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To eat or not to eat… that is the question!

October 9, 2014
Girlfriends

Now that the birth plan is complete, the post-partum plan is the focus. One significant question that remains is… eating or encapsulation of the placenta, also known as placentophagy. For those of you that are unaware, the practice of consuming ones’ placenta dates back centuries, but has recently begun to regain popularity. The idea being that consumption of this organ helps to restore nutrients to the body, as well as hormones, which can help to aid in post-partum health and mental wellness. Unfortunately, there is no medical basis behind these claims, so women should do their own research to decide how they want to proceed. Here’s the research I discovered as I navigated this path of post partum planning.

One argument for the pro–placentophagy side is that humans are the only land dwelling mammals that do not abide by this practice post-partum. I personally think that animals and humans are very different in their rituals and instincts. Although, women do tend to revert back to more animalistic instincts during labor, i.e. - wanting den like birthing areas, and grunting or deep rhythmic breathing during delivery, we do not have the same environmental factors to compete with. It is completely understandable that the consumption of the placenta does help the animal to regain strength and replenish nutrients she lost during birth. Animals also eat their placentas to deter predators (as the placenta is a large, bloody organ that may attract others). Obviously, two factors that the human woman does not need to concern herself with after delivery.

Another argument you will see for the pro-placentophagy side is that consumption of the organ will help with depression or mental wellness. Due to the fact that the placenta contains lots of vitamins like iron, B6, B12, as well as estrogen and progesterone, consumption of the organ either in raw, cooked, or encapsulated format does deliver these nutrients to you. Lacking these nutrients, particularly iron, can cause fatigue and increase risk factors for depression. B6 has also proven to play a role in regulating mental processes and mood, and therefore these nutrients are linked to helping with mental wellness after baby arrives. The complex B vitamins also help with postnatal wound treatment. With that being said, you can receive these nutrients without the consumption of the placenta.

Supplements like the Nursing Blend and Nursing Postnatal can provide these vitamin components for you. These postnatal supplements differ from a prenatal vitamin due to the increased levels of B6, B12, and the Vitamin D, specificially to support breastfeeding moms. The main difference between these two supplements is that Nursing Blend also contains herbal ingredients that help to support lactation. In leiu of eating my placenta, I’ve decided to pick the route of supplementation! Also, I do plan on breastfeeding, so having the lactation support from Nursing Blend will help to get us off to a great start.

For those of you who will proceed with placentophagy, you do need to ensure that you are following safe preparation practices. Because the placenta is delivered after baby, there can be fecal contamination, and you will want to ensure that proper cleaning and handling of the organ is done prior to consumption in any form. You will want to act quickly, and refrigerate the organ when not in use to ensure that you are not exposing yourself to bacteria and pathogens. There are multiple options for preparation including drying the placenta and grinding it into a powder to be consumed, eating it raw, mixing it into a smoothie, or even cooking it into your daily meals as a protein. However you decide to proceed, you do want to ensure that you monitor your mood and reaction with use.

If you are not seeing positive signs of mood elevation or energy support, you should follow up with your care provider. Although “Baby Blues” are a normal occurrence in the majority of new moms, due to the significant hormonal changes occurring, they should be mild and only last up to two weeks. Anxiety, hopelessness, or constant fatigue (that is not helped by rest) that continue beyond this, could be indications that you are experiencing Post Partum Depression. PPD is a serious concern, and your doctor should be made aware of your symptoms to help you through this transition.

Bottom line, whether you practice placentophagy or supplement instead, your post partum health and mental wellness is important to monitor for not only you but also new baby. A healthy, happy mom is a good mom!

- Tally

Get with the plan

September 22, 2014 Happy birthday Fin!

As I have told you, I am a planner. So, the idea of the delivery day’s schedule being 100% out of my control is a little daunting to say the least. Therefore, being prepared is the best thing I can do to feel some element of control, no matter what happens. Developing a birth plan is a significant way to achieve this as it provides a written record of your “wishes” and outlines your preferences of care. This plan also provides you and your partner with the ability to get on the same page, and talk through the different options and dynamics of care if things do not happen as planned. I found that the website, The Bump, offered the most comprehensive birth plan guideline to follow.

Running through this worksheet helped us to talk through the “what ifs,” and to determine which route we would want to take if a transfer to the hospital became necessary. Because this transfer would be somewhat unexpected, based on my “plan” to give birth naturally at a birth center, it did help to review what options we still had if an epidural or cesarean was required. Also, having these conversations with my husband made him feel empowered to know what options he had to maintain our care plan, in case I was not physically or emotionally able to participate in the care directive.

Here is the link to the worksheet we used.

Once you complete your birth plan, you will want to review it with your midwife or physician. My midwife also wanted me to provide a call list of people who could be “on call” to help out if for some reason my husband needed support. At first, my thought was, “help for him… I am the one doing all the work!” She explained to me that a lot of partners tend to focus 100% on the laboring mom, and forget to take care of themselves, i.e. - not eating, staying hydrated, or resting. They also do not get the benefits of the hormonal rush of endorphins and adrenaline that laboring moms receive to keep their alertness and stamina up. Subsequently, partners can fatigue themselves to the point of not being helpful, or able to take an active role in decision-making. So, having a call list of support staff or “pinch hitters” can be helpful if labor lasts into the 15-30 hour range.

The next step in preparation is packing your bag. Your necessities will vary based on where you are delivering, but I have found that there are definitely some go to items that should be brought along no matter what. Most importantly, you must have your car seat in the car and ready. If not, baby is not allowed to leave with you. Also, basic toiletries should be a must. For those like me that were born with terrible eyesight, bringing both your eye glasses and contacts along is advised. Also, bringing a tooth brush and toothpaste along, just in case you vomit during labor or transition. Lastly, hair ties or barrettes. Hair in your face during delivery could be the most annoying thing in the world to you, so bring a few! Outside of your other basic toiletries, another must have is icepacks! There are many tips and techniques out there, but the best I have heard is the major absorbent maxi pad, which you can freeze. Then you can use the pad for comfort on your swollen bits, as well as use for blood loss maintenance. I also made sure to include my Sitting Pretty Soothing Spray, as this product provides an easy to use application of herbal extracts and natural remedies to help with quick pain relief and healing of perineal tears, vaginal bruising and swelling, or hemorrhoids. Also, consider a heat pack or tennis balls in case your back is sore from the labor process.

Lastly, remember to bring clothes for yourself, your partner, and new baby. For me, I decided to bring along an outfit that was comfortable to be worn during active labor, but one that I would not be sad to see go - incase it is ruined. I also made sure to bring along a nursing bra, and a set of comfortable (loose fitting) clothes for post delivery. Because I am planning on a water birth, I made sure to include my husband’s swim trunks. Just in case he does get in the tub with me during active labor or delivery. Also, just an extra pair of clothes for him in general, if labor does last awhile. And of course, last but certainly not least, an outfit for our new little one to come home with us in!

Another couple of additions to my bag were some essential oils. Lavender is extremely relaxing for me, so I did want to have that scent present during my labor process. I also packed along some Frankincense, which can be added to a warm washcloth and be used to help with perineum support during active labor. I also have lots of snacks packed, including honey sticks. Honey sticks are particularly good to help to provide you with an easy pick me up, if your blood sugar begins to drop. The last thing I am bringing in my bag is my ipod. I will have preloaded both relaxing tunes as well as some more upbeat ones. Depending on how it goes and how I feel, I may favor a relaxing, darker atmosphere with calmer music or I may want to get my Beyonce on and jive this babe out. We shall see!

One other thing to bring along for the car is a trash bag and towel. I added these items per the recommendation of a friend whose water broke in her car on the way to the hospital. Definitely, not a mess you want to have to worry about cleaning up after you get home with baby! So now, I just need to remember to put these things and the bag into the car!

Only 6 weeks to go :)

- Tally

I am losing it…

September 17, 2014

The third trimester is full of new side effects… memory loss/forgetfulness being one of them. Although there is no documented scientific study to link pregnancy and memory loss, the majority of moms-to-be experience it (or at least the ones I know agree!). This side effect has been deemed the ‘pregnancy brain,’ and can be summed up as a ‘fog like’ existence. I am sure that the lack of sleep I’m experiencing during this stage of pregnancy isn’t helping, but the main culprit appears to be the hormones that are surging, as the end is getting near. I have to admit, although I had heard of ‘pregnancy brain’, I was skeptical . . . until now. I am a planner, a list maker, and someone who is typically always on time. Or at least I used to be. Case in point, last week.

So to back up a bit, we have a relatively new business phenomenon here in Bellingham… the self-serve frozen yogurt shop - Menchies. I personally am not a dessert destination go-er, but my co-workers had been raving about this place for months. On one particularly warm day, I decided to swing in and give these “can’t be beat” yogurts a shot! Better than eating ice cream, right? Well, to sum it up, it is AMAZING and I am now totally addicted!

Now to circle back to my “pregnancy brain,” here I am sitting at Menchies (which has become a somewhat daily activity) enjoying my yogurt in the sunshine. It is not until I arrive home that I review the missed calls on my phone and realize that I have completely spaced a doctor’s appointment. Not just any doctor’s appointment, but one I have been waiting 8 weeks to get in to! I wanted to scream!! This physician is a specialist in dermatology, and skin conditions. Back in February (before I knew I was pregnant), we went to Florida and during our trip I noticed a rash on one part, of one of my legs. I thought nothing to worry about, probably a sun rash, or potential reaction to the sunscreen I was using. This rash did not spread or change, but oddly has lasted up until now. After many attempts at over the counter remedies and at home essential oil remedies, nothing seemed to work. My general physician and midwife have nothing to offer besides it may just be my body’s reaction to the pregnancy. Thus, the specialist referral was set in motion.

Luckily, the receptionist was understanding of my “pregnancy brain,” being a mom herself, and got me rescheduled … in 2 weeks! So, we will see what comes of this appointment. My gut feeling is that the rash will go away once she is here, but we shall see. I am just glad to at least get through the referral hoops with this year’s insurance deductable! So, lesson learned… and I will now be sure to use the reminder function on my phone to help me to remember important dates and meeting times. Since my brainpower is declining, this is another reason why it is super important to be using an Omega3 supplement support. The Pregnancy Plus Omega 3 contains two important fatty acids, pharmaceutical grade EPA and DHA, to support baby and me during pregnancy. These nutrients are helping to not only support baby’s cardiac and circulatory systems, but also help with the central nervous system and promote brain development. Post delivery, it is found to enhance infant cognitive function and attention span. It also is known to decrease the odds of premature delivery. Overall, a must use product!

Although the supplement contains premium Icelandic fish oil, from small fish like herring and mackerel to decrease concerns with mercury content, the supplement does not have a fishy aftertaste but rather a natural citrus flavor. This is great news, as the daily dosage is 3 capsules daily and definitely could have been an issue when nausea was a concern already. This supplement can, and should, be used even post delivery to help maintain health and wellness, and continue to provide baby with support through breast milk.

Only 7 more weeks to go… I think :)

- Tally

Sleeping Beauty

September 5, 2014 Go Hawks!

Here we are at 32 weeks, and the “honeymoon” phase of pregnancy has ended. Personally, I never felt or experienced this glowing time during the second trimester but I do notice that most things are starting to get harder, and sleeping is #1 on that list. During the third trimester women tend to have shorter periods of deep sleep, and wake up much more often. Some women even experience insomnia, a startling 75%!! I, unfortunately, am a part of that statistic. Between the many nocturnal visits to the bathroom, heartburn, and just a sensation of agitation and the inability to get comfortable, have made restful sleeping a distant memory!

An increase in water is a major culprit. There is a terrible catch 22 occurring with the recommended increase in water intake, to help with constipation and cramping, which turns into increased visits to the bathroom. If you have ever experienced a leg cramp, you know that you will do anything and everything you can to avoid this excruciating pain, including 3-5 visits to the bathroom every night. My first leg cramp occurred around week 28, and it woke me out of a dead sleep (oh, those were the days!). All I could do was shriek in pain while trying to reach for my toes. My poor husband almost had a heart attack, thinking that I was in labor or worse. Once I could catch my breath, I relieved his panic but had to have him help flex my leg to relinquish the tightness. From that night on, he requested that I just yell, “Cramp- left or Cramp-right,” so he could help out immediately!

Heartburn is another major factor when it comes to sleepless nights. As much as I try and eat dinner at a reasonable hour, it is hard to limit food as bedtime approaches. Here in the PNW our summers are awesome, and the sun does not typically set until after 9pm. Therefore, dinner does tend to happen later in the evening, as these dog days of summer stretch out. Also, bottom line… I am just hungry! Subsequently, food consumption typically occurs either an hour or so before bed, or about an hour or two after I go to bed. Needless to say, I keep my PregEase close by the bed to help curb my heartburn.

Positioning is another concern as my body grows larger. They say that you should prop your chest up to help with heartburn, but you should also sleep on your side… the left side particularly with a support under belly and between the knees to keep your circulation flowing as best as possible. As you can imagine, easier said than done, and this level of “comfort” requires a lot of support pillows. Our Belly Rest pillow has come in handy, as this pillow is small and adjustable to accommodate the growing belly. It is also a great asset for support because it not only offers support for the belly but also for the back. Unfortunately, you cannot maintain a strict left side only sleeping position due to the pressure on the pelvis, and therefore shifting from side to side is okay. Therefore, the Belly Rest can be used interchangeable for both sides to offer comfort and support. Just anticipate that any time you get up and out of bed, it will probably take you at least 5 minutes to get “comfortable” again once you return to bed.

Unfortunately, the last culprit isn’t quite as curable…. Insomnia. They do not know why women tend to experience insomnia in the third trimester, but some research links some new hormonal changes occurring as the reason. The other typically link is just anxiety as d-day approaches. Obviously, there is nothing we can do to prevent the hormonal changes but there are things that can be done to help with anxiety and stress relief. I have started to jot down or talk out scenarios or concerns prior to bed, so that I do not let my mind go crazy as I am trying to settle down for sleep. Sometimes just getting out your fears (as crazy as they may sound) can help to focus you back to reality, and extinguish the angst. I have also begun to use essential oils to help to relax my mind and body for bed. Rubbing some lavender oil on the bottom of my feet really helps! Lavender is a natural relaxation technique, which can even be used on baby once she arrives.

Just 8 weeks to go!

- Tally

Constipation... AKA CONSTANTpation

September 3, 2014

Pregnancy and constipationI really didn't want to ever talk about this... but having a normal bowel movement has become the focus of many of my days lately. They say constipation is a normal part of pregnancy, but I didn't quite realize how much of a daily effect it would have on these 10 months of my life. They say as many as half of pregnant women have concerns with constipation throughout their gestational time. The main reason this becomes an issue during pregnancy is the increase in the hormone progesterone, which in turn relaxes the muscle groups including your digestive tract muscles. Another big reason is the overall "squash" that your digestive tract goes through as baby grows larger and larger. And if that wasn't enough, one more common culprit is iron supplementation, which-ding, ding, ding- I had to begin recently based on my last blood test. So, I am the ideal candidate for issues, and issues I am having!

Luckily this topic was brought up at my most recent baby class, and I have some tips to share with you to hopefully help make your experience better too! Since I found out I was pregnant, I started using Metamucil as a precaution. It is super easy to just drink down a glass of water with a tablespoon or so, and it worked like a charm up until the third trimester started. So, I've had to be a bit more proactive! I try and ensure that I am eating high fiber foods like beans, vegetables and fruits... with the skins on, and whole grains to help my GI tract. Drinking lots of water and eating high water fruits like watermelon can also help! Prune juice is also known to help, but I just could not stomach it. Yuck! If you can add it to a smoothie, it makes a huge difference but definitely maintains a "last resort" move for me.

Another great tip from our class instructor is to smile during a bowel movement. I know, I know... I looked at her like she was crazy too. But it works! Ina May talks about this in her best seller: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, referencing the opening of any sphincter helps to open all of them. So, relax your jaw and smile big! Another great tip she told us was to use a stool while on the toilet. Elevating your feet, helps to elevate pressure on your GI tract, and allows things to, you know... flow. This will also help to alleviate another not so pleasant pregnancy side effect, hemorrhoids. And my personal opinion Healthy Mom Happy Baby DVDis... I will do or try anything to help prevent this nasty unpleasantry!

Last but certainly not least, exercise! So, another great reason to stay motivated to keep moving. Yoga is a great technique to try! I have begun the practice of yoga, and have found our DVD: Healthy Mom, Happy Baby quite useful. I have dabbled in yoga in the past, but have never been a devote follower. This video is only 30 minutes long, so it helps me meet the recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily (from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). The exercises are basic, and the relaxation techniques are great training for now and during delivery. My husband has even joined in! Also, I love being able to pop in the DVD at home. I honestly wish that I had started this earlier in my pregnancy, due to the convenience as well as the benefits I am feeling from stretching my muscles groups. This DVD has made me a believer in the power of the mind and body connection. After use for just a couple of weeks, I now feel comfortable with basic poses, which I hope to use not only during delivery but after too. Just 9 weeks to go!

Getting ready for baby... doggie style

August 22, 2014

As you know, I am currently a mother of 3 four legged kids- 1 cat and 2 dogs. Up until now these guys have been the focus of our attention and lifestyle. Weekends used to include long hikes on local trails, and vacation locations revolved around dog friendly accommodations. Unfortunately for these guys, that has changed quite a bit already. So as d-day (delivery day) approaches, we are starting to think about how we can make this transition as easy as possible on them. I have come to understand that our pets are aware (more so than we think) as to what is going on inside of me. Due to the fact that they are mammals too, they can sense the hormonal changes occurring as I am progressing through pregnancy. With that being said, we have learned some tips that can help them to alleviate a certain level of stress when we bring Ms. Pepper home.

Our first step was to engage them with our niece as early as possible, and as much as possible... under supervision of course! We have been cautious and observant to notice any aggressive behavior towards her. Luckily for us, although they are cautious, they do not seem to mind her at all. If aggressive behavior was noticed, we would need to be firm on this. Any aggressive behavior needs to be scolded immediately and harshly, to reflect the severity of the situation, as even the smallest of dogs or cats can do quite a bit of harm to your brand new infant. Really the only thing that we have noticed is that they have begun to understand that she drops food a lot. So, now they are much more attentive to what she is up to then they were when she was more of a baby.

We have also begun to familiarize them with baby noises and actions to help to reduce anxiety. If you do not have a baby on call, you can begin to use your baby gadgets, like an infant swing or toys, to help to prepare your four legged kids for the new soundtrack of life. Also, we let them sniff the new stuff we are buying for baby (blankets, diapers, and lotions) as this will help them familiarize the smells sooner than later. To further help with this dynamic, we will have someone bring a blanket or article of Ms. Pepper's clothing home, after delivery and before we arrive, to help acclimate our pets to her scent.

Now for the harder stuff...the training and new rule setting, which should begin as soon as possible. The longer you can actively train your pets prior to baby, the better chance you are giving them for success! Like us, you may need to set new boundaries within your home as to where your pets are now allowed. As much as I hate to admit it, we are really bad about allowing our pets to rule the roost. There is no such thing as "off limits" when it comes to our couch or bed currently, but that needs to change based on our plans for parenting. We will be co-sleeping with baby, in a Moses Basket in bed, but still do not want the dogs to be jumping up on the bed without permission. So, the painful task of enforcing this new "off the bed" rule has been hard. The key is to be strict ALL the time, and make sure you are both following the same training. Also, we have had to make some adjustments for the cat, Gus, as he likes to curl up and be anywhere that is cozy. I found a helpful trick online which is to put aluminum foil in the crib and on the changing table. Cats do not like this material, and therefore it is training him that these two locations are no go zones.

We are also trying to prepare our pets for the time constraints we will soon face as a new family. Naturally, we our much busier preparing for baby but I have also not been up for as much "extra" activity as my body gets larger. I know this sounds terrible, but I have learned that it is better for them that this process is gradual versus just cutting them off when baby arrives. Moving more activities over to my husband, like walking the dogs and feeding them, are helping to build a stronger bond between them. This, in turn, should help to redistribute where the attention is likely to come from within the first couple of months with new baby. We also plan to hand new baby over to someone else, when first arriving home from delivery. This will make sure that they do not link our absence directly with baby, which can build resentment or jealousy. I also plan to include them in my postpartum exercise, getting back to daily walks, which will help them to see that they are still important to me!

Also, we have a vet visit scheduled for the end of this month to make sure that they are up to date on all vaccinations. This will, hopefully, alleviate any unnecessary vet visits within the first couple of weeks at home, and ensure that there is no concern with new baby in the home. Last but certainly not least; we are beginning the process of arrangements for our pets when d-day arrives. Luckily for us, we have family nearby, and will be able to leave our pets at home versus boarding them. Because we do not know when this will occur, or for how long we may be gone, we will make sure that we have a couple of back up sitters in the wings too.

Finally, as much anxiety that I personally have about the transition, I keep reminding myself to trust that all will be okay! Although it may take some getting used to, it took my sister's dog 2 months to even look at my niece, our four legged kids will come around eventually. Diesel & Ms. Finley are now the best of friends!

Tally at 28 weeks

Happy Birth Day!

August 13, 2014

Today you are YOU, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You! -Dr. Seuss

Tally at 28 weeksI have recently celebrated a milestone birthday, the big 30! Typically, birthdays are not that important to me, but this year it has been really different. Not so much in the "I am getting older" woes way, but more so introspective about what the meaning of the day is. Being pregnant obviously has something to do with this! Thinking about how significant the day of birth really is has sunk in. I took time to talk with my mom, and hear my own birth story. Being the 3rd baby, she was not as nervous or had as much worry as contractions began on August 7th. She took her time to shower and get my older siblings tucked in to bed before packing up her bag and heading to the hospital. I arrived only after 4 hours of labor at 12:04 AM on the 8th. This was a big deal, as the nurse wanted to make my birthday the 7th, and my mom had to insist that I was an 8/8 baby!

Hearing this story, affirmed for me the choice I was making in my natural birth process. The idea that Ms. Pepper will get to be the one making the call on when she decides to greet the world is important to me. I do not want to be in a situation where drugs, doctor's timeframes, or hospital policies dictate our birth plan. Using a midwife, and following the Bradley Method, I will allow her to process through the birth cycle on her own terms. Hopefully, as fast as I did, but if not... That is okay too! I will be taking these next couple of months to prepare my body and mind for this endeavor, and try to be as go with the flow as a type A individual can be.

The anticipated date of delivery is October 27th, which really isn't that far away! We have started our preparation of the nursery, and getting our home ready for baby. Taking time now to de-clutter and organize our spaces to make room for her, will hopefully make life just a bit easier once she arrives. Also, we are starting to collect lots of goodies from friends and family with little ones. This has been awesome because I feel like if we don't make it to the deadline, we will still be prepared. Also, it has made my baby registry so much more fun! Getting to actually choose fun stuff for Ms. Pepper versus the basic things, like a diaper genie, has made this process more enjoyable than I had imagined it could be. I am not a big shopper, and so this aspect of modern gift giving is not so enticing to me. My sister has been very helpful in guiding me as to what is swanky and cool for mom and baby.

Luckily for me, we have one of the most awesome gifts for moms to be, the Milkies Milk Saver! The Milk-Saver is great for the breastfeeding mom that wants to make sure that she is catching as much of that 'liquid gold' as possible! The Milk-Saver is to be worn on the non-nursing side to catch the let down while you are feeding. It can hold as much as 2 ounces of milk, which can then be stored and used for another feeding. As I hope to breastfeed, I know that this will be a great asset to me! Another great tool I have recently become educated on, is called the ItzBeen. This is a computerized unit that will help you track how long it has been (get it) since baby last fed, was changed, or slept. From the moms I know using it, it sounds like a lifesaver!! Especially in the first couple of weeks of life, hours can disappear and it can be difficult to recall baby's schedule accurately. Also, for parents that are co-parenting, this tool is helpful in allowing one to pick up where the other left off, and take care of baby with ease. Definitely added to the list of must haves!

Other than that, I think that we are good to go on the major things... besides the baby. But she will be here before we know it!

Back to school, baby!

August 5, 2014

It's official, the third trimester has begun! It is amazing to think that she will be here with us in a few short months. Even more amazing is the amount of change and growth that is going to happen during this last phase of pregnancy. Ms. Pepper is going through a major growth spurt, adding fat layers, and plumping up in preparation to join us! At this point, all her major organs are functional, and she would survive if born now. With that being said, we want her to stay cozy in there and fully cook until week 40 to be considered full term. When I was recently shopping for some baby clothes, it was absolutely incredible to me how tiny newborn clothes look.... and then I saw the preemie clothes! They are so tiny! I think that I had dolls that were larger in size as a kid! So, it definitely was a good scare tactic to ensure that this last phase of pregnancy I keep up the good work to stay healthy and do my best to be patient, as we get closer to the end. This next couple of weeks are so important for baby's brain and nerve development, and to let her immune system build.

We continue to monitor her at home with the use of our AngelSound Fetal Doppler, and have even been able to share her heartbeat with family and friends, with the use of the recording feature. Check it out:

Click to listen

As she has grown, and her senses become more aware, we can actually notice changes in her heartbeat as we talk to her. It is AMAZING! My husband loves to sing to her, and it really affirms the bond that they are developing when she reacts to hearing his voice. It is said that babies after birth will turn and look to seek out familiar voices to them from being in utero. So chat away... sing and read to baby during this time to help build this connection. It is even said that singing the same song or reading the same book can help to soothe baby during those fussing times after delivery.

We also decided that now was the time to build our education base, to help to prepare us for the big event ahead! Although books and magazines can help in building your knowledge base, nothing beats the hands on learning and engagement of a Childbirth Class. There are quite a few types of classes to choose from, so you do want to do your research to determine what class is the best fit for your birth plan. Some popular choices currently are:

  • Lamaze: the use of simple, natural strategies to use during labor, like rhythmic breathing, hydrotherapy, massage, and positions. This method is used by ¼ of women during labor, and its techniques are often partnered with other birthing methods.

  • Bradley Method: natural childbirth is the goal of this method, so if you are hoping to go the au natural route, this may be the class for you! It is said that 90% of followers of this method do go on to delivering without medication, either in the hospital or outside of it. This method focuses on self-awareness and trusting your body's intuition by using relaxation techniques and partner coaching to ease pain and stress.

  • Alexander: this method targets posture and movement techniques to ease muscle tension with coordinated breathing exercises. The goal of this technique is to strengthen and tone your pelvic muscles prior to delivery to help aid in the birthing process.

  • Hypnobirthing: uses the power of suggestion to help you to relax and let your muscles work to give birth. Affirmations and visualizations are used to guide thoughts to decrease stress and fear.

Through our research, we decided on a local class that was a Bradley Method hybrid. We particular chose the method due to the involvement of your partner as the coach in the birthing and delivery process. I have decided that I want to keep my delivery experience private, so wanting to limit the amount of people in the room to myself, my husband, and our midwife and her assistant. So, my husband being knowledgeable and able to act as my coach and doula seemed like a perfect fit. This class will also educate both of us on strategies for relaxation and natural pain management, as I do hope to have a natural labor in a birth center. Our class will run for the next 10 weeks, and will hopefully bring us right up to full term, with a couple of weeks to spare!

- Tally

Green... with envy!

August 4, 2014 Tally and TJ

As you may recall, I am not a fan of needles. In fact, I am terrified of needles. So, this week was a big week for me, preparing myself for the Glucose Screening Test. This blood draw is to determine if gestational diabetes is a concern as you move into the third trimester. Unfortunately, gestational diabetes can affect any woman during pregnancy, no matter your health and wellness parameters, or your family history. In layman's terms, your body simply stops processing sugar correctly, causing baby to plump up significantly. This is in turn can cause concerns for baby's health and wellness in utero, as well as complications during delivery. Therefore, this test is recommended to all pregnant women by week 28.

My midwife offered me some tips to help to optimize my chances of passing the test, which I will pass along to you! Make sure that you do limit your carbohydrates up to 24-36 hours prior to testing. This not only includes breads and pastas but also fruits and dessert. Pretty much... you are on a 36 hour diet, and salad is your new best friend. The morning of, approximately 2 hours prior to the test, you want to eat a meal of protein rich foods. Eggs are best. You also want to ensure that you are fully hydrated, so may be best to skip the coffee too! You then must drink an awful beverage approximately 30 minutes prior to the blood draw to help to establish your levels. Although this drink tastes crummy, most of us probably drank worse in our college years! So, just plug your nose and gulp it down. Then comes the needles... this test does require quite a bit of blood collection, so try and bring a snack along to replenish you post draw. Hopefully, the results come back A-OK, because if not, the next step is a 3 hour test, which includes multiple blood draws and is done at the lab. Obviously... not anyone's idea of a good time, and my idea of a living nightmare!

Most women can manage gestational diabetes through lifestyle changes but some women do require medical intervention, and must begin use of insulin. Eating a well-planned diet is key, and you never want to skip meals, especially breakfast. Avoiding high sugar items is also important, and it good practice to start limiting these and establishing healthy eating routines for not just yourself but also your growing family. Maintaining your exercise routine is also going to help to keep your glucose levels in check, as little as 30 minutes a day can do the trick! If these solutions do not help, then your provider will support you with the best course of treatment to balance your levels appropriately. One positive though, typically gestational diabetes does not remain an issue after delivery of baby. Luckily for me, my test came back 'good to go!'. One thing that did pop up on my blood panel was that I am iron deficient, and now considered anemic. My iron levels have dropped significantly since the last draw, which is not atypical due to the increase in blood surging through my body, over 50% more than usual! Although our Pregnancy Plus Prenatal does offer iron support, you may need to supplement additional iron if you do become anemic. The typical recommendation is 30mg, but you will just want to touch base with your provider prior to use. It is also recommended to add in more red meat, and leafy greens- like spinach and kale. I am not someone who typically eats a lot of red meat, growing up in the Midwest I feel that I have had my fill! I definitely have not been eating it while pregnant because it has to be cooked to well done to be 100% safe for baby. Not my idea of a yummy steak, so I definitely need to make some changes to help to naturally boost my iron levels up! Going into the delivery room with anemia can cause concern if excessive bleeding occurs, due to your body's depleted reserves of hemoglobin. It will make recovery post delivery harder too! I looked into juicing, but have found my local Trader Joe's cold pressed juice to be the most convenient and bearable. Look for the GREEN one, as it packs over a pound of spinach and 17 leaves of kale per serving! Also, can't beat the price... so for now it is a good solution. We will do another blood draw closer to 34 weeks, to see if my levels are up, but in the meantime I will also experiment with new recipes including these leafy greens. If I stumble across something fabulous, I will be sure to share!

- Tally

Burning Up... from the inside out!

July 24, 2014
Tally at 24 weeks

Wowza! We are experiencing a heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures are climbing into the mid 80s, which I know is nothing to most of the country, but for us it is HOT! Most homes and businesses here don't even have air conditioning due to our typically mild climate. Luckily, here at Fairhaven Health we do! I have to say, I'm even more excited for the workweek, just to come and sit in air conditioning! On the home front, we do not. Thankfully, we had the foresight to put ceiling fans in the bedrooms during our renovation last year. I can't tell you how many days in the last week, I have laid stark naked in bed with the fan blowing at full speed on me, just to be comfortable enough to sleep. I am also grateful for my sister's in-laws who live on a lake here in Bellingham, and have graciously opened up their home to me. Floating in the water is like being in heaven! The coolness and weightlessness feels absolutely amazing, and until the forecast shows a change, I don't imagine a better way to spend my afternoons. Spending so much time in the sun though, I have made sure to protect my skin, especially my face! I do not want to get the dreaded "pregnancy mask", the darkening of skin around your eyes, known as Chloasma. Wearing large shades and a hat, with my SPF 50 has so far prevented this from occurring.

Unfortunately, my troubles with heat have not been limited to the outdoor temperature. Ms. Pepper is already living up to her name, and creates a little inferno inside of me! As she grows, she is compressing my internal organs, and I have begun to feel the not so pleasant symptoms of heartburn. I have that awful feeling of burning in my chest after eating and sometimes even results in vomiting. As someone who loves spicy foods, I have made the heartbreaking sacrifice of removing spice from my diet, and will hopefully find some relief. I have also started eating smaller meals throughout the day, and limiting my water intake when eating as to not overload my stomach capacity. Unfortunately, these symptoms plague me no matter what I seem to do. I have started use of my PregEase again, which tends to offer me short-term comfort, and has definitely curbed the vomiting.

PregEase

One of the worst side effects with heartburn is the change I have had to make in my sleeping position. I had finally adjusted to my new side sleeping, but now I have to wedge myself more upright to keep the inferno at bay. As you can imagine, this and the temperature in my room, has made good sleep almost impossible. Which inevitably effects my mood... making my overall demeanor much more unpleasant than I would like. Note to all - do not tell a pregnant woman that she looks tired, or that the lack of sleep she is getting will prepare her for her new life as a mom. We do not want to hear it, and you may be in for a backlash! Maybe it's not warranted.... . but either way, I blame it on my exhaustion and inability to control my hormones. Is anyone else with me there?

Things that would have rolled off of me 6 months ago, now seem to fester and my emotional reactions are far more explosive than anticipated. I have always prided myself on being a fairly levelheaded individual, but I fear those days are over. Case in point.... let me tell you about a recent incident with a watermelon. Yes, a watermelon! I was craving watermelon, so I went to a local store to purchase one. After getting home and slicing it open with the eagerness of a kid in a candy store, my heart sank as I found the inside to be completely bad. I broke down into tears, just like a child. My husband thankfully, with love and understanding, said that he would go into town and replace the melon. Unfortunately for both of us, the melon that was replaced by the store was also bad. Again, my emotions got the best of me, and I fell into a stage of depression... yes, another emotion that maybe wasn't warranted! Luckily, the chase and dream of a Dairy Queen ice cream cake changed my outlook. Much to mine and my upcoming Glucose Screening Tests' dismay, I ate practically the entire thing. Thus is life, right?!

- Tally

Keep it moving, baby!

July 21, 2014
Tally and siblings

Ms. Pepper continues to grow! Her bones are beginning to solidify and the result is that she is leaching the calcium from my bones to meet her needs-and kicking me like crazy! Due to this, my midwife recommended that I increase my daily dosage of the Pregnancy Plus CalMag by an additional capsule. She hopes that this will help to stave off any cramping or charlie horse like pains in my legs, as this is the typical side effect women experience during this stage of pregnancy. Prior to doing this, you will want to touch base with your physician or midwife for feedback, as some women can experience negative side effects, like diarrhea, when adding more Magnesium to their diets. So, always good to double check!

Now that my belly is growing and growing, I have officially moved over to maternity clothes. I had no idea how hard it was going to be to find clothes that are not only stylish but also affordable! There are a lot of designer maternity lines, that of course have beautiful options, but my lifestyle and my pocket book don't really coincide with the designer options available. Being over half way through, I hope to only be wearing the clothes for another couple of months. Our large retail stores here in Bellingham don't offer maternity sections, except the newly opened H&M! I am going to give them a plug here, because the clothes and price point cannot be beat. They are chic and most importantly comfortable, and it is nice to feel 'good' again getting ready in the morning. If you do not have an H&M in your area, they do offer online shopping too! The only items that H&M did not offer were workout clothes. I, luckily, work in a causal work environment where we are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes. Most days a group of us do try and get out and exercise during our breaks. We are within walking distance to a great running trail and tennis club, which are two of my favorite past times! I have found Target to be the best resource for stretchy pants, and loose fitting bra tops. As someone who started this path to motherhood in the A cup category, the new revelation of boobs has definitely thrown me for a loop. I never had to really worry about "support," but now keeping the girls in place during a workout is essential!

Deer family

Throughout my pregnancy, I have tried my best to maintain a fitness routine, whether that be walking/running for an hour, hiking with my dogs, playing tennis, or taking a fitness class. My goal being to maintain a good level of endurance, which I have heard is the greatest asset you can bring into the delivery room. Obviously, keeping up the cardio also helps to keep the extra cravings and the "what the heck, I'm pregnant" gorges in check. My family recently went on our annual reunion, and we are a very active bunch! Most days started with a hiking or kayaking, followed by some mid-day tennis, and then a swim to follow. Although I was very grateful for the motivation to keep me moving, I did have to play the "I am pregnant, give me a break" card more than once. Luckily, my sister has been there, and could sympathize with my napping and wuss-like behavior! I have been diligent about listening to my body, which I feel is so important. Some days, like today, I have every intention of exercising but my body just tells me "no." Taking time to relax and unwind, I have found, is just as important to both my physical and mental wellbeing.

Also, during exercise, knowing my limits and scaling back my "usual" performance levels to accommodate my changing body has become essential. Getting used to my belly, and how it affects my balance, has been the hardest. As an adult you don't really think about falling down... yes, it happens occasionally but the repercussions are not as extreme as they can be when you are pregnant. On a hike recently, I misstepped...... the non-pregnant me would have recovered fine, but the pregnant me felt completely out of control of my body, and took a tumble. We were both just fine, but it was definitely a wake up call. So, although I do encourage all of my fellow pregsters to keep up the activity, I do caution you to take care with your level of activity and to understand your "normal" is now completely different.

The one exercise to increase without inhibition is the Kegal exercise! The more the merrier is what I have been told by my midwife and friends that are moms. The Kegal exercise will help to strengthen your vaginal muscles, which will come in handy throughout the delivery, but also will help to make recovery much easier. Luckily, this is an exercise that can be done throughout the day, anytime and anywhere. Reminders are great... I have a note in my car, to help me to utilize my commute for some good exercising! We all need motivation and reminders no matter how fit or out of shape you are, because exercise is work. The best quote I have heard is: "The worst workout you can have, is the one you don't do!" So, keep up the activity ladies... your hubs, baby, and of course YOU, will thank you later!

Baby Kicks

July 9, 2014 Tally at 20 weeks

Every mom is different in their process of bonding with baby. Some 'moms to be', like me, really want to know the sex to help bridge a connection to baby as they grow. Up until now, I really felt no emotional connection to the little person growing inside of me. I had not felt any movement, and so far had just been sick and tired all the time. I began referring to baby as the "Succubus," as this little life had completely transformed mine, and was causing me a bit of an emotional and physical upheaval. My sister told me not to worry, once you feel baby move, it will begin to feel real. I sure hoped she was right! My body started to change quite a bit in the next couple of weeks. I began to experience the sharp and highly uncomfortable pains from the round ligament stretching. At first I thought these were early contractions due to the amount of pain associated with them. Wowza... did they take my breath away, and some even took me to my knees. I am not afraid to admit that I definitely began to have some doubts about my au natural birth plan due to the pain. Luckily, they were short lived. However, with the frequency of the pain I was experiencing and the fact that I had not felt baby move, my midwife thought we should get in for an ultrasound sooner than later – just to be sure. I couldn't agree more... and I was hoping that seeing her would help me to bond more. For some reason, it felt weird to name baby before seeing her, so she remained the 'Succubus' much to my husband's dismay.

I went into the ultrasound with butterflies of excitement and anxiety, partly due to the fact that I was about to pee my pants. To get a good look at your cervix, they ask that you come in with a full bladder. What they don't anticipate is the wait time most of us experience at the doctor's office. I was about to burst! Luckily, my technician was pregnant and understanding of my pain. She took the pictures she needed, and let me use the bathroom, so we could actually enjoy the rest of the appointment. My physical relief was matched with emotional relief when we got to see our baby girl in front of us. Granted, we still needed a bit of direction from our tech as to what we were actually seeing... is that her butt?... 'No, that is her face!' You know, the usual questions! Much to my surprise, my placenta was actually located on my backside vs. the front, which was a possible suggestion as to why I hadn't felt her yet. The frontal location of the placenta would be absorbing the kicks and movements she was making, so it was awesome and reassuring to see how much she was moving around, and that she was healthy and strong.

Pepper Lyn

Once we got to see our little girl, my husband insisted that we determine a name for her as soon as possible. He feared that she would soon begin to hear us talking about her, and us calling her the 'Succubus.' Luckily for us, the path to a name was not too challenging for us because we knew that we wanted to use family names from both sides. So, I am pleased to announce, Ms. Pepper Lynn to the world.

A few days after the appointment, my pains stopped, and I literally woke up one morning to a baby belly. It was official... I had popped! I had moved out of the "you look different" questions, to the "wow, you are pregnant" exclamations. I have begun to religiously use of my DreamBelly Butter and DreamBelly Cream, as well as increase my water intake significantly, to help to stave off stretch marks. Fingers crossed! My midwife informed me that my abdominal muscles had finally torn, and that Pepper's growth would be much more visible from here on out. My morning sickness has also subsided, and I am starting to feel less like a zombie. I have not felt the energy that you read about, and some 'moms to be' rave about, but my life definitely changed the day I felt her move. It was an incredible feeling, almost breathtaking. She gave me a good hard punch during a massage, I think to tell me, "Ok mom, I know this is relaxing and all, laying on your stomach, but you are crushing me!" No more laying on the stomach for me. Feeling her inside of me did solidify a bond, and now I find myself talking to her all the time. My husband was a little jealous, I think, until he was able to feel her move on Father's Day. Thank goodness Pepper remembered to get him something! Not only has this deepened his connection with her, it has brought the two of us even closer, as we bond over her and our future family.

I hope you had a happy 4th!

- Tally

Getting to Know Me...

July 1, 2014 Tally's BFP

Hello all! I would like to welcome you all on my journey to motherhood. To give you some background about myself, I will start from the beginning. My name is Tally, and I am currently a mom to a family of four-legged kids - our dogs, Rebel & Cosmo and our cat-dog, Gus (he thinks he is a dog). Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am an outdoor enthusiast as well as a DIY diva. I starting working at Fairhaven Health in 2011. The company's products and mission, as you may know, are to support women from preconception through nursing, and boy did I learn a lot about myself and my cycles while working here! I was dating my current husband when I began work here, and we were using hormonal birth control. The knowledge that I gleaned from my work here empowered me to take charge of my own fertility, and for us, natural family planning into my own hands. By using the OvaCue Fertility Monitor, I was able to accurately pinpoint my ovulation naturally, and take steps to avoid pregnancy. Once we were ready to begin this journey into parenthood, I then adjusted use of the unit and utilized the OvaCue with the goal of pregnancy. Being in an industry where I speak and interact with clients daily that are struggling to achieve pregnancy, the OvaCue definitely made me feel confident in my ability to monitor my cycles accurately as we began our TTC efforts.

Another great perk of the job is all the great supplements that we offer! I began use of our Pregnancy Plus Prenatal, Omega 3s, and Cal-Mag supplements from the get go, and I'm still taking them. These general health and wellness supplements are invaluable for women in their maternal years! Even though I pride myself in living a healthy and active lifestyle, our diets do not provide us with all the vitamin support necessary to live our best life. These particular wellness support supplements ensure that we are getting proper support, and the use of a prenatal is recommend to women 6 months prior to actively trying to conceive. Having the supplements in my system helped me to transition easily into using them during pregnancy when we received our BFP in February! The only additional supplement I needed to add was Vitamin D, which I probably should have been using already being that I live in the PNW.

The early phase of my pregnancy was, overall, nothing to write home about. Like most, I did suffer from daily bouts of nausea. I think the term "morning sickness" shouldn't be allowed in pregnancy books and articles, as my nausea lasted all day long. I was able to grin and bare it with the use of our PregEase supplement. Not to say that most of my days, from week 6-16, didn't include at least one dash to the bathroom, or sink, or the trash bag in my car, I hate to complain at all about it. The moment you complain about pregnancy woes... oh my, the stories you hear! I have heard the gambit of feedback, and it makes me so grateful for the little misery I had.

I would say the worst part of my first trimester was how much we, as a couple, struggled with deciding on how we wanted to bring this little person into the world. Doctor or Midwife? Hospital or BirthCenter? Genetic Testing or not? We started at the doctor's office, thinking that my beloved OBGYN of 8 years could help direct me. When I called to make my appointment I was informed that as of January 2014, my doctor would no longer be delivering babies. As you can imagine... this was the last thing that I wanted to hear. The nurse heard the panic in my voice, and quickly informed me of the great new co-op of physicians available to support me. I would meet with each doctor throughout my pregnancy and whomever was on call that day, would be my doctor. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am not overly comfortable with strangers around my lady parts. This seemed like dating, after a break up, and I was just not up for it again. With that chip on my shoulder, we went to our first appointment. In walks the doctor, and I immediately felt panic. He left the room to get the test results, and I immediately turned to my husband and said, "I can't do this! He is younger than me! How many babies could he have delivered?" Obviously, a complete overreaction for a person who has probably a decade of medical experience, and my husband just smiled and said, "Probably not younger, but he could definitely be your same age." Bless his heart! We made it through our appointment, but I still didn't feel good about the "only" option provided.

This is when I looked to the midwife community, and found a perfect fit. This midwife acted as my little sister's doula during the birth of my niece, and I was very impressed by her and her demeanor. Great, problem solved right? Not quite, my husband, liked the idea of having the baby at the hospital for safety reasons (which I respected) but I have always hated hospitals, and that is why the idea of using a midwife/birth center appealed to me to begin with. Hospitals have never been a place of comfort for me, and I feel my anxiety rise just walking through those sliding doors. Also, I am a complete baby when it comes to needles. I know, I know - wait 9 months right? But truthfully, the idea of an epidural scares me more than giving birth. Most definitely, you can have a natural birth in the hospital, like my sister did, but they still require IVs and monitoring and all the stuff that I hate! Luckily, after meeting with our midwife, my husband was completely put at ease as to her skills and ability to help me through the birth process in a safe and monitored environment.

Phew, ok. Midwife, check. BirthCenter, check. But the next biggie on the list... to test or not to test? My husband is older than me, and although I am not quite in the mandatory testing age bracket, research is now linking paternal age to baby's health concerns too! With that being said, the options provided for standard testing, did not appeal to us at all. The risks, not to mention the large needles required, did not offer enough incentive to receive feedback of 1/200 chance. At least not for us. Luckily, our local lab had recently begun offering the new genetic test, Panaroma. This test is simply a blood draw from mom that is then sent down to a company in California where it is processed. In lay person speak, what they do is spin my blood so fast that they can remove my DNA and just look at baby's. Therefore, they can do a complete genetic screen and provide accuracy at 99%. Amazing, huh? The other awesome thing, because they have DNA, you can find out baby's sex earlier than the 20 weeks. So, we are happy to report a healthy baby girl!

Now, to decide the name...

- Tally

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