.  I mean why be in pain when you don’t have to?  No hospital, no Obstetrician, no Epidural….OH MY!!  Well, that was a long time ago, over 13 years.  It was a time when I didn’t much pay attention to what a miraculous organism my body is.  Most people do not realize what an amazing feat it is to grow a child inside of your body, even ones that have had children.  I know I didn’t.  I scheduled an induction because god forbid my water broke in an embarrassing place.  Well that and the fact that I didn’t want to share my birthday.  I’m a Leo, what do you want?

So here I am a 20 years old, invincible (except for pregnancy) and having my first child.  Needless to say I had no clue what I was doing.  I followed everything the doctor said and followed every craving I had, my body must have needed it right?  Unfortunately for my scale, chili & cheese hot dogs & Popeye’s Chicken were on the menu, hell that was the only menu.  I used to walk to 7-11 at 2am in the morning to get those hot dogs.  I made no conscious decisions about the food I was eating because I was taking prenatal vitamins and truly thought that was enough.  That and I was 20 and invincible.

I will never forget that warm August morning.  I was more scared than I had ever been in my life.  The stories of the horrors of labor & delivery frightened me to no end.  I had heard about labors taking many hours, the excruciating pain & possibility of having to be cut open because of complications.  I arrived at the hospital feeling good, a little hungry but good.  I got signed in, hooked up to iv and got my Pitocin by 9am.  Then I was constantly annoyed by nurses or doctors checking beeping monitors and hands up my vagina.  Then at 11:45 I had my first unbearable contraction.  I felt like my back was going to break in half and I jumped right off the bed.  Immediately I said “Epidural! Now!”.  Two contractions & an anesthesiologist later. I was in a happy place.  I think I may have tried to kiss the anesthesiologist.  From then on out I had no pain and by 12:36 my little man was in my arms. The most beautiful child with the biggest heart.  I digress…

I had my son in my arms for maybe a few minutes before they took him to measure, clean, put eye drops in and pretty much scare the crap out of the child.  Welcome to this crazy world, first stop a sterile hospital room with bright lights, loud noises & strangers…

Thank goodness I have come so far from the days of A) thinking my body couldn’t do what it was naturally designed to do and B) thinking only of my experience and not that of my newborn child.  So to my first son I must apologize.  I must also thank him for helping me to become the person that I am today.  I love you kiddo!

Me (15 Weeks) & My Big Kiddo (13 Years)
Me (15 Weeks) & My Big Kiddo (13 Years)

Fast forward 13 years and I am a different person.  My whole approach to life is completely changed.  I eat, move & even breathe more consciously.  Adversity changes people in ways that you can never imagine while in a place of comfort.  Comfortable people never change or maybe I’m just hard headed.

Since the day I felt the first shooting pain in my breast; even before I had a positive at home test, I knew that this pregnancy would be different.  I immediately began taking Organic Prenatal Vitamins, Folic Acid & Omega 3 for brain development of course.  My diet was already under control but I made changes like limiting tuna, sushi & soft cheeses just in case.  For the first few weeks I was riding the natural pregnancy high.  So happy to be having the chance to have & raise a conscious child from the beginning.  My symptoms were only minor breast pain and sleepiness.  I was lucky enough to be leaving my job of 11 years right around the time I got deeper into my first trimester.  This gave me plenty of time to be healthy, get my Nutrition Certification and of course grow my little one.  Around 14 weeks my pregnancy high was gone and morning (noon, night) sickness had arrived.  I tried everything from ginger to fennel, even ice chips wouldn’t stay down. I thought I would die after over 10 days of vomiting & nausea. Every smell and movement made me want to vomit.  I lost over 13lbs & ended up in the emergency room.  They call the condition Hypermesis Gravadarum or extreme Morning Sickness.  K.A.M.s Daddy got really sick and lost a lot of weight during the same time. It is amazing how connected we are during pregnancy. I guess it is some kind of energetic or telepathic connection. Papa Bear even eats late night snacks, he is partial to sweets.

When in the hospital I was confronted with many nurses & doctors that swore by Zofran, an anti-nausea drug that was created for Chemotherapy patients. I had already done lots of research into anti-nausea remedies, both natural & not. The first thing I said when they hooked me up to the IV was no drugs. & especially not Zofran. The doctors & nurses looked at me like I was crazy. I wasn’t in the emergency room long when they found out I didn’t want drugs. 4 bags of IV flipuid later, I was released.  Funny thing is two days later I was watching TV & saw a lawsuit commercial for Zofran. it causes both Heart Deformities & Cleft Lip/Pallet when taken in the first trimester. The drug that both my OB & ER Doctor had pushed on me.  I’m so glad I was educated. Pity for most pregnant women, the doctors don’t know such things.

This experience made me want to be even more natural, trusting the medical profession for any care is getting harder & harder. Partly because they get paid only when you are sick and don’t forget bonus checks from pharmaceutical companies. I watched the business of being born and it brought light to the many issues with treating labor & birth like an illness.  Click here to watch the movie The Business of Being Born on YouTube.  Pregnancy is not a sickness, so why the need for doctors?

I was introduced to the concept of Childbirth without Fear (click here to purchase, not expensive & totally worth it) early on in my pregnancy. It made so much sense and beautifully describes the difference between hospital & natural birthing experience. I decided to take the process a bit farther and incorporate a waterbirth. This gives the child a very smooth transition from womb to big outside world. Born in the Wild is one of my favorite shows so I then decided to go overboard and place the birth tub on the porch during my labor. Papa Bear says it will disturb the neighbors. I say to that first I don’t care, I want the experience, second I only have like 8 neighbors within earshot and third I will put a cute little note in each box letting them know that I will be outside moaning when the baby arrives.  Luckily I live in a beautiful house on a 1.5 acre wooded lot and no longer in a town home with hundreds of neighbors. I will unfortunately need to get Papa Bears consent since I’m not filling a birthing tub while having contractions.

I also plan on burning the embilical cord after it has stopped beating.  Looking forward to learning how to prepare, dehydrate & encapsulate the placenta too!  In the meanwhile I am eating a healthy semi-vegetarian diet. Mostly fruits & veggies, lots of super foods like spirulina, chia seeds & flax. I’m going to have a smart kid with all these Omega Fats.  I’m trying to stay as stress free (hard with raging hormones) as possible and really enjoy this experience. I also want to help other women learn about a natural experience as well.  The benefits are substantial to both mother & child.  Make sure to check back i will be posting lots more information on Baby K.A.M.s Natural Journey into this world.

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