Friday, January 31, 2014

Raising a Natural Baby

Article 1: Pregnancy to Birthing
By: Andrea

So I had my second child last October. My first was, well…my first. We all know things go better the second time around. Not that I was a horrible mom the first time. I just didn’t know what I was doing even with 15 years of working with kids from infancy to late teens, none of it really applied to my own kid. So the second time around I was determined to do things more natural. I did things natural with my first but I was not as educated as I could have been.

My first pregnancy and birthing goals: simple, eat good and no meds for a natural birth. Outcome, chemical loaded diet (unknown to me at the time), and no meds had no idea what I was doing natural birth. Should I say painful? That’s a given with an unmediated birth. So I will just say it hurt…a lot…more than anything I’ve ever been through…ever.

After losing 50 pounds I found myself at the healthiest and cleanest I’ve been my whole life. My PCOS was absent so my cycles started to be regular for the first time in my life and I found myself pregnant with my second child. It was time to revisit my old goals of pregnancy and birthing naturally. Keep my paleo diet was easy beside the cravings. I was ok with that as long as I held it to one or two a week.  It was my birth of my child I focused on the most.  Here were my goals, why they are important to me and how I accomplished them.

From Beginning to End:
Be surprised in gender. With our first we were surprised and it was amazing to be fully introduced to our daughter and we wanted the same. It’s the same way most women in history have done it. It’s only recently that we have technology to give us this information. Also we don’t know the full effect of ultrasound on a baby.

Goal 1: Deliver at a birthing center. Why? I delivered at the hospital the first time and it went well. I needed to meet the requirements for the birth center health wise. So it was really up to my body the most. No high blood pressure for example. Result: My health stayed in great shape even after gaining almost 60 pounds (I gain a tone of water weight with pregnancy) and I delivered at 41.2 weeks to a 9lb13oz baby boy.

Goal 2: Use a midwife. Why: A midwife will follow ones guidelines for birth and help a mom through it. Only taking action when safety of mom and baby is required. Result: I’m lucky. My sister in law is my midwife and she is awesome. She was on board with everything I wanted and guided me with her educated knowledge.

Goal 3: Labor at home until it was time to go to birthing center. Why? If one rushed to the hospital too soon in labor in can actually slow down the process. I wanted that familiar home to be calm and move things along at its own pace. Result: I went into labor at 12:30am. Labored at home for two hours, letting my husband sleep. I knew he needed it to be alert later on when I was exhausted. I went into the birth center when my contractions were 3 minutes apart. (I have fast labors, my first was 6 hours, this one was 9)

Goal 4: Know more about the birthing process. Why? I didn’t take any class the first time. I watched 4 natural child births and I thought I could do it. None of those were first time births. I felt like I didn’t know what was happening last time. Out of control. I wanted to know more about natural birth. Result: I took a Bradley Method class which was focused on husband coached natural childbirth. It was amazing. My husband thought it cost too much but in the end he thought it was worth it as well.

Goal 5: No medicine for labor. Why? We don’t know the full effects of any meds on baby. Doctors tell us they are safe but there are studies out there that say different. We do know that induction labors and births are longer because it also relaxes baby. Result: No meds!!!

Goal 6: Know different positions for labor. Why? I labored on my side and back for my first. Didn’t know what else to do. Result: I labored in a birthing tub and every position possible. I the end I ended up in a bed. Baby was facing up and not down. He turned himself once I was on my back.

Goal 7: Have some family at B.C. Why? I wanted my daughter to be there as well and my mom and dad. Result: Who was in the room: My husband, my daughter, My mom and dad, My midwife, My friend (who was getting her RN degree), My photographer, Student Midwife

Goal 8: Educate my daughter about the birthing process so she can attend (she was 6.5yrs). Why? Since I’m a teacher I thought that my daughter would love seeing her sibling come into the world. She attending one Bradley class with us, and I explained the process with her on her level throughout pregnancy also. Watched some natural birth DVD and answered any questions. Result: She loved it! My friend RN did a great job at taking care of her during labor. Explaining things and reading books. My daughter even joined my in the tub for a bit and rubbed my back and gave me many kisses. In the end she plugged her ears because mommy was loud. But she loved it as you can see.

Goal 9: No meds for baby after. Why? Why? Why get meds if it’s not needed. I’m negative for everything so we choose no eye goop. We want our child to see mom for nursing to create that bond. Result: We did choose Vitamin K shot as it is in a neonatal dose. It’s for blood clotting. A baby’s blood does not clot until around day 8. We thought is case of an accident this would be a safe thing.

Goal 10: I pull my baby out, Why? My husband helped with my first and he was helping this time. But I wanted to help also. Result: My hands, my husband’s hand, my midwifes hands in the photo to the right.

Goal 11: Delayed Cord Clamping. Why? There are studies that prove to delay cord clamping reduces the risk of jaundice. Delayed cord clamping give the time needed for the entire baby’s blood from placenta and cord to go into baby. Cord is clamped when it stops pulsing.  Result: This happened. My daughter and husband cut the cord when it was time.

Goal 12: Skin to Skin right away. Why? This helps regulate baby’s body temperature and breathing. It also calms baby down from the dramatic experience of birth. Result: He laid on me for about 30 minutes, maybe longer. I don’t really recall time on this one.

Goal 13: Nursing within 15 min. Why? This helps with bonding, and for a placenta to release from uterus wall.
Result: Nursing within 15 minutes. Nursed like a champ! Only left after a while to get weighted and measured. No bath.

Goal 14: No bath – keep the vernix. Why? Vernix is proven to help moisturize skin and is absorbed back in the skin. It also has antimicrobial properties.
Result: He didn’t have that much, but it was absorbed within two hours. No bath for him. He didn’t have much as you can see.

Goal 15: If boy – delay circumcise. Why? Really? Cut the little guy after he just squeezed himself through the birth cannel? Let the little man heal before trimming off extra skin. As for why… my husband did the research and made that decision. It’s based off health and religious beliefs. Results: We waited until he was six days old. It went well and it healed awesome.

Goal 16: Go home same day. Why? I want to sleep in my own bed. Results: After seven hours of recovery at the birth center we went home a family of four. As for sleeping in my bed…that didn’t happen until later.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Chemical Free Journey

In June of 2012 our family made a change to the Paleo lifestyle. It took a while to get the eating, food prep, etc. down pat. At the same time we had started CrossFit and Olympic Lifting. Big changes were happening for the family to get healthier.

Through all of this I've often thought about how healthy we were making out bodies on the inside and physically on the outside. However we were still surrounded by chemicals. I've tried over the years to improve our cleaning supplies, somewhat unsuccessfully. As we approach our 2 year anniversary of our Paleo lifestyle I challenged myself and the family to remove what we could chemically. Kind of a 'paleo on the outside' sort of thing. The family is eh about it but they've done good overall.

The changes are netting out to be less expensive in most cases. I'm tracking the costs and will post at a later date. In the mean time here are the changes we've made.


Tide and Bounce for Lamb Wool Dryer balls and Naturally Green Soap Berries. I wrote a blog here about it. The dryer balls are working ok, not totally sold on them yet. Besides the fact they are leaving white stuff all over my black work out pants :( but we'll keep working with them. The soap berries however are doing great.


Cleaning supplies have went from these on the left, among others to Soap Berries and Baking Soda. Soap Berries I'm still working with but baking soda is the best ever! It cleans the bathroom like there's no tomorrow. It took me a while to figure out how to make a workable paste for the bath tub. Get this piece of rocket science…..dump a pile in the back of the tub then run some water in the front and plug the tub. Then you can wet your scrub brush and dip in the baking soda at the back. Novel eh? Yeah that took a while. lol

Totally a TMI section here but I'm putting it all out there. About 6-9 months ago I started having issues with deodorant not working, itching and overall just becoming an unpleasant experience. I was changing every few weeks and Kevin was getting a bit touchy because I was spending so much money changing. I finally found the two on the left that are more natural and meant to detoxify your system. It took a few weeks to make the change but in the end all the issues went away. Soooo much happier now. I'm not totally settled on the natural brand I'll stick with. As warmer temps approach I'll work with this more.

Another TMI topic is 'that time of the month'. A friend posted a link about The Diva Cup a while back on Facebook along with her testimonial on the product. Since then 2 of my sisters and I have all switched. I wish I had known about this like 20 years ago. I pass my time of the month like a bump in the road with no cramps or any of the other lovely side effects that come with it. And can I tell you the benefits when it comes to being active and working out?! Wow. Savings calculation here is HUGE! $40 for the cup and it lasts for years. You do the math.

*Photos from product website here for O.B. and here for DivaCup.


Moving on to hair products now. On the left are some of the hair products I've used. I wrote a blog about this here. My routine has somewhat stabilized since that post. I wash every 2-4 days and rinse in between with an apple cider vinegar rinse on days I work out. Washes 1 and 2 I use Soap-a-Licious chemical free shampoo bar. Then every 3rd wash I use a baking soda wash. Every few times I'll add coconut oil and leave in for a day over the weekend as a conditioner. This has been one of my favorite changes. I truly enjoy NOT using any products on my hair. I still curl my hair but that doesn't seem to bother it. I go in a cycle of 1st day letting my natural curls hang out, 2nd day curl, 3rd day let it be and 4th day it goes up. My hair has never been more healthy or less of a hassle.

I'm also happy to say that the kids changed from store shampoo to the bar shampoo as well. My oldest son has a shaggy hair style so its a bit longer and he also uses the ACV rinse. His hair is beautiful and full.


Teeth was next on the list and the one I was the most worried about. We've had to brush with baking soda before during NAET's cleanings and everyone hated it. Charlie and I made a baking soda paste with peppermint that we liked. It was better after it sat a week or so and he and i now use it several days out of the week. In between we use Earth Paste, which is a wonderful product. The other boys only use the Earth Paste. It's a Redmond Clay based product. Certainly worth a try.

Body soap was another change I was excited about. Have you read the back of the bottles you are using? My main concern here was Charlie because he has horrible winter skin. He's 9 years old, doesn't have that 'boy' smell yet and doesn't wear deodorant. When winter started we moved him to showering every other day to keep the oils on his skin longer. On top of this we changed to Soap-a-Licious natural body bars that don't strip the oils from your skin. This in combination with stretching out his showing time his skin has been wonderful. He hasn't had cracked dry and bleeding hands like in past years. We haven't had to put Vaseline and cotton gloves on his hands at night either. Everyone likes the soaps and it was a win, win all the way around! The only products in the shower are now Soap-a-Licious body and hair soaps, baking soda mix and apple cider vinegar rinse.

I've liked St. Ives for years but have changed this out for good old coconut oil for my hair and dry skin. Works like a charm! I've struggled with dry skin as well, just not as bad as Charlie. Between the soap change and the coconut oil any issues are gone.

Ok face care. I've never had a great routine that I was successful with until a few years ago when I started using Kiss My Face bar soap, that's it. Not much of a routine. I only used Bare Minerals face makeup. I figured that was good. That was until Primal Bliss introduced me to Tasty Face Organics. I won a drawings and that paid for one of my products. I then ordered the other three. We have a cleanser, toner, serum and moisturizer.

My plan was to use this for not only me, but Dawson (teenager) and his acne, and Charlie's fickle skin. It has worked wonders! Dawson still has some acne but it is certainly much better than it was prior to starting. Charlie's face has smoothed out and is staying nice in the harsh winter. My face has cleared up. My red splotches, uneven skin color, oil and dry patches are gone. Two weeks in to using Tasty Face I dropped the face makeup and have just continued with eye make up only. I'm still using bareMinerals as its the only thing thus far that doesn't bother my eyes. I will work towards more natural products here as well over time.


Through this process I'm thrilled to see our product labels changing. I'm much happier seeing labels like are on Earth Paste that say 'Rinse or swallow' vs 'Keep out of the reach of children….if more than used for bruising is..swallowed get medical help."


I like seeing labels on the left vs the ones on the right.


We are FAR from perfect and we still have long way to go to make this second nature in our house, however we will continue to work towards lessening our use of chemicals in our environment.  It's a continual process.

To wrap up this long post I give you a selfie (not fond of these) with no touch ups and no filters, just crappy bathroom lighting.

In the past I would NOT have posted a photo of myself with no makeup and not having 'washed' my hair in over 2 months. I have to say that a healthy lifestyle inside and out pays off. As I near the end of my 40th year I couldn't be happier for myself and my family. I won't lie and say that all of our changes have been easy and go without protest here and there.

In the end my goals are to:

  • pass the healthiest lifestyle on to my children
  • give them a fighting chance against family health issues on both sides
  • provide them with a knowledge and skill base to enable them to make good healthy choices for themselves down the road
  • to enable our children to cook, clean and care for themselves
  • to fuel our families active lifestyle in the best and cleanest way possible
  • to enable us all to live long, healthy, happy lives
  • to keep Kevin and I 'young' and healthy for when the boys leave the nest (T-minus 8 years)
and last but not least teach our children to think for themselves and question everything! If we as parents hadn't questioned so many things in our lives, we would be very different today. That's a different that I would not be ok with. 

Thank you God for the guidance in our lives to lead us down this path. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Planning & Prepping Update

Weekly prep and menu organization is not something new for our family when paleo came along. However paleo certainly forced us to super size it! Two of my early blogs, found here (menu / prep), explain my full process. Those blog posts were written a year ago for our old gyms website. I transferred them hear when I started up the blog.

I've since since become more efficient, although the same process applies. Instead of making 5-7 breakfasts, 5-7 lunches, 5-7 dinners we rely much more on meals that share the same ingredients, bits and pieces that can be used in multiple meals in different ways, one protein paired with different veggies for another meal. This is soooooo much easier and takes less time and costs much less! Another benefit is that if we run out of time one night to assemble the full meal then you just grab a few items and throw them on our plate. This doesn't happen often but it is possible. Basically 'garanimals' for food, which paleo lends itself to nicely.
This is what a simplified weekly menu looks like. I always divide into the three meals, then in the lower left are extras or snacks. This particular menu is one that I use for teaching / prep sessions. Because we have a 2 hour time frame and the idea behind the class is to understanding prepping and how to use dishes for multiple meals and pair them differently. For the fall gym classes they made: Breakfast Meatballs, Chicken Salad, Sweet Potato Hash, Taco Night and Sweet Potato Carrot Patties. These 5 meals will work for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can see how I paired them each with different items for each meal. The 'POST' in the lower left are items that can be used for post WODs. In the middle bottom was an item that they could use with some of the meals, as they had made paleo mayo for chicken salad. The lower right was another idea they could use the sweet potato carrot patties for if they ran out of food. The menu is meant to have you cook a few items only so you aren't spending days in the kitchen prep prepping.

This is my actual menu for this week and it's coded for prep in red. We general make breakfasts to be used just for breakfast. This is because I'm the only one that will truly eat ANYTHING for breakfast. The boys all want 'breakfast foods'. Lunch and dinner we will use interchangeably and this is where leftovers play a huge part! I do not list out everything we are having with each meal, especially for lunch. I list the main protein for lunch and then for dinner I list the protein and main veggie. For lunches add a fruit, and standard veggies such as green beans, carrots, salad, broccoli, cabbage, etc or a vegetable leftover if there is one. So don't think the kids only have ham rolls for lunch, lol!

The red on the menu is what has to be prepped or how. This enables me to easily do the prep in a day or pick what I have time for throughout the week if I don't get a prep day. Additionally it makes it easy to see what can be grouped together. I can easily see what needs to go in the oven and what all needs veggies shredded. It comes down to efficiency. It also allows someone else to easily jump in and help, which happens often.

So this week for prep the things that were done are as follows:

  • pizza breakfast loaf
  • scotch eggs
  • pumpkin cereal (this will last 2 weeks)
  • italian meatballs
  • chicken for buffalo chicken meal (this was also diced)

Veggies shredded / prepped:
  • spinach/broccoli/kale mix were shredded for smoothies for the next two weeks (1/2 in the freezer)
  • veggies diced for buffalo chicken meal
  • cabbage shredded for coleslaw
  • sweet potato/onions/green pepper shredded and diced for hash to go with pulled pork
  • sweet potatoes/carrots were shredded for sweet potato and carrot patties that will be made on wednesday (my mid week prep day if needed)
The items with no red under them will be made fresh the day of, generally on an off gym day when there is more time. Or it's an item that really tastes better fresh and not made in advance. 

Remember that with prep it doesn't all have to be done in one day. Determine what your schedule is for the week and where you are able to do it. Some weeks are rougher than others and we don't have time for a prep day. If this happens then we will do an easy meals like tacos or burger for Monday. Then Monday night while one of us is doing dishes then the other will prep meals for the next day. This will continue each night throughout the week then. I also generally know it's a rough week in advance and will plan a simple menu such as: hamburgers, meatballs, sloppy joes, pizza, breakfast for dinner, ect. 

Another thing that helps me in a pinch is that I have a manilla folder that I save all my weekly menus in. I'll either look back to see what we haven't had in a while and pull from multiple menus or i'll just take a  menu and use it as is. Why reinvent the wheel!?

One final thought came to me as I was re-reading the above. All the recipes that I have for this week are  favorites that we've made numerous times, so the hubby and I both know where the recipes are. However on weeks where we have new recipes or if I think we won't remember where the recipe is then I have to code the menu. Below is a heavily coded menu week.

My secret coding:
PIN = Pinterest board / either the 'To Try" or "Tried and True" which are meals we've made and liked
PP = Practical Paleo cookbook
EP1 = Everyday Paleo book 1
EP2 = Everyday Paleo book 2
MG = MacGourmet, which is an electronic cookbook that I keep

So why is this needed? Because I have an awesome husband and kids that help with the cooking and getting meals in the lunch boxes and on the table. The easier I make it for everyone with prep and coding then the more help I get. Think smart and work smart…..get everyone involved!

How do you plan and prep?