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The Ultimate Fit And Healthy Mom’s Baby Registry Checklist

The Ultimate Fit And Healthy Mom's Baby Registry ChecklistI’m not a person who wants or needs a lot of *stuff*, and would consider myself a minimalist. I have to be, because our modest home holds four kids, my husband and I, and our golden retriever. However, thinking back over my first year with adding baby number 4 in our home, there were certain items that just made my life so much easier and we really could not have lived without. I also loved any items that helped me to stay fit and baby to stay healthy. Here is my baby registry checklist of my favorite items!

(I highly recommend Amazon Baby Registry! So easy for your baby shower guests!!)

Baby Registry Checklist

Must Read Books


Happiest Baby on the Block – Priceless research-based information on the best ways to calm your baby, establish good sleep habits and patterns.


Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Ina May Gaskin is one of my heroes in the world of birth, and she nails it again with this gentle, informative guide to nursing.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two – So comprehensive, this book was my bible for Austin’s first year and beyond. Dr. Sears believes in and popularized attachment parenting, but is non-judgmental and open-minded with his recommendations and advice.

Feeding


Medela Breast Pump – if you’re planning on nursing at all, you will want to invest in a high-quality breast pump, because pumped milk = FREEDOM. Whether you’re working and pumping all day or just pumping here and there so others can help you feed, you want the most efficient pump available so you’re getting the highest possible output in the least amount of precious time. This pump is the best you can buy without going hospital grade.


Dr. Brown’s Bottles – we loved these bottles for pumped breastmilk, they really did help eliminate gas and spitting up. The starter pack was perfect for all our needs.


Bottle Warmer – If you’re going to be pumping, you’ll also need a bottle warmer. We thought we’d save the money and space at first and just heat our bottles up old-school in hot water on the stove, but the very first time we tried it, we both almost had panic attacks listening to our baby wail while we waited. and waited. and waited for the water to boil. This warmer is compact enough to easily throw in a diaper bag to take on a trip or to Grandma’s house.

Amelia_Maternity_Nursing_Bra_9f772255-355b-4054-ad40-528eaee12426_largeYou! Lingerie Nursing Bra – I am a lover of beautiful lingerie, and always hated switching to ugly nursing bras when my first 3 kids were born. Imagine my giddiness when I discovered, during my last pregnancy, that beautiful nursing lingerie now exists!


My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow – If you’ve never breastfed, you may not realize how much you’re going to be sitting and nursing. You think you know, but you don’t, I promise. I had the Boppy nursing pillow with my older kids, but scored this one this time and I ADORED it. Your core is still recovering after pregnancy, so that extra little back support makes a world of difference to your comfort. My husband used it to give bottles as well.

Baby Food


Mesh Feeder – This was so awesome for teaching our baby how to eat solid foods! You can put a banana or avocado in and baby can just gnaw on it and make a giant mess 🙂 Pro Tip – freeze a cube of breastmilk, pop it in the mesh, and you have a great teether.


Food Processor – I did not buy conventional baby food because it was so watered-down that it hardly qualified to me as food. Instead, when I cooked healthy meals for us, I threw extra into the food processor and made large batches of purees for baby. These could then be stored (see below) and frozen. Do yourself a favor and invest in the more expensive, less noisy options. We went cheap and have regretted it every day since: I can’t tell you how many smoothies I’ve made from the back patio because the baby was sleeping.


Baby Food Storage Trays – pour in the extra food, freeze, and you have perfectly portioned sizes ready to be squeezed out and individually thawed. Genius.

Staying Active With Baby


Jogging Stroller – A good jogging stroller will save your life as an active mom. I used ours for interval running at the local trail, and my husband goes on long walks with our son in it every morning. Lifesaver.


Moby Wrap Baby Carrier – My son was a particularly snuggly baby, refusing to sleep without touching one of us for the first 4 or 5 months of his life. Daytime naps were always in the Moby, which was fine because I LOVED it. I would get all sorts of things done with him curled up in my chest, including cleaning my dirty house. It’s that comfortable.


ErgoBaby – When he got a little bigger, I switched to the Ergo, a really supportive, well-made carrier. It’s also easier than the Moby to just throw on if you’re running in somewhere. It’s also great because you can wear baby on your back! We love to hike and take camping trips to hiking locations all the time with Austin in tow, but we absolutely could not do it without the Ergo. This summer we logged 30+ miles of mountain hiking with Austin on our backs.


Nursing Sports Bra – This Motherhood is the best sports nursing bra I’ve found (although it still doesn’t compare to the likes of my Nikes). I’m a very active person, and it has kept up with my intense workouts pretty well.


Mom and Baby Water Bottles – I have loved my Camelbak Eddy water bottle since forever, because I swear to you it makes me drink triple the water I normally would. I don’t know how. But Austin started drinking from it at around 7 or 8 months old, so for his first birthday I got him one of his own.

Nursery

screen568x568Cloud Baby Monitor App – Instead of shelling out big bucks for an expensive monitor system, we just bought this app for $4 and used two iPhones. The only drawback is a lack of night vision, but everything else is there – I can turn on a nightlight, music, or speak to the baby with a speaker right from my phone, and it has cloud capability so I can tune in from anywhere in the world.



Stability Ball – Is there anything this ball cannot do? I used this ball for exercise pre-pregnancy, then for comfort and labor during pregnancy and birth, and postpartum it was a MIRACLE for calming down a fussy baby. You sit on it with baby in arms and just bounce softly, boom! Instant calm every time.

Co-Sleeper – 3 of my 4 babies slept in bed with me for many months, but it wasn’t until my 4th that I found great products like this to keep baby safe in between us at nighttime. Austin just wouldn’t sleep in a bassinet or crib until 8 months, so this was the alternative to him sleeping in my arms and neither of us really sleeping.


Pretty Pushers – I had a natural birth in a birth center, and can’t tell you how much time I spent stressing over what I was going to wear in labor. I wanted something I could wear once and not have to worry about ruining or getting wet in the birthing tub, but would look pretty for the pictures, and also be easy to slip on and off. I, of course, came across these AFTER I gave birth and thought, well, that was exactly what I wanted! Check them out, they’re definitely pretty but also practical.

Holistic and Safe


Coconut Oil – If you have coconut oil, don’t bother with expensive lotions and diaper creams. I used it for pregnancy to prevent stretch marks, nursing to prevent cracked nipples, and now I use it as lotion and diaper cream for Austin.


Earth Mama Angel Baby – I found this company using the Environmental Working Group’s database of safest baby products: they get the highest grade of any company. Must haves:

What were your must-haves for your baby registry? (Don’t forget to register here!!)

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Fit Pregnancy Profile – Lacey Lifted Through Pregnancy, Embraces Her Post-Baby Body

In this series, Fit To Be Pregnant is highlighting inspirational mamas from around the globe and how they made their pregnancies fit, comfortable, and healthy. If you’d like to be be featured, get in touch! We’d love to have you! Fit Pregnancy Profile - Lacey Lifts Through Pregnancy, Embraces Her Post-Baby BodyLacey is a first-time mom who continued lifting weights throughout her fit pregnancy with her adorable 10 month old son, Jaxxen. Check out her inspiring story!

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How many weeks pregnant are you, or how old is your baby?

My son, Jaxxen, is now 10 months old!

Describe your food choices during your healthy pregnancy.

My food choices did not change much from my pre and post-pregnancy. I have a lot of food allergies and intolerances that make it very important to eat clean. My first trimester I did have a really hard time keeping most protein sources down so I mainly relied on protein shakes to keep my meals balanced. Once my second trimester started I was able to get back to my typical diet which consists of lean meats such as turkey, chicken, tuna, salmon, and beef. I also make sure that I am consuming a lot of different fruits and veggies along with healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado, flax, and olive oil. The majority of my carbohydrates come from vegetables but I also consume oats, brown rice, quinoa, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Read here for 7 easy ways to improve your pregnancy diet.

Describe your exercise routine during your healthy pregnancy.

I was able to keep my exercise routine the same as pre-pregnancy with just a few adjustments on lowering the weight. For most of my pregnancy I made it to the gym about 5-6 times per week allowing me to target a different muscle group each day along 2-3 days of light cardio. I enjoy using more free weights and cables when it comes to gym equipment but once I got into my third trimester I changed my weekly split to 3 times per week using more machines for less risk of injury. Each day I would listen to my body and sometimes choose to just walk or spin instead of strength train.

What was your greatest obstacle to staying healthy during your pregnancy, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle during my pregnancy was trying to control my sweet tooth! I am a huge fan of chocolate anything and everything so I tried to limit my cravings to one treat per week. I am gluten intolerant so I have to be careful with my cheat meals but during my pregnancy it never seemed to bother me too much so I got to enjoy cakes and cookies which made my cravings even worse.

Did you experience morning sickness? How did you manage it?

During my first trimester I had really bad morning sickness due to taking extra progesterone so I would sip on Zevia soda, which is a better alternative to artificially sweetened soda. It also caused me to have food aversions to all protein sources, even protein shakes were hard to swallow. I did manage with a couple fruity flavors to make sure my meals were as balanced as possible.

What motivated you to exercise and eat healthy food during your pregnancy? How did you manage when you didn’t feel motivated?

I have to admit there were a lot of days where I wanted to just give up and let myself go but I just couldn’t handle the fact that my son wouldn’t be getting the best possible nutrients to grow big and strong. The days that I would make myself go to the gym ended up being some of the best days! If I needed a little extra motivation I would turn to my family, friends, clients, and even social media. Watching other hard working moms teach their families the importance of health was so inspiring!

Did you allow yourself to give in to any cravings?

I definitely let myself enjoy my sweet cravings! There is nothing more rewarding than a big piece of chocolate cake after a week or two of working hard to stay motivated and energetic when you are growing another human.

How did birth go? Do you feel that your healthy pregnancy helped in any way with birth? Did you have any interventions? 

I definitely feel that staying healthy and active during my pregnancy made my birth and recovery very enjoyable. Jaxxen decided to come a month early but he was healthy with no complications other than having to stay a couple extra days in the hospital for precautions. I had an epidural and only a few tiny tears with no episiotomy. My labor took a long time but I have a long line of family history in that department. I was able to go on walks 5 days after he was born with minimal discomfort and was able to start working out after my 6 week appointment. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my birthing experience, and my post-pregnancy has been a lot of fun trying to regain my strength in the gym again.

Here is a plan to help you prepare mentally and physically for labor and delivery.

How long did it take you to bounce back after birth?

I was able to bounce back very fast! I had the mentality that I would be starting over but with a better mindset to become stronger mentally and physically. I was able to start walking within a few days after giving birth and cleared to starting exercising at my 6 week appointment. The first few months were really hard to learn a balance between being a new Mommy and also becoming a better athlete but I quickly started a routine for Jaxxen and myself. The struggle to accept that my body will forever be different was very hard for me at first but I have embraced my new body. I now feel like I am more powerful and conditioned than before my pregnancy. I even put on some lean mass while I was pregnant and have continued to do so instead of focusing on my pre-baby weight. I don’t want my pre-baby body anymore I want the body that housed my son to become even better than before!

Were you leading a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy, or did pregnancy inspire you to become healthier? 

I started to really take my health and fitness to a whole new level about a year before deciding to try for my son. Having endometriosis and PCOS made me choose fitness as my outlet for inflammation relief. As I started eating cleaner, stomach issues started to become more noticeable helping me eliminate certain foods from my diet and taking health even more seriously. I decided to set a goal of competing in bodybuilding competitions which led me to my new found passion. This new passion of mine has opened a whole new world of inspiration and dedication that I am going to continue to set goals within.

What was your favorite thing to eat during pregnancy?

I am pretty sure each week I would have a new favorite food! I really enjoyed baked potatoes, orange juice, cuties, grapefruits, pickles, green olives, salmon, avocados, and chocolate cake. I would try to make balanced meals around the different foods I was craving to keep it healthy and enjoyable.

Here are 50 healthy meal ideas for pregnancy (and postpartum!)

What is your proudest accomplishment of your pregnancy?

Besides giving birth to my son, I am proud of how well I stuck to my plan of staying active. If I would have given up on the bad days I would have never enjoyed the good days. I kept a positive attitude and when I felt down I would seek out inspiration from others. I kept telling myself it would more than pay off some day and it sure has! My son was born extremely healthy and I was able to bounce back to my routine even stronger.

What advice do you have for other moms who want to have a fit and healthy pregnancy?

Embrace and enjoy the new changes that are happening to your body! It truly is beautiful to grow a child and it is so rewarding especially if you choose to stay fit. Your baby will not only benefit from all the nutrients and endorphins but you will be rewarded with more energy, less stress, less discomfort and pain, and an enjoyable birthing experience. If you are unsure where to start, seek out experience help and motivational support. There are so many other women that would love to have your baby bump support as well!

What book, website, person inspired you to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, or did you find useful?

Social Media was actually very motivational for me. I followed a lot of healthy fit moms that were willing to share their beautiful experience and had great advice. I was also very inspired by my own little team of ladies that I support and train. Watching how hard they were working made me want to be right there next to them working just as hard, little did they know they were helping me just as much as I was for them!

What was your favorite product that helped you stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy?

Whenever I hit a personal goal I love to reward myself with a new piece of gym clothing or some type of equipment. During my pregnancy I chose to expand my gym attire with my expanding body. It would help make the new changes more exciting and comfortable!

Did anyone judge you or say anything negative about your exercise routine during pregnancy? 

I did have a few comments here and there asking if I was over doing it or if I should be lifting that heavy but mostly I had support. I chose to surround myself with positive people that knew what my goals and intentions were. It did also help that I am educated in programming and adjusting my training according to my body.

What was the one thing you did for yourself during pregnancy that you would recommend to anyone else who is expecting?

I recommend getting educated! I was very nervous when I found out I would be bringing another person into the world but I chose to ease my fear with education. I thought it was fascinating knowing how Jaxxen was growing each week and how much he would benefit with healthy food and exercise. It’s never too late to be healthy and a healthy pregnancy is the perfect excuse to get started! Seek out professional help if you are unsure where or how to get started. It will be the best decision you’ve ever made!

How did you feel about your body during pregnancy? Were you excited about the changes, or was it difficult for you to deal with? How did you deal with those feelings?

I loved the way my body changed and grew during my pregnancy. There were days that were harder than others especially in my last month but I knew it was all worth it. When I look at my new Mommy Body now all I see is power and strength. A body so strong it housed my beautiful son and will continue to prove it’s strength with his future siblings.

Lacey documents her health journey along with her clients’ on Facebook and Instagram.

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Fit Pregnancy Profile – Amanda, 2 Months Postpartum, Body Pumped Until Delivery

In this series, Fit To Be Pregnant is highlighting inspirational mamas from around the globe and how they made their pregnancies fit, comfortable, and healthy. If you’d like to be be featured, get in touch! We’d love to have you!

Fit Pregnancy Profile - Amanda, 2 Months PostpartumAmanda had her first baby just two months ago. She was able to have a complication and intervention-free delivery, and even took a Body Pump class the day before she gave birth! Here is her inspiring story.

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Describe your food choices during your healthy pregnancy.

I ate a wide range of foods from fruits and vegetables, lots of greek yogurt, whole grains, peanut butter, meat, but also lots of vegetarian dishes.

What was your exercise routine during pregnancy?

Before getting pregnant, I went to the gym six days a week. I took Body Pump and Body Combat on alternating days. I continued this regimen for the first few months, but as I became further along, I lowered my intensity as needed and started using options for the ab tracks. I also started going four days a week up until the last month I would go two days a week and take walks in between.

What was your greatest obstacle to staying healthy during your pregnancy, and how did you overcome it?

I would have to say staying motivated going to the gym, especially after a long day at work.

Did you experience morning sickness? How did you manage it?

No – none!

Did you allow yourself to give in to any cravings?

Yes I did. I knew I didn’t eat ice cream or greasy foods a lot, so I would treat myself on occasion.

Read here for the Top 10 Foods you should be eating during pregnancy.

How did birth go?

My birth went exactly as I planned. My active labor was about five hours and I did not have any interventions. The nursing staff and doctor were great! I was able to deliver in a position that was comfortable to me. They also let me walk around to help move things along and work through contractions.

How long did it take you to bounce back after birth? 

I would say after about a week I felt “normal.” I have mostly been going on walks and I have been breastfeeding/pumping. I still have a little bit to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy shape, but I plan on resuming my exercise programs when I am cleared by the doctor at my postpartum appointment.

Do you need a postpartum diet and exercise plan? Read here.

Were you leading a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy, or did pregnancy inspire you to become healthier?

Yes, it was very much part of my life.

What was your favorite thing to eat during pregnancy?

Peanut butter and nutella sandwiches on whole grain bread.

What is your proudest accomplishment of your pregnancy?

Taking Body Pump the morning before I gave birth.

What advice do you have for other moms who want to have a fit and healthy pregnancy?

People think that continuing your exercise routine cannot be done being pregnant and that you can hurt yourself and/or your baby. But if your body is used to a certain level of intensity, then continue with it because it helps tremendously throughout the pregnancy, during delivery, and postpartum.

What book, website, person inspired you to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, or did you find useful?

I would have to say all the people who were in my classes at the gym inspired me. They were supportive during my entire pregnancy, and it was also a big part of my “social” life.

What was your favorite product that helped you stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy? 

Body Pump and Body Combat – the instructors helped me along the way with options

Did anyone judge you or say anything negative about your exercise routine during pregnancy? 

No – they were amazed with my ability to stick with it!

What was the one thing you did for yourself during pregnancy that you would recommend to anyone else who is expecting?

I didn’t give myself many breaks when I probably needed it. I would recommend taking a break once and a while because once the baby is here, there are no breaks!

How did you feel about your body during pregnancy? Were you excited about the changes, or was it difficult for you to deal with? How did you deal with those feelings?

I was lucky because as people said I was “all belly”, so I never felt self-conscious about the changes occurring. I was excited to see the changes. Since I continued my exercise routines I didn’t out on weight too quickly, and this helped me stay motivated as my body gradually changed.

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Body After Baby – Will I Ever Be The Same?

Body After Baby - Will I Ever Get My Body Back?Maybe it seems shallow or selfish, but it’s perfectly normal to wonder, will I ever get my body back after baby?

The answer is yes…and no. So many changes take place to your body after you have a baby. For some the changes are subtle, for others they are extreme. This all depends on genetics and lifestyle.

Here are a few changes you can expect that may or may not be permanent, depending on those factors:

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Loose Skin

After baby, you may have some loose skin around your midsection. It will be more profound at first, then tighten up over the first year postpartum. Some women have greater elasticity in their skin and you may not even be able to tell they’ve had a baby. Some women, like me, have less elasticity and the skin will stay loose. Sticking with a healthy lifestyle from the very beginning of pregnancy can lessen the severity of this. Drinking lots of water, using coconut oil on your skin daily, and gaining weight slowly will help improve your skin elasticity. No amount of sit-ups or crunches will tighten up this skin once it has been stretched. Even when I had six pack abs before this pregnancy, the skin was loose from my first three babies. It didn’t stop me from wearing a two-piece at the beach 🙂

Diastasis Recti

Pregnant women experience a separation of the abdominal muscles towards the end of pregnancy when the growing uterus stretches against them. The problem usually corrects itself within the first year following birth, however sometimes the separation does not close completely, leaving a little tummy bulge. To help heal the separation, there are a few exercises you can try:

  • Core contractions – seated in a chair sitting straight up, pull your belly button in towards your spine, contracting your core for 30 seconds. Repeat 10x.
  • Kegels – Just like when you were pregnant, continuing these exercises will help to strengthen your pelvic floor. If you’ve never done a kegel, stop your stream of urine while you’re using the restroom – these are the same muscles you will squeeze to do a kegel. Do these for about 10 minutes a day. I usually do them while I watch tv at night.
  • If you do have diastasis, AVOID all crunches or any other exercise that makes your abs stick out, like a cone shape. This can actually make it worse.

Stretch Marks

Mostly genetic, however, just like loose skin, you can minimize stretch marks by following a clean diet and not gaining weight too quickly. You may also be able to help prevent stretch marks by keeping your belly, thighs, and breasts slathered in coconut oil. These will appear red at first but over time will fade and look like scars.

Body Fat

You’ll probably put on fat in your thighs, rear, and arms when you are pregnant, and if you breastfeed, some women will continue to store extra fat in these areas. If you follow a healthy diet and stay active during pregnancy, you can minimize the amount of extra fat you store. Once you have the baby, beware of following a diet TOO low in calories, as it will actually trigger your body to hold onto that fat for dear life, because it will assume you are experiencing famine.

You absolutely can lose body fat postpartum. Exercise daily, stick to a mostly clean diet full of protein, fruits, veggies, healthy fats and complex carbs, and have some patience. If you’re breastfeeding you will probably fall into one of two categories: the mom who loses her baby weight seemingly immediately because of nursing, or the mom whose body doesn’t want to let the last 10 pounds go until nursing is over. This is yet another hormonal safeguard that is in place to keep a calorie reserve for the baby. If you really want to lose those last few pounds of fat, you can try adding in some high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workouts (example – try doing 5 or 6 sprints once a week), cut your calories a little bit more (no more than 50-100 at a time while nursing) or lowering the amount of starch you’re eating daily. Read more about breastfeeding and fat loss here.

Around 4 months postpartum, your hormones will change once again, and you should experience a period of increased metabolism.

Read here for the six lessons I learned from my fit and healthy pregnancy.

Breast Changes

Whether or not you breastfeed, your breasts are going to be somewhat different post-pregnancy. They likely increased in size over the nine months, preparing for breastfeeding. And once your milk comes in, they will swell up once again. This can take a toll on the skin that once held your breasts so firmly in place, making them a little bit less buoyant. Wear a good-fitting bra during your pregnancy, and find an excellent nursing bra, and this should help minimize the stretching of the skin. Coconut oil rubbed on the breasts can help too.

Body Acceptance

Maybe it’s because I was 37 years old this time around, but I’m actually really tired of seeing women being held to any body standard after they have a baby. So many new moms are killing themselves with exercise they hate and diets they despise just because the message has been placed in their heads over and over again that only one type of body is acceptable, both before and after pregnancy. It has been so programmed into us that many of us have never even really examined why we’re working so hard to fit that body type. You know what I say?

Our bodies are INCREDIBLE. We make HUMANS. We should be celebrating stretch marks and tummies and boobs and start changing our attitudes towards the post-baby body. In my opinion, my body is better after four babies. I’ve been able to get in great shape, the best shape of my life, and I’m also completely in awe of what my body was able to do during pregnancy and childbirth. My stretch marks, loose skin and breasts are my medals of honor, my precious momentos of what my body accomplished, and I’m not letting anyone take away from that.

Love yourself and take care of yourself. Find the exercise that makes you feel strong and proud but is fun too. Eat the healthiest foods that nourish you and make you feel great, but that you love to eat too. Your best body will be the result of this.

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7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pregnancy Diet

7 Easy Ways To Improve Your Pregnancy Diet | Fit To Be PregnantPregnancy is a very important time to focus on nutrition. This is a time for development of your future child, development that will affect him or her for the rest of their lives.

Good nutrition is not only vital to your baby, but will help you to have a very comfortable and energetic pregnancy, and the very best chance for an intervention-free and uncomplicated delivery. Focus on the quality of your diet during pregnancy and staying active, and everything, including healthy weight gain, will fall into place.

Here are seven ways you can improve your diet to give yourself and your baby the best nutrition. (For more on nutrition during pregnancy including a 7 day pregnancy meal plan, grab a copy of my ebook – Fit To Be Pregnant: 12 Steps to the Healthy, Comfortable, and Fit Pregnancy of Your Dreams)

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Drink Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are an easy, delicious way to pack your diet with nutrients. They are especially  helpful during the first trimester, when solid, fibrous foods can be difficult to stomach.

My green smoothies are just 1/2 cup of water or coconut milk, a handful of leafy greens like kale or spinach, celery, a cup of frozen fruit, and flaxseed.  You can also add plain greek yogurt for some added protein and a more creamy texture.

Protein and Vegetables

To get the most nutrition bang for your buck, fill your plate at each meal with vegetables and a form of protein. Vegetables have all sorts of important vitamins and minerals that aid in your baby’s development and help you feel your best. Make sure at least 1-2 servings of your veggies per day are leafy greens so that baby gets folate, the nutrient important in preventing birth defects. Protein is the building block of life, and you’ll need plenty of it to help your baby develop.

The best way to get the protein and nutrients you need is from whole foods. Whole foods work with your body in ways even science hasn’t fully explained yet and that vitamins and processed supplements just can’t duplicate.

Read here for the 10 foods you should be eating during pregnancy and why.

Fish and Or/Fish Oil

DHA and EPA are Omega 3 fats found in fish (and some nuts and seeds, but not in as great amounts as fish). This healthy fat is not only important to your developing baby’s brain and vision, but has been shown to decrease pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia, and also lower the chance for post-partum depression.

Wild-caught salmon is a great choice for pregnancy because of it’s low mercury level. If you don’t like fish or don’t eat it regularly, you can take a fish oil supplement (here is the one I recommend and why).

Have a “Banned” List

While I didn’t eat perfectly square, nutritious meals 100% of my pregnancy (balance is important for long-term sustainability), there were certain ingredients that I would not touch because I felt they could be dangerous to my baby. These are found mostly in processed foods and have been linked to illness, diseases like cancer and diabetes, and some have been linked to birth defects. Here is my own banned list:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Trans fats or hydrogenated oils
  • artificial sweeteners
  • nitrates/nitrites
  • MSG
  • BHA/BHT Benzoate
  • Caramel Coloring

Avoiding these and other dangerous additives is just a matter of avoiding processed foods. If I want to have a high calorie meal or a dessert, I just make sure it’s something like a whole grain pizza or real ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s is a good example), or I make my own homemade “junk” food.

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Choose Organic Whenever Possible

Pesticides are sprayed on conventional produce, building up in our bodies. This causes a toxic load for our livers to filter through, and what isn’t expelled can be stored in our fat cells. Pesticides are neurotoxins that kill brain cells, and some studies are now linking high pesticide exposure during pregnancy to higher rates of autism [1]

Organic foods can be expensive. Choose organic produce that is in season to save money, build a garden and grow your own, or if you need to buy conventional, choose fruits and vegetables with a protective peel or coating that isn’t consumed (like bananas). You can also lower your pesticide exposure somewhat by washing your produce with warm water and vinegar.

To get some meal ideas using these tips, read here for 50 healthy meal ideas for pregnancy.

Improve The Quality of Your Liquid Intake

With the changes to your body during pregnancy comes a greater need for hydration. If you can, eliminate sodas or cut way back as most contain at least one of the above additives. Many teas are also excellent choices for pregnancy (check with your doctor or midwife). But overall, try to consume as much water as you can, close to a gallon a day.

I carried this water bottle with me everywhere I went throughout my pregnancy so I could easily stay hydrated.

Eat a Variety Of Whole Foods

The greater variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes, meats, and healthy fats you can consume, the greater chance you will meet all of yours and baby’s nutrient needs. Not only this, but later in pregnancy, baby can actually taste the flavors of the foods you eat in the amniotic fluid, which may possibly set him up to like healthy foods in his future.

To do this, choose fruits and vegetables of every color, use a wide variety of proteins from meat to eggs to lentils, eat a variety of nuts and seeds like walnuts, avocado, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and so on.

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Hypnobabies – My Review

Can Natural Childbirth be Comfortable? My Review of HypnobabiesFor my fourth pregnancy and childbirth, I decided I wanted a natural birth after 3 previous medicated childbirths. Natural birth fell more in line with my new beliefs about my health and my children’s health, so I really wanted to give it a shot, but I was TERRIFIED. My first childbirth hadn’t been unmedicated but my epidural had not worked and it was a very traumatic and painful experience.

Around the time I became pregnant, I started hearing about hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is a technique of going into hypnosis during labor to relax and relieve pain through the childbirth experience. I mean, could there be more of an oxymoron than relaxing childbirth? I didn’t think so, but I knew that I needed something to help me overcome my fears and deal with labor, so I decided to check it out.

There seemed to be two main hypnobirthing techniques that were most popular at the time, Hypnobirthing – the Mongan Method and Hypnobabies. I read reviews, watched YouTube videos, and researched my heart out up until my 25th week when I decided to go with the Hypnobabies Home Study Course.

Why I Chose Hypnobabies

I ended up choosing Hypnobabies mainly because it offered a comprehensive home study course. The Mongan Method was available in book form, or you could also take classes, but there weren’t any super close to me, and I liked the idea of self-study. There is also a training and certification course for doulas who want to offer Hypnobabies support and techniques to their clients. Another reason I liked Hypnobabies was the technique that allowed you to have your eyes open and be alert between contractions. I was absolutely dumbfounded at the videos on Youtube of these women in transition, completely calm and under control using their Hypnobabies techniques and tracks.

Hypnobabies Materials

The Hypnobabies Self-Study Course comes with a 5 week study guide and workbook, 6 hypnosis CD’s (mine also came with two bonus CD’s) containing 2 tracks each, a quick reference guide, and multiple handouts (a nutrition guide, handouts for medical personnel at the hospital, information about anterior and posterior positioning, etc).

I was very, very impressed with all of the Hypnobabies materials in regards to how informative they are. Hypnobabies covers everything in depth from nutrition and exercise to the mechanics of birth and how to mentally prepare, right alongside learning the actual self-hypnosis techniques. You could read only the Hypnobabies course and be pretty well-informed on pregnancy and birth!

My only complaint about the Hypnobabies materials was that it all felt like it needed better design and organization. My husband and I both were a little lost on where to start, especially his part in it all. The information is in there, but it is just hard to find. This is why I think the overall design and organization could have been better. It feels slightly amateurish for such a great product.

Hypnobabies Technique

The Hypnobabies technique is all about un-brainwashing ourselves from the social and cultural depictions of birth that we have been exposed to all our lives here in the west. Not only does it emphasize positivity surrounding birth, but the hypnosis tracks re-enforce this positivity on a subconscious level.

First, the Hypnobabies user is to replace all negative pregnancy and birth language with positive. For example, “contraction” becomes “pressure wave”, “pain” becomes “discomfort”. Second, there is an affirmation track that is to be listened to each day of your pregnancy. This is about 30 minutes of positive affirmations regarding pregnancy and birth, for example “My body is healthy and whole” and “During my comfortable birthing time, I remain perfectly calm between my powerful birthing waves”. And finally, there are the hypnosis tracks that are either to be listened to daily to reprogram the subconscious during deep relaxation, or a few to be saved and listened to during the actual birthing time. In my bonus CD’s there was even a track specifically for my husband to relax and get his mind ready to support me. The workbook and tracks also teach the “finger-drop technique”, which is how you put yourself into hypnosis, turning an imaginary light switch on, off, or to center switch (center switch is a state of hypnosis when you are still “under” but able to open your eyes and interact with those around you). Also at your disposal are word cues for yourself or your partner to say to put you into an instant state of hypnosis or relaxation, like my favorite one, “Peace”.

Hypnobabies claims that if you study the workbook and practice with the tracks daily for 45 minutes throughout your pregnancy that you can learn to create your own “hypnoanesthesia”. In other words, you will program yourself to relax so deeply that you will only feel pressure in your birthing muscles, no pain.

Here are the statistics of success that I found on their website:

Statistics: The following are statistics for Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis only:
(based on our very successful 6 week course, and 18 total hours of instruction)

1) Very Comfortable births – 70-75%. Women who report that they felt mostly pressure, tightening or mild cramping sensations.

2) Comfortable until transition – 15%. Pressure only, until the 10-60 minute transitional period, with mild to intense degrees of sensation thereafter. “Very manageable.”

3) Comfortable until active labor – 10%, with mild to intense degrees of sensation thereafter. This group can have any number of things that affect their birth experiences; prodromal labor, posterior or asynclitic presentations that do not resolve, other labor complications, emotional issues, lack of support, or they simply did not do their homework! (45 minutes a day) Hypnosis for childbirth won’t help a mother or a couple that is not willing to do the work involved in preparing for their baby’s birth.

My Experience with HypnoBabies

The short version: While the natural birth of my son was no walk in the park and certainly nowhere near pain-free, I felt Hypnobabies to be absolutely invaluable, and I would use it again in a heartbeat.

The long version: I went into learning Hypnobabies with a very open mind, especially considering how traumatic my first birth (in which two epidurals did not work) had been for me. I was the perfect Hypnobabies student. I decided that I would study so much that I would be able to recite the lessons back in forth in my sleep, because I really wanted the pain-free birth that I was seeing in so many birth videos online.

Every morning of my pregnancy I went for a 30 minute walk, headphones in, and listened to my Joyful Affirmations track. I had it memorized. I could still recite it to you now, six months later. Every afternoon I would read the study guide, listen to my assigned Hypnobabies track, practice the finger-drop techniques alone and with my husband. The last month of pregnancy, we spent 30 minutes each night having practice labor, using our techniques together. I practiced going into hypnosis lying down, sitting on a birthing ball, walking around, laying in bed, driving to the birthing center for appointments.

So it wasn’t from lack of practice that I did end up experiencing major pain at the end of my birthing time. I’m not 100% sure what exactly happened but I think it was a combination of back labor (baby turned the wrong way at transition), anxiety when I felt my first wave of pain, and a little linebacker of a baby whose shoulders are broad like his daddy and got stuck. But up until 8cm dilated, which was 10 of the 12 hours of labor, I was comfortable and able to use my deep hypnosis and “peace” cue effectively. Just hearing the voice on the hypnosis track, the one I was so familiar with and associated with being deeply relaxed or sleepy, was very comforting and relaxing during that time. When I hit the intense pressure waves at the beginning of transition, I was in the birthing pool. The pressure waves would crash through me like lightning and although the first 5 seconds were painful, I could say Peace (very loudly, like a roar) and bring the pain down a few levels, making it manageable.

I do firmly believe that without Hypnobabies (as well as an incredible midwife who was experienced and knowledgeable), I would not have been able to have the natural birth that I wanted. Even if the labor had been painful throughout, I really appreciated having Hypnobabies through my pregnancy. It kept me focused on the positive, helped me feel healthy and strong, helped me to relax deeply each day, and took away so much anxiety surrounding childbirth. I would recommend Hypnobabies to ANYONE who is pregnant- midwife or doctor, home birth or hospital, vaginal birth or c-section. It is an incredibly powerful tool for dealing with all the anxiety and self-doubt surrounding pregnancy and childbirth.

The other day I accidentally turned on a Hypnobabies self-hypnosis track and I felt a twinge of sentimental sadness that the beautiful voice of relaxation wasn’t in my daily life anymore 🙂 Maybe I need to order some of their post-birth tracks!!

Disclaimer

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11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Pregnancy SwellingSwelling and bloating is a very common side effect during pregnancy (it can also be a sign of a problem like pre-eclampsia, so always check with your doctor or midwife first!). Swelling or edema in pregnancy is normally caused by the larger amount of blood in the body, which can pool if circulation is poor, especially in the lower extremities.

Having a fit and healthy pregnancy with a nutritious diet free of processed, high-sodium foods and a daily exercise routine will be your best bet in preventing swelling. In fact, I had very little swelling through my fit and healthy pregnancy, even though I was puffy and swollen through my first three. Here’s a comparison of my fittest pregnancy and my unhealthiest pregnancy.

Here are a few ways you can naturally reduce swelling and bloat during pregnancy.

Lemon Juice

Adding just a dash of pure lemon juice (not from concentrate) to your water not only helps flavor your water, but can help reduce swelling. Lemon juice is a mild and safe diuretic that will help your system rid itself of excess water. This was the number one method that worked for my swelling during pregnancy.

11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

Cucumber

Cucumbers are also a natural diuretic, containing sulfur and silicon, that stimulate the kidneys to be more efficient. Eat them raw or you can also add them to your water.

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion is a good source of phytochemicals that encourage the elimination of excess fluid. Dandelion tea was recommended by my midwife and although it didn’t work that well for me, I’ve heard of others having great success with it. You can drink a cup of dandelion tea 2-3 times a day to relieve swelling.

11 Ways To Naturally Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

Exercise

Staying active is one of the best ways to relieve swelling during pregnancy. Because circulation slows during pregnancy, the blood and fluid in our body can pool, causing a buildup of fluid. Moving and stretching gets the circulation going, reducing the amount of fluid that builds up. For a complete guide to fit pregnancy, check out my ebook here!

Compression Socks

Compression hosiery and socks help improve circulation by improving venous blood to the heart. As an added bonus, compression socks can prevent varicose veins in your legs, which can be common during pregnancy. While they certainly weren’t the cutest thing in the world, my compression socks helped a ton with swelling.

Epsom Salt

A warm bath with some epsom salt added can help draw fluid out of the body. Add 1 cup of the salt (magnesium sulfate) per gallon of warm water and soak your hands, feet, or your entire body.

Essential Oils

Grapefruit, Lemongrass, and Cypress essential oils can be used together to massage onto swollen feet and ankles to reduce swelling. Mix these with coconut oil and rub in 2-3 drops on the swollen area (it’s best to avoid essential oils in your first trimester).

Foot Massage

While you’re down there with the essential oils, go ahead and give yourself a good foot and leg massage. Better yet, get your partner or a massage therapist/reflexologist to do it for you. This not only relaxes you and feels amazing, but will increase your circulation and reduce fluid buildup.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is said to help improve circulation and fluid metabolism. Make sure your acupuncturist is licensed and experienced with pregnancy.

Cabbage Leaf

Wrapping a cabbage leaf around the swollen area for 20 minutes can draw out excess fluid and reduce swelling.

Chiropractic Treatment

Another way to increase circulation is to have chiropractic treatment. I used a chiropractor who specialized in pregnancy and these treatments instantly reduced my swelling, the minute I walked out of the office. Chiropractic treatment takes pressure off of vital joints and nerves that tend to be compressed during pregnancy, which in turn promotes healthy circulation to extremities that pool with fluid.

How did you reduce swelling during your pregnancy?

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Natural Birth Story – The Birth of Austin

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of AustinTwo disclaimers:

  1. This is very long and detailed, mostly for me so I don’t forget the little details of the birth.
  2. My birth experience was about as opposite from my birth visualization as it could be, and anyone taking the Hypnobabies course should probably skip the story, as we had a few complications that interfered with having a comfortable birth.

I am so thrilled to announce that our son Austin was born on Saturday morning, Decmber 14 (his due date!) at 4:30am. He weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces, and was 19 1/2 inches long.

© www.devine-photography.comHere is the story of his birth.

Early Labor

After literally a week of off and on labor, I was exhausted. Every night around dinner time, I would begin to have regular contractions, increasing their intensity every day. Each morning I would wake up and they had slowed down but not really stopped.

Thursday, I had an overwhelming urge to get things done. This wasn’t new for me so I didn’t think anything of it. But I finished Christmas shopping for my husband, ran a bunch of errands, and splurged on a Starbucks latte. Everywhere I went people either stared at me or commented about how I looked like I was ready to pop. One woman who worked at Home Depot asked me when I was due and actually began advising me to just have sex with my husband. Oh and clean some floors.

Thursday night labor started all over again, and Friday morning it calmed, again. I woke up really grumpy and frustrated, but then while I was getting my 7 year old daughter ready for school, she calmly told me she had a dream that the baby would be born today and everyone was SO happy. This sent chills up my spine because she told me I was pregnant with a brother before I even knew I was pregnant (she had no idea we were trying), so I don’t take her little predictions lightly!

Still I was sure nothing was happening. Texts and calls came in all day asking how I was and when the baby would arrive. I told everyone “never”. I was really tired, I assumed because of my excess of activity from the day before, and spent a good portion of the day fighting tears. My husband and I decided to make the best of the weekend and to plan a fun night out with the kids looking at lights. We went to the dollar store and got travel mugs and santa hats for everyone and made plans to see the best neighborhoods in the city.

That afternoon I had an appointment at the birthing center for my 40 week check-up. We were already seeing a midwife we had never met before (she was technically retired but still helped out when needed) and when we showed up, she was upstairs attending to another mom, and we were to see the student midwife. She was perfectly sweet but I was so irritated by everything at this point.

When I weighed in I had lost 2 pounds, which I always seem to do right before labor begins. I also began having regular contractions again in the car on the way but what else is new.

The retired midwife was able to make my appointment just in time to do a cervical check. I was at 3cm dialated and 70% effaced, measuring at 42cm fundal. Because the student was there I actually had two cervical exams, which I wonder now if that had anything to do with getting labor started. The midwife told me I just “looked” like I was in or near active labor and that she didn’t think I would make it through the weekend. Neither my husband or I really paid attention because we had been let down so many times that week.

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

Do I look like I’m in labor?? The midwife thought so, I wasn’t so sure.

On the way back home my contractions picked up again, about 12 minutes apart, and I believe this was the beginning of active labor, around 4pm. From here on out I began to go more and more into my own head and have nothing but cerebral memories of the actual events. It was a very surreal feeling.

Active Labor Begins

I remember going home and putting dinner in the oven, but by the time we were actually eating, I was starting to wonder if this was going to be it-I felt really out of it. I was able to eat a full meal including some brown rice, which I think really fueled the rest of the labor. The contractions were getting stronger, still just a feeling of pressure but intense enough that I had to breathe through them. Something just felt different, I think it was that my body really required me to go into myself and I lost an awareness of the outside world. My husband questioned whether or not we should still go look at Christmas lights but I felt good enough still to do one of the local neighborhoods. So I made some homemade cocoa (stopping for the contractions which were about every 5 min standing up and 8 min sitting down) and we piled into the car.

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

Off to look at lights!

For the rest of my life, I will associate holiday lights with being in labor with my son. In the car, they became very regular and more intense. They lasted about 1:10 each and were 8-10 minutes apart. Everytime I had one, it was as if I was transported somewhere else. I wasn’t in any pain, it just required all of my attention and breathing. I could hear the Christmas music on the radio and my kids chatting, and when a pressure wave was over I would open my eyes and there were gorgeous lights everywhere. It really wasn’t a bad way to spend early labor! By the end of the neighborhood I knew I needed to get back home and asked my husband to go ahead and go. It was about 8pm at this point.

Once home, I think it hit my husband that this was really it, even though neither of us had said it. He packed our bags completely up and had the kids do the same. They all went to bed knowing that it might be tonight. I went into my bedroom as the contractions picked up with intensity even more. They were now coming every 5-6 minutes (a little slower if I laid down) and were feeling like really strong menstrual cramps. I remember having one that just finally made me believe this was it, I told my husband while in his arms, and it hit us both. I moved around from my birthing ball to rocking back and forth with him to laying in bed. My husband would recite Hypnobabies scripts to me sometimes, and I also put in my headphones and listened to some of my tracks. I had absolutely zero concept of time. I do know that at 8:45pm I began texting family and friends to let them know to stay by their phones, and that we made our first call to the midwife at 9pm to let her know we were in labor and at 5 minutes apart, although I could still talk through the waves. She advised me to give it a little longer and see if they got stronger, and that she’d check in again with me in a little bit. At 10pm, she called back, they were 3 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk through the waves so she spoke to my husband and told him we should head on in. I remember that we both started to panic and fumble a little bit, trying to figure out who to call and how to get everyone up and going. My husband woke up the kids, put all the bags in the car, and I grabbed what I could think of in between the waves. We all walked out to our SUV together, the kids excited in the back seat and me in the front with my headphones and Hypnobabies on. I do remember telling them to remember that if they heard me making noises upstairs, that it was just like a tough workout and I was fine. I had several strong waves on the drive in but stayed relaxed with my pillow, not opening my eyes until we pulled up at the birth center. I was so far in my own body at this point that it was strange to open my eyes again and see the world.

Arriving at The Birthing Center

It was foggy and the birthing center looked so surreal when we pulled up. I could see my midwife through the window of the upstairs room getting things ready for us, like something out of a movie. There are 3 midwives at our birth center. One was my absolute favorite to see, she was so loving and warm and sympathetic, and I had hoped she would be the one to attend the birth. I was a little disappointed to find out it wasn’t her who would be attending, but it turned out that I would have the exact midwife I would need.

Once in the home we got the kids settled in downstairs, then headed upstairs to make ourselves comfortable as well. My midwife did a cervical check and I was at 5cm. Our family began arriving almost as soon as we did and there was lots of commotion downstairs. I think even at one point I asked my husband to shush them all because it sounded like a party and I wanted quiet and peaceful. I think it was around 11ish that we settled in and everyone arrived. I laid down for a few waves but my midwife thought I should walk around a bit, maybe even walk up and down the stairs to get things going. I really was still very comfortable and not experiencing pain, just tightness and intensity through each wave. I decided to go downstairs and say hello to everyone. I hugged my parents, kissed my kids again, got to hug my best friend just as she arrived, and would just walk into the other room anytime a wave began again.Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

Once upstairs I tried a few more positions, sat on the birth ball, walked around, but I most enjoyed standing and swaying with my arms around my husband. He has always been my rock and this labor was absolutely no exception. Just being near him gave me strength.

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

We take “selfies” together anytime we travel or do anything together…so of course, a selfie for labor!

At some point I remember for some reason my husband was downstairs, I think getting me water, and I felt something change. The waves got sharper. I remember these waves so well that they are almost tangible. I could see them happening in my head if that makes any sense. I felt a sharp pain in my lower front and more sharp pain in my middle back. It didn’t dawn on me that I was experiencing back labor now and when my midwife asked me later she was surprised I hadn’t told her. They would come on VERY suddenly and strong, peak quickly, and then the second half would slowly climb down. I asked to get in the water at this point and they agreed that it was a good idea.

Transition

Because it looked like things were progressing my midwife called in her birth assistant, and now there were two people attending to me. The assistant was so awesome, she was very knowledgeable and had lots of suggestions for managing. I was in the tub going back and forth between squatting on my knees and leaning against the side to sitting on my bottom with my legs straight in front of me. Either way, even with the warm water (which did help to relax me), these waves felt like lighting bolts through my body. I was listening to my Hypnobabies “deepening” track to stay relaxed but nothing was making these waves better. I began to complain to my husband and my midwife at this point that I didn’t like what was happening and I started to feel really scared. During each wave I said my hypnobabies cue “Peace” outloud over and over and my husband said it to me too. It didn’t seem to help with the first part of the wave but did help make the second half more comfortable. My wonderful husband would also talk me through each wave by telling me that each one seemed to take about 10 breaths, so he would count my breaths and tell me “only 5 more, you’re halfway through” and this helped so much. The waves were about 3 minutes apart at this point and after I complained my midwife said “You sound like a mama in transition”. They tried warming up the water to help me become more comfortable. I even tried pushing through a wave and found that blowing against the wave did help somewhat with the pains. My midwife decided to check me in the water and found me to be at 8 cm. I went around this time from laughing with my husband in between waves to not being able to even hear what anyone was saying. The last thing I remember about this phase is asking what time it was and them telling me it was 2am.

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

Having a pressure wave in the water

I was starting to realize that this wasn’t going to be the easy birth I had so imagined, and more like the birth of my first son. I had convinced myself that because my last two births, the girls had practically fallen out of my body and I had only pushed twice for each one, that this would be the same. Even my midwife started to mentally prepare me, saying I was going to have to do some work. She could see me shutting down and becoming fearful. She asked me to get out of the tub and try some different positions to get things moving. I sat on the toilet for awhile with my feet up on a stool. I remember that the waves were hitting my legs so hard and I didn’t think that was fair. I started feeling nauseous and wanted to vomit but never did. Around this time I completely lost control as the pain became unbearable. I started crying and whining and became a completely different person. After the toilet I moved to the bedroom again and tried holding onto the bed and squatting but my legs hurt so much that it felt impossible. I sat on the birth ball and had a good 7 minutes where my body gave me a break and I slept on a pillow and listened to my deepening track. The peace was like the eye of the hurricane but it was so welcome and needed. My poor husband was rubbing my back and encouraging me nonstop but I just cried to him after each wave and told him I couldn’t do it. The birth assistant made me a labor tea and gave me sips in between each wave and I remember it tasting so so good.

At some point the midwife asked me to lay on the bed so she could check me again. To my absolute dismay I was still at an 8. I was very in touch with my inner body at this point and could almost visualize everything that was happening. I felt my body fighting what was happening and just didn’t know how to stop it. She told me my cervix was still up high and I could almost picture the thing being scared. I agreed to let the midwife break my water and was again disheartened to learn that there was meconium present. She assured me that it wasn’t the big deal it used to be and we wouldn’t need any special care for him more than likely. She kept her hand up on my cervix through several contractions and attempted to manipulate it so I could push. She finally said she had gotten it up around baby’s head and that I should start pushing with each one and start moving him down.

And then things got absolutely crazy intense.

Pushing and Losing My Mind

Being on my back was awful and I felt like I was pushing against gravity, just like I would be in a hospital, but I was engulfed in pain and couldn’t move to a better position. The midwives wanted me to hold my knees back and push but moving my legs apart made everything even more painful so for a couple of waves, I refused. I cannot imagine how frustrating of a patient I became at that point for these poor midwives. I started yelling at them to not touch me, yelling at my midwife to JUST TAKE HIM OUT, screaming at them to take me to the hospital, that I was going to die, that I couldn’t do it. I was screaming obscenities at the universe and everyone in the room. People who know me will probably be shocked the most by that, because I am the most unconfrontational, passive person ever. I have never yelled at anyone. Even during my first birth with my son, when I was in the same pain, I was still polite to everyone in the room. The pain made me into someone else and I sort of want to die now thinking about it. But later the birth assistant told me that I was just a birth warrior, and I appreciated that take on it 🙂

My midwife got tougher and tougher with me as I became more and more out of control, and now I realize that the universe gave me maybe not the midwife I wanted but definitely the one I needed. She reminded me over and over that I could do it. She was firm with me when I gave up and said I couldn’t. She told me at one point that this wasn’t going to be the easy, quiet birth I had imagined, that my son was taking a much more difficult entrance into the world, and I needed to realize now that I was going to have to work. I could not have done it without her, or the assistant who stood on my right side and also encouraged me.

My husband was laying right next to me in bed, my one and only source of comfort during the last hour. I would bury my head into him in between the waves, and then grab him, hit him in his shoulder HARD, and scream at the top of my lungs right into his ear. He told me later that he figured out to hold his breath while I was screaming to somewhat plug them up, which makes me giggle now. He told me later that he was a wreck watching the person he loved in so much agony and felt so helpless, but I felt nothing but strength and love coming from him as he held me.

The waves were absolutely relentless at this point. My body seemed to never switch from transition to pushing waves. I never felt the urge to push, and pushing did NOT feel good like it’s supposed to. Each wave, which were probably only a minute or two apart at this point, I had the choice to either let them engulf me and be in pain or to push and be in pain. I spent the first half of the waves screaming at the top of my lungs, then when they would start to come down and I could stand it, I would bear down and push. My midwife kept telling me to not scream and to use all of my energy into pushing, but I just couldn’t most of the time.

Finally the midwife said his head had come down, and she put a mirror up so that I could see, I think she did this to keep me from giving up, because at this point I was just at the end of my rope, thinking it would all go on forever. She had us both reach down and touch his head but I couldn’t feel a head, nothing registered. One more push and she told me to stop pushing and to pant. I screamed “RING OF FIRE” at her and she sweetly said “yes, this is the ring of fire you heard about”. My husband now thinks this was so funny because he had no idea what I was talking about. And then things got crazy again as pushing got me absolutely nowhere. My midwife got very serious and told me I HAD to push hard and we HAD to move him out. More screaming and crying, then everything seemed to happen so fast…my midwife moved my pelvis into some other position, told me to stop because the head was out but the cord was wrapped tightly. I opened my eyes enough to see her struggling with the cord, and then I don’t know where I went in my head…because I didn’t see him come out…but I heard her order her birth assistant to do something, my husband said the assistant then shoved down on my belly and basically pushed him the rest of the way out. And then the pain was GONE. I was so relieved that I forgot WHY the pain would be gone. I heard my husband next to me say something and then my midwife said “Deanna, look! Reach down here and get your baby!” I looked and saw this little chunky thing, but it didn’t register at first WHAT it was. There he was, head up and just a fat little bowling ball of a baby, sitting between my legs. I reached down and pulled him to my chest, I think I said “OH MY GOD! Austin!” and just felt absolute euphoria with him laying on top of me, right on my heart. He didn’t cry at all, just laid there perfectly content, like “what’s the big deal?” I just hugged and hugged him and my husband was laying next to us hugging us both.

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

So tired, but so happy

I delivered the placenta within minutes, the midwife was shocked at how big it was – a sign of a very healthy diet. And my son, at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces, was also evidence of all the healthy eating, with rolls of fat already, a perfect apgar score at 1 minute. Pink and relaxed and just absolute perfection.

The midwife told me as she cleaned me up that it turned out to be a miracle that we did not birth in the tub, because his shoulders got stuck (which is why I couldn’t push him out) and she wouldn’t have been able to get him out as fast as the position I ended up in. It all happened for a reason.

She said as she was leaving that morning that she hoped I didn’t regret my decision to birth the way I did. And I don’t, which I’m sure surprises anyone who reads this or was downstairs listening to my screams. Had I been at a hospital, the baby would have been taken away from me immediately and put on antibiotics just because there was meconium in his water bag. When he got stuck, they would have likely extracted him with forceps or a vaccuum, which would have left both of us with bruises and lacerations; or maybe even performed a c-section. I would have for sure been given an episiotomy (even after all that, I didn’t tear…at all.). He was born with no signs of stress, a strong heartbeat even through pushing, and I don’t know that that would have happened at a hospital.IMG_3978

Another reason I don’t regret it is that I feel like I lived through an almost spiritual experience, one that has been happening since the beginning of time. Being attended by loving women, who deliver babies for the sheer passion and love of other women and the process of birth, in a warm home environment was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I don’t regret one minute of it.

My recovery has been unbelievably easy. Not one can of dermoplast, no sitz baths or warm water bottles have been used, and only a couple of doses of ibuprofen were needed for the afterpains. I didn’t come home all swollen from IV fluids and have felt downright amazing. My baby didn’t have one mark or bruise on him, and came out pink and soft and unphased by the seemingly traumatic entrance into the world. I was able to use the bathroom right away, which I remember in the past with my epidural births was the most excruciating thing for the following week, more than birth itself. Aside from breastfeeding and a tummy that just looks like I ate too much, I am feeling almost back to my old self. This blows my mind when I remember the birth experience, like a freight train came through my body and left no sign of itself.

Austin was born at 4:30am and by 9:15am we were all back home, snuggled up in our bed. My mom had brought our kids home that morning for us, fed them, and cleaned my kitchen. I absolutely LOVED being able to come right home and recover in my own clothes, my own bedroom, my own bed. I cannot sing the praises of my husband enough. He took amazing care of me and still is. He cooked for me this entire week, made my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, took the big kids Christmas shopping, bought groceries for the week, did all the cleaning, brought me water, reminded me to take my vitamins, took the baby so I could sleep, and has just been my absolute rock. Juggling four kids has been a little frustrating and things have slipped through the cracks, but he reminds me everyday that he’s so proud of me and that I’m doing a great job.

Natural Birth Story - The Birth of Austin

Leaving the Birth Center for home, just 4.5 hours after birth

As far as Hypnobabies, it certainly worked up until the point that I began to experience back labor. I was managing and comfortable all the way up until 8 cm, laughing between waves, walking around, and just breathing through. I would certainly use it again; even though my birth was far from painless and easy, hypnobabies tracks and cues did nothing but enhance my entire labor up until transition. It made pregnancy more positive and enjoyable, and I still find myself using the affirmations for myself in my own subconscious, whether it’s to remind myself to eat healthy food or to remember that I’m comfortable with my body and accept it.

Click HERE to read my full review of HYPNOBABIES.

 

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39 Week Update – Over It

PSST-I’m now on Instagram updating with pics of my healthy meals, workouts, and other pregnancy stuff 🙂 Find me here, or username FitToBePregnant

Week: 39 weeks, 4 days

Days to Go: 3 Days to go

Picture:

39 Week Update | Fit To Be Pregnant

Trying to smile 🙂

Symptoms: Just heavy baby running out of room, pressing his head on everything. Lots of pressure down low in my pelvis. Otherwise, I feel really good. First pregnancy I’ve ever made it to my due date and still had my wedding rings on (comfortably, they can slide off).

Signs of Labor: Still a little nauseous, braxton hicks every 8-10 minutes since Sunday afternoon, so intense that we were convinced it was time at one point.

Midwife Appointment Notes: no midwife appointment this week until Friday.

Food: still a light appetite, so most of the time:

  • Breakfast – 2 eggs, 1/2 sprouted grain english muffin + smoothie w/ spinach, greek yogurt, frozen blueberries or strawberries, mango & cherries, and flaxseed
  • Lunch – chicken, guacamole, red/orange bell peppers wrapped in collard green leaf
  • Snacks – banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter, apple and greek yogurt/almond butter “dip” before bed
  • Dinner – Lean meat, 1 green veggie and 1 other veggie. Example meal from this week: Apple Cider roasted chicken, butternut squash, broccoli

Supplements:

Exercise: The goal is a daily 2-3 mile walk with 3 days of strength training per week, to keep from losing strength and muscle mass before the birth. This week we had an ice storm so I missed a lot of walking.

  • Thursday – 2.76 mile walk
  • Friday – no workout
  • Saturday – no workout, cleaned the house to stay active
  • Sunday – no workout
  • Monday – 50 pushups, 100 air squats
  • Tuesday – 2.64 mile walk
  • Wednesday –

Thoughts and Feelings:

While I was prepared to be patient to meet my baby, I am not doing very well with this whole constantly thinking I’m in labor thing. Sunday afternoon I started having pressure waves that just never let up, no matter what I did. They were getting stronger and stronger, then more regular. We were totally convinced “this was it”. We packed our bags up, made plans for the kids, and even sat down and did a Hypnobabies track together. I was sure that it was just a matter of time. We decided to try to sleep as long as I still felt I could. I laid down and put more Hypnobabies tracks on in my headphones, and he laid down next to me. After my first track, I realized that the pressure waves were slowing down and losing intensity. I wanted to cry when I rolled over to tell him.

The pressure waves have. not. stopped. since then. They are every 8-10 minutes, non stop, all day, all night. Some are more intense than others, waking me up in the middle of the night or causing me to stop in my tracks. But I’ve just had to continue life as much as I could. An ice storm this weekend and being home-bound made it hard to distract myself from the constant labor but once it started melting, I was able to get out and get some things done, like getting my haircut, to get my mind off of things.

So it’s not that I am not anxious to meet my little guy, I am, but I could mentally deal with waiting a little longer. I understand these are my last nights to sleep soundly, to not be breastfeeding, to be able to do so many things independently. But physically I’m exhausted from the constant pressure waves. I’m also mentally exhausted from wondering “is this it?” And by “it”, I mean one of the most physically demanding challenges of my life – unmedicated childbirth. That will mess with your head!

Anyways, I’m a little grumpy and a little anti-social and just trying not to think too much. This can’t go on forever!

Saturday is the due date. My one child that was not induced was born 2 days after his due date, after a 24 hour labor…so I don’t think it will be much longer. Even still, I’m mentally preparing to go through this until Christmas 🙂

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38 Week Update – Things Are Happening, Or Not

PSST-I’m now on Instagram updating with pics of my healthy meals, workouts, and other pregnancy stuff 🙂 Find me here, or username FitToBePregnant

Week: 38 weeks, 4 days

Days to Go: 11 Days to go

Picture: 38 Week Update | Fit To Be Pregnant

Symptoms: Just slow to move and get around. Sleeping is great, joints feel good, baby is low so I can breathe. One night of heartburn after eating too much on Thanksgiving 🙂 Oh and I’ve also been very clumsy and forgetful – have dropped several dishes and broken them, and left my car key in my car while at the mall, didn’t find it for hours.

Signs of Labor: Baby is so low now that I feel he is going to fall out. Constant Braxton-Hicks that are getting more crampy, have been a little nauseous with them too – feels like PMS. Pressure waves wake me up in the nighttime the past few nights but they never get closer together.

Midwife Appointment Notes: gained 2 lbs, blood pressure 104/68, fundal height 40cm. Effaced to 60% (cervix “nice and soft” she said), 1-2cm dialated. Estimated baby to be about 8 pounds right now (PHEW). He’s still head down, low, and in good position for birth.

Food: I’ve lost my appetite recently, so this is what I’m trying to eat but don’t always get it all in.

  • Breakfast – 2 eggs, 1/2 sprouted grain english muffin + smoothie w/ spinach, greek yogurt, frozen blueberries or strawberries, mango & cherries, and flaxseed
  • Lunch – chicken, guacamole, red/orange bell peppers wrapped in collard green leaf + 2 mandarin oranges
  • Snacks – banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter, apple and greek yogurt/almond butter “dip” before bed
  • Dinner – Lean meat, 1 green veggie and 1 other veggie. Example meal from this week: Grilled chicken tenders, mashed cauliflower, and baby bok choy

This week I cooked and froze/will cook and freeze:

  • lasagna (veggie for us)
  • whole wheat penne chicken alfredo (made with greek yogurt), to take to birthing center and eat after labor
  • I made 6 – 20 oz bottles of electrolyte drinks to sip during labor
Homemade Electrolyte Drinks for Labor | Fit To Be Pregnant

Strawberry, Lemon-Lime, and Orange Electrolyte Drinks – made with fresh squeezed fruit, coconut water, raw honey and sea salt

I think I finally feel ready meal-wise!

Supplements:

Exercise: The goal is a daily 2-3 mile walk with 3 days of strength training per week, to keep from losing strength and muscle mass before the birth.

  • Thursday – thanksgiving, no workout
  • Friday – upper body strength training – incline bench press, dumbbell flyes, barbell row, good mornings, front raises, upright rows, hammer curls, cross body hammer curls, incline pushups, and dumbbell presses
  • Saturday – 2 mile walk
  • Sunday – 2.75 mile walk
  • Monday – strength training, lower body – step-ups with knee-up, squats, ball leg curls, and lunges + 2.4 mile walk
  • Tuesday – 2.31 mile walk
  • Wednesday – strength training, upper body + 2.62 mile walk

Thoughts and Feelings:

Well, as we thought, we both got our hopes up last week when our midwife said we wouldn’t make it to our next appointment, yet here we are. I have always had an instinct about December 5th, which is Thursday, and there are definitely things happening to my body that make me think I’m approaching early labor very soon. I don’t ever have a break from regular Braxton Hicks contractions, they go all day and all night. Some are more intense than others. Other things are happening that are gross and I will not point out here :). But after seeing the midwife today I’m convinced I’ll make it to my due date or within a few days of it.

I’m feeling so good now that I’ve been having the regular chiropractic appointments and also stopped trying to jump in my workouts that I’m sleeping really well and feeling pretty awesome all day. I even walked around the mall for a few hours and got some Christmas shopping finished. Seriously my only complaint is the Braxton-Hicks. I never would dream I would say that at almost 9 months along. This entire pregnancy has really been such a testament to a healthy lifestyle.

We had a “practice run” before our appointment today. We set a timer to go off every 5 minutes to simulate pressure waves and stopped and practiced for each one. Then as I got ready, Tony put all the bags in the car, checked the list for anything we missed, even practice-called his mom to tell her to get the kids from school and meet us at the birthing center 🙂 We got in the car and I put on my headphones and used my Hypnobabies tracks to go into hypnosis in the car, my first time trying it. It worked great and I even got to practice with a few real braxton-hicks pressure waves.

So ready to kiss my little baby, to experience the birth with my husband, and start this next phase of life. But I’m taking every last minute to try and relax, get some things done that will have to wait once the baby is here. Being a veteran mom I do understand just how much my life is about to change.

The meals are made, Hypnobabies is second nature, the gas tank is staying filled, the bags are packed, work is being finished up. We are literally READY and WAITING.

38 Week Update | Fit To Be Pregnant

Me and Mini-Me

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