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Second Trimester Woes and Remedies

I am big on finding natural, healthy remedies for common discomforts. Pregnancy is a time for discomfort of all types and I am sharing what I use to curb a few common second trimester irritations. I strive to live a chemical-free life. I know as well as anyone that sometimes medication is necessary and I am not here to replace medical advice (obligatory disclaimer). Also, adequate water intake, nutrition, and exercise are necessary to support ALL pregnancies. Many symptoms and discomforts can be alleviated by ensuring these requirements are met.

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1. Pregnancy Insomnia (yes, that is a thing!)

Since the first trimester ended and I rebounded from morning sickness, I have spent many nights tossing and turning or not resting when I actually do fall asleep because of crazy pregnancy dreams. Wowza, hormones can be something else! Thankfully, I have found some natural remedies to help promote a restful night sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

This is surprisingly effective. I have been drinking 2 oz twice per day at about 3pm and again at 8pm. Tart cherry juice contains the highest amount of melatonin of any food. Another bonus with this juice is that it is high in antioxidants and has a low glycemic index, which is not typical for juices. This remedy can take a week or two to become effective, although I have noticed an effect within a few days.

Magnesium Supplements

Most of us are deficient in the mineral magnesium. Diet and lifestyle choices are often the cause of our deficiency. Processed foods, stress, pharmaceutical drugs, and soil depletion are all causes for magnesium deficiency. We can ensure that we are foods are magnesium rich by eating plenty of leafy greens, nuts; such as almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews. Many seafood choices are high in magnesium, as well as dark chocolate (70% cacao, in moderation). Also, taking a high quality magnesium supplement is also necessary. I use this one, and take before bed.

Essential Oils

I only use pure therapeutic grade essential oils from Young Living, and would never recommend anything else. The oils that are my favorites and promote a good night sleep are lavender, vetiver, and the blends Valor, Stress Away, and Peace & Calming. I apply these directly to my body, typically on the back of my neck or on my wrists. Sometimes I use a diffuser and diffuse in my bedroom. Oils are also nice to mix with epsom salts and use in a relaxing before-bed bath. P.S. Epsom salts also provide magnesium! If you haven’t tried oils yet, or want to check out Young Living, contact me and I will share my referral code with you.

 

2. Constipation

Ugh, pregnancy constipation is a common discomfort. The hormone progesterone slows down digestion therefore causing elimination issues. There are several remedies I have found effective with this complaint.

Hydration is one of the key components of digestive motility.`During pregnancy 3-4 quarts of water is necessary per day! Water fixes so much, and it is incredibly important to keep the digestive system functioning appropriately. Also, in the dietary realm fiber is important for digestion as well. Since we typically avoid grains and legumes in our diet, our fiber comes from green leafy veggies, cruciferous vegetables, cabbages, and sweet potatoes. A green smoothie each morning is excellent digestive support.

Supplements

Magnesium is another winner for helping alleviate constipation. Along with magnesium, adding a good quality probiotic, and a full spectrum digestive enzyme are must haves for digestive support. A probiotic will help alleviate constipation, however probiotics are essential for so many facets of our well-being. Probiotics are key in immune system function for mama, and will help baby develop a strong and healthy immune system. Taking a probiotic during pregnancy helps the colostrum fill with good flora that will aid in baby’s immune function, microbiome production, and production of vitamin K.

Enzymes are crucial because they aid in the digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in our food. When taken with meals, our food can be properly digested, absorbed, and converted to energy. They also have another role– proper enzyme balance helps regulate our hormones, cellular growth and repair, etc.

Tea

There are several teas blended and marketed to pregnant women. Pink Stork Constipation Tea is the one I have tried, since the business is based locally to me. It is tasty and did the job quite well. I also like that it is organic, non-GMO, vegan, decaf, and gluten-free.

Essential Oils

The oils that have been my favorite during this time are orange & marjoram. I massage them into my lower back and abdomen 2-3 times per day. I love a few drops of lemon essential oil in my water for relief as well. Plus, it adds a wonderful flavor to my water and makes drinking 3 or more quarts palatable!

3. Fatigue

Ah, how often does 2pm roll around and you are struggling to keep your eyes open? I know after chasing my toddler all morning and attempting to get some work done, this is a common occurence!

Exercise

My most effective remedy for fatigue is taking a brisk walk. When I am struggling to keep my eyes open and I know a nap or a cup of coffee is not the best choice, I will pack up the toddler in his stroller and take a brisk walk around our neighborhood. Within 15 minutes I usually feel better and have enough energy to get me through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

Supplements/Essential Oils

The oils I use to give me a pick-me-up are grapefruit, orange, peppermint, and frankincense. These oils are all uplifting and energizing. I will pick an oil or two, put a few drop in the palm of my hands, rub my hands together and inhale until I feel a shift in my energy level. My favorite supplement is a mineral supplement called Revitalize, which is a natural mineral supplement that supports energy levels and cellular function. I mix it with 20 oz of water and almost immediately my energy levels and cognitive function improve. Plus, it tastes like a yummy kool-aid and is free of sugar and caffeine. Again message me if you want to try it out and I’m happy to share a discount code.

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4. Itchy, Stretching Skin (and maybe the dreaded stretch marks)

Ah, one of the joys of motherhood! There are many OTC remedies for stretch marks. With my first pregnancy I used every belly butter, oil and cream that I could find at Target and still ended up with the dreaded stretch marks. Luckily, THEY DO FADE!

Supplements/Essential Oils

With my last pregnancy, I ended up getting by with minimal additional stretch marks, although I did have the itchy, stretching skin multiple times throughout my pregnancy. I would use a carrier oil and the essential oil blend Gentle Baby. This really soothed my stretching skin and I believe prevented additional stretching. Now, during this pregnancy I am taking the collagen HA supplement that I mentioned a few posts ago, this is my favorite and by following the link you will receive $10 off your first order! The cool thing with this is that I began taking it prior to this pregnancy and I noticed a firming of my abdomen within 2 weeks of taking. So this is a part of my daily regimen to support my organ and cellular health with the added benefit of skin support!

I know I have just touched on just a few complaints that surface during the second trimester. What are some common complaints or solutions that you have found along your pregnancy journey?

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Backwards With Time

 

avett-brothers-2390713_640The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands. The lyrics and title of the song Backwards With Time have been floating through my head most of the day. Backwards With Time. Am I losing my mind, or am I going backwards with time?  This verse is what I want to focus on for a moment in my writing.

Goals, decisions, choices. I think about these things a lot. Why would we ever feel like we are losing our minds or going backwards in time?  Why would someone work hard to achieve something then let all they have worked for go away? I know I have been guilty of this. An example is losing 25 pounds, managing it keep the weight off for a year and gain it all back in a matter of months. My answer is complacency. We get tired of working hard, or feel we “deserve” things to keep working on its own without the same effort. For me, I am learning to make lifestyle changes permanent. Changing bad habits– making true change, and keeping up with my vision of what true health and wellness is. I refuse to settle for only feeling “okay”. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I have had a lot of bad habits in my life. One thing I have learned is that once you know better, it feels way worse to “backslide”. Yesterday when I sat down with my Avett Brother’s playlist I was in one of those moments where bad habits were lurking in my mind. I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and questioned some advice I was given (that I knew I needed to take). My first response was to react in anger (which for me is the cover emotion for absolutely every other emotion), then the thought of devouring a box of cookies felt like a good choice.

My mind was searching for something to soothe or procrastinate the actions I knew I needed to take for my ultimate wellness. Why, oh why is suffering such an “easy” choice? Stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something different– thinking a new thought and doing it, even if it feels uncomfortable often leads to personal growth that we can not even fathom. Lifestyle change, permanent change requires tapping into an internal strength and commitment to the light at the end of the tunnel that we may only get a glimpse of on occasion. Strengthening our focus, staying attuned to that glimpse makes the day to day actions toward whatever it is at the end of the tunnel feel less elusive. The key is to get out of complacency, pushing against resistance and catapulting up and out of the funk that sometimes feels like we may be losing our minds or going backwards in time.

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Microbiome

Untitled design-8This is my word of the day. Here is my obligatory disclaimer– I am writing as a mom, not as a medical professional, or a scientist, or any of that jazz. I am a mom of a kid I need to understand from a functional perspective. There are a ton of articles and books out there on the gut microbiome. The way I am understanding it; being born vaginally, with a full-term healthy pregnancy and breastfed is the ideal way to go. During a vaginal birth, the microbiome exposure begins to take place as soon as mom’s water breaks. The baby is exposed to its mother’s vaginal microbes and cellular structure. These microbes enter the babies ears, eyes, and mouth. The ones that enter the mouth, make their way down the digestive tract and begin to do their work. Passing through the vaginal canal, leads to more exposure– all of which are helpful to the babe. A newborn has a very weak/immature immune system, so these microbes enter the baby’s body and begin to colonize quickly to protect the immature system. The colonization works as a security system, teaching the immune system what to let in, and what is an invader. Fast forward to step #2. Skin-to-skin contact and breast milk add to this colonization. The sugars in mama’s milk feed and allow the biome to multiply and get stronger.

For someone born like Ezra, he missed out on a lot of crucial good gut microbes. Like I said in my previous post, he was born a month early at a low birth weight of 4lb. 13oz., he was born via C-section, so did not have this exposure for his immature immune system. He did begin breastfeeding quickly, however he was missing the digestive microbes that the milk would help multiply in his gut to strengthen his immature digestive system. Also, he had to have my milk fortified in the NICU which is standard for a preemie. On top of that, he was quickly infected with enterococcus and had several rounds of heavy antibiotics to kill the infection. So, any good bacteria he had colonizing were quickly being destroyed. And the other kicker was that I was preeclamptic– which means my liver and kidneys were not functioning appropriately, so he had exposure to the waste I could not release, and I had antibiotics since he was surgically born. Whammy, whammy.

Now, that he is a little over a year old and is dealing with a severely low hemoglobin level, my research is pointing it back to problems in the gut. I shared in my last post the way I’m starting us off on the healing track, and eventually will add in some supplements and other necessary items. Another step in our wellness is that we keep our home free of toxic chemicals. This is where I had a heads up, since I have been on that path since environmental toxins first crept into my awareness when my oldest son was born 12 years ago. I am a mom that likes to have a plan, and today my mind took me into the microbiome of the gut.

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Lectin-Free

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The past week has been a stressful one for our family. Our little Ezra went in for his 1-year well check and did not quite meet all of his requirements. This little kid has given us a few scares in his short life. He began his life being born a little more than a month early; preeclamptic mama, emergency c-section, low-birth weight, could not maintain glucose, body temp, and was finally diagnosed with an enterococcal infection which required a 21-day NICU stay and a lot of antibiotics.

Otherwise, he seems to be doing quite well. He is still a breastfeeding champ, has started solid foods, is almooossttt walking– he is a super happy, active boy. The issues we are currently dealing with are low hemoglobin levels, eczema, and recurrent respiratory issues. The low hemoglobin alarmed a large crew of medical personnel and now we are being referred to a hematologist to take steps to diagnose and treat.

I have worked in natural health for several years. I began my wellness journey as a yoga instructor, have added in doula work, lactation counseling, and work teaching people how to lead a toxin-free life. My husband is on a similar career path, so jumping on medications and procedures is not us. I immediately started researching and putting the steps together to figure out what the cause of this issue could be. I have a lot of friends who are in this holistic world as well– so I called in my troops to help figure out the root of what this could be before we get thrown into the realm of specialists. The first place I began to look is our diet. Ezra has just begun his journey into the food world, I am still breastfeeding so I am his main source of major nutrients/immunity.

The information we have and have to sort through is daunting. USDA rules/regulations, pediatrician recommendations, standard American diet recommendations, etc. I am good with a plan, and from my research I am finding this kid is dealing with an autoimmune issue…. and so am I. Our gut health is extremely poor. The amount of antibiotics we were dealt last year has definitely done a number on both of us. Ezra has several factors going against him in the world of gut-health. Birth via c-section, antibiotics, NICU stay– although necessary steps, can really wreck havoc on the digestive system. I have been aware of mine for quite a few years and I have tried different elimination diets. The problem with many of the diets I’ve tried is that they are not sustainable over a long period of time. So, today begins our journey into another food plan. This time I am beginning with a lectin-free diet cleanse. 3 days of this, and then moving on to the lectin-free diet.

My blog is my accountability and journal of how this goes, as well as our struggles and successes over the next few weeks of this lifestyle change. So far, the biggest struggle is finding pastured chicken. I’ve been to Publix, Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s, a local farm market, and a health food store. Nada. As I am making this change, Ezra will be eating some of the veggies on the plan and breastfeeding at his request. I am the one cleansing, and will see how his body reacts to my diet change. Tomorrow, my book the Plant Paradox arrives– so I will delve a bit more into this philosophy.