parenting

Amber Teething Necklaces

By on November 6, 2019

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It seems we have two teething kids on our hands! Little Miss Mira is working on her first two bottom teeth and Ezra is dealing with those pesky 3-year molars. A thing I ran into when my oldest was a baby (eek… 14 years ago) was an amber teething necklace. They have definitely gained popularity over the years and are easily accessible on Amazon. Back then, I swore I noticed a difference in Keenan and am still finding relief for the other two kiddos.

Many moms swear by them, but why?

There is said to be an oil secreted from baltic amber called succinic acid. Raw, non-autoclaved amber releases this oil, around 8% when the amber is heated by the baby’s skin. Succinic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, it is immune-supporting, it is an antioxidant and it can be calming.

Succinic acid is found in many nutritional supplements and in medicines. It is commonly prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Baltic amber is a fossilized resin from conifer trees. It also has a huge history, and it has been found as far back as the paleolithic period.

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There have been concerns and issues about safety and choking. I haven’t had a problem and am not fearful– however, I generally use precautions when my babies wear them. I make sure the necklace has a pop clasp that will safely disengage if the necklace would get caught on something, I buy about a 12.6-inch length so it isn’t very long, and I put it on the baby and keep her distracted for a few moments so she forgets about it even being on.

We take it off before sleeping, and she’s supervised during the day when wearing it. A few things to look for when purchasing an amber necklace is that it is 100% raw amber, it hasn’t been treated with an autoclave, and it is double-knotted between beads. The color of amber ranges from brown to orange, and it is generally a milky hue when the beads are untreated. The lighter color beads tend to be higher in succinic acid.

Amber necklaces are one tool I advocate for, and I think they are super cute! I even have one in an adult length and have noticed that I feel calmer and headaches are less when I wear it. They run about $20 so, it may be worth a shot when dealing with the dreaded teething process.

 

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musings | pregnancy

The Final Countdown: The Last Month of Pregnancy

By on April 30, 2019

0613D5A8-614A-4312-86CC-C94BC12556FC Wowza! Only 20 days until the scheduled birth of our baby girl. I have neglected this blog as I focus on my business in these final days. I feel ready to go, this has been the easiest pregnancy I have had so far, and it feels I will probably go full-term. That will be a new experience for me since both of my boys were born early.

One thing that I have been drawn to is belly casting. My husband and I finally took the time to cast my 36-week pregnant belly over the weekend. It was a wonderful project for us to do together and a fun way to memorialize my final pregnancy. I do not have anything else to do in the house to prep for baby– I went through my major nesting phase during the 2nd trimester. The 3rd trimester has been ALL work and spending as much time as I can with my other two kids individually.

Giving myself permission to slow down is sometimes difficult– however, my business projects have been timed appropriately to sit with my feet propped up in front of a computer.

It is so funny how I’ve had a different method of documenting my pregnancy with each child. My oldest had the most comprehensive (of course). I kept a pregnancy journal, a meticulous baby book (until age 5), photo albums and a baby box. The middle child had everything natural birth related– birthing center, hypnobirthing classes, regular prenatal massages and chiropractic adjustments, vision boards, affirmations and a box for all of the memorabilia.

The belly cast has been a fun project to spark creativity. In this 2-D age, it was nice to have a 3-D medium. It is also nice to pull out paints and create. This isn’t something I do often but is helping the week pass and takes my mind off of my physical discomfort and lessening mobility.

Mira has had a space in my blog, social media and a now a belly cast. I’ve done much less prep and a lot more mental relaxation. It is so weird how age, time, and experience changes the process. The sentiment remains the same. I treasure these moments and look forward to meeting our girl.

 

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pregnancy | women's health

Third Trimester: Woes and Remedies

By on March 16, 2019

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I am now a week into the third trimester. I can feel my body starting to slow down. My mental clarity and creativity are downshifting. Daily I have more aches and pains, and general discomforts. I am trying to work *with* my body. The show must go on in our family and in work. I can not just pack it up and nap for 9 more weeks. Life is actually busier than ever too. Chasing a 2 year old is no joke, my teen is wrapping up his final weeks of 8th grade, and we have work plans on the schedule until birth-day.

Mental Fatigue

Pregnancy brain is REAL! The physiological hormone changes reduce the amount of gray matter in a woman’s brain. I’ve left car doors open while taking yoga classes, put groceries in the wrong spot, forgotten to trim one toenail, and the list goes on. Clumsiness is also possible as weight is distributed differently in the body, and again HORMONES.

  • Utilize your phone to keep your brain going- Take notes on a note taking app. When you feel creative or have a brilliant moment, record it as soon as it occurs. Set alarms as reminders to do things (ahem, pick kid up from school).
  • Prioritize and Focus- For me, I have several goals that I would like to achieve before May 20th. I have my day plotted out on multiple calendars so that I know exactly what steps to take daily and I can check it off as I go. It is a structure and a discipline, and it keeps me accountable for my to-do lists.
  • Rest- This is tough for me. What I have done is know that I am in my peak performance hours when I wake up until between 12-2. I am now giving myself permission to relax, nap, or just prop up my feet for a few when I feel the slump. Often, during the third trimester night time sleep is disturbed as well, so a rest may be necessary to take you into the evening.
  • Minerals- Minerals are an important supplement for every stage of life. Our soil is deficient, our food travels a long way to get to our plate, which reduces it’s natural vitamin/mineral content.

Aches and Pains

  • Chiropractic care-This pregnancy and my last I utilized chiropractic care to rid myself of many aches and pains. It is incredibly useful to keep yourself aligned as body weight and posture shifts and changes. I look for a chiropractor that uses torque release or activator methods of adjustment.
  • Massage- So, my husband is my current massage therapist and I have been so incredibly pleased with his work! During my last pregnancy I had prenatal massages pretty frequently. This time, it isn’t in our budget or schedule so he is doing the work. It really helps keep tightness at bay and promotes relaxation.
  • Collagen- Again, I sing praises of my collagen. I feel much better in general, and collagen is a wonderful support for skin, hair, nails, and joints.
  • Essential Oils- There are many, many oils for physical discomforts. I could write an entire blog on just recommendations for that. I will narrow the list down to my two personal go-to’s. I love the blend Deep Relief and the single oil Copaiba. I use roller balls on the bottles and apply directly to where I feel the discomfort. If you have not purchased oils before, understand how to get them here for 24% off.

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Leg Cramps

  • Again, the beloved minerals. A friend of mine reminded me of this yesterday. She recently had her baby girl and said her cramps disappeared when she added minerals to her regimen. I did it myself last night and viola! A night charley-horse free!
  • Magnesium + Calcium is also known to be helpful. Finding magnesium in the citramalate form seems to work the best for me.
  • Hydrate drinking 3-4 quarts of water per day during pregnancy means you are adequately hydrated. This is probably the first pregnancy that I have actually managed to do it. Hydration is important for every single bodily function!
  • Foot Soak. I like to do this with about a half cup of Himalayan pink salt with a few drops each of geranium, lavender and cypress essential oil.

Varicose Veins/Hemorrhoids

During pregnancy these are related maladies, and are often linked to constipation. Heredity also plays a role in this issue.

  • A diet high in fiber and an adequately hydrated body can help relieve some of the pressure that is intensified by a sluggish colon and extra uterine weight.
  • Essential oils- Diluted lavender or helichrysum is wonderful for hemorrhoids. And a blend that is known to help with varicose veins: 30 drops of cypress, 20 drops of lavender, 10 drops of lemon and 20 drops of lemongrass with 60ml of fractionated coconut oíl.
  • Compression stockings- these can be helpful, as long as they are not cutting off circulation. The compression from the stockings will help recirculate blood flow so that it is moving toward the heart, and moving out of the lower extremities. Some insurance companies will cover the cost too, and can be ordered through sites like aeroflowbreastpumps.com.
  • Change your position frequently- avoid sitting or standing in the same postion too long. Take breaks, shift your position and avoid sitting with crossed legs, or with legs tucked under you.
  • Elevation- elevating legs periodically throughout the day can also help with circulation.

Heart Burn

Argh, this is one of my biggest complaints. I have tried all of the remedies during my 3 pregnancies. The things I have found the most useful are:

  • A natural alkalinizing supplement- I can drink this and immediately feel relief.
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals- I have to be very mindful of my eating patterns, and what I am consuming. I avoid acidic or spicy foods and make sure I have digested before lying down.
  • Essential oil- Peppermint oil is helpful as well. I will apply on my esophagus where I feel the burn, and sometimes will ingest a drop or two of peppermint vitality.
  • Digestive enzymes- these are also a nice supplement to add in to aid in the digestion and assimilation of your food.

Pubic Bone Discomfort

The hormone relaxin is something women naturally produce during pregnancy to aid in pelvic joint mobility, so that the baby can fit through the pelvis at birth. Sometimes the joints become misaligned and the pelvis too loose which can cause tremendous discomfort. This pregnancy is the only one where I have experienced this and my go-to remedies are.

  • A yoga therapy ball-. I can put this where I feel the discomfort a few minutes per day. This will relieve some of the pressure.
  • A SI belt this is designed to support the sacroiliac joints and will relieve instability in the hips.
  • A chiropractic adjustment- again a chiropractor can adjust the pubic bone or any of the surrounding areas that are misaligned and causing discomfort. Just look for someone who is well versed in prenatal adjustments.
  • Ice therapy- icing can be a great relief. My husband suggests it all the time, and often I ignore him. However, when I actually listen, I feel relief for quite some time. It is also nice to ice after a chiropractic adjustment or using the yoga therapy ball.
  • PT- Some women need to see a Physical Therapist, and finding one that is well versed in pelvic floor therapies is ideal.
  • Homeopathic Remedies- I have heard several midwives suggest the homeopathic remedy of Rhus Toxicodendron 30C from Boiron. This can be found in health food stores, or online. I have never actually tried this myself, it is just something I have heard from multiple people in the birthing community.

Pregnancy is a time of tremendous change, and the female body is amazingly adaptable. Many of the typical complaints rebound very shortly after delivery. In my opinion, it is lovely there are so many natural remedies out there to help us along the way. I always opt for natural choices over medications and synthetics, and I’m even more hypervigilent about this during pregnancy.

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pregnancy | women's health | yoga

5 Must-Haves for a Comfortable Pregnancy

By on February 12, 2019

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It is so easy to get caught in the consumerism trap of pregnancy. My Instagram is constantly bombarding me with products that I “need” to make this season of life “better”. In our family, we are working to earn, budget, save and invest our money for the long-term, rather than buy many items on a whim. This blog is going to be the top 5 items that have not brought buyers remorse, and have really added a value to my quality of life since being pregnant.

  1. A good maternity/nursing bra. This is a place where I have spent and wasted money time and time again. I will buy a bra on sale and find that it pokes and pulls, or won’t hold me in all the right places. I am on child #3 and have spent about 5 years of my life breastfeeding, so I have definitely had time for trial and error! My breasts are the first things to start changing during my pregnancy and become quite sore, so adequate support is definitely welcomed. The most comfortable bra I have found that actually gives appropriate shape and support is from Kindred Bravely. This bra has been a godsend, and is doing well holding up with wash and wear. I also really like the story behind the founders of this company, so that is a plus!
  2. Maternity Jeans. I have purchased several pairs of maternity jeans throughout my pregnancies. Having at least one pair that feels classic, versatile, and comfortable can make you feel somewhat human. Even when you have another human residing in your abdomen making nearly all clothes uncomfortable! My favorite pair are from H&M, and luckily I found them for under $20 on clearance! I am also partial to a full maternity panel in my jeans as soon as the bump pops. I CAN NOT keep the lower belly panel up to save my life– so I would much rather have comfort than hiking up my pants all day!
  3. Body Pillow. Oh my goodness! Buying a maternity pillow has drastically improved my quality of sleep. It has been difficult to find a comfortable position with my growing belly, and the U-Shaped pillow has helped keep my hips, legs, shoulders, and neck comfortable for a good nights sleep. I like this pillow because it has a detachable extension that I can use to minimize the barrier between my husband and me in bed.
  4. Essential Oils— I truly don’t know how I survived life pre-essential oils. I use oils for everything. Soothing stretching skin, pregnancy discomfort, mood swings, insomnia… just to name a few. The book Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern was the best resource throughout all of my pregnancies.
  5. Prenatal Yoga. I started on my yoga journey during my first pregnancy 14 years ago. I came across a book and started practicing a few postures in my living room with a DVD. Yoga really helps with calmness of mind, breath awareness, and body mechanics. I always leave my classes feeling better than when I started, so I recommend all mama’s try to get to a regular class!

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c-section | pregnancy

Planning for a Planned C-Section

By on January 10, 2019

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Both of my previous pregnancies resulted in c-section deliveries. With my last pregnancy, I planned for a VBAC homebirth. My house was set up, our supplies were purchased, we had a midwife, doula, and hypnobirthing techniques waiting ready for “d-day”. Life had other plans, and I ended up delivering a month early via c-section due to preeclampsia with severe features.

On the day of my son’s birth, we rushed to the hospital thinking I had the flu and a terrible headache. We were sent to a hospital about an hour away from home without any essentials, not knowing that the stay would last 6 full days. I’m pretty sure my husband wore the same shirt for 3 days! Our friend visited and brought us some of our necessities after a couple of days. However, being stuck without your essentials is a mild form of torture.

I spent a bit of time mourning my desired delivery outcome and even debating if we would ever have another baby. Well, here I am– less than 2 years later preparing for the arrival of baby #3. This time, we are doing things differently. I am under the care of an OB/GYN, and I am not attempting a natural delivery. Sometime soon, we will schedule a good day in May to deliver our daughter. I am at peace with this decision and am happy to have a plan, and can have my bag packed!

I want to share what to pack for scheduled surgery. The hospital stay is longer than a regular vaginal delivery, so proper necessities and comfort items are ideal for this time away from home.

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1. Mama’s Essentials

When preparing for a C-Section you prepare similarly as you would for a vaginal birth, just remembering that you will have an incision and a longer hospital stay. The typical length of stay is 3-4 days, so packing for that length of time would be ideal.

  • Comfy Clothes and Pajamas— You will of course, have accessibility to unlimited hospital gowns that can be handy when you are still attached to IV fluids. I personally feel more human and able to recover in my own wardrobe. Dressing in layers is wise. The temperature in a hospital, hormone fluctuations, etc can all be unpredictable. Tank tops or nursing camis, hoodies or cardigans, high-waisted leggings, pajamas, robe, high-waisted undies, and nursing bras will be my goto’s. I will choose loose, comfortable clothing that I don’t mind getting dirty. My going home outfit will be the most presentable. Also, prepare for swollen legs. Very shortly after both births I ended up with major Shrek feet! Loose, comfortable socks, slippers or flip-flops may be all that your feet will fit in!
  • Adult Diapers–Mesh panties and pads will be available from the hospital. They work well, but I found after several days they would bunch in the back with the way the hospital bed inclines. These worked well for me.
  • Phone/Camera, Charger, Tablet/Laptop— An extra long cord for the charger is nice since outlets are oddly placed in hospital rooms. Having a device loaded with Netflix is wonderful to help those long hospital days pass. This is time for guilt-free binge-watching in between naps, feedings, visitors, and diaper changes!
  • Toiletries/Grooming Supplies— Bring whatever makes you feel pretty! There will be visitors and photos taken and I personally always like to feel clean and somewhat put together. Dry shampoo can be handy in case you can’t shower initially.
  • Insurance card, ID, Notebook and Pen— A notebook and pen were invaluable for us in the beginning days. It is nice to jot down any questions or concerns, feeds and diaper changes.
  • Blanket, Pillow, Nursing Pillow— Being comfortable in your bed is a plus! You can keep these things in your car until after the birth and you are settled into your final room.
  • Belly Binder— It is possible that your hospital will provide one. Asking your doctor what his standard of practice is will help you prepare. Having compression support allows you to have a full range of motion and makes mobility so much easier after surgery. Laughing and coughing will also be tolerable with a belly binder!
  • Ice Pack, Heating Pad, Pain Cream— These are also necessities for my impending delivery! After each birth I have ended up with muscle pain or a vertebral misalignment. I am guessing it is caused from numbing of the epidural and bed transfers. After my last birth, my neck and shoulder were in worse pain than my surgery! It was miserable, so this time I will be prepared. The cold packs the hospital provided did not get as cold as an ice bag and weren’t as effective. And my go-to pain cream will be on hand… Just in case!
  • Snacks— Having some good quality, high fiber snacks are a must! Hospital food is less than nutritious or desirable, and giving birth makes you hungrier than you have ever been (especially if you had to fast the night before). I will make a batch of date nut bites, and take some Flax 4 Life muffins for after delivery. Dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, or any other non-perishable snack will be welcomed, trust me 🙂

2. Dad’s Essentials

  • A Comfortable Change of Clothes— My husband will likely stay for the first 24 hours without leaving to go home to freshen up. I do not want him to end up in the same shirt for 3 days, so I will make sure we are prepared.
  • Toothbrush/Toiletries— Anything to allow dad to freshen up after being in delivery.
  • Snacks/Water Bottle— In our last experience, my husband was a weird, neglected, third-party. His meals were not provided, and the cafeteria was closed occasionally at my meal times. This time we will make sure to have plenty of snacks and a water bottle so that he is not dependent on vending machines for his sustenance.
  • Phone Numbers/Contact List— Everyone is going to want to know the news. Our family and friends are scattered across the U.S. so having a master list of who to contact first (you know, the ones who need to know the news before it is leaked on Facebook?!) will be stored in my husband’s phone.

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3. Baby’s Essentials

The babies are pretty well set for their hospital stays. They are provided diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets, and bottles.

  • A Coming Home Outfit— Baby’s dress up debut will be on release day! Choose something seasonal appropriate and remember baby needs to dress about a layer heavier than you would dress yourself.
  • A Receiving Blanket— A nice blanket is great to cover the baby with for their first moments in the outdoors. There are so many nice types, and you can even find a blanket to coordinate with the coming home outfit!
  • A Properly Installed Infant Seat— You must have a carseat to take baby home in. I suggest an infant seat, that is properly installed (and even safety checked). If the weather is cold, a carseat cover can help avoid the elements. In our experience, we had a convertible seat installed and we were not allowed to take our son home in it. The weight requirement on the convertible seat was 5-65 lbs. I was sure that would take us all the way through carseat days. Our son was a preemie and didn’t make the 5 lb. weight requirement so we had to send our friend out on a search for an appropriate infant seat.
  • Nail Clippers/Emery Board— Both of my boys were born with long, sharp fingernails! Packing nail clippers and an emery board will prevent your little one from scratching their face!

4. Essential Oils and Supplements

If you’ve read anything I have written, you know that I am an essential oil nut. I buy mine here. There are many resources about using oils in labor/birth, pregnancy, postpartum, and on babies. I will share with you what I am packing, since I am working to pack only the essentials.

  • DiGize— For preventing gas/constipation after birth
  • Frankincense, Idaho Balsam Fir, Copaiba— These will be applied topically to reduce discomfort. I may even take frankincense & copaiba internally. I also apply frankincense to the crown of the baby’s head shortly after birth.
  • Deep Relief— A great roll-on to use anywhere there is muscle discomfort.
  • Lemon— For removing adhesive left overs! It works like a charm!
  • Thieves—  I will apply this to my feet (and I will carry Thieves Spray and Hand Sanitizer as well) to help boost my immunity and to keep my environment sanitary. Hospitals have a lot of ick!
  • Lavender— I will use this to promote rest and relaxation. Hospitals are difficult to rest in with the noises and interruptions.
  • Peace and Calming— Ditto.
  • Stress Away— For keeping me calm when the hormones drastically drop causing tears and anxiety!
  • Fennel— This is a great oil for promoting lactation. I take 5 drops of fennel vitality directly on my tongue and follow with a large glass of water as often as I need to until I notice an increase in my supply.
  • My Own Special Anti-Shrek Foot Blend:

    10 drops tangerine
    5 drop lemon
    20 drops cypress
    20 drops lavender
    15 drops geranium
    2 oz of carrier oil

    I mix this in a small bottle and apply every 3 hours or so until I notice relief.

    For my supplements, I will take my daily multiple, individual packets of collagen to help hasten the healing of connective tissues, and my protein shake for extra nutrition post surgery and for breastfeeding.

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